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.
Links to full reviews of all the video editing software we’ve tested can be found at the very bottom of this page.
Updated November 13, 2017 to add Adobe Premiere Elements, our new pick for best video editor overall. While we still like close runner-up Corel VideoStudio X 10.5 a great deal, Adobe Premiere Elements
Best video editor overall: Adobe Premiere Elements 2018
Adobe Premiere Elements 2018 offers most of the same basic video editing features you’d find in other consumer packages, but it separates itself from the pack with tutorials and automatic curation and content creation features that very nearly (but not quite) do all the work for you, as long as you don’t mind if your videos look generic.
It’s this easy access that makes Adobe Premiere Elements our top-rated consumer paid video editor. (Read our full review.)
Runner-up: Corel VIdeoStudio Ultimate X10.5
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 our full 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 our full review.)
Video editing software: What features to look for
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.
How we tested
We installed each video editor on a Windows 10 PC running on an Intel Core i5 processor and an Nvidia dedicated graphics card. We used each suite to edit the same two videos: a 4K NASA video from inside the International Space Station, and a 1080p game capture video from Overwatch. We tested most of the filters and transitions in each suite, and cut the same edited versions of each video in each program. We then exported the videos to various file formats and media, as well as web services, to test output quality and speed. Where software offered a notable special feature not supported in the other products, we tested it when our hardware and software setup allowed it.
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’ll continue to evaluate more as time goes on—as well as re-evaluate those we’ve already reviewed.