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The Best Video Editing Software Under $100

Chances are, there are hundreds of videos languishing on your smartphone, DSLR or compact camera. Instead of letting it collect dust, why not polish it up to share with family and friends? That's where a good video editing program comes in.

Among the paid software, only one — Adobe Premiere Elements 2020— is truly cross-platform, and it emerged as our top pick. Despite its lack of emerging popular technologies, like 360-degree video handling and multicam editing features, it's the easiest video editor to learn and use, and offers plenty of advanced functions, such as guided edits and a revised home screen. 

CyberLink PowerDirector 18 is the best video editing software for Windows, featuring a dazzling array of tricks and treats; plus, it's great for editing 360-degree videos, too. 

Apple’s iMovie, which competes only with cross-platform free apps and Adobe Elements, is the obvious choice for the best Mac video editing software, thanks to its outstanding output, themes and trailers, macOS integration, and features that encourage good moviemaking skills. 

For the best free video editing software, HitFilm Express gets the nod for its abundant cinematic capabilities and stylish interface. If you often share your videos on YouTube and other social media platforms, the free, cross-platform VideoPad is your best option.

Adobe Premiere Elements 2020

(Image credit: Adobe)

1. Adobe Premiere Elements 2020

The best overall video editor under $100

Works with both Macs and PCs
Easy to learn and use
New artificial intelligence features now include video
Offers most of the tricks and special effects that consumers crave
Demystifies video editing with numerous guided edits
4K support and video stabilization
No 360-degree or VR support
No multicam support
Small number of new guided edits

When it comes to user-friendliness, sophisticated features and ways to output your video, the best video editing software under $100 is the cross-platform Adobe Premiere Elements. For 2020, Adobe imported its artificial intelligence Sense.ai to make it easier to perform edits. Its Guided Edits feature remains a great tool for demystifying the entire process for novice filmmakers, and there's now additional support for 4K resolutions and stabilized video. However, Adobe only made some minor improvements over the previous year, so if you have a recent version, you may not see the need to upgrade. 

Read our full Adobe Premiere Elements 2020 review.

(Image credit: Cyberlink)

Best video editor for Windows users

Square, 1:1 aspect ratio is great for social media
Track-order flexibility is more intuitive for newcomers
New motion-graphic titles are handy for beginners
Nested-projects update adds more creative functions
Several features (including 4K video editing, audio scrubbing, library preview) available for Ultimate version only

CyberLink PowerDirector is the best video editing software for Windows users, in that it offers a dazzling array of fun, advanced video editing features wrapped in a stunning, easy-to-use package. New features include a refreshed interface and the ability to edit and export video in a social-app-friendly 1:1 ratio. While PowerDirector is a consumer product, it appeals to the most creative and adventurous of amateur filmmakers. 

Read our full review of CyberLink PowerDirector 18.

Apple iMovie 10.1.8

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple iMovie 10.1.8

Best video editor for novice Mac users

Simple interface
Professional-looking themes and trailers
Abundant audio tools
Theater feature shares movies to all Apple devices
Supports 4K
Lacks multicam, motion tracking and 360-degree features
Limited output controls
Mac only

Apple iMovie is the best video editing software for novice filmmakers on Macs, combining professional trailers and themes, abundant special effects and an easy-to-learn interface. Version 10.1 added 4K editing and sharing, as well as extended handling to video shot at 1080p and 60 fps. Recent updates tweaked the interface and added Touch Bar support for the latest MacBooks.

Update: iMovie is now on version 10.1.12. Recent updates have disabled sharing videos to iMovie Theater and Facebook; you have to save your movies to iCloud Photos to watch them on other devices including Apple TV.

Read our full Apple iMovie review.

HitFilm Express 12

(Image credit: FXHome)

4. HitFilm Express

Best free video editing software

More traditional interface
Reusable templates
Animated text editor
Some popular features require an add-on purchase
Publishing features are not intuitive

For version 12, the free HitFilm Express has a redesigned, more intuitive interface and plenty of powerful features. While meant for prosumers—there is a bit of a learning curve—beginners shouldn't have too much trouble creating YouTube projects. Add to the fact that it doesn't cost anything, and you get the best free video editing software.

Read our full Hitfilm Express review.

Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018

(Image credit: Corel)

5. Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018

Great video editing software for novices on Windows

Extensive 360-degree-editing features
Split-screen video facilitates elaborate video collages
Enhanced lens-correction tools
Broad 3D-text support
Windows only
Certain advanced features got really dense

Corel VideoStudio, an outstanding editing package for beginners on the Windows platform, is a powerful but easy-to-learn app for anyone who wants to make simple videos quickly without fussing around with complex controls. Its spare but inviting interface offers 360-degree video editing, enhanced lens-correction tools, and 3D text editing.

Editor's Note: Corel VideoStudio 2019 has been released; stay tuned for our review.

Read our full Corel VideoStudio review.

VideoPad

(Image credit: VideoPad)

6. VideoPad

Best video editing software for for YouTube

Intuitive and easy to learn
Supports 360-degree camera editing and output
Works on Macs and PCs
Lacks some advanced features like multi-cam editing and motion tracking
Mac and Windows free versions work differently
Certain features time out of the free non-commercial program
Difficult to tell whether you have downloaded the free or trial version, especially in Windows.

VideoPad is a comprehensive cross-platform software package for the YouTube social media crowd. While this app lacks the flashy, whiz-bang appeal of some commercial apps, it’s still a rock-solid choice for simple video editing. From the main menu, you can choose which social network you want to upload to. The app offers a number of YouTube choices ranging from 480p to 4K, as well as Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox and Google Drive, and is free for non-commercial use.

Read our full VideoPad review.

DaVinci Resolve 15

7. DaVinci Resolve 15

Best video editing software for advanced enthusiasts

Cross platform for Mac, Windows and Linux
Free with no limits or watermarks
Intuitive interface for most routine functions
Exquisitely deep app for color grading, compositing and audio production
A powerful computer is needed for high-end graphics functions
Learning curve for advanced features
No direct export to social media

A powerful pro-level, cross platform app, you’ll want to use DaVinci Resolve on a system with discrete graphics to get the most out of this video editor. The latest version of DaVinci incorporates Fusion, previously a stand-alone application, which brings with it four high-end video-production modules for editing, color correction, audio production, and video effects and motion graphics. This video editor is quite powerful, but has a bit of a learning curve. If its 256-page manual doesn't intimidate you, high-level enthusiasts will find a lot of tools at their disposal.

Read our full DaVinci Resolve review

How We Tested

We tested more than a dozen programs — paid and free — on consumer Mac and Windows laptops for more than 100 hours, to see which are the best for editing, as well as sharing your videos with friends and family.

We evaluated all of the software based on functionality, ease of use, performance, sharing options and new features in the latest versions. We also judged the packages based on real-life uses for a number of categories, including best overall, best free app, best for beginners, best for YouTube maestros, best for Mac users and best for Windows platforms.

Free or Fee?

There’s no reason for the occasional video jockey to fork over any cash, as there are plenty of free apps available for both Windows and Mac. But while the deciding factors for free and paid software may appear to be based on cold hard cash, that’s not the whole story.

People who are looking for a more powerful editor with a variety of built-in resources, responsive technical support and more would be better off dropping some cash on a video editing program.

However, there’s a third option: You can download software such as VideoPad or HitFilm (which offer all of the basics) for free, and then purchase additional features à la carte as your experience and needs grow.

Speed

Performance results are important, but they’re not critical components of software evaluations, because depending on your hardware setup, your mileage will vary. By comparison, ease of use, interface and features carry more weight than export clock speed. Nonetheless, as a single measure among many, speed testing provides valuable comparative information.

As several of the programs on this page have been updated with newer versions since their initial review, we are currently in the process of re-testing them. At the same time, we are upgrading our testing platforms, from laptops with integrated graphics to those with discrete GPUs. This will better reflect the improvement in performance from apps that can take advantage of discrete graphics cards. Stay tuned for the results.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Rebecca_31
    All these editors ask for charge, why not use some free ones, like Video Grabber, which is not easy but useful.
    Reply
  • ElizaMunk
    Interesting,thanks for sharing this.
    Reply
  • Dingertears
    I use Movie Maker, a free one that could meet my needs to edit a video.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply