Too Slow to Edit 4K Videos? Check Top 10 4K Video Editing Software for Windows / Mac

By Cecilia Hwung, Updated: Mar. 4, 2020

4K recording is easily accessible now. Sports cameras like DJI and GoPro shoot 4K in EIS. DSLR camcorders from Sony/Panasonic have long been able to record 4K. Smartphones like iPhone X add 4K 30fps mode in recent years. However, 4K editing is still hamstrung by large file size and highly-compressed formats. Professional video editors, usually power-hungry suites per se, require computer configurations for smooth operation. So the question is: Is there any 4K video editor that is friendly to common computers? What is the best 4K editing software?

Here in this guide, we have rounded up 10 professional software which can help you a lot with 4K video editing on Windows 10/7 and macOS (Catalina included). There are both free ones and paid ones among them.

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Part 1. Top 10 Free or Paid 4K UHD Video Editing Software

Price Operating system Installation size Export to 4K Export to HEVC Ease of use Best for
VideoProc $29.95 Windows, macOS 46.6MB Yes Yes Easy Quick editing
iMovie Free macOS, iOS 2.3GB Yes No Easy Mac beginners
Final Cut Pro X $299.99 macOS 2.8GB Yes Yes Hard Mac professionals
Adobe Premiere Pro $239.88/yr Windows, macOS 1.0/1.2GB Yes Yes Hard Prosumers
Vegas Pro $599 Windows 1.5GB Yes Yes Hard Special effects
DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio $299 Linux, macOS, Windows 920MB Yes No Intermediate Large files
VideoStudio 2020 $99.99 Windows 6.8MB Yes Yes Intermediate Fledgling editors
Lightworks Pro $437.99 Linux, macOS, Windows 200MB Yes No Intermediate Trimming
Shotcut Free Linux, macOS, Windows 260MB Yes Yes Easy Home editing
VSDC Video Editor $19.99 Windows 46.5MB Yes Yes Intermediate Newbies

In the following content, we will show you the details about each 4K video editing application, like its features, what it is good at, its pros, its cons, and more, to help you make a choice much more easily and smartly.

Editor's Choice for the Best 4K Video Editing Software
VideoProc Can Edit 4K Smoothly

#1. VideoProc

VideoProc is designed especially for 4K HEVC/H264 and higher-quality videos on both Windows and Mac. It has a full set of features: crop, split, cut, merge, rotate 4K videos, add watermarks, effects, subtitles, deshake, denoise, create MKV/GIF, fix lens distortion etc.

fastest 4K video editor for PC/Mac - VideoProc

It accepts and exports videos in 4K resolution. Plus, it provides 420+ output formats and extensive ready-made profiles. You can output projects to any devices and platforms. Most importantly, the advanced compression algorithm in VideoProc helps reduce 4K/8K video size without visible quality loss.

This video processing tool has a special focus on 4K videos at different fps and settings, be them recorded by GoPro, DJI drones, iPhone, DSLR cameras, or other devices. It provides top performance in editing 4k videos via the Level-3 Hardware Acceleration tech. This is unique on the market. It allows you to apply full GPU acceleration from Intel, Nvidia and AMD via out editing tasks. Namely, it has a 47x real-time faster speed. That's 5x faster than most other tools.

Pros:

1. Superfast speed editing 4K UHD videos.

2. Both import and output 4K resolution.

3. Ability to reduce 4K exports.

4. 4-in-1 combo of an editor, a media (video/dvd/audio) converter, a downloader, and a recorder.

5. Perfect balance between easiness and functionalities.

Cons:

1. It's a linear-editing tool.

Video Tutorial: How to Edit 4K Video with VideoProc

#2. iMovie

free 4k uhd video editor - imovie

iMovie is the default video editor for Mac, free since macOS 10. Versions after 10.1 have added support for 4K resolution and HD at 60fps. Users can import, freely edit videos in 4K 2160p, 1080p 60fps and share content in 4K quality. This free 4K video editing software has enough features for novices to make a decent video. That includes subtitles, timeline, filters, background, color correction, stabilization, etc. Users can share the project right to YouTube, Vimeo, and FaceBook right away.

However, iMovie is not good at dealing with large files. And be careful when applying advanced editing. For example, the app may crash. Audio and video may go out of sync when dropping all the audio to the timeline, or slowing down the clip.

Pros:

1. Extremely easy to use.

2. The effects, backgrounds, and titles are top-notch among free editors.

3. Well optimized on Mac computers.

Cons:

1. Output video can be large in size. No option to compress 4K output videos.

2. Very limited output choices.

#3. Final Cut Pro X

edit 4k videos on Mac - fcpx

Final Cut Pro X is the prosumer-level editor app from Apple. FCPX has a similar interface to that of iMovie. But it has a far larger selection of effects, filters, transitions, etc. It has almost everything a professional editor may have. Compared to Abode Premiere Pro, FCPX has a better interface and faster rendering time.

This 4K video editor is capable of editing 4K ProRes footage, HD, and 360 videos from various VR headsets and cameras. Also it exports projects in 4K HEVC H.265 and HD/FHD H.264. The installation of FCPX requires enough local storage on Mac (older or newer): minimum 4GB of RAM, OpenCL-capable video processor, and 4GB free disk space.

Pros:

1. Extraordinarily powerful.

2. 4K, HDR and 360-degree video.

Cons:

1. Expensive and complicated.

2. High requirements on hardware.

#4. Adobe Premiere Pro

editor for 4K videos- adobe

Adobe Premiere Pro is the hands-down first choice of many. This editor is a mainstay for Hollywood makers to create movies with stunning cinematic effects. You can trim clips, add transition & effects, adjust color, edit audio, add subtitles, apply multi-camera angle editing and more. Adobe Premiere Pro CC is among the best 4K UHD video editors. Most professional users choose it for 4K (higher), 360 VR and HDR video editing. Better use it on high-end computers and servers.

Like other professional editors, Adobe Premiere Pro CC is complicated and very taxing on computer. For example, users on GoPro and DJI forums usually complain that editing 4K footages in Adobe Premiere Pro is choppy and lagging. Specifically, Adobe Pr requires at least 8GB of RAM and 8GB of hard disk space. If you're running on an earlier Mac, consider upgrading your hardware first.

Pros:

1. An industry-standard editor.

2. Flexible and powerful.

Cons:

1. Expensive and complicated.

2. High requirements on hardware.

3. Extra apps like After Effects required for some features.

#5. Vegas Pro

UHD video editing software - vegas

Vegas Pro is a big rival of famous video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. It comes with all features a professional editor needs to create movies, TV shows, music videos, etc. Sony Vegas Pro is more competitive for its ability to apply amazing elements, visual special effects, 3D titling & compositing. The editor also supports input/output 4K and HEVC, ProRes, AVC, etc. More importantly, Vegas Pro takes advantage of hardware acceleration like Intel Quick Sync Video to edit and render faster.

Pros:

1. Large effects and transition package.

2. A wide range of export formats.

3. Intel QSV support.

Cons:

1. The price is too high for non-professionals.

2. Complicated to begin with.

#6. DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio

4K video editor - davinci

DaVinci Resolve 15, "the fastest growing nonlinear video editor in the industry", is a free video editor. It has features on par with professional programs like 3D compositing, 3D text tools, keying, painting, Color package, etc. To edit 4K videos, users need to upgrade to DaVinci Resolve 15 Studio for $299. It supports 4K and higher at up to 120fps. The program is very good at dealing with large and heavy files. It can enable hundreds of timelines and open clips instantly by taking advantage of Apple Metal, multiple GPUs and CUDA acceleration.

Pros:

1. Free 4K editing app version with no watermark.

2. Support extensive input/output formats.

3. Flexible settings to reduce time when editing large projects.

Cons:

1. A powerful computer is required.

2. Some features are difficult to use like adding VFX.

#7. VideoStudio Ultimate 2020

UHD video editor - corel

VideoStudio Ultimate was acquired by Corel from Ulead Systems and rebranded Corel VideoStudio Ultimate. It is a not-to-be-missed option when it comes to 4K video editing software. It supports high-end technologies like 4K, 3D, 360 degree VR, Stop Motion etc. This 4K video editor provides a full set of tools to capture, edit and share videos. First, you can easily import videos or record right away. Then edit, stabilize, split, modify, trim, fix, etc. And directly upload projects to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo. Or export video in other formats. Overall, it's a very easy editor for beginners to intermediated users.

Pros:

1. Powerful support for 4K, stop motion, 3d.

2. Bunch of export options.

3. Wide selection of bundled effects.

Cons:

1. The speed can be slow sometimes.

#8. Lightworks Pro

edit Ultra HD videos - lightworks

Lightworks also has a free version. Just as the Pro, it has a wide range of input formats. It imports ProRes, RED R3D, and AVCHD 4K. But note that it exports to YouTube and Vimeo only. To export edited videos in 4K resolution in any formats, you need to get the paid version. The 4K video editor free version allows multi-cam editing, over 100 presets, a set of transitions and effects, and fast trimming features. Claimed by the site, Lightworks is used to produce some famous Hollywood movies like The Wolf of Wall Street.

Pros:

1. There is a free version enough for home editing.

2. Ultra-precise trimming feature.

3. Excellent speed for 4K video editing.

Cons:

1. Mastering the program is intimidating.

2. The free version is very limited in export formats and resolutions (720P).

For more features about Lightworks video editor, please check this in-depth review guide on it.

#9. Shotcut

free 4K editing software - shotcut

Shotcut is a free video editor that supports 4K resolutions. This free 4k editing program has many features beneath the plain interface. It supports cutting, splitting, merging and trimming video, adding effects, titles, and text. There are also advanced features like 3D text, color correction, overlay, and more. You will need to spend a little time figuring them out. The editor supports various formats like H.264, MP4 and the 4K format HEVC for 4K output. See how to use Shotcut - tutorial for beginners >

Pros:

1. A wide range of supported formats.

2. Powerful features for a free editor.

Cons:

1. Lack of support tutorials.

2. Lack of profiles for YouTube or social media.

#10. VSDC Video Editor

free 4K video editor - VSDC

VSDC also has a free and a pro version at $19.99, both claimed to support 4K. The free VSDC has many features not available in other free 4k uhd editors, like 4K stabilization, picture-in-picture mode etc. The paid version has some benefits like more media types, hardware acceleration, more advanced settings, etc. This makes the pro version faster when exporting and editing 4K videos.

Pros:

1. A wide range of import and output video formats, including H.265.

2. Good for home users.

Cons:

1. Slow speed editing 4K videos.

2. Some complain that it's not FREE.

Part 2. What Computer Can Edit 4K Videos?

Only with the help of best 4K video editor, this is not enough. We also need the qualified hardware configuration of the computer. So to put it more bluntly, what kind of hardware, like the RAM, can help us edit 4K videos much more smoothly?

The RAM I/O performance

I/O (Input/Output) performance simply means the input and output of data, or, the flow of data per second. The amount of data in 4k is very large, 4 times bigger than that of HD. Obviously it would be a big challenge for the RAM. So we need make sure that the RAM is powerful, and with great I/O performance. But how to decide this? When we choose the RAM for 4K editing, we can simply check its frequency and dual-channel feature.

This page gives detailed information about the best PC build for 4K video editing.

1. RAM

Many people say that memory is the most important one of all computer requirements for video editing. We are not gonna deny it. Especially for the low-configuration computers, the most important part that needs to be upgraded is just its RAM. But how much memory do we need for 4K editing anyway? More and better?

The requirements of computer hardware vary greatly when using different 4K editors.

However, the memory size number is not all about the ability of RAM for 4K processing. We need to check more other specs about the RAM.

2. RAM frequency

In addition to requiring large memory, RAM with better I/O performance also requires a higher frequency. The higher the frequency, the better the I/O performance of the memory. The same amount of memory, such as the 8GB ones, some are much cheaper than others, and some are really expensive. One big reason lies in the frequency. Generally, for 4K editing, it is OK to choose the 2666MHz or 2933MHz memory.

3. Dual-channel memory

The dual-channel feature can also upgrade the memory I/O performance. The benefit of dual channels is that the memory speed can be multiplied. Because dual-channel memory increases bandwidth, and hence, it improves data processing.

But you need to notice these,

1. The motherboard should support the dual-channel.

2. The CPU must also support the reading of dual-pass memory, such as 8700K, 9900K, and 3900X.

3. Obviously, you need two memories. Choose the same model of RAMs to avoid incompatibility.

Surely, the computer hardware configurations are not just RAM, and there also include GPU, CPU, motherboard, hard disk, etc. which we will need for 4K editing. And if you want to learn more, here we have prepared a detail page about hardware for 4K video editing, to which you can refer.

If you have high computer configurations, use renowned editors like Premiere Pro for any 4K or HD videos. But for slow and old computers, advanced editors make things times slower. VideoProc is suitable for regular computers, as it relies less on CPU and RAM. You don't need to close all programs down. Instead, it allows extra juice for other activities running at the same time.

Part 3. 4K Video Editing Tips

Editing a 4K video should be nothing special. Actually, you can do it without a 4K monitor, or without a powerful computer. But some users grumble at stutters, crashes, computer glitching out or lagging when importing, editing, playing back or rendering their large 4K projects on some video editing software. Here some tips on how to edit videos smoothly on slow computers:

1. Do not install the large professional NLE system on your Disk C.

You should ensure the system disk have sufficient space to be efficient. Otherwise, your computer will not run smoothly.

2. Choose a video editing software that has lower requirement on your hardware.

From the review above, VideoProc (for Windows and Mac), iMovie (for Mac, iOS), Vegas (for Windows), Corel VideoStudio, Lightworks (for Linux, macOS, Windows), shotcut (for Linux, macOS, Windows) and VSDC (for Windows) meet this criterion. Among them, VideoProc is light and has the lowest requirement on hardware. It is recommended if you only need to do some basic edits and conversion. You can learn more tips on how to edit 4K videos in the simplest way.

3. Turn on your graphics acceleration.

Since 4K video editing relies heavily on graphics processing, you should make good use the NVIDIA or AMD/ATI graphic card power on your computer. For example, you are suggested to turn on your Hardware Graphics Acceleration on your Windows 10 when editing the 4K video. By moving all graphics rendering from the Central Processing Unit to the Graphics Processing Unit will get faster and better performance. Better still, most editing programs have the ability of hardware acceleration. Just choose a suitable one. For your reference, VideoProc can make FULL use of your CPU and GPU resource and you don't need to do any settings.

4. Split your 4K video into clips and edit them one by one.

if your computer is very old and slow. This method is recommended if all the three above are not working for you. Cutting your lengthy video into pieces and remerge them together after you completing the editing. This can avoid the crashes and data loss somehow.
5. Downsample your 4K video to 1080p or 720p. I know, this is a worse thing to do. But don't worry if you are to upload your 4K video to YouTube, Instagram or the similar social media platform. Because 1080p is enough for social sharing and reviewing on a mobile device.

Part 4. 4K Video Editing FAQ

1. How much RAM do I need to edit a 4K video?


  1. 16GB of RAM: Good for editing 1080p – 4K 8bit Projects, with minor usage of background programs.
  2. 24GB RAM: At least is OK for 4K material editing, and if your budget is sufficient, 32GB, and even 64GB would be much better.
  3. 32GB of RAM: Good for any type of editing with heavy use of background hogs, such as editing large images in Photoshop.
  4. 64GB or more: Recommended for editing 8K footage in 10bit or more and RAM-hogging programs such as After Effects/Cinema 4D.

2. Is there any 4K video editor online?

Yes, there are some 4K video editors online, such as Kizoa. Although most of them seem supporting 4K resolution as input, seldom of them can output real 4K quality. The image quality will be downgraded automatically. 4K video file is so large in size that the requirement of your internet connection speed is very high. So it is not suggested to edit an UHD video online.

Related Article
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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