Even though Adobe has no hesitation in selling a Creative Cloud subscription it doesn’t list the minimum technical requirements for the entire suite. One is supposed to open and study the requirements of every package and then arrive at the lowest common denominator.

I had to go through the same process, and I’ve put together the following charts that outline the minimum and recommended computer hardware to run the video applications of Adobe Creative Cloud. The applications covered are:

  • Premiere Pro
  • After Effects
  • Speedgrade
  • Prelude
  • Flash
  • Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • Encore CS6
  • Audition

It is extremely unlikely for anyone to be using all of these applications all the time, but the chart should help you easily isolate your preferred apps and arrive at the system of your choice. Here’s the full list:

Premiere Pro and Encore
Minimum Recommended
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor Multicore
64-bit Yes
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 4GB 8 GB
Installation space 4GB
Hard Drive 7200 RPM hard drive Multiple fast disk drives, preferably RAID 0 configured
Cache Space Optional 10 GB
PC Display 1280×800
Dedicated GPU Optional
GPU RAM 1 GB 2 GB
OpenGL ?
Software QuickTime 7.6.6
Sound Card Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model
After Effects
Minimum Recommended
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor Multicore
64-bit Yes
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 4GB 8 GB
Installation space 5GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space Optional
PC Display 1280×900 1440×900 (Mac)
Dedicated GPU Optional
GPU RAM 1 GB
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software QuickTime 7.6.6
Sound Card ?
Speedgrade
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Core i5 or i7
Multicore
64-bit Yes
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 4GB 8 GB
Installation space 2 GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1440×900 1920×1080 display and second professionally calibrated viewing display recommended
Dedicated GPU Required NVIDIA Quadro recommended
GPU RAM 1 GB
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software QuickTime 7.6.8
Sound Card ?
Prelude
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor; 64-bit support required
Multicore
64-bit ?
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 4GB 8 GB
Installation space 4 GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1280×800
Dedicated GPU Optional
GPU RAM ?
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software QuickTime 7.6.6
Sound Card Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model
Photoshop
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
Multicore
64-bit ?
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 1 GB
Installation space 2.5 GB (3.2 GB (Mac)
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1024×768 1280×800
Dedicated GPU ?
GPU RAM
512 GB
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software ?
Sound Card ?
Lightroom
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor
Multicore
64-bit ?
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 2 GB
Installation space 2 GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1024×768
Dedicated GPU ?
GPU RAM ?
OpenGL ?
Software Direct X 10
Sound Card ?
Flash
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Pentium 4, Intel Centrino, Intel Xeon, or Intel Core Duo (or compatible) processor
Multicore
64-bit ?
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 4GB
Installation space 4GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1024×768 1280×800
Dedicated GPU ?
GPU RAM ?
OpenGL ?
Software QuickTime 10.x
Sound Card ?
Audition
Minimum Recommended
CPU
Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor, 64-bit support required
Multicore
64-bit ?
Windows Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
OS X Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
RAM 2 GB
Installation space 2 GB
Hard Drive ?
Cache Space ?
PC Display 1280×800
Dedicated GPU Optional
GPU RAM ?
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software ?
Sound Card Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol, WASAPI, or Microsoft WDM/MME

In case these tables are difficult to read, here’s a bigger chart (click to enlarge) that shows you everything at a glance:

Notes:

  • Information might be inaccurate or plain wrong. Do not rely on this information. Refer to Adobe’s official technical specifications list for Creative Cloud for up-to-date info.
  • ‘?’ simply means Adobe has not given us any information about this aspect. In my experience, it simply means it is not an important factor.
  • Reference to 64-bit is for both CPU and Operating System. It is pointless to use 32-bit anymore for Creative Cloud.

 

Recommended computer for Adobe Creative Cloud for video work:

From the above chart, you could arrive at a common denominator list, as follows:

Minimum Recommended
CPU Dual Core Multicore
64-bit Yes
RAM 4 GB 8 GB
Installation space 80 GB give or take
Hard Drive Dedicated 7,200 rpm drive
Cache Space Optional Dedicated drive
PC Display 1920 x 1080
Dedicated GPU Optional Dedicated GPU
GPU RAM 1 GB
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software QuickTime 7.6.6
Sound Card Motherboard Audio

Here is what I would recommend:

Recommended
CPU Quad Core
64-bit Yes
RAM 16 GB
Installation space 80 GB
Hard Drive Dedicated 7,200 rpm drive
Cache Space Dedicated 7,200 rpm drive
PC Display 1920 x 1080
OpenGL OpenGL 2.0
Software QuickTime 7.6.6
Sound Card Motherboard Audio
Optional
Dedicated GPU Dedicated Nvidia GTX
GPU RAM 2 GB

Notes:

  • Even though a dual core i3 is good enough for Adobe Creative Cloud (i5 for Speedgrade), I would strongly advise against it. At minimum, an Intel i5 quad-core is recommended. You’ll be doing a lot of rendering, and this is extremely important.
  • Adobe recommends 8 GB of RAM. I recommend 16 GB as a bare minimum, as two sticks of 8 GB each. If one fails, you can continue working. 16 GB allows you to run larger resolution images (even still images and composites) in Premiere Pro, and will definitely help previews in After Effects and Photoshop. Furthermore, if you want to open multiple applications (like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects and Speedgrade, etc.) at the same time, the additional RAM will let you do it without a performance penalty.
  • I would club the operating system and Creative Cloud applications on one drive. It should be a 7,200 rpm drive at minimum (all drives are 7,200 rpm if possible), though SSDs are preferable.
  • You will need a second dedicated drive for your media, and this should have enough read speeds or a RAID 0 (See this for why I think RAID 0 is what you should be looking at). It can be an external drive connected via Thunderbolt or USB, as long as you can sustain enough streams of the files you’re reading.
  • You will need a third dedicated drive for your cache and preview files. This has to be equally fast with both reads and writes, and I recommend an SSD or a 7,200 rpm drive for this. The size of this drive depends on the file sizes you’re going to use. E.g., if your previews are going to be in AVI, the file sizes will be a lot larger than H.264, and so on.
  • If you’re stumped for cash, the part I’d pick last is the GPU. Speedgrade is the only app that totally relies on a GPU, and some people have managed to run Speedgrade on HD 4000, without a dedicated GPU, as long as they installed Nvidia drives (this might not work for you, so don’t take my word on it). If Speedgrade is your bread and butter, so to speak, then a dedicated GPU makes sense.
  • Even though you have small laptops with retina-type displays, I would advise against buying anything smaller than a 15″ display for Creative Cloud. The panels within the apps will be too small and you’ll really have a frustrating editing experience. If your computer is a desktop, get a 21″ or above screen. 27″ is brilliant. Read this to learn how to choose professional display monitors.
  • For basic audio monitoring, the audio features of your motherboard should be good enough. If you want to drive bigger speakers or want to record instruments, etc., you’ll need a dedicated sound card.

I hope this simple (but frustratingly boring and time consuming to put together) chart will help you arrive at the system of your choice. To know more, check out Computer for Video Editing.

4 replies on “A Look at Computer Hardware for Video Applications in Adobe Creative Cloud”

  1. malcolmbiles For DSLR video, RAID 0 is overkill. It depends on your data rate and how many streams you want read at any given moment.
    You can always add a second drive later if one doesn’t work out, so I’d start with just one drive if I were you.

  2. Hello Sareesh…thanks for the great article and it is right on time as I am assembling a PC for editing! 

    I have been a wedding videographer for years but interestingly I do not have much editing experience. I am looking to build a system that I can use to learn and finally start editing my own 1080p wedding videos (mostly DSLR, H.264, & some AVI). I also shoot some events, interviews, and short promos.

    My question is about the hard drives. Please tell me if I have this correct, you recommend:

    A) 256 GB SSD > for Windows OS, Adobe Programs, apps
    B) 128 GB SSD > for cache and previews
    C) 1-3 TB (?) 7200 rpm > Source footage/Read Footage
    D) 1-3 TB (?) 7200 rpm > Write files

    It seems from my research that RAID 0 is overkill for wedding videos? If not, should I add two more 7200 rpms and do RAID 0 on (C) and (D)? 

    Thanks!

  3. mwm827The GTX versions definitely outperform Quadro cards, as this shows:
    More CUDA cores and more RAM always wins, though like you said, reliability, low power and 10-bit color monitoring puts Quadros in a different league.
    On the other hand, hardcore gamers tear GTX cards apart – so they have to be super reliable too, and they are.

  4. Great rundown of the requisite hardware for these applications. Thanks.
    One question: some graphics cards you recommend show “Quadro.” To be sure, these are Nvidia’s ‘workstation’ cards. But one must notice that their FX series seem to have more cores, speed, etc., for significantly less money. Yet one will search (nearly) in vain for a direct comparison.

    Especially in respect to a small set of applications, such as your Adobe Creative Cloud list, it would be helpful to see a comparison. And keeping in mind that these Adobe applications are noted as utilizing CUDA cores, whereas Avid, for example, seems yet fully to embrace this technology.

    To be sure, Avid–and their Quadro-required cards– MUST have absolute rock-solid reliability if they are to support Hollywood feature film making. So it makes sense that Quadro is probably a sturdier and more predictable base that is hardened and bullet-proof to support that work, compared to ‘gamer’ cards with frequent driver tweaks and updates, etc.

    But if an FX card really can utilize all the FX CUDA cores and perform as well or better than a Quadro, then that would be a great satisfaction for many of us. If only one could demonstrate–in simple head-to-head tests, say, for rendering the same file–that the FX cards can actually perform as we would hope. Then we could have some comfort that they are a bona fide option, even if we concede that the FX versions are not, say, 99.999% reliable. Maybe reliable enough, though, right?

    Thanks again for a great article!
    Mike M

Comments are closed.