video editing

Video Editing PCs: What is the big deal with graphics cards?5 min read

Video editing requires a much more powerful computer compared to just using the PC on a daily basis to browse or watch movies. Depending on your budget, especially if it is limited, you will need to consider several advantages and disadvantages of having a more expensive GPU than a low-end GPU.

More often than not, you will have to choose between buying a faster quad / 8-core CPU than a high-end GPU with a lot of VRAM. Now the question is: how important is a graphics card when it comes to video editing? Does premium GPU, with more VRAM, actually increase video editing speed? Will rendering or previewing get much faster? Let’s find out quickly.

For video editing, which is more important: a CPU or a GPU?

video editing system unit
Video editing system unit

When we talk about video editing as a separate process of working with specialized video editing software, we are not talking about the rendering process as the final step in any video production routine. In this section, we will discuss the importance of a good GPU for a smooth editing experience. During video production, you will always be the one to decide what kind of effects, adjustments, and corrections and how many of them you will use to produce a professional-looking video.

When adding complex transitions and effects, you’ll often want to preview them before moving on to the next step in video editing. Now, previewing the unrendered video that is still in development would take some work from your GPU, not just the CPU alone. Modern video editing software allows you to choose the quality and resolution of your preview video in the preview window. Depending on the amount and complexity of the video effects and the power of your graphics machine, you may be able to use a lower or higher preview quality.

In general, the higher your graphics card, the more VRAM it has (8GB preferably), the better the quality you can choose for the preview window. There is not just that. If your video project contains many graphics-intensive effects such as 3D texts, color corrections, graphics enhancements, the more your GPU will affect the smoothness of your video production work. When you have a lot of effects that are heavily dependent on a graphics card, you may need to restart the video editing tool quite often, after completing each part of your work. Otherwise, you may start getting “Insufficient Video Memory” errors.

When rendering video, what is the importance of a powerful GPU?

graphics performance
Graphics performance

When working with video editing software, at some point you will finalize your project and need to render the resulting video. While some video editors offer very fast rendering speeds, they often rely on your machine with a faster GPU installed. To avoid any misunderstanding, very often you will agree with a faster quad or 8-core processor, as video editing is a more CPU-intensive process.

In fact, if you decide to keep up with your CPU and GPU load while rendering video, you’ll find that most of the time your CPU will be completely occupied by the rendering default. Most of the algorithms used by video editing applications use a processor to run. That said, there are a ton of important effects and adjustments for your video footage, which rely on a graphics card for faster rendering. We have already mentioned some of the examples in the previous sections. These effects include 3D text and shapes, color correction, and more.

Modern video editors (Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, VEGAS Pro 17, etc.) already support or enable CUDA or OpenCL.Future versions of video editing applications will continue to use GPU power for video rendering. What does this mean for video rendering speed? Will it be increased with a better GPU? Obviously, a complex video project created with the modern video editing tool and packed with GPU-hungry effects will be rendered when a better graphics card is installed.

Final thoughts. Would it be better to upgrade your graphics card or your processor?

Power under the hood
Power under the hood

Ideally, you should have at least a quad-core processor and an 8GB RAM graphics card installed. With this configuration, you will be sure: it will be possible to create and render a video project of any complexity and length. the latest video editing technologies will run at full speed and you will have smooth and comfortable editing and rendering experience. If your budget is very tight and you are trying to decide between a better processor or a better GPU, I suggest you get a better processor.

About 6080% of the time, a faster processor will allow you to do more with your video editor, compared to a slower CPU with a faster graphics card. Not to mention that a slower processor will inevitably reduce the performance of your GPU. If you are able to get an 8-core processor and a mid to low-budget graphics card, you will still be able to edit and render most video projects without. problems because you have also installed at least 16 GB of RAM on your system. Later, you can add a more expensive graphics card and further improve your video editing performance.