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.
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.
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:
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
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
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
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
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)