- Processor Performance in Video Editing
- Building Your Video Editing Rig in 2020
- Best Video Editing Processors
- AMD RYZEN 9 3950X
- AMD RYZEN 9 3900X
- INTEL 9th GEN CORE i9-9900K
- AMD RYZEN 7 3800X
- AMD RYZEN 7 3700X
- INTEL 9th GEN CORE i7-9700K
- AMD RYZEN 5 3600X
- AMD RYZEN 5 3600
- INTEL 9th GEN CORE i5-9600K
- AMD RYZEN 5 2600X
- Best Value CPU for Video Editing – AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
- Best High-End Video Editing CPU – AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
- Best Midrange Video Editing CPU – Intel Core i5-9600K
- Best Budget Video Editing CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
- What Should You Look For in a Video Editing CPU
- Cores and Threads
- Clock Speed
- CPU vs GPU in Video Editing
- Wrap Up
Video editing is a very processor-intensive process, so it is essential that when you are building a rig for this type of work, you will need to get the best one that your budget allows. Most video editing software relies heavily on the CPU, and this is the main reason why you should invest in a good one.
Picking one can sometimes seem overwhelming. This is especially true for professionals and content creators who want to produce videos all the time. You may not be as tech-savvy so, knowing your options can be too much.
There are definitely a lot of questions that need to be answered. Should you go for Intel or AMD? Does core count matter? Do I need to get the most expensive CPU out there? Even if you are keeping up with the latest in processor technology, this is undoubtedly a lot of questions to ask.
We are going to help you with our simple guide on the best CPU that you can use for your video editing rig this 2020.
Processor Performance in Video Editing
If you are serious about your work as a video producer, the performance of your system, mainly your CPU, is essential. There are a lot of factors that affect processor performance whenever you are editing videos.
For one, when you work with higher resolutions like 4K, even 8K, the more you are going to be asking from your processor. You will notice your computer to take a while, even with the simplest tasks, like preparing clips. When the time comes for rendering, you will also feel that it might take forever.
Other aspects, such as video codecs and file types, can also affect processor performance. Clips taken from different cameras are compressed, and when you load that into your video editor, your CPU will decompress it to a raw format, so you have access to a lot of other information that is otherwise hidden.
These are the different tasks that can affect the performance of your processor, and as you can see, there are a lot of them. Your CPU is likely to be multitasking a lot as you are editing your videos. This is why choosing the right one for your needs is crucial.
Building Your Video Editing Rig in 2020
If you are willing to try it, building your PC is fun. It allows you to know your system better and get a generally improved one compared to getting a pre-built one. Here are some recommendations when it comes to choosing a CPU based on the planned budget of your system.
Best Video Editing Processors
Let’s take a look at some of the best video editing processors that you can get your hands on today. These are all excellent CPUs, and they have their strengths. This guide will help you determine the right one for you, depending on your needs.
AMD RYZEN 9 3950X
Retail Price: $749
The AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is a beast of a CPU equipped with 16 cores and 32 threads that will surely do quick work of any of your video editing projects. This is AMD’s most powerful desktop processor, and the only way to beat this is with a high-end desktop or server-grade chips.
You know that video editing is not just about the number of cores and threads, and this is not AMD’s most powerful CPU for nothing. Coupled with the insane amount of computing units that this chip has, they also run at high clock speeds, further shortening your render and encoding times dramatically.
This CPU’s nearest Intel competitor is the Core i9-9900K, which only comes with half the number of computing cores and threads. Now, the 3950X does cost a lot more compared to its Intel counterpart, but video editing is all about saving significant amounts of time, and this is where AMD’s chip shines with its superior multi-threaded performance.
The Ryzen 9 3950X is by far the most powerful desktop CPU you can get your hands on. So, if you have an extensive video editing workload, and want the best chip to make your life a lot easier, this is the one for you. It is packed with a lot more cores than any available processor in the market, has a fast base and boost clocks, and most of all still has overclocking headroom to improve its performance further.
AMD RYZEN 9 3900X
Retail Price: $499
Coming from the same family as the 3950X, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X is one of the best mainstream CPUs that you can use for video editing. If the more powerful 3950X is out of your budget, the 3900X is the perfect, relatively more affordable alternative.
It is about more affordable by about $250 without sacrificing too much compared to its more powerful sibling. Yes, the 3900X comes with fewer cores, but 12 is definitely enough even if you have a heavy video editing workload. Simultaneous multithreading is available on the 3900X doubling your processing thread count to 24.
Looking at the clock speeds, the 3900X is no slouch, either. Clocking in at 3.8 GHz with a maximum boost of 4.6 GHz at heavier workloads, this chip will make short work of even with the most complicated of video projects.
Similar to the 3950X, the 3900X leaves the best Intel competitor in the dust. The high clock speeds with significantly more cores and threads leave Intel’s Core i9-9900K wanting more when compared side by side.
The 3900X also has an unlocked multiplier, which means that you can quickly overclock this chip even to add more performance if you are not satisfied with the stock settings. The best thing about the 3rd generation Ryzen chips is that they continue to use AMD’s AM4 socket. This compatibility can come in handy if you want to upgrade from older generation Ryzen chips to the latest ones, including the 3900X.
The 3900X is definitely a powerful chip, and if you are looking to build a video editing system, this is a chip that you are going to consider since it can handle just about any workload you throw at it.
INTEL 9th GEN CORE i9-9900K
Retail Price: $549
Intel’s Core i9 line of processors is their most powerful consumer-grade chips before delving into the world of high-end desktop hardware. The Core i9-9900K is an excellent all-around CPU that can do it all.
It is an 8-core beast with Intel’s hyperthreading essentially doubling up the number of processing threads to 16. Couple that with a high boost clock that is knocking at the doors of 5.0 GHz, this CPU is more than enough for complicated video editing, rendering, and encoding workflows.
The Core i9-9900K is an unlocked processor, which means that you can overclock it to improve your speeds even further. Having this on your video editing rig will make your work a lot smoother and more manageable. Overclocking it will require you to install excellent quality aftermarket cooling, but if you can afford this beast of a CPU, you will surely get an AIO or something similar.
If price is not an issue and you want a processor that is going to make short work of your video projects, the Core i9-9900K is the perfect chip to get although it may not be as fast as AMD’s Ryzen 9 family if you also play a ton of games with your system, this processor is an excellent choice.
AMD RYZEN 7 3800X
Retail Price: $399
There are surely more powerful options than the Ryzen 7 3800X, especially from AMD’s Ryzen 9 family, there are workloads where this 8-core, 16-thread powerhouse is enough. If you do not need the 3950X’s or 3900X’s extra cores, this is an excellent alternative that will help you produce high-quality videos while saving a few bucks.
As long as you are not working with resource-crazy video editing workloads like 3D and 8K, the power that the 3800X produces is undoubtedly enough. Still, eight cores with simultaneous multithreading (SMT) is a lot of power, couple that with the high clock speeds, and this CPU can still rip through encoding and rendering tasks with ease.
This speed and power are more than enough for your usual video editing tasks. If its 4.5 GHz boost clock is not enough for you, the chip is unlocked, and you can quickly overclock it to get even better performance.
The best thing about this CPU is that similar to all 3rd generation Ryzen chips. It uses the AM4 socket. That means that you can upgrade to the more powerful Ryzen 9’s if your video editing workload gets a little too much for it to handle. So, you can quickly upgrade to the 3900X or the 3950X when the need arises.
As long as you feel that you do not need 12 cores or even 16 cores, then the Ryzen 7 3800X is one of the best chips out there that will rip through your video editing workflow with ease.
AMD RYZEN 7 3700X
Retail Price: $329
AMD’s 3rd generation Ryzen 7 family only comes with two CPUs, this is the second one, the 3700X. Looking at the spec sheet of this chip. It is comparable to its sibling, the 3800X, but it generally comes with a bit less power if you look at the base and boost clock speeds. However, where the 3700X shines compared to the 3800X is in overclocking potential. You have a lot more headroom with this chip compared to the 3800X, especially if you are planning to get an aftermarket cooler like an AIO or those beefy tower fan cooling solutions.
Similar to the 3800X, the 3700X comes with eight cores and 16 threads, giving you a lot of computing units that will shine in multithreaded tasks like video editing, rendering, and encoding. It will be slightly slower than the 3800X in terms of render times, but that is what you will be losing out on.
You can easily compare this CPU to Intel’s 9th generation Core i9-9900K where you have a similar number of cores and threads. The 4.7 GHz boost clock on the 9900K is a significant boost in rendering performance, but the price difference between the two is enormous. If you are not going a system equipped with the 9900K for gaming, you might as well get one with a Ryzen 7 3700X since you will still be getting similar performance numbers in video editing, rendering, and encoding loads.
However, when you compare the Ryzen 7 3700X to its actual Intel counterpart, the Core i7-9700K, this is where you will notice a big difference that favors AMD’s chip. The lack of hyperthreading on the 9700K means that it only comes with eight cores and threads, which suffers when compared side by side with the 3700X.
If you are looking to save a few bucks and not chase for that extra minute or two in rendering times, then the Ryzen 7 3700X is the perfect video editing CPU for you.
INTEL 9th GEN CORE i7-9700K
Retail Price: $399
Before the Core i9s, Intel’s Core i7s was their flagship model. Even though this family of processors has been relegated a rung below, the Core i7-9700K is still a capable chip. You do get a much lower price with this compared to the Core i9, so you do get a bit more value with this CPU.
The difference between this processor and the Core i9-9900K is that this chip does not have hyperthreading. So, you only get eight cores and eight threads, which could potentially affect its performance, but not in all types of workloads. The impressive thing about the Core i7-9700K is that it can turbo to speeds up to 4.9 GHz, and you can even push it further with overclocking.
Yes, this chip lacks eight compute threads compared to the Core i9s or even the Ryzen 7s, but there is a good chance that this CPU should be enough for all your projects. The 9700K is not the fastest chip or most powerful chip out there, but it inevitably comes with a lot more power and speed to future-proof your system.
Unless you are a hardcore video editor that renders feature-length films in 8K or something comparable, this is a CPU that will provide you with excellent performance consistently.
AMD RYZEN 5 3600X
Retail Price: $249
AMD’s Ryzen 5 family is their mainstream CPU that you can utilize for just about anything from your usual daily computing tasks to gaming. You can also use it for some advanced loads like graphics and video editing.
Its 6-core, 12-thread make up is something that was not seen on mainstream chips until it arrived. Its Intel counterparts are the more powerful Core i7s, namely the 9700K and the 8700K. The advantage of the 3600X over its Intel equivalents is its simultaneous multithreading (SMT) capabilities, which double your processing cores. The 9th generation Core i7-9700K does not come with hyperthreading, so it is an 8-compute unit chip compared to the 3600X 12.
You do get a bit of an advantage with additional computing units that the 3600X has over the Core i7-9700K. Although it does come with fewer cores compared to the Ryzen 7 family, the price difference can become a factor. The 3600X is undoubtedly enough for lighter video editing tasks, and should still feel responsive when reviewing the timeline. There is a bit of a sacrifice when it comes to rendering times, but the Ryzen 5 3600X is the sweet spot in terms of price and performance for just about any type of task that you throw at it.
Not the fastest or most powerful chip in the market, but still packs a lot of power that will let you produce video content without feeling like needing a hardware upgrade.
AMD RYZEN 5 3600
Retail Price: $199
The AMD Ryzen 5 3600 is a less powerful version of the 3600X. However, it is still as capable as the other chip with the difference only in clock speeds. It comes with six cores and 12 threads, which is more than enough for video editing tasks.
The Ryzen 5 3600 is for those who want a decent system on a budget. You can save a bit more by opting for the 3600 instead of the 3600X. You will only be sacrificing a bit in terms of clock speeds, and you can always overclock the 3600 to get you better performance. The money you save here can go somewhere else, like either getting better RAM or storage to improve your workflow.
If you are not doing hardcore video editing, and your workflow consists of content for social media like Facebook and YouTube, the 3600 should be an excellent budget CPU for you. You will still be able to get decent rendering performance out of this, and you will only be slightly slower compared to the 3600X.
Still, this chip will perform better in multithreaded tasks like video editing compared to Intel’s mainstream options like the Core i5-9600K.
INTEL 9th GEN CORE i5-9600K
Retail Price: $259
Mainstream CPUs such as Intel’s Core i5-9600K should not perform well with process-intensive applications such as video editing. However, with the latest technology, processors such as this one are one of the best to use for such tasks. It comes with enough cores that help speed up your render times immensely. To top it off, it is also a lot more affordable compared to its more powerful Core i9 and i7 cousins.
The great thing with Intel chips is their fast clocks. Either base or boost, they can offset the lack in processing cores in CPUs such as this that does not come with hyperthreading. The 9600K is also an unlocked processor, which means you can push it a little more by overclocking it.
The Core i5-9600K inevitably comes in handy when faced with a lot of different tasks, even video editing. Also, if you are on a budget, you can still try out video editing and create your content on social media.
The Core i5-9600K is an excellent mainstream chip that can handle just about anything. It may be a bit slower compared to higher-end processors on both Intel and AMD side, but you should be able to edit your videos, render them, and ultimately share them.
AMD RYZEN 5 2600X
Retail Price: $149
You will notice right away that the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X is not the latest generation Ryzen. However, it is still one of those chips that continue to offer a lot of value even with current technology. Not to mention that it is also a lot more affordable than other Ryzen 5 mainstream CPUs on this list.
Its 6-core, 12-thread setup can still offer a lot of power for video editing tasks. One of its downsides, though, is its low clock speeds with the boost not even hitting 4.0 GHz. Still, this is one of those chips that can offer you the most value out of your money.
There is also the fact that the 2600X is unlocked, and you will be able to overclock it so you can improve its speeds and performance, giving you faster renders compared to stock settings. This chip is not for the hardcore video editors and content creators of the world. It is primarily an excellent choice for those trying out video editing.
The best part about the Ryzen 5 2600X is the system you will be building should be compatible with the latest 3rd generation AMD CPUs. So, when the need arises, and your workload starts to congest, you can always upgrade to a more powerful CPU like the Ryzen 7 3700x or even the Ryzen 9 3900X.
Best Value CPU for Video Editing – AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
Probably one of the best processors there is overall that can handle just about anything from gaming to video editing. The Ryzen 7 3700X is an 8-core, 16-thread powerhouse that can make short work of any task, including video editing, rendering, and encoding.
This CPU is always a winner when it comes to price to performance. It easily outpaces its Intel counterparts and only lags by a few percentage points against their flagship Core i9 models.
If you are looking for a processor that can handle your video editing tasks without putting a lot of stress on it, the 3700X is the one you are looking for. It has everything that you need in a CPU for your video editing rig. It has a good number of cores and threads that run at fast clock speeds to help you create fantastic content.
Best High-End Video Editing CPU – AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
If you are looking for the absolute best CPU to put into your video editing system, consider the Ryzen 9 3950X. This chip is AMD’s flagship desktop processor and comes with 16 cores and 32 threads. It is an absolute monster at any video editing task, and it can quickly finish it in record time.
Its 16 cores are capable of fast base and boost clock speeds, which will make short work of any rendering or encoding tasks. Having this in your computer will definitely save you a lot of time, mainly if you are producing content daily.
If you are a professional that does video editing for a living, or someone who creates content for social media and posts relatively regularly, this is a chip that you would love to have in your system.
Best Midrange Video Editing CPU – Intel Core i5-9600K
As a midrange mainstream processor, the Intel Core i5-9600K is not the fastest. However, the best thing about it is that it is an excellent chip for just about any task. If you are planning to build a system with the 9600K as your centerpiece, you are not looking to use it solely for video editing. Your goal is a system that can efficiently multitask, and this is what this CPU is all about.
You can consider it as a “Jack of all trades,” and this is precisely what you need for a chip at this price point with this capability. It is not for video professionals, but if you are starting or learning to edit, this is an excellent CPU to get that will not break the bank.
If you are on a budget and still want a highly capable system, you can surely build around the Core i5-9600K. It is going to offer one of the best values when compared with other processors in its class and price point.
Best Budget Video Editing CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
Even though the Ryzen 5 2600X is from a previous generation of processors, it can still perform. It can easily match the capabilities of current CPUs since it comes with a lot of cores with decent clock speeds. The best part about this budget chip is that you can quickly overclock it, so you will not feel that you are a generation behind.
It is significantly more affordable than the current Ryzen 5s and Core i5s, so you get a lot of value out of it. An advantage that you get when building a system with the 2600X is that it uses the same socket as the newer generation processors. This feature allows you to seamlessly upgrade to more powerful chips when your budget allows it.
The Ryzen 5 2600X is a CPU that is for value seekers and those who are planning on upgrading their systems soon. It is not for video editing professionals, but if you are looking to become one and want a system where you can hone your skills, this is the chip for you.
What Should You Look For in a Video Editing CPU
Not all CPUs are the same. Some are designed for gaming, while others are for intensive tasks such as video editing, rendering, and encoding. There are also insanely expensive CPUs, which in theory, should make all content creation task a breeze, but sometimes you can have too much power that you will not be able to utilize.
There are specific specs that you need to look out for you to pick the right processor for your video editing needs. Let’s take a look at these specs and see how they affect your video editing workflow.
Cores and Threads
Video editing software is known for using up a lot of cores as you work with them. Especially when you start the rendering process where the software utilizes just about every possible computing core to speed things up. Today, the recommendation for a video editing rig is at least six cores. Four cores should be fine, but you will see a significant improvement once you hit six.
Video editing software also takes advantage of processing threads and treat them similarly to cores. So, if your CPU has six cores and 12 threads, it will surely perform better than one with six cores and the same number of threads. The reason for this is that video editing software performance scales proportionately. You will start to see a drop off in performance boost once you go over 12 cores.
So, something like Intel’s Core i9-9900K with eight cores and 12 threads is more than enough. So are AMD’s Ryzen 7 options. However, you can still see a performance boost with AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X that comes with 12 cores and 24 threads. Of course, if the least of your concern is budget, you can also get the Ryzen 9 3950X with 16 cores and 32 threads, but the boost in performance could be a bit marginal.
Still, a minute saved during rendering is something that you will not be able to take back. So, if you produce a ton of videos and want the extra time savings, then you might want to invest in high-end desktop CPUs like AMD’s Threadrippers or Intel’s server-grade processors.
The next spec that has an impact on your video editing process is clock speed. The higher it is, the faster your software will work. However, this goes hand in hand with the number of cores and threads your CPU has.
Each core has the capability to process information at the rate of your clock speed. So, if your processor has a lot of cores with high clock speeds, it will be able to perform better. The reason why a Ryzen 9 3900X or a 3950X can be significantly faster than a Core i9-9900K even if they have slightly lower clock speeds, it is because they come with more cores.
The balance of cores and clock speed also becomes more evident when you are editing high-resolution videos such as 4K, even 8K. This is the type of tasks where you will be able to see a significant gap in terms of render times if you use a CPU with a lot more cores compared to one with a few.
CPU vs GPU in Video Editing
For the most part, when you are editing videos, it is the CPU that does most of the work. It is especially true when you are in the rendering phase. However, pairing your processor with a good GPU can also be beneficial. You will be able to feel this, primarily when you work with Adobe Premiere Pro since they have tweaked the software to fetch some resources from your system’s graphics card.
There are also GPU-accelerated effects that you can put in your video, and when you do, it is the graphics card that will render these out. This is another area where a good GPU can be beneficial.
Unless, of course, you are working with projects that require a lot of effects, then getting the best GPU is not for you. However, if you are producing content consistently, then get the best CPU that you can afford so you can accelerate all your video editing tasks.
Ultimately, the processor that you are going to get will heavily depend on your budget and video editing workflow. If you are a professional that needs to produce multiple videos in a day, no matter how short they are, you will need the best CPU you can find. So, apart from going the high-end desktop route, your best bet is one of the chips in the Ryzen 9 series. The extra cores are going to quicken your workflow, and you will see significant gains in rendering and encoding times.
On the other hand, if you are not at that professional level but still create content for social media like YouTube on a daily or weekly basis, you will even need a powerful processor. The Ryzen 9s might be a little bit too much for you, but the Core i9s, i7s, and Ryzen 7 chips are your best options. They do not have an insane number of cores, and eight seems like the sweet spot for this type of workload.
Finally, for those starting and want to learn video editing, getting your hands on high-performance chips might be too much. After all, you are likely to use your system for other purposes as well, so getting a mainstream CPU is what you are after. Core i5s and Ryzen 5s are the best ones here since they can multitask well and still have the power to get your videos produced on time.