The best video editing software: Reviews, buying advice, and more

Video editing software ranges from free versions that are pretty bare-bones to feature-packed prosumer versions. Indeed, they vary as much as the reasons why people take up video editing—whether to make home videos, to become YouTube stars, to create VR experiences, and more.

Most video editing software for consumers and mainstream users is best used for one or another of these specific functions, but there are a few generalists out there, too. For this roundup we’ll first be looking at the middle ground: Paid consumer video editing programs that cost $80 or less.

Whatever your purpose, you should be able to find consumer software for less than $100 that can meet your needs. We’ll soon be updating this roundup with our top picks among free versions and prosumer versions, so stay tuned for more reviews.

Best video editor overall: Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X10

At $80 Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X10.5
combines an elegant and professional-feeling interface with high-end specialty features like 3D and 4K Ultra HD, making it one of the most satisfying and versatile consumer-level video editors on the market. It also has an elegant, modern-looking user interface, and can export to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and Vimeo with all the options you’d expect. It’s versatile, efficient, and top of its class. (Read ourfull review.)

Best budget video editor: Nero Video 2017

Nero Video 2017
is slightly cheaper at $50 than many competing video editing suites, but it offers most of the same features, including Ultra HD 4K support and intelligent curation features for your media library. And with H.265 format support for mobile devices and the handy ability to switch between a basic and advanced editing mode, Nero will please a wide range of users. It’s mostly intended for burning physical media, and doesn’t have good social exporting options. But even if you’re not planning to do DVDs, Nero is worth a look if you want a budget option for video editing software. (Read ourfull review.)

Video editing software: What features to look for

The basics

When you shop for video editing software, keep these fundamentals in mind. All the video editors we’ve reviewed can do standard functions like creating clips, transitions, titles, and some effects, though they vary in quality of execution and ease of use.

There are so many different video formats out there, and one device may capture in a different format than another. Furthermore, different devices and platforms need specific file formats for playback—and those formats may be different than what your camera captures! That means you’ll want software that can import from a variety of sources and that will support many file formats for export.

Exporting videos to social media, DVD, or Blu-ray

That’s assuming you’re just exporting files. You may want to burn a DVD or Blu-ray disc, or upload your videos directly to YouTube or Facebook. Each of these comes with its own set of necessary features that some apps have and others don’t. For disc burning, you need not only support for the right formats, but DVD menu authoring tools so viewers can navigate what you’re presenting. On the social side, it’s much easier if the application syncs up directly with your account online and allows you to enter metadata like a description, tags, and privacy settings.

Expanding into VR, 4K, and 3D

You may want to expand into specialty and high-end features like stop-motion video, multi-camera editing, 3D 360 VR, and support for the official Ultra HD 4K format used by most Blu-ray players. You’ll generally find that the most expensive consumer video editors support these features well, and the cheaper ones either don’t support them or produce lackluster results.

Speed and stability

Finally, stability and speed matter—although speed may not be as important if you’re not a professional. Nothing is worse than losing your work when the program crashes to your desktop, so we’ve tested software in a variety of conditions on a typical Windows setup to assess stability.

Video editing software reviews

If you want to learn more about all of the video editing software we’ve reviewed, see the list below. We’re kicking off our guide with five paid video editing packages for consumers, but we’ll continue to evaluate more as time goes on—as well as re-evaluate those we’ve already reviewed.

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