Minimum System Specs For Video Editing in 1080p

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Lil Chillbil, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Lil Chillbil macrumors 65816

    Lil Chillbil

    Jan 30, 2012
    There has been a lot of debate on forums like macrumors when some newbie asks what kind of machine for video editing you need. Usually people will respond saying nothing but the best, then there people who recomend 6 year old hardware Like the core duo imac or macbook pro, and finally there are people who say they edit video in 1080p on a 800mhz powerbook with no problems with exporting or importing ?

    So I figure we could discuss the subject here and come up with a good happy medium and define what is "fast exporting" and decent specs

    Personally I recommend nothing less than a dual core system with at least 4 gigs of ram
  2. daybreak macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    I use a Mac Pro 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon. At present most Mac's have editing software. It depends how far you wish to go into editing.:apple:
  3. Blue Fox macrumors 6502a

    Blue Fox

    Apr 13, 2009
    I use my old dual-core i3 27" iMac still, with 12GB RAM. Edit in 1080p, while having numerous other programs open as well and it handles it just fine. I did upgrade the internal with an SSD, and use FireWire 800 to connect to the 4TB 7200rpm external drives.

    I'll have Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro X, Aperture, iTunes amend Safari all running and it works great. The BIGGEST thing that I noticed that boosted the speed for editing was the SSD and RAM. The high RPM external with FW800 made a big difference too over a budget USB external.
  4. HobeSoundDarryl, Mar 16, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    How much time do you have to spend on your editing? Conceptually, you could edit video on whatever old technology a piece of software that can edit 1080p will run. I know iMovie 06 will run on circa 2004 Macs... maybe earlier ones too, and it can edit 1080p.

    BUT, the old hardware will slow down the pace of editing: wait for import, wait for each edit to render, wait for export. In other words, just about everyone is right based upon what you've heard. What's being left out is how fast you want to do the editing. If it's a one-off edit, maybe just be patient and make it work on slow tech. However, if you plan on regularly editing 1080p, then the waiting will weigh on you.

    For example, I shoot a lot of 1080p. If I do the editing and render it on very new & fast hardware, I can render a couple of hours of it in a few hours- let's say 3 hours. If I transfer the master file over to- say- a 2004 Powerbook, it will render the file too but it might take a day or two before it gets done with that render. 3 hours or 40 hours, what's important to you?

    What you leave out of your question is the value of your own time. If it has no value, then you've asked a perfect question (minimum specs will mean maximum time for editing & rendering). If you qualified your question by showing some value for your time, then you'll get suggestions for better hardware. If you make time very important, then you'll get best specs recommendations. What happens when you ask it as you have is that each person will inject their own value of their own time and give you an answer that fits their needs. That's why you get many different answers.

    If you plan to regularly edit 1080p video and your time has some value, get the best hardware you can afford. If you don't mind burning a lot of time, the minimum specs will do the trick. I have a 2004 PowerMac G4 that can edit & render 1080p very, very SLOWLY. I doubt it's actually "minimum specs" but it's near that. If you want to buy it, PM me and I'll quote you a price.
  5. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    Not doing it as professional work....

    I used my Mac Pro and FCP X for some editing work in 1080p, mostly for friends and for my actual work related files. My Mac Pro have 64 GB of RAM and I also have a FireWire 800 external HDD (I tought it is a LaCie one, not so sure about model) for media storage and video/photos forays.

    Also I had tried Adobe Premiere Pro. But still dont have a working grip on it. And my editing is most basic related stuff: cropping, cutting pasting, transcoding or burning DVDs with the material used (not yet transitioned to Blu-ray burners).

    Just my 2 cents....:eek::D

  6. darthmaynard macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2008
    I'm glad someone posed this question so I can weigh in. I'm using a mid 2010 13" MBP, 1 TB (5400rpm), 8Gb RAM.

    I'm left to shoot in edit in 720p in iMovie. I had tried the FCPX demo and the experience was dreadful. Getting AVCHD into the machine was impossible with iMovie but a breeze with FCPX. But then the editing process was rife with stuttering and rendering was an overnight job.

    I'm convinced that when I upgrade this year that it will be a refurb 15" with a dedicated video card. Of course, I'll max out the RAM and drop an SSD and replace the optical drive with an HDD. Though thunderbolt has me curious that it may be a faster workflow.

    Just my 2¢
  7. gnomeisland macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    1080p, sure. But what CODEC?!

    I think the codec matters, A LOT. If you want to edit in native AVCHD then you need either a fast XEON type system or a system with a Sandy Bridge or newer process because the Sandy Bridge processors accelerate H.264 natively. If you are working with ProRes LT then you have a lot more options as ProRes was developed many years ago (six, maybe?) so a fast processor from even a few years ago will be able to keep up with doing basic edits.

    So in short this question can only ever be answered with "it depends". I edit mostly in H.264 to save space for documentary projects and I have to wait for my Quad 2.66ghz Pro to catch up sometimes.
  8. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    This. And I'm guessing you could get work done on a pretty bad machine in 1080p if you're using proxy/offline media, just don't hold your breath for the final render.

    But to give you a benchmark, my 2008 13" aluminium macbook with a core2duo 2.0GHz cpu and 4GB ram didn't have much trouble editing 1080p files though I was using ProRes LT. Mind you I could see anything less making the experience not so enjoyable...
  9. hvfsl macrumors 68000


    Jul 9, 2001
    London, UK
    When I got my first HDV camcorder (2008), I had to edit on a 1.3Ghz iBook as my main Mac had died on holiday and I was waiting for Apple to release new MBPs. Sure I had to wait 14hours for it to output the final movie, but I converted everything to prores on import so it was actually fairly useable as long as I didn't do anything more than add titles/fades.
  10. Nyy8 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2011
    New England
    It depends on what "type" of editing.. It's like like titles and Transitions I would say a core 2 duo system with 4GB of ram. (I personally know you have to use a dual core, since I tired on a Pentium 4 HT (2.8 GHz) right now with 2GB of ram and I had much of lag.)

    But if you we talking like video FX, and more professional stuff I would say a quad core system, with a moderate GPU and 6GB of ram.
  11. LoneWolfUSMC macrumors newbie


    Dec 28, 2012
    Southern Indiana
    As mentioned previously it's all about what YOU can accept.

    If you are shooting family/friends videos once in awhile and you can afford to have your system tied up for a day rendering a project, then you can use a lower spec machine.

    If you work in a production environment with deadlines, then you need the speed a fast machine will give you. This is even more critical when doing 3d compositing.

    I don't do a lot of compositing work. Just straightforward transitions and lower thirds. My previous system was a PC with 2.7GHz AMD Phenom II, 8 GB ram, Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT and a mess of hard drives. Using Adobe Master Collection CS5.5 I could get the job done. On H.264 1080p footage from a Canon 60D scrubbing was choppy and rendering could be an all night affair.

    I just upgraded to a 15" MBPr so that I can still do quick work in the field. I maxed out the RAM and but kept the 2.7 i7 and 512GB SSD. Using CS6 with the Mercury Engine, scrubbing is smooth and rendering the same footage is faster than realtime. It is a joy to use. Even more so since I am not tied to my desk. The SSD reduces the need for numerous externals for the task of rendering. Once I get some Thunderbolt RAID 0 arrays attached it will probably speed that up even more.

    How much system you need is based on the speed you need. The speed you need is based on what you feel is acceptable for your application. I have edited 1080p footage on some pretty slow hardware. I prefer to work with a system that will do H.264 natively without transcoding and the added time that takes.

Share This Page