If you’re a video editor, you want to be able to produce your work as quickly as possible without being limited by your hardware. As the world of fast storage devices evolves, it’s clear you need an SSD for intense video editing. These ultra-fast drives can reduce the time it takes to load projects and cycle through timelines. But are they worth the money? And what is the best SSD for video editing?
What is an SSD?
SSD stands for solid state drive. These high-capacity computer storage devices are faster and more compact than traditional hard drives. They can make your computer start up faster and open programs faster, without breaking the bank. Although they are more expensive than a normal hard drive, it’s not a significant amount and it can make a big difference. There are so many levels of detail in this description, but suffice it to say that an SSD is a fast storage device that you should at least have as a boot drive, where your operating system is installed. Traditional hard drives also work great for mass storage.
Do SSDs help you edit faster?
We said that traditional hard drives still work great for mass storage. But what about all your footage that you actively edit? SSDs can have much faster data transfer speeds (like 10 to 40 times faster depending on the drives you’re comparing), but does that speed matter when working with footage stored on them? At normal playback speeds, you’re unlikely to experience any issues, even with 4K video. In fact, you can probably even play back the footage at 2x or 4x speed just fine.
This is where the higher speeds of an SSD will come into play:
- Opening of major projects
- Navigate complex timelines
So does this affect editing? Somehow. While traversing complex timelines, an SSD can be superior to an HDD. But most editing tasks like cutting and applying effects shouldn’t change much. That being said, if you’re a professional editor, you want to save as much time as possible!
How fast an SSD do you need?
There are ultra-fast SSDs that have theoretical transfer rates of thousands of megabytes per second. And there have been advancements in technology that allow for even faster speeds.
The read speed required for your footage depends on many factors, but it’s unlikely to exceed 1000MB/s, and most SSDs can transfer at higher rates than that. Luckily for consumers, that’s a bit of a non-issue. Slower drives aren’t necessarily cheaper than fast drives, and it’s easy to get a drive capable of over 2000MB/s at a reasonable price.
Internal vs External SSDs
Depending on your computer configuration, you can debate between internal and external SSDs. If you have a desktop computer with room for expansion and suitable connectors, you should purchase an internal SSD. This way you will always have the drive connected and you can use its speeds with a direct connection.
If you are using a laptop or have no way to add an SSD to your computer, you can purchase an external SSD. These may be slightly more expensive due to the enclosure, but the difference is not a deal breaker. Inside drives are no different than options for internal drives. External drives will use a USB 3 or USB-C connector, both of which are very fast for video editing, but can be a bottleneck for the drive if you’re using a slow port. The main advantage is of course that external drives are portable. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to performance, and you should choose the option that best suits your lifestyle.
The best SSD for video editing
Choosing the best SSD for video editing depends on a few factors, so we picked a great option for an internal drive and for an external drive.
The best internal drive: Samsung 970 EVO
The Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a proven SSD loved by gamers, editors and average users. It’s fast, reliable and reasonably priced. It has a read speed of 3500MB/s and a write speed of 3300MB/s which is more than enough to edit videos even if it is 4K or 8K videos. It uses PCIe Gen 3.0 technology; and if you don’t know what that means, that’s okay. It is basically a technology that sets the speed limit for transfer speeds. PCIe Gen 4.0 is currently the fastest standard. But its speeds are much faster than what’s actually needed, and the prices are higher than Gen 3.0 drives.
This Samsung drive is available up to 2TB of storage, which is a good amount for storing a few projects you’re working on. It costs between $200 and $220 at the time of writing, or just over $100 per terabyte, which is competitively priced.
Buy the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB here.
If you have a motherboard that can support a Gen 4.0 drive and you have some extra cash to spend, you can go for the Samsung 980 PRO. It has read speeds of 7000MB/s, which makes it more than enough to handle large video files. It’s a good drive to buy if you don’t want to worry about your drive being the bottleneck of your project. It costs around $290 for the 2TB version, which makes it a bit more expensive than the Gen 3.0 version. That technically makes it a better SSD for video editing, but if we’re looking for the best value, the 970 EVO seems like the obvious choice!
Buy the Samsung 980 PRO 2TB here.
Note: Internal drives require specific connectors which may or may not be present on your computer. For these Samsung drives we have selected, you will need to have an open NVME M.2 port on your motherboard. In the case of the 980 PRO, this connector will need to be Gen 4.0 compatible to take advantage of its speeds.
The best external drive: SanDisk Extreme PRO
The SanDisk Extreme Pro is a portable SSD which is the best SSD for video editing on the go. It has a sturdy anti-drop case and a carabiner so you can attach it to the belt of a backpack. There are two versions of this product, but we have chosen to recommend the PRO version. This has read and write speeds of up to 2000MB/s, unlike the previous generation which only has read and write speeds of around 1000MB/s. 1000MB/s is still good, but may be too weak for your video files.
At $300 for a 2TB drive, that’s a solid price for a drive that’s both fast and portable, but obviously compared to the internal drive, you’re paying a lot more for your speeds. It’s the drive you buy when you absolutely need to be on the go or editing from a laptop.
The reader connects to your computer via a USB Type-C connection for fast transfers between your computer, laptop, phone or tablet. It also has a USB Type-A adapter if you don’t have a Type-C port available on your computer.
It has some great features for traveling editors and videographers.
- 2 meter drop protection
- IP55 water and dust resistance
- An aluminum chassis that acts as a heat sink to maintain high speeds
- Password protection with 256-bit AES hardware encryption
Buy the SanDisk 2TB Extreme PRO Portable here.