How to choose a graphics card for a Video Editing PC

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How To Guide

CPU vs GPU in video editing

The processor on a high-performance graphics card is called the GPU. Its design is fundamentally different to the kind of processor used to run a computers central functions known as your CPU. In a regular CPU, there are relatively few processor cores, usually between 4 and 16, with each processor core operating at a high clock frequency. In a graphics card, the GPU will have a very high core count, often as high as 3500 or more cores but each core operates at a far lower clock frequency. It is these large number of cores that is significant about choosing a graphics card for a video editing PC.

Does Adobe Premiere Pro utilise a graphics card?

Adobe Premiere Pro uses GPU acceleration for many of its more complex and compute-intensive tasks; this is the most efficient way to handle such functions because most image/video processing tasks can easily be broken down. The CPU has the role of marshalling these jobs to the GPU and deciphering the output. Think of it like this, if you wanted to load a removals van with the contents of a house as quickly as possible, would you rather have the “worlds strongest man” (CPU) or a team of 100 ordinary people (GPU)? Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software would have the job broken down by the group of 100 to get it done quicker.

 

It’s essential to maintain a balance between GPU and CPU performance as a bottleneck can occur if one is more powerful than the other. If you over specify the CPU, then not all of its power will be used, as the GPU will be working at maximum and won’t be able to pass enough work to the CPU. Careful system design regarding the CPU / GPU balance will reward with the best price/performance system.

Adobe Premiere pro

Turn raw footage into flawless productions with Premiere Pro CC, the industry-leading video editing software. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, you can edit, adjust colour, refine audio and more — all in one seamless, integrated workflow.

4K Video Editing

A system based on the Z370 chipset and the i7-8700K processor will perform well with a single GPU, even a top end consumer model such as the RTX2080.

4K Video Editing with layers

Systems with multiple GPU will benefit from the increased performance of the X299 platform because of increases in the CPU core count and also because of the higher number of PCIe lanes available on that platform.

8K Video Editing

Use of multiple GPU in a high-performance video editing system will be quite heavy on I/O throughput so moving up to the 44 PCIe lanes of the i9-9820X or the i9-9920X will bring performance increments.

 

Often the performance increase observed when moving from a single GPU system to a dual GPU system is significant. On a high specification X299 platform, it can scale almost to double the performance of a single card system.

Which graphics cards does Adobe Premiere support?

For Adobe Premiere Pro to be able to make use of the graphics card, it must support either Cuda or OpenCL. Nvidia cards support Cuda, and AMD cards support OpenCL. Cuda comes out as the clear winner in straight up performance tests with a variety of codecs. We would recommend users choose a Nvidia based GPU.

Can I mix and match graphics cards in a video editing PC?

Any graphics card will help improve performance. Ideally, if you install more than one GPU in your PC, you should try to keep to the same model, but system performance can be boosted even with different cards as long as they are both using the same vendor’s chipset, i.e. both Nvidia running Cuda.

Does VRAM matter to video editing?

Aim to use graphics cards with high quantities of onboard video memory (VRAM). If your GPU has insufficient video memory, then your PC will be forced to use the computers CPU to process even when you have switched on GPU acceleration, this can happen partway through a job. For this reason, we recommend cards with a minimum of 6GB but ideally aim for 8GB or higher.

Do graphics cards for video editing need linking via an SLI bridge?

Systems utilising more than one graphics card don’t need to have the cards linked with an SLI bridge. Don’t install more than two cards if you are using Nvidia GTX cards. Nvidia hasn’t designed the latest 10xx series GTX cards to be used in 3-way or 4-way configurations, and although some users have reported success, we have experienced system instability with these configurations.

NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics for video editing

For high-performance systems, consider using Nvidia Quadro cards. The cards are designed to be used as Cuda GPU, so the cards and drivers have been optimised along these lines. The cards are also equipped with far more substantial quantities of video memory and can be used in 3-way and 4-way configurations. Quadro cards also support 10-bit colour which can be beneficial for those working in studio quality settings. GTX cards only support 8-bit colour.

Our GPU / CPU recommendations for a balanced system

CPUMotherboard ChipsetMinimum GPUMaximum GPU
Intel Core i5-9600kIntel Z370GTX1070 / Quadro P4000RTX2080 / Quadro RTX5000
AMD Ryzen 7 2700XAMD X470RTX2070 / Quadro P5000RTX2080Ti / Quadro RTX6000
Intel Core i7-9700KIntel Z390RTX2070 / Quadro P5000RTX2080Ti / Quadro RTX6000
Intel Core i9-9900KIntel Z390RTX2080 / Quadro RTX5000RTX2080Ti / Quadro RTX6000
Intel Core i9-9920XIntel X299RTX2080Ti / Quadro RTX60002 x RTX2080 / 2 x Quadro RTX5000
Intel Core i9-9960XIntel X299RTX2080Ti / Quadro RTX60002 x RTX2080Ti / 2 x Quadro RTX6000
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