Video editing software: Oct 2020 Summary

This is a quick attempt to document my learnings from shopping for video editing software. Below, I will summarize the options for different user types. Through this summary, you can compare the costs, features and resource needs of different software packages.

Bare-bones beginner ($0-$50 outlay)

Mostly, you aim to produce quick videos for social media or school projects. You generally record footage on your phone, and need a quick tool to trim clips. Built-in visual and audio assets (background music, stickers, title templates) are a plus as they help you create fun videos quickly. Perhaps you might only need to create a video as a once-off project for school or a special event. In that case, buying a single month’s subscription might be the cheapest way to go. At this point, you want a wide range of templates and assets, and won’t aspire to do custom colour grading or complex frame-by-frame editing.

PriceNotesSystem Requirements
OpenshotFree (open-source)Unlimited tracks, has some keyframing and animation features64-bit operating system (Linux / Mac / Windows 7/8/10)
Multi-core processor with 64-bit support
4 GB RAM (16 GB recommended)
500 MB hard disk space for installation.
SSD recommended.
Vllo appFree but with premium purchases in-app4K rendering, picture-in-picture available.iOS 12.0 or later
Android 5.0 or later
Movavi Video Editor$39.95 / $59.95 Plus / $79.95 SuiteVideo Editor only has 6 tracks maximum. This goes up to 99 tracks with keyframe animation, LUTs and audio synchronization with Plus.Windows XP/ Vista / 7/ 8/ 10
Dual-core processor 1.5 GHz
512 MB RAM for Windows XP / Vista, 2 GB for Windows 7, 8 and 10
800 MB hard disk for program, 500 MB for operations
Kinemaster app$4.99 monthly / $39.99 yearly“Free” trial has watermark and blocks 1080p and 4K, so this is a paid subscription.
Has an asset store with additional free and paid effects.
iOS or
Android 5.0 or later
VideoPad$5.50 monthly / $39.95 Home / $69.96 Master’s editionHome only allows 2 video tracks and no external plugins. There is also a free version for non-commercial use only.Windows XP / Vista / 7/ 8/10
Mac OS 10.5 and above
WeVideo$4.99 monthly (Memory Makers) /
$7.99 monthly (Unlimited)
Memory Makers package limits to 30 mins of video per month and 720p resolution. Unlimited will allow up to 4K.
This is a web-hosted solution with cloud storage included in the plan.
Can use on computer or mobile devices.
Browser with HTML5. Devices should be able to support Hardware Accelerated WebGL. 1GB RAM or more recommended.

Frequent home user ($50-150 outlay)

You enjoy using video to document family memories, and know that you will be editing video frequently for personal purposes. However, you don’t want to get too technical, and enjoy playing around with cool effects and visual assets. Although you appreciate simplicity, you want a little more creative control and the ability to experiment with multi-camera or 360 degree footage. Bolded versions are the minimum with these features: video masking, multi-camera support, and a full colour grading suite.

PriceProcessorRAMGraphics Card VRAMHDD Space
Vegas Movie Studio$49.99 / $79.99 Platinum / $116.99 Suite2 GHZ (3 GHZ and 8 cores for 4K)16 GB (32 GB for 4K)Not specified1.5 GB
Corel Video Studio$63.99 Pro / $79.99 UltimateCore i3 and above (Core i7 and above for HD and 4K)
4 GB (8 GB for HD and 4K)512 MB10 GB
Pinnacle Studio$54.95 / $89.95 Plus / $109.99 UltimateCore i3 and above (i5 or i7 1.06 GHz and above for AVCHD)4 GB (8 GB for UHD, multi-cam or 360 video)256 MB minimum, 512 MB or above for hardware acceleration8 GB
Adobe Premiere Elements$99.99Core i7 or above8 GB (16 GB for HD, 32 GB for 4K)4 GB6.9 GB (installation)
10 GB (optional content)
Wondershare FilmoraOutright purchase:
$69.99 X / $149.99 Pro

$39.99 yearly X / $89.99 yearly Pro
Core i5 or better, 2 GHz minimum4 GB (8 GB for HD and 4K)2 GB (4 GB for HD and 4K)10 GB
Cyberlink PowerDirectorOutright purchase:
$99.99 Ultra / $139.99 Ultimate

Subscriptions: $54.99 yearly 365 / $103.99 yearly 365 Suite
Any Core i-series4 GB (6 GB recommended)128 MB (2GB for AI plugin)7 GB

Budget tinkerer ($0-50 outlay)

You know you will be producing content often enough to undertake a considerable learning curve. However, you are on a budget and do not own a high-spec computer. While you want to have ample creative control, canned transitions and assets are not so important to you. You would prefer to have precise non-linear editing and advanced colour grading tools available to you at a price as close to free as possible.

PriceProcessorRAMGraphics Card VRAMHDD Space
ShotcutFree (open-source)2 GHz (4 cores for HD, 8 cores for 4K)4 GB (8 GB for HD, 16 GB for 4K)OpenGL 2.0 driver, with DirectX 9 or 11 drivers for WindowsNot specified
KdenliveFree (open-source)AMD 64 or Intel mono / dual core. Quad core for advanced editing.1 GB (4 GB for advanced editing)Not specified20 GB
Hitfilm ExpressFree version available; multiple add-ons priced from $9.99 to $49.99 per package with full Pro version at $349Intel 4th Generation or equivalent4 GB (8 GB recommended)1GB (2 GB for 4K)Not specified
VSDC Video EditorFree / Pro $19.99 yearly1.5 GHZ1 GBMicrosoft DirectX 9.0 or higher driver300 MB

Aspiring pro (money is no object)

Either you want the cachet of the pro vloggers, or you’re aspiring to a career in film. Therefore, you’re willing to invest in top-grade hardware to support a sophisticated pro-level editing suite.

PriceProcessorRAMGraphics Card VRAMHDD Space
DaVinci ResolveFull-featured free version / $295 Studio 17i7 minimum (i9 recommended)16 GB minimum (32 GB recommended)4GB (8 GB recommended)Software installation takes 2.2 GB. Needs 512 GB minimum SSD for media files.
Final Cut Pro X$299.99 lifetimeNot specified – will run on Mac OS 10.14.6 or 10.15.6 or later4 GB (8 GB for 4K, 3D titles, or 360 degree footage)1 GB for 4K, 3D titles, or 360 degree footage)3.8 GB
Adobe Premiere Pro$20.99 monthly / $52.99 monthly for entire Creative Cloud suiteIntel 6th Gen minimum, 7th Gen recommended8 GB minimum (16 GB for HD, 32 GB for 4K or higher)2 GB (4 GB recommended)8 GB with fast external media storage recommended
LightworksFree limited to 720p YouTube export / $24.99 monthly / $174.99 yearly / $437.99 lifetimei7 minimum3 GB minimum1 GB minimum200 MB
Avid Media ComposerFree Avid Media Composer First / $23.99 monthly / $49.99 monthly UltimateAvid-qualified computer models16 GB minimum (32 GB recommended)Avid-qualified computer modelsAvid-qualified computer models

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