PowerDirector 18 is the latest in a long-running series of video editors from Taiwanese company CyberLink. It’s highly usable with plenty of features and a decent price, to boot. For everyday video editing and content creation, you can’t go far wrong with it.
We enjoyed using it, but it isn’t as comprehensive of a tool as the top picks for video editing. If you’re serious about making movies and are prepared to spend money on the finest products available, check out our list of the best video editing software.
For PowerDirector’s price, though, there isn’t much to complain about, and it is a contender as the best video editor for less than $100. It is an excellent choice if you are in the market for a good, mid-range editor.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Fast rendering with excellent output options
- Many tutorials & a good community
- Outstanding feature set for the price
- Limited audio options
- Few color tuning options
- Windows only
Alternatives for CyberLink PowerDirector
CyberLink’s PowerDirector 18 has a strong feature set, particularly if you want to work with specialized techniques, such as 360-degree video, multicam or action cameras. It has a few weak areas, such as color and audio work, but these are covered by CyberLink’s other applications.
It includes a timeline with multiple tracks, as well as areas for video and sound effects. The track representing the uppermost layer is actually at the bottom of the screen, which is mildly confusing at first, but dragging and moving clips is simple enough.
In addition to the regular timeline, PowerDirector 18 includes a storyboard mode that displays clips as thumbnails. If you have a large movie with a ton of clips, this can help you stay organized, giving you a simple “big picture” overview. For more detailed work, though, the timeline is best.
It has a strong selection of effects, which include the usual blurs and stylistic effects, along with things like fireworks and virtual waterfalls. The effects are categorized, and there’s even a romance category, making it a great choice for wedding videos.
There are several video overlays, such as caption boxes and a few little animations, which include light bulbs, spinning stars and, yes, several romantic choices. There’s also a dedicated section for particle effects. There are 20 or so preset options, but you can control these via a detailed options screen, further refining your output.
Additionally, there are AI-style plug-ins, which make your videos look like they have been painted in a particular style. These are demanding on your system but very effective. For another tool with many effects, check out our Corel VideoStudio Ultimate review.
Text and captions are easy to add, too, and you can create 3D text, along with various preset titles. You also have many transitions available, from discrete fades to more showy effects, so if you want to capture that ‘80s game show look, you can.
It is strong in 360-degree editing with good stabilization features, and it also includes plenty of features for motion tracking and action cam users.
PowerDirector Audio and Color Editing
There is an audio mixing room, but we found its audio features to be wanting, compared to many of its competitors. If you are using the full CyberLink suite, though, you have AudioDirector available to pick up the slack.
PowerDirector has color grading and adjustment features, allowing you to tune the look of your movies. These aren’t as involved as the top video editors, but you can use CyberLink’s ColorDirector to give you more control if you need it.
All versions of PowerDirector come with a music and sound clip library, along with various effects and plug-ins. The more expensive purchase options give you more of these, but there is plenty for most user’s needs.
If you purchase PowerDirector outright, you get 25GB of cloud storage for one year. With the subscription version, you get 50GB. If you want to sort out your own storage or need more than that, check out our best cloud storage for video article.
PowerDirector allows you to capture footage from a variety of sources, including your screen, an external device, your mic or webcam. You can even capture footage from a TV signal if you have the appropriate equipment connected.
If you want to add subtitles, there’s a dedicated area for doing that, too. That makes PowerDirector a good choice for the hearing-impaired or for those who are creating movies for an international audience.
Rendering With PowerDirector
When it comes to rendering your video, there’s a separate area for producing video files and for burning discs. The video render screen contains a broad selection of formats with plenty of options. There are also device-specific output settings, allowing you to pick from a range of devices with extra options within each selection.
The disc-creation screen allows you to add chapters and menus, letting you create interactive DVDs, Blu-rays and AVCHDs.
You can also upload movies straight to YouTube and Vimeo. Curiously, Facebook isn’t supported, but it has a few unusual options in Dailymotion, Niconico and Youku, making it a useful editor for those who are looking to share their work on services more popular in Asia than the U.S.
If you’re in Asia, why not take a look at our best VPN services for China or best VPN for Taiwan guides to help yourself stay safe online.
Overall, PowerDirector 18’s feature set is strong, with its major weaknesses being sound and color. If you have the full set of CyberLink applications, you don’t need to worry about that as much.
- 4K Editing
- Action Cam Tools
- Chroma Key (green screen)
- 360-degree Video Editing
- Multicam Editing
- Export to YouTube
- Export to Facebook
- Export to Vimeo
- Device Optimization
- Burn to DVD
- Burn to Blu-ray
There are two versions of PowerDirector 18 for outright purchase, as well as the subscription-based PowerDirector 365, which comes with extra plug-ins, effects and a sound and music library. You can also get it as part of CyberLink’s Director Suite, which also includes PhotoDirector, AudioDirector and ColorDirector.
The 365 subscription model is much cheaper than Adobe’s equivalent, though the software isn’t as well known and, frankly, not as good, in PowerDirector’s case, at least. However, if you want to get a full set of apps for a decent price, it is worth thinking about.
If you buy PowerDirector outright, it is also reasonably priced. Both PowerDirector 18 versions — “ultra” and “ultimate” — come with a sound and music library, but you get more plug-ins and effects with the “ultimate” version. There are also a few extra features, such as 4K editing and some additional import formats supported.
CyberLink PowerDirector Free
Any output produced using PowerDirector’s free trial contains a watermark, so if you’re planning on rushing out your masterpiece before the trial expires, think again. If you want to get your hands on a quality free tool, check out our best free video editor article.
CyberLink’s PowerDirector is only available for Windows. Mac owners can read about an excellent alternative in our HitFilm Review. Linux owners could try Blender or read our DaVinci Resolve review.
There’s also an Android version of PowerDirector, though we aren’t covering it here, and you should expect it to offer less than the desktop version.
Overall, CyberLink’s PowerDirector 18 is one of the stronger mid-priced editors and has a likeable overall package that offers a lot of quality at a decent price.
Ease of Use
PowerDirector has a dark, professional-looking user interface that crams in plenty of tools and controls without becoming too crowded. There are various “rooms” that let you focus on different tasks, such as effects and transitions.
You can also navigate the different areas from the top of the screen. In addition to the editing screen, there are “capture,” “produce” and “create disc” screens.
PowerDirector 18 comes with a few different types of media available in its library from the start, which means you can explore its features as soon as you open it.
There is a selection of sound effects and music that you can pick from and download if you want to use them, which gives you a balance between choice and disc space.
CyberLink does a good job of compartmentalizing its tasks within different areas of its UI. It is easy to navigate between areas and figure out what to do from there. Some areas have plentiful option screens attached to them, though not all.
Help and Support
Moving on to support, CyberLink’s web-based learning center is full of tutorials to help you get started with the software. There are more than 100 tutorials covering various features and parts of the interface. They are clear and to the point, though many of them date from older versions of the software.
The “getting started” section, as you’d expect, is a great place to begin, and it will help get you up to speed with the most common tasks. There are also occasional webinars, and though there aren’t too many of these, you can review old ones on YouTube.
There’s a busy forum with lots of activity and helpful people giving detailed answers to your questions. If you want to get in touch with CyberLink directly, you can do so via email or phone. The phone support only answers installation-based questions, though you can pay around $15 per month to get a more in-depth service.
PowerDirector is a relatively easy-to-use piece of software with a strong UI and plenty of help available for those who are new to video editing.
|Video||H.265/HEVC (8-bit,10-bit,10-bit with HDR10 & HLG),
Dual-stream AVI, FLV(H.264),
MKV (multiple audio streams),
AVCHD (M2T, MTS),
WTV in H.264/MPEG2 (multiple video & audio streams),
DSLR video clip in H.264 with LPCM/AAC/Dolby Digital Audio,
HDR (HEVC HDR10 & HLG),
MXF AVC 4:2:0,
MOV(H.264/HEVC/alpha PNG/Apple ProRes 10-bit 4:2:2),
MPEG-4 AVC (H.264),
MP4 (XAVC S, XAVC 8-bit 4:2:0),
MXR (8-bit 4:2:0 H.264),
|360 Video||Equirectangular format MP4 (H.264)|
Analog TV tuner, CI or USB capture device compliant with WDM standard
|Audio||WAV, MP3, WMA, M4A, OGG, FLAC, AAC, AMR-NB, Opus, AAC, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, WAVE, MPEG-1, Layer III, FLAC, ALAC|
|Photo||MPO, JPS, RAW, GIF, BMP, JPG, TIF, PNG, Animated GIF, HEIC|
|360 Photo||Equirectangular format JPG/TIF in 2:1 aspect ratio|
|Look-Up Table||3DL, MGA, M3D, CUBE, CSP, CMS, RV3DLUT, VF|
High Definition: AVCHD, AVCHD 2.0 (3D/Progressive), MPEG-2 HD, WMV-HD
MKV H.264, AVC/H.265, HEVC (.MKV) with LPCM/ACC/DTS/Dolby Digital Audio
M2TS H.264, AVC/H.265 HEVC (.M2TS) with LPCM/Dolby Digital Audio
XAVC S (.MP4 with AAC audio)
Windows AVI/DV-AVI (.AVI)
3GPP2 for 3G mobile phones
Image Sequence (JPG/PNG)
2K/4K resolution: H.264 AVC, WMV, H.265 HEVC, XAVCS
MPEG-2 (.MPG) with LPCM / Dolby Digital Audio
MPEG-4 H.264 AVC (.MP4) with LPCM/AAC/Dolby Digital Audio
Windows Media (.WMV)
AVCHD2.0 for SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS memory card or flash memory
|3D Video||MVC, Side-by-side, Anaglyph|
|360 Video||Equirectangular format MP4 (H.264 AVC/H.265 HEVC)|
|Audio||AAC (.M4A), WMA, LPCM (.WAV)|
|Device||iPad, iPhone, Android Phones, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3 and 4, PlayStation VITA and VITA TV, XBox 360, XBox One, Zune|
|Disc||3D disc burning: DVD/AVCHD/BD
BD burning: BDMV
AVCHD disc burning
DVD and BD disc burning with LPCM 2 channel and DTS 5.1 channel audio
PowerDirector let you use an impressive range of import formats, with comprehensive support for look-up tables and an excellent selection of the usual video and audio file types. It is similarly strong on export, with multiple video formats supported, along with device-specific settings.
It can also produce output for DVD and Blu-ray. It does lack MP3 output but has other audio export choices. It has excellent options for most formats and even allows you to use high frame rates, like 120 frames per second, though we didn’t test this.
If you need to work with a specific file type, take a close look at which PowerDirector version you buy because “ultimate” supports a few formats that aren’t available in the “ultra” edition. You might also want to take a look at our best video converter article, if you have files that aren’t supported.
PowerDirector 18 has some of the best format support in its price range, and this is a real strength of the software.
You’ll need a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 8 or 10 to run PowerDirector 18, but the system requirements aren’t particularly high. As long as you have an i-series processor or an AMD Phenom II or above, with a 128MB graphics card and 4GB of RAM, you should be fine. Some plug-ins have higher specs. For example, you need a 2GB graphics card for its AI plug-in.
We tested CyberLink’s PowerDirector 18 with our usual selection of clips to see how fast it is with rendering. We used H.264 AVC output with its MPEG-4 profile, as that allowed us to select all our preferred sizes and frame rates.
Our test system has an i5-7600 processor with 16GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 1060, 6GB graphics card. We’re running Windows 10.
|Settings:||F1 Clip||Music Clip||Interview Clip||Average|
Subjectively, output quality is good and, unlike certain editors, it manages to switch between frame rates without messing with playback speed. A content-free pop-up appears after rendering, for some reason, but never mind.
Less subjectively, speeds are excellent, so if you care about rendering times, PowerDirector 18 is a top choice. Overall, it is the fastest we’ve seen in our tests so far, with its 1080p rendering being particularly impressive. Corel VideoStudio is slightly faster at 720p, but its output was poor quality.
We noticed that PowerLink installs a process that runs on startup even if you aren’t using its software, but it doesn’t look like one that will bring your PC to a halt.
We should also give credit where it’s due to Final Cut Pro X, which only lags slightly behind, despite us testing it on mediocre hardware. Read more about it in our Final Cut Pro X review. For a cheaper tool that also performs well, have a look at our MAGIX Movie Edit Pro review.
If you don’t want to spend too much time sorting out your holiday snaps, you can use the slideshow creator to quickly make them into a professional-looking movie. You can pick your images, set a few options — such as adding music — and then output your slideshow to a variety of formats or burn it straight to disc.
Usefully, you can also export it straight to the standard PowerDirector timeline, letting you get the basics in place within seconds, before taking control of the details yourself.
Various plug-ins are included with PowerDirector 18, and these include features such as a screen recorder that lets you capture footage from games or applications. That’s great if you want to produce a video tutorial or software review.
There are dedicated plug-ins for multicam and action cameras, as well as a theme designer and paint designer.
If you get PowerDirector 18 as part of CyberLink’s Director Suite, you also get ColorDirector and AudioDirector, which help make up for PowerDirector’s main weak areas.
CyberLink’s PowerDirector 18 is the best mid-price editor around. It is full of features and is excellent at almost everything it does. It also has the fastest rendering speeds of the editors we’ve looked at.
It performs well while editing, too, and we didn’t experience any crashes or major bugs while using it. If you want to be on the safe side, though, take a look at our how to automatically back up video guide.
It isn’t quite as professionally oriented as heavyweights Adobe Premiere CC or Final Cut Pro X, but unless you have a need for the depth they provide, you’re unlikely to be dissapointed with PowerDirector.
It does have a few gaps in its feature set, but they are mostly covered by other tools in CyberLink’s library. If you prefer something that has comprehensive audio and color grading tools, check out our Adobe Premiere Pro CC review.
If you’ve tried PowerDirector and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.