When you’re building a video editing PC, there are a few key components that you must not compromise on. The most important of those components is the processor. Most, if not all of today’s video editing software relies heavily on the CPU. Sure, there are some that support GPU acceleration, but it’s the CPU that handles most of the load. This is the main reason why anyone looking to build a video editing PC should invest in a good CPU. A processor with a sufficient number of cores and threads, a good microarchitecture, along with a high clock speed is ideal for video editing. Therefore, in this article, we have reviewed the 8 best processors for video editing.

What should you look for when buying a video editing processor?

Not every CPU is good for video editing, even those that cost quite a bit. There are a few things that can help quite a bit with a video editing workflow, and those are the ones worth investing in. The ones worth mentioning are the cores, the threads, and less important the processor’s clock speed. Let’s take a look at what’s actually worth your money, and we’ll touch upon the roles of the CPU and GPU in video editing.

Cores and the Threads

In this day and age, we wouldn’t recommend anything below a four-core CPU for video editing. Video editing software does take advantage of multiple cores and threads, and the performance of said software often scales directly with higher performance CPUs that have multiple cores. Examples of high-performance video editing CPUs are Intel’s Core i9-9900K or AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X, with the former having eight cores and sixteen threads and the latter having 12 cores and 24 threads. That’s not to say you can’t edit videos without them, but more cores and more threads do help. For example, with Premiere Pro, you’ll notice a rapid increase in performance as you increase the core count up to 10 cores. After that, there’s still an increase, but it’s not as obvious.

Clock Speed

The other important aspect of the CPU is clock speed. However, it is important to note that the clock speed of a CPU is only important if the CPU has a sufficient number of cores and threads along with an efficient microarchitecture. As you increase the clock speed, the software works a lot better. With the examples we mentioned below, the Intel Core i9-9900K would be a better choice if the price were not an issue, thanks to its microarchitecture and much faster clock speeds. One more thing to note here is that if you edit videos in higher resolutions, such as 4K, the benefit of a more powerful CPU will be much more obvious.

CPU VS GPU for Video Editing

So, which one is more important for video editing, the CPU or the GPU? Well, if you were to ask this a few years ago, it would undoubtedly be the CPU. And overall, it’s still the CPU, but a good GPU will be beneficial, especially if you’re using Premiere Pro. Adobe has constantly increased GPU use with Premiere Pro, so a modern GPU will certainly help. Considering that video encoding is a very CPU-intensive task, you’ll want most of your money to go towards the CPU. However, if you use GPU-accelerated effects in your videos, note that Premiere Pro, for example, makes use of the CUDA cores to render those effects much better. It’s actually something that depends on your specific workload. But in the end, you’ll want to spend more on the CPU, as this is what will give you the most benefit when you’re editing video.

Best Video Editing Processors

With the “buyers’ guide” out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best video editing processors money can buy today. They’re all excellent, but have varying strengths and come at differing price points. Which one you choose to go for is completely up to you.

  1. AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Processor

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 12-core, 24-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
If you take a look at AMD’s Zen 2 lineup, the Ryzen 9 3900X is currently the best video editing CPU. Its a high core count, high-frequency beast capable of rendering videos very quickly, even at higher resolutions.

The sheer number of cores and threads is impressive – 12 and 24 respectively, and it manages to perform better than Intel’s competition here. The base clock is fairly high at 3.8 GHz, but during rendering when you need a bit more, there’s a maximum boost of 4.6 GHz. This should be more than enough, but you can still overclock it quite a bit since it’s an unlocked CPU.

Like AMD promised with their first-generation Ryzen processors, the 3900X still uses the AM4 socket. It’s made on a 7nm process, which is the latest and greatest and is one of the main advantages AMD has over Intel. Memory support is dual-channel, at 3200 Mhz, and the CPU comes with a 105W TDP.

All things considered, if you want a high-end video editing machine, the Ryzen 9 3900X is certainly a CPU that’s certainly worthy of powering one – it can handle anything you throw at it.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Specs
ArchitectureZen 2
SocketAM4
Cores / Threads12 / 24
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.8 GHz / 4.6 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller3200 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache64MB
Integrated GraphicsNone
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP105W
Process7nm
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  1. Intel 9th Gen Core i9-9900K Processor

Intel Core i9-9900K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 5.0 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Intel’s Core i9-9900K is the latest and greatest CPU from Intel that’s not a part of the non-HEDT platform. It’s an excellent all-around CPU for those who can afford it, and it makes sure to pay attention to everything that’s important for a CPU.

To begin with, it’s an eight-core, sixteen-thread beast. This is more than enough for video editing, especially when you factor in the base frequency of 3.6GHz. If this isn’t enough for your workload, or you just want more, the i9-9900K can turbo up to 5GHz which is impressive. This allows it to deliver excellent performance when it comes to video editing.

It operates on the LGA 1151 socket with a TDP of 95 watts. The STIM cooling material ensures that heat transfer from the CPU to the cooler is excellent, so you can comfortably overclock the processor. The integrated graphics card is Intel’s UHD 630, and the CPU has support for Intel’s Optane memory. With up to 40 PCIe lanes and 16MB of cache, this may be the best processor for video editing, if the price isn’t an issue.

Intel Core i9-9900K Specs
ArchitectureCoffee Lake
SocketLGA 1151
Cores / Threads8 / 16
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.6GHz / 5GHz
Memory Speed / Controller2666MHz / 2
Cache16 MB
Integrated GraphicsIntel UHD 630
Unlock MultiplierYes
TDP95W
Process14nm
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  1. AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Processor

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 8-Core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
While there are more powerful options as part of the Zen 2 release from AMD, there are some video editors that simply don’t need that much performance. If you don’t need the Ryzen 9 3900X’s high core count, there’s a great alternative that will also save you a few bucks – the Ryzen 7 3800X. It’s still a very powerful processor, but a bit cheaper.

To begin with, you have a CPU made on the TSMC 7nm FinFET process, which uses AMD’s much familiar AM4 socket. It comes with a 105W TDP and AMD’s excellent Wraith Prism cooler, but you’ll want something more powerful if you intend to overclock it.

As far as numbers go, this is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU. This should have you more than covered for video editing, especially considering the running frequencies. The base frequency is 3.9 GHz, higher than the Ryzen 9’s 3.8 GHz, but if you intend to push it like it’s meant to be pushed, it will easily get to 4.5 GHz with turbo boost. Oh, and there’s always plenty of room for overclocking. Memory support is dual-channel at 3200 Mhz, and if you want to fully take advantage of the CPU, we recommend using fast memory.

All things considered, if you don’t need 12 cores, the Ryzen 7 3800X is certainly one of the best processors for video editing.

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Specs
ArchitectureZen 2
SocketAM4
Cores / Threads8 / 16
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.9 GHz / 4.5 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller3200 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache32MB
Integrated GraphicsNone
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP105W
Process7nm
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  1. AMD Ryzen 7 3700X Processor

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Prism LED Cooler
AMD released two models as a part of their performance-labeled Ryzen 7 series, and the 3700X is the weaker of the two. While we do say weaker, this is still one of the best processors for video editing, especially if you’re intending to save a few bucks. This is the CPU you would get if you’re getting an aftermarket cooler, since it has quite a lot of overclocking potential.

Unless you really need those fast render times (and the difference isn’t all that big, to be honest), it makes sense to go for the 3700X instead of the 3800X. Kicking things off with the similarities, they’re both built on a 7nm FinFET process, both use the AM4 socket, and both have support for dual-channel memory at 3200 Mhz. Last but not least, both have eight cores and sixteen threads, which is more than plenty for video editing.

The main difference is that the 3700X comes with slightly lower frequencies. You have a 3.6 GHz base clock, and the maximum boost clock is 4.4 GHz. However, as we mentioned, this can easily be remedied with overclocking. Oh, and there’s also a lower TDP of 65W.

Depending on how fast you need your rendering to go, it’s an individual choice whether you get the 3700X or its bigger brother. If you aren’t in a rush, by all means, save a few bucks. Or invest them in faster memory – you’ll need that too.

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X Specs
ArchitectureZen 2
SocketAM4
Cores / Threads8 / 16
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.6 GHz / 4.4 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller3200 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache32MB
Integrated GraphicsNone
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP65W
Process7nm
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  1. Intel 9th Gen Core i7-9700K Processor

Intel Core i7-9700K Desktop Processor 8 Cores up to 4.9 GHz Turbo unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
Before we got the i9 series, Intel’s i7 lineup was the flagship CPU lineup for non-HEDT users. With the introduction of the i9, the i7 gets somewhat lower performance, as well as a lower price. However, the 9700K is still a beast when it comes to video editing.

For starters, it has eight cores and eight threads. The base frequency is 3.6GHz, which is decent, and it turbos up to an impressive 4.9GHz. And that’s before you do any kind of overclocking. When you’re editing video, chances are this is all you’ll need, and the 9700K performs flawlessly.

It’s made with a 14nm process and runs on the LGA 1151 socket, with 12MB of cache and a 95W TDP. It’s not the fastest, it’s not the most powerful, but the i7-9700K is definitely more than what most users actually need for video editing. If you don’t want to spend too much money, yet want excellent performance, this is what you should be looking at.

Intel Core i7-9700K Specs:
ArchitectureCoffee Lake
SocketLGA 1151
Cores / Threads8 / 8
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.6GHz / 4.9GHz
Memory Speed / Controller2667MHz / 2
Cache12 MB
Integrated GraphicsIntel UHD 630
Unlock MultiplierYes
TDP95W
Process14nm
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  1. AMD Ryzen 5 3600X Processor

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6-Core, 12-Thread Unlocked Desktop Processor with Wraith Spire Cooler
Even though it’s part of the mainstream-labeled Ryzen 5 models, the Ryzen 5 3600X is likely to become the best seller out of all CPUs AMD released as part of the Zen 2 architecture. Its main competitors are Intel’s i7-8700K and i7-9700K, and interestingly enough, it edges out both of them in some scenarios. The best thing? It’s priced cheaper, which makes it a very attractive option.

Just like all the other released models, the Ryzen 5 3600X is built on a TSMC 7nm FinFET process. Memory support is dual-channel, at 3200 Mhz, and just like with all other Ryzen chips, we would recommend fast memory if you want to take advantage of it. There’s a default TDP of 95W, and you get a Wraith Spire cooler inside the box to get you up and running.

The Ryzen 5 3600X has a few fewer cores than the Ryzen 7 models – it’s a six-core, twelve thread configuration, which is still plenty for video editing. The frequencies are also great – a base frequency of 3.8 GHz and a maximum turbo boost of 4.4 GHz should keep you happy while you’re scrubbing through a timeline or rendering. All things considered, this is the sweet spot between price and performance, definitely give it a shot.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600X Specs:
ArchitectureZen 2
SocketAM4
Cores / Threads6 / 12
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.8 GHz / 4.4 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller3200 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache32MB
Integrated GraphicsNone
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP95W
Process7nm
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  1. AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X Processor with Wraith Spire Cooler - YD260XBCAFBOX
The Ryzen 5 3600 is the slightly weaker brother to the 3600X – just like the 3700X and the 3800X. And just like the situation with the Ryzen 7, the fact that it’s the weaker model doesn’t make it bad. Quite the contrary, it makes it perfect for people who want to save a bit. Let’s take a look at the specs, and see why this is one of the best processors for video editing from the Zen 2 lineup.

For starters, the Ryzen 5 3600 comes with six cores and twelve threads. The clock speeds are slightly slower than the more powerful option – here you have a base frequency of 3.6 GHz, and the turbo boost goes up to 4.4 GHz. However, unless under very heavy load, this isn’t something you’ll notice. There is dual-channel memory support at 3200 Mhz, as well.

Like the others from the Zen 2 lineup, the Ryzen 5 3600 uses AMD’s AM4 socket and is made on a TSMC 7nm FinFET process. It has a very reasonable 65W TDP, and there’s plenty of room for overclocking, so if the frequencies don’t cut it for you, you can go ahead and push it a bit. While the included Wraith Stealth cooler will let you get pretty far in that regard, a liquid cooler would certainly be better.

AMD Ryzen Ryzen 5 3600 Specs:
ArchitectureZen 2
SocketAM4
Cores / Threads6 / 12
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.6 GHz / 4.2 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller3200 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache32MB
Integrated GraphicsNone
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP65W
Process7nm
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  1.  Intel Core i5-9600K

Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor 6 Cores up to 4.6 GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95W
If we’re being completely honest, Intel’s been trying to catch up to AMD in the past couple of years. While their higher-priced models often perform better, when it comes to two equally priced CPUs, AMD usually takes the cake. Intel’s 9th generation CPUs somewhat changed that, and the i5-9600K is a part of that generation. If you want to go the Intel route, this is probably one of the best processors for video editing, as it covers all the necessities and costs much less than the i7 and i9 of the same generation.

To begin with, this is a six-core, six-thread configuration. This should more than do the job for video editing. To add to that, you have a base frequency of 3.7 GHz, which can go as high as 4.6 GHz when you need it. You have 9MB of SmartCache and a 95W TDP. Unfortunately, while this is an unlocked CPU, there isn’t a cooler included, so that’s an additional expense.

The CPU is made on Intel’s 14nm process and supports a maximum of 128GB of RAM – which comes in handy for video editing, and it’s dual-channel memory. To round things off, there’s also an included graphics card – the UHD 630, which isn’t too powerful but will get the job done. All things considered, a great option if you want to go with Intel.

Intel Core i5-9600K Specs:
ArchitectureCoffee Lake
SocketLGA1151
Cores / Threads6 / 6
Base Frequency / Boost Frequency3.7 GHz / 4.6 GHz
Memory Speed / Controller2666 MHz / Dual-Channel
Cache9MB
Integrated GraphicsIntel UHD 630
Unlocked MultiplierYes
TDP95W
Process14nm
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