The Best CPUs for Video Editing (2020)

Video editing jobs have been getting more and more popular recently. In California, for instance, the average yearly salary of video editors is around $105,000. You can also earn a higher six-figure income if you have unique content to post on Youtube or you work as a freelance editor in the wild, or Upwork for that matter

But if you don’t have the right computer, you’ll waste hours and, even days, in editing, rendering and exporting your videos. And although some software depends on the GPU(lately more and more get’s a boost from the GPU, like DaVinci Resolve), the CPU still takes most of the load. 

I was looking into upgrading my system and making it more responsive. And so after doing a bit of research I came up with those 4 processors. Although I’m an Intel fan, always have been, I can not deny that AMD is getting extremely effective and powerful in the last few years. That’s why I’m writing this article. I’ll review the best CPU for video editing that you can find in 2020. Without any further ado, let’s dive right in! 

The 4 Best CPUs for Video Editing

In the following review, I’ll try to discuss the basic technicalities like clock speed, number of cores & threads, cooling systems, etc. If you want something more specific let me know. I may write another article about it. I may also do a tutorial on changing the CPU and testing it for effectiveness in editing, rendering and exporting etc.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X – Top Pick if you are not an Intel fan boy.

If you’re trying to balance between performance and affordability, you should definitely consider the Ryzen 9 3950X. With 16 cores and 32 threads, AMD was able to sit over the throne of mainstream affordable desktops after beating Intel’s High-End lineup.

The basic clock speed of this processor is 3.5 GHz. But thanks to its state-of-the-art materials, it’s able to push it to 4.7 GHz wherever you have to multitask. 

Expectedly, you can’t really expect such a powerful processor to be void of downsides. Unlike most of AMD’s products at that price point, the 3950X doesn’t have a cooling system. And with a TDP of 105 W, AMD recommends getting 280mm AIO cooler in order to maintain proper performance. 

You still can opt for a version with a cooler, which are actually quite good, but you will be cashing out extra cash.


  • Reasonably-priced 
  • High clock speed
  • A large number of cores and threads.


  • Doesn’t come with a cooler in the cheaper option

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X – Runner-Up if you have the money.

AMD impresses me yet another time with their Threadripper 3960X. Through 24 core and 48 threads, it should make the editing process much smoother, especially if you’re handling large projects with multiple footages. Although, as we discuss it later, more cores does not mean better, especially in editing. It can actually be of no difference in some cases.

The only thing that prevented it from making it to the top of my list is the clock speed. It can work inside the range of 3.8 and 4.5 GHz, which is a bit lower than what the Ryzen 9 3950X can offer. 

Unfortunately, it shares the same flaw we’ve seen in my top pick. You’ll have to provide a cooler powerful enough to keep this 280W processor within a safe temperature range, and the price is more than double of most of the CPU’s on this list.

It did extremely good in the benchmarks over all the other CPU’s.


  • Better multitasking with more cores and threads, good for some applications
  • Acceptable clock speed


  • Doesn’t come with a cooler 
  • Quite expensive 
  • More cores does not mean better performance in editing

Intel Core i9-10900X or K Desktop Processor My Personal Choice

The Intel 10900X is one of the most acclaimed processors in the HEDT (high-end desktop) series. But it’s not the best in terms of multitasking and handling complex tasks since it has 10 cores and 20 threads only. But for our purposes, of editing and exporting is more than enough.

However, when it comes to speed, it surpasses most of the processors at the same price point. The basic clock speed lies around 3.7 GHz, but it can skyrocket all the way up to 4.7 GHz. If you choose the 10900K version you will even achieve 5.3GHz.

The thing I like the most about this processor is the Deep Learning Boost technology. As the name implies, this accelerates any process that depends on artificial intelligence like motion tracking, image tagging, etc. This is such a unique perk for full-time video editors. 

I actually chose this processor for my ultimate video editing rig, and more specifically the 10900K, which in my opinion is much better option over the X version, with faster clock achieving 5.3GHz and larger by a bit L3 cache.


  • High processing speed 
  • Efficient performance
  • Can run on a wide range of motherboards


  • A bit expensive when compared to similar processors 

Intel Core i5-9600K Desktop Processor

If you’re really tight on budget, opting for the 9600K can provide the best value. Yes, it won’t compare to the other beasts featured on this roundup, but you get what you pay for!

This processor can work between 3.70 and 4.60 GHz, which is quite surprising at its price. However, it greatly disappoints in multitasking with its 6 cores and threads. 

On the positive side, this processor supports up to 128GB of RAM, which should allow you to compensate for its shortcomings. 


  • Highly affordable
  • High clock speed 
  • Supports a wide range of RAM 


  • Restricted cores and threads

What to Look for in a CPU for Video Editing

As you might already know, there are a lot of different technical attributes that you should know about CPUs. I actually need a couple of articles to discuss them in detail. Therefore, I’ll only refer to the most important points that make the biggest difference. 

Get Multiple Cores and Threads

Cores and threads are quite similar concepts. They give a general idea about how the CPU will perform in terms of multitasking. 

Cores describe the actual, physical rooms in which the data can be processed. Modern CPUs may have up to 64 cores. Generally, I’d recommend staying above 8 cores to have an acceptable performance. But I would advise not to go over 16 cores

Threads are simply the virtual counterparts of cores. A processor will break the physical core into multiple virtual threads in order to handle bigger data. The higher the threading potential, the better the multitasking. 

Search for a High Clock Speed

Clock speed is the direct parameter that determines how fast the CPU can process bits of data. It’s super important for video editors to get a large speed in order to guarantee faster rendering, motion tracking, etc. 

The CPU speed is often written with two values. The lower one is the basic speed you’ll get when the processor isn’t handling challenging tasks. When you start working on a complex project, the processor will fire up with its maximum speed to give you the best performance. 

Consider the TDP

Heat is the ultimate nemesis of CPUs. That’s why the TDP was created. Short for thermal design profile, this parameter tells you how much heat your CPU will emit. 

Unlike the cores, threads, and speed, you shouldn’t search for a specific TDP. Instead, make sure to choose a cooler with enough TDP to keep your CPU in the safest temperature range. 

Related Questions:

Is Intel or AMD better for video editing?

Just a year ago, I would say Intel CPU’s are better but right now I must say AMD is looking very good with its new line of processors. The price to performance ratio is also very promising in AMD CPU’s.

How many CPU Cores for video editing?

Well, it depends. Depends on what kind of resolution you will be working on and what software will you use. (Also if you want to do work in After Effects for example)
Too many cores may be a problem in some cases. For most uses and simple editing, I would recommend 6+ cores with a maximum of 10 in most cases after 10 cores it does not give you better performance. If you will be using AE for example than 10+ to 18 cores would be ok.

Which Ryzen processor is best for video editing?

If money is no option, AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X, without doubt. If you want a cheaper option I would still go for the Intel i9 10900K.

The Verdict 

Getting the right CPU is essential if you want to unlock your full video editing potential. Right now, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X is one of the best CPUs for video editing. I like how it balances between multitasking and processing speed. 

If you want something with exceptional multitasking power, you should consider the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3960X. With 24 core and 48 threads, nothing will be too much for it. 

Remember, it’s incredibly important to match the TDPs of your processor and cooler. Never ignore a minor difference to guarantee the best durability. 

Written by Rick@