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Tips For Optimizing Your Computer for 4K

Johnathan Paul

Video editing in 4K? Here’s a few technical considerations for optimizing your machine.

Last year I made the switch to shooting and editing videos in 4K. I quickly realized that in order to work efficiently in post I would need to do a major computer upgrade to handle the increased file size of the 4K video format.

From my own experience I’ve compiled 4 crucial technical considerations every video editor should make before making the jump to 4K video.

Lighting Fast Storage

For internal memory you want a solution that will process data quickly…these days an SSD is your best option. SSDs have no moving parts so they are less prone to failure and are quicker than traditional hard drives. It’s worth noting that different drives have different transfer rates – a drive that can effectively do this is the Samsung 1TB SSD which runs at 540MB/s. You’ll need to shell out more than double the money for a SSD but worth the investment for pro users.

SSDImage courtesy of CNET

Expand Your Brain

You don’t have to go crazy with your computer’s processor, but you want one that is solid and can run multiple tasks with relative ease. Intel is currently in both Mac and PC. With Intel you have two clear cut choices, the Intel i7 and the Xeon e5.

You can go either way here. Both the Xeon e5 and the i7 will give you the processing power you need to get the job done. The Xeon e5 is rated just a little better than the i7 and packs a little harder punch, but its also around twice the price. See CPUBoss for a full comparison.

Expand Your Brain

Boost Your Memory

When editing and running software such as Premiere Pro CC, Avid or FCPX there is one thing above all else to consider: memory.

Programs like those listed above use up a lot of memory to process your work, especially if you’re processing and rendering hi-resolution video. Boost the RAM memory to increase your processing power. I run 32g of RAM on my Mac Pro and have no issues with lag, but I feel you could even use between 8-16g of RAM for strictly video editing. Users that work in VFX applications will obviously want to boost that number even higher.

Crucial is a great resource for Mac or PC memory.  Mac users may also want to head over to OWC.

Crucial MemoryImage courtesy of TweakTown

Max the Graphics

Graphics are just as important as processing power and memory when building a computer for video editing. Processing 4K will require a lot of GPU (graphics processing unit) so you’ll want to find a solution that gives you at the very least 1g of memory. In the old Mac Pro towers, which is what I use, I’m able to double up my graphics cards just like I could in a PC.

I run two Nvidia cards, both 1g and both CUDA. CUDA is a way for software to harness the computing power of the GPU. Adobe allows for CUDA support in all Creative Cloud products. When I made the move to Nvidia and CUDA I was able to render my After Effects comps in real-time, which saves me a ton of time. AMD also makes some incredibly impressive graphic processors – you can’t go wrong with either one. Head on over to B&H and checkout and AMD or Nvidia and see which one is for you.

Remember: the only Macs that you can upgrade after the fact are the older Mac Pro Towers 2008-2012. For iMac and the new Mac Pro just select the upgrade during the purchasing process.

GeForce GTXImage courtesy of DigitalTrends

Are you editing in 4K? Share your tips in the comments below!