Best PC Video Editing Software of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
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At Top Ten Reviews we’ve researched and tested the best video editing software for 14 years. Over the past year, our team of expert reviewers spent more than 155 hours making dozens of videos to evaluate, compare and rate each product . We evaluated, compared and rated each program. In the end, we picked CyberLink PowerDirector as the top choice. Its full array of tools will satisfy both the novice user and the veteran editor. It’s packed with many of the same tools found in professional video editing software. And its 99-track timeline gives you the flexibility to complete complex projects. 

Best Overall
Cyberlink PowerDirector
This program offers every tool and feature we consider important in video editing. From simple functions like trimming and cropping footage to advanced tools for 3D and action cameras, this program has everything you need.
View on Cyberlink
$69.99@Cyberlink
Best Overall
Cyberlink PowerDirector
Best Value
VideoPad
If you need a basic program for basic projects, this application might suit your needs. It’s somewhat antiquated and difficult to learn, but it has some great tools for a much lower price.
View on NCH Software
Best for Beginners
Wondershare Filmora
If you’re not a video editor, or have limited experience, this product is specifically tailored for you. It has simplified the video editing process to the point where anyone can use it, regardless of skill level.
View on Wondershare
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Price
Test Results
Basic Tools
Advanced Tools
Export & Production
Help & Support
Usability Score
Output Quality
Time to Edit Test Project (minutes)
Time to Export Test Project (seconds)
Timeline
Storyboard
Video Tracks
Audio Tracks
Titles & Credits
Effects & Transitions
Themes and Templates
Automatic Video Creator
Slideshow Creator
Audio Mixer
Video Stabilizer
4K Compatibility
Chroma Key
Multi-Cam Module
3D Editing
Action Cam Module
360° Editing
Masking Tools
Motion Tracking
Surround Sound
Closed Captions
Export Format
Social Sharing Choices
Device Optimization Choices
Menu Creator
DVD Authoring
Blu-ray Authoring
Online Technical Support
Video Editing Community
Free Tutorials Available
Knowledgebase or FAQs
$69.99 Cyberlink
9.6 9.1 10 10 10 9 10
A
A
29
25
100
100
14
6
25
$69.99 CJ
9.1 10 7.5 10 8.4 8.1 10
B-
A-
35
119
99
99
-
-
12
3
10
$63.99 Corel
8.7 9.4 7.3 8.8 8.9 8.3 10
B
A-
63
90
21*
9
$
12
4
15
$
$99.95 CJ
8.6 9.4 9.4 8.8 5.8 7.4 10
A
A-
34
35
24
24
-
-
-
-
-
21
4
19
$
$69.99 Amazon
8.4 9.1 8 9.7 5.8 8 10
A-
B
41
39
-
102
102
-
-
-
-
-
10
3
12
$59.99 CJ
8.3 9.4 7.5 8.4 6.5 8.7 10
B
A-
47
123
-
200
200
-
-
-
-
-
21
3
2
$69.95 CJ
7.8 8.5 7.3 8.1 6.9 7.4 7.5
B
B+
49
67
Unlimited
Unlimited
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
17
5
29
-
-
$59.00 Regnow
7.3 8.8 3.1 8.8 5.3 10 10
C
C-
75
125
Unlimited*
Unlimited
-
-
-
-
-
-
10
8
72
$39.99 Wondershare
7 8.5 8.2 6.9 3.7 4.5 10
A
B-
33
38
2*
3
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
12
3
12
-
-
$49.95 Cleverbridge toptenreviews
6.7 8.1 4 9.4 2.1 7.4 10
C-
C-
33
50
Unlimited
Unlimited
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
11
0
0
Best Overall
PowerDirector has consistently topped our video editing charts for more than a decade. Every iteration of the software gets progressively better and more advanced.
Cyberlink is often the first to roll out new and innovative tools and features. For example, it pioneered multi-cam functionality for consumer-level software. That technology was previously only found in professional programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. Cyberlink’s basics are also top-notch. This program has a 99-track timeline, which gives nearly unlimited versatility. You can make simple videos quickly but also delve deeply into complex projects. You may never edit a feature film with this software, but it is more than capable of that task. In our ease-of-use tests, PowerDirector earned an A. Our reviewers noted that the interface is intuitive, the tools are accessible, and even the most advanced features are simple to learn. You can unlock the fullest potential of the program easily if you learn how to use the tools properly.
Pros
  • Easy to learn, regardless of skill level
  • Has every video editing tool we look
  • Outstanding exported video quality
Cons
  • Cannot export into the MOV file format
  • Requires time to learn how to use
  • No Mac version of the software
$69.99Cyberlink
Read the full review
Best Value
If you want a functional video editing program at a fraction of the price, consider VideoPad. This software has many of the tools we look for in the best video editing software.
You’ll find the familiar timeline/storyboard workflow, along with other basic tools such as titles and credits, effects and transitions, and a chroma-key (green screen). It also has some, but not all, of the advanced tools you need to make an outstanding video. You’ll get a video stabilizer to smooth out shaky footage, 4K compatibility for footage from the newest cameras, 3D editing, motion tracking and more. These are all great tools, and it’s a great bang for your buck. But there are some significant trade-offs. For example, there are no themes or templates. So, you’ll need to build every project from scratch – not very appealing to beginners. It also lacks an automatic video creator and slideshow creator, which are also great for novices. This program lacks multi-cam and 360-degree editing features that you would find on more expensive programs. If you want the newest, greatest effects and tools, this is not the program for you. In addition, the program’s interface is in bad need of a face-lift, and has been for years. It’s kind of hard to get around, and it will require working through a few projects before you can use it effectively.
Pros
  • Unlimited video/audio editing tracks.
  • Compatible with the ultra-high-definition 4K video resolution.
  • Price-to-feature ratio best of all the applications we reviewed.
Cons
  • Antiquated interface makes it more difficult to use.
  • Lacks advanced features like multi-cam and action-cam modules.
  • Exported videos sometimes have imperfections like pixelation and motion blur.
$69.95NCH Software
Read the full review
Best for Beginners
Video editing is a difficult, time-consuming process that can take a while to learn. Wondershare understands this and, to fill the need for editing software for everyone, created Filmora, the video editing program for non-video-editors.
The whole experience is geared around making it as easy as possible to turn your project into reality. There are two modes in this program: Easy and Full Feature. Easy mode guides you through the video editing process step by step. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the process. You can create some fine videos in this mode, but to really take advantage of Filmora’s wide toolset, you need to use the Full Feature Mode. This mode gives you access to tools from basic trimming and cropping to advanced features like picture-in-picture editing, audio mixer, chroma-key, split screen, video stabilization and much more. Filmora excels at teaching users to use these tools, and anyone with the patience to learn will find it useful. Filmora also has some of the best sharing options of the programs we reviewed. When you’re done with your project, you can export it to a file, upload it to YouTube (or other video-sharing site) or even burn a DVD.
Pros
  • Geared specifically for beginners and non-editors.
  • Has a dedicated action-cam module.
  • Available for both PC and Mac.
Cons
  • No 3-D or 360-degree video editing.
  • No disc menu creator.
  • Only one main video editing track.
$39.99Wondershare
Read the full review
Best Intro to Adobe
If you’re planning on eventually moving into professional video editing software, Adobe Premiere Elements is worth considering.
It’s the stripped-down version of Adobe Premiere, an industry-standard editing program used to create movies, TV shows, music videos, commercials and online video content from major brands. Although the workflow is much different than Premiere, Elements give you a taste of the tools used by professionals in a user-friendly way. It has three modules to make videos: Quick, which is great for making short videos quickly. Guided, which teaches you the ins and outs of the program, and Expert, which removes all the training wheels and lets you delve deep into your creative ventures. All projects made with Elements can be exported for transfer into the professional Premiere application.
Pros
  • It offers multiple ways to learn how to edit video.
Cons
  • Not many sharing options when compared to other video editing programs we reviewed.
US$99Amazon
Read the full review
Most Dynamic Timeline
One of the most unique features we encountered in our review of the best video editing programs is MAGIX’s timeline. MAGIX calls this “object-based editing.” It allows you to put any type of media on any of its 200 editing tracks.
Other video editing applications have dedicated tracks for video, audio, images, effects, etc. Object based editing makes the program more dynamic and easier to manage tracks. This program also employs proxy editing, in which the program creates lower-resolution copies of videos to use during the editing process. This cuts down on the time it takes to import, render and preview projects before you export them. When you’re done, it uses the original source files to export the final project.
Pros
  • You can put any type of media on any editing track.
Cons
  • Downloading and installing the entire effects library takes a long time.
US$69.99Magix.com
Read the full review

Why Trust Us? 

We have been reviewing video editing software since Top Ten Reviews launched in 2003. We have watched these programs grow from simple timeline editing to include tools that were only dreamed about for programs at the consumer level. Every year, our expert reviewers gather all the best software and use each program to create dozens of videos. The reviewers who evaluate video editing software all have a background in media production, particularly video. They have used the programs they review in a professional environment and in their personal lives. Their reviews and evaluations are informed not only by the hard data they collected but by years of personal experience using these types of applications. 

We also reached out to professionals who use video editing software on a regular basis and asked what aspects are most important to look for in consumer-level programs. Drew Tyler, instructor of digital media at Weber State University, told us there are two primary questions to answer: “Does it fit your eco system?” and “How much do you want to grow into the software?”

Tyler explained that the software you buy should complement the hardware you use, as well as the type of project you’re working on. “You want to have software that will work well with your phone, digital camera, action cam or whatever you’re shooting on. If you plan on shooting on a lot of different devices, you want a program that’s compatible with a lot of different formats.”

He went on to say that your end goal should also play a big part in your decision, advising that if you’ll edit video infrequently, you should get simpler software. “If it’s a one-off project, the fewer whistles the better,” Tyler said.  He called out Adobe Premiere Elements and Wondershare Filmora as good choices because they have easy-to-understand workflows for non-editors.

For those who plan to edit more regularly, CyberLink PowerDirector is a good choice. “Cyberlink gives you room to grow, which is key for people who do this often,” Tyler stated.

We also spoke with Richard Dutcher, an independent filmmaker and director of eight feature films including “Brigham City,” “Falling," "God's Army” and “Evil Angel.” He told us that the time you spend learning a new program is at a premium. “I like things that are intuitive and with the fastest learning curve. The less time spent becoming familiar and proficient the better. The sooner I can get to work and putting the film together - that’s the most important thing to me.”

When asked if he had any advice for newbie editors learning the software, he recommended third-party resources. “Classes are great if they’re available and affordable,” Dutcher said. He also advised new video editors to “buy the manuals that are not published by the software companies, such as 'Final Cut Pro for Dummies,' because they’re written by actual users, and written in language that’s more accessible.”

How We Tested 

We put all the video editing applications we reviewed through a battery of tests to determine which one was the best.

Ease of Use
We evaluated each program’s interface and workflow to see how intuitive they are. We tracked the number of clicks it takes to access and use common tools. If a tool is difficult to find, awkwardly implemented or counterintuitive, it can slow down your edits. We quickly discovered that the more accessible everything is, the better the editing experience will be. We gave each program an A to F grade based on this evaluation. 

Timing
We used each program to create a test project, using identical elements for each one. We timed how long it took each program to import our test video files. Then we timed how long it took us to make our test video. We finally recorded the time it took each program to export the final video. A program that performs even marginally faster can save you dozens of hours.

Quality
We created, exported and reviewed all of the results. We watched every video we made, looking for imperfections in the video and audio. Flaws such as pixelation, compression artifact, motion blur and more were present in most of the videos we examined, but they varied greatly depending on which program we used. Each program was given an A to F quality grade based on this evaluation.

What to Look For 

The best video editing applications are simple to use and offer robust video tool sets. As you search for the right software for your projects, think about the basic and advanced tools each program offers, its export and production options, and the help and support the company provides.

Basic Tools 
All the video editing programs we reviewed can help you blend your footage, audio clips and images to create new and unique videos. They also all offer basic nonlinear video editing tools. Timelines, storyboards, transitions, titles and audio editing are all common fare for the products we reviewed. These applications also have video effect libraries. The number of available effects varies from program to program; however, a library with more than 500 effects is usually sufficient for any non-professional project.

The truth is, you’ll get roughly the same results from all the programs we reviewed when you just use their basic tools to edit your footage. As such, it’s most important to focus on usability.

Simple video editor programs have an easy or basic mode for beginners. This is distinct from the familiar timeline and storyboard modes and often reduces editing to its most basic concepts and tools. Some applications make the process even easier by scanning your media and creating a video with it automatically. The best video editing programs let you manipulate the automatically generated video after it has been compiled.

Easy-to-use applications also come with basic themes and templates you can use for both simple and advanced projects. You can add your footage to these templates and customize them with themes that are appropriate for a child's birthday party, a vacation highlight reel or even a mock movie trailer starring you, your family and your friends.

Advanced Tools to Look For
Once you’ve cut your teeth with the basic video editing tools, you can move on to using the more powerful ones. The best editing software is compatible with all the latest video and audio technology on the market today. For example, they can import, edit and export at ultra-high-definition 4K resolution. This makes your videos crisp, clear and enjoyable on today’s large ultra-HD televisions.

Another advanced tool worth noting is a multi-cam editor, which combines videos of the same event taken at multiple angles on different cameras. It even automatically syncs them so you can smoothly switch angles.

The best video editing applications have tools that allow you to capture, edit and produce videos recorded by action cams like GoPros and Drift Innovation’s Ghost-S. These tools are generally as good as or better than the ones in the software that comes bundled with the cameras themselves. You can use them to stabilize shaky video, correct fish-eye distortion, enhance color, and pan and zoom around your footage. They can even slow down and reverse the video.

Even though 360-degree video is in its infancy, there are a few consumer-level cameras that can capture video in this advanced format. The best video editing software helps you build a compelling story out of your 360-degree footage that makes your audience feel like they are standing in the middle of it all.

Export & Production
The best video editing programs for Windows make it easy to export your film as popular file formats such as MP4, MOV, AVI and WMV. Normally, the software has presets for each format. Some programs we reviewed allow you to export into less common formats. While this is useful in some cases, the most popular formats will usually meet your needs.

In addition, all the video creation software we tested can optimize your videos to share on sites like YouTube and Facebook. However, the best applications let you upload your finished videos to social media directly from their export menus.

Since people now watch, store and share videos on tablets and smartphones, it's important for video editing programs to be able to export to these devices. Nearly all the products we reviewed can do so to some degree, but the best ones have companion mobile apps you can sync with their desktop counterparts, which makes transferring faster and more secure.

Disc authoring tools are another essential feature to consider if you intend to distribute DVDs or Blu-ray discs of your videos. Authoring options can be quite extensive; for example, you may be able to insert chapter markers, build disc menus and include extra features, just like in Hollywood-produced movies. The best video editor programs have a lot of authoring tools.

How Much Does Video Editing Software Cost?
You can expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $100 on consumer-level video editing software. But keep in mind that you don’t always get the best product for the highest price. Additionally, several of the programs we looked at have lower- and higher-priced versions, so you can get what you need and not pay for what you don’t.

Help & Support
Even though these programs make the task much easier, video editing is difficult and time consuming. There may be times when you need help, especially if you have limited experience. This help can come in the form contacting the software developer by online chat, reading FAQs and knowledgebase articles on its website, or watching free tutorials.

The most useful tool a manufacturer can provide is a community dedicated to video editing. These are places where editors can share, learn and collaborate. The value of these online communities is significant, especially for editors refining their skills.