You might be able to edit videos on your phone or an old laptop, but it’s hardly an ideal experience. Lack of options and not the right hardware for the job can make it a slow and frustrating experience. But you needn’t spend thousands on a bespoke-built machine either. In fact, you can build an excellent video editing PC for just $500 if you buy the right hardware.
The build and what it can do
With our limited budget, we’ve focused as much of it as possible in the key areas like CPU and graphics for maximum performance. But with video editing being such an intensive task, we’ve also had to account for decent memory and storage solutions. While we would have ideally liked a little more storage space and a graphics card with 8GB of VRAM, this system should be plenty quick for most editing tasks.
Editing video at 1080p and below will be a breeze on a machine like this, with the graphics card helping to accelerate a number of rendering workloads. 4K editing might be a little difficult on a machine like this. It’s still possible, just don’t expect it to be snappy or have native-resolution, real-time playback.
This build does slightly go outside our budget, at $505. But we feel that the extra one percent cost is worth it, because any cuts to this build are going to see you lose noticeable performance on whichever component you pick.
Note: All the components below are purchasable from Amazon and were found on the site as part of our research and priced accurately at the time of writing. It’s always worth checking each part’s price before you commit to buying as they do change regularly. Unfortunately, they also quickly sell out, but perhaps not forever. If an item isn’t for sale, shop around, you might find it at your favorite online store.
One of the best bang-for-buck CPUs AMD has released in the past few years, the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 is a six-core, 12-thread CPU with a clock speed that can reach 3.6GHz across all cores at the same time. With a little overclocking, you might even be able to push it towards 4GHz — watch the temperatures if you use the stock cooler. But most importantly, it has those six cores and 12 threads, which is the minimum core count we’d recommend for a video-editing build.
If you have a little more money, you can grab the second-generation Ryzen 2600 for around $20 extra for some additional clock speed, or the 1700X for around $50 more if you want a couple of extra cores instead.
But if you can’t do that now, don’t worry. AMD’s AM4 socket is intergenerationally compatible, so you can upgrade your CPU down the line to a 2000 or even 3000 series without the need to swap out your motherboard.
Since we don’t need a ton of motherboard features, this budget B450M motherboard from ASRock will do the trick nicely. It doesn’t leave much room for memory expansion down the road and its lack of VRM cooling means you don’t want to do too much overclocking on it, but it gives us the CPU, memory, and storage support we need to make a great video editing rig.
For an extra $20 you could get the ASRock B450M Pro 4 which gives you four memory slots and VRM heatsinks.
High-speed memory is crucial for AMD Ryzen processors, but thanks to the recent pricing crash you can get a powerful 16GB kit for peanuts. At around $60, this Crucial Sport kit is a fantastic option, giving you plenty of capacity for the six CPU cores to work with and it’s fast enough to not bottleneck the system in any way.
AMD’s budget graphics cards are some of the best and at just over $100, the RX 570 is an absolute killer card. It will help accelerate all manner of rendering tasks for you. We would have liked to get the 8GB version — it might be worth stretching your budget by $30 if you can — but it’s not a must.
This model should be cool and quiet in your system too, thanks to the Sapphire Pulse cooling system.
It would be a travesty to build a PC without an SSD when prices are as low as they are. That’s why we’ve opted for this 480GB SSD from Kingston for our storage solution. The A400 isn’t a super fast drive, but it’s far quicker than any hard drive and has enough capacity for you to edit 1080p video on.
If you’re editing long or multiple videos, we’d suggest some type of large hard drive for longer term storage as well, but that’s outside our budget. One to add down the road.
It’s not pretty, and it lacks a lot of modern case features, but this chassis from Rosewill is the right size for the job. Most importantly, it’s very economical. It gives you somewhere to put your new components and there is plenty of scope for improved cooling if you need it.
If you can stretch this superfluous aspect of your build by another $10 or so, you could always opt for the far better.
Spending more on a PSU than memory might seem silly, but if you buy a bargain power supply and it blows up, it might take the rest of your PC with it — including any video editing projects you’re working on.
This Corsair unit is a fantastic budget PSU that will keep your PC chugging along for years and you can trust it to protect everything you hold dear.
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