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The best $500 PC build for video editing

PC build-out guide
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

You might be able to edit videos on your phone or an old laptop, but it’s hardly an ideal experience. Moving to a desktop PC can speed up your workflow significantly, and while you could easily spend thousands on a bespoke-built machine we are going to demonstrate that you can, in fact, build a competent video editing PC for under $500 if you buy the right hardware.

We scoured the web for great hardware deals to help you build the best $500 PC for video editing. If you’re more interested in budget gaming, here’s our guide on a great $500 gaming PC.

The build and what it can do

These are troubled times with high prices and low availability of parts, and we could easily have blown our limited budget on the CPU or graphics card. Instead, we have moved away from a dedicated graphics card and have chosen a new Intel 10th Gen CPU with integrated graphics. Using a quad-core CPU raises questions about performance, but when you factor in the need for a reasonable amount of RAM and storage, our main priority is decent cooling and reliability as we are fully aware this PC will spend its working life running at 100% load. Frankly, we would have liked more of everything: More CPU cores, a graphics card, double the storage, double the RAM, and then top it off with a high-end power supply and a liquid cooler. However, we are confident this system should be plenty quick enough for most editing tasks.

Editing video at 1080p and below will be a breeze on a machine like this, with the onboard GPU 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.

  Product Price
Processor Intel Core i3-10100 $115
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black $34
Motherboard MSI B460M-A Pro $87
RAM Crucial DDR4-2666 16GB $70
Storage Crucial BX500 480GB SSD $47
Case Cooler Master N200
$49
Power Supply EVGA 450W Bronze $50

We have slashed the list of parts to the absolute minimum with the result that this build sits comfortably inside our budget. Having said that, if you can increase your budget you will improve the performance of the system by leaps and bounds.

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.

CPU: Intel Core i3-10100

While we would love to recommend an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 or 5600 CPU, our budget simply won’t stretch that far. Instead, we have chosen an Intel Core i3-10100 which lives far down the list of Team Blue’s latest 10th Gen CPUs. The numbering for Intel models is all over the place these days, so it is worth spelling out that this Core i3 has four cores with HT so you get eight CPU threads. Base speed is 3.6GHz while Max Turbo is 4.3GHz so you can expect reasonable performance from this cheap CPU. The downside of using a 10th Gen CPU is that it is based on Socket LGA1200 and requires a new 400 chipset series motherboard so you don’t have much chance of picking up a secondhand board.

A key feature of the Core i3-10100 is the inclusion of Intel UHD Graphics 630 which means we can do without an expensive graphics card and leave the CPU to do all the work.]

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black

There are many versions of the timeless Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU cooler; this one happens to be black. Whichever version you choose of the Hyper 212 you can be confident it will allow the Core i3 10100 to run at maximum speed for hour after hour without drama.

Motherboard: MSI B460M-A PRO

The MSI B460M-A PRO is a spartan motherboard however it sports the key features we require. It has the Intel B460 chipset and Socket LGA1200 for our Core i3 processor and there is an HDMI output on the rear I/O so we can hook up a display to the integrated graphics. Our CPU is low power and won’t put much strain on the VRMs but even so, we want to ensure a decent amount of airflow to keep everything cool. If you fancy a future upgrade the MSI B460M-A PRO comes with an M.2 slot that supports faster storage.

Memory: Crucial DDR4-2666MHz 16GB

The Crucial DDR4-2666MHz is the most basic DDR4 memory you are ever likely to buy. While it may look rather dull — it doesn’t even use heat spreaders — the brand name is reliable, the speed rating is acceptable and the price is as low as we can hope to see in these difficult times of short supply.

Storage: Crucial BX500 480GB SSD

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 Crucial for our storage solution. While a SATA SSD will never be as fast as the latest NVMe models it is still 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 long term storage as well. Shop wisely and you might find you have enough cash for a 2TB HDD in our minuscule budget.

Case: Cooler Master N200

Our chosen Cooler Master N200 is a Micro ATX case that does everything we need. It supports our MSI motherboard and accommodates a regular ATX power supply. We are using a Cooler Master air cooler in this build but if you feel the urge to upgrade to liquid cooling there is space inside the N200 for a 240mm radiator. The front panel is Mesh so you can be confident of unimpeded airflow. While this is a budget case, it is supplied with case fans so there is no need to splash any budget in that department. Cooler Master’s spec suggests the N200 comes with three 120mm fans while customer feedback suggests you actually get two. Our low-end build will be perfectly happy with either two or three fans.

PSU: EVGA Bronze 450W 80+ Bronze

We finish off the build with a decent quality power supply and while the EVGA Bronze is only rated at 450W, that still gives us a massive safety margin. In this PC we can expect the power supply to have a long and reliable life.

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