What PC to build?

LEGEND ,
Mar 17, 2010 Mar 17, 2010

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A question often asked is what system to build for NLE.


Basically you can think along three roads, a budget PC, an economical PC and the warrior PC. Notice that MAC is not mentioned here. There are three reasons for that, one is I'm not qualified to really advise on MAC's, two is that they are way overpriced and three they are severely limited in component choices. So this is all about PC.


Whether you want to have a budget, economical or warrior PC, there are a number of common components that you will always need, a case, a PSU, CPU cooler, monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD/BR burner and stuff like that so I'm not going into those components.


So what is this all about?


1. CPU
2. Motherboard
3. Memory
4. Disk setup
5. Video card


This is certainly not intended to be a full description of what to buy, but only to point you in a direction that will make it easier to make your own list of components required.


CPU
Budget: i7-860, Economical: i7-930, Warrior: Dual X5680


Motherboard
Budget: ASUS P7P55D, Economical: ASUS P6T WS Pro, Warrior:  SuperMicro X8DAH+


Memory
Budget: 8 GB, Economical: 12 GB, Warrior: 24+ GB


Disk setup
Budget: 3-4 SATA disks, Economical: 5-8 SATA disks (plus raid controller), Warrior: 12+ disks and Areca ARC 1880iX-16/24 controller

Video card
Budget: ATI HD 5670, Economical: nVidia GTX-285, Warrior: nVidia Quadro FX 3800+


Effectively at this moment (March 2010) that means in approximate costs for the 5 components and not counting everything else you may need,

Type PC
Approximate budget
Budget$ 1,200
Economical$ 2,100 (excluding RAID controller)
Warrior$ 8,500 (including Areca RAID controller)


These figures are around minimum to budget for. I hope this gives you something to ponder about.

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Explorer ,
Jun 17, 2010 Jun 17, 2010

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Reading the thread (the first time), I put together (also using some of the 'Videoguys' suggestions) a plan for an editing 'workstation' to be used for editing HD hobby videos, and would appreciate any comment:

Thanks, LaciWorkstation.jpg

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LEGEND ,
Jun 17, 2010 Jun 17, 2010

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Skip the GTX-295, go for the GTX-470/480

Get a better PSU: eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Pro v2.5

No floppy needed. Have you seen a shop that still sells them?

Have a look at some of my articles, like

Adobe Forums: A PC buying guide for NLE (mainly Intel)

Adobe Forums: Storage rules for an editing rig. Some...

and various others.

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Explorer ,
Jun 17, 2010 Jun 17, 2010

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Thanks! Started reading your publications...

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Explorer ,
Jun 20, 2010 Jun 20, 2010

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Read the two articles: they are very useful. In the meanwhile, I have two more questions: 1. What about a solid state 'drive'  for system 'disk' (I was told that they are faster, but rather small - and probably expensive). 2. This is about the case: Antec P183 looks good, has 120 mm top fan, 120 mm rear fan and 120 mm lower chamber fan. Is this enough for the system described above, or do I need the P193 with 2 x 140 mm top fans, 120 mm rear fan, 120 mm lower chamber fan and a 200 mm side fan? How does one calculate the needed fan 'farm' based on the power dissipation of the system? Also, would a slight over-clocking change the picture (other than an extra CPU fan)? Thanks, Laci.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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First the case: neither is very good, because both are too limited in width to allow a large CPU cooler to be installed. Maximum height of a CPU cooler is 140 mm and that precludes the use of modern coolers like the Noctua NH-D14. I would always opt for a big tower, because of the easier installation, the better expansion capabilities, better cable management and better cooling capabilities.

SSD's as a boot disk will probably shave of a couple of seconds from the boottime. For instance reducing it from 70 seconds to 65 seconds. It will also make the loading of applications like PR faster, reducing the load time from 6 seconds to 2 seconds as an example.

Look at the time required for POST, the staggered spin-up of the disks, the initializing of raid BIOS and network connections, before Windows starts to load and realize that a SSD will have no impact on all that time at all, and that is by far the largest wait. Realize further that a SSD has no impact at all on the editing performance of your machine, that you normally only boot your machine once per day and load PR once per day, and the question is justified whether a 80 GB SSD for € 192 (current local prices) is worth it in comparison to a 1 TB F3 for € 60. Per GB a SSD is € 2.40 and the F3 is € 0.06, about 40 times more expensive. And the performance gain will be negligent.

For notebooks it may well be worth considering, because there is usuallly only 1 disk, no raid controller to initialize, no staggered spin up and multiple times per day to boot again and battery use, but not for an editing workstation.

All those  claimed high read and write speeds are great on paper, but does it make  your editing faster and more efficient? Testing has not proven that to be the case.

It  all ranks under pennywise, pound foolish IMO.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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In addition to my previous post, let's assume you plan a new system and are considering:

SSD 80 GB for OS & programs and 2 x 1 TB F3 disks. Total cost at current local prices € 192 + 2 x € 60 = € 312

The alternative is 5 x 1 TB F3 disks, one for OS & programs / page file and 4 x Raid5. Cost 5 x € 60 = € 300

You will gain a significant performance boost during editing, as well as more storage space from the alternative at less cost. QED.

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Explorer ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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Harm, Thanks for the advice. I haven't really considered the SSD (a salesperson suggested at Fry's which was already suspicious) but it is good to know for sure.  The last 15 years of my professional life, before I retired last year, I worked for a design house and after that for Intel as a quality/reliability engineer using my physics background. I (used to ) know a lot about device physiscs/reliability but next to nothing about design and the computer inner workings - or about RAID for that matter. I got the more serious movie making and computer building 'bug' may be a year ago, and dived into it more seriously just a couple of months ago.

As for the computer case, I will look further (I liked the smooth design of the P183/193 mostly probably due to my age   -  I do not like all the flashing lights, etc. on a computer case). But what the most important for designing my new computer is after my 7 year old Dell Dimension (and a first I will build myself) is the PC 'architecture': Processor, mother board, graphic card, and the storage. The first three have been decided (after your last reply), the only remaining issue is the storage.

So, I read your tutorial and the discussion chain ("To RAID, or not to RAID...") and a good article in Wikipedia, yesterday. I like your advice on the 5 x F3 1 TB disk (one for OS/programs/page file, and the other 4 for all else in a RAID 5 configuration). Please, let me know if I am right: 1. The OS (and the user) will see the four disks in RAID as one drive. (From Wikipedia.)  2. The data can be restored after one disk failure. (Automatically?)  3. I do not need any extra hardware for RAID 5 - the OS will do it for me. 4. I can ('manually') back up the 'system drive' to an external drive periodically. (I do it right now with my old computer.)  5. However, this arrangement doesn't make it possible to use some of the other suggestions in the discussion after your article (use separate disks for projects and indexed/conformed files; for cache, previews; for media, etc. Is this a real disadvantage?

Please, consider that presently I am using PrE 7.0 on a 7 year old computer (with regular 'manual' backups with Acronis) and only for hobby (family/trips, etc.) With the new computer, I would like to edit AVCHD movies taken with Panasonic AG-HMC150 (my 'retirement present' for myself ) but still for hobby at least for the time being. With this new computer for editing I would like to use PrPRO CS 5 (and may be ENCORE CS5).

P.S. 1. What is F3? 2. I like that you have a 'space' between the numerical quantity and the unit unlike in most manuals and Internet comments nowadays (If I search for 1 TB on Google, it asks me: Did you mean 1TB?" Of course not! It might save a few bits but this is not even conforming with the American NIST style manual's suggestions (http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP811/sec07.html).

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Explorer ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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LaciG & Harm:

As to your computer case I lean toward an Antec 1200. It's large lots of space and plenty of fans. What say you Harm?

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LEGEND ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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F3 is the shorthand version of the Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard disk, one of the fastest and quietest disks on the market.

It is in a different price bracket, but you get what you pay for and there is nothing better than the Lian Li PC-A77. Fabulous space, build quality and without all those ostentatious lights. The Antec 1200 is a good alternative, but since it is a gamers case, it includes all the LED fans and the transparent side panel. In comparison to the Lian Li is has no ventilation opening for the PSU, it misses the drive cage for 3 x 3.5" disks at the rear top, and misses a 1394 firewire port on the front and has only two USB ports versus 4 with the Lian Li.

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Explorer ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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Harm and Dave, Thanks for the suggestions for the case. I am looking into it. - Laci. P.S. Just one more question (in addition to the 4 questions in my previous message): My board is sATA III ready, is there any advantage to wait for / find a sATA III drive? Thanks again, Laci.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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Waiting for SATAIII does not make much sense, especially not with a raid5 on the ICHR10 chip, since SATAIII can only be used as single disks, unless you use software raid, which is a heavy burden for the system and there are only two SATAIII ports on the mobo, AFAIK.

1. Yes

2. Yes, but you have to give a Rebuild order

3. No, use the on-board ICHR10 chip for that

4. Yes

5. No. That remark was for people afraid of Raids or with fewer disks.

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Explorer ,
Jun 21, 2010 Jun 21, 2010

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Harm, Thanks for the help. Right now I only have two questions: how one uses the ICHR10 chip for the raid, and also, what you meant by 'have to give a Rebuild order' (if one disk fails. I guess, it is a software command somewhere). I will research the Internet, and if I can't find any answer, then I will ask you again. Thanks, Laci. P.S. I like your suggestion for the computer case very much (not the price though) and most probably will go with it.

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New Here ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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This is all great info.  I'm pretty excited about an upcoming build, but would love some input.

With CS5 I'll be doing at most 3-4 AVCHD files at a time with minor effects.  I cover events, so an hour or two of footage is not unusual.  I'll be using AfterEffects quite a bit too.  And Audition 4 to edit some pretty long lectures (4 hour +).  Hopefully Audition will take advantage of multithreading somehow.).

I have $3000 to spend this year and already have the following:

4 old 74Gb Raptors (right now in raid 0 booting Vista 64, but will be moving to W7 64)

2 good monitors (plenty for me)

6 1TB drives in a raid 6.  (This right now suffices for storage, but out of 4 TB I only have one free, so I need to expand this.)

a 3ware 9650SE-16 port raid card with battery backup

An older Quadro card

A decent sound card (which, I take it, is no longer important)

A big old Coolermaster Stacker case running two power supplies (a 680watt for MB and a 580w on all my drives)

Two 5-bay Sata backplanes (SUPERMICRO CSE-M35T-1B I think I need one more soon?)

I think I could scare up another $1500 next year to add on a little more, so buying something now that's upgradable would be fine.  With that in mind, should I splurge on a single hexacore (x5650?) with that crazy EVGA SR2 board (I'm not afraid of moderate air-cooled overclocking)?  Or go for a tried-and-true Tyan with a couple of Xeons?  Or just overclock a single 930?

And how much will a 480 help me in AfterEffects?  Should I instead throw the money at more CPU goodness?

I just want to use the $3k to get the most performance possible.

Thanks in advance

-Tim

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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>how much will a 480 help me in AfterEffects?

You might want to check the AfterEffects PDF to veryify this, but I don't think CUDA/MPE does anything in AE, only in Premiere Pro CS5

CS5 User Guide - Right click PDF link to save to your computer
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/PremierePro/CS5/Using/index.html
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/AfterEffects/CS5/Using/index.html
http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Encore/CS5/Using/index.html

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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Correct John, MPE does not work in AE.

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New Here ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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OK. 

Since the Quadros are pretty expensive, perhaps I should just get a 480 to handle PR and poke along on CPU power for AE.

AE is less of a priority.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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MUMediaDept wrote:


.... should I splurge on a single hexacore (x5650?) with that crazy EVGA SR2 board (I'm not afraid of moderate air-cooled overclocking)?  Or go for a tried-and-true Tyan with a couple of Xeons?  Or just overclock a single 930?


-Tim

There is no value for the x5650 Xeon's or for that matter any dual Xeon with Premiere.  Take a look at the ADK benchmark information and also at my PPBM site and see that dual Xeons are not among the leading scores.

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Explorer ,
Jun 23, 2010 Jun 23, 2010

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Harm, Bill, I started building (actually ordering parts for) my new computer. I already ordered the 5 F3 hard drives from

Newegg (and they accepted the discount code). I would just need an advice on a moderately priced Blu-ray burner (LG? Samsung?) There are so many out there, and so many (non-expert) opinions, that it is difficult to choose. Thanks, Laci.

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New Here ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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Wow this is an excellent resource for people like me (who until now didn't have a clue where to start!) Thanks harm!

I went through HP's pc building website and followed all the choices you've listed for Budget. Is there anything here that jumps out at you that you would change?

My computing needs: I'm a technical illustration student and i'll be doing stuff with CS5, painter 11 as well as FormZ and possibly Maya. Probably some tiny little videos in Affter Effects.

Note: I couldn't find the exact ATI HD card. Nor could i choose the motherboard.

This setup costs: $1,273.99

Thanks for your help!

Operating  systemGenuine Windows  7 Professional 64-bitedit
ProcessorIntel(R)  Core(TM) i7-860 quad-core processor [2.8GHz, 1MB L2 + 8MB shared L3  cache]edit
Memory8GB  DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM [4 DIMMs] from 6GBedit
Hard  drive1TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive from 640GBedit
Graphics  card1GB ATI Radeon  HD 5570 [DVI,HDMI, DP, VGA adapter]edit
Primary  optical driveBlu-ray player  & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burneredit
NetworkingIntegrated  Ethernet port, No wireless LANedit
Front  Productivity Ports15-in-1 memory  card reader, 1 USB, 1394, audioedit
TV &  entertainment experienceNo TV Tuneredit
Sound  CardIntegrated  soundedit
SpeakersHP  USB 2.0 stereo speakersedit
Keyboard  and MouseHP USB  keyboard and optical mouseedit
Office  softwareMicrosoft  Office Starter 2010edit
Security  softwareNorton  Internet Security(TM) 2010 - 15 month

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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Looks like a nice budget system, but I suggest you add another hard disk.

For video I would say add two disks, but for illustrations and Maya add at least one disk. You can buy this disk around the corner for probably half the price that HP charges and you can build it in yourself. Have a look at Samsung Spinpoint F3, very fast, quiet and affordable.

There are some other articles I wrote, all in the hardware forum where you may get some additional background and info that is worthwhile to read. Just have a look around.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2010 Jun 22, 2010

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Newegg currently has the Spinpoint F3 1 TB on special fo $65 with this code (you may have to sign up for it to be usable) EMCYTNN25.  Free shipping.

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New Here ,
Jun 24, 2010 Jun 24, 2010

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Hi Harm,

I can't thank you enough for the suggestions.

Just another quick question though. I'm choosing Hard drives at the moment and everyone on here seems to love the SpinPoint drives.

However, would you choose a Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ 32MB 1TB over a Caviar Black WD1002FAEX, 1000GB, 7200rpm, 64MB Cache, SATA-3?

Thanks again!!!

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LEGEND ,
Jun 24, 2010 Jun 24, 2010

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The Caviar Blacks have the advantage of 64 MB cache, which is a definite advantage. However, WD Caviar Blacks are not suitable for raid configurations, due to that infamous WD TLER utility, that can no longer be changed in the latest Caviars.

Do not be fooled by the marketing hype around SATA-3. Yes, the theoretical bandwidth is much higher, but no current disks comes even close to approaching the bandwidth of SATA-2, let alone SATA-3.

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Enthusiast ,
Jun 24, 2010 Jun 24, 2010

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not sure what you are talking about Harm? we use WD's all the time in raid. (the newer ones)

are you talking about the fact a drive can drop out of a raid 5/6 with numerous drives?

Scott

ADK

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 24, 2010 Jun 24, 2010

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For continuous online backup, I've used Caviar Greens in a RAID 5 for a while now.  I was worried that Harm was right about the TLER stuff when my RAID degraded from 3 drives down to 2 a couple of weeks ago.

Turns out the drive itself was going bad - really, really slow reads and writes in certain sectors of the disk.

WD replaced the drive under warranty, and my RAID5 is humming along with 3 drives again.  Each Green drive is 2.0 TB, with the whole array being 4.0 TB.

-Jeff

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