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Yes – USB 3.0 is Fast Enough for 4k Video Editing


You may have heard that 4k video editing is too demanding for USB 3.0, but this isn’t always the case!

Yes, USB 3.0 is fast enough to edit 4k Footage in most cases. In order to edit video in real-time on a computer, it needs to be able to write at least 60 MB/s in both directions (to and from storage). This is why hard drive speed becomes more important than the speed of your interface if you’re working with 4k footage.

USB 3.0 IS FAST ENOUGH FOR 4K EDITING

USB 3.0 is fast enough for 4k video editing. The difference between USB 2 and USB 3 is a lot! Although USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than its predecessor, it turns out that hard drive speed often has more bearing on your editing experience than the computer’s USB port speed but we will talk about that in a little bit.

So If you only have a USB 2 drive it might be an issue.  But if you have a USB drive that is also compatible with the newer USB standard, then it will be fine. Most external hard drives that you purchase today are USB 3 so you don’t need to worry about this.

RISE OF THE MACHINE

Mechanical Hard drives that spin often are rated at 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM. You won’t be able to edit 4k footage with a 5400 RPM hard drive but you might be able to edit with a 7200 RPM Hard drive. You can check the speed of the HDD by looking up the serial number online. Some HDDs spin up to 10,00RPMs but they are rare and have their own issues to worry about.

If the bitrate is too high on footage you are editing it will take more hard drive speed for you to be able to edit. You may want to lower your video quality in order to ensure that you can edit the video on your computer. We are assuming you have a good graphics card. 

The difference between hard drives and interfaces are not as important when working in 1080p or 720P video editing because these resolutions don’t require anywhere near 60 MB/s of throughput to edit on your computer’s storage device – but this does change for those who work exclusively at higher frame rates like 60fps (or even 120 fps). This means they need more bandwidth and speed from their hard drives than someone using lower-resolution footage would ever demand!

USB C WILL SAVE US ALL

USB C is the new kid on the block.  USB C is the way to go.  It’s a little more expensive but you’ll be saving money in other areas by not having compatibility issues with your devices and it will last longer than most of its predecessors because there are no moving parts inside if you get a solid-state drive (more to come on that)! And for those who still need an adapter: just buy one that supports both standards (USB-C or Thunderbolt).

The only downside I can see from this decision would have been if we had already invested heavily into our older technology without realizing what was coming down on us as consumers – which luckily isn’t too common these days…or maybe people were listening when they said: “don’t put all eggs under the same basket.”

USB-C is a very powerful and reliable standard that will supersede USB-3 significantly. Its lightning-fast transfer rates will blow you away, not to mention the convenience of being able to use the power options for charging your devices more efficiently!

The SSD I use to edit with is the Samsung T5. I love it!

https://amzn.to/3cEK2Id

SOLID STATES FOR YOU!

Speaking of the T5, Upgrade to an external SSD so you can edit 4k footage properly. 

Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives, only a few years apart in age but worlds apart in how they transfer your data. HDD relies on rotating mass for data movement while SSD does not; faster access seems to be the question though!

If you’re looking to upgrade it would better to get an external SSD VS HDD. HDDs are very affordable but it is still a mixed bag if you will be able to edit 4k footage on an HDD.

The speed differences between a solid-state hard drive and a normal hard drive are significant, and the SSD will be able to edit your footage much faster.

The speed differences between a solid-state hard drive (SSD) and a normal HDD are significant; an external SDD is far more efficient for editing than an internal HDD on any laptop or desktop — it’s just not worth compromising performance when you’re working with such large files!

Here are some of my favorite HDDs and SSDs

Samsung T5 – https://amzn.to/3ma1OWJ

Seagate 7200RPM Drive – https://amzn.to/3dk0g8N

WD 5TB External – https://amzn.to/31xyOyZ

THE PC MASTER RACE

If you want the best setup for an external hard drive to edit from it is an external NVME using USB-C.

Samsung EVO NVME SSD – https://amzn.to/2PnfO3B

Sabrent Enclosure — https://amzn.to/3ubf2W9

The price differences between an SSD and NVME have closed in the last few years. 

NVME is a newer technology so it may be worth the investment if you want to future-proof your external drive.

In the relatively recent past, hard drives have done well enough to beat out single-plate solid-state drives in nearly every field. Now, with multi-level cell NAND and NVMe SSDs introduced into the market it may be time for your old-fashioned spinning disks to retire but not without a fight.

IT’S LIKE THE MOVIE AVATAR WITH THE BLUE PEOPLE

You might want to use proxy files while editing versus the actually 4k footage. Some of the advantages of using proxy files will make it easier to edit the footage on slower computers with slower CPUs, low RAM, or a less powerful GPU.

In case you are not familiar with what a proxy file is, it is a lower resolution version of the original footage. The proxy file will allow you to edit your video without having any lag or frame drop and then once all edits are made, render out at full quality with no loss in image detail as well!

The disadvantages of using proxy data are: you may not be able to see all details in some scenes, and there is always an extra step involved when editing with proxy files but honestly the pros outway the cons.

This can be done in Premiere Pro by going into preferences and changing your sequence settings from “Use Preview Files” (which will load a low-res version of each clip) or set it as high resolution, then click on File>Import Settings

Here is a video showing you how to make a proxy file in Adobe Premiere.

Creating proxy files in Final Cut Pro  X  is easy as well. You need to go into the project settings and change your media setting from “Optimize for Editing” (which will load high-res footage) and make proxies or select the footage you want to make into Proxies. Then click — File — Transcribe media and then create proxies. 

Here is a video showing you how to make proxy files in FCX

In conclusion, you can edit 4k footage on USB 3 but there are some other factors to be aware of like HDD speed, bitrate on your footage, and also if your computer can even handle 4K footage.

Either way often times it is easier just to edit with proxy files and call it a day 🙂

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