4K RAW video editing machine

Building 4K RAW video editing machine for $2K

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about a laptop I purchased and then modified for editing 4K video. Since I am on the road a lot, having a portable machine is a must. However, the time had also come to get a new desktop editing machine. I recently purchased the BlackMagic Ursa Mini 4.6K EF camera and wanted an editing workstation that would allow me to work smoothly with the camera’s 4.6K CinemaDNG RAW files (by the way, the review of this camera is coming soon – I am using it right now on a feature film shoot in India and so I will have a very comprehensive review for you).

The best way to get a desktop computer that meets your needs as an editor and filmmaker is to build one yourself. About five years ago I built my previous desktop editing machine. Things went smoothly then and so I had no hesitations about building another one. At the same time, it is not a straight-forward process to build a PC – especially if you don’t do it often, like me. So, I wanted to share a video of how I built my latest editing workstation. To build up a bit of anticipation, I will mention that it did not go without a snag. But you will get all the details in the video below.

I spend on my my computer around $2250.

Below are all the parts I used in my build, as well as some good alternatives. Keep in mind that prices constantly change, so please compare prices for all the options I list here.

CPU: Intel i7-6800K on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 on Amazon (EVGA or Asus version), Newegg (EVGA or Asus version) and BH Photo Video. I bought the Asus version (Founders Edition) just because that one was available.

Motherboard: ASUS X99-A/USB 3.1 LGA 2011 on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg

Memory G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 32GB on Amazon and Newegg (these memory bars come in different colours; the model number is F4-2400C15Q-32GR? with the last numeral representing the colour)

Another compatible memory that is widely available and reasonably priced is the Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz (model # CMK32GX4M4A2400C14). You can get it on Amazon, Newegg, as well as on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Germany.

If you decide to buy memory different than the ones above, to ensure compatibility please refer to page 1-8 in the User Manual of the ASUS X99-A/USB 3.1 motherboard.

SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD (I got two of them) on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg

If you get two SATA III SSDs like me, you should also get for them a power splitter cable like the one here.

I was originally planning to buy the Samsung 950 PRO 512GB PCIe NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD. If you can fit it in your budget, it is a great upgrade – it is a super-fast drive – but you can install only one such drive to this motherboard. The second one can be the SanDisk Ultra II above. Here is the Samsung 950 PRO on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg

Power Supply EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 Series on Amazon and Newegg

As I mentioned in the video, unless you are planning to add a second GPU, you are better off getting the 750W version of this power supply and saving money. You can get it on Amazon and Newegg

CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H110i GTX 280mm on Amazon and Newegg

You might also want to get thermal paste like the one here. If all goes smoothly, you will not need it, because the CPU cooler comes with the thermal paste already applied. I did need it, though, because I exchanged the motherboard and so I had to install the CPU cooler again.

Case: NZXT PHANTOM 630 on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg

Windows 10 Home (64-bit) on Amazon, BH Photo Video and Newegg.

You are unlikely to need the Pro version of Windows 10, but if you want to know more about the differences about the two versions, please go here.

Since building the system, I also added an internal memory card reader. I got this model at Amazon.ca, but if buying on Amazon.com, I would have chosen this Rosewill model (also on Newegg). If you do get the Vantec model (on Newegg) or any reader that fits 3.5″ bays, you will also need a 5.25″ to 3.5″ bay bracket like this one here.

If your camera uses CFast 2.0 cards (like my Ursa Mini 4.6K), then you will need to get an external card reader (I found one internal reader for CFast 2.0, but it was expensive and did not accept any other card types). I use this card reader from Lexar (also on BH Photo).

Here are the product links to Amazon stores in other countries.

Amazon UK

CPU: Intel i7-6800K

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070

Motherboard: ASUS X99-A/USB 3.1 LGA 2011

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 32GB

Alternate compatible memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz (model # CMK32GX4M4A2400C14)

SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD (I got two of them)

SSD SATA Power Splitter Cable – You can install the SSDs without the cable kit I purchased. I just found it easier to do it with the kit. Also, I did not see a comparable package on Amazon UK, therefore, I am not providing a link.

Samsung 950 PRO 512GB PCIe NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 Series or EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G2 Series (if you are not planning connecting a second GPU)

CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H110i GTX 280mm

Case: NZXT PHANTOM 630

Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Rosewill USB 3.0 internal card reader

Lexar CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader

Amazon Canada

CPU: Intel i7-6800K on Amazon.ca (but no good deals at the time of writing) and Newegg.ca

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070

Motherboard: ASUS X99-A/USB 3.1 LGA 2011

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 32GB

Alternate compatible memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz (model # CMK32GX4M4A2400C14)

SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD (I got two of them)

SSD SATA Power Splitter Cable – please read my note above for the Amazon UK store

Samsung 950 PRO 512GB PCIe NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 Series or EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G2 Series

CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H110i GTX 280mm

Case: NZXT PHANTOM 630

Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Rosewill USB 3.0 internal card reader

Vantec USB 3.0 internal card reader

StarTech 5.25″ to 3.5″ bay bracket

Lexar CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader

Amazon Germany

CPU: Intel i7-6800K

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070

Motherboard: ASUS X99-A/USB 3.1 LGA 2011

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 32GB – could not find the same memory

Alternate compatible memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4 2400MHz (model # CMK32GX4M4A2400C14)

SanDisk Ultra II 960GB SATA III SSD

SSD SATA Power Splitter Cable – please read my note above for the Amazon UK store

Samsung 950 PRO 512GB PCIe NVMe – M.2 Internal SSD

Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000W G2 Series or EVGA SuperNOVA 750W G2 Series

CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H110i GTX 280mm

Case: NZXT PHANTOM 630

Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Rosewill USB 3.0 internal card reader

Lexar CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader

10 thoughts on “Building 4K RAW video editing machine for $2K”

  1. Hi Tom,
    Thanks very much for this video. A great guide for deciding which components to buy and build. A few questions:
    How did this computer that you build handle the Ursa Mini’s 4.6k raw files? Any issues? Stuttering? Playback and rendering problems in your real life everyday used? I asked because I am planning to buy Ursam Mini 4.6k and similar computer setup like yours.

    Thinking of buying the Asus Rampage V motherboard and the Asus GTX 1080 graphics card. Will it make any differences with this more expensive setup? Your response and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Samuel

    1. yes, it plays 4.6K RAW smoothly in Resolve. However, in Premiere it is very slow, since Premiere doesn’t take as much advantage of the GPU as Resolve does. Tom has tried systems even three times faster than this one, and Premiere still struggled with the Mini’s 4.6K RAW footage.

      So, again, in Resolve this system handles the Mini 4.6K RAW footage beautifully.

      We haven’t tested the motherboard you mention. Also, we thought that the GTX1070 offered a better value and still met our requirements, so we went with the 1070. We still recommend that GPU.

  2. Hi Tom et all,

    Would this hardware setup be compatible to use it as a hackintosh? It would be great if we could use this setup in both Windows and OSX

  3. Thank you. Very helpful and encouraging. My 6 year old machine has reached it’s endpoint and I’ll be replacing the mobo, cpu, os drive, and memory next week.

    I was thinking of installing a basic fan on the CPU but you have me thinking I may be short sighted. I like my current case so modification would be required…

  4. I was wondering do you have a secondary pc (with a quadro card) for color grading the footage since the 1070 doesn’t support 10-bit colors?

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