Anyone working with video or filmmaking will need the best video editing computer possible to get the most out of their work. Video editing is one of the most process-intensive tasks an everyday computer will undertake, especially if you're working on 4K, 8K or even higher-resolution video. Trying to do that on a machine that's not specced for it is a fast way to find yourself stranded in Crash City.
Fortunately, whether your use macOS or Windows, there are plenty of computers up to the task – you just need to know what to look for. Essentially, what you need is a high-end graphics card, a powerful processor, plenty of RAM and access to a high-definition monitor – a combination of all the above will do the job best, and it doesn't have to cost the earth either, if you're smart about it. We've picked out what we believe are some of the best video editing computers for this guide, and made sure to provide options for a range of budgets.
In this guide, we're looking at desktop computers – check out our guide to the best laptops for video editing if you'd like something more portable, or the best video editing apps for YouTube if you just want to do quick projects on your phone. Generally though, a desktop computer is the best choice if you have the budget and space for it, as the design allows for fans that prevent the system from overheating during intensive tasks
We've chosen the computers in this guide based on our reviewers' experience with working on them and using them. Some have displays, while others will need you to attach one of the best monitors for video editing, and if you need some more tech pointers, scroll down to the bottom of this page to find a dedicated section on how to choose the best computer for video editing.
Also, once you've got your computer, don't miss our guide to the best video editing software. Other than that, let's crack straight on with the best computers for video editing.
The best video editing computers
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The latest generation of Apple iMac computers is the best option for video editing in terms of the balance these machines provide between power, performance and price. The iMac (24-inch, 2021) is an outstanding machine, receiving a glowing write-up from our reviewer. We tried running multiple streams of 4K video in editing software, and the computer's multi-core performance handled it adroitly.
It's got a 24-inch display, which sports a 4.5K resolution. This means if you're going to be working with 8K footage, you're going to need to look elsewhere, but most people won't be, and the majority of users are going to appreciate the sleek redesign of this excellent computer. The thin bezels make the screen extra easy to immerse yourself in.
Plumping for an Apple computer also means you have access to Final Cut Pro, a user-friendly program for video editing, and one of our most highly recommended pieces of video editing software.
One thing to mention is that the M1 iMac lacks a discrete GPU, which means if you're working with effect-heavy video in the likes of DaVinci Resolve, you may experience some lag. Something like a MacBook Pro may be a better choice in this instance. Otherwise, the iMac M1 is an absolutely superb computer for video editing.
See our iMac M1 review for more details. And if the 24-inch display isn't large enough for you, then the older 27-inch iMac (see below) might well serve your purposes...
While this 2020 iMac may not be as stylishly designed as its newer sibling, and lacks the in-house Apple M1 chip, it's still a mightily powerful computer with a few tricks of its own, and a few things that the newer model doesn't have.
For a start, it's got a larger display – a 27-inch 5120 x 2880 Retina 5K display, in point of fact. Also, it has its own discrete graphics card in the AMD Radeon Pro 5700 XT, which gives it a bit of an edge when handling graphically intense tasks. When we reviewed the 2020 iMac, we were blown away by just how well it could keep up even while we deliberately loaded it up with processor-intense tasks. That 10th-generation Intel i9 processor might not be an M1, but it still gets the job done.
The iMac also never seems to overheat, and its fans never seem to run into screaming overdrive. A hat has to be tipped to Apple's clever thermal design here, allowing the computer to cool off with ease. Formidable even when it comes to crunching through high-resolution video, the iMac 2020 is an all-in-one powerhouse that'll suit practically any editing workflow.
The all-in-one design on the iMac 2020 means it's easy to set up and looks smart in any office, home or studio, and it's a formidable PC when it comes to editing high-resolution videos. See our iMac 2020 review for more details.
If you prefer Windows to Macs, then fear not, you've got a brilliant option in the form of the Microsoft Surface Studio 2. It scored major points in our full review for all sorts of clever design choices, like the hinge that makes it easy to flip the screen all the way down. Plus, the ability to switch colour profiles from sRGB to DCI-P3 (which not all computers have at all) is really useful for high-end video editing.
Central to the Surface Studio 2 is its fantastic 28-inch display, which not only has a resolution of 4,500 x 3000 pixels, but is also a touchscreen. If you want to drag and drop your clips around in a more tactile fashion, you can, though there are also plenty of peripherals available like mice and keyboards to use in a more standard setup.
The components of the Surface Studio 2 fall a little short of the iMacs in our top two spots, but let's not get carried away – for most contemporary editing tasks, they're going to be just fine. If you don't want to jump onto the Apple train, this is a fantastic choice of video editing computer.
See our full Surface Studio 2 review for more information.
The Mac Studio is Apple's latest top-flight computing powerhouse. Looking like a couple of Mac Minis (more on which below) welded together, the Mac Studio is designed for creative professionals and is perfect for video editors with big power needs. It can be run using Apple's own M1 Max or M1 Ultra chips, the latter of which gives you double the cores, memory and bandwidth of the former. Suffice to say, this is one of the most powerful computers Apple has ever made.
When we reviewed the Mac Studio, we found, as expected, that it coped incredibly well with pretty much any creative task we threw at it, including video editing. We put it through its paces editing a complex project in Final Cut Pro, including scenes that incorporated 8K footage. It ran as smooth as you like, and was basically silent. It also very nicely handled rendering 3D footage in Houdini. Without a doubt, it's an amazing machine.
If you're not performing the kinds of video editing tasks detailed above, then this is undoubtedly more computing power than you require, at a higher price tag than you need to pay. But if your video editing workflow is extremely power-intensive, and you need to be confident that your computer will keep up, we'd recommend Mac Studio without hesitation.
The one thing that could be considered a downside is that you'll need to buy a monitor separately, but the ability to buy exactly the screen you need might benefit pros with specific needs.
Our Mac Studio review runs through it all in more detail.
The Mac mini is a diminutive PC equipped with Apple's all-new M1 chip, which packs an 8-core GPU, but don't let its compact size fool you - this is a very capable PC for video editing, especially when paired with one of the best 4K monitors on the market. Its small size allows means it can be tossed into a bag and easily carried around, giving you a desktop with the portability of a laptop.
The base model features the Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 16-core Neural Engine with 256GB SSD, and there are four expansion ports at the back for either USB or Thunderbolt external storage, plus HDMI 2.0 to simultaneously support two displays. When it came to reviewing the Mac Mini M1, we wanted to see how well it handled demanding video editing tasks, so we booted up Final Cut Pro and got started cutting some 8K footage. Result? The little machine handled the task with incredible ease – and, also, silently. That's really quite impressive for a device of this size.
It sports the same hardware found in the new iMac 24-inch model, and offers very similar performance, but without the built-in display, and for quite a bit less money. If you already have a monitor you love using, then the Mac mini is a great alternative to the new iMac and can save you a decent amount of cash. Read more about it with our Mac mini (M1) review.
It's well worth looking into gaming PCs for your video editing needs. After all, gaming is an activity that requires a lot of power out of your computer for a long period of time – just like processing and rendering video. While a lot of gamers build their own computers, there are plenty of options out there for those who have no interest in doing that, such as the HP Omen 30L.
The glass-heavy style lets you see the internal components, which may not be to everyone's tastes, but we rather like it. The computing power is excellent, especially for this price point, with a healthy 16GB of RAM to play with. The graphical performance is also outstanding, which is handy if you're planning a lot of intense After Effects work. The design of the computer makes it relatively easy to swap out parts, so if you are someone who can get their hands dirty, you'll be able to help the HP Omen 30L keep up for a good few years.
There's only one cooling fan, and be aware that it really does get loud when the computer is performing demanding tasks; you could be forgiven for thinking someone had crammed a jet engine in there. This is hardly a killer flaw, just something to be aware of.
The Lenovo Legion 5i is another excellent example of a gaming PC that also doubles as a great PC for video editing, offering superb value for money and flexibility for anyone who dabbles in games alongside their creative work.
You're getting 10th generation Intel processors, and up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super, both of which are slightly out of date given the latest generational releases from Nvidia and Intel, but still very capable and powerful enough to run AAA games and any video editing application, you can throw at it.
You can also configure it with up to 16GB of RAM, which should be plenty for most people's needs. If you find you need more, then you can always upgrade it yourself later – one of the best things about desktop PCs is how relatively easy they are to upgrade. Best of all, this PC can come with loads of storage space, with up to 1TB hard drive and a 1TB SSD – making it ideal for storing all your video files.
The 27-inch Yoga AIO 7 is a capable Windows-based rival to the ageing iMac Pro, with features optimised specifically for creative professionals over traditional home or business work.
The 4K display comes with an optional 99% Adobe RGB colour gamut and DCI-P3 99% colour space and can be fully rotated to portrait mode with just a push of a finger for anyone that needs to work on a different angle on TikTok videos.
The 32GB of RAM will help speed up rendering. If you're partial to using applications like Adobe After Effects, you can select up to an Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card to help with any demanding editing or rendering.
With up to 1TB of SSD storage and the option for a 2TB HDD, there's plenty of room to save video footage and ports to pair with your favourite peripherals.
Corsair has made a name for itself in the gaming space for its powerful but compact computing rigs, and the Corsair One a200 sticks faithfully to this formula. Unlike some of the other computers on this list, it's also pleasingly quiet in operation, thanks to a clever cooling system built around a 140mm fan and liquid-cooling radiators.
The power provided here is substantial, perhaps to a greater extent than many video editors will need, which contributes to what will likely be the sticking point for a lot of people: the price. This is not a cheap rig. It's going to be above many budgets. But with all that said, the level of computing power you get here will make even intense processing and rendering tasks a breeze – indeed, a breeze that's directed away from you thanks to the aforementioned clever cooling system. If you can justify the price tag, and if you game as hard as you work, this is a great buy.
We've covered budget-friendly gaming PCs as a suitable option for video editors, but if you like some luxury, there are some real gems out there. The Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 is one of the best AMD-based gaming desktops on the market, with plenty of configuration options available for users to customize the system to fit their needs.
With Dell owning the Alienware brand, there's also the opportunity to save some cash if your employer or place of education provides discount vouchers for new equipment. This isn't guaranteed, but it makes annual sales like Black Friday a great time to nab one at a discount.
The UFO-inspired design might not be to everyone's taste, and while the price is fair for the product you get, this is still a costly PC. If you were looking to combine a love of gaming with your video editing demands though, buying a single machine like this can provide you with the best of both worlds.
What does a video editing computer need?
Video editing is fairly demanding on most systems, so when looking into a new computer make sure you have a super-fast CPU, lots of RAM and a decent graphics card.
Encoding and transcoding will be better on a faster CPU, so you'll want to look at clock speed rather than the number of cores. An Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor released in the last few years should suffice, if you can afford to bump up to a full i9 or Ryzen 9 processor, your system will have a much easier time coping with demanding applications.
Rendering is a similar story, mainly using your CPU and RAM, so while most traditional desktop computers can get by with 16GB (or even 8GB), you'll want to stick as much in as you can afford. 32GB is the sweet spot, but the more the merrier.
The most important components for you to concentrate on are the graphics card and processor. If you're looking to edit ultra-high definition videos or add complex video effects, then we strongly recommend buying a PC with a dedicated graphics card as this will ensure the PC can handle your video editing tasks.
There are popular products available from both Nvidia and AMD such as the GeForce RTX 3080 and the Radeon RX 6800 XT, but you'll find that most GPUs released within the last four years should meet the standard for video editing or rendering.
Meanwhile, a fast, modern, multi-core processor will also help speed up your video editing workflow. Pair that with a good amount of RAM (we recommend 8GB as a minimum, and preferably 16GB but the more, the merrier), and you should be able to chew through video editing tasks with ease.
The best video editing PCs will also offer fast SSD (solid-state drive) storage. This helps make moving, copying and accessing large files nice and quick. Video files can often be quite large, especially when you're shooting in 4K, so you'll need plenty of hard drive space to store it all on as well. If a PC is advertised with an HDD or Hard Drive we would recommend looking elsewhere – HDDs are generally much cheaper, but also much slower, and it's not hard to find affordable SSD builds these days.
Is a gaming PC good at video editing?
Gaming computers and laptops share a few things in common with those optimized for creative professionals: You need a fast CPU, a powerful GPU to run your games/applications and as much RAM as you can afford.
This makes gaming PCs a great alternative to portable workstations, especially as many manufacturers don't create desktop computers with creative professions like video editing in mind, which is why you may have noticed that this list is dominated by Apple-branded hardware and gaming PCs.
The components required to run next-gen AAA games and hardware like VR headsets isn't dissimilar to those used by people who run demanding software such as Adobe Creative Suit, and many companies like Dell, Lenovo and HP will provide different configurations that allow you to customise the system to your exact needs.
You can expect a recently released, high-spec processor, a beefy graphics card, plentiful and speedy RAM, and of course a sizable SSD storage capacity for you to save 4K files to.
Gaming desktops can also support powerful displays, so if you need a 4K, 144Hz monitor then you'll find gaming PCs more readily available than specialized creative systems. The only thing you need to worry about is a 'gamer' aesthetic and an occasionally obnoxious amount of RGB lighting.
Why is my video editing computer lagging?
Lag can happen for all sorts of reasons, especially with cheaper computers or older hardware. If your computer meets the minimum system requirements, then common fixes include a quick restart, or if you're working on a big project, dividing it up into smaller chunks to lessen the strain on the computer's processor. Consider also defragmenting your hard drive, or updating your video drivers.
If the problem persists, and your computer is modular and allows upgrades, you could also consider replacing components rather than the machine wholesale.
Best video editing computer: extras to consider
But why choose a desktop computer instead of one of the best laptops for video editing or the best tablets for video editing? While today’s top-of-the-line laptops are indeed powerful enough to be used for video editing, you still get the best performance and best value for money from a desktop computer, with the added benefit that it’s much easier to upgrade.