Pro Video Workstation Buyers Guide

How to choose the best PC for Video Editing, Colour Grading and Content Creation

Video editing PCs provide a high performance and stable platform for creatives executing compute-intensive tasks such as video editing, colour correcting, grading and visual effects (VFX).

Whether you are a filmmaker, editor, DIT, colourist, VFX artist, professional or enthusiast, you need a machine that you can rely on. With so many different software and hardware options available on the market, this guide will help you with optimising your platform for your needs.

These cameras are a perfect addition for all Atem switchers - starting from Atem Mini through to the Atem Constellation 8K. As such they couldn't miss a full-size HDMI port which is used for outputting live video (and audio) signal and for accepting Blackmagic Camera Control protocol used for remote control of many camera features such as shading, gain, shutter speed and lens control.

If you already have a specific software you want to work with in mind, you can also get some more specialist information from our Workstation by Application Buyers Guide.


Performance is an indicator of how quickly a workstation deals with given tasks and/or how many tasks at a time it is capable of executing. Generally speaking, most, if not all of the components will contribute to the overall performance, but we can distinguish 3 core components.


Naturally, the first choice comes down to Intel vs AMD.

With the most recent line up of both vendors, there is very little difference between the two, especially now that Thunderbolt connectivity is also available with AMD chipsets. The brand you go with will ultimately depend on your preferences.

Number of cores or clock speed?

For creative applications, as you will often be performing multiple operations at a time – for example, decoding, re-encoding, rendering, converting etc., if you have two pick one then high number of cores is preferred over high clocking speed of individual cores. For those reasons AMD Ryzen 9, AMD Threadripper, Intel Core i9 and Intel Xeon are recommended.


The NVIDIA RTX graphics card or GPU is undoubtedly one of the most important components in a video workstation. The vast majority of content creation applications are visual in nature, and so need a powerful GPU to provide responsive performance. What’s more, the GPU can be also used to accelerate many compute-intensive tasks such as colour grading and rendering, completing such tasks far quicker than a CPU can by itself, meaning you can get more done in less time. NVIDIA RTX graphics cards are available in two main types, GeForce and Professional, both of which are available in 3XS Pro Video workstations.


NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics cards are primarily designed for gaming, but they also provide outstanding performance and value for money for content creators. We recommend these cards for most Pro Video customers, as when combined with the special Studio Driver they perform brilliantly in creative applications.

You can find out more about NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs in our Buyers Guide.

NVIDIA Professional RTX

NVIDIA Professional RTX graphics cards are designed for workstation PCs, and are specially engineers for maximum reliability and include certified drivers ensuring optimal stability in supported applications. In addition, unlike GeForce RTX GPUs which only support three concurrent encoder sessions, Professional RTX GPUs support unlimited sessions. Professional RTX GPUs also have more onboard memory, boosting performance when working at higher resolutions.

You can find out more about NVIDIA Professional RTX GPU in our Buyers Guide.

How much vRam do I need?

This depends on the type of content that you are working – the resolution of your video files, the codec type and the software that you use.

As a rule of thumb for 4K editing you want to be looking at minimum 8GB of VRam but of course the more the better.

Project Resolution 1080p 4K 6K/8K
Minimum VRAM 4GB 8GB 20GB+

Can I use multiple GPUs?

Depending on your CPU – yes. Please see above – your CPU and motherboard need to be able to accept at least two PCIE devices without throttling one of them.

How well this will work depends on the software that you use. For example, Premiere Pro and After Effects do not benefit from the second GPU, whilst Davinci Resolve will see roughly up to 50% of performance improvement when adding a second unit of the same GPU.

For those reasons it’s generally advised to build a system with one powerful card rather than multiple weaker ones.

Does my VRAM add together with multiple GPUs?

The short answer is no.


While having sufficient memory on the graphics card is important, system performance will be crippled without adequate system memory. We use Corsair Vengeance RAM in our 3XS video editing PC, with a minimum of 16GB on entry-level systems and more memory in high-end systems, ensuring optimum performance.

Does RAM speed affect video editing performance?

This depends on the software you use. Generally speaking, RAM memory clocking frequency has little impact on video editing. We recommend sticking to the RAM speed that is officially supported by your CPU in order to improve stability and this would be our priority in designing a new system.

How much RAM do I need for video editing?

The exact amount of RAM will depend on your software, codecs, resolution and complexity of your projects. We recommend 16GB of RAM as a starting point for fairly simple projects, short films with minimal amount of added graphics, interviews and corporate videos. However, for more complex and longer projects utilising a large number of varied media we recommend 32GB and more.


This may seem like a relatively simple aspect of your build, but choosing the right speed, type and configuration of your storage is an extremely important factor that apart from the physical amount of space affects performance, stability and security of your data.

The total amount of storage will naturally depend on your specific circumstances – that is what type of content that you work with, resolution of your files, frame rates, compression type and codec type. Modern professional cinema cameras capture video with very little compression applied. Less compression means larger files to manage throughout the workflow. As an example, ProRes 422 HQ when shooting at 1080p25 10-bit creates a massive 83GB/hr. If you are at a multi camera shoot with four hours of content from four cameras that’s 1.32TB of footage. If the storage in the workstation is too slow to provide the application with each frame of the video then there will be dropped frames. This can show as stuttering or flashes, which is not what you want to focus on while trying to be creative.

At Scan Pro Video we offer wide array of storage options in various types of architecture, size and connectivity – internal and external, local and network enabled.

Internal Storage

How much storage do I need?

As with everything else – depends on the type of footage that you work with, the amount of work that you do and the size of your average project.

For reference – please see the below table with size comparison of Blackmagic RAW and Apple ProRes files based on resolution, frame rate and compression.

As you can see, the file size of 10min of footage can quickly reach close to 1TB when working with high resolution, high frame, low compression files. But chances are that you will not be working with these types of files on regular basis and most of the files that you will be dealing with will be of lower frame rate and higher compression.

For those reasons we recommend that you equip your workstation with at least on large capacity drive for interim archival purposes.

But the overall size of the total disc space is one thing. Another very important aspect of your storage is its configuration. It is not recommended to equip your workstation with one huge drive. Instead an array of smaller disks, each with its own purpose is recommended.

What storage configuration is recommended for video editing?

This will vary slightly based on software that you mostly use, but in ideal world this could broadly be divided into 4 categories and thus this is configuration is what we recommend that you aim for:

1. OS & Applications drive – This will usually be an NVMe drive and it includes your operating system as well as the base installations of your programs. Choosing an NVMe drive for this disk means that your programs will start up significantly faster. 3XS Pro Video editing PCs use the latest high performance NVMe SSDs, as these are around eight times faster than a SATA SSD and an incredible 25 times faster than a traditional HDD.

2. Project Files drive – This is where you will be storing all the source files for project that you are currently working on. You want this drive to be as fast as possible. How fast does it need to be? Look at the table above at the MBps column (Megabytes per second) and you will see that an 8K ProRes 4444 file at 50fps requires 1180MB per second to play back smoothly. So if you are planning on working with these types of files on regular basis then a second NVMe drive is highly recommended.

3. Media Cache & Scratch drive – whether or not you invest in a dedicated drive for media cache depends on the software that you use. It is recommended for Davinci Resolve and Adobe software. The software will constantly cache your timelines in order to improve playback speed especially when a lot of post processing is added to your timeline. This drive does not need to be especially large – around 500GB SSD Sata should be enough.

4. Optional Archival Drives - we recognise that you may need to store old projects and documents on your system, and an HDD is ideal for this use as they are very cost effective. The size of this drive will depend on the volume of projects and footage that you want to archive but it will be measured in Terabytes. Depending on how precious is your data, you may want to invest in additional security and peace of mind and look at RAID options. For this purpose, external solutions are popular.

External drives

External drives offer multiple benefits for archival of your media files. They often come in preconfigured RAID configuration which improves the speed, security of files or both. They are often equipped with their own power source and thus not adding extra strain on your PC’s PSU and some more advanced models even have power and data redundancy options so you should never suffer from data loss. The most advanced solutions designed for medium to large scale post production houses offer full customisation options such as providing access to specific volumes only to specific, authorised users. These will also often be network enabled.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

These are especially useful if you are part of a production/post production studio where data is stored centrally and multiple users need to be able to access this data simultaneously. Essentially, these are external RAID drives with added network cards which allows users to access the data from anywhere in the network. Historically, NAS drives used to be associated with slow performance but thanks to 10Gb networking, it is now possible to work off these drives in real time and use them not only for archival purposes but also as project files drives (see recommended storage configuration above). NAS devices usually use an array of HDD drives in RAID configuration, less often SSD drives, but some, such as Blackmagic Design Cloud Store us extremely fast NVMe storage.

You can view our full range of external storage solutions here.

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test

Blackmagic Design released a very useful and extremely easy to use tool that checks your system parameters and assess them for the use with various Blackmagic RAW files. Although it’s predominantly focused on Blackmagic RAW performance, this tool gives you a great indication of how well your existing PC or MAC will deal with video editing tasks – especially when working with other, similarly sized GPU-accelerated codecs.

The software comes bundled with Blackmagic RAW decoder (which you will need to play back and work with Blackmagic RAW footage) and can be downloaded here.

Linear Tape Open

LTO (Linear Tape Open) tapes are an industry standard for archiving content. These are magnetic tapes used for long term storage and archiving. Whilst normal hard drives are reasonably expected to last you 3-5 years LTO drives are rated for up to 30 years! Although LTO tapes are not designed to be a fast solution, the tapes themselves are extremely large with some even giving you up to 30TB, making archiving whole projects as easy as possible.


Naturally, you want to make sure that all of your equipment works well together and avoid any bottlenecks as well as have the option to connect additional storage devices and peripherals.

I/O’s come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be connected to your system in nearly every way. PCIe is most common for way to add an I/O to your system desktop however if you need to be mobile, say in an on-set situation, there is the possibility of USB and Thunderbolt models. Industry standard rack mount units can even be added to your DIT cart.

How are external devices being connected to the computer?


This high-bandwidth Intel technology is currently installed on the newest Mac computers. It’s also found on PCs equipped with Thunderbolt add-on cards. It offers excellent data transfer rates and very low latency performance for the most demanding computer-based recording.


USB ports are present on all 3XS Pro Video workstations and offer the slowest of all the connections. USB interfaces draw their power directly from the computer, requiring no external power supply.

PCI Express (PCIe)

This is an internal card-based computer connection platform that’s found in desktop computers. As PCIe connections provide high data bandwidth and low latency, PCIe interfaces are capable of handling many simultaneous inputs and outputs.

What type of ethernet do I need?

Most motherboards come with a built-in 1Gb ethernet – usually two ports. This is enough for most to access high speed broadband and even to quickly copy files between your PC and a NAS device.

However, if you want to be able to reference footage located on a NAS in real-time, ie. when no footage is located locally on your PC then we recommend looking at 10Gb ethernet options. This can be added in a form of an odd-on PCIe card but make sure that your CPU and motherboard can handle such card without throttling other components (see EXPANDABILITY for more info). Paired with a 10Gb enabled NAS equipped with NVMe storage, this combination will offer data read/write speeds compared to internal M.2 storage. This is especially useful for film/video production/post production studios with a team of editors referencing the same footage simultaneously.

Video I/O

Video I/O (Input/Output) devices are hardware that are specifically designed for getting video in and out of your computer. These devices are common across every post production workflow and are what allow you to confidently monitor your timeline as you edit and grade. Connecting an I/O device to a calibrated colour critical monitor gives you the assurance that what you are seeing is the most accurate representation of your deliverables.

If you are serious about colour grading, DIT work, Virtual Production or any other work that requires working with uncompressed video in real time then no doubt you should look at our range of professional capture-playback devices here.

Why do I need a capture-playback device?

Apart from serving as an additional source of input and output ports in your workstation, Capture-playback devices are crucial for any colour-critical work. No GPU is colour neutral. Every GPU will have its own of representing colours on an HDMI or a DisplayPort monitor. If you want to make sure that what you see on your colour grading monitor is accurate then you need your signal to be processed by a capture-playback device.

Furthermore, those devices can reduce the strain on your GPU when your Davinci Resolve timeline resolution is set to 720p or 1080p for performance improvement purposes, but you will be exporting your project to UHD and want to be able to monitor in 4K. Not all devices support every possible frame rate and resolution, picking a device that supports what you want to achieve is important. Manufacturers like AJA, Blackmagic Design and Matrox all product a variety of I/O’s that support different connections and formats. HDMI and SDI are two of the most common connections found on I/O’s, but some also support legacy analogue connections which can allow you to ingest and archive old VHS and lay back to tape. It’s also worth noting that HDR workflows will require an HDR capable I/O.

Professional video connectivity


SDI or Serial Digital Interface is the most common format in professional video. A locking BNC connector used to transmit a digital signal.


HDMI is more common in consumer and prosumer products as it does not feature a locking connector. HDMI can however transmit a large amount of data and can even send power for certain devices.


Whilst we often think of the older RCA connections as used on older video equipment, professional equipment tends to use the same BNC connector as SDI transmission. As such it’s very important to know whether your device is outputting an analogue or digital signal from its BNCs!


Fibre connections can use a variety of different connectors. Often you can purchase your own SFP (Small Form-factor pluggable transceiver) which will come with a choice of connector. The important part of fibre transmission is not the connector necessarily but ensuring that the device supports the wavelength of fibre signal you are transmitting. The most common wavelength in professional video is 1310nm (nanometers).


If you are considering installing a PCIe video I/O card in your existing or building a new system with this card you need ensure that your CPU and motherboard are able to drive such card without throttling other components such as GPU. More about it in the EXPANDABILITY section.

Learn more about video editing PCs Input and Output devices here.


Your choice of monitor is important depending on your workflow. Many editors simply require a confidence monitor to check for obvious visual errors however colour critical workflows rely on a high quality calibrated/calibratable monitor to ensure accuracy in delivery. In either situation being able to view your content is key.

Using a video I/O allows you to output an image from your NLE to your monitor but if you have are working on high resolution content then you want to be able to see the whole image without scaling it down to fit your display. There are a range of high-end GUI and colour critical displays available so how do you know which one suits your needs?

No GPU is colour neutral. Every GPU will have its own of representing colours on an HDMI or a DisplayPort monitor. If you want to make sure that what you see on your colour grading monitor is accurate then you need your signal to be processed by a capture-playback device.

Which Monitor should I pick?

Colour critical monitors should cover the full or nearly all of the colour space you are working in and delivering to. If you are looking to deliver for cinema then your display should be capable of displaying the P3 colour space whereas broadcast deliveries are almost always Rec. 709. It’s important to see your colours accurately otherwise your delivered product may not look like you expect it to. Colour critical displays all have the ability to be calibrated either manually or through the use of lookup tables (LUTs).

Probes and calibration software can be used to ensure your monitor is within specification. Calibration software will output coloured patches to your monitor which the probe will then monitor and examine to determine and calculate what adjustments need to be made to represent colours accurately.

If you are planning to deliver High Dynamic Range or HDR content then an HDR capable monitor, after all, how can you deliver if you don’t know what your image will look like? HDR monitors are an exception to the requirement to support the full delivery colour space as there is no monitor currently capable of displaying the full Rec. 2020 space.

You can find out more about Colour Correct Professional Monitors in our Colour Management Buyers Guide.


The CPU not only determines overall system performance when editing, but also how many add-in cards the system can support such as capture cards, sound cards, network cards and RAID controllers. As a general rule of thumb AMD Ryzen and Intel Core CPUs only support a limited number of add-in cards, while higher cost AMD Threadripper and Intel Xeon CPUs support more add-in cards, and have the added bonus of having more CPU cores, which can be an advantage when working on complex projects.

We recommend going with AMD Ryzen or Intel i series CPUs for workstations with single GPU and no other PCI-e cards, or cards that require less than 8 lanes as otherwise you will start to throttle your GPU’s performance. (Please see instruction manual of your motherboard for more info).

If you don’t want to invest in a Threadripper or Xeon chipset based system but still want the option to add a capture and playback device such as Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio 4K Mini then make sure that your system has a thunderbolt connection as these external devices rely on Thunderbolt™ connectivity. Intel has an edge here with a large number of motherboards with built-in Thunderbolt™ connector.

Do I need a Threadripper or Xeon CPU?

However, if you want to make sure that your workstation is ready for all the additional PCI-e cards that you may want to add now or in the future then you should really consider an AMD Threadripper or Intel Xeon workstation.

Not only do these system support higher total number of RAM but also they feature a superior connectivity and ability to install multiple PCIe expansion cards without affecting the performance of other components. As such you can build a workstation with multiple GPUs, internal PCIe capture and playback devices such as Blackmagic Design DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G, additional PCIe storage, 10Gb ethernet cards and even additional Thunderbolt PCIe cards.

View the range of 3XS Pro Video Workstations

Click the links below to view the range of video workstations built by 3XS Systems. We offer pre-configured systems that are ready to go or can custom build a system to your preferred specification.

Pre-configured workstations


Configure your own workstation