The Best Video Editing Software Under $100

Product Use case Rating
Adobe Premiere Elements 14 Best Overall 9
Corel VideoStudio Pro X9 Runner-Up 8
CyberLink PowerDirector 14 Deluxe 7
Corel Pinnacle Studio 19 6

Whether you prefer to shoot with a smartphone, DSLR or mirrorless camera, it's never been easier to capture video and beam it to all of your friends and family. But before you push Send or let folks gather around your TV or laptop, you'll want to make sure your footage is share-worthy. To help you do that, we tested five of the most popular and affordable video editing programs available.

We evaluated these packages based on their ease of use, ability to stabilize shaky video, color correction, performance, sharing options and other features, and Adobe Premiere Elements ($99) emerged as our top pick. It's the simplest video editing program to use and also offers advanced features, making this one program you can grown into. Our runner-up is Corel VideoStudio Pro X9 ($79), which offers great features and 4K support for half the price.

How We Evaluated Speed

For the speed smackdown, we tested five apps on an HP Spectre x360 convertible laptop running Windows 10 Home. The laptop's 64-bit Intel Core i5 processor, with a 5200U CPU, runs at 2.2-GHz on an HD Graphics 5500 system and 8GB of RAM. We combined a JPEG-based text opener with six clips linked by simple, cross-fade-type transitions, into a 2-and-a-half-minute video shot at 60 frames per second, and rendered the projects to the MPEG 4 format at 720p. We timed rendering at both 60 fps and 30 fps.

Performance Results

At 30 fps, Pinnacle was a lightning bolt, finishing ahead of all of the competition. Sony came in last. However, with the aid of an Intel Quick Sync setting in CyberLink, a 30-fps render got cut nearly in half, to 1:34:37. That's still slow, but it was better than Sony Movie Studio 13's render time of 5:38:03 with that setting enabled.

Rendering at 60 fps, not surprisingly, took a bit longer, for the most part. Corel VideoStudio led the pack, followed by PowerDirector. Pinnacle literally staggered through the render at an astonishing 23:40:80, most likely the result of a bug the company is promising to fix. Intel Quick Sync settings coaxed major improvements for CyberLink, whose time was 2:10:85, though Sony did not get any advantage at 60 fps, clocking in at 6:11:02 — roughly the same as it did on its automatic setting.

Our Top Picks

Other Video Editing Software Reviewed



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10 comments
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  • Renevp2
    Pretty helpful. I do use Premiere Pro for my projects, but when it comes to recommend an editing software to my novice friends I'm completely lost.
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  • maestro0428
    I have always used Premiere Pro until recently. I am looking for a budget editor to replace it. Never really liked Elements, but I don't really wanna relearn a new package either.
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  • James87Raymond
    But this year Cyberlink gave toughest time to Adobe , John knoll needs to heed over things newly ... plus Sony Movie Studio got unexpectedly good price as compared to Pinnacle .. Well, Either be Adobe or Pinnacle .. User should be happy and satisfied.
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  • Auden_
    Don't understand the criticism directed against sony vegas movie studio. I find it extremely intuitive and effective. Put your video track and audio track on the time line. Simply have video overlay track above main video track to add photos/video just blend how much with opacity control. Great piece of software.
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  • altarvic
    My first video editor was AVS editor ( http://avs-video-suite.org ) It's cheap and pretty good!
    Now I use Sony Vegas Pro and I want to migrate to Adobe Premiere Pro.
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  • Auden_
    I love the way, how with Sony Vegas u just drag a video clip to extend it and make it repeat (or drag pics to make them present longer) - natural and intuitive thing to do. It surprises me that most other movie software doesn't offer this.
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  • Rebecca_31
    All these editors ask for charge, why not use some free ones, like Video Grabber, which is not easy but useful.
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  • ElizaMunk
    Interesting,thanks for sharing this.
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  • Dingertears
    I use Movie Maker, a free one that could meet my needs to edit a video.
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  • midix
    The rendering speed comparison seems to be just encoder speed and not closely related to the software itself because on Windows you can pick any DirectShow based encoder in any video editor.

    For me, the most important aspect is how streamlined and intuitive is the software for most common tasks and for occasional use.

    For example, friends bring you a bunch of video clips and images, filmed on different devices - cellphones, cameras, etc., with different audio and video quality, different video brightness, different file formats, and you have just a few hours to assemble it all into one coherent video for someone's birthday party. Assume, that you haven't used your video editor for a few months and have forgotten all specific keyboard shortcuts.

    Now, how easy it will be to bring all those videos and images together, normalize audio volume, video brightness, create a slide show clip from image sequence, clean away audio and video noise, add simple transitions and some texts?

    Is there any "magic one click button" which provides you with defaults for the task and then helps you to tweak the settings for entire track or individual clips?

    Does the software support basic expected keyboard shortcuts for copy/paste, undo, scrolling, zoom in - ctrl-c, ctrl-z, mousewheel, ctrl-mousewheel? This might sound crazy but there are many programs where you still have to click on tiny up/down arrows to scroll instead of just focusing your mouse somewhere on the area of interest and scrolling the mousewheel. Some software even go as far as replacing default Windows shortcuts with their own commands, causing complete mess.

    Does the software interrupt you with nag screens of their "better products" and there is no way to turn them off?

    Does the software have some confusing UI controls which have the same name but work / do not work based on circumstances? Real life example - Render loop region checkbox in Movie Studio Platinum; it is displayed in two places and if you pick advanced mode, the first checkbox stops working and you have to use the other one, which is hidden under some barely noticeable dropdown.

    Does the software turn out to be just an empty shell and you have to buy even some basic effects and plugins separately? Whats the point buying a program for 30$ if you have to spend 100$ to collect all the needed plugins for basic color correction, noise filtering, AVCHD import etc.?

    So, please, next time you review these programs, please focus more on usability and bundled features for everyday use.
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