Video Editing - How much CPU power do you really need?

I am building my first system and would like input on the choice of a cpu for video editing with Cyberlink Power Director 9. According to their website, the program supports all the bells and whistles to accelerate the process including multicore processors, hyperthreading, and hardware acceleration on the CPU like Intel's Quick Sync and hardware acceleration on the GPU like AMDs APP and NVidia's CUDA. However, these hardware accelerations, separate from processing on the CPU with software, appear to detract from quality at the expense of shortening time (see,2839-13.html).

If I am taking the time to edit an HD camcorder video from a family event, I want the best quality end product. If that means taking another half hour or hour for video encoding/transcoding to happen what's the big deal - I can do some work or watch TV until it's over. And since this is a once ever 2 month project, it's not that inconvenient. So my question is how much CPU power is really needed to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time? - not looking at who does it the fastest according to some stupid benchmark involving fps?

My choices are:

1. Buy the best - an Intel 2600K core i-7 processor and pair it with a Z68 motherboard which costs around $315 for the processor and $170 for the motherboard (total cost $485). Looking at other core processors and 1366 MBs, the cost is much the same for any core i-7 with 4 cores and hyperthreading.

2. Buy the next best Intel - an Intel 2500K core i-5 processor (no hyperthreading) paired with a Z68 motherboard and that will be $219 for the processor and same $170 for the MB, total cost $389.

3. Go to an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T or 1090T at around $179 plus an AM3 board with 870 chipset at around $90 - total cost at $269 for 6 cores but no hyperthreading and MB with all the SATA 3 and USB 3.0 outputs you need!

4. Go to the cheapest option with 4 cores - and AMD Phenom X 965 Black Edition at $119 with the same AMD MB as in #3 - total cost for 4 cores and no hyperthreading at only $209!

So the difference between #1 and #4 is about $275, enough to totally pay for #4! The issue I would like to raise is HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SAVE IN EDITING AND PRODUCING A 1 HOUR HD VIDEO on Power Director among these options? I one told me it was 3 hours, I'd pay up, but if only an hour, I'd rather pocket the money, do some work while the computer churns away and take the money 2 years later to buy another processor/MB.

Any comments on the TIME required? I'm not interested in what is the best or quoting benchmarks - please give practical real world answers.

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  1. What kind of HD cam do you own?

    Review the specs of the HD cam, and set its output format, resolution and bit rate to the same import settings in your software.

    Your software project settings should be consistent with the imported file settings, as should your output settings for your final product.

    I'm not very familiar with Power Director but feel certain that it offers some level of *smart encoding*.

    What this essentially means is that your software (and hardware) does not have to work nearly as hard in rendering, converting and recompressing files between different formats, resolutions, bit rates, etc.

    Unedited/unaltered video frames are simply out-putted in the original format as recorded by your HD cam, greatly reducing demand on your hardware and substantially improving output speed.
  2. Thanks very much for responding. I currently use a Sony HD HDR-HC1 (one of the first available HD camcorders) and it uses HDV tapes so records in MPEG-2. If I understand this right, when I edit I put a small amount of content that requires transcoding before burning the total video to a Blue Ray disc in MPEG-2 format - so little transcoding to the final project is needed which is the big time consumer. The software does use the UVD3 from an AMD graphics card or Intel Clear Video to encode ("smart encoding" which you can't avoid I guess) - see
    and does skip over content that is in the same format as in the final product. So for me right now I was perfectly satisfied with the time it takes to complete a project using this camcorder and my current computer which has a core i-7 920 processor with 8gb RAM and an ATI Radeon HD4850 graphics card. I avoid enabling the APP acceleration on the GPU to maintain as much quality as possible in my final video and the time required is perfectly acceptable to me with using as much of a CPU/software encode as possible.

    However, almost all of the new camcorders use AVCHD recording format and soon I will be buying a new camcorder. So if I go to AVCHD, then I will have to import the video and then before the final product is burned on a Blue Ray disc it will have to be transcoded to MPEG-2 as I understand it which I've heard is time consuming. Since I have to buy another PC since mine died, I am trying to figure out how long it will take to complete an editing project in rough terms for the different processor configurations to determine what I buy for my new PC.

    If the difference in time is not too long between the cheapest possible CPU I am considering and the most expensive processor I am considering and the whole process takes 2 to 3 hours to complete, then I don't see value in spending the additional money. However, if the transcoding I would be entering into the process is very long, then I'd be looking for ways to shorten this while maintaining final product quality as much as possible.

  3. Oh well, I guess no answers are coming...I'm done.
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