Hardware Recommendations for Premiere Pro CC
Like most software developers, Adobe maintains a list of system requirements for Premiere Pro that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system will work with their software. However, most "system requirements" lists tend to cover only the very basics of what hardware is needed to run the software, not what hardware will actually give the best performance. In addition, sometimes these lists can be outdated, show old hardware revisions, or simply contain sub-optimal hardware.
Because of how inconsistent these lists can be, here at Puget Systems we run and publish our own set of extensive hardware benchmarks to ensure that the systems we sell are perfectly tailored for Premiere Pro. Even better, you don't have to take our word for what to buy, you can browse and examine all our testing in detail in our Premiere Pro hardware articles. Based on all our testing, we have our own list of recommended hardware for Premiere Pro.
The processor (or CPU) is one of the most important pieces of a Premiere Pro workstation. While GPU acceleration is gaining traction, right now your choice of CPU is usually going to make a much larger impact on overall system performance. However, be aware a CPU that is theoretically more powerful is not always better since there is a limit to the number of cores that Premiere Pro can effectively take advantage of. This is one of the reasons why an expensive dual Xeon workstation is no longer a good choice for Premiere Pro. With the core counts available in modern CPUs, a relatively standard workstation CPU will easily outperform a dual Xeon at a much lower cost.
What CPU is best for Premiere Pro?
The best CPU for Premiere Pro depends heavily on what codecs you typically use. For most codecs, the Intel X-series CPUs are going to give you the best performance although each upgrade in model should only give you about a 5% increase in performance.
If you work extensively with RED RAW (.R3D) media, however, AMD's Threadripper line currently outperforms a similarly priced Intel X-series processor by roughly 20%. Be aware that even when using R3D media, the difference between AMD and Intel gets smaller as you get to the highest-end offerings from both brands - once you get up the Threadripper 2990WX, the Core i9 7980XE will be just as fast for R3D media, but significantly faster for non-RED codecs.
Do more CPU cores make Premiere Pro faster?
To a certain extent, more cores should improve performance. However, Premiere Pro doesn't scale perfectly with higher core counts so extremely high core count systems such as dual Xeon workstations tend to do worse than a single CPU workstation due to their lower per-core performance.
In addition, keep in mind that scaling is not universal and can be different depending on whether you use an Intel or AMD processor. Because of this, we highly recommend that you look at straight benchmark performance for different CPUs rather than trying to pick a CPU based on core count (or any other specification) alone.
Should I use a Xeon CPU for Premiere Pro?
In the past, Xeon CPUs were more robust than their Core i# counterparts. Today, however, there is very little functional difference between the two Intel product families for workstations. In addition, Xeon CPUs are almost always clocked slightly lower than the Core i7/i9 CPUs which means that you will be giving up a small amount of performance to gain a set of features that are typically only useful for servers.
Full results including playback FPS and AME Export is available in our article:
Premiere Pro CC 2018: AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance
Recent Premiere Pro CPU articles:
- Premiere Pro CC 2018: AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance
- Premiere Pro CC 2018: iMac Pro & Mac Pro vs PC Workstation
- Premiere Pro CC 2017.1.2 CPU Performance: Core i7 8700K, i5 8600K, i3 8350K
- Premiere Pro CC 2017.1.2 CPU Performance: Core i9 7940X, 7960X, 7980XE
- Premiere Pro CC 2017.1.2 CPU Comparison: Skylake-X vs Threadripper
Adobe has been making increasing use of the GPU over the last several years, and in Premiere Pro in particular benefits from using a modern GPU. Not only can it help reduce the time it takes to encode a video, it also improves live playback FPS when playing higher resolution footage or projects with multiple GPU-accelerated effects applied. While not all effects can take advantage of the GPU, Adobe maintains a list of GPU-accelerated effects in their help files that you can view to judge how much of your workflow would benefit from having a more powerful video card.
What GPU (video card) is best for Premiere Pro?
Premiere Pro benefits greatly from using a GPU, but once you get up to a mid-range GPU like the GTX 1070, there is little performance benefit to using a more powerful card outside of high resolution 6K/8K media. However, the higher end cards do typically have more VRAM which can be extremely important depending on the complexity and resolution of your project
How much VRAM (video card memory) does Premiere Pro need?
While a higher-end GPU may not give significantly higher raw performance, it is essential that your video card has enough VRAM or video card memory for your projects. This can change based on the length and complexity of your timeline, but in general we recommend having at least the following amounts of VRAM depending on the resolution of your footage:
|Minimum VRAM capacity||4GB||6GB||8GB||10GB+|
Will multiple GPUs improve performance in Premiere Pro?
While Premiere Pro technically can use multiple cards at once, we have seen extremely minimal performance gains when doing so. In almost every case, you will see higher performance with a single higher-end card than multiple lower-end cards.
Does Premiere Pro need a Quadro card?
Premiere Pro works great with a Quadro card, but for most users a GeForce card is the better option. Not only are GeForce cards much more affordable, they are able to match or beat the performance of the Quadro cards. However, there are two main benefits to using a Quadro video card - they support 10-bit displays, and we have found them to be a bit more reliable long-term. For most users, these benefits are not worth the substantially higher cost, so we typically recommend using a GeForce card instead.
Does Premiere Pro run better with NVIDIA or AMD?
For Premiere Pro, we have seen consistently higher performance with an NVIDIA GeForce/Quadro card than with a comparably priced AMD Radeon/Radeon Pro card. Because of this, we highly recommend that you use an NVIDIA-based card for Premiere Pro.
Can Premiere Pro use the new RT and Tensor cores that are on the RTX cards?
RT and Tensor cores are extremely new for the consumer market, and at the moment Premiere Pro cannot leverage either of them. The RT cores (which are designed specifically for ray tracing) are unlikely to be used in the future since Premiere Pro does not have much ray tracing capability. The Tensor cores (which are designed for AI & machine learning), however, may eventually be used based on the Adobe Sensei technology.
How do I get 10-bit HDMI or SDI display support for Premiere Pro?
There are two methods to get 10-bit display support in Premiere Pro. One method is to use an NVIDIA Quadro video card, but we also list the Blackmagic Decklink Mini Monitor 4K and the Studio 4K 6G-SDI PCI-E cards. These video monitoring cards are specifically designed to deliver unaltered video signals to your display, resulting in the best possible video and color quality. Note that you will need a dedicated, highly accurate display that is capable of handling the FPS and resolution of your project in order to take full advantage of these cards
Full results including playback FPS and AME Export is available in our article:
Premiere Pro CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Performance
Recent Premiere Pro GPU articles:
- Premiere Pro CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Performance
- Premiere Pro CC 2018: NVIDIA GeForce vs AMD Radeon Vega
- Premiere Pro CC 2018 Workstation GPU Performance
- Premiere Pro CC 2018 GPU Performance: NVIDIA Titan V 12GB
- Premiere Pro CC 2017 NVIDIA Quadro (Pascal) Performance
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the length, codec, and complexity of your project, for Premiere Pro we generally recommend a minimum of 32GB. Memory usage in Premiere Pro can quickly shoot up, however, so it is important that you ensure you have enough system RAM available. Keep in mind that if you often work with multiple programs at the same time, you may want to have even more RAM in your system as each program will need its own chunk of RAM.
How much RAM does Premiere Pro need?
The exact amount you need will depend on exactly what you are doing, but we do have a general guideline depending on the different resolutions you work with:
|Minimum RAM capacity||32GB||64GB||128GB|
Storage is a commonly overlooked aspect of a video editing workstation. While the CPU or video card may be what does all the processing, if your storage isn't able to keep up it doesn't matter how fast those components are. What makes storage complicated is the fact that not only do you have to deal with the various types of drives available today, you also want to have them configured in a way that will maximize performance in Premiere Pro
What type of storage drive should I use for Premiere Pro?
There are three main types of drives you might use for a video editing workstation: SSD, NVMe, and the traditional platter drive. Of these three, traditional platter drives are the slowest but are extremely affordable and available in much capacities than SSD or NVMe drives. Due to this, they make excellent long-term storage drives, but in most cases are not ideal to working directly off of.
SSDs are several times faster than a platter drive but are also more expensive. These drives are excellent for a wide range of tasks such as holding your OS and applications, storing media and projects you are actively working on, or as a cache/scratch drive.
NVMe drives come in two flavors (M.2 and U.2), but either one will be significantly faster than even an SSD drive. They are about 30% more expensive than an SSD, but in return are up to five times faster! However, in most cases you will not see much of a performance increase with a NVMe drive since a modern standard SSD is already fast enough that it is rarely a performance bottleneck. High bitrate footage (~2,000 mbps or higher) is typically the only time where having your media on NVMe drive is recommended for Premiere Pro.
What storage configuration works best in Premiere Pro?
While you could get by with just a single drive, we recommend a two to four hard drive configuration depending on your budget and desired performance level:
- Primary Drive - OS/Software (SSD) - Includes your operating system and the base Premiere Pro installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but there is usually not much of a performance benefit to upgrade to a faster NVMe drive.
- Secondary Drive - Project Files (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - If possible, it is a good idea to separate your project files and disk cache onto a secondary drive. For most users a standard SSD will work fine, but if you work with high bitrate RAW footage there can be a large performance benefit to using a M.2 NVMe drive.
- Optional Tertiary Drive - Dedicated Media Cache/Scratch (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - Using a dedicated SSD for your media cache and scratch files can at times improve performance when playing and scrubbing through compositions. Upgrading to an even faster NVMe drive can give some performance gains, but the difference is more pronounce in other applications like After Effects.
- Optional Storage Drive (Platter) - For long term storage where the high speed of SSDs is typically not required, a larger traditional platter hard drive is a good choice as they are still much cheaper per GB than SSDs.
Can you edit a Premiere Pro project from an external drive?
Technically, you could keep your footage and projects on an external drive and edit directly from that drive. However, this is one of the most common causes of performance and stability issues we hear about from our customers. We highly recommend having a large enough internal drive so that you can copy all your files to a local drive before editing. External drives are terrific for backup and archiving, but not ideal to work off of.
Recent Premiere Pro storage articles:
While audio may not be the primary concern for all video editors, quality audio is a critical part of any video editing workstation. There are a wide range of audio options to choose from including the onboard audio that is built into the motherboard, a discrete PCI-E sound card, or a USB DAC
Is onboard audio good enough for Premiere Pro?
The quality of onboard audio that comes on most motherboards has improved dramatically over the years. However, since the audio chip is on the same PCB as the rest of the motherboard, there can sometimes be issues with signal noise which can degrade the audio quality. This is not a factor if you use digital outputs for stereo or 5.1, but if you use headphones or analog speakers the quality may not be as good as what other dedicated audio devices can provide.
Is a PCI-E sound card or USB DAC better for Premiere Pro?
USB DAC's are currently our top recommendation for editing workstations. Not only is the quality excellent, but there are rarely any driver conflicts with Premiere Pro and there are a wide range of options to choose from depending on the inputs and outputs you need. While Sound cards can provide excellent sound quality at a relatively low cost, the required software is often bloated and can sometimes cause issues with Premiere Pro.
Intel w/ Thunderbolt 3
Related Hardware Analysis Articles:
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Performance
- AMD Threadripper 2990WX & 2950X Performance
- NVIDIA GeForce vs AMD Radeon Vega
- iMac Pro & Mac Pro vs PC Workstation
- Workstation GPU Performance
- GPU Performance: NVIDIA Titan V 12GB