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Old September 4th, 2009, 03:18 PM   #1
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New Computer For Video Production

Hello,

I'm seeking some advice regarding what I should be looking for in a new computer that is setup primarily for video production. I'm currently using a Dell that is a few years old, but I'm looking to upgrade to a better system within the next few months. I'll probably wait until the Windows 7 operating system is out.

Last week, I edited 2 wedding videos for DVD. They both were approximately 2 hours in length and took about 8 hours to render from HDV to MPG. With my next system, my primary objective is to cut down that rendering time significantly. I'm just a hobbyist in terms of video production, but I get offers to record lots of little jobs. I'm currently using a Sony HC9 video camera and editing in Sony Vegas 9.

I'll have between $1500-$2000 to spend on a new system, and I'm looking for some advice as to what I can get for that amount. I haven't purchased a new computer in several years, and I know a lot of things have changed over that time.

How much RAM is recommended? What kind of processor? What kind of hard drives, video card, sound card etc. should I be looking at? Should I stick with a Dell system (which I've been pretty happy with) or could I put together a more powerful computer for less money if I put things together myself? Those are the types of things I'm trying to figure out. Another thing that will be very important for me is having a new DVD burner. I'm currently using a Sony burner that I installed last year, but it's not the greatest because I have experienced playback issues with some of the DVD's I've created in that burner.

Any useful information that you could offer regarding these questions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

CJ Engel
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Old September 4th, 2009, 03:43 PM   #2
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I just got a new setup that I love! Went with a CyberPowerPC system, on their "build your own" option. (Core i7 Configurator)

Core i7 processor, 6 Gb DDR3 ram, nVidia graphics card (9500 i think? i didn't upgrade that part, maybe later)...

Running the Windows 7 RC, it's like buttah! last thing i rendered, a 45 minute timeline, took less than 20 minutes to render out!


I am very happy with my semi-custom system, and it cost A LOT LESS than a comparable dell system. A LOT. :)
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Old September 4th, 2009, 05:30 PM   #3
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If you're doing any signifigant audio, as well as looking at it from a user fatigue standpoint from spending long hours slaving over a hot keyboard listening to the whine of the fans, silent running is also an issue. You might check out Rain Recording's offerings of silenced workstations. While they're focussed on audio recording and editing, their offerings are also suitable for video work, particularly their "Nimbus" audio/video workstation. My 4 year-old Dell sounds like a jet engine running up on the flight deck and I'm seriously thinking about going with a Rain for my next PC.
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Old September 5th, 2009, 04:50 AM   #4
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If you're doing any signifigant audio, as well as looking at it from a user fatigue standpoint from spending long hours slaving over a hot keyboard listening to the whine of the fans, silent running is also an issue. You might check out Rain Recording's offerings of silenced workstations. While they're focussed on audio recording and editing, their offerings are also suitable for video work, particularly their "Nimbus" audio/video workstation. My 4 year-old Dell sounds like a jet engine running up on the flight deck and I'm seriously thinking about going with a Rain for my next PC.
Steve,
I am also looking for a new PC and it's VERY important for me to run silently. Can you provide us a link to that computer you are talking about? but then why not a laptop, since they are more silent than a PC.

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Old September 5th, 2009, 07:54 AM   #5
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Steve,
I am also looking for a new PC and it's VERY important for me to run silently. Can you provide us a link to that computer you are talking about? but then why not a laptop, since they are more silent than a PC.

Stelios
Sure ... Rain Recording | Digital Audio Workstations or since you're in the EU Rain Recording (UK & Europe)

and some reviews on earlier models in their line

Rain Recording Nimbus PC
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Old September 5th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #6
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Have a look here: Adobe Forums: How to get the best from a PC? Some...

I would recommend 12 GB RAM (DDR3-1333) on an i7-920 system, slightly overclocked to around 3.5 GHz.

Stelios asked: Why not a laptop? Well, for the simple reason a laptop is way too slow and if you want to reduce render times a laptop is out of the question, apart from being a horrible editing experience. You are better off with a good workstation in a sound isolated case.

For further background, look here: http://forums.adobe.com/thread/438156?tstart=60

Last edited by Harm Millaard; September 5th, 2009 at 11:43 AM.
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Old September 5th, 2009, 11:06 AM   #7
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I am very happy with my semi-custom system, and it cost A LOT LESS than a comparable dell system. A LOT. :)
Dells are pretty cheap though. They might not be the best, but they're cheap. I just bought an i7 920 quad with 6 gigs of ram for $800. It comes with a lot of free extras, like 120 volt power cord! Seriously, they list that as a bonus.
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Old September 5th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #8
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Thanks Steve for the link.
Are all the Rain products quiet or just the Nimbus range?

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Old September 6th, 2009, 06:18 AM   #9
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Thanks Steve for the link.
Are all the Rain products quiet or just the Nimbus range?

Stelios
From what I understand, they all are built to be virtually silent. Their company focus is on computers for music production and editing. I really like the looks of the rack mounted system - very practical for an editing workstation
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Old September 6th, 2009, 08:42 AM   #10
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Check out our DIY7 article as a nice guide for your project

Videoguys Blog - Videoguys' DIY7: Intel Core i7 with Vista 64

Gary
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Old September 6th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #11
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Gary,

Interesting article and it contains a lot of useful information, but there are several remarks I want to make.

On the case, while the selected case is good, it has the drawback of being only a mid-size case, which in the future may lead to space problems. I would prefer a full-size tower for better airflow and more expansion room.

For the price I would much prefer a consumer oriented video card like the ATI HD48xx or nVidia GTX2xx, with a preference for the former. There are too many stories about mediocre performance of the Quadro series, negative impact on the PCI-e bus and no positive performance gain to warrant the price difference with more consumer oriented cards.

The G-Tech has a sexy look, but also the price of a very sexy hooker. Way too much for what it offers. I prefer a full-size tower with some internals instead and it saves quite a few $$.

One may argue about the choice of memory, since they opted for DDR-12800 memory, where DDR3-10600 is more than enough for the i7-920, even OC'ed to 3.6 GHz.

I miss attention to cooling, which is often crucial when we run encoding sessions for hours at nearly 100% load.

In general a nice article, but I would choose slightly different components. Of course, it depends very much on price and availability and these change almost every day...

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, a worthwhile read for a lot of people, and consider that Videoguys do not sell these systems or components. Gary has made it absolutely clear that this is a SERVICE to their customers and these systems are used internally at Videoguys to test the materials they do sell, like Matrox, GV/Canopus and all the NLE software.
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Old September 6th, 2009, 10:42 AM   #12
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I really like the Antec Nine Hundred case. It's one of the few cases out there that does a superb job of cooling hard drives (and a lot of cases, even at the higher end, do a relatively poor job of cooling hard drives). Antec does make a larger version of essentially the same case - the Twelve Hundred:

Newegg.com - Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Computer Cases

From quite a few tests I've done myself, memory speed has almost no impact on video compression performance - no point in spending more for expensive memory.
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Old September 6th, 2009, 10:04 PM   #13
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Harm,
All good points.

Case: Airflow and fans are the top priority. Pick any case you like, as long as it keeps the guts cool.

Memory: We got a SWEET deal at teh time on the memory. As prices fluctuate, you may see a premium not worth paying

Cards: Why Quadros? Mostely because of Avid and AE performance. These are the apps that are most demanding on the GPU. On the consumer/ gamer side, I give the nVidia 260/280 the big leg up on ATI (for now)

Storage: We've had phenomenal success with G-tech drives. The G-Speed eS provides speed and redundancy. They are extremely reliable. Sure you can build a cheaper RAID, but for me, these get the job done right.

Vista vs Windows 7: Guys, I wish Windows 7 was really here and we could bang on the release version. All current signs are that it's going to be a winner. The benefits of Vista64 without all the bad baggage. For now, we still have to recommend Vista64. Once Windows 7 is released and we see our vendors with drivers and optimized software, I know we'll start recommending it.

Use our DIY and system recommendations as a general guidelines for NLE. Upgrade and modify as you wish.

Gary
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Old September 7th, 2009, 08:58 AM   #14
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With an NLE like Vegas, high end GPUs simply serve no purpose - even some onboard graphics, like with ATI's 780G chipset, can be quite adequate.
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Old September 7th, 2009, 10:03 AM   #15
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Looking at photos of the insides of a Cooler Master Centurion 534 RC-534-KKN2-GP, I can all but promise that it won't cool hard drives, under a load, nearly as reliably as the Antec Nine Hundred (or Twelve Hundred). The Antec Nine Hundred's hard drive cages are somewhat unique in their design, essentially insuring excellent forced airflow above and below each hard drive. Throw a hot running Maxtor HDD in that Cooler Master case, and I can assure you that it will have a shorter life-span than it would in the Antec. (Not that I would recommend Maxtor HDDs nowadays - unless you need a HDD that doubles as an egg fryer.)
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