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Video Cards for Adobe Premiere CC 2015, CC 2015.2 and CC 2015.3

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Video Cards and Adobe Premiere

Article Written on 07/12/2016

Copyright 2016, Studio 1 Productions
Written by David Knarr of Studio 1 Productions.

NOTE: This article is for NVidia video cards. I don't cover the AMD video cards with this article. Also, this article is written primarily for Windows users. However, the majority of the information will still apply to a MAC user.

Number 13 - CUDA Cores, Clock Speed, Memory Interface Width and Memory Bandwidth
This is a brief description of what each of these four specification are:

CUDA Cores - Each NVIDIA GPU has a certain number of CUDA cores, which is the computing engine in the NVIDIA GPU.  Generally, the more CUDA cores the better.

Clock Speed - This is how fast the GPU will run.  Just like the CPU clock speed.  The faster the clock speed the faster the GPU can move and process the data.

Memory Interface Width - Think of this as lanes on a road.  A 128 bit memory interface would have 128 lanes, while a 256 bit memory interface would have 256 lanes to move traffic.  The wider the Memory Interface Width, the more data that can be moved.

Memory Bandwidth - This is how fast information can be transferred between RAM and Video RAM.  It is measured in Gigabytes per second.

Do not stop reading now......

Number 14 - What Video Card to Buy
I know a lot of people reading this are thinking "I will just buy the video card with the best specs".  Well, you might be wasting your money, as you will see a lot depends on your CPU and your editing style.

A lot of people have contacted me and said, they have upgraded their video card and they are not seeing any improvement in rendering speed.  That can be very normal, as it really depends on how complex their timeline is.

For example, take a look at this timeline of an Adobe Premiere benchmark project.  The footage is all HD:

PPBM5 Timeline for Adobe Premiere Video Card Benchmark

This is a complex timeline with mostly are red line above the video tracks showing the GPU will be used.  Now, this timeline has a ton of GPU accelerated effects and transitions.  While it may or may not be typical of the timeline you have, with this timeline, if you upgraded from a GTX-760 to a GTX-1070 you will see a good improvement in rendering and playback performance.

Next, take a look at this Adobe Premiere HD timeline:

Adobe Premiere Video Card Benchmark Real Project

This timeline is from an actual Premiere project I was working on.  As you can see there a lot less GPU effects and transitions.  Now, if your timeline looks more like this, and you upgraded your video card from a GTX-760 to a GTX-1070 you may only have a slight improvement in rendering performance.

The reason is, the GPU is not being used that much.  Basically, only where you see the red line above the timeline is where the GPU will come into play.  And if your timeline has even less red lines above the timeline, then you probably wouldn't see any improvement.

Take a look at these Adobe Premiere HD benchmark tests I ran using both timelines that I have shown above.  Find the CPU that is close  to your CPU and check out the charts for the various tests I did.  NOTE: When you click on the benchmark link, it will open is a separate window so you won't loose you place in this article.

Welcome back, now that you have looked at the benchmark tests, you should have seen that when rendering the timeline with the Real Premiere Project, there wasn't a whole lot of difference between the video cards, once you moved up to the higher end ones.  This is why some people don't see any difference when they upgrade the video card.  The timeline isn't that complex.

The people that do see a big difference are the ones who are using a lot of GPU effects, transitions and/or Lumetri.

Now go back and take a look at the benchmark charts and pay attention to the ones where I do test with different export formats.  As you will see, depending on the format I was exporting to, that some export formats made better usage of the GPU than others.

If you are downscaling the final output video from say 4K to HD, the video card will play a huge part in that, as that is something the GPU is used for.  So if you are doing a lot of downscaling, then you may want to look at the higher end video cards for faster performance when downscaling your video footage.

So before you upgrade your video card or buy a video card, you really need to take a look at your editing style, how many GPU effects and transitions are you using.  Are you using Lumetri?  Do your timelines have more red lines above the video tracks or does it have mostly yellow lines?

Okay, so what video card should you buy?
First, take a look at your CPU.  How old is it?  If it is an older CPU, then a high end video card will not do you much good as the GPU on the video card will be idle while it is waiting for the CPU to feed it the data.

On the other hand, if you have the latest and fastest Intel processor, you don't want to use a low end or the lower mid-range video cards, as the video card will become a bottleneck and hurt your performance.

Next, make sure the video card has DDR5 or GDDR5 memory.  Go back and read number 7 on the previous page to see how much video ram you should have.

I would recommend a GTX-700 series, GTX-900 series or GTX-10xx series of video cards.  I really wouldn't buy any older video cards simply because they are no longer supported with Adobe Premiere CC 2015.3.

If you are going to be editing HD material, then the video card should have at a minimum:
640 CUDA Cores
Memory Interface Width of 128 bit
Memory Bandwidth of 80 GB/s

If you are going to be editing 4K material, then the video card should have at a minimum:
1000 CUDA Cores
Memory Interface Width of 256 bit
Memory Bandwidth of 192 GB/s

Remember, these are the minimums and it will depend on your CPU.  Is it an older CPU or a new blazing fast processor?

NOTE: I know that you can get by with lower specs on the video card.  I am using a GTX-750 video card with 512 CUDA cores, a 128 bit Memory Interface Width and it has a 80 GB/s Memory Bandwidth, which is below the specs I listed above as a minimum.

Just about all of my footage I am working with is HD and I export to h.264 MP4 format.  Now take a look at this chart of my Real Adobe Premiere Project from the benchmark article.

Adobe Premiere Real Project Video Card MP4 Export Intel I7-5930K
As you can see, since am exporting mainly to h.264 MP4, there isn't a lot of difference between the lower end cards, like a GTX-750 and a GTX-980.  Only about 10 seconds difference.

So for me, the GTX-750 offers me great performance for a lot less money than the GTX-980 video card.  Now, if I was exporting to other formats, like MPEG-2, then I would upgrade the video card to something higher as the performance gain with MPEG-2 is much greater.

This is why it is so important for you to figure out how complex your timelines are, what CPU you have, the type of footage you will be editing, what format will you be exporting to and what your performance expectations are.

Remember, everyone has a different level of expectations when it comes to performance.  Some people, must simply have the fastest of everything in their computer, regardless of the cost.  While others, want the best bang for the buck.  Where are you?

A Couple of Notes:
Unfortunately, there are people on the web that like to just make a blanket statement, such as "you need a GTX-xxx card".

They don't stop to think about the type of CPU you have, how much memory your have, what you export your final product to or what your power supply is.  Remember, you may have to upgrade your power supply if the video card you select won't work with you current power supply.  And they don't take into consideration if you are a hobbyist, student, amateur, part-time editor or pro editor.  Plus, they don't take into account your budget.

While they are trying to be helpful, they are not asking you enough questions to give you a good answer.

Something that has been brought to my attention through emails and phone calls is, on some of the forums, people are being told their computer system won't cut it.  However, they are telling me, that once they have put in a NVidia video card, they feel they are getting great performance.  So they asked me why are they being told their system won't cut it?

What is happening here is everyone has a different level of acceptable performance.  Some people just need the fastest (and expensive) system in order to be comfortable editing, they have a high level of acceptable performance.  And in their way of thinking, if YOU don't have a system that is like theirs or close to theirs in specs, then YOUR computer just won't cut it.

While other people are just as comfortable editing on a slower and less expensive system.  They have a lower level of acceptable performance and there is nothing wrong with that.  They are not concerned if it takes a little longer to render.

I don't have any problem editing my videos on an AMD FX-8350 CPU.  Yet, I keep hearing (reading) that AMD processors are no good for video editing.  Well maybe they don't turn in the fastest Premiere Benchmark results, but when it comes to editing a real premiere project like I have shown you above, there is no problem at all.

Also, some of these people are just "assuming" when they are giving out advise.  They haven't actually done any real testing themselves.  Or, they are going by benchmark reports.

Now don't get me wrong, these benchmark tests have there place.  That's why I used it against a real Adobe Premiere project.  However, too many people give out inaccurate advised, based on these benchmark tests alone.  This is why I spent many, many weeks running a ton of tests with a variety of video cards and on several different systems built around different CPUs.  I wanted to get a more accurate picture than just what the loaded benchmark program showed.

To be fair, not everyone on the forums are like this.  But, there are those few who are and they can be very vocal about their opinions on what you should have, without regard to the cost, so be careful.

I realize that people's budgets are tight.  That's why I used a variety of video cards in my tests, from low end to high end.

NOTE:  If you run games or other programs that are video card intensive, a high end video card may boost your performance in those programs.

Okay, before you run out and buy a video card, there is one more thing you need to know......

Number 18 - Video Card Cooling
Video cards generate a lot of heat, especially when the GPU is in high use, such as when rendering.

In order to get the best performance from your video card, you need to make sure it is not over heating.  Otherwise you will have performance problems.

If you don't have any way to monitor you CPU and GPU temperatures, I wrote an article on monitoring your computer's temperatures and a source for free temperature monitoring software.

Even if you already have a video card, please keep reading.  There are things you are going to want to know about your video card and options for cooling it.  In addition, we will show you how to keep your existing video card cooler, thus performing better.

If you haven't bought a NVIDIA video card yet, we are going to show you what you should look for for the best cooling options for a video card.

Please note, there are several manufacturer's of video cards that use the NVIDIA chipset and these manufacturer's may make several models of the video card using the same chipset.  Below you will see photos of video cards from MSI, these are simply the video cards we use here at Studio 1 Productions.

Video Cards for Adobe Premiere CS5

Let's take a look at the video cards above.

The two video cards on the left are standard video cards.  They both have standard size cooling fans and the bottom video card is completely enclosed with only one fan to keep the video card cool.  With the enclosed video card, the air will have to vented out the back.

Now, the two video cards on the right are designed for overclocking.  They have larger fans and the bottom card has dual fans with heat pipes.  Both of these video cards offer better cooling than the standard video cards.  They are also open in design allowing air to circulate around the components on the video card, which helps with the cooling of the video card.

While most standard video cards will work fine, they may run a little warmer than a video card designed for overclocking.

TECH NOTE: With ANY video card, it is best to leave 1 slot open between the video card fans and the next card below it.  This will allow for better air flow and better cooling.

Number 19 - Cooling your Existing Video Card
If you have an existing video card that is a standard (non-overclocked version), like the video cards shown above on the LEFT side, you can add a slot fan to your computer to help keep the video card cooler.  Here is an Article that covers slot fans and cooling.  This article will open up as a separate window so you won't loose your place in this article.

If you are overclocking your video card or you are using a factory overclock video card and you are experiencing Premiere or the system crashing when you render your project, then chances are you will need to return the video card back to a non-overclock state and/or add additional cooling fans to your computer system.

Number 20 - Making Your Computer Run Better and Faster for Premiere
There are two things you can do to keep your computer performing well.  First, use a good program for defragmenting the disk, not the disk defrag program that comes with Windows.  By keep your hard disk defragmented, file and programs will load faster.  Second, run a Registry Cleaner at least once a month.

There are two programs that I use and recommend and they are from and they are FREE.  For more information about them and how to set them up for your computer, just watch the video on our blog page.

Special Notes for Laptop Owners.

Studio 1 Productions Optimus Technology

If you laptop has Optimus Technology or a built-in graphics card with an additional NVidia graphics card, then you may need to change the setup with the NVidia Control Panel in order for the Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere to run in GPU mode.

After Effects Optimus Technology

If the video does not show up in the Preview and/or Program monitor windows in Premiere, then the NVidia Optimus is enabled.


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