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How Much RAM Do You Need for 720p 1080p and 4k Video Editing?

How Much RAM Do You Need for 720p 1080p and 4k Video Editing?


I have this debate all the time with people 8 gigs vs 16 gigs for video editing. Now, of course, my preference is 32 gigs of RAM but that's that gets expensive. But people are looking to get into video editing at a decent price point and I always push them to 16 gigs of RAM.

In this article, I'm gonna show you why I think 16 gigs of RAM is the baseline minimum for video editing. Sure you can get away with 8 but we don't just want to get away with stuff. We want to have peak performance in these apps and these programs. So don't get frustrated by the experience and the workflow of the laptops that we're using.

I'm going to be conducting a RAM video editing test with 720P, 1080P and 4K footage in the same timeline with the same motion graphics and music. All that I'm going to do is switch out the main footage for different resolution qualities, in order to test out how much RAM you actually need for video editing.

In order to understand the spec out of my test here is the gear I used.

I used a Dell XPS 15 95 60 and Intel Core i7 7700 HQ. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU 32 gigs of DDR4 RAM at 2400 megahertz from HyperX and a 512 gig solid-state SSD hard drive along with a Fujifilm XT 2 camera shooting at 30 frames per second in each of the resolutions. And I'll also be dropping these into Premiere Pro in order to test out the RAM usage when editing video.


System RAM uses

The first thing I wanted to mention before conducting these tests is that the computer system consumes a certain amount of RAM to be operational. So when deciding on how much RAM you need it is very important to include the system usage into the mix. On average, most systems will consume 1.5 to 3 gigs of RAM without any foreground tasks open that is something like Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, or After Effects.

Now you can go through and shut down some of those background tasks and those processes but this does take some knowledge on which ones are actually necessary to run your computer and which ones aren't necessary at the time of your working say in Premiere Pro or Photoshop.


Start with 720P footage

I started with the 720P footage and work my way towards the 4K. All these tests are done with a project that is 9 minutes long shot at 30 frames per second. I have loaded the project with motion graphics some like color grading and separately recorded audio as well as background music.

Alright, so here are the test results rendering out 7,200 frames inside it from ear Pro at 720P resolution takes 6.7 gigs.

How Much RAM Do You Need for 720p 1080p and 4k Video Editing?

It also takes 6.7 gigs for 1080P as well as 4K. This is because when you're rendering you're not really rendering the actual footage you're rendering the motion graphics. So as expected they were all the same for this test.



Export test

Export test and each of these resolutions were exported out to its original resolution but to YouTube settings. So for instance, 720P YouTube settings, 1080P YouTube settings, and 4K YouTube settings. We saw some highs and lows from 3 to 12 gigs of RAM usage during the export. But on average the 720P took about 7 gigs of RAM the 1080P project took about 8.4 gigs of RAM and the 4K project took about 8.7 gigs of RAM.



Playback usage

Now for playback usage, so this is when you're playing back your footage in the timeline within Premiere Pro. At fourth quality, the 720P footage took about 2.7 gigs, the 1080P took about 3.1 gigs, and the 4K took about 4.1 gigs of RAM. At full quality, they all took an average of 5.8 gigs of RAM in order to do the full quality playback.

This honestly surprised me and maybe there's some other detail that I'm not quite sure how to like alter in order to get better speeds from a be 720 vs 4K perhaps if you know you can comment in the comment section below.

And as we're going through this article, tell me how much RAM uses are you getting if you have a video editing laptop right now for these different presets and settings.

Alright, so I still recommend 16 gigs of RAM for video editing whether it be 720P, 1080P, or 4K, and the reason being is those background processes. Your background processors are gonna take anywhere from 1.5  to 3 gigs at a minimum. I'm usually running about 7 gigs of background processes. I've tried to limit this, I'm trying to delete some apps and pull this down but that's usually where my computer sits.

How Much RAM Do You Need for 720p 1080p and 4k Video Editing?

Now if I want to open Photoshop or I want to start web browsing that's going to consume more RAM as well.

How Much RAM Do You Need for 720p 1080p and 4k Video Editing?


So although, the program only uses around 8 to 12 gigs of RAM or so you're going to be consuming RAM on other parts of your computer, whether it be a cassette, Google Chrome, Photoshop, or just background tasks. If you only want to have Premiere Pro open, you might be able to get away with 8 gigs, but it consumes it rather quickly, and your system will slow down and it'll really frustrate your workflow. So that 16 gigs of RAM is the mininum to make sure you're not consuming all of your RAM while doing video editing.

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