Hardware buying tips for running HitFilm

SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator
edited December 2014 in HitFilm Techniques & Questions

Updated July 2014
HitFilm is designed to make use of the latest computer hardware, just like computer games. This does mean that your computer needs to meet the requirements.

Buying and upgrading PCs can be confusing, so this topic should help to cut through some of the technobabble. We’ll keep it up-to-date with our latest hardware recommendations.

Terminology

CPU = central processing unit. This is the ‘brain’ of your computer and it does most of the hard work. It’s also the chip that controls the T-100 in the Terminator movies, so you’d better keep an eye on it in case it tries anything.

GPU = graphics processing unit, aka ‘graphics card’ or 'video card'. This handles the visuals and is used to speed up 3D graphics in computer games and HitFilm. Check out our GPU naming guide here.

Drivers = GPU manufacturers regularly release driver updates. The ‘driver’ is what your computer uses to talk to the GPU. Driver updates can improve performance and stability, so always make sure you’re using the latest drivers before spending money on a new card.

Buying advice

These are our personal recommendations for working with HitFilm. We still recommend you do your own research at sites like AnandTech and Tom’s Hardware, where you’ll also find advice about the best deals and latest products.

We also suggest checking out pcpartpicker.com, a very useful website for comparing and pricing individual components.

Whether you’re building your own or buying a pre-built machine, use the following as a rough guide:

Keeping it cheap

If you’re working on a really tight budget, don’t worry. Computer hardware is cheaper and more powerful than it’s ever been.

Entry-level CPU: Intel Core i3 or equivalent

Entry-level GPU: AMD: R7 250, HD 6790 / Nvidia: GTX 460, GTX 550Ti

The sweet spot

In every hardware generation there’s a sweet spot where the price-to-power ratio is just right.

Mid-level CPU: Intel Core i5 or equivalent

Mid-level GPU: AMD: R7 265, R7 260x / Nvidia: 650Ti, GTX 470 

Enthusiasts

Want to go for something more powerful, with a bit more future-proofing? Then check these out.

High-level CPU: Intel Core i7 or equivalent

High-level GPU: AMD: HD 6990, 7970, R9 280x / Nvidia: GTX 590, GTX 680, GTX 770

Lottery winners only

If you’ve got so much money you don’t know what to do with it, you may as well go all-out.

Top-level CPU: Intel Core i7 or equivalent

Top-level GPU: AMD: HD 7990, R9 295x2 / Nvidia GTX 690, GTX 780Ti, GTX Titan, GTX Titan Z

To build or not to build?

PC users are in a unique buying position: you can buy pre-built, off-the-shelf models from the likes of Dell and HP, or you can buy all the individual pieces and build your own computer.

This is a topic which is covered in far greater detail on many tech and gaming sites. Take a look at this article over on Rock, Paper Shotgun - while it's focused on gaming, the principles apply to HitFilm as well. Meanwhile, here's what I think:

Buying a pre-made computer has some obvious benefits: a warranty, a support hotline, hopefully it works from day one. It also has potential drawbacks: unwanted, pre-installed software, lower spec but higher price, and sometimes upgrading can be restricted.

Building your own computer requires some technical skill but mostly involves knowing how to plug things into other things. Benefits: you can buy individual components at the best power-to-price ratio, you know exactly what’s inside your computer, you can easily upgrade it in future. Drawbacks: you need to know what you’re doing, and if something goes wrong you’re on your own.

If you have any friends that are experienced at building computers you can ask them to help you build your new rig. Watch what they do and next time you’ll be able to do it on your own. Otherwise, you’ll need to save up for a pre-built system.

Unfortunately we don’t have the scope to provide assistance with building your own computer here at HitFilm.com, but there are plenty of great sites out there providing tutorials and guidance.

MOD EDIT: Fixed links for the new forum/website (2014-12-11)

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Comments

  • edited September 2011
    thanks for the great info!
    I was browsing newegg, and while I didn't see the AMD Radeon HD 6870, I saw the AMD Radeon HD 6450. Is there much of a difference?

  • thanks for the great info!
    I was browsing newegg, and while I didn't see the AMD Radeon HD 6870, I saw the AMD Radeon HD 6450. Is there much of a difference?

    Hi Phil,
    The AMD 6450 is significantly poorer than the AMD 6870 by a considerable margin. In fact the AMD 6450 under-performs when compared to our minimum specification cards of the AMD x1900 & the Nvidia 7900.
    At current, AMD/ATI names each card by generation, series, and by performance.
    The way the model numbers work is the 1st digit (6) indicates the chip-set series or family.
    The next digit indicates the target market/level; 0 to 300s is the integrated end of the spectrum (lowest entry level); cards within 330 to 590 is for the budget range; 600 to 790 is for mainstream cards & finally 800 to 990 is for enthusiast / high end cards.
    Hope this helps
    Thanks
    Ady

  • thanks for the great info!
    I was browsing newegg, and while I didn't see the AMD Radeon HD 6870, I saw the AMD Radeon HD 6450. Is there much of a difference?

    This might help: Best Graphics Cards For The Money: August 2011
  • edited September 2011
    Many thanks, Bob and Ady!
  • Can I safely assume I'm lacking with a EVGA GT 520 card? Damm I just bought it!!!
  • Can I safely assume I will be OK if I buy a Gateway DX4850-57 PT.GBL02.022
    Specs:
    Intel Core i7-2600 3.4GHz Processor
    8Gb DDR3 RAM Memory
    1.5TB Hard Disk Drive
    I assume this should be replaced with a better card:
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 420 Video Graphic Card with 1GB Discrete Video Memory
  • That GT 420 is right on the line, I think. It will be slow if it can run the software at all. Otherwise, the specs are fine, but you'll want a faster GPU. Look at the recommendations above, and the more substantial list of cards that meet the minimum, as well as the list of recommended cards, which will perform nicely, on the Requirements page:
    http://hitfilm.com/ultimate/requirements
  • edited November 2011
    Based on your reply, it appears the graphics card is the critical link. Since yesterday the recommended cards have changed and they are all 2GB or greater and cost in excess of $300.00. That said, would it be better to purchase a good i3 or i5 with a 2+ghz processor and put in an HD 6970 or GTX 570 or to but the faster i7 and one of the recommended cards (GTX 450) that only costs $120.00?
  • For HitFilm I'd personally prioritise the GPU over the CPU, though ideally you do of course want both. :)
    Take a look at the 560ti - it's great value in terms of price-to-power.
  • Where might one buy 6800M, 6900M, 6990M? I can't seem to find them anywhere... are they OEM only?
  • Disappointing. We just tried Deus Ex tutorial on a i7-2600 with an HD 4850 (or something lower end like that) and it won't even render... Running on a SSD hard drive no less. I would guess the GPU is MUCH, MUCH, more important than the CPU. This literally did worse than my laptop with a Radeon mobile card.
    Interestingly enough, the system runs Premier like a whiz, rendering virtually any built in effect and transition in real time.
    Using your tutorial footage.
    Are we just snake bit? I (Dad) get so disappointed when my aspiring filmmaker son texts me about how HitFilm doesn't do this, or fails to do this. I am ready to drop a wad on a desktop but I'm nervous this will never be great. :(
  • I just bought an i7-2600 pc myself with 8gb ram and win7 64 bit and an evga geforce gtx-570 128 mb. I hope that's good enough. Right now I can't do any complicated stuff on my old athlon x2 and GeForce 9800 GT. I can't wait for it to arrive.
  • AdyAdy Staff
    edited December 2011

    Where might one buy 6800M, 6900M, 6990M? I can't seem to find them anywhere... are they OEM only?

    Hi,
    Unfortunately you won't be able to buy those graphics chips as more often than not they are soldered to a motherboard. They would need to be installed in your machine from the offset as upgrading isn't really an option.


    Disappointing. We just tried Deus Ex tutorial on a i7-2600 with an HD 4850 (or something lower end like that) and it won't even render... Running on a SSD hard drive no less. I would guess the GPU is MUCH, MUCH, more important than the CPU. This literally did worse than my laptop with a Radeon mobile card.
    Interestingly enough, the system runs Premier like a whiz, rendering virtually any built in effect and transition in real time.
    Using your tutorial footage.
    Are we just snake bit? I (Dad) get so disappointed when my aspiring filmmaker son texts me about how HitFilm doesn't do this, or fails to do this. I am ready to drop a wad on a desktop but I'm nervous this will never be great. :(

    Hi,
    The 4850 should be able to handle the tutorial, and is certainly not low end, well at least not to the point it shouldn't render. Are you sure it is indeed a 4850 in your machine as you don't seem sure?
    If it is could you make sure your graphics drivers for the card are currently up to date. I would normally search for your driver for you but I'm not sure what Operating System you have so I can't. But the drivers can be found here:
    AMD Driver Page
    I can only apologise for the problems your son & yourself have experienced.
    If you continue to have performance issues, please raise a Support Ticket here & I can look at your case on a one to one basis.
    Thanks
    Ady

  • I just bought an i7-2600 pc myself with 8gb ram and win7 64 bit and an evga geforce gtx-570 128 mb. I hope that's good enough. Right now I can't do any complicated stuff on my old athlon x2 and GeForce 9800 GT. I can't wait for it to arrive.

    Hi Harry,
    I would hope that the 570 GTX has a little more than 128MB of memory, I think most modern cards have at least 1GB. :)
    You should be absolutely fine with that set-up, but do remember to update your drivers right away. Windows 7 comes with very good but very basic drivers that will mean the card will work but not to optimum performance. These drivers are no substitute for the drivers Nvidia releases, you can find the driver for your card here:
    Nvidia Driver
    Thanks
    Ady
  • Oops! My bad, I forgot the zero. It's 1280mb so yeah 1gb. Thanks for the link!
  • AdyAdy Staff
    edited December 2011

    Oops! My bad, I forgot the zero. It's 1280mb so yeah 1gb. Thanks for the link!

    No problem Harry.
  • Pretty wrong on my end, it was an ATI 4550. The i7 box we tested on was one I was spec'ing for Premier so I tossed HitFilm on it. So am I safe in knowing that that the 4550 is a low end card it would not be able to render DeusEx in real time? In fact, it could never catch up and was slower than the laptop card.

    Are you sure it is indeed a 4850 in your machine as you don't seem sure?
    Ady

    A just a bit of background guys... I have been an editor since A/B roll. I've done everything from Beta to D2 and cutting 8MM & 35MM film. My NLE experience started with a Video Toaster then Avid and finally Final Cut. I now use Premier CS and we also have Sony Vegas (Non pro). If it edits, we might have it.
    Vegas and Premier all run great on the Laptop, HitFilm does great until you need to do any multi layer effects. We will open a support case but only if we get a desktop.
    It's sadly apparent to me the investment in HitFilm wasn't the brightest idea for a laptop system, even with the Radeon HD 6470M graphics card it has in it.
  • Quick update: I installed a GeForce GTX570 in a i3 with 8GB DDR3. It cannot handle AVCHD from a Canon HD camera, literally in any way. Once it's converted with Movavi to... AVCD it works great. What am I missing? It seems like it should support the Canon AVCHD native.
  • I’ve ordered a new PC, this one only for film and music, I’ll have two then. But today’s computers are 64 bit and my Hitfilm version is 32. What if I have my new baby, do I have to buy Hitfilm again.
  • You have access to both the 32-bit and 64-bit installers of HitFilm through your account:
    http://hitfilm.com/account/software
    Click the Download Installer link, then select 32-bit or 64-bit for download.
  • Just to let you guys know that you can put an external graphics card on your laptop. You will need a separate monitor though. I have recently hooked up a wireless keyboard to my Asus G74SX-a2, and use the HDMI, to connect it to a 24" monitor. Yes you are effectively turning a laptop in to a desktop, but my desktop, that was top of the line in 2009, is not as powerful as my laptop.
  • Hiya all, could somone tell me if this Card would work with hitfilm? thanx
    http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/pny-nvidia-geforce-gt-430-pci-e-graphics-card-1gb-08623397-pdt.html

  • Hiya all, could somone tell me if this Card would work with hitfilm? thanx
    http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/pny-nvidia-geforce-gt-430-pci-e-graphics-card-1gb-08623397-pdt.html

    Hi Nichola,
    Yes the card will work but it just scrapes in at the minimum specification, so you will be running the software on the bare minimum requirement.
    What is your budget for an upgrade?
    Thanks
    Ady
  • Hiya, thanx 4 reply, i was just scrolling thought cards because am using the card i have posted and its running like crap lol, so am looking 4 an upgrade yeah

  • Hiya, thanx 4 reply, i was just scrolling thought cards because am using the card i have posted and its running like crap lol, so am looking 4 an upgrade yeah

    No problem.
    Yes the 3400 Series is essentially an integrated card, so performance will be slow & cumbersome at times due to lack of resources on the card.
    Do you have a budget on how much you would like to spend on a graphics card?
    As I'm assuming you are from the UK, you may find Overclockers, Scan & EBuyer a little cheaper than somewhere like PCWorld. But naturally you are free to use whoever you feel comfortable with.
    Thanks
    Ady
  • Thanx 4 reply, yeah am from the uk, my budget is around 50 - 60 pounds, i normaly use AE cs5 with no problems, as i started to use HF, it was so slow when using particals ect, so yeah

  • Thanx 4 reply, yeah am from the uk, my budget is around 50 - 60 pounds, i normaly use AE cs5 with no problems, as i started to use HF, it was so slow when using particals ect, so yeah

    No problem at all.
    I cannot obviously speak for other software, but HitFilm does all of it's rendering via the GPU (Graphics Card).
    Also the pre-made 3D particle effects are the most intensive to render and won't often render in real-time (although we'll be working on improving this). Sometimes you can get significantly more performance from building your own in the particle system.
    How old is your current machine, I'm assuming it's a desktop machine not a laptop?
    Thanks
    Ady
  • :) your so helpfull, well the pc alone is around 3 yers old, but ive upgraded ram, other parts of it, here is my currect specs

  • :) your so helpfull, well the pc alone is around 3 yers old, but ive upgraded ram, other parts of it, here is my currect specs

    It's what we are here for.
    That's ok, 3 years old is fine, just wanted to know so as to suggest what type of card you could get.
    I have to be honest for around £50 - £60 you are going to struggle to see a massive performance improvement & you are best off sticking with what you have for now. We realise that not everyone has bundles of cash they can just throw at a problem & fix it. Hence why we made this software compatible with hardware that is nearly 7 years old, but unfortunately some cards (even newer ones) are just not designed for use with this type of software & they will fall short.
    What I would suggest you do immediately is update to the latest graphics drivers here.
    The link is the exact driver you need for your machine, so please download, install & follow any on screen instructions, then try what you were doing before & see how you get on.
    Thanks
    Ady

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