To be a video editor, you basically have to give up a portion of your life. Just how much will depend on the amount of footage you’re dealing with, your skill-set, your self-imposed level of perfection, your working relationship with the director(s) and how forgiving your significant other is. It also helps to have a decent system that can handle the workload.

I’m a side-hustle video editor. I do it on the weekends and whenever else I can find the time after my regular 9–5 commitment. Fortunately for me, my empathetic spouse keeps me fed and watered during those long drawn out sessions where I seem fixated on the same two seconds of footage or mired in a swamp of persistent compiling errors. In those moments, I am acutely aware that what little time I have left in this world is slowing draining into oblivion between the floorboards under my desk. This may not pertain to you if you’re in your twenties or thirties, but beyond that, time hangs heavy around your neck like a Flava Flav accessory.

Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it, but to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does. – Walter Murch

Hoping to save more time, I knew I would need to upgrade my current system to something more powerful and efficient. Since I’m far from independently wealthy, buying a pre-built system was out of the question. I’d have to construct it myself. It’s been eight years since my last computer build and I was excited to see what components I could piece together at an affordable price.

After weeks of researching benchmark tests, reading through several hardware articles and customer reviews, and watching dozens of YouTube videos of various builds, I made my final decisions on the components I would use.

I should also state that I hunted for deals and waited like an alley cat until I saw a price to pounce on. The cost for most of these components seems to vary week to week on Amazon and NewEgg. My only advice is to jump on what you believe is the best price and most affordable to you. This current build came in at $900. Similar pre-built systems from well-known manufacturers can run anywhere from $1500 – $1800+. If you prefer to work on a Mac, a system with similar components can start at a base price of $1699.

new computer build
New Ryzen build happily humming away.

DIY vs PREBUILT

There’s a long-standing argument of whether or not it’s truly cheaper to build your own system. What’s usually agreed upon in the end is that it depends on what you’re looking for. If you just want to surf the internet and perform basic tasks, then a pre-built computer is your best option. You can buy a reasonably powerful desktop computer for under $500. However, if you’re looking for something specific, whether for gaming or video editing – then building your own system can be more cost-effective. Keep in mind that prices will vary depending on where and when you buy your parts. If you’re paying someone to build a system for you, consider that most technicians will charge at least 10% of the total parts cost for their labor. My build, including installing the operating system, installing drivers and testing everything took me half-a-day. But, I tend to take my time when I’m building these things. Some people can slap a build together in thirty minutes. Regardless of the speed of the technician, 10% of the parts cost is a small price to pay for someone’s labor.

IS YOUR SYSTEM GREEN?

The eco-friendly and fair labor aspect of a computer build is a deep and dark area that most manufacturers try to keep hidden. But, it’s something we should consider when looking for a new computer – how your system is built – the ecological harm caused by the extraction of certain elements through mining, the less-than-human labor conditions imposed upon the people building those components and the sheer amount of rapidly increasing e-waste that is created. Today, we filter through cell phones, TVs, monitors, and computers as easily as used Kleenex. With that in mind, if you have no interest in digging deeper into the impact of your choices, the easiest thing you can do is buy or build with longevity in mind.

Even with the depth of information currently available on the internet, it’s still not so easy to find sustainably-sourced, eco-friendly and fair labor produced computer parts. The only available component I could find was the Antec EarthWatts Green Power Supply. This power supply is energy efficient and reported to be whisper quiet. I wish I had seen this option when I was initially searching for power supplies. If you know of any sources that can shed light on more eco-friendly pc builds, email me! I’m currently putting together a list of these components and building out a website that will act as a resource for anyone looking to build their own system in a more mindful way.

THE NEW BUILD

I’m more than happy with my new system. It’s quiet and lightning fast – faster than anything I’ve previously used. It takes on 4K footage in After Effects like nothing at all. I’m currently editing the pilot episode of a supernatural webseries set in San Francisco called, The Grey Area. The footage was shot with a RED and even with the use of proxies, my system was consistently getting bogged down. Now I’m able to have several applications open at once with a render running in the background and no issues with lag. I’m also turning my previous PC into a file server for the house. It’s a better option than tossing it out or selling it for less than what it’s worth. It’s still a strong computer. I should know – I built it myself.

This current system will be the last build I do. Unless, I somehow find my way into a full-time lucrative career as a freelance editor, I don’t see a future reason to build a new computer beyond this one. And, I’m more than okay with that.


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