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Old May 21st, 2004, 09:33 AM   #1
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Location: Malvern UK
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New computer build


I'm just mulling over some components for a new computer that will be used for edting only. I'll be utilising some of my older ATA133 hard drives for duties such as the boot drive as well as using some other components such as the DVD burner from my old system, hence the reason this list might seem incomplete. Just wondering if this was an okay set up? I don't have money to burn so I'm trying to get speed on a budget.

-Abit IC7 'Canterwood' 800fsb MB
-3.0ghz 'Prescott' 800fsb P4 CPU
-3XS Meridian 450w SATA compatible PSU
-200gb Western Digital SATA Cavier SE HD (for starters. I want to get a HD rack eventually)
- Coolermaster Praetorian PAC-T01E1 Aluminium Case
- 2 x 512mb PC3200 (PC400) DDR Memory (Elixir Major) (Corsair)
- Abit 128Mb Siluro 128Bit FX5200DT TV/DVI graphics card (I figured I don't really need anything too fancy here as long as it has DVI and is capable of a decent resolution)

Now, is there much point in me getting XP Pro over XP home for such a system?

Also, what is the real world performance difference between getting, say, a P4 2.8ghz 533fsb and a P4 3.0ghz 800fsb for video editing? My main editing software is Vegas 4.0 btw.

Also, can I use an ATA133 drive for booting and a SATA drive for capture and video storage as I have planned?
Simon Wyndham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 21st, 2004, 12:59 PM   #2
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I've been building machines (several for editing only) for a few years, here's my thoughts for what it's worth...

1. As for the 533 vs. 800 fsb on the processor... you'll see a major speed boost with the 800. For video, you want to pipe data into from your drives to memory to the processor and back again with as few bottle necks as possible. This could make the difference between handling an effect in real time preview with no dropped frames, and having the machine only display 5 frames per second.

Also, I don't think hyperthreading is a feature on any P4 processors running under 800 fsb (could be wrong though). You definately want a hyperthreading P4.

2. XP Pro seems to be much more stable and a good bit faster than XP Home. I do a lot with after effects, and on my XP Pro box, it's always real stable. On my XP Home box (similar hardware configs) it seems to chug a bit, and often puts out odd errors and seems more buggy.

3. I was using Vegas last year, and it ran liquid smooth on my machine (specs below). I switched to PPro, AE, Encore (the Adobe Video Collection) and love it - I think these apps take a bit more horsepower than Vegas, and the machine still runs great.

4. I have the following in my primary machine...
-Abit IS7 mobo (800 FSB), P4 2.6 Ghz w/ HT, ATI Radion 9200 (64mb) video card running 2 monitors @ 1024x768, 1 GB of PC3200/400 mhz RAM, XP Pro.

This machine runs great, and most of what you list is an upgrade over my machine, so that sounds like a fine setup for you.

5. A note on hard drives - Your regular EIDE hard drives will work fine for video. I use an S-ATA drive for the operating system and applications (OS and Apps are on 2 different partitions). My other drives are all EIDE and use them for media storage, video, rendering, and so on. I've never had a problem going this route. I'm a big fan of the Western Digital "Special Edition" drives such as the 1200JB (anything ending in "JB"). For your video drives, just make sure they are 7200 RPM, and have an 8 MB buffer (many drives have only 2 MB buffer).

6. You may save some money by getting a slightly slower processor (I'd say anything 2.8 or faster would be awesome). Maybe only get 512 MB of RAM to start (I only added the second 512MB to my box after starting to use after effects, it ran perfectly with 512 when I was using Vegas). Maybe save some $$ on drives by sticking with EIDE instead of S-ATA, and I'd definately invest the extra $$ to get XP Pro.

7. In price checking, look at I've ordered from these people many times and never had a complaint. Very good prices.

Good luck!
Kevin King is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 21st, 2004, 01:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply and great information.

I may start to build the system a bit more gradually, like you suggest with 512mb to begin with etc

A lot of the videos I make are community videos and are shot very quickly with not a lot of prep or setup time. As you can imagine the picture quite often needs adjusting with regards to dodgy lighting conditions etc. As result I do need something with a bit of poke in it as my current 1.33ghz Ahtlon is really straining a lot of the time. Especially when the client wants DVD. It took 11 hours to render a 50 min video with basic colour grading and a tickertape style scroller into MPEG2! Okay, the footage was shot in true 16:9 and had to be letterboxed, but still it was excruciating and it didn't have much left to let me get on with something else at the same time.

Looking at the prices (I'm based in the UK) the SATA drives don't seem to have much price difference from the IDE ones. I've never had any problems with ATA133 drives, but I have heard SATA are more reliable?

One question I have regarding XP. One of the points of the system I am building is that it won't go anywhere near the internet or anything remotely connected with online activities. How do I activate a new install of XP without an internet connection?

From your advice I think I will definitely be going for XP Pro. The OEM version isn't too much. Though I might wait until MS releases the SP2 version.
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Old May 21st, 2004, 04:24 PM   #4
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You'll see a major performance boost with the P4. My old system had a 1.7Ghz Athlon, and it took forever to render. Render times were cut down by about 80% going to the new machine.

I don't know that XP requires an online "activation" per se, but you may want to run windows update after the install to make sure everything is current. You may just plug in temporarily, then disconnect from the net when everything is done.

As for service packs, MS usually makes service packs available free of charge, so if you purchase XP now, when a new SP comes out, you should be able to get it right from the MS site.

S-ATA hard drives are faster than EIDE. I don't know about "reliabillity", but the data path is wider, so more throughput. If price is close, you may as well get the S-ATA. This is good for an operating system and application drive as the swap file will be read more quickly and applications will start more quickly, but I don't think you'd see any more "fluid" performance by going S-ATA for the video storage drives.

It's also a good idea to keep your swap file (XP puts it on C: by default), and your video on separate physical drives, this will speed performance.

Final note - be sure to defragment your drives often - mainly your applications drive and the OS drive or whereever you have your swap file stored. I usually defrag every 3 or 4 days (I'm editing for about 6 hrs per day and they fragment quickly) and defrag the video drive before you do large video captures. You may want to get an inexpensive UPS power supply also, as a power failure during a defrag could cause all your data to become currupt.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 06:46 PM   #5
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You do not need an internet connection to activate Windows XP. There is a phone number you can call. You read in your code letters and it gives you an activation code to type in. Take about five minutes.
Kent Diamond is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 22nd, 2004, 08:53 PM   #6
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1- SATA is not faster than PATA drives, it's just marketing hype. Newer drives are faster than old ones though... so if you get a SATA drive then it will be faster, but not because it's SATA.

2- 800mhz FSB versus 533FSB seems to make a few percent difference in Vegas. Bumping up to the next clock speed is a 6% difference... so in comparison to that, it's kinda worth it to get a 800FSB processor instead of a 533FSB one.

The 800FSB processors all have hypertheading. The 3.06ghz Pentium "B" is the only 533FSB Pentium with hyperthreading. Hypertheading makes a few percent difference in Vegas, but it highly depends on what you're doing. You will see like 10-20% gains in DVD encoding, so definitely go for hyperthreading.

As far as processors go, you are going to be looking at Canterwood processors versus the newer Prescott processors. The Canterwood is a better buy right now since they perform faster and are cheaper than Prescotts, and they run cooler. The Prescott may get faster *if* programs take advantage of SSE3 optimizations.

2- XP Pro is not supposed to be faster than XP Home. The main differences are:
-XP Pro supports networking with >5 computers.
-XP has a few extra tweaking options (mostly useless)
-multilanguage support?
-Remote desktop (server)- control your computer remotely (Remote Administration I hear is better, but that's not installed on most computers. Most windows have remote desktop client built into them, including XP Home.)

Basically unless you have a large network you don't really need Pro. Remote Desktop may be handy.

You can save on the case if you get an Antec 3700BQE which comes with a 350W quality power supply. The wattage rating is not fudged.

Also most people recommend buying from They have the absolute best price about half the time and you save hassle if you get everything from one place, and they have excellent service too. check

You might want to make sure your video card is dual head capable. I prefer Nvidia slightly since they tend to have better drivers. You can get something like a Geforce 4 MX. It's a last generation card so it's cheaper and it actually performs better than current generation cards in some cases (in 3d games! doesn't apply too much to Vegas...).
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 07:06 PM   #7
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Very good points from everyone!

One off topic question to Kevin if possible.

How do you 'separate' your apps from OS to the different partition?
I tried to do this and researched quite a lot when I was building my rig but couldn't find easy way.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 08:01 PM   #8
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"- SATA is not faster than PATA drives, it's just marketing hype"

Not true exactly. The interface is capable of more bandwidth than IDE. That doesn't mean the drive will provide it, of course, so it depends on the drive.
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Old May 24th, 2004, 03:00 PM   #9
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Unfortunately the partitioning process would require a complete re-install of your computer, normally this is done when first building.

1. A "partition" is a physical area on the platters inside the drive that is marked out as a drive for your computer. You can have several different partitions on the same physical disk drive. As far as your computer is concerned though, each partition will show up as a separate drive. Most consumer computers are shipped with a single partition that fills the entire drive.

2. Windows tends to save and remove lots of small temp files while it runs. This causes the partition to become fragmented and slow. I like to isolate windows on its own partition so it doesn't fragment the entire disk, and the defrag process goes much more quickly.

Also, if Windows ever gets real messed up (a virus, an update goes rouge, or a power failure scrambles the registry, whatever), you can re-install XP on the first partition, but all your data will still be safe on the other partition once you get windows restored.

3. In Windows XP, during the setup process (I believe it is in the text-screen phase), you are prompted for where windows will be installed, and you have the option of selecting, creating, and formatting a partition. I'll use the example of an 80GB hard drive.

Tell the XP setup program to create 1 partition, make it about 10GB in size. This will become your "C:" drive, and this is where windows will be installed. Don't create anymore partitions here, complete the setup process.

Once windows is all installed and running, goto: Control Pannel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management. In the console that comes up, goto Storage > Disk Management.

Your partitions will be listed at the top, and the wide bars at the bottom represent the PHYSICAL drives in your computer. You'll see "Disk 1" if you have one hard drive, and "Disk 2" and so on for additional drives. You'll note that some of this bar is greyed out if you created one partition that is smaller than the physical size of your drive.

This grey space represents physical space on your hard drive that has not been alotted for anything. (Remember, 80GB drive, the windows partition is only 10GB). You create new partitions on this blank space in this console. I think you right click on the drive and select "new partition" or something (mine are filled w/ partitions, so I don't get the option for reference on my machine).

You can select the size of the new partition, or allow it to fill to maximum size (it'll just assign whatever space is left on the disk). I actually create 3 partitions on my 80GB drive. I use 10GB for windows (c:), 30GB for applications (d:), and the rest for data (e:).

You'll have to format each partition after creating it. Do this from the same disk management console. (I think you right click your new partition and select "format now" or something). For the file system, it should be NTFS, and leave the allocation unit or sector size or whatever to its default.

Finally, after all this is done, install your applications (NLE, MS Word, whatever). In the install for each application, a desination path is given. Usually this is c:\program files\program name. Be sure to change this for each program you install to d:\program.... This will cause it to install on your second partition (d:) where you want it. If you miss this, it will be installed on your windows partition and will quickly fill up the space.

For reference of size.... I'm on XP Pro and have the following primary apps installed: Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Audition, Encore, After Effects, MS Office, Peachtree, and a few others. My windows partition (10GB) is about half full. My applications partition is 30 GB and it's currently exactly half full. My data partition has my admin data files on it, and I have 2 second physical drives for media storage and video.

Okay, lunch is over now. Back to work. Hope that helps. :-)
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Old May 24th, 2004, 03:23 PM   #10
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I just put together new machine. Antec Sonata case - quiet and cool (temperature-wise). Very easy to mount drives. Asus P4C800-E Deluxe MB - has built-in multi-RAID, supports Northwood and Prescott chips, and supports 4 SATA and 6PATA drives. I am running 2 160 GB Samsung SATA drives as RAID 0. Continuous throughput about 100 MBYTE second - 3 times as fast as my fastest 7200 PATA drive. Almost 10 times as fast as my slow laptop drive. VERY worthwhile for big video files! 3GHz P4 Northwood, HT, 800MB bus - my research said Prescott not worth it and HOT (temperature-wise). dual DDR 512MB PC3200. Asus V9520 Video Suite FX5200 dual output VGA or DVI out - Video and S-video in and out. Card performs well, but I have some issues.

If you can't tell, I have become a big-time RAID fan. I could have installed 4 drives as RAID 0+1 and had immediate back-up too!
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Old May 24th, 2004, 08:10 PM   #11
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Hey Kevin, thanks for the grate insight!
Sorry if I took too much time from your lunch.
Actually I was interested only about that:

"In the install for each application, a desination path is given. Usually this is c:\program files\program name. Be sure to change this for each program you install to d:\program.... This will cause it to install on your second partition (d:)"

I've been researching other more 'intelegent way' to make the defaulth path to 'programs' folder directly to that second partition but it seemed over my abilities for all the installation, system files and registry tweaking.

Thanks anyway once again!
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