Here’s how to get the best performance in Adobe Premiere Pro

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Premiere Pro is one of the most demanding applications you can run on your computer. A modest video editing suite is something of an ecosystem that gives you the ability to not only stitch together several video clips, but also edit entire feature films with Hollywood-level quality. However, not every computer is capable of handling Premiere Pro.

If you’ve been struggling with your timeline and feel like you’re just missing out something, we have some tips for you. Here are the steps you should take in Premiere Pro to ensure the application runs as smoothly as possible, as well as how to test the application to see where your computer will land.

Take advantage of your GPU

GPU acceleration option in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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Before you do anything in Premiere Pro, you need to make sure you’re using GPU-accelerated rendering. You can find it in the project settings in the General section. For the Renderer, make sure you use the one that says “GPU Acceleration”. Actual hardware acceleration will vary depending on your GPU, but Premiere Pro supports Nvidia, AMD, Intel, and Apple GPUs.

This GPU acceleration works on effects in your timeline, using your GPU to accelerate the effects rather than relying on your CPU. Premiere Pro can also use your GPU for other tasks, including hardware-accelerated encoding and decoding for H.264 and H.265 formats.

GPU decoding option with Adobe Premiere Pro.
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Hardware-accelerated decoding is a big problem for timeline performance. To turn it on, go to Preferences and scroll down to the Media section. Check in this window Hardware accelerated decoding enabled box. If you have a CPU with integrated graphics, you can check it here, along with your discrete GPU. Restart Premiere and you’re good to go.

That’s hardware accelerated decoding, but what about encoding? This will speed up the export time from Premiere. Go to the Export view in Premiere Pro and select Hardware Encoding under Encoding Settings to activate it. You’ll find the same options if you export to Adobe Media Encoder.

Clear the cache

Cache settings in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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Premiere Pro maintains a media cache. This is where files that Premiere Pro needs to run, such as .pek files that contain information about audio waves, are stored on your hard drive. Whenever you import files into Premiere, some data is cached to speed up performance. The problem is that the cache can get too full and can actually have an adverse effect on performance.

Fortunately, you can clear the cache from Premiere. Go to the Preferences window and select Half cache. There you can choose Delete to clear the cache. You can also change the cache location here if you have a separate hard drive with more space. Clearing the cache will not delete the media files you are using. If there are media files you’re still working with, Premiere Pro will need to re-cache those files.

You can do this process manually, but it’s much easier to set Premiere to automatically delete cache files. Under media cache management, you can tell Premiere to automatically delete files either after a certain number of days or when files exceed a certain size.

Adobe recommends caching media on an SSD or NVMe drive and “ideally on a dedicated drive.” A fast SSD ensures that Premiere can read the cache quickly, and by spreading the cache from the disk you save the project to, the disk load is low. These are additional optimization steps you can take, but are not required.

Consider proxies

Proxy settings in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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Working with modern video files in Premiere is difficult unless you have a powerful computer. 8K video files, RAW files, and HDR content can easily mess up your workflow, but you don’t have to edit your actual video with these files. You can connect a proxy instead. Proxies in Premiere Pro allow you to edit lower quality versions of your video files to improve timeline performance. Premiere Pro merges the proxies with the original files, so you’ll still have full quality when you export your edits.

A quick way to create a proxy is to select all the imported files in Premiere Pro, right-click and select Create a proxy. You have options for quality and codec, and once you do that, Premiere sends the files to Media Encoder. Draw them, then go back to premiere and select Switch proxy below the preview window (image below). Here you are; you are using a proxy.

The "switch proxies" option in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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This is a quick and easy way to use a proxy, but what if you always do you want to use a proxy? You can set it up. Open the project settings and go to Receive settings table Check Ingestion turn on the auto accept behavior. Then select from the drop-down menu Create a proxy. You can also choose a proxy location if you want to store them somewhere other than your main media.

This makes Premiere automatically load Media Encoder to create a proxy every time you import video files. For best performance, you’ll want to keep your proxies on when editing – but leave them on Switch proxies button at hand. You’ll want to use the full media file for things like checking file focus or color adjustments.

Adjust RAM allocation

Setting RAM allocation in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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You will commonly hear that Premiere Pro requires a lot of RAM, which is only partially true. It is very demanding on system memory, but that depends on what type of project you are working on. If you’re stitching together a handful of 1080p video clips without a ton of effects, you don’t need a ton of RAM. If you have dozens of 4K video clips for an hour or two long video, you’ll need a lot more. Premiere Pro only requires 8GB of RAM, but you should have at least 16GB. And if you’re dealing with 4K video, at least 32GB.

Premiere Pro itself does not use all of the RAM. You can allocate the amount of RAM that Premiere Pro uses yourself. Go to the Preferences menu and scroll down Memory. Here you can adjust how much memory is reserved for other applicationswith the difference going to the premiere.

If you are only running Premiere Pro, allocate them and leave a few gigs of memory for your operating system. However, if you want to use other apps, there is a careful balancing act. Maybe you need to send a clip to After Effects for some VFX work, or you need to model something in Photoshop. Or maybe you need to have your browser open to find some footage of a stock or asset. In any of these cases, you’ll want to make sure you have enough RAM to keep your system from slowing down.

Unfortunately, there is no set number that is best for everyone. It depends on how you work in Premiere and what other applications are included. However, if you notice slowdowns, try experimenting with RAM allocation.

Rendering effects

The "render and replace" settings in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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One of the most powerful things you can do to improve the performance of Premiere Pro is to render effects. Premiere Pro doesn’t render anything on your timeline while editing. Everything happens in real-time, so if you go from a basic video clip to something with heavy visual effects, you’ll notice a slowdown in playback speed. Fortunately, you can render these clips and replace them in the timeline to improve playback.

In the premiere, you will see a green bar above the timeline. The red spots show areas where Premiere Pro will have trouble playing the video, usually in areas where you have multiple effects applied to your videos. Under that red line, select the clip you want to render and select Clip in the top menu. There you can choose Render and replace.

Here is a critical setting to check Include video effects. This will render the clip with the effects on top, essentially making it a new video file. Once the clip is rendered, you won’t be able to edit the effects, but the timeline performance will be much smoother.

You don’t want to do this for all your shots; use it where timeline performance slows down. And if you need to make changes or are ready to export, you can restore the original clip by selecting and selecting it Clip at the top of the screen and select Restore not rendered.

Premiere Pro benchmarks

For our reviews, we use PugetBench for Premiere Pro, a free Premiere Pro benchmark that you can run on your system and compare the results to other machines. Unfortunately, the end result is just a number, so it doesn’t say much about what it’s actually like to use Premiere. Additionally, the scope of your project will largely determine your performance. Editing a small video for Instagram is fine on a cheap laptop with no GPU, but your timeline would barely work if you were editing a feature film on the same computer.

However, one extremely important area is the discrete GPU. As an example, look at Lenovo Yoga 9i AIO compared with Dell Inspiron 16 Plus. The Lenovo machine is a desktop computer using a mobile Intel Core i9-13900H. The Dell is a laptop using an Intel Core i7-13700H and a discrete RTX 4060 graphics card. Despite the weaker CPU and laptop, the Dell machine is more than twice as fast.

Benchmarks for multiple computers in Adobe Premiere Pro.
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We can also see this effect on some integrated graphics. If you look at MacBook Air 15 with the M2 chip, it managed to beat the Lenovo Yoga 9i AIO by a score just a little. The M2 comes with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU. The M2 Ultra in Mac Studio is more than three times faster with a 24-core CPU and 60-core GPU.

Many elements in Premiere Pro today are accelerated by your GPU, so having a discrete graphics card is a big deal for best performance. You can still edit on integrated graphics, but an intensive project requires one of the best graphics cards.

How to run the Premiere Pro benchmark

PugetBench for Creators app on Windows.
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If you want to see your computer running Premiere Pro, you can use PugetBench Benchmark for Premiere Pro. This test runs within Premiere and covers a wide range of tasks, from video encoding to GPU effects. Even better, Puget maintains a public score database so you can see how your computer stacks up against others.

Download the file from the PugetBench website – available for Windows and macOS – and run the file (it’s a .msi for Windows). This will install PugetBench for Creators, which includes Photoshop and Premiere Pro benchmarks by default. In the open application, select Download documents start.

You will need the latest version of Premiere Pro installed. Select your version from the PugetBench for Creators app as well as the benchmark version. Each major benchmark version is slightly different, so you shouldn’t compare numbers across versions. Finally, choose a preset – standard or advanced. With an extended benchmark, you get a standard score along with an extended score, the latter of which is usually slightly lower.

Once everything is set, select Run the test and leave the computer for about 30 minutes. Make sure you close all your background apps to get a more accurate score. After the test, a browser window will appear with your score.

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