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Speed up video editing and render: hardware and software tips

Speeding up video editing and rendering processes can significantly enhance productivity, efficiency and, as a result, your satisfaction of the process itself. With the right combination of hardware and software optimizations, you can achieve smoother workflows and faster output times.

This article provides additional practical tips on improving your video editing setup, covering essential components such as memory, GPU, storage, system settings, choosing a new system (when you need one) and more. We have collected several tips and grouped them into several sections below.

Hardware

Ensuring the hardware meets or exceeds the requirements of your video editing application is the most important first step.

Memory

  • Make sure the computer you use for video editing and rendering has enough system memory (RAM) for the job. Check the recommendations of the manufacturer of the video editing application (Resolve, Premiere, Final Cut, etc.) regarding the size of the required RAM. The memory size requirements usually depend on the frame size of the video you work with (like 1080p, UHD/4K, etc.).

    Generally, it's recommended to have at least 16 GB of RAM for HD media and 32 GB or more for 4K and higher.
     
  • If it is necessary to add more memory modules or replace existing memory modules with larger-capacity ones:
    • Check the documentation of the computer (or its motherboard) to learn what memory modules can be used;
    • Prefer faster memory modules, ones supporting high frequency ratings better complementing the speed capabilities of the CPU and motherboard;
    • If the motherboard supports both DDR5 and DDR4 modules then prefer the new DDR5 memory as it is faster;
    • If the motherboard has support for multi-channel memory, use that as well because a multi-channel configuration (two, three, four channels, etc.) will work faster than a single-channel configuration. Make sure you closely follow the multi-channel memory installation instructions in the user manual of the motherboard.

GPU

  • If the computer doesn’t have a fast discrete GPU, consider adding one or replacing existing one with a faster model. See the Neat Video compatibility lists to select the GPU model currently supported by Neat Video, check the measured performance of different GPU models in NeatBench test and see the Choosing GPU for video editing in 2024 article for more information on important parameters of GPUs.
     
  • Make sure you choose a GPU with a sufficient amount of video memory (VRAM). Follow the recommendations of the manufacturer of the video editing application regarding the size of the required video memory.
     
  • When using a GPU for video processing, it also helps to have more regular memory (RAM) installed in the system, especially when working with large frames. When GPU’s own VRAM is exhausted, the GPU driver starts offloading data to the system RAM if it is available. While this is much slower than using VRAM directly, it still helps to provide more stability as the driver (and possibly OS) would otherwise fail due to insufficient memory.
     
  • When you have a choice, connect a new GPU card directly to an internal PCIe slot rather than via an external connection like Thunderbolt.
     
  • When choosing an internal PCIe slot, make sure you choose the fastest one. Usually most motherboards offer several PCIe slots that have different speeds, like x4, x8, x16. You want to use the highest one, like x16 in this example. Make sure the chosen slot then actually works in the x16 mode, as the speed may be decreased when other slots also contain GPU cards and the motherboard reduces the speed to share the bandwidth between slots.

    You can also use the GPU-Z software to verify that PCIe slot used by the discrete GPU is working at full speed when under load. In some cases, the PCIe slot may not run at full speed and work for example as x4 instead of x16. This should be checked and corrected to ensure the best performance.

     
  • If you have to connect an external GPU for example via Thunderbolt, make sure you use the fastest version of the connection among those supported by sockets of your machine. For example choose a socket supporting Thunderbolt 4 over one that only supports Thunderbolt 3 or older.
     
  • If you have several GPUs in the system, try to assign them to different jobs. For example connect the monitor to the weaker GPU, and use the faster GPU for rendering done by the video editing application and its plug-ins.

New System

If your current computer doesn’t have enough computing power (for example because of an older and relatively slow CPU or GPU) and its components cannot be upgraded with faster ones, or its memory cannot be expanded (like most modern Apple Silicon Macs that have no way of upgrading the system memory), then consider switching to another machine completely or just using a different machine for the final render/export. Choose one that is based on faster CPU and GPU, has more and faster memory, has faster disk storage, can be cooled better, etc.

When checking the memory setup of a system:

  • Look for DDR5 over DDR4 memory modules;
  • Look for higher frequency ratings matching the speed of the CPU;
  • Look for a double-channel (or more) memory setup over a single-channel option;
  • Generally look for higher memory bandwidth as that is very important for video rendering.
    Many modern Apple Silicon Macs have very wide memory bandwidth (wider than many PCs), up to 400GB/sec and even wider in some models. However, lower models may have less bandwidth, like 300GB/sec or even 150GB/sec, which decreases the render speed to some extent. Pay attention to the memory bandwidth figure when choosing a Mac model as that is usually directly listed in the technical specifications.

When selecting a new system, take into account the recommendations of the developer of the video editing application you use. Also, see the measured performance of different CPU and GPU models in the NeatBench test and our recent article comparing three generations of Apple Silicon CPUs and GPUs.

Storage

  • If you have a choice, place the source media files you work with on a faster drive. Usually, this is an internal SSD drive connected directly to the PCI bus, like a PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD. The modern PCIe Gen 5 and PCIe Gen 4 M.2 NVMe drives are significantly faster (up to 14 GB/sec and 8 GB/sec correspondingly) than more traditional SATA SSDs (up to 0.5 GB/sec) and regular hard drives (up to 0.25 GB/sec). PCIe NVMe SSDs connected internally are usually faster than even the same drives connected externally via Thunderbolt or USB (can be up to 2 GB/sec depending on connection and controller).

    Using an internally connected drive is also often safer than an external one, because a potentially unstable external connection (for example due to a possible hardware defect in the cable) may cause unpredictable slowdowns and even render failures because some data could not be read or received by the video editing application in time.
     
  • If you use SSD drives to save any temporary files or final render results (or generally save a lot of data to those SSDs), then it is important to make sure the SSD drives are regularly TRIMmed. This way the drives will not be slowed down by a possible shortage of free fast-to-write space. Check the documentation of your OS to learn how to schedule the TRIM process and verify that it is actually working on that schedule (you cannot fully trust some OSes these days). The schedule may already exist and be for example set to do TRIM once a month. If you write a lot of data (which is not unusual when you work with video data that occupies a lot of space), then you may want to increase the frequency of the operation.

Hardware stability

  • Disable any overclocking or overvoltage of CPU, GPU, memory, etc. Using such custom tweaks may cause the hardware to become unstable in a long render process, which may fail as a result. Re-doing the whole render can then take significantly more time than the time saved by any marginal speedup provided by the overclocking/overvoltage. Using a safe route, you get to the destination sooner.
     
  • Ensure your system has good ventilation and cooling, including for the CPU, GPU, memory modules, chipset, SSDs, power supply, etc. Long rendering tasks put these components under heavy load, so proper cooling is crucial to sustain it. Verify that the software controlling the fans is working properly and can dynamically adjust the fan speed under heavy load. Regularly clean the machine’s internals and maintain free access of fresh air to the components.
     
  • Pay attention to the power supply unit output, especially if you are planning to use more than one GPU. The power supply unit must deliver sufficient power for the CPU, the GPUs, the motherboard, the disks and all other computer components. Remember that TDP watts published by the CPU and GPU manufacturers are usually lower than the peak power consumption. The power supply unit must be able to handle that.

BIOS/UEFI

  • Check the BIOS/UEFI settings of the machine (if you have the freedom of accessing and changing those) to make sure the advanced features of the CPU such as support for multiple cores, performance and efficiency cores, hyperthreading, AVX, etc., are enabled. If you know that some of those features need to be disabled for a specific reason, verify if they are correctly disabled as well.
     
  • Make sure the right XMP profile (or DOCP profile) of the memory modules is enabled in BIOS to let the RAM run at full speed. By default, it may be not enabled on custom-made machines, which usually causes the RAM to work slower than it could.



    Please note that using such profiles may be formally considered overclocking, so if you encounter any instability of the hardware during render, then disabling the XMP/DOCP profile can be useful to diagnose the issue.
     
  • Verify that the discrete GPU is reported by BIOS  (when such a report is provided by BIOS) as connected to the fastest PCIe slot and the slot is set to work at the highest available speed. Check the documentation of the motherboard to verify that you use the right slots and settings.


     
  • Verify that the PCIe M.2 NVMe SSDs are connected to the fastest M.2 slots (those slots can have different speeds). Check the documentation of the motherboard to verify that.

OS, drivers, software

GPUs and software using GPUs

  • If you have several GPUs in the system, try to assign them to software in different ways. For example, assign the first GPU to work in the video editing application itself, and the second GPU to work in Neat Video. Then check another option: assign the most powerful of two GPUs to be used in both video editing application and Neat Video. Then compare the overall render speed in these two combinations and choose the best one.

    As a specific example of a configuration that may be efficient when using Premiere Pro in Windows, it may also be efficient to instruct Premiere Pro to use the built-in GPU of the main processor while letting Neat Video use the discrete GPU that usually has more computing power. Such a separation can be possible when the built-in GPU is provided by an Intel or AMD CPU and therefore can be used via the OpenCL interface by Premiere, while the discrete GPU from NVIDIA also supports a different interface, CUDA. In this specific case, it is possible to completely divide those two GPUs between Premiere and Neat Video by setting Renderer: Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (OpenCL) in Premiere Preferences
    (which makes Premiere use the built-in GPU via the OpenCL interface) and then instructing Neat Video to use the fully vacant NVIDIA GPU (via CUDA).

GPU drivers and settings

  • In Windows 10/11 with NVIDIA GPU, disable hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling as it can reduce the performance of the GPU by up to 30%:
    go to Start menu > Settings > System > Display > Graphics settings, disable the Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling option and reboot the computer.
     
  • If you run into any specific issues caused by the GPU drivers, update the drivers to a more recent version provided by the manufacturer. If your current GPU drivers work well, make a backup copy of that version of drivers, in case any future version breaks something and you want to return a known good version.

Power management

  • Disable any power-saving features (enable the maximum performance mode) of a discrete GPU if such options are offered in its driver or vendor-specific GPU control software. If these power-saving features are enabled, then the GPU may tend to reduce its performance faster, become less responsive to the pulsing demands of the editing process and in this way reduce the overall responsiveness during editing. This may also have an effect on rendering.

    With NVIDIA GPUs as an example, you can go to NVIDIA Control Panel, and find the setting:
    3D Settings > Manage 3D Settings > Power Management Mode
    and set it to Prefer maximum performance. This can be set either globally for all applications or individually for your video editing application. This will let the application use the GPU at full speed without any slowdowns caused by the power-saving features of the GPU driver. Once the heavy editing is done, you can switch that setting back to Optimal power to keep the GPU less noisy and more economical with the power consumption when it is not under actual load. If you assign the above Prefer maximum performance setting to your video editing application only, then the maximum performance mode will automatically disengage once you close the application.
     
  • Disable power saving features of the OS for the time of editing and rendering:
     
    • In Windows 10, go to Settings > System > Power & Sleep > Additional power settings and select the High performance power plan. It may be listed in the Show additional plans section there.
       
    • In Windows 11, go to Settings > Power Mode and select Best performance.
       
    • On laptops with MacOS 14 or newer, go to System Settings > Battery > Energy Mode > On power adapter and select High Power
      (possibly also set the same High Power for the On battery mode if you need to run a render on battery; however this will reduce the time the laptop runs on battery).
  •  
  • If you work on a laptop, connect it to the power outlet for the time of heavy editing or rendering. When connected, the OS will often automatically switch the system power mode to a higher level thus providing better speed. On many Windows laptops, this simple action makes both CPU and GPU work about two times faster as compared with operation on battery power. Modern Apple Silicon Mac laptops show less difference but there may still be some speedup depending on the OS settings (see the previous bullet above).

Conclusion

Optimizing your video editing and rendering setup involves carefully selecting, examining and configuring hardware components, from memory and GPUs to storage and power management settings.

Using some or all of the hardware and software tips above, you can achieve higher and more stable performance allowing you to focus on your creative work without unnecessary technical slowdowns and delays.

Regular maintenance and updates will keep your system running smoothly, maximizing your productivity.