The best graphics cards for video editing will speed up your workflow, save you time, and give you more leisure hours to enjoy your life. But you need to find the right one for your needs, at the right price. We'll help you with that, by bringing together the best graphics cards for video editing on sale now, in the article below.
First, though, a warning. Most graphics cards are currently in very short supply due to production shortages, as well as hugely increased demand from gamers and crypto currency miners. That means Nvidia's RTX 30-series cards, in particular, are often selling at over-inflated prices. So check the latest deals below from our affiliate retailers, to ensure you get one at the lowest cost possible.
Also, be aware that you can only upgrade the graphics card in a desktop computer, not a laptop. It is possible to increase the graphics card performance in a laptop by adding an external graphics card (eGPU), attached via Thunderbolt. But here we're only covering internal graphics card upgrades for desktop computers.
For more on what you should be looking for, see our section below on How to choose the best graphics card. Otherwise, read on to discover the best graphics cards for video editing today.
The best graphics cards for video editing in 2022
Right now, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is our top recommendation for video editing. The stats speak for themselves: this beast of a graphics card comes with 24GB of GDDR6X memory, running on a 384-bit bus at 19.5 Gbps, making for a whopping 936GB/s of effective memory bandwidth.
All that plus impressive cooling technology, low noise and exceptional performance in practice means this is going to handle anything you can throw at it, even if you're working in 8K.
Admittedly, it only offers marginal performance gains on its predecessor, the RTX 3080, and until a few months ago, it was double the price. So unless you'd won the lottery, we'd have pointed most people towards the 3080.
Recently, though, the 3090 come down to almost the same price as the 3090 on Amazon, making it a slam dunk. Well, as long as you have a PC powerful enough to handle it, of course. Both in terms of its 450W power draw, and its rather large physical size.(opens in new tab)
Like to get value for money? The graphics card that best hits the sweet spot between price and performance right now is the Nvidia's RTX 3060 Ti.
Admittedly, thanks to Nvidia's sustained price hikes with the launch of each new generation of GeForce cards, as well as ongoing chip supply shortages restricting production volume, we're talking big money for what's still just a mid-range card. But with rival AMD's graphics cards coming up short for video editing performance, it's still the best value you can get right now.
There are numerous card manufacturers making the RTX 3060 Ti, many sporting a slight performance overclock to make them marginally faster than standard. The main issue, though, is that since launch few manufacturers have been able to keep up with demand, and consequently stock of the 3060 Ti is limited.(opens in new tab)
Short on cash? The good news is that a decent graphics card for video editing doesn't have to break the bank. And the GeForce GTX 1660 Super has a lot to offer at an affordable price.
Video export speeds will be 10-20% slower than more exotic GeForce RTX-series cards, but then the 1660 Super should be at least half the price, so we're talking great value overall. That said, with 'only' 6GB of video RAM on board, higher performance cards will have a more significant edge if you're editing 8K and high frame rate 4K footage.
Like almost all graphics cards, various board manufacturers make their own variants of the GTX 1660 Super, and unless you're gunning for every last frame-per-second in gaming performance, spending extra on a factory overclocked version isn't worth it.
Being more of an entry-level graphics card, it's also possible to find the GTX 1660 Super with a physically shorter board design, making it suitable to fit in smaller PC cases, though usually the cooling heatsink and fan assembly will still require the space of two expansion bays in your motherboard.(opens in new tab)
So far, we've focused purely on Nvidia, and there's a reason for that. AMD's cards are consistently slower than their Nvidia counterparts for video editing, with even the latest RX 6800 and 6800 XT models falling short of equivalently priced Nvidia cards in most editing workloads. Consequently, we can't recommend an AMD graphics card for PC video editing.
However, if you're rocking a 2019 Mac Pro tower and are looking to upgrade your graphics card, AMD is your only option for macOS. Since macOS 11.4, AMD's current RX 6800, 6800XT and 6900XT graphics cards have been supported in the 2019 Mac Pro.
While the top-of-the-line 6900XT will give you slightly more encoding performance in a Mac Pro, it commands a significantly higher price tag than the already expensive 6800XT. Consequently it's a tough price difference to justify, at least until GPU availability improves and pricing becomes more sensible again.
NOTE: before you buy, ensure the specific brand variant of RX 6800 XT you choose is shorter than 310mm, or it won't fit inside a 2019 Mac Pro.(opens in new tab)
Nvidia doesn't just offer its extensive line of GeForce graphics cards; there's also its Quadro range. Where GeForce cards are designed and marketed primarily for gaming, Quadro cards are built for professional applications like scientific computation, 3D rendering, and to a lesser extent, video editing.
The graphics card hardware in the Quadro A4000 is almost identical to that of the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which carries an MSRP that's around 40% cheaper than the A4000. However, with prices of GeForce cards currently being so over inflated, the cost difference between the two cards is actually much less.
Even so, why pay more for a Quadro? Well, for video editing, the vast majority of users will be fine with a GeForce card. The Quadro range gets you several processing benefits that are mostly of use to scientific and 3D rendering work, but the primary benefit for video editing are Quadro-specific video card drivers carefully optimized for popular video editing programs to ensure top-notch reliability.
If you're going to be editing mission-critical footage and system stability is therefore absolutely paramount, the Quadro RTX A4000 is an excellent graphics card and it's actually very well priced for a Quadro card (flagship Quadro cards can set you back over $10,000!). However, if you don't need total driver reliability, the similarly fast GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (number two on our list) is still the better – and cheaper – buy.
How to choose the best graphics card
It used to be that video editing software relied solely on your computer's central processor (CPU) to process and export video. But even with four, six, eight, or even more cores, a CPU simply can't match the incredible power of a graphics card, which can contain thousands of processing cores. It's actually rather more technical than that, but the upshot is a graphics card can export video a whole lot faster than even a top-end CPU.
However, while spending top dollar on the very best graphics card will get you extra encoding performance, you really don't have to. Even a lower-mid-range card will give your editing rig a serious speed boost, with pricier video cards only yielding marginally superior performance.
Providing your editing software supports hardware video acceleration (pretty much all popular editing packages do, with apps like DaVinci Resolve being heavily reliant on graphics card hardware) upgrading your computer's graphics card can give you a worthwhile performance boost when video editing.
With all that in mind, here are the main things you should take into account when choosing a graphics card.
If you're editing on a Mac, it'll need to be a 2019 Mac Pro, and you'll need a graphics card made by AMD, not Nvidia. That's because macOS only supports AMD cards, and AMD's current RX 6x00-series graphics card range is only supported by macOS Big Sur 11.4 and newer. If you're prepared to use Windows via Boot Camp on a 2019 Mac Pro, a Nvidia graphics card can be fitted, albeit not in PCIe expansion slot 2.
If you're editing on a PC, you've got a lot more graphics card choice. Virtually any graphics card using a Nvidia or AMD chipset should work just fine, providing you first check these criteria:
1. Make sure there's enough space inside your desktop tower. High-end graphics cards tend to be quite long, which can mean they won't fit inside smaller tower cases. They also tend to be fitted with a bulky cooling heatsink and fan assembly, which will require plenty of space directly below the PCIe slot that the card is plugged into.
2. Ensure your PC's power supply unit (PSU) is up to the job. Fitting a powerful, power-hungry graphics card could overload a puny power supply, at best resulting in system crashes, or at worst, a puff of smoke out the back of your computer along with a blank monitor and, well, swearing. The current generation of graphics cards use much less electricity than a few years ago when you needed a thumping great 1000 watt power supply to ensure a top-end graphics card was adequately powered. Nowadays a card like the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is rated to draw 200w of power, so a good quality 500w PSU should be adequate to power the whole PC. AMD cards, however, are less power efficient, requiring more juice and therefore a slightly higher PSU wattage.
Most graphics cards are powered via a socket on the side or back of the card, and this could take the form of a 6 pin, 8 pin, or dual 6 pin connectors. Fortunately almost all modern PSUs will be fitted with the necessary plugs to suit all these connector variants, and if not, your graphics card is likely to come with an adapter in the box.
3. Ensure your PC's motherboard is compatible. This almost certainly going to be fine. Graphics cards have been using the same physical PCI Express 16x data connector for well over a decade, so unless your motherboard is seriously archaic, you should be able to plug in a modern graphics card into your PC without issue, providing points 1 and 2 above are followed.
Finally, credit to Puget Systems (opens in new tab) for the video encoding performance stats we've use in the above buyer's guide. Graphics cards are almost always judged solely on their gaming performance, so we are very grateful for Puget's comprehensive and continually updated analysis of graphics card performance when accelerating image and video editing software.
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