Video editing is a very popular field these days. However, for a perfect workflow, a video editor needs a machine that can fulfill all editing requirements. Only a very strong and versatile processor can match those requirements as many variables are involved. You’re right at home if you’re also a video editor and want to know which CPU is best for editing.
If there are no budget constraints, then surely the latest and greatest Intel offering would be a perfect choice. Intel’s processors come with integrated graphics, a game changer for video editing. If affordability is a priority, Apple’s M1 CPU is also a strong contender with its magical video editing optimization. And at the last spot comes Ryzen’s offerings.
In any case, it’s not that simple to say which CPU is the best for you. You will have to define your requirements and editing intensity, as they can vastly impact your final decision to buy a CPU.
Luckily, this article will cover all those usage scenarios so you can easily decide which CPU is best suited for your needs.
Determine Your Usage
The first thing to consider is your work pattern and what kind of files you will be working with. Video editing isn’t simple; many variables are involved in the process. Some of these require a huge amount of power, while even mediocre CPUs can easily handle other processes.
So, even though the latest and most powerful Intel CPU (the Core i9, of course) still comes out on top, it doesn’t mean you will need this. Maybe, you can do just fine with another CPU that costs much less just because your editing requirements suit that CPU. That’s why here are some variables that can affect the final decision in declaring a CPU the best.
Format or Resolution
The most basic variable would be the codec or resolution you’re working with. You’ll need less power to edit a 720p resolution footage than a 4K or 8K clip. Another example can be the usage of the H.265 codec versus H.264. The latter consumes fewer resources to be edited because it isn’t as compressed as the H.265 files.
So, you must always know what type of files and resolution you will be working with, as they can greatly impact determining the best CPU for yourself.
The Video Editor You’re Using
Different NLEs or video editing software exert varying load levels on the CPU. You must determine this aspect before going out shopping for a CPU. For instance, Apple’s iMovie editor is a very basic software, and it does not need a whole load of resources to work smoothly.
However, Apple’s professional offering, Final Cut Pro, is not made for newbies. It comes with a plethora of high-grade features that can require powerful hardware to run without hiccups.
Then comes the amount of work you’re expecting to produce daily. Continuous working can be hard on your CPU, and an underpowered processor will struggle to cope with all that heat and workload.
Resource-consuming tasks include complex color correction, power windows, motion graphics, tracking, etc.
This is the time your computer consumes to process your editing and provide you with the outcome. Although most users do not want ultra-fast rendering speeds as they will be needed only once for a project. However, if you edit many videos frequently, then rendering speeds do matter.
And CPUs differ a lot in rendering speeds. This aspect alone is where some Ryzen CPUs can shine bright. So, for rendering speeds alone, you can rely on the latest offerings from AMD.
If you want the best outcome from your computer, only using the best CPU is not enough. You will have to pair a sufficient amount of RAM with your CPU to gain the best and smoothest experience.
There are only three competitors in the CPU market right now. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each processor and see which one comes out on top.
Intel’s Core CPU
If we’re talking about Intel’s latest 12th Gen Alder Lake CPU, then yes! It certainly is the best CPU out there for video editing. Even the 11th Gen processors are not that far behind and can give a smooth experience to most editors.
Intel’s popularity in video editing is the presence of iGPUs. They make a difference in video editing, and editors always look for processors with built-in graphic processing. Moreover, these iGPUs in Intel’s 12th Gen i9 CPUs deliver best-in-class video editing capabilities, even better than most dedicated GPUs.
AMD’s Ryzen CPU
The CPUs AMD offer, even the current flagships, cannot directly compete with Intel’s offerings in terms of raw performance. Intel just crushes the competition in terms of numbers. However, Ryzen CPUs are very affordable, and you can opt for one only if your budget is very less.
Ryzen processors are not popular among video editors because of the lack of iGPUs in most models. Add in the fact that there are no built-in media encoders; the experience just gets worse. However, top-of-the-line Ryzen CPUs have better rendering speeds, but this factor rarely makes a difference for most editors.
Apple’s M1 Chip
Outside the Windows bracket is the Apple realm. Many loyal Apple users do not want to let go of the flawless iOS ecosystem. So, Apple also has its own offering for its users in the form of its M1 SoC.
Although not as mighty as the Alder Lake, the M1 Chips are optimized for video editing with dedicated encoders and decoders. Especially the M1 Pro and the M1 Max chips provide the best value for most video editors out there. However, you lose out on the customizability you get with the Windows OS.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best CPU that caters to your needs is a crucial step before video editing. The final decision to get a CPU depends on your usage patterns and how much work you plan to extract from your CPU.
Whatever the case, Intel’s latest processors will always be the best option because of their iGPUs and tremendous processing power. Then come the Apple M1 SoC’s built-in encoders and smooth sailing experience. AMD’s Ryzen SoCs are a better option for video rendering sometimes, but they cannot directly compete with their substitutes. It’s due to their low price and lack of media encoders.
Frequently Asked Questions
16GB of RAM is a generous amount. Most computers come with 8GB or less RAM, so you’ll be absolutely fine with 16GB. With this much RAM, you can easily edit and export 1080p or even 4K files without facing issues, considering you’re using the best CPU for editing.
Even if you are not a hardcore video editor, it wouldn’t be wise to go below the quad-core line. Try getting closer to the Deca-core mark or aim for at least Hexa-core CPUs.