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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:32 AM   #1
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Editing Bay redesign

This may not be the best place for this post, but I couldn't find a more appropriate thread. Please feel free to move if not.

I'm going to be designing a new editing computer, as my old machine (though functional) is starting to run a bit sluggish with the video I'm working with (DSLR from the T2i/5D)

My current configuration is something like:

2.83 quad core
8GB ram
Several 7200 rpm HDD
ATi Radeon HD4850
Adobe CS5

My first question is about Raptor 10,000RPM drives. I was thinking about getting at least one, for the primary drive that my Adobe Suite is installed on. Do you [the royal you] think it's best to have a 10,000RPM for the drive that the suite is on, or for the drive that the video files are stored on (I'm just going to assume that having raptor drives for both is best, but just assume I can only get one).

I've noticed that video card prices have dropped considerably since I bought my card (when it was brand new). Same goes for processors. Saw a 3.4 quad the other day that was under $200. My question here is this: if you could spend a high dollar amount on one or the other, which would you prefer: the video card, or the processor? In the end, I'll make sure that both are up to speed (har har) with what's current, but I'm curious as to what other people find more important.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

My priorities for CS5 and CS5.5 would be:

1. Processor, overall speed and the more cores, the better
2. RAM (amount, not necessarily rated speed)
3. GPU, must be an nVidia card able to run the GPU accleration of Mercury Playback Engine. With CS5.5 especially, more GPU cores is said to be better.

Fortunately, these days you can get all of the above for very reasonable prices so you can have your cake and eat it too. 16-24GB of RAM is recommended.

I differ with some of the computer hardware experts about the OS drive setup. A middle of the road 120GB or 128GB SSD runs silent, uses very little power, generates little heat, is much faster in both throughput and access time, and has a much greater MTBF than any single hard drive while being in the same price range as a Raptor and little more expensive than a much slower 1+TB drive that is far larger than needed to be an OS drive. An SSD won't show any real differences in render-specific benchmarks like PPBM5, but once you go SSD, you'll never go back. IMO, the Raptor is legacy hardware.

For the source file HDD's, you'll want to have a RAID setup that ensures fast sustained reads. RAID0, 3, 5. In any case, but especially with RAID0, your source files used for editing should be separate copies from your archive. Any hardware can fail (I've even had an SSD fail, despite their overall high MTBF), so multiple copies and backups are just part of the landscape.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Pete -

This is what I had looked at earlier. I imagine this is more of a base line configuration, but it's what I can afford:

128GB SDD hard drive
2x 1TB HDD
MB that supports 16GB+ RAM, PCI 2.1 video card
3.4gHz quad core, or 3.2gHz six core processor (AMD)
16GB DDR3 RAM
500+ watt power supply
GPU with HDMI > ATi Radeon HD4850

I'm curious as to why you recommend / insist on nVidia cards? I've got CS5 and my ATi card has been working decently. I've not heard that there's a difference between cards in CS5. But I can easily chalk that up to ignorance.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:15 PM   #4
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

AMD processors are well behind the power curve for video editing on Adobe software. Go with Intel Nehalem or Sandy Bridge (although SB does have some PCI lane limitations which could be a factor if you are going to use additional PCI add-in cards).

ATI graphics cards do not support CUDA acceleration in the Adobe products. You'd be missing out on one of the sweetest technologies for realtime editing. I can do multiple effects on multiple streams of different kind of HD footage in realtime on a home-built box.

I'd really not recommend the setup you've listed.

There are many threads in this forum on computer builds for the Creative Suite software that will go into more detail -- you can keyword in the Google search box at the bottom of the page. You'll see that this advice, except my preference for using an SSD for the OS drive, is pretty much universal.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:38 PM   #5
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Here is a basic list for Premiere:

GPU: $115 - Nvidia GTS 450 1GB DDR5 - DDR5 ram on the gfx card is tested to be faster than slightly more power cards with only DDR3 ram Newegg.com - EVGA 01G-P3-1452-TR GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) Superclocked 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

CPU: either i7-950 ~$270 or i7-2600k @$315 at newegg. If you have a Microcenter near you, they are always far cheaper on CPUs (i7-960 for $230 and i7-2600k for $280). The 2600k is faster and can be overclocked better but the motherboard that goes with it does not have as many higher-end features as the board that goes with the 950/960.

Ram: minimum is 12GB (3 x 4GB sticks) and DDR3-1600 so you can overclock. If you can afford it, go with the max ram (24GB for i7-950 or 16GB for i7-2600k) and DDR3-1866 or higher.

If you get the 2600k, go with this ram (DDR3-1866) so you can overclock the CPU to its max. Newegg.com - G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9Q-16GBXL

If you get the i7-950, you can get DDR3-1600 ram which is slightly cheaper Newegg.com - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL

Hard Drives: I can't say this loud enough - STAY AWAY from Velociraptors. I had 4 Raptors (prior 150GB version) die in less than 3 years and all were replaced with V-Raptors. I have had 2 V-Raptors already die and replaced. In addition, they do NOT like Intel motherboards and will randomly appear as 'Dead' even though they are ok. I have been having this issue with a client over the last 6 months where I replaced the V-Raptors 5 times and the motherboard 2 times and they keep reporting as failed after 3 days of use, after 2 weeks of use and after 2 months of use. They just randomly appear as failed. There are numerous reports on the web about these issues in addition to a "50 day" failure problem where every 50 days, the firmware causes a glitch and reports as failed.

So....I used to have 4 10k rpm Raptors in Raid 0 for the OS. When I switched to a single Intel 80GB SSD, I was blown away. This SSD made those 4 Raptors feel like they were drives from 8 years ago, ie SLOW. I now have an Intel X25 80GB SSD in every computer I use: my home editing workstation, my personal laptop, work laptop, my 12-core studio workstation and even put one in my mother's laptop. She loves the speed so much that when I bought her a new laptop for XMAS, she wouldn't use it until I put the SSD from her old laptop into the new laptop.

I have been just fine with only 80GB for the OS and Programs. Currently, I have 21.1 GB free with Master Collection CS5 and Master Collection CS5.5 installed in addition to Cinema 4D 11.5, MS Office and NukeX 6. Every couple months, I just do a Disk Cleanup and delete all but the last restore point which saves a few GBs.

However, Intel just released new SSDs with the 120GB costing around $220. Newegg.com - Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW120G3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

I only use Intel because they have the best performance over the long term without user intervention (to those who know a lot about SSDs, this statement is VERY basic because it would take too long to explain how and why Intel's garbage cleaning works better without using cleanup programs)

However, I wouldn't hesitate to use Corsair and OCZ SSDs. For the OS and Programs, the Read speed and random access time are the most important; so, don't get worry that some SSDs have much higher write speeds that some Intel SSDs.

PS Once you go SSD, you will NEVER go back.

Motherboard: I have always used ASUS.

Storage and Raid: Intel's built-in Raid on the motherboard is great and free. You can use Raid 0, Raid 1 and Raid 10 but I STRONGLY recommend to stay away from its Raid 5 because it is slower than a single drive and not as reliable. Personally, I never ever use Raid 0 for daily work-related tasks. I only use it for Media Cache and sometimes for uncompressed rendering. I use Raid 1 and Raid 10 with the Intel Raid and Raid 5 with a professional hardware Raid controller, an Areca 1680ix in my work PC and a 3ware 9750 in my home PC. Raid 5 allows one drive to fail without losing any data and you can keep working. You either have a drive designated as a Spare and the rebuild begins immediately or you swap out the bad drive with a new one and the rebuild begins. During the rebuild, you can keep working. With Raid 0, all it takes is a single drive to fail or just have a glitch and all of the data is gone. I have had both a drive failure and a drive glitch cause data loss in Raid 0 which is why I don't use it anymore for anything important. Btw, it was a Raptor that had a glitch causing me to lose 120GB of data.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 01:52 PM   #6
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Hey Pete,

What were the symptoms of your SSD starting to die? I ask because I might have one with issues as I just reinstalled Win 7 for the 3rd time onto an extra V-Raptor and everything is working so far whereas it was not fine with the SSD.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Symptom was sudden death. Would not be recognized by the BIOS at all. From posts on the various manufacturer message boards it seems that this is what most of the folks with failure report. I'll never know for sure, but since it suddenly just "wasn't there" anymore as far as the BIOS was concerned, I suspect it was a hard failure of the controller circuitry.

Preachin' to the choir:
SSDs have higher rated Mean Time Between Failure than HDDs, but any device that humans can build can also fail. So of course backups are essential for everything other than temp files. My habit for OS / Program drives is to install the OS and software, do at least a quick check to see that it appears the installations went properly, do product activations (although Adobe now does the activations automatically upon installation, which I don't really like), then do a full image backup. I make another drive image whever I make a substantial change to the software setup (especially software that uses product activation). If I get a failure like this one, I swap out the drive and restore from the latest image and press on with life. (Although in this case, I got caught in the midst of futzing around and did lose an activation. Called Adobe and they took good care of me in less than 10 minutes, start to finish).

Just like with HDDs, when you RMA an SSD, you'll almost certainly get a refurb -- not a newly manufactured drive -- as the replacement and it may or may not have as much wear life on it as your original.

BTW Steve, I echo your sentiments about the Raptors. I've had poor luck with these premium drives, so much so that I just RMA'ed one a few months ago and it sits there on the desk because I'm not excited about installing and setting it up. I don't particularly need the old Vista installation that was on it and any new build won't use a Raptor.

Maybe the current VRaptors are actually better, but I was surprised when I looked on the WD web site and they report a MTBF of 1.4M hours, which is in the ballpark with SSDs. Most HDDs have MTBF ratings around 500K hours. With the several-year old Raptors I've had, also with a 5 yr warranty as the current ones have, it sure doesn't seem like they are even that reliable. Anecdotal, of course, but there are sure a lot of us who share that sentiment.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 08:56 AM   #8
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Thank you all for your replies. I've been considering the changes, looking at prices, and weighing my options. I'm fairly sure that I'd like to go with the Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz. Which as noted above, will lead me to the 16GB RAM. Of course, doing this will require the new MB, which I'm prepared to do. The problem that I keep running up against with a local friend of mine is that he seems to think that the processor I have now is still fine for what I'm working with (T2i footage). I'm currently running the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz. Course, the board it's sitting on will only recognize 8GB RAM anyway, so no matter what, if I want to upgrade, a new board is in order. This chip isn't slow by any means, and has a 12MB cache. I'm wondering if anyone's used these two chips?

And I think it's safe to say, I'm going to pick up a SSD.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 05:11 PM   #9
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Re: Editing Bay redesign

Hi Brian,

Your chip is fast enough for very basic editing but with CS5 and up, the 64bit Adobe programs really shine with lots of ram. Even with my 12 cores and 24GB of ram, I can use all that ram by just editing multi-cam because Premiere seems to cache the video as I scrub through the timeline. In addition, just encoding from PPro thru AME constantly uses 14-16GB of ram. From the PPBM tests, Premiere and AME render/encode much faster with 4GB of ram per physical core. 24GB of ram with a 6 core chip encodes much faster than only 12GB and 48GB of ram for 12 cores is much faster than only 24GB which is why I plan to add another 24GB soon. Also, with Dynamic Link, you definitely need more than 8GB of ram. Using AE, PPro and/or Encore together uses a considerable amount of ram, and the more you have, the faster the editing and encoding occur.

With H264 footage like your T2i, you need an i7 at the minimum for a good editing experience because the CPU is responsible for decoding and H264 consumes a large amount of power to decode.

The motherboard to get is the new Z68 and I prefer ASUS.
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