Why Video Editing is CPU Intensive (and What You Can Do)


Video editing demands super-fast processors. Have you ever wondered why video editing is so CPU intensive? This article will not only let you know the reasons but also what you can do about it. So read on.

Why Is Video Editing So CPU Intensive? CPU is involved in almost every task a video editing needs. Since it involves an extensive exchange of high-res files to be encoded and previewed in real-time, the CPU does all the heavy lifting for a smooth editing flow with snags.

How many times do you struggle with your computer speed when you are video editing? Almost always – Right? Does it keep displaying a “not responding” notification? I know how annoying that can be. 

As a videographer, you can’t afford to spend most of the time rolling your eyes and waiting for your computer to respond. You missed out on so much editing that you could have taken a day’s break between assignments.

Well, the good news is that there is something you can do to solve the problem if you know the reasons behind it. One of the prime causes of slow speed comes from video editing being so CPU intensive. We know, CPU is a crucial part of a computer, especially when it comes to quicken the rendering speed and to run smooth playbacks.

So, how can you ensure that the performance of your PC is excellent? For that, we need to know about the Role of the CPU in context to video editing. 

What is the role of the CPU in Video Editing?

Central Processing Unit (CPU) receives instructions from programs and then processes it. Video editing software is no exception. It requests the CPU to do various tasks revolving around video editing. Once they are processed, you get to see the results on your screen.

Some of the critical roles which are crucial in video editing are –

  • Rendering of the timelines to create Previews
  • Realtime flow on multiple tracks
  • Importing and exporting video files 
  • Encoding the formats
  • Transitions and effects etc.
Multiple tracks

CPU usually performs every task, but the above ones are where the editing warrants more power. Today you need a minimum of 6 cores and can go up to 24 core for advanced stuff.

Why is Video Editing so CPU Intensive?

We now know, CPU is the most crucial component of your computer. In editing videos, it processes almost all the tasks. But the significant role it plays in handling the video files and its processing is appreciable. It fluidly generates real-time video previews, thus helping the editor to choose the cuts on the fly.

Today with the high definition videos available even on smartphones, the high resolution editing processing speed becomes very demanding. So the processors have to be adept at handling such tasks with precision speed.

So, the CPU will have to smartly compress the formats for offline edits and later render high resolution by decompressing a compressed video. In most cases, the high-resolution video will be compressed to do the tasks, and later the processor changes that to a full-color depth raw format. 

Regardless of the various circumstances, the CPU needs to ensure that the video editing gives the desired results by receiving the instructions and processing them accordingly. At the same time, it ought to see that the process uses the shortest period possible to save time.

Video Effects

Also, video editing involves an array of tasks. They range from editing and adding animation, titles, transitions, and visual effects, among others. There will also be a need to render, encode, or preview a video. These multiple tasks need the CPU for processing. That’s why video editing is so demanding as far as the CPU is concerned.

Equally important, the more the editing and the effects, the more CPU intensive video editing will be. Therefore, without the right CPU, preparing a video clip can take ages. In addition to video resolutions, factors such as codec and source file types will also affect how CPU intensive your video editing will turn out to be.

How to Improve the CPU Processing in Video Editing?

Can you do something about improving the CPU processing, or should you learn to live with the drag? Fortunately, it is possible to avoid those delays. The simple solution is to choose your CPU wisely. To achieve that, there are things that you should consider when buying them. Take a look at how to do video editing smoothly and fast regardless of the CPU intensive task.

1.    Cores

The more cores your CPU has the better the video editing experience. They will ensure that video editing is not only smooth but also takes a relatively short time. That’s because, during various tasks especially rendering, video editing software will ensure that it uses as many cores as possible to ensure that a videographer uses as little time as possible to edit a clip. 

However, don’t exceed the maximum cores recommended for that particular software. Otherwise, you will not notice any difference despite the increase. In other cases, the situation may become worse because performance decreases with an increase in cores. For example, the increase in performance with an increase in cores for Premiere Pro is noticeable up to 10 cores.

2.    Threads

The same case applies to threads. The more, the better until they become too many. After all, video editing software will treat it as a core. So, if you have six cores and six threads, you will experience the performance of a PC with 12 cores. Consequently, the process will be smooth and fast.

3.    Clock Speed

Settling for a CPU with a high clock speed is also a solution of dealing with the fact that video editing is quite CPU intensive. Nevertheless, the CPU should also have a reasonable number of threads and cores lest it will not impact much. The higher the CPU clock speed, the better the performance. However, it would be wise to go for a CPU with an increased number of cores and threads than settling for one with a high-speed clock and few cores and threads.

Preferably, balance all the three to have excellent results. The balance is essential when you are working with videos of high resolution like 4K and 8K. It will ensure that the render time is as little as possible. Once you balance all that, you can rest assured that regardless of how CPU intensive video editing is, the computer will be powerful enough to handle it.

4.    Overclocking

It is a solution that can also be a problem if you don’t do it right. If you overclock your CPU, the frequency will increase. As a result, it will solve tasks faster and improve performance. However, if you overdo it, it will end up doing more harm than good. After all, it results in your CPU overheating, and unless you also look for an effective cooling mechanism, that can damage it.

Final Words

I hope that you have an idea of why video editing is so CPU intensive. It is the heart of any computer and determines how fast and powerful a PC will be when doing video editing tasks. You also have a great buying guide if you need to replace the current PC for a great working experience. Ensure that you keep them in mind so that the CPU will be strong enough for all tasks.

Keep in mind that performance is more about what is enough rather than too little or too much. No one wants a slow computer or the “not responding” messages every second. After all, effort and time are crucial. So make your video editing smooth and fast despite being CPU intensive.

Also Read : 10 Reasons why video editing software is so expensive

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