This may be a bit of a spoiler, but yes, custom gaming PCs are suitable for video editing, but there are some caveats. In short, a gaming PC typically is tuned for moderate CPU usage with a high priority on the GPU speed and little regard for RAM.
For video editing, GPUs are well utilized in many programs, which is why gaming PCs are so great at video editing.
Still, RAM is much more of a priority for video editing than in gaming. Let’s dive deeper and figure out why a gaming computer is suitable for video editing, how to tune a PC to prevent any stutters while editing a video, and how to render videos as fast as possible.
Factors to Consider Before Using Your Gaming PC for Video Editing
RAM for Video Editing
How much RAM do you need in a video editing PC?
16GB of RAM is the general recommendation for gaming PCs. But, 32GB to 64GB is the recommended minimum for dedicated video editing computers. Professional video editors and animators should look for PCs with up to 128GB or 256GB of RAM.
Unfortunately, you cannot download more RAM as many might have you believe, so make sure to enough RAM ahead of time before starting to video edit.
Not having enough won’t crash the computer, but it will slow video editing software to a crawl as it exchanges assets in and out of the SSD. Adding extra RAM though will not make the video editing any faster nor the rendering. It will just simply prevent it from slowing down, so there is an obvious point of diminishing returns.
The general recommendation for gaming computers is to have 16GB of RAM. Almost no games will use more than this, even at higher resolutions, as graphics cards have their own video RAM separate from what the CPU will use. For a computer that’s dedicated to video editing, 32GB or 64GB of RAM is the recommendation, with up 128GB and 256GB of RAM is necessary for independent professionals, and up to 2TB of RAM for industry professionals working at Disney and other movie studios. Most studios will often just have racks of servers devoted to rendering special effects and the video itself.
For streamers or smaller YouTubers, 32GB of RAM should be fine as more time will probably be spent gaming than video editing. For video editors who find themselves editing daily and making money from their work, 64GB is recommended since RAM is easy to install and inexpensive so the cost will earn itself back. 128GB or 256GB is only necessary for the people who know that they need it, like professional 3D animators. Rendering videos will probably be bottlenecked by the storage before this much RAM is necessary.
Video Encoding is Sped Up by GPU Encoders
In the past decades, CPUs were used almost exclusively for heavy lifting tasks like video editing and animation. Video cards primarily were just used to display out to a screen and some were built for gaming. As time went on, graphics card manufacturers started to incorporate technologies from their other specialized compute cards, and programmers adjusted the code of different programs to take advantage of the GPU. CPUs are very good at running many individual and small computations quickly, while a GPU is very good at doing many similar computations at a much higher throughput.
Many modern GPUs include specialized chips dedicated to encoding videos. This is for streaming, especially, as it is easier to render a screen into a video stream on the same device that is already rendering the screen, rather than having to have to transfer all that data back to the CPU for encoding. NVIDIA’s NVENC encoder, which is featured on all of their new graphics cards, is especially good at encoding high-quality video. This, combined with NVIDIA’s CUDA libraries that a lot of video editing programs use, makes the GPU especially good for rendering videos. The performance will, of course, scale with a better GPU, but the difference between a $1200 GPU and a $500 is about 10%, so having a good GPU will be enough, but if every minute counts, then spending more will make a difference.
Fast Storage is a Good for a Smooth Timeline
Having fast storage in your gaming PC to store active files is as essential as having enough RAM and GPU for video editing. Obviously, all the video files are stored on a Hard Drive or Solid State Drive. Most computers, as well as all of Apex Gaming’s computers, come with an SSD to make Windows responsive and allow for games to load quickly, but hard drives are also used to supplement as they are quick enough to load games and they’re cheaper per gigabyte. Games have load screens and tricks to hid loading and the relative slowness of the disc, but hard drives are still very slow. With 4K and higher resolution video files, the video data runs at a faster rate than most hard drives can handle, so the program will often stutter and won’t be able to maintain the source framerate. 2.5” SATA SSDs will be able to keep up much better, and the difference while working in the timeline is almost imperceptible to an NVMe SSD that is up to 10 times faster, but transferring files will be significantly faster with an M.2 NVMe drive, which can make a huge difference when trying to archive and transfer rendered videos.
Do Not Undercut the CPU
Last but not least, the CPU still has to do a lot of processing in a video editing program. Though a lot of the heavy lifting can get offloaded to the GPU, the CPU still will often process effects, warps, and other aspects of the video editing process. Compared to a few years ago, though, modern CPUs have drastically increased in core counts, and so have the programs that can take advantage of them. A 4-core i7 used to the norm, and most programs couldn’t take advantage of more than 8-cores, but now with AMD Ryzen CPUs with 16 cores have enabled video editing programs to run faster by parallelizing the processing.
For gaming and VR ready PCs, more CPU cores typically don’t add to the FPS or performance. Instead, games prioritize CPU frequency and speed. Production programs, on the other hand, do scale with more cores, up to 32 or 64 CPU cores, though the performance gains are not proportional to the cost increase. For hobbyists or small channels, eight cores should be more than enough. For independent professionals who need more speed to improve their workflow, 12 or 16 core CPUs are more recommended. It’s not recommended for gaming computers to have more than 16 cores, but for professionals that need the best editing experience possible, our custom-designed computers are a great option for anyone looking for a specialized solution.
Good PCs for Video Editing
The Apex Streamer with a 3700X and 2060 Super is one of the best configurations that will suit many people getting started with their video editing journey, especially those using Davinci Resolve. Its 8-core CPU and higher-end GPU will allow it to churn through gameplay video, phone recorded blogs, and compressed camera footage. RAM and SSD space are more dependent on what is needed. Short 10-20 minute videos can operate fine on 16GB of RAM, and a good estimate is that 1 TB of storage will store approximately 50 hours of footage comfortably. Editing and uploading videos more often will help reduce the storage space needed, but hard drives will be recommended for anyone who wants to keep a local copy of all their footage.
For professionals editing videos on the daily, the Apex Zen with a 3950X, 2070 Super, and 64GB of RAM is the best value. It is very high-end for a gaming computer, but it is the best combination of hardware to edit videos smoothly and render videos quickly. As above, the storage recommendations for the Streamer apply to the Zen, though opting for a larger SSD will be a good idea to keep active working files on.