is ssd important for video editing

I won’t be exaggerating if I say that SSDs are probably the most impactful hardware introduction in the PC world.

The reasoning is pretty simple.

Have you heard the popular phrase; a chain is as strong as the weakest link?

This is phrase aptly applies to what SSDs have done since their incorporation in PC hardware industry.

Let me explain.

If you take a close look at the hardware configuration of your PC, it won’t take you time to realize that an HDD or your platter drive is the slowest hardware in your PC.

Now your PC is nothing but a continuous latch of interoperating links.

CPU, Memory and GPU as you very well know are the fastest hardware in your PC.

They to a great extent match each other in the rate at which they exchange data.

Same cannot be said about HDDs of course.

These 7200 or 5400 rpm platter drives operate at a sequential read/write speeds somewhere between 110 MB/s to 130 MB/s.

Now these numbers to a great extent limit how responsively your PC operates.

And if you introduce a simple SATA SSD that operates at 550 MB/s or God forbid an NVMe SSD that can sequentially write at 2000 MB/s.

The performance in terms of overall pc responsiveness, app loading times, game loading times and general pc browsing is just visible there for your bare eyes to see.

In this article though, we are going to be very specific. Instead of seeing how SSD improves your PC performance let go deeper and see is SSD important for video editing?

Does SSD improve video editing performance of a PC?

Will getting an SSD for your PC justify the cost in terms of performance returns?

Is getting an NVMe SSD worth it for video editing over SATA SSD?

I am going to answer all these questions with the help of relevant benchmarks.

So, read the post till the end and you will know how important SSDs are for video editing.

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Is SSD Important For Video Editing?

With respect to the current time and technology that we are experiencing, I have to say SSDs are absolutely necessary but not sufficient if you are looking to extract the very best your PC can offer in terms of video editing performance.

See here is the thing, your PC is of course a collection of different discreet hardware performing their own functions.

But they are all performing their independent function in conjunction with each other.

So, the phrase that a chain is as strong as the weakest link is very apt here.

In a pc that doesn’t have an SSD in it, the HDD is the weakest link of course.

And if you just upgrade the storage unit to an SSD from HDD the performance boost and pc responsiveness is going to be amazing.

No question about that.

However, when you are talking about specific applications like Premiere Pro for editing videos, I can’t stress the importance of having a CPU with a lot of cores and threads.

These graphical intensive applications like premiere pro, after effects, photoshop also to an extent tend to eat everything up that you can throw at them.

So yeah, an SSD is important but to allow the PC to perform at its best they also require for example, a CPU with 6 cores (12 threads) or more, and essentially 16 GB of RAM (atleast 8 GB) if you are creating a content creation-oriented machine.

In addition, a video editing workflow also involves sub-tasks like importing raw files, live video stream playbacks, preview rendering and exporting.

And because these sub-tasks are at times dependent on different hardware, I urge you to read the post completely to have a holistic understanding of the entire process.

Impact Of SSD On System And Application Loading Times

Now we all know that numbers as far as tech is concerned speak volumes more than words.

And when we are discussing a topic like how to use SSD for video editing and is SSD important for video editing, I think your perception will get a broader understanding if we look at some benchmarks.

I found this incredible benchmarking setup that compuram conducted to really give you an idea of how a system’s overall performance changes by sequential hardware upgrade (RAM and SSD).

SSD Vs HDD: PC performance difference
SSD Vs HDD System Performance Difference, Credits: Compuram

In this arrangement, they are testing the booting times of the system under changing config, improvement in Photoshop CS5 loading times and how long does it take to open a 1 GB file in photoshop.

While yes, these aren’t indicating video editing parameters strictly but I hope you realize why understanding these benchmarks under different hardware config is important, right?

Because an SSD before bringing about improvements in your video editing process also brings about improvements in your overall PC performance.

This will then reflect also on your video editing environment, which we are about to see in a second.

You can see that just upgrading to a 256 GB Samsung 840 Pro, keeping everything else constant gives you a huge performance bump of about 54%, +72% and +59% in boot times, photoshop loading and file opening times respectively.

Does SSD Help In Faster Media Import In Video Editing Workflow?

Yes, having an SSD can greatly reduce the time it takes to import your raw files into Premiere Pro. However, in order for that to happen you need to adjust your storage hardware configuration. Ensure that your main system OS and the media cache do not occupy the same solid-state drive (which is the case by default).

This simple move is capable of making the task of importing media roughly 6 to 8 times faster for most codecs.

However, if you are like me and work with H.264 codec primarily don’t be surprised if you see 20-30x times faster media import in Premiere Pro.

It’s actually a very interesting observation which is supported by the benchmarks aptly and precisely presented by pudget systems.

SSD importance in video editing: media import
SSD importance in video editing: media import time
Benchmark Credits: Pudget Systems

The percentage increase or decrease in load times is presented with reference to putting and importing everything on a 1 TB Samsung 850 Pro SATA SSD.

You see with the rest of the remaining hardware configuration remaining same there is a massive reduction in load times (around 6x to 8x) when the cache disk is shifted to a separate solid-state drive.

Note that it isn’t important to have an expensive and blazing fast NVMe SSD for the task.

In fact, it isn’t recommended at all seeing that the time difference isn’t more two to three seconds max.

Does SSD Help In Faster Live Multi-stream Playback?

When it comes to multi-stream playback the performance will depend upon your CPU, the codecs being used and in speed of the project drive with the source media. Therefore, having a Solid-state drive as the base for your source media will definitely contribute to faster live multi-stream playback when compared with platter drives.

As I mentioned this in a previous section of the post, video editing is really a modular process.

The tasks range from simple raw file import to, live timeline video stream playback and the final rendering process.

I think it’s imperative to discuss video codecs a little bit here as well.

For 1080p and 4K H.264 files, it is observed that the source drive doesn’t really matter that much for they are highly compressed codecs.

And it is likely that it is your CPU that will restrict the maximum streams you can have in your playback.

For codecs, apart from H.264 a lot of dramatic differences can be observed and therefore, if you are doing a lot of editing in codecs like ProRes, DNxHD HQ or RED, having your source files located in a solid-state drive will matter a lot.

Once again in order to accomplish smoother playbacks investing in a high-speed premium SSD isn’t necessary.

Working off of a SATA SSD should be good enough, as the performance difference is minimal.

Does SSD help In Rendering Video Previews Faster?

Well, yes it does but not to an extent you would wish it did. This is because rendering primarily is a CPU and to an extent GPU intensive task provided the renderer is capable of utilizing GPU. How fast the rendering process will happen will depend more upon CPU and GPU potency, rather than the read/write speed of the drive on which files are accessed from.

However, this does not mean that there is no impact at all.

I think the story will become much clearer if we again have a look at the benchmarks generated by Pudget systems again.

SSD importance in rendering video live previews
SSD importance in video rendering
Benchmark Credits: Pudget Systems

As you can see if you are rendering everything out of a platter drive you are definitely going to see some difference when you switch over to a faster SSD.

However, you will see that the differences in bar heights isn’t as prominent when compared with what we saw in the case of media import timings.

This clearly indicates that the rendering process has less dependence on storage and inclines more towards utilizing CPU and GPU resources.

In my post on how to build a pc for video editing, I urged you to get a graphic card (preferably Nvidia) for this reason only.

If the application’s render is coded to make use of CUDA cores from GPU, the dedicated encoding actually provides a massive boost to the performance.

The combination of memory and storage also is important in the rendering process.

If the storage space isn’t sufficient for the CPU and the GPU to work on the video stream, chances are that data will be moved on and off the hard drive.

In this case, if the memory utilization during render process is high, a system with an SSD will be have reduced render times over one with an HDD.

This is also the reason why its advisable for content creation machines to have a lot of memory (minimum 16GB).

Another scenario when a system with an SSD will trump over one with SSD in rendering competition is when the rendering is either minimal CPU/GPU intensive or if the CPU/GPU are just way too powerful.

In these cases, an HDD would not be able to match the demands of data of the render engine.

So, you see now, how on a subjective basis a system with an SSD is worth it over one with an HDD.

Does SSD help In Rendering Exporting Video Faster?

A lot of professionals I know tend to find a lot of faults with H.264.

And of course, as you go deeper into understanding the mechanics of video editing and development you start understanding the little nuances of the whole process.

However, for most readers of this post H.264 is still going to be codec you are going to be working with the most.

And in most web apps and websites like YouTube they do tend to recommend H.264 encoding in the final file.

So here I will let you know the impacts of SSD on exporting a video file in H.264 codec.

The results will to a great extent apply to other codecs as well but if you have any specific query in mind do tell me in the comments section.

Take a look at these graphs generated in the same settings in the test bench of Pudget Systems.

is ssd important for video editing: SSDs impact in exporting
is ssd important for video editing: SSD impact on exporting
Benchmark Credits: Pudget Systems

As must be clear to you there isn’t a significant performance that one can pin point towards in any of the relayed configurations.

Of course, if you are exporting everything off of an external hard drive ­you are likely to see performance drops when compared with exporting off SSDs.

The reasons for the same similar to rendering previews depend on a variety of factors that I explained above.

However, if you really wish to extract the best possible exporting times from your system, ensure that you move your project and source media on to a separate SATA SSD.

Or else you may see anywhere around 7% to 10% percent performance drop if you were to keep your project folder and media on a platter drive.

Once again you don’t necessarily need to invest into a blazing fast SSD as the performance gain is too miniscule to do justice to the investment.

Best Video Storage Setup For Video Editing

Okay now that we have established that SSDs do actually impact your video editing performance if not directly, but in an indirect wholesome sense.

The question that stands is how to use SSDs for video editing.

Because the intelligent action once we have looked at the benchmarks is creating a storage system for our video editing build.

I have discussed how to do just that in incredible details in a separate post here where we discuss how exactly to use SSD for video editing.

I really urge you to go through this post, because there are more than a few things about PC hardware and video editing you will learn in the post, you won’t find anywhere.

In any case, let me just share the table here which will quickly give you the best storage setup for video editors neatly divided into modest, intermediate, expert and pro setups.

Modest Editor SetupIntermediate Editor Setup
(Improved Setting)
Expert Video Editing Setup
(Enhanced Optimization And Storage)
Pro Video Editor Setup
(Ideal, Performance Boost, Best Organization And Storage)
Main SSD
(To Store OS, Editing Software, Project folder, Scratch, & Media Cache)
Main SSD
(To Store OS and Editing Application)
Main SSD
(To Store OS and Editing Application)
Main SSD
(To Store OS and Editing Application)
Second SSD
(Project Files, Scratch location, media cache)
Second SSD
(Project Files)
Secondry NVMe SSD Or RAID Setup
(For Project Files)
Third SSD
(To Store Media Cache And Scratch)
Third SSD
(Media Cache & Scratch)
HDD for archives and mass storageHDD for archives and mass storageHDD for archives and mass storageHDD for archives and mass storage

Best SSDs For Video Editing

Once again, a very important topic that deserves its own post.

And guess what I have by mining through sea of SSDs, picked the best SSDs for video editing you can buy right away without scratching your head.

Once again, I urge you to read the post to have a comprehensive knowledge on the topic.

But for the lazys out there 😛

Here is the TL;DR or the table laying out neatly the best SSDs for video editing you can get for yourself right away.

Preview
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive R/W 3500/3000MB/s SSD (ASX8200PNP-1TT-C)
Intel Optane SSD 905P Series (960GB) (AIC PCIe x 4 3D XPoint)
SAMSUNG 970 PRO SSD 1TB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7P1T0BW) Black/Red
SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 500GB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7S500B/AM)
Western Digital 1TB WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD - Gen3 x4 PCIe 8Gb/s, M.2 2280, 3D NAND, Up to 2,400 MB/s - WDS100T2B0C
Title
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive R/W 3500/3000MB/s SSD (ASX8200PNP-1TT-C)
Intel Optane SSD 905P Series (960GB) (AIC PCIe x 4 3D XPoint)
SAMSUNG 970 PRO SSD 1TB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7P1T0BW) Black/Red
SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 500GB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7S500B/AM)
Western Digital 1TB WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD - Gen3 x4 PCIe 8Gb/s, M.2 2280, 3D NAND, Up to 2,400 MB/s - WDS100T2B0C
Interface
NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe
PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3
PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Form Factor
M.2
U.2 15mm / M.2 22110
M.2 2280
M.2 2280
M.2 2280
Capacity
1 TB
1 TB
1 TB
512 GB
1 TB
Customer Rating
-
-
-
-
-
Prime
-
Price
$119.98
Price not available
$249.99
$73.21
$109.99
Preview
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive R/W 3500/3000MB/s SSD (ASX8200PNP-1TT-C)
Title
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB 3D NAND NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe M.2 2280 Solid State Drive R/W 3500/3000MB/s SSD (ASX8200PNP-1TT-C)
Interface
NVMe Gen3x4 PCIe
Form Factor
M.2
Capacity
1 TB
Customer Rating
-
Prime
Price
$119.98
Buy Now
Preview
Intel Optane SSD 905P Series (960GB) (AIC PCIe x 4 3D XPoint)
Title
Intel Optane SSD 905P Series (960GB) (AIC PCIe x 4 3D XPoint)
Interface
PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Form Factor
U.2 15mm / M.2 22110
Capacity
1 TB
Customer Rating
-
Prime
-
Price
Price not available
Buy Now
Preview
SAMSUNG 970 PRO SSD 1TB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7P1T0BW) Black/Red
Title
SAMSUNG 970 PRO SSD 1TB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7P1T0BW) Black/Red
Interface
PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Form Factor
M.2 2280
Capacity
1 TB
Customer Rating
-
Prime
Price
$249.99
Buy Now
Preview
SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 500GB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7S500B/AM)
Title
SAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 500GB - M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology (MZ-V7S500B/AM)
Interface
PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Form Factor
M.2 2280
Capacity
512 GB
Customer Rating
-
Prime
Price
$73.21
Buy Now
Preview
Western Digital 1TB WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD - Gen3 x4 PCIe 8Gb/s, M.2 2280, 3D NAND, Up to 2,400 MB/s - WDS100T2B0C
Title
Western Digital 1TB WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD - Gen3 x4 PCIe 8Gb/s, M.2 2280, 3D NAND, Up to 2,400 MB/s - WDS100T2B0C
Interface
PCIe 3.1 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Form Factor
M.2 2280
Capacity
1 TB
Customer Rating
-
Prime
Price
$109.99
Buy Now

With that I hope this post on, is SSD important for video editing resolved all your queries as far as impact of SSDs in video editing is concerned.

If you have any other queries associated with the topic is SSD important for video editing, don’t forget to mention them in the comments section below.

However, I urge you to go through the following posts so that you have a comprehensive knowledge on topics where SSDs and video editing are mentioned in the same breath.

Special Note: Also if you are looking for the best laptop for video editing this is what I recommend.

Do that and you wouldn’t need to read any other article on the topics anywhere else on the internet 😊.

Take care of yourselves and I will see you in the next one.