Every video editor wants to make sure they have the components in their computer. Having the right parts in your computer can make or break your rendering times. We all know how long rendering can take so making sure that you have a powerful system will help. RAM is one of the most important components for video editing, therefore, I am going to help define how much RAM you will need for your system.
You may or may not know, but RAM has been coming down in price recently. This is fantastic new for editors who are looking for a RAM upgrade. A 32GB DDR4 kit was about $399 back in 2018, currently, you could pay as little as $175! It seems to be continuing to trend downwards as well.
You will not want to spend a ton on RAM, basically no one has an unlimited budget. But we will need to know how much RAM we actually need. Because it depends on what type of project you are editing. There are no cut and dry answers with this kind of questions I am afraid, it is all relative. But we can narrow it down so you can make a choice based on the kinds of files you are likely to have to deal with it popular editing suites.
Ultimate Video Editing RAM Goal
For anyone editing, the smoother the process the better. So, our ultimate goal is to have enough RAM for our video editing suite to run smoothly. Some popular video editing software includes Final Cut Pro, Vegas Pro, Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer, to name a few. Additionally, any other typically needed application running at the same time should have enough memory to not slow you down or crash.
Adobe After Effects springs to mind here and possible Photoshop. They are popular software that is usually used in conjunction with editing software. Let me say this, your active projects should always be able to fit into your memory. Why you might ask?
Because if they do not, your operating system will start swapping data, that does not fit into your RAM, to whatever storage device you are storing your media on, and no storage media is anywhere near the speeds of your RAM. Typically, RAM is about 10 times faster than an SSD and 50x faster than a HDD so if they are going off of your storage, you are going to have a slow time.
Depends on Your Footage
What Footage resolution and bit depth you are working with, and what is your project set to? Why is that important? You might ask. Well, because the main use case for RAM in a video editing software is caching preview files. Caching means pre-processing/calculating effects and layers, basically everything you input into your timeline, to a rendered preview.
This preview resides in the RAM, to be played back in Realtime when needed. This often happens automatically (in editing software like Premiere Pro for example) as soon as you play back or scrub through your timeline. Now, a 720p 8bit preview will take up a lot less RAM than a 4k 10bit video. This is because there is a huge information difference between those file types.
How much RAM you need for Video Editing?
- 8GB of RAM: Often, this would not be recommended but if you are doing smaller than 1080p projects you should be ok. It will require you to shut down other programs, but you could make it work if you are on a tight budget.
- 16GB of RAM: It will be happy editing 1080p to 4k 8bit projects, with basically no other programs open in the background.
- 32GB of RAM: A great option for any type of editing with heavy use of background programs you will want to use with your editing workflow, like After Effects.
- 64GB of RAM or more: This is only recommended if you are editing huge 8k footage in 10-bit colour or more and you heavily rely on having a bunch of RAM hungry programs open in the background. You can have After Effects, Photoshop, and Cinema 4D open with no issue.
To summarize, RAM is an important component for video editors. There is no way to get around a system that is being bottlenecked by its lack of RAM but understanding that if you are only editing 1080p to 4k 8bit projects you can get by perfectly happy with 16GB of RAM. If you are editing professionally, more RAM makes sense.