I am a small hobby editor. Just for fun, nothing serious. Hence: I don't know really much about the technical side at all, and most things I just don't understand. I'm really just a consumer.

I do have a good PC already: i7 4.00 Ghz, GTX 980.

I have 4 HDD's now, all 7200rpm: 1TB, 2TB, and 5TB(external). And one 500GB as primary containing my OS.

Now money restricts me a lot, so I can buy now ONE SSD and not even the greatest. I see an EVO of 500GB I can afford.

So how do I use that the best for video edit preformance?

I will have to keep all my source material on the HDD's. So I will import files from HDD into my Edit-program to edit.

I'm thinking to have my OS and all other programs on the SSD. But install only my Edit-program on the 2TB HDD and use that entire HDD ONLY for the Edit-program.

Or even the exact other way around: keep my OS and other on the HDD as it is, since I don't care much about fast boot or 'quickly open programs'. And install my Edit-program on the SSD and use the SSD only for that.

I searched google and internet for days trying to find a good answer for me, but I guess all other editors know too much to have such a low profile question lol. I did find lots of editors claiming to have great benefit from SSD, but all of them had many SSD's so they could have their OS, Edit program AND their source material on SSD's. I can't possibly afford that now and I'm even wondering if one SSD will do me any good. If all the benefit I will get is that my Edit-software starts up really really fast, I wont bother...

Sorry for my rambling but I truly have no idea how I could make it work best. The ONLY reason I want to buy the SSD is to improve video editing, I have absolutely no other desire for it.

Any tips or advice I would highly appreciate!

ADDED: Maybe also useful info? My Edit-program is Cyberlink Powerdirector 15. I's very affordable and can still do nice things for it's price. I mostly edit 1080p using quite a lot of multiple track splitscreens, multiple effects and transisions. (Wow, I got 6 reputation and Bronze medal already? That wasn't hard lol :-)

1 Answer 1


All computer performance optimization is based on understanding critical paths (bottlenecks), then removing or relaxing the bottleneck until there is nothing more you can afford to improve (possibly because there is simply no known widget, at any price, that will improve whatever else is on your critical path).

Some very common critical paths in video editing are

  1. Reading video data from disk
  2. Rendering video data (for display and/or for writing to disk)
  3. Writing video data to disk

When you import video data into a project, rarely is it all loaded into RAM, though it could be. If it is loaded into RAM, then buying an SSD is only going to speed up the initial loading of your RAM--a one-time benefit.

More often, video is buffered into RAM, but it fundamentally lives on disk, and thus disk speed becomes important as you play or scrub through your files. If you have 1080p ACVHD stream, it uses approximately 28Mb/sec of bandwidth. Modern HDDs can average 25MB/sec to 120MB/sec or more, depending on whether they are connected via USB2, USB3, USB3.1, SATA, eSATA, etc. But if you need to load and display from 8 streams, it can try to read 28Mb/sec times 8 streams = 28MB/sec from the disk, but because the streams are likely scattered across the disk, it has to issue many seeks and buffer lots of data, leading to uneven performance. An SSD is an advantage here because the seek time is virtually zero. A single SATA SSD could easily handle 8 and perhaps 24 streams without choking.

However, the computer's CPU and GPU are typically designed to handle HD and perhaps quad HD video, meaning that they are going to begin to choke if they have to display 24 simultaneous streams. But 4-8 should be OK.

To optimize your system, you should use a system profiling tool to see just how much disk bandwidth your system delivers under load vs. the calculated bandwidth of your video streams. And you should measure how much video rendering performance your CPU/GPU can do vs. the estimated complexity of your streams (are they all just passed through a virtual switcher, or does every frame have scaling, translation, cropping, blur, sharpening, noise reduction, color correction, etc)? You can then do some math: how much does it cost to close X% of the gap for each different gap you can measure. Which dollars have the greatest impact on closing the gaps you can close?

You might find that indeed an SSD is just the ticket. Or it might be that your GPU is really your rate-limiting step. Most serious video editing workstations are a collection of many high-end components. Having just one piece of the puzzle might only speed things up by 5%, whereas having all of the pieces, even if only half as good as the best, can speed things up by 50%.

It does take a little technical knowledge to profile and tune a system, but what it really takes is dedication to the process and good measurement tools. Or enough money to keep buying bits until you can no longer see any improvements.

  • Hello Michael, thank you so much for this generous answer! There's a lot of interesting info in there for me that I've read multiple times and will read more in an attempt to understand/learn as much as possible. I'm thinking it doesn't really answer for me my question, which remains. But nevertheless thanks a lot! :)
    – Evil Yoda
    Dec 6, 2016 at 18:57
  • @EvilYoda Which part of your question do you feel isn't covered by MichaelTiemann's answer?
    – MoritzLost
    Dec 6, 2016 at 20:28
  • I don't know, now I'm thinking I just don't get it. At school I was always REALLY bad at math. When too many terms keep coming at me my mind just blocks. So now I'm thinking: maybe I'm too stupid and now while I have a great answer, making me just about sorry I came here to ask, self hatred is an issue.
    – Evil Yoda
    Dec 7, 2016 at 0:33
  • So I'm really sorry Michael Tiemann, but now I read your answer many times over, and it does seem to me you know what you talk about. From your answer I am thinking the only way one SSD can help my editing is if I have my source material on it so my Edit-program can read from it fast?
    – Evil Yoda
    Dec 7, 2016 at 0:55
  • Because then I'm thinking my best setup would be: keep my OS on the HDD as it is. Keep my Edit-software on a HDD. And just use the SSD to copy my source-material to that I use in current projekts so my Edit-software can read from the SSD? Because for as far as my brain grasps all this, that seems to be the ONLY way an SSD would really benefit me right? Am I getting it?
    – Evil Yoda
    Dec 7, 2016 at 0:55

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