The best graphics cards for video editing in 2023

Selection of the best graphics cards for video editing
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The best graphics cards for video editing are a wise investment. Although they'll cost you a bit of money, the money they'll save you by speeding up your workflow will dwarf that initial outlay. To help you find the right one for your needs, we've brought together the best graphics cards for video editing in the article below.

First, though, a warning. Due to a combination of recent factors like supply shortages, price inflation and cryptocurrency mining, graphics card prices are now frighteningly high. Top-end graphics cards have always commanded a premium, but in the case of current cards like the Nvidia RTX 4080 and 4090, their pricing is nothing short of outrageous.

Note 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 details, jump ahead to our section on How to choose the best graphics card. Or, if you'd rather just replace your computer entirely, check out our roundups of the best video editing computer and the best laptops for video editing.

The best graphics cards for video editing in 2023

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

(Image credit: Nvidia)
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1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

The best overall graphics card for video editing

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 8GB
Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
Boost clock: 1670MHz
Shader processors: 4864
Power consumption: 200w

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
Reasonable power consumption

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not cheap

Nvidia is steadily rolling out its RTX 4000-series of graphics cards, but for now only the high-end models in the range have been released. For the vast majority of non-commercial videographers, a mid-spec graphics card is the best value option for video editing and rendering, so for now our top card recommendation is still the RTX 3060 Ti, as it nails the sweet spot between price and performance.

Admittedly, thanks to Nvidia's sustained price hikes with the launch of each new generation of GeForce cards, the 3060 Ti commands 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, such as Asus, Gigabyte and MSI, making the RTX 3060 Ti, with many cards sporting a slight performance overclock to make them marginally faster than standard.

(Image credit: Asus)
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2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080

The best money-no-object graphics card for video editing

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 16GB
Memory bandwidth: 736GB/s
Boost clock: 2,505MHz
Shader processors: 9,728
Power consumption: 320w

Reasons to buy

+
Fast and powerful
+
Perfect for 8K
+
Future proof

Reasons to avoid

-
Thirsty 320w power draw
-
Requires a powerful PC

Nvidia's RTX 4000-series graphics cards are currently the fastest graphics cards for video editing, with the halo RTX 4090 (opens in new tab) being king of the hill. BUT, with an MSRP of $1,600 (and you'll likely pay even more in reality), plus a colossal 450W power draw, you'll need to be exporting many hours of seriously high-value footage to justify an RTX 4090.

The next rung down down the RTX 4000-series ladder is the RTX 4080. This will still be a video rendering beast, but its $1,200 MSRP is a little easier to stomach, as is the 320W power consumption. Other equally impressive stats include 16GB of GDDR6X memory, running on a 256-bit bus at 22.4Gbps, making for a whopping 736GB/s of effective memory bandwidth. All that means this is going to handle anything you can throw at it, even if you're working in 8K.

Remember, you'll also need a PC powerful enough to let an RTX 4080 run to its full potential - a top end CPU, and a 750+ watt power supply, not to mention enough space to accommodate the card's huge bulk.

(Image credit: EVGA)
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3. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

The best budget graphics card for video editing

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 6GB
Memory bandwidth: 336GB/s
Boost clock: 1785MHz
Shader processors: 1408
Power consumption: 125w

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Good performer
+
Available to suit smaller PC towers

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for 4K or 8K footage
-
Not great with DaVinci Resolve

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 noticeably 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.

(Image credit: Nvidia )

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050

Another good budget choice

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 8GB
Memory bandwidth: 224GB/s
Boost clock: 1777MHz
Shader processors: 2560
Power consumption: 170w

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Suitable for video editing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the highest specs
-
May be hard to find

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 sits between the GTX 1660 Super and RTX 3060 in Nvidia's graphics card hierarchy, both in terms of video rendering speed and also pricing. Consequently it's never going to the fastest performer, but you'll find it does a pretty good job for video editing. That's certainly what we found when we reviewed the Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop (opens in new tab), which features an 3050 as standard.

Admittedly, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 isn't the highest specced graphics card. But it's good enough for most video editing and rendering purposes, and at its recommended price, it offers good value overall.

(Image credit: AMD)
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5. AMD Radeon RX 6800XT

The best graphics card for a 2019 Mac Pro

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 16GB
Memory bandwidth: 512GB/s
Boost clock: 2250MHz
Shader processors: 4608
Power consumption: 300w

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent choice for 2019 Mac Pro
+
Great for gaming

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Relatively power-hungry

AMD's cards are consistently slower than their Nvidia counterparts for 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. 

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.

(Image credit: Nvidia)
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6. Nvidia Quadro RTX A4000

The best video editing graphics card for reliabliity

Specifications

Memory (VRAM): 16GB
Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
Boost clock: 1560MHz
Shader processors: 6144
Power consumption: 140w

Reasons to buy

+
Designed for stability
+
Very fast
+
Slim single-slot cooler
+
Super energy-efficient

Reasons to avoid

-
Is extra reliability that important?

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 Quadro RTX A4000 sits near the middle of the Quadro range, but with faster models carrying astronomical price tags, they're aimed squarely at commercial buyers. The graphics card hardware in the RTX A4000 is almost identical to that of the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which carries an MSRP that's around 40% cheaper than the A4000, 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 (top of 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 Pro 2019, 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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Ben Andrews

Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

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