How to Speed Up Video Editing on a Slow PC or Laptop

This is the age of content creation. The Internet has given everyone a voice.

Everyone is free to create something new and reap the benefits of a growing digital economy.

But more often than not most people don’t have the kind of money and resources required to get started or do intensive tasks like video editing right away. So today in this guide we will talk about how you can boost the video editing performance of a slow PC.

There can be two approaches to boost the video editing speed of a slow PC.

First are the hardware tricks and they just aren’t meant for our target audiences as hardware fix involves your monetary investment which wasn’t the point of this post.

We are going to delve into what software changes and workflow changes you can do right away in order to boost the video editing performance of your PC.

Firstly let’s talk about the basic software tricks and then we will optimize your video editing application.

  • If you are on a laptop then select your Power Plan from the Control Panel as “High performance“. Then make sure you are plugged into the wall outlet when doing any heavy work.
    If you don’t care much about battery life then you can further edit your power plan and set “minimum CPU state” to 100% on both “battery” and “plugged in” states. This would lead to your CPU running at maximum clock speeds all the time and though it decreases average battery life the performance gains are substantial.
  • Update all of your drivers, more often than not old chipset, graphics, and CPU drivers lead to slower performance. You can use Driver Booster, a software available on Iobit.com for this exact purpose and even the free version works great!
  • Edit in uncompressed file formats. Most of the people fall into the trap of directly editing the footage that they receive from their camera.
    Your camera shoots compressed footage which is mostly in H.264 format. While this is great for keeping the file size smaller video editing software like Premiere Pro and FCPX have real problems with these file formats for example .mov & .mp4 because editing with these compressed file formats requires quite a lot of CPU power.
    If your camera supports HDMI out which allows you to get an uncompressed video signal out of your camera sensor then try to buy something like Atomos Ninja, or BlackMagic Epic Mini. These allow you to shoot directly in uncompressed formats like ProRes 422.
    Though the files in such a format would be really huge compared to similar .mov or .mp4 files the overall speed difference would be great while editing. It’s easier to color grade and edit the uncompressed file formats as they have independent information for every frame present in the video which makes it easy to load for the CPU while using any video editing software.
  • Use Proxies while editing footage: While using a NLE (Non-linear editing software) like Adobe Premiere Pro you can use Proxies which act as an intermediate media base and allow you to edit and playback files smoothly.

Now let’s talk about Hardware solutions. Most of these solutions require you to buy something and shell out money to get something or the other to boost your video editing.

  • Upgrade your RAM, and hard disk to SSD. Increasing the amount of available RAM is one of the greatest changes that you can make to your work setup. Using an SSD can greatly improve playback performance and scrolling through your video timeline. This is because modern SSDs have incredibly fast read-write speeds and very little latency when compared to traditional hard drives. I would personally recommend a minimum of 8 GB RAM for Adobe Premiere Pro users, 16 GB to be on the safe side, and at least 32 GB for professional 4K editors.
  • Buy a laptop cooler to avoid thermal throttling. If you are someone like me who edits videos on a laptop then more often than not you would run into thermal throttling. Thermal throttling happens when your CPU is running at maximum frequency and heats up. The heating up causes the CPU to try and cool down by reducing its frequency which in turn leads to slower rendering and video editing performance. So investing in a decent cooler can improve your productivity and video editing significantly.
  • Get a better CPU/graphics card. 
    If you are a PC user then buying a better CPU can have the highest impact on your video editing performance as editing is still quite a CPU-intensive task. Having a good dedicated GPU can lower the time taken to apply GPU-accelerated effects and is a good factor in overall render times.
  • Use separate media/drive as source disk and separate as output/scratch disk. This helps you to keep the issue of consistent reading as well as writing from the same disk at bay. This approach towards editing also leads to an overall smoother editing experience.
  • Shoot better.
    A lot of video editing overhead can be avoided if you shoot better. By shoot better we mean to shoot in well-lit areas with decent color settings applied on your camera itself in order to capture the best possible footage in any given scenario. Also, try to shoot to-the-point source footage. Too many random shots waste the valuable storage space you have and increase the overhead of your project.
    HIT that record button only when you are completely ready/sure that there’s something you want to capture!
  • Use smart editing techniques on Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X while using an OSX system and not iMovie.
    By smart editing techniques, I mean involving using Previews of your media in your final project and having the final output match the sequence settings.
    Watch this short video in order to understand smart video editing techniques in a better way.
    If you use something like FCPX it already has background rendering enabled so you need not worry much. Even underpowered Macbook Pros are able to handle a lot of footage easily just because of software optimizations.
  • Shoot at a lower resolution or quality settings.
    When all else fails then try reducing the quality of your source footage.
    A modern laptop can easily handle 720p 30 fps editing but 1080p editing with multiple tracks can be a pain at times. I personally shoot and edit 1080p 60 fps so that pushes my laptop to its absolute maximum limits. So try and make sure to shoot only in the quality that can be handled easily by your laptop/PC.
    There’s no use shooting in 4K via a mobile camera if your device can’t edit it properly.

So guys this was it for this post. A lot of the content in this post was from my personal experience. The other was based upon the experiences I had in the past 1 year while shooting and editing the 700+ videos on the Inspire2rise official YouTube channel.

In case you want a better idea about the kind of videos we make then you can always check our YouTube channel!
Don’t forget to hit the like button, share this post with your video-crazy friends, and as always, thanks for reading!

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Aditya Nath Jha is an Engineer from New Delhi, India. His areas of interest include Gadgets, WordPress, speed optimization & latest technology. When he is not busy blogging he loves to write poetry, compose his own songs and has a taste for music! Find him on Facebook, Twitter, Linked in, Instagram. And watch his videos on YouTube.


How to Speed Up Video Editing on a Slow PC or Laptop

4 thoughts on “How to Speed Up Video Editing on a Slow PC or Laptop”

  1. Great Tips Aditya. “Use separate media/drive as source disk and separate as output/scratch disk.” I think I should need to do this.

    Thanks for sharing your awesome tips and YouTube videos.

    Reply
  2. Hi, Thanks for sharing this useful informative article,this will must help to video editing.Because i have very interesting to editing videos.. It’s really helpful and interestingly created the information.. I was really looking for information like this.Keep on sharing for more.

    Reply

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