CyberLink PowerDirector 20 review

With great power comes CyberLink PowerDirector

Screenshot of video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

CyberLink PowerDirector offers a powerful video editor and compositor that seems to be going from strength to strength. Stable, full of features and regularly improved. What’s not to like?


  • +

    Sleek interface

  • +

    Bursting with features

  • +

    Surprisingly easy to use


  • -

    The Mac and PC version don’t appear to be exactly the same

  • -

    Mac only has the subscription option

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CyberLink’s PowerDirector is an interesting multi-platform video editor. When we last reviewed the tool, we noted that it “offers something for you, and it can grow with you as you become more proficient and want to take on more challenging projects”, whatever your skill level. 

The same relaxed user experience remains, making it one of the best video editing software programs out there. And its under-the-hood power places it high on the list as a genuine contender for best Premiere Pro alternative. There’s even a subscription option, PowerDirector 365, mirroring Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

But when it’s not challenging Adobe Premiere Pro for the top spot, what does PowerDirector offer editors of all experiences today? 

We've also reviewed the best free video editing software and the best video editing apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad. 

Under the hood

First up, CyberLink's video editing software now supports 4K video. Great news since 4K is fast overtaking regular HD media, although it’s worth noting that other software for editing video already cater to 8K. Even some of the newest consumer phones and cameras record at that resolution.

Another welcome under-the-hood addition is compatibility with HEVC. This relatively new format (although it’s been used for a few years now, even when we reviewed version 18) is the codec of choice for iPhones for instance, so it’s great news to learn these files will no longer cause a problem with PowerDirector.

In addition to new templates, themes, and effects packs, there have been a multitude of new features added to PowerDirector’s arsenal. They’re too numerous in fact to list them all here - which in itself is an impressive thing. So instead, we’ll showcase some that we found to be best ones for video editors.

Flipping layers

This new option we noticed when launching the app for the first time will probably be more appreciated by old fogeys like us, who have explored more video editing software than most, but we feel it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.

Previously, we found that PowerDirector orders its layers in the opposite way than “normal”. A clip on a bottom layer obstructing what is present on the upper one. Most other editing tools do it more akin to how it would work in real life - imagine putting a piece of paper on top of another and it obstructs what’s beneath it. 

PowerDirector has now opted for the best of both worlds approach. You can switch the order in the preferences. The PC version even offers you the choice when you first launch the app. Great move by CyberLink and much appreciated. It’s the little things, you know.

Screenshot of preferences in video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector

Change the orientation of your layers, so you can choose whether you want the obstructing ones to be above, or below the others. (Image credit: Future)


Some of the most interesting new additions are all powered by AI, where complex computer algorithms do impressive work and take actions based on past learnings. 

Here in PowerDirector, we now have AI in Motion Tracking. This lets you add text boxes or graphics that follow a chosen object over time, with greater accuracy. The tool is coupled with Object Detection to help you apply a mask around a person or object. You could then, for example, remove it or its background.

A lot of this kind of AI has been applied to audio components, such as Speech Enhancement to reduce background noise, and improve the quality of a spoken recording. Wind Removal is a godsend should you be forced to record someone outdoors in windy conditions.

But the one that surprised us the most is one that, to our minds at least, looked just like a fancy gimmick. 

It’s called AI Sky Replacement.

At first glance, it seems to be just a simple background remover, but there’s complex motion tracking involved as well. 

The results are nothing short of impressive, with clouds in the sky for instance moving as you’d expect them to with the motion of the shot. It also comes with various changeable parameters, so you can fine-tune the effect, and make it look ever better.

Screenshot of AI sky replacement in video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector

PowerDirector's AI results are impressive, even in something as gimmicky as a sky removal feature. (Image credit: Future)


This granular level of control can actually be found throughout PowerDirector. 

Check out the Particle Designer for instance, where you can create and modify existing templates, with numerous changeable parameters at your disposal.

The same applies to being able to fully customize motion graphic titles (or use them as-is of course). Shapes are there for you to use and alter, and come with useful parameters such as auto-fit text and keyframing possibilities. There’s also aTitle Editor, where you can alter your font, color and position.

Screenshot of controls in video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector

You have control over so many parameters throughout the tools and interface. (Image credit: Future)


And there’s still so much more to talk about. It’s clear that PowerDirector has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years. Just quickly, here’s a list of some more impressive new features:

On the audio editor side of things, you can now automatically lower the volume of background audio when someone starts speaking (Audio Ducking), your background score can be automatically altered so it perfectly fits the length of your footage (Smart Background Music). 

Screenshot of transitions in video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector

The animated previews, and the transitions themselves, have been improved. (Image credit: Future)

There’s a great timesaver if your recorded audio and video aren’t combined at the source. PowerDirector can automatically sync them up for you - as long as your video comes with its own, inferior, audio, which most usually do.

You can create, upload and export, SRT files - for embedded subtitles - including support for font, color and style.

Nesting projects is now possible, allowing you to add multiple projects into a single timeline, when complex editing becomes a necessity.

You now also have controls to stabilize video footage and remove unwanted camera movement, or apply motion blur to moving objects. You have color matching parameters to make sure your shots remain consistent color and lighting-wise across a scene, and are able to adjust hues and vibrancy while protecting skin tone from distortion.

Screenshot of subtitles in video editing software CyberLink PowerDirector

Create your own subtitles and export them as an SRT file. (Image credit: Future)


There are three versions of CyberLink PowerDirector: Standard, Ultra, and Ultimate. Obviously, the more expensive the version, the more features included. So, those advanced AI tools, such as Wind Removal, Speech Enhancement, Sky Replacement and Audio Smart Fit, are only accessible with PowerDirector Ultimate.

If you’re running PowerDirector on Windows, you have the option of grabbing a lifetime license of Ultra and Ultimate. For everyone else, including Mac owners, there’s the option of starting a monthly or annual subscription to PowerDirector 365. 

This offers bonus access to premium plug-ins and effects, some of the best free stock photos from Shutterstock and iStock, and all future software updates. 

Final verdict

We were impressed before. We’re more impressed now. CyberLink PowerDirector is an affordable, feature-rich video editor that you can use to create anything from a simple cut to a really complex project filled with effects, titles, slick transitions and effects.  

Steve Paris

Steve has been writing about technology since 2003. Starting with Digital Creative Arts, he's since added his tech expertise at titles such as iCreate, MacFormat, MacWorld, MacLife, and TechRadar. His focus is on the creative arts, like website builders, image manipulation, and filmmaking software, but he hasn’t shied away from more business-oriented software either. He uses many of the apps he writes about in his personal and professional life. Steve loves how computers have enabled everyone to delve into creative possibilities, and is always delighted to share his knowledge, expertise, and experience with readers.