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Old May 7th, 2009, 01:06 PM   #1
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HD Editing System Build

The time has come for us to finally get a stand-alone editing rig. Our XPS’ just aren’t cutting it anymore, especially cutting HD footage. We decided to build the system ourselves to get the most out of our budget. We decided to stick with Premiere Pro CS4 as it we have used it the most (all apps in Adobe Creative Suite CS4) for our projects although we considered Media Composer and FCP since we have used in the past. However, Premiere won out since we have already purchased it. Would like to get some thoughts and suggestions on some of the components we have chosen. Nothing is set in stone and with all the expertise here, it will help a TON. Budget is around $7000.00 for everything.

Case:

LIAN LI PC-A77B Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower - Apx. $280.00

Processor:

Intel Core i7 Processor Extreme Edition (3.20 Ghz) - Apx. $1000.00 (is it worth the extra $$$ over the 2.93?)
Intel Core i7 Processor (2.93 GHz) - Apx. $550.00

Motherboard and cooler:

ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel - Apx. $370.00
Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO – Apx. $80.00

RAM

CORSAIR XMS3 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $225.00

Power Supply

CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W ATX12V 2.2 - Apx. $200.00

Disks:

Now here is where I need the help as I am not any expert my any means on RAID drives. Here is what we would like. The C: drive running OS and apps is fine with the WD VelociRaptor. Then we would like the D: drive to be the “video drive” where all project files are. Would like it be something like 7-10 TB all RAID? Then the E: drive for all audio, photos and misc. (1TB). I listed the RAID card because I assume we need? After all projects are completed, we usually move to external drives for storage.

WD VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS 300GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" - Apx. $230.00 (OS & Apps)
7-10 x WD Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb - Apx. $99.00 each (Raid 0)
Areca ARC-1680IX-12-2G PCI-Express x8 SAS RAID Card - Apx. $950.00

Burners:

Pioneer Black 8X Blu-Ray DVD Burner BDR-203BKS - Apx. $210.00
LG Black BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Combo DVD±R DVD Burner - Apx. $149.00

Monitors:
Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP - Apx. $480.00
Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP - Apx. $480.00

We already own the Panasonic BT-LH1760 17" HD LCD Monitor that we use as a reference monitor and in the field.

GPU
Again, here is where we will need some suggestions. I know there is much debate about hardware acceleration. I have read a bunch of people like the NVIDIA Quadro CX but for $1700+, is it worth it? For our setup with the 2 Dell’s and Panny, is that the way to go?

And lastly, just for more debate, any thoughts on us getting the $1200.00 Matrox RT.X2. How beneficial to us in our HD editing. I know this is a long post but we really value the input we get here. Fire away and THANKS!!!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 06:47 PM   #2
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I have the same motherboard and ram but I went with the I7 920 and saved myself the cash and just overclocked it. It went to 3.57 GHz and it brought the ram up to 1700 MHz without raisiing the stock voltages and you can save $700. I think the ram would have gone higher but it seems to be limited by the board. I heard that this may be addressed in an upcoming bios update. At any rate, it's very fast.

I set up a raid 0 with two 1TB drives and used the onboard raid. Works great for me and no extra card to buy and they can keep up with the velociraptor. I only keep current project files on this drive and don't come close to ever wanting more room. I couldn't sleep at night thinking I had 5TB or more of important data on a raid. Obviously if your projects required that amount of space it would be necessary, if not save the cash and offload/backup finished products from this drive more often. Also there is another $700 for the drives and $950 for the card you would be able to shave off the bill.

I also have the RT.X2 and for CS3 it was great. For CS4 the work flow has changed and there are no more Matrox only projects, they are "blended". Presently acceleration is only with Matrox avi files. There is no acceletated .264/BluRay support in this release either. I questioned Matrox about this and they were unclear as to whether this would be added in the future. When I asked about BluRay/.264 support they did mention a new Matrox acceletator card will be available in the summer for around $500 that will do 264/BluRay acceleration but didn't commit to whether I would have to buy this new board to get those features again. They did refer me to that area of their web site.

I would wait on the RT.X2 until after the announced Adobe release later this month and see where Matrox ends up to make that decision.

That leads to you GPU question. The Open GL of the new cards is utilized quite well in CS4. With the GTX 260 being ceritfied by adobe it's a hard justify the extra cash for the Quadro. I went with a GTX 285 and it runs with both the Matrox RT.X2 and adobe and I am very happy with it. I believe the 4800 CX is pretty close to the Quadro CX performance wise but you get the accelerated 264 in the Quadro for an extra $1000.

I think a good combination may be the new Matrox card when it is released and a 200 series Nvidia card that could be had for around $800.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #3
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My two cents (having built a few edit systems). If you plan on overclocking, go with liquid cooling for maximum performance and stability. There are some great kits available that make this quite easy. For air-cooled machines, you should take a look at Antec 1200 case, which will easily keep the air circulating and give you plenty of room for drives and graphic cards. If you're thinking of making this compatible with an RTX.2 card, check the Matrox site for compatibility with the mobo/graphic card. I believe your choices are safe (but perhaps overkill on the mobo). An Asus P6T deluxe will save you a bit of cash and is RTX.2 certified.

I wouldn't go for a bleeding edge Core i7, get the one below and save a bundle. Overclocking (mildly) will give you the performance and stability that is crucial in an edit system.

By the way, I just read that Intel is discontinuing the Core i7 series chips. Quite quickly, I might add. TG Daily - Intel phasing out another Nehalem processor
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Old May 8th, 2009, 03:33 AM   #4
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Bill,

Recently I posted my configuration here. You must have read it, because your choice is nearly identical to my system. Same case, same cooler, same raid controller, same amount of RAM, same boot disk, same PSU, etc. Excellent case BTW. It fits 18 disks and 2 burners without difficulty.

If you like to consider some alternatives, consider the i7-920, which is far cheaper but runs quite stable @ 3.6 GHz. Add at least 2 GB ECC cache to the 1680iX and add a battery backup module. For the disk configuration I use 2 disks in raid0 on the Marvell chip and 12 disks on the Areca in raid30, plus two separate disks for exports. I use the ATI 4870 video card. I have chosen 2 LG GGW-H20L blu-ray burners.

See the picture below for details.

You can't go wrong with the choice you made IMO.
Attached Thumbnails
HD Editing System Build-pcresults.jpg  

Last edited by Harm Millaard; May 8th, 2009 at 04:38 AM.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 10:06 AM   #5
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Bill,

I forgot to answer your two last questions. IMO the Quadro CX is not worth the money, either a ATI 48xx or a nVidia 28x will be just as good and far cheaper. If there is any difference in performance it will be negligent, unless you are doing a lot of H.264 encoding. That is where the benefit of the CX is supposed to lay.

Matrox will never make it into any of my systems again. Too much hassle, too many bugs, too many crashes and not nearly enough gains. Matrox may work up to a limit, but only in approved hardware configurations, and the one you are contemplating is not on their list, for the simple reason it is too advanced and new. If you want Matrox, you better get the exact hardware that they publish or you may be in for a lot of trouble. This of course means that your hardware configuration will be about two years old and offer far less performance than what you have in mind. My advise is to steer clear from anything Matrox.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #6
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Agreed with Harm on Matrox. Don`t buy it.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oren Arieli View Post
By the way, I just read that Intel is discontinuing the Core i7 series chips. Quite quickly, I might add. TG Daily - Intel phasing out another Nehalem processor
Now that is interesting. Thanks Oren. I better get mine soon :-) And thanks for the suggestions. I am probably going to get the i7 920 ($280) vs 940 ($560). It's basically the same processor for double the money...except one is 2.66 and the other at 2.93. Everyone is right, with a mild overclock, 3.66 is achievable and stable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harm Millaard View Post
Recently I posted my configuration here. You must have read it, because your choice is nearly identical to my system. Same case, same cooler, same raid controller, same amount of RAM, same boot disk, same PSU, etc. Excellent case BTW. It fits 18 disks and 2 burners without difficulty.
Thanks Harm...actually while I was going all my searching all over the net, I did come across your configuration (which is pretty sick by the way) but you would be suprised that a lot of rigs out there have a good number of the same components you chose. You did your homework well. I compiled a huge list of what worked well for people and what didn't and pretty much came up with my list. Not final by any means, just a good starting point.

I knew with Matrox, the opinions go both ways. Some love it and some hate it. Using CS4, it seems my options are pretty limited right now in regards to Matrox so it may be a mute point. I don't know how many users are out here using CS4 and looking for the same solution but Matrox isn't an option. I am all ears for suggestions.

Thanks for everyone pitching in to offer their thoughts. My list is getting narrowed and more final by the day thanks to all of you. I will be posting and update to some of my final picks and Harm - that RAID system you have chugging is so sick. That is some serious space and serious faith. However, I think I may just be using a couple RAID 0's for video and another 1TB for audio/photos/misc. and then of course the VelociRaptor for OS/apps. Then I can save another 950 on the RAID card and put it into something else :-)
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:36 PM   #8
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Interesting. It isn't totally new info as there was some buzz a month or two ago about the 965 being discontinued as the D0 stepping chips (i975, i950, and i920-D0) replace them. The D0 step chips are supposed to run cooler and overclock even better.

I was finally ready to pull the trigger and build an i7 system a few weeks ago and then found out that Fry's was in "while supplies last" mode with the 965, and my local area was already out of them. So I decided to wait for the D0 and spring for a 975 when they are released, supposedly some time this month. But I must say, things have gone eerily silent in the past few weeks. No more buzz until this short article. So now I wonder if rather than just replacing the C0 step chips with D0, Intel hasn't tweaked its short term roadmap?
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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Schoaf View Post
I did come across your configuration (which is pretty sick by the way)

Harm - that RAID system you have chugging is so sick. That is some serious space and serious faith.
What do you mean sick? It is in good health and hopefully it will remain in good health. No, seriously, I know I should for safety reasons reduce the raid to 2 x 5 disks and add two hot spares, one to each raid3, but how great is the chance that you have two disks fail at the same time? I personally think that the disastrous effects from a disk failure are more severe in a non-raided system, than when you have some recovery options. Admitted, the chance of failure with 6 disks in a raid is 6 times larger than with a single disk, but I console myself with the idea that before a second disk in that same array fails, I can replace the faulty disk with no harm done. That in contrast to a single disk, where a failure is devastating.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 04:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Harm Millaard View Post
What do you mean sick?.
Sorry Harm, I meant SICK as in (slang) Very good, excellent, awesome. :-)
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Old May 12th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #11
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HD Edit System Options

Hello Bill,

You selected some great hardware from a variety of well respected manufacturers.
There are some alternatives to the choices presented that may offer better performance, functionality and value for video editing depending on your requirements.

>LIAN LI PC-A77B Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower - Apx. $280.00

Lian Li makes some great cases but its not clear what your functional requirements for the full tower case are. Full tower ATX cases start around $80 and go up to about $600. Ultimately, a lot of subjective factors go into case selection. However, if you share some of your functional requirements ( cooling, number of internal drive bays, hot swappable drives, etc) it might be easier for myself and others to offer some less expensive alternatives on the case.

> Processor: [i7 extreme at $1000 or i7 940 at $540]

If you decide on an i7 Processor there seems to be widespread consensus that a modestly over clocked I7 920 represents a much better value than the i7 extreme or i7 940.

The Dual Intel Xeon 5500 Series “Nehalem” CPUs are also an option depending on your requirements. More info is available on the Xeon 5500 series at: http://www.intel.com/Assets/PDF/prodbrief/xeon-5500.pdf Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series

>Motherboard and cooler: [ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution $370 & Noctua NH-U12P $80.00]

The current crop of i7 motherboards retail from around $180 to about $450.

The ASUS P6T6 WS that you mentioned generally gets very good reviews.
One of the selection criteria that affect the price is how many PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots are available. If you will realistically only purchase one PCI-E 2.0 x16 video card for use in the system, the benefits of extra slots that are likely to sit empty for the useful life of the machine are limited. In that case there are less expensive alternatives to the Asus P6T6 that will deliver similar functionality.

On the other hand, if you plan to use some flavor of SLI, Crossfire, or take advantage of other GPU technologies (ie Nvidia Tesla) the spacing and number of PCI-E 2.0 x 16 slots might influence you to consider the newly announced ASUS P6T7 as an alternative to the P6T6 WS. ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

The Noctua NH-U12P generally gets very positive reviews online. There are alternatives like the OCZ Vendetta 2 where some of the benchmarks indicate it may do a better job of cooling and be less expensive than the Noctua that you mentioned.

There seem to be a few zillion review sites that have opinions on cooling fans. One of the more in-depth ones with helpful information is at Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 - Q1 2009 | Best CPU Cooler,Best CPU Cooler Performance,Intel Core i7 LGA1366,Best CPU Cooler Performance Benchmark Testing for Intel Core i7 LGA1366 X58 Platform - Q1 2009 | Benchmark Reviews Performance Tests

>RAM CORSAIR XMS3 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $225.00

The performance gains from the faster memory here are modest. You may want to consider some additional factors in selecting RAM.

First, other reliable vendors offer similar RAM for less than the $225 listed. The price differences may not be huge ($50 give or take) but you may find it worthwhile to check a few more sources and vendors including the DVinfo sponsored crowd. The product descriptions and pricing you cited appear to be from Newegg. I think you will find other less expensive options from NewEgg that will deliver similar functionality.

Second, you may find it worthwhile to revisit the ASUS “QVL” tab on the ASUS website for the motherboard you are considering. The QVL is ASUS speak for qualified memory vendor list. Memory that is not on the QVL list for a given product will often work. On occasion, non-qualified memory introduces some quirky instabilities in your system that can be difficult to diagnose.

The memory you listed above is not on the QVL list for that ASUS motherboard – its worth taking a fresh look at the memory choices ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

>Power Supply CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W ATX12V 2.2 - Apx. $200.00

The Corsair 1000HX series has become reasonably popular and generally gets good online reviews. One of the factors to consider is would you be equally well served by a less expensive 750w or 850w unit. A few months back, Anandtech ran a good article on demystifying some of the common power supply myths. You may find it helpful to run thru that article and do a rough estimate on your power supply requirements before purchasing a 1000w Corsair HX. AnandTech: Debunking Power Supply Myths

>Disks: [OS and apps WD VelociRaptor 300GB $230, Video WD Caviar 1TB Sata $99, Areca Raid Card $950]

The WD VelociRaptor is a popular choice for boot drive and apps. The performance benefits of the VelociRaptor are reasonably well documented. A question to consider is how big does the boot drive really need to be. A full install of Vista 64 bit or Windows 7 RC and your favorite video apps is unlikely to exceed 100 GB.

After totaling a realistic number for how big your boot disk needs to be with some modest expansion – you may want to consider doing a 15000 RPM SAS boot drive instead of the VelociRaptor. The motherboard you are considering supports 2 SAS drives on the Marvell 88SE6320 SAS controller.

The 1TB WD Caviar drives are currently an excellent value for price performance and capacity. Harm and others on the DVinfo site have put together some very cool video editing systems which included the Areca Raid Card.

Like every other system component , there are lots of choices when it comes to RAID cards. Areca is popular and there are also some alternatives at different price/performance points from well respected companies like Adaptec and LSI.

Since the motherboard you are considering already supports 6 sata drives and a basic raid setup, I would definitely encourage you to explore the basic raid setup first before you invest $950 in a dedicated RAID card. Once you experiment with the onboard raid options, you will then be better able to determine if the additional performance and functionality that a dedicated RAID card provides is worthwhile.

In general, now is not a great time to purchase a current generation RAID card. Most of the major RAID vendors are in the process of developing and releasing new models in support of the SAS II 6Gbs standard.

As more of these SAS II models hit the market, you are likely to see substantial price drops in the current crop of RAID controllers.

Many of the new controllers are based on the new PMC Sierra “Raid on a chip” chipset. PM8010 maxSAS SRC 8x6G PCI Express 2.0 8-Port SAS-2 RAID Controller

>Burners: Pioneer Black 8X Blu-Ray DVD Burner BDR-203BKS - Apx. $210.00
>LG Black BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA DVD Burner - Apx. $149.00

The Pioneer 8x Blu-Ray burner is a great price performance value compared to the other 8x blu-ray burners currently available. To set realistic expectations, you wont see 8x blu-ray media any time soon. Its still somewhat of a challenge to find 6x blank blu-ray media in the US.

A more detailed review of the Pioneer BDR-203BKS is available at Pioneer BDR-203BK Blu ray burner review on CD Freaks.com - Reviews- Introduction

Its not as clear what tasks you were considering for the LG BD-ROM for $140.

>Monitors: Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP - Apx. $480.00

The Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP generally gets good online reviews but there are also a vocal minority number of users who had significant problems with this monitor – most of the complaints seemed centered around the early builds (revision A00) of this monitor.

Its not clear that the subsequent revisions (A01) have authoritatively addressed those issues.

Before you make a final decision on the monitor, you may find it helpful to review which characteristics of the three major LCD panel types are important to you.
The main types are : In-plane switching (S-IPS/H-IPS) for high end image quality and color accuracy; Vertical alignment (S-PVA/MVA) for middle end color reproduction ; and TN (twisted nematic) widely used and relatively inexpensive.

A decent summary of the panel types is at LCD Panel Technology Explained - S-IPS, S-PVA, MVA and TN

>GPU … the NVIDIA Quadro CX but for $1700+, is it worth it?

The Quadro CX is an exceptional video card that delivers measurable benefits to some users. The source of the marketing claims for the CX comes straight from NVIDIA where they basically claim a 4x increase in H.264 encoding performance. 4X faster H.264 Video Encoding

The CX is actively marketed to Adobe CS4 users where various benefits are claimed for performance increases in Adobe Premier, After Effects, and Photoshop.

Some review sites have begun to address the issue of your question – is the CX worth it? Test Drive: Nvidia Quadro CX and Adobe CS4, Part 2

For now, one of the featured added benefits of the Quadro CX are enabled by a plugin for the Adobe Media Encoder called RapiHD from Elemental Technologies. There is a sample file that you can download and a test case they present may help you decide if the Quadro CX is worth it or not RapiHD? Accelerator Test Case One | RapiHD

Some users are reasonably irked by the current marketing “carrot” that the RapiHD plug in is only available with the Quadro CX. Since the Nvida CUDA GPU acceleration benefits are available on other far less expensive cards, you need to be sure that the benefits of the RapiHD plugin/accelerated encoding are worthwhile to you.

There are other “CUDA” aware encoders out there that claim to accelerate the encoding process and do NOT require a Quadro CX card.
Some of those encoders include:

Tmpgnc TMPGEnc - Products: TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress Product Information,
Nero Move It : Nero - Nero Move it Nvidia CUDA Integration
Badaboom : badaboomit.com
Super LolioScope : LoiLo inc

The applications generally will work with other non-CX Nvida cards like the Nvidia GTX 295 , etc. Depending on your requirements, you may be better off with a $500 GTX 295 instead of the $1700 Quadro CX.

Hopefully some of the links provided will help you decide if it is really worth the extra $1200 to go to a Quadro CX.

--Christopher Jensen
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Old May 13th, 2009, 04:42 AM   #12
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Christopher,

Thank you for the extensive info and very informative links in your post. Well put together and clearly presented. This post may well be considered "obligatory reading" for anyone who is considering a new system.

Last edited by Harm Millaard; May 13th, 2009 at 11:19 AM.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #13
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Amen, can we make this 'sticky', at least until it's outdated (6 months?).
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Old May 13th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #14
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Christopher, as Harm mentioned, that is an OUTSTANDING and very informative post. I can't thank you - and all the members who responded - enough for all the detail you provided. I actually am going through each component and breaking it down but what our needs are and based on what I think (and you mentioned) the three important aspects - performance, functionality and value. When I orignally posted the list, it was more of a starting point. Yes I did post most of the $$$ from newegg but more to list a general price. By no means did I mean it as a place I would get everything/anything from. Just a quick reference. I plan on updating my list for our needs based on suggestions and I'll repost. Thanks again and I hope this thread does help others who plan on considering building a rig. It really helps tremendously.
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