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Old April 15th, 2008, 12:31 PM   #1
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Help on specs for a new Dell Workstation.

I am going to upgrade my video editing computer because I have out grown my 4 year old Dell 350 work station.

I am going to go with either a Dell 690 or T5400. I am set on processor speed, memory etc. but I need advice on hard drives. I have my mass files on external hard drives of 500GB and 1TB. I import them into the computer for editing and then move them back to the external drives when I am finished. This works well for me and I see no reason to change the way I do it.

My current computer is all SCSI with a 10K RPM 36GB C:drive and a 15K RPM 73GB D: drive for the active files. It works well but is it overkill as far as hard drive speed is concerned?

I edit with Sony Movie Studio+DVD. I edit simple projects with limited special effects. Presently I am editing SD format but I think I will start into some HDV shortly.

Can I live with 7,200 RPM SATA or SATA II drives. Or should I go with the 10K RPM versions of those drives?

Any advice is appreciated.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 06:19 AM   #2
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1. Upgrade to the full version of Sony Vegas. Newer versions are faster and the best performance upgrade for the cost.

2. Get the fastest quad-core processor available. HDV can bring the fastest computer to its knees.

3. You say you aren't doing special effects and only simple editing. If you are not doing 3D rendering, you shouldn't need an expensive Quadro card unless you know of a specific capability not present in the regular cards. Except in a few select applications, video editing is all done in the CPU.

Modern SATA drives are more than fast enough for DV/HDV. It is recommended that you get a system with three drives so you can have a system drive, source drive, and render drive. There is nothing bad about SCSI but the price per storage capacity so you can still use your current drives assuming you have a SCSI card or controller in your new system. Perhaps the SCSI would make a nice system drive for fast bootup.

Considering that you are successfully working with the relatively slow speed of external drives, you shouldn't have any trouble with a SATA system. SATA drives are faster than any USB or IEEE1394/firewire connection.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #3
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Here are a couple of Dell computers that I could purchase from them. They are holding both at present. The only thing the computer I am purchasing will do is Edit Video and upload it to servers. That is it. No word processing, no email, no computer graphics etc.


Computer#1

Precision T5400 This is a dual processor computer i. e. Two Quad Core 2GHz

Precision Workstation T5400 Mini-Tower: Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor E5405 (2.00GHz,2X6M L2,1333)
Genuine Windows XP Pro


Operating System
Genuine Windows XP Pro

Memory
4 GB DDR ECC SDRAM 667MHz Dual Ranked (4 DIMMs)


Floppy Drive AND Dell 19 in 1 USB Media Card Reader

Hard Disk Drive
250 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)

Video
256MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX570, Dual Monitor DVI Capable

Sound Card
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic, w/Dolby Digital 5.1

Media Bay
16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability


Base
Precision Workstation T5400 Mini-Tower: Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor E5405 (2.00GHz,2X6M L2,1333)


Hardware Upgrade
Dell Enhanced Multimedia USB Keyboard
No Bezel
Hardware is Microsoft Vista Capable
USB Optical two button mouse

I would have to add one or two more SATA hard drives to Computer #1. I would also have to add one or two 1394 cards to computer #1.
Dell says that the (two ) 2GHz processors are as fast or faster than one 3GHz processor.

Computer #2

Or this one which is a T3400.

1. 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive

2. XC212 1394 Controller Card

3. JR503 16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability

4. CU015 16X DVD ROM Drive

5. GU532 300 GB SAS Hard Drive 3.5 in(15K RPM)

6. GU533 300 GB SAS Hard Drive 3.5 in(15K RPM) 2nd Drive

7. XK628 4 GB DDR2 ECC SDRAM 800MHz Dual Ranked (2 DIMMs)

8. RU216 512MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX1700, Dual Monitor DVI Cable

9. WJ949 Assembly Cable

10. XT667 C17 Cable

11. WJ948 Dell Enhanced Multimedia USB Keyboard

12. T7086 Genuine Windows XP Pro

13. WK527 Google Software

14. KJ999 Hardware is Microsoft Vista Capable

15. JC529 Internal Speaker

16. CT505 Label

17. NJ249 Mini-Tower Chassis Configuration w/ 1394 Card

18. JC663 Operating System Label

19. H7658 Operating System Software CD

20. NP418 Power DVD Software CD

21. TU572 PowerDVD Software

22. TK429 Precision Workstation T3400 Mini-Tower: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3.00GHz/1333MHz/2X4MB L2) 375W

23. TT697 Resource CD

24. XM894 Roxio Creator DE

25. JR082 SAS 6/iR Controller with RAID 0 or 1

26. RH888 Shipping Material

27. RK033 Software

28. WW456 USB Premium Optical 5-Button Mouse

I have a 73GB 15K RPM SCSI that I could add to this computer as the C: drive and then use the two 300GB drives as source and destination. This looks to be faster because the memory is faster and the drives are as well.

Any comments?
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Old April 16th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #4
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An alternative thought - I have been looking for a pure editing machine from both Dell & HP, then ran across the Videoguys site (a DVI sponsor) and an article on their DIY (do it yourself) pc's. Just so happens they have a current configuration now, DIY 6. I am taking that route, and it seems will wind up with much more machine, in a custom configuration, for the same money or less than the "one size fits all" variety. Clearly you do not have to go for the quad-core, etc, but can tailor to your specific preferences. Here is a link to the article,. http://www.videoguys.com/DIY6.html

Hope this helps. Best of luck.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 09:48 PM   #5
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I appreciate the information, but I am planning to stay with Dell. I have an account with them. Also, they will be there if I need service on the computer.

I currently have four other Dell computers (a 420 workstation I use for still photos; Two M60 Workstation laptops for stills; and the 350 Workstation that is currently my video editing computer), and all have worked well for me.

I tend to buy their refurbished computers as they are as good as new, and the guarantee is the same.

They are holding the two I describe for me. They are not on the Dell site. FYI; to build computer number 2 it would retail from Dell for $4,100.00. I can purchase it for $2,200.00. I think that is a pretty good deal.

I am sure that either one of the computers I am contemplating will work, but I am trying to determine which of the pair is the faster/better computer for what I am doing. I am not a techie; so I am relying on other members here for advice on the techincal merrits of the two systems.

I have over 40 hours of video edited. Much of it needs to be rendered and then uploaded. So a fast render and upload is important.

Last edited by Michael Dunn; April 16th, 2008 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Fix Typo
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Old April 17th, 2008, 06:19 AM   #6
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Double check that Sony Vegas (do the software upgrade) will use 8 cores and maybe the Xeon system will be the best. Vegas is almost twice as fast on 4 cores as it is on 2 cores (I tested it) and 8 cores would be very nice if it worked. That 3GHz chip is supposedly 375Watts?! That is more juice than I would want to run through my editing machine's only processor. Maybe you have good air conditioning and it isn't an issue.

It's too bad the Xeon upgrade is so expensive to get more than 2GHz considering a 2.4GHz core2quad is so cheap. Regardless, the 2GHz should be fine for you even though I went a different way to save money by building my own machine. If you get the same performance benefit I got by doubling processor cores, Vegas will actually be faster on the Xeon 2GHz system than a faster single cpu system.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:52 AM   #7
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Dell delivers reasonably priced system, that offer value for money, ONLY if you use standard configurations. As soon as you choose ANY options, such as more memory, an additional hard disk, a better video card, etc. they steal you blind. You can build a custom made PC for far less than Dell with better specs. Also Dell does not deliver any top notch systems, they only supply run-of-the-mill systems. If you want (b)leading edge performance, look elsewhere.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 08:47 AM   #8
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Here is the information I need.

I want an evaluation of these two systems. I do basic editing of video clips. Most of the trasnstions are simple dissolves. Occassionally I do a page turn or some similar transition. I have to render the clips to MPEG1 or WMV and then upload them to my clients servers.

The only graphics I do is simple title work. I will never do anything beyond that. I will never do 3D graphics.

The biggest thing I need is render speed. My Dell 350 is fast enough in the editing process. It falls on it's nose in the render dept.

Do I need SAS drives or will SATA be sufficient?

The next thing I need is the ability of the computer to upload. I have the highest speed upload that I can get from Comcast Cable. My Dell 350 with 1 Gig of Ram is pushed to the limit to stay up with the upload and I get drop outs and damaged uploads.

I do not want the computer that your uncle Fred makes in his back room. I want a Dell that is it. Please do not offer advice on someones custom box. I am not into "My computer is faster than yours!" I am not a techie. If I have a problem I want to be able to pick up the phone and have a Dell tech fix it.

I am primarily a producer and director. I have been in the movie/video business since 1969. I learned to edit on an upright Movieola (that's film; 16mm & 35mm). I spent thousands of hours in Video Edit suites as a director. I worked with editors on the earliest versions of Avid. I know how to edit. I had to learn the basics of computer based editing. I can do the basics and that is all I need at this time.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 01:27 PM   #9
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Hi Michael,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Dunn View Post
[snip]
Do I need SAS drives or will SATA be sufficient?

[snip]

I am not a techie. If I have a problem I want to be able to pick up the phone and have a Dell tech fix it.
[snap]
SATAII drives should be faster than your SCSI's. They should be all you need.

There is a "but", however. Not all SATA drives are as fast, and you just don't know exactly what DELL puts into your workstation.

However your needs by "todays standards" are fairly low, even when going into HDV. The drives won't hold up your rendering times.

Therefore you should ask your DELL representative if what they're offering is suitable for your purpose. That way you can hold them to it.

If scrounged up to recent threads in DVinfo for you relating to harddrive choise/performance. There are a few more...

The end of the 10k Raptor
SCSI vs SATA

George/

P.S. I do agree with you on sticking to a branded solution, although I'm no DELL fan.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #10
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Thanks for the information.

I have been working with a rep from Dell and he goes into the refurbished inventory and looks around before it gets posted for sale.

Here is what I have on hold pending getting a check to them. It looks pretty good. It is a T7400 so it can hold two more hard drives if I need them for in machine storage or hard drive speed. It is a dual quad core processor computer with dual 512 MB graphics cards.

I think this dog will hunt

1. FT734 160 GB SATA 3.0Gb/s and 8MB DataBurst Cache

2. WW990 160 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) 2nd Drive

3. TW695 16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability

4. GM879 4 GB ECC SDRAM 667MHz Dual Ranked (4 DIMMs)

5. WP167 Additional Processor: Quad Core Intel Xeon E5410, 2x6MB Cache, 2.33GHz, 1333MHz FSB

6. RU725 C9 ALL SATA HDS,RAID 1,2 HDDS

7. FJ023 Chassis Stand

8. RU218 Dual 512MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 1700, Dual Monitor DVI Cable

9. T7086 Genuine Windows XP Pro

10. WK527 Google Software

11. FJ092 No Floppy Drive

12. 54981 No Speakers

13. JC663 Operating System Label

14. H7658 Operating System Software CD

15. NP418 Power DVD Software CD

16. TU572 PowerDVD Software

17. XR816 Precision Workstation T7400 Tower: Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor E5410 (2.33GHz,2X6M L2,1333)

18. RJ610 Processor Label

19. XM894 Roxio Creator DE

20. TG650 Shipping Material

21. RK033 Software

22. PW128 Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic, w/Dolby Digital 5.1

23. CJ120 USB 2 Button Mouse

24. CJ728 USB Keyboard

25. DJ513 USB Keyboard
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Old April 21st, 2008, 04:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Dunn View Post
I have been working with a rep from Dell and he goes into the refurbished inventory and looks around before it gets posted for sale.

Here is what I have on hold pending getting a check to them.
[SNIP]
Hi Michael,

I see that the "I'll get you a special deal before it's available to anyone else" tactic still works. Apart from returns there should be no 'refurbished' stock at DELL for any new platform (which this is) and they wouldn't reconfigure it to your specs (won't fit in with their support system).

Anyhoo... The system seems to be will spec'd and should be fine for editing. It's always nice that DELL specifies which labels they will stick on your box ;)

Regards,
George/
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Old July 3rd, 2008, 10:19 PM   #12
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Hey Michael,

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that swears by the Dell Outlet! I'm not as well connected where I was able to find someone to pull stock for me but after several days of waiting I was able to pull a T5400 with Dual 5410 Xeon's, 8 G's Ram, 1 250G SATA drive, 2 DVD drives (1 burner, 1 reader only) and a nice feature, both XP and Vista licenses so I can upgrade when ready.

I already had a Matrox RT.X2, 2 750G Enterprise Class WD drives, a promise Raid Controller and a new MSI Radeon 3870 X2, when this system is all put together after this weekend, it should be a screamer!

And you're very much right, the Dell discount from the main site to the outlet is 50%, so this spec'd at almost 4k and with a corporate discount I was actually able to get it for less than 1800.

Miguel

As Built:

Quantity Item Number Description
1 XR919 Base,Link,XEON Dual Processor Harpertown,E5410,T5400
1 3E476 Information,Equipment
1 CJ728 Module,Palmrest,Keyboard Entry,NMB,Black
1 CU015 Module,Digital Video Disk Drive,16X,Serial Ata,Half Height,PWS,HLDS
1 CU033 Module,Mouse,2BTN,Optical Logitech,Precision Workstation
1 DJ513 Module,Keyboard,104,United States,Liteon,Precision Workstation,Black
1 F382D Module,Software,Powerdvd 8.0-00,Digital Video Disk Drive
1 FJ026 Module,Bezel,Removable,1394 Medium Tower,Precision Workstation,490
1 FJ087 Module,Speaker,1W,Link,Lead Free
1 G160C Module,Label,Intel,Desktop Xeon,Update
1 G974F Module,Software,VB32SP1 Digital Video Disk Drive,MUL5 Dao/bcc
1 GM879 Module,Dual In Line Memory Module,8G,8X1G,667,2R,Error Correction Code
1 GR898 Module,Hard Drive,250G,S2,#1R Unleaded,Seagate-GLX
1 H7658 Module,Software,Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2,CD,English DAO/BCC
1 JR503 Module,Dvd+/-rw,Serial Ata Second,Precision Workstation Hitachi Lg Data Storage
1 M4821 Module,Info,No RSD,Cross Linesof Business
1 MJ941 Module,Information,NO-BZL Medium Tower,Precision Workstation,490
1 PK738 Module,Software,WXPPSP2, Precision Workstations,EnglishDell Americas Organization
1 PT139 Module,Cable,Power,Serial ATA Optica,Link,Precision Workstation
1 RG703 Ship Group,PWS490,United States,North,AMF
1 RN527 Module,Card (circuit) Graphics,ULGA8,Lead Free Digital Video Interface
1 TY268 Module,Information,C1,Serial Ata,Non Raid,1HD,T5400
1 WK527 Module,Software,Google,Search Business
1 WP119 Module,Processor,Second,XDH E5410,Precision Workstation T540
1 WX290 Module,Label,Vista,Downgrade Premium,Optiplex,Precision WorkStations
1 WY479 Module,Software,VB32/64 Certificate Of Authenticity Downgrade
1 XM894 Module,Software,Roxio,Creator Dell Edition,9.0,Relationship Line Of Business
1 YU112 Module,Software,Quick Fix Engineering,WXPPSP2,Precision Workstation
1 984-1302 Basic Support: Next Business Day Parts and Labor Onsite Response 2 Year Extended
1 984-7940 Basic Support: Next Business Day Parts and Labor Onsite Response Initial Year
1 988-8358 Dell Hardware Warranty Plus Onsite Service Extended Year(s)
1 988-8347 Dell Hardware Warranty Plus Onsite Service Initial Year
1 3E476 Information,Equipment
__________________
Miguel Lombana
http://www.miguellombana.com & http://www.phoenixhamradio.com

Last edited by Miguel Lombana; July 3rd, 2008 at 10:20 PM. Reason: Type Correction
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Old December 12th, 2008, 08:16 AM   #13
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You've probably already bought your machine - but I would add, make sure you have extra PCI express x 16 slots available!
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Old December 12th, 2008, 10:06 PM   #14
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The only item that stands out from my view point is the video board..... I've got the same
Dell workstation and it does work great but I'm using a Nvidia Quad 3500 and I wouldn't mind having more power there...

I wish I had firewire 800 ( probably add later )

I have a DVD read/write and a Blu ray read/write. seems to work very well so far....

I also have the 320gb 10K rpm drives (2)... very fast and quiet. Wouldn't mind a fast
raid setup but I'm not versed in that technology yet.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 01:26 PM   #15
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It is good to hear that some people have been happy with Dell. I had given up on them after the quality of the components seemed to go down and a few frustrating calls to overseas tech support.

Now you can pay Dell extra to get tech support from someone in the US.

Dear Dell: Customer service should be free | The Digital Home - CNET News

I may take another look at them. Do you have to know someone on the inside to find your component specs? On the web site it just says 4X Blu-ray, but does not specify what brand.
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