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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:46 AM   #1
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PC Specs for XH-A1 editing

Hi. I'm looking at getting a new computer and was seriously considering buying a mac until I realized how much I would be spending (and that any hardware I wanted would have to be purchased when I bought the mac) on memory and everything, and now am looking at getting a PC. Are the following specs going to provide optimal performance for my HD needs?


Built-in 1 Terabyte hard drive with Bluray
HP Pavilion Elite M9360F(KQ499AA) Core 2 Quad Q9300(2.50GHz) 8GB DDR2 1000GB NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit - Retail

* Recommended Usage: Media Center / HTPC
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300(2.50GHz)
* Processor Main Features: 64 bit Quad-Core Processor
* Cache Per Processor: 6MB L2 Cache
* Memory: 8GB DDR2 800
* Hard Drive: 1TB (2 x 500GB) SATA 7200RPM
* Optical Drive 1: Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner with LightScribe Technology drive
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT graphics card with 512MB dedicated video memory, and support for Microsoft DirectX 10. Up to 2303MB total Available Graphics Memory as allocated by Windows Vista

Please advise with any ideas and/or upgrades I should look at. Am I wrong by thinking it won't be possible to upgrade a mac to my needs after purchasing??

Thanks for your help. I love reading your posts.

Will Ryan
williamjamesryan@hotmail.com
Juneau, AK
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Old August 26th, 2008, 06:01 AM   #2
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That PC is more than capable of HDV editing, although you may want to look into a RAID array for your video data. If I were purchasing it, I would add another smaller hard drive for the OS and use the 2x500 GB drives in a striped array for maximum performance. The performance benefits that come with separate physical drives is well worth the cost. The graphics card is overkill, but it is very good.

Have you looked at the HP XW workstations? The cost may be a bit higher, but the components are better and they can customize it more to your needs. You'll also get better support.

If you do go with the Pavillion, make sure you also get a REAL windows disc, not a "system restore" disc. You need to explicitly tell the sales rep you want one. First thing you'll want to do with the Pavillion is reformat the drives and re-install Windows to get rid of all the useless software they load it up with.
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Last edited by Ken Wozniak; August 26th, 2008 at 08:09 AM.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #3
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I'm buying from Newegg.com (trusted, right?) And I'm just now getting into computer lingo, so please stick with me/help me out.

So- 1) Make sure I'm getting a "real" windows cd, not system restore

2) Purchase smaller hard drive for the operating system? (Help...?)

As far as the components are concerned, I'm hoping that I can upgrade as needed in the future (that's why I'm buying a PC, not a mac, right? Please tell me I'm right...) and this combo is looking allright at the moment. I looked at some of the XW's, but the bang for this buck sounds about right.

And the RAID configuration is another thing I can do post-purchasing? Should I just buy a couple extra external hard drives? I just want to get a computer going so Im not pissing in the wind when I get my XHA1. But I also obviously need guidance in what I can/can't do post-purchasing w/ my pc. Please advise, and thanks in advance for your help.

Will
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Old August 26th, 2008, 11:29 AM   #4
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Hi Will,

Make sure that the 2 500 GB drives aren't already set up in a raid 0 config. This would put your system at risk of data and system failure should one of the drives die. As a system builder I'm not fond of HP's. They tend to go cheap on some critical components, mostly in my experience be prepared to purchase a new power supply in the not to distant future.

As Ken mentioned having separate drives for your data and programs will make a big performance boost. You can add a second HD for a very small amount of money ($70) and most likely the motherboard (MOBO) will have RAID capabilities built in. That way you can transfer your operating system/programs to your new smaller drive and configure the two 500GB drives into a RAID 0. Be careful though and not leave any vital data on the RAID 0 drive as they are prone to catastrophic data loss.

If the system comes with 8GB of RAM make sure you're getting Vista 64bit or you won't be able to use all the RAM. If you do order a preconfig'd machine the first thing you should do is unload all the useless preloaded applications that will be on it. This includes Norton Antivirus or McAfee whichever is proloaded and look into some of the better anitvirus/protection software out there. Also look to remove all of the HP auto update programs as these just take up useful system resources.

I believe that machine will be using the onboard audio which isn't horrible now a days but if you get serious about audio you'll eventually want to add a discrete audio card. One upgrade I would check into is to see if you can get the machine with the Q9450 CPU. On paper the two CPU's aren't that different but there are a couple differences that are important. The biggest difference is the L2 Cache. The Q9300 has 6MB and the Q9450 has 12MB. Some people will debate the degree of advantage of having the larger cache but the main thing is that Intel is using the older smaller Cache units in the Q9300 while the Q9450 gets the same Cache as the QX9775 (their Extreme chip). The biggest factor is that I've had better success overclocking Q9450's vs. Q9300's. In my current main editing system I'm running a Q9450 at 3.2GHz with Sony Vegas 8 (and CineForm HDV) and it runs rock solid.

As for future upgrades a lot depends on the exact MOBO they use and the size of the case. If I know someone will be doing a lot of future upgrades I usually will use a full tower or even a server tower with a lot of cooling options and increase the Power Supply so they have enough for future expansions. But really anything is upgradeable it all depends on what else you need to change to make sure it runs correctly. MAC's are somewhat upgradeable but you pay a premium for the hardware vs. PC components.

On a last note I shoot with an XH A1 and HV20 and would recommend looking into getting CineForm if you're going to edit using Adobe or Vegas. It's a great program that helps to preserve image and color quality when editing. Gotta remember to budget for the right applications cause your computer is a dumb machine that's only as good as the applications you run on it.
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Old August 26th, 2008, 02:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William James Ryan View Post
So- 1) Make sure I'm getting a "real" windows cd, not system restore
Will
Most big name systems come with what is commonly called a System Restore Disc. This disc will allow you to return your system to the exact state it was in before the company shipped it out. The problem is, you cannot load just Windows with that disc. When you do a system restore, it will reinstall all the junk you don't need (McAfee, game demos, trial programs, etc.) in addition to Windows.

If you ask the sales rep for a normal Windows install disc, you should get a disc that you can use to do a clean install of just Windows. Then, you'll have to hunt down any drivers that Windows doesn't include as a default.

Adding a Windows install disc may cost you an additional $15 or so, but you won't regret it. Oh, and Newegg is a very trusted source for me. I typically buy all my PC components from them.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 02:06 AM   #6
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The one thing I don't like in your list is what's NOT on it:
No specs for the Motherboard.
You have to know what Mobo you are buying, and in my experience it is the first place pre-built systems try to skimp, because they know people first look at processor, RAM and graphics.
Also, consider this possibility : in a few months you decide you want to add to your system a Blackmagic PCIe card for HDMI, and another PCIe card for external RAID. Then you discover that your motherboard only has 1 free PCIe slot, and no PCI-x. no option but to replace the Mobo.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 02:34 AM   #7
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thanks for all the input/patience, I am completely at your guys' will here.

Here's the link for what I'm looking at, if you'll please take a moment to check it out & let me know what you think:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16883107706

(have to click specifications, right next to cust reviews)


Motherboard
Chipset Intel G33

Expansion
External Bays 2 x 5.25" external 1 x 3.5" external
Internal Bays 2 x 3.5" internal
PCI Slots (Available/Total)
(1/1) PCI slot
(0/1) PCI-E x16 slot
(0/2) PCI-E x1 slots

So this is bad? & If I had to replace the MOBO, what would that imply as far as the rest of my system is concerned?
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Old August 27th, 2008, 10:12 AM   #8
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always go to the manfucaturer's site when considering a system, it will usually have more details than the retailer...

HP's site says the mobo is an Asus IPIBL-LB. couldn't find it on the Asus site. The G33 intel chipset it uses is an integrated intel graphics one.

I'm really not enough of an expert to tell you not to buy this system. Personally, I wouldn't buy a system with a motherboard that has integrated graphics and no free PCI-e/PCI-x slots as a heavy-duty and upgradable video editing machine. I would spend the extra money for a workstation model, or build your own system if you can.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Here is a link to specs on the motherboard:
Motherboard Specifications, IPIBL-LB (Benicia)

Not too many options for expansion. I also noticed that it has a 460 Watt power supply. That's bit on the small side. I'd expect a machine of this type to have at least a 600 Watt power supply. Low power leads to unstable systems.
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Old August 27th, 2008, 12:23 PM   #10
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This is a pretty typical HP Media machine. It's really meant for someone who wants to use it as a PVR/media server. There are two PCI-E x1 slots, one of which is taken up by the TV tuner card. Ken is correct that the 460W PS is small especially considering they are running the 9800GT Graphics card which isn't a total power hog but considering they're running two HD's, the TV tuner and 8 GB of memory you're probably not going to be able to add anymore hardware and have it run stable.

The MOBO is a micro-ATX form factor and looking at the Newegg pics you can see there isn't much room to add anything. You'd probably be able to get one more HD in there (if you upgraded the PS) but that would be it. I just worked on my sisters HP (similar layout) and one thing to be aware of, there are no good high end power supplies that will fit into the HP boxes. If you look at the side view you'll notice that there isn't much clearance between the PS and the optical drive. And, the PS that comes from the factory is a short, compact chassis. My sister's PS went out and I couldn't find any good one to replace it with, only could go with an el cheapo knowing I'm going to be going back in in about another 1 1/2 years to replace it again.

Other thoughts looking at the pics, the cooler for the CPU is something I'd be concerned about. When you start rendering, the CPU usage will jump to 100% on all 4 cores (if your editing ap can use all 4 threads). The last large video I did ran for 6 hours. That's going to generate a lot of heat. I don't think that little Cooler Master is going to be adequate. Also this machine doesn't have any e-SATA capabilities which is a preferable connection for an external HD for editing purposes.

With that particular box I don't think it would really be worth replacing the MOBO because you're not going to be able to get too much of an improvement. As far as whether it is worth it, yes it will work for editing HDV. But at roughly $1500 without a screen, you could spend less on a machine and would still be able to edit. If you're looking for expandability you probably should look at something more like this one at Costco:

Costco - iBUYPOWER Gamer KO-947 Q9400 2.66GHz 4GB DDR2 500GB HDD

It only has a 500GB HD, BR reader only, and 4GB or RAM but to add the extra 500GB HD and 4 GB more of RAM would only cost about another $200 (if you install it yourself), and LG makes a good BR burner for $229 now. All in all you'd have a better machine for about the same price.

That's just my 2cents but then again I'd just build my own. Now for a bit of system builder snobbery, can someone please teach HP about cable management. The inside of that box looks like a color coded spider web.
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Old September 2nd, 2008, 07:43 PM   #11
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Thanks for the input, guys. I'll keep all this in mind. I've been talking to Brian over at Zotz, and he's convinced me to go mac for now. The way I figure it, I spend more money now for a mac then I'll be able to get a PC later on if I feel like I want to try out other NLE's. But if I get a PC now I'll never save up for the mac; I'll just keep adding to my PC. Plus there's something comforting about hearing everyone say "Mac's just work".

So I'll be getting

Apple MacPro dual 2.8 Quad Core
4x2 gig Lifetime Memory RAM chips 8 gig
Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM .11 drive
second superdrive, add Wi FI

& I'll start off w/ FCE & move on to FCS2 later next year.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 09:54 PM   #12
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Prepare to be spending around $4500

A MacPro with proper specs for editing will run around $2800-$3000

Then, you have to consider FCPS, which runs $1300.

Then....if you are not familiar with FCP or similar NLE's it would be wise to consider a training DVD which is about another $100.


Of course you could go the iMac route. Not ideal but it works.

The main thing to consider here is your purpose. What is it that you are wanting to do with this system? Are you planning on starting a small business or simply editing videos for recreation etc..
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