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I have a Core2Quad Q8200 (2.3GHz) with 4GB of RAM, a 512MB PCIe video card, and a SATA-2 HD. Yet it still isn't fast enough to edit 720i/p video in Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere/Aftereffects. My RAM usage never peaks over 1.6GB, but my CPU cores make it to 95% quick!

Right now the preview panes in all these programs lag to bad to actually work on the videos. I get to see 1-3 frames every second or two! So how fast do I have to go? At what point will my CPU be fast enough to actually edit these videos? I have to assume that regular people and their regular sub $2k computers can actually work with this footage.

Another way to answer this is, how fast is the PC you used to edit videos?


I'ts worth noting that now that I have Adobe Pre/AF CS4 I am more interested in getting that working than my older Vegas 6. If you didn't have to re-run RAM preview every, single, time you made one change it would be my answer. But since I like to test many filters and effects before choosing one - I have to re-render a 1-sec section of footage over-and-over and it drives me nuts waiting.

Perhaps a motherboard with Dual Xeon chips or something would be able to handle this. It would probably be as much as a dual-crossfire setup and would also speed up other applications.

Update: How fast is the PC you use to edit HD videos (+720p) in Vegas or Premiere?

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closed as not constructive by sblair, Nifle, random Oct 7 '11 at 2:29

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I think closing this question as argumentive is a little too rigid, but I did make it CW since there isn't really ONE definitive answer to this (given how many computer parts have an influence). – Ivo Flipse Mar 4 '10 at 8:57
CW works for me, I just want to know the hardware to get HD editing setup. – Xeoncross Mar 4 '10 at 16:07
How much time are you willing to spend watching the computer processing? – Fake Name Mar 11 '10 at 4:33
Ideally there would be no time between when I press play - and when the preview plane shows the video (without lagging!). Rendering on the other hand can take as long as it wants as I can go do something else. – Xeoncross Mar 12 '10 at 3:40
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your computer more than adequate for editing video using Sony Vegas. Faster is always better. More RAM is always better. But I have edited quite complicated videos using a single-core PC with lower specs than yours.

There are a lot of factors that can degrade your preview rates.

The first thing to try is adjusting your preview quality. The setting is located on the top of your preview windows. Lower it to Preview (auto) and see if that helps. If you're not getting fast enough previews try setting it down to Draft (Auto).

I always lower my preview quality while I am arranging clips and putting together the basic layout of my video. You can then increase the preview quality when you are working out the timing and details of your transitions.

If there is a section of video where you need a higher-quality preview, you can always, build a dynamic RAM preview ('Tools' > 'Build Dynamic RAM Preview (SHIFT-B)'). Highlight the area of the video you want to preview at hit SHIFT-B. That will let you preview more complicated transitions and video FX in real-time. It's a slow-ish process so only highlight the video section you need.

If you are using any video FX, you can disable them while you are previewing your video. It's one of the buttons on the top of your preview window.

What is your source material? For example, MPEG2 isn't too good as source material. Vegas is decompressing the MPEG2 on the fly which makes editing painful. It is best to work with something like DV AVI files when editing.

If you are still having a bit of lag when previewing, here is another thing you can try.

  1. Open Sony Vegas
  2. Hold down Ctrl-Alt-Delete to start the task manager
  3. Right-click on the Sony Vegas process and set the priority to high.

This should make Vegas run faster. This will also speed up your rendering times.

One last thing to try. Click on 'Options' > 'Preferences'. Click on the 'Video' tab. I have mine set to 128 MB. Playback seems to be more fluid when reducing the amount set to RAM Preview.

Try these suggestions one step at a time until you get satisfactory results.

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Yes, I have set the preview to Draft (auto) I still can't generate realtime (or even close) preview of video while I'm editing. In Adobe I enabled the ram preview yet, it takes so long to edit video that way that there is no realistic way I could get anything done. The thing you said about MPEG is interesting. That is the only format that I can shoot HD (720p) in and my SD (720x480) is in plain 25mb/s AVI and gives me no trouble. Perhaps if I converted the MPEG into something before I tried to edit it - which is a really ugly hack... – Xeoncross Mar 3 '10 at 21:28
It's not really that ugly, if there is no other way to get your original files in an intermediate format. MPEG is a delivery format and not really suitable for editing. Try converting it to a uncompressed AVI so you don't have any further degradation from the compression and see if that edits better. Do all your editing and convert it back to whatever format you need for publishing as the last step. – Robert Cartaino Mar 4 '10 at 1:05
I just tried converting my 720p MPEG files to AVI and they still lag just as bad in Premiere CS4. – Xeoncross Mar 11 '10 at 4:17
This didn't work for me - but since it was the best runner-up after my answer - I awarded the bounty. – Xeoncross Mar 28 '10 at 1:39

One of your major bottlenecks is disk I/O. At least add one fast (10K and big buffer)disk for editing and leave the OS and such on the existing drive. RAID 1 would be good as well. Processor is important but editing reads and writes all the time. Get that I/O onto a different disk or RAID array and things will improve.

While it won't help you, it is worth looking at what high end video editing systems use. RAID will be there and FAST drives. Often SAS drives at 15K RPM. This may point you in the right direction.

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Since most of my HD segments are under 500MB each I doubt that the IO has much to do with it. I'm sure that the CPU is the bottleneck here. – Xeoncross Mar 3 '10 at 21:29
Adding an SSD drive will speed this up no end. – Matt H Nov 15 '12 at 0:33

One way that ALL computers regardless of speed can edit HD is by using proxy files. Basically, you create low-quality versions of the same HD clips and do all of you work on them. Then right before you render you swap the files out for the HD versions.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 & CS4

Step 1 - Create Proxy Files
1.) Open AME
2.) Import Clips to Render
3.) Select Quicktime, H264, Square Pixel, Progressive frames, 960×540 resolution, 6000kbps
4.) Render Clips to Separate folder from Originals

Step 2 - Edit Video in Premiere
1.) Create New Project
2.) Import all Original Files to be Used
3.) Highlight all Files.  Right Click Make Offline
4.) Right Click again and click Link Media
5.) Select Proxy files done in Step 1
6.) Adjust Resolution Size - Clip -> Video Options -> Scale to Frame Size
7.) Drag Proxy Files into Time Line and Start Editing and Adding Effects
8.) Once Finished, Select all files again and Right Click and Make Offline
9.) Again, Right Click and Link Files back to the Originals
10.) Adjust Resolution Size and this time uncheck Scale to Frame Size (See #6)
11.) File -> Export Media
12.) Select Output resolution
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I don't think your biggest bottleneck is CPU. It sounds like you're biggest holdup is the video card. A Core2Quad with 4gb should be plenty of horsepower on that it if paired with a good videocard. You didn't mention what the card is, but if it's only got 512MB ram it's likely not very high end.

Since your CPU is pegging, it looks like it's doing a lot of work that could be passed off to a good card, especially for editing HD video. That requires a LOT of horsepower. You can get a little bit of help by making sure you are not running ANY other software while trying to edit (including anti virus, etc), but it's not going to be much of a boost.

I do a bit of video editing myself (no HD yet, just SD), and people I've talked to that do a lot of HD editing have spent 8000 or more on a dedicated custom build with high end processors, top end quad video cards, etc and say that only it is "adequate" for HD editing.

Your best bet is to spend about a grand on dual higher range video cards, link them together (crossfire, etc) and that'll probably give you enough to get by with.

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@BBlake - Sony Vegas does not use the video card (GPU) to do rendering. It's all CPU. If the NLE isn't designed specifically to use the GPU (Sony Vegas isn't), the author would be throwing away their money. See:… . I don't know whether Premiere supports the GPU-enabled playback codec. – Robert Cartaino Mar 3 '10 at 17:19
As stated above this is all done on the CPU and not the GPU. The GPU does 3d calculations, and many do not actually implement 2d in hardware. The only time this would be different is any of the new stuff that is CUDA capable, and you have a modern GPU that implements CUDA. – spowers Mar 3 '10 at 23:35
I think that Premiere only natively handles DV resolution/codec for realtime playback. Anything more will probably require a dedicated video capture/playback converter. – Joe Internet Mar 4 '10 at 4:17
Ahh, I was unaware that Sony worked that way. I use Pinnacle and did see a big performance boost on editing when I upgraded my video card. – BBlake Mar 4 '10 at 19:15

I have an AMD 1090T, with Formula IV mobo, 8gig 2133mhz G.Skill Ram, ATI 5970, OS on an SSD, and all my video on a 2TB Sata3 6gbps drive, and I still get lag and stuttering with my D7000 video files (about 22mbps).

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If you are a individual on an amateur level or just getting started, the best you can do is to upgrade to MAX limit and slots of RAM on the motherboard. Get a Quadro FX or GTX 570, 580 or 590 graphics card, a RAID 1 and RAID 0 system for your hard drives. I recommend minimum 2x 1 TB Samsung F3 in RAID 0, and 2x 1 TB Samsung F3 in RAID 1 (mirrored, for backup). At the same time, get a large PSU, 750, 850 or 1000 W. I recommend Seasonic X-760 or Corsair 850/1000 W. The Seasonic is great and silent.

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