Building an 8K Video Editing PC in 2020

Just as it happened in consumer tech, it seems that the professional hardware has reached a plateau as well, and as a result, we’re getting ever so slightly higher performances from our new machines. But if it has been a while since you’ve last upgraded your computer, it could be time to revamp your system again.

Maybe the footage from the latest cameras could be too much of a serving for your CPU to handle. And if you want to future-proof your workstation, you should aim for something that can edit footage beyond 6K, even if you are still predominantly delivering your projects in 1080p. The guys at Clockwork 9 have been building a nice 8K devouring monster, ready to be your editing companion for the next few years.

The suggested build has been planned to edit high-res footage as a champ, and as such the most part of the budget has been reserved to CPU and disk speed, while the GPU of choice is not cutting edge. This approach may seem a little bit off to a newbie in system configurations, but it’s not.

The GPU is, in fact, the least important part when editing. Just a few effects are taking advantage of all the computational power inside the graphics card, so often you’re better off with a cheaper card, especially if you’re on a tighter budget. Anyway, let’s check the part list first:

  • Lian Li PC-o11 Dynamic Tempered Glass ATX Mid Tower Case (Amazon)
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-Thread CPU (Amazon, B&H)
  • XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (Amazon)
  • CORSAIR RM850x, 850 Watt, 80+ Gold Certified PSU (Amazon)
  • G.SKILL TridentZ RGB Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3200 RAM (Amazon)
  • GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Xtreme Motherboard (Amazon, B&H)
  • Corsair LL Series LL120 RGB 120mm Dual Light Loop RGB LED PWM Fan (Amazon)
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB GPU (Amazon)

The build is well balanced and starts with a nice and spacious case like the Lian Li in question. That is something oftentimes overlook by folks who are just starting out: after all the case is just a big box, right? Well, not exactly. A spacious and easy to access case is one of the greatest blessings when building a PC.

They are expensive but are worth every penny. Inside the case, we have the heart of the build: Ryzen 9. This beast of a silicon wafer packs a punch well beyond your creative needs and will decode any kind of footage without breaking a sweat. And finally, video editing platforms are starting to take advantage of multithreaded architectures, so all the power of your 12 cores and 24 threads will be unleashed.

The CPU sits inside a top-notch motherboard, an Aorus Extreme 570. Again, the board may be overkill, but it’s an investment we’re talking here, right? The 10GB Ethernet port alone is worth the card. Your future self will be very thankful for this choice when you’ll be setting a hyperspeed NAS as an editing drive.

The same goes with the blazing-fast NVME SSD: getting over 3000MB/s of SATA SSDs is the first step to crush it in the high-resolution editing realm. The use of slower drives acts as a bottleneck that brings the whole thing to an abrupt halt when working on very high data rates.

All CPU’s need a lot of RAM when editing video, but this CPU especially needs fast RAM. The Infinity Fabric in Ryzen CPUs will benefit greatly from a high-frequency RAM: if you need to cut some corners you’re better off with less RAM, but faster. The TridentZ 32GB is the bare minimum for over 4K editing and has also the RGB flakes for a little eye candy.

At the end of the chain, there’s the power supply. Many think that cheap Chinese PSUs are just the same as brand-name ones. You couldn’t be further away from the truth. Setting aside the power consumption and the impact on the environment, you’re also prone to a higher risk of PSU failure. And you know what that implies? Yes, potential damage to the whole system.

A final word goes on the GPU. As we’ve said earlier, this, in particular, is a part of the build where a lot of money is usually spent. Is it the right choice? Often times not.

Unless you’re heavily geared towards a workflow where a ton of GPU intensive effects is needed, there’s no need to burn a huge piece of the pie on that card. Save it for something you’ll need more.

[source: Clockwork 9]

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