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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 10:47 AM   #1
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PC for editing

This is probably a repeating question here, but let's go. What is the minimum and/or maximum equipment to go for when assembling a PC-based NLE for Vegas or FCP?

1) AMD or Intel based. If any or the other, which type and why.

2) What motherboard and what should it certainly include (or not). E.g.: firewire, etc.

3) What video board. I know we need it to have two outputs.

4) What minimum memory. Any specific brand.

5) What minimum HD storage. What HD types. What HD brands.

6) Anything else I am forgetting?

You don't need to answer all questions. One at least would be great, particularly one you know from experience.


Carlos
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 11:28 AM   #2
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Just to clarify for you, Final Cut Pro does not run on PCs (non-Macs, that is). It is a Mac-only application. You can't really build a Mac (well, technically, if you look around, you can, but that's not what you're talking about). Mac hardware is proprietary -- you can't build an Intel or AMD system and have it run the Mac operating system.

So this may mean that you are just looking at Vegas, unless you want to put Premiere Pro in the mix as well.

Both of my systems are Intel-based. I just built the second one, using a Pentium 4 3.2E processor, an ASUS P4P800-E Deluxe motherboard, 1 GB (2x512MB) of Kingmax RAM, ATI Radeon 9200 series video card w/ 128MB RAM, a Pioneer A08 DVD burner, and a mix of Seagate and Western Digital 7200RPM IDE hard drives, totalling 570 GB of storage.

My desire was to build an inexpensive, but fast, computer that I could dedicate to video editing. It also allows me to have Premiere Pro on one PC and Premiere 6.5 on the other (as well as AE 6.5 on one and 5.5 on the other). I can add on additional features/cards as needs and money allow.

The ASUS board comes with two firewire inputs (one on the back I/O panel and one on the board, where you can attach a case-mounted 1394 input. I don't see any reason to not get on-board firewire -- in fact, it'll save you a PCI slot, as well.

I'd say 1GB is the minimum you want; I can't really speak much on brands. I bought Kingmax because it's usually rated as pretty reliable and it is relatively inexpensive.

I'll think of more to say later, but now it's time for lunch...
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 12:18 PM   #3
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Why did you go IDE?

Someone told me SATA was the way to go but then I also heard that SATA was mainly so it wouldn't be a pain to install hard drives. I don't find installing IDE that much of a bitch, though.

Also, is anyone out there installing dual SLI video cards? Would these help video at all?
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 03:16 PM   #4
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<<<-- Originally posted by John Britt : Just to clarify for you, Final Cut Pro does not run on PCs (non-Macs, that is). It is a Mac-only application. -->>>

Of course you are right. I just meant Avid Xpress, which I tend to see as the "PC FCP". That's why I said that. Have you tried Avid Xpress?

Interesting that you seem to have standardized in Intel based systems. Anything against AMD?


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Old January 22nd, 2005, 06:16 PM   #5
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1) AMD or Intel based. If any or the other, which type and why.
Go Intel/Pentium. They're generally faster at video.

In Vegas, there's rendertest.veg results and the two processors generally run neck to neck, with Pentium just slightly faster.

For MPEG2 encoding with the Main Concept encoder, the Pentium has a clear lead. (Many of the popular computer sites like anandtech.com, xbitlabs, etc. have this benchmark.)

The Prescott-core Pentium does run hotter and consume more electricity than AMD64 processors though.

Quote:
2) What motherboard and what should it certainly include (or not). E.g.: firewire, etc.
It should include a decent problem-free chipset. Generally speaking, Intel chipsets are a safe bet.

On-board firewire might save you money. Lots of hard drive controllers would be good too.

Some have RAID controllers, but many of them have issues. The Intel RAID built into the chipset is fairly decent and trouble free (as are most Intel chipsets/controllers/on-board devices).

If you plan to run Premiere Pro with hardware acceleration cards, pick a compatible motherboard (most likely an Intel-manufactured motherboard).

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3) What video board. I know we need it to have two outputs.
Go with Nvidia (or Matrox) as they have better drivers than ATI (for video and dual monitor). Avid is picky about graphics cards.

Dual monitor is good... check that it has the right outputs (DVI and/or VGA).

Some compositing applications take advantage of openGL acceleration, so something along the Nvidia Quadro line would be good (those are designed for openGL performance and not gaming/directX performance). If you don't do that stuff then just go with a basic dual head video card and pickup a decent card if you figure out you need one (in which case, video card prices will have dropped significantly).

Quote:
4) What minimum memory. Any specific brand.
512MB minimum in my opinion. Check the recommended specs for your NLE of choice.

You can go with the cheapest RAM available as it really doesn't make much difference. Cheaper RAM may be more likely to be dead/flaky on arrival, so you can run prime95's torture test or memtest86(.org) to test it out.

Quote:
5) What minimum HD storage. What HD types. What HD brands.
DV is roughly 13GB/hour.
Take your HD capacity and multiply it by 0.85 or thereabouts to get the amount of video it can actually store. The 0.85 figure accounts for the ~7% you lose because of the different counting systems and drive formatting, while the rest is headroom against drive fragmentation.

The more hard drive space the better, as you can always use the extra for (temporary) archival and not having enough puts you in trouble.

Brand doesn't matter much.

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6) Anything else I am forgetting?
Case and power supply? Lots of people recommend Antec cases as they're excellent quality, the power supply can handle its advertised wattage (not like the generic stuff), and they're excellent value.
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 09:41 PM   #6
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Keith: No offense, but if somebody has trouble installing an IDE drive in a modern computer, that person probably has problems tying their shoelaces, too. Or, as I say, if I can do it, a monkey could do it.

IDE was the best price -- w/ rebates, the 120GB Seagate (used as primary master) was $50, the 200GB West. Digital was $70, and the 250 West. Digital was a Xmas gift. I've been editing and compositing on 7200RPM ATA/100 drives for a few years with no problems, and I'm not running a RAID config, so I saw no reason to start this machine off w/ SATA. The ASUS board does have two SATA connections, and I'll eventually put them to good use. Of course, I also have one more open IDE slave connection that might go to either a HDD or a third optical drive (my old CD burner is in this machine, too).

Carlos: Ah, I see. I have use Avid, but not Avid Xpress, if I recall correctly. Actually, with Pro 1.5, Premiere is looking a lot more like Final Cut Pro. It even has built-in software vectorscopes and waveform moitors.

Nothing in particular against AMD, I just know Intel better. I've also heard what Glenn said, about Intel being better w/ video, but I've not seen any real-world figures (except for the MPEG2 benchmarks he mentioned, but I was never sure if that was a reliable benchmark when it came to other video processes.) I've read Glenn's posts before, and he seems to know his PC stuff, so he's a good voice to listen to. Did just buy the wife an AMD Athlon-XP laptop, though...

One thing about the case: I'd recommend buying one with a front or top-mounted firewire input. Or buying a firewire I/O panel that slides into one of your front drive slots. This is nice if you don't have a miniDV deck and tend to have to plug your camera into your computer for capturing.

One caveat: I'm not computer genius. I'm living proof that building a PC has gotten so easy that a small child or injured animal could do it. So take my words with a grain of salt.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 05:31 AM   #7
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Thanks, folks. Your comments are very generous and helpful.

Can you please add if you have anything or against specific motherboards? Particularly recommending ones that have proved good in demanding editing conditions.

Let me start: I had some heating problems on Abit boards using the VIA KT600 chipset, which heated up in spite of its fan; the Gigabyte 7NNXP didn't "see" my Adaptec PCI 1394 board, and I could only use its on-board firewire; my present Asus A7V600-X is just average, although it doesn't heat-up its KT600 chip in spite of not using any fan on it.

I play strategic games sometimes, and they serve to prove (IMHO) that the system is stable and will take eventual video editings. This Asus I use now seems to cop out on some games, probably due to some incompatibility I can't find out. That worries me, as I wonder what will happen on a really demanding situation like rendering.

So having some specific recommendation, even if it's from an Intel based MOBO, may prove helpful. My idea is to assemble a second computer, to serve as my main one, leaving the Asus based as a backup.


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Old January 23rd, 2005, 01:18 PM   #8
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My roomie avoids VIA chipset boards because they haven't allowed him to run as hot as stated (he doesn't overclock, he just wants to run the rated CPU).

John Britt: No offense taken. I didn't say that I find it difficult to install IDE. Just wondering what the advantage of SATA was. It adds a few bucks to the cost of a board on the marketplace currently.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 03:10 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Keith Loh : My roomie avoids VIA chipset boards because they haven't allowed him to run as hot as stated (he doesn't overclock, he just wants to run the rated CPU). -->>>


You may have a point there. The Gigabyte had Nvidia chipset and didn't seem to care on anything. It was my fault to, in the end, blowing it as it seems it is. The MOBO was not recognizing the Adaptec 1394 board, and until then I didn't unplug the AC wire from the supply. As the the board was not coming out, movement seems to have activated the ATX supply with half the board out.

It blew the memorry boards and certainly something on the MOBO itself, because degradation started to happen.

That's one lesson I learned: never mess with anything inside your computer without unplugging the AC or having an external switch to do so.

Perhaps I should go back to a Gigabyte board with other chipset.

BTW: Intel seems to do fine MOBOs too, apparently, particularly if you are going to use an Intel CPU.

About the video board, I don't think we need that much speed, only having two outputs. And I have had more problems with my later Gforce video than with my ATI. Is there any other choice worth considering?


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Old January 23rd, 2005, 06:46 PM   #10
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Keith -- just being extra polite :)

Carlos: The Asus P4P800 uses the Intel 865 chipset -- I would not have bought it otherwise. I've heard bad things about the VIA chipset as well. I was going to go with either an Intel board or the Asus. The P4P800-E Deluxe has good value of features for the money, as well as being well-reviewed at places like New Egg, so I thought it was worth a try. Knock on wood, so far so good.

(one warning when reading reviews at New Egg: don't just trust the # of stars the product gets -- read the reviews, too, I was surprised at the number of high-star reviews for some products that had statements like "Well, this product sucks, but New Egg delivered it super-fast and at a low price, so I've giving four stars")
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 11:09 PM   #11
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the Gigabyte 7NNXP didn't "see" my Adaptec PCI 1394 board,
Try moving the firewire card into another PCI slot and seating it firmly in it (screw it in too).
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Old January 24th, 2005, 09:55 AM   #12
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There is some additional information I asked Glenn by mail that should be on this thread too, suggested by Glenn himself. So here it is.

My questions had been related to how to deal with Pentium products and their possible incompatibilities.

>

Prescott versus Northwood:
The Prescott-core Pentiums are the newer version. They consume more electricity (which raises your electricity bill), produce more heat, and differ in performance. They have the SSE3 instruction set and double the cache size, which increases performance. However, they have a longer instruction pipeline (which Intel doesn't tell you about) which hurts performance. At most tasks the Prescott is about 6% slower than the same clock speed Canterwood. At Vegas/rendertest.veg, the Prescott is about 6% faster and it's more than 10% at MPEG2 encoding with the Main Concept Encoder. So really, the performance difference depends on what you do. You can find benchmarks at: anandtech.com xbitlabs.com

Socket:
The LGA775 is the newer socket. Make sure your motherboard's socket type and processor match.

Chipset:
As I mentioned in my post, Intel chipsets are generally a safe bet. You might be able to save money by going with a Via or Sis chipset, although you don't save that much money doing so and you might find out that the chipset has a weird problem. The safe easy route is Intel.

You can go with the older/cheaper 865/875 chipsets or the newer 9xx series chipsets. I think either would be a good choice, although I haven't researched much into this lately. Performance is the same between both chipsets, with the newer chipsets being more expensive when you consider things like having DDR2 RAM and a PCI Express graphics card (which seem to be pricier right now).

Motherboard manufacturer: Intel, Asus, Abit, MSI, Gigabyte, etc. make motherboards.
Intel motherboards are generally more expensive for the same feature set, but may be compatible (i.e. hardware acceleration for Premiere Pro can be really picky) and have the best quality control so you're less likely to
get a dead/faulty motherboard.
Otherwise you should save money by going with a non-Intel board. I would stick with the major manufacturers like Asus, Abit, and MSI. Epox and Gigabyte are also choices. Avoid PCChips/ECS. There's lots of argument
as to which manufacturer has better quality control than the others. To get good information you need a large sample size, so don't just base your decisions on the experience of one or two people.

I don't do much research about which motherboard is best, but the Abit AS8 board looks like it's excellent value. It's the newer socket (LGA775) so make sure you get the right processor.

anandtech.com and xbitlabs.com have decent articles about which motherboard is good if you want to do some research. I'd probably just go with the Abit AS8 unless there's a particular feature you want (i.e. a motherboard that supports more hard drives).

Arstechnica.com also has excellent resources to help you research. They have a useful forum (read the stickies first) and a useful buyer's guide (under guides). If you don't want to do research (which can really waste your time), I would recommend:
Abit AS8 - LGA775 socket, on-board firewire, 865 chipset, good value 1GB of PC3200 DDR400 RAM (whatever's cheapest... or brand name like Kingston, Corsair Value Select, Mushkin, etc.) 3.0/3.2/3.4ghz Prescott-core Pentium, Antec case (might want to buy this locally if carrying it is difficult) 2700BQE/AMB, 3700BQE/AMB cases are good value. The LANboy cases are neat if you want something easy to carry. Sparkle or Fortron power supply if buying the Super LANBoy.
dual monitor video card - check the pictures and description at newegg.com Nvidia FX5200 or Geforce4 is best bet.
hard drives- what I said in my post. Probably go PATA.
DVD burner - NEC 3500a or Pioneer 108 or maybe benQ 1620 (read cdfreaks.com forum if you want to research this; or check the appropriate forum at arstechnica.com)

That's all the parts I can think of off the top of my head right now. The combination above should all be compatible and work very well for you. I can't guarantee 100% it'll work as some parts may be faulty, but the
chance of that is fairly low (maybe 1 in a 100?). EXCEPTION: If you wish to use Premiere Pro, do some research and get a motherboard compatible with the Matrox RTX100 or other acceleration card you may wish to use.

Where to buy: I'd get everything from newegg.com if you want the least hassle. Based on other people's experiences, they're good about RMA and accurately report what's in stock and ship fast. resellerratings.com is a useful resource too if not buying from newegg

>

I don't think it's necessary to put the questions I did, as Glenn's answers are pretty much clear.


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Old January 25th, 2005, 09:05 PM   #13
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I just bought a Sony Vaio rs720g which has the 915g chipset and intel's GMA900 integrated graphics controller. I got it mainly because I liked the DVD burner which supports dual layer DVD authoring and the Giga pocket TV recording. But I also absolutely need to be able to use this PC to Capture, Edit and Burn DVD's from a camcorder using the Sony $100 Vegas Movie Studio +DVD.

I guess I did not do my research ahead of time becuase I discovered after I purchased the PC, that there is a lot of talk about the GMA900 not being able to keep up with even the very average run of the mill graphics cards. I don't do gaming, I just want this pc for average home desktop use plus record tv and DV capture edit and burn DVD's.

My question is, did I make a boo boo with this purchase?
Will the GMA900 have enough muscle to manage my capture, editing and burning tasks? If it does not have the muscle, I am concerned that I won't even be able to add in a better card, or at the very least it will be a painful experience. If I add in a Nvidia or similar, what happens to the GMA900, is it disabled, or do they coexist?

I don't have a DV camcorder on hand yet, so I can't just test it out.
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Old January 25th, 2005, 11:26 PM   #14
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The integrated graphics controller is perfectly fine for Vegas. You would only need a better graphics card for gaming or 3d work.

I'm not sure if you can add another video card. You might be able to add a pciE video card since your computer has a pciE slot. (Don't confuse this with the older AGP interface cards.) If you add in a video card then the on-board video should be disabled.
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Old January 26th, 2005, 05:42 AM   #15
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If I add in a card, I am hoping that the on-board controller becomes disabled, but at the same time, I may lose the TV tuner and a 2nd monitor out which look like they are attached to the GMA900 directly.

With the AGP interface cards, if you added a card, I am assuming the on-board was dis-abled, but did you then lose any of the output connections associated with that interface?
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