Cyberlink PowerDirector 10 Ultra review

21 Oct 2011

Sophisticated 3D editing, and performance is better than ever, but our reservations with the previous version haven't been addressed

Price when reviewed 
50
5

Video editing is a complex, multi-faceted process, but Cyberlink was one of the first developers to realise that the single most important issue is performance. Bells and whistles are useless unless the software is able to preview them smoothly. With the demands of 1080p AVC import and export, the need for fast performance has never been greater.

PowerDirector 9 was the best consumer editor for preview performance, and while the competition has closed the gap in recent months, version 10 raises the stakes yet again. The preview window can be set to one of five resolutions from 160x90 to 1920x1080, with lower resolutions giving smoother playback.

We were able to play 10 simultaneous AVCHD streams at 640x360 on our Core i7 870 test PC – a fantastic result and a big improvement on version 9's six streams.

Switching to a 1280x720 preview, there was no improvement over version 9 at four streams – the same as our current A-Listed consumer editor, Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum. However, Sony's editor still only managed four streams at 640x360.

Cyberlink PowerDirector 10 Ultra - overlay tools

It also lacks PowerDirector's GPU-accelerated effects, and its ability to generate low-resolution proxy files of HD footage to improve preview performance even further. As such, PowerDirector is still the fastest consumer editor for preview performance.

It was already extremely quick for export, and there are some improvements here too. Rendering a four-minute AVCHD project with various effects and overlays to 1080p AVC took 445 seconds, down from 534 seconds for the same project in version 9 – a 17 per cent improvement. However, choosing hardware-accelerated encoding brought both versions in at 287 seconds.

Meanwhile, enabling a new Open CL option in the version 10's preferences made our test project a little slower to render, although we saw Open CL bring improvements of over 50 per cent in other tests.

While PowerDirector excels for preview and render performance, its editing controls remain a little slow to respond. The timeline was usually quick to navigate and perform edits on, but it sometimes took a couple of seconds to respond to our input.

There was a consistent delay of around three seconds between double-clicking a video clip and the Modify dialog box appearing, and another three seconds for it to disappear after we clicked Save or Cancel.

Details

Price ex VAT £42
Price inc VAT £50
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Software subcategory Video editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no