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Old April 24th, 2005, 04:02 AM   #1
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If you were building a new NLE rig today..

I did a few searches and didn't see any recent threads on this subject (a subject that quickly becomes outdated as we all know)

So, I need to build (or buy if the price/performance ratio is right) a new rig for DV NLE (primarily using Vegas and related tools). I'm new to Video editing and my current machine was built for audio: ultra quiet fans, case, and disks, but perhaps a bit dated: MB (Abit KT400A-8235 FSB333/DDR400),
CPU (Athlon XP 2200+ 1.8ghz), RAM (512 SDRAM), and disks (Seagate Barricuda ST3120026A 7200 120GB & Western Digital Caviar WD800JB 7200 80GB), ATI AIW 9600, SB Audigy Platinum (which is how I capture via it's firewire).

I see some of the users here post their rigs in their sig, for example, this is from one of the forum users, 'Jack Felis':


"AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2gb PC3200 DDRSDRAM, BFG Geforce 6800 Ultra AGP, SB Audigy ZS Platinum Pro, Sony DRU700A Dual Layer Burner, Memorex 52x CDRW/DVD, 2x WD 74gb Raptor SATA HDs, 2x 250gb SATA HDs"


Jack (if you're reading this),

Did you build your machine, and if so, I'd love to know if there is anything you'd change if you were building another one today.

And anybody else that would like to contribute their current rig specs and what you might do differently if you were buying or upgrading today.

*I'm not married to AMD, but have definitely enjoyed supporting them over the years.

Thanks in advance,

~Shawn
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Old April 24th, 2005, 06:29 AM   #2
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personally, im waiting for the Dual Core P4's to be released with 2mb cache..
Exceeding the performance of the Dothan and offering dual xeon grunt all in one chip..

The 955 chipset hasnt been released as yet, but most likely well start seeing things happeni withn 3 months or so...

I was going to build a p4 3.2 800fsb 512cache and overclock it to about 3.8 safely with one of the newer 1066fsb boards, but im waiting now..
for ram i wouldnt use anything other than corsair, im using it now and ive never had an issue.. its a lil expensive but its worth it..
Originally i was lookin at dual xeon, but the boards and cpus alone bring it to just under $2000 AUD..
As far as im concerned, ive spent far too much on applications and HW as it stands... hell i still have to get me a DNA unit for Avid which is another 3grand.. and theres no way in hell im running avid and vegas on the same box until V6 is sorted out...
so $2000 would be better suited sittin in my account until the HVX is released..
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Old April 24th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #3
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Howdy, well when I think about it, the only thing I would change about my system is the motherboard so I could get PCI Express slots and SLI for my videocard options. Other than that, I'd buy more RAM =). Everything else is just fine. If you're needing to build a similar system now then this system does a VERY good job for whatever you need it to do, just get a motherboard with PCI Express and by now they should have faster AMD64 chips so get the fastest you can ;).

However, if you can wait, then I would recommend that over building a new system now. Dual cores are coming out within the next month and supposedly the AMD Opteron dual cores are kicking the shite outta the Intel dual cores! Since you're getting into video, I think a dual core system with the latest features would last you a bit longer, especially if you buy a dual processor board and only one processor for now. I say this because many of the tests actually show negative performance gains with dual processor dualcores, simply because most applications are single threaded and can't take advantage yet. That's just my take on it.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 11:57 AM   #4
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Processor: Whatever's faster.
Intel is usually faster than AMD at video. Look at MPEG2 encoding benchmarks (with the Main Concept encoder, not the other ones) and rendertest.veg results. At rendertest.veg, both processors run neck to neck but Intel generally holds a lead. Vegas 6 should give Intel a lead, although I haven't seen any rendertest.veg results lately.

Dual cores are coming out eventually. Intel as far as I know has only paper released them and they will come out after AMD. Check sites like arstechnica.com, anandtech.com for news on this stuff. When they come out, they will likely be expensive and lower clocked than the fastest single processor CPUs. A month of two later they should be worth buying I'm guessing.

Vegas 6 should take advantage of dual cores and hyperthreading and dual processors (unlike Vegas 5).

Overclocking: If you do do this:
A- Stress test your computer. Use Prime95. It may pass Prime95 and still not be stable though. See how far your computer overclocks and then back off.
B- Don't get expensive RAM. Set the memory divider to something lower so you underclock the RAM... it will only affect performance a few %. (With dual cores, this may change. On single processor *INTEL* platforms this should hold true.)
If you underclock, the cheapest RAM will be fine.
The reason is that overclocking (and low latency) RAM is way too expensive to justify the price you pay. You could've bumped up to the next speed grade processor with the price you paid.

With the newer 1066mhz FSB it might be worth it to get normal faster-grade RAM... I haven't followed this stuff too closely.

C- Get the Thermalright XP-120, which is the best bang for your buck heatsink by far (the Zalman 7000alcu is also good value if you're on a budget). As far as the fan goes, I'm not sure which is best. Although a Panaflo fan with the correct tailing should be decent.

Video card: Get a Nvidia dual monitor card. Not a big difference if it's PCI-E (the new one) or AGP.

Storage: As much as possible.

Burner: Check the buyer's guide at arstechnica.com The NEC 3520 seems to be the best bet, although I believe right now it's hard to tell which is best. cdfreak.com is very good if you don't mind searching through the posts there.

Sound card: The M-audio Revolution gives better sound than Sound Blaster from what I've read. I personally dislike Sound Blaster because the old SB Live gives your computer blue screens of death due to poor drivers. The new SB cards come with a lot of bloatware and AFAIK don't have low latency drivers (which is not an issue for video editing, except for the bloatware).

Quietness: Check out silentpcreview.com the forums can be helpful there if you don't want to read through lots of the information there and just want quick advice.
Intel processors use (a lot) more electricity than AMD64, which is not good for silence.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 12:56 PM   #5
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My Rig(s)
Edit System 1
P4 3.4GHZ 1MB Processor
(Running at 3.7 Ghz)
ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe Mobo (2 1394 ports, 4 SATA ports, 8 USB)
120GB System Drive

(2) 250GB SATA Export Drives
(2) 400GB SATA Media Drives
2GB DDR400 System Memory
Matrox G650 Video Card
Dual 19" NEC 1970NX Flat Panels
15" Sony NTSC Monitor
WINXP
Matrox RT.X100 Collection
320GB Lacie Firewire Drive
DL/DVD Burner
Audigy 2 ZS Card digital out to MA-20D Monitors

Edit System 2
P4 2.8GHZ 1MB Processor
(Running at 3.4Ghz)
Dell Optiplex GX270
512MB DDR400
(2) 250GB SATA Drives
Dual 19" CRT Monitors
15" Sony NTSC Monitor
80GB System Drive
WINXP
Matrox G450 Video Card
Matrox RT.X100 Collection
DVD Burner
On-Board Sound analog out to MA-10A Monitors

Edit System 3
P4 3.2GHZ 1MB Processor
(Running at 3.9Ghz)
Koolance Water Cooling
Asus P4C800-E Deluxe (2 1394 ports, 4 SATA ports, 8 USB)
1GB DDR 400 MEMORY
Dual 21" Viewsonic CRT Monitors (Had to keep CRT for Gaming..;)
42" ViewSonic Flat Panel Output Display for Client presentations
74GB Raptor SATA Drive (System Drive)
(2) 250GB SATA Media Drives
(2) 74GB Raptor SATA Export Drives
GeForceFX 6600GT Video Card
Audigy 2 ZS Audio Card digital out to MA-10D monitors
DL/DVD Burner
WinXP PRO
Adobe PPRO 1.5.1

* All Sytems use Turbo-Cool 510 Deluxe power supplies.


This last system edit 3 was a AMD 64 3500+ configuration.. I chucked that for an Intel setup and I'm not looking back. The P4 is so much more responsive and does so much better than my AMD did when using After Effects or background rendering in Premiere Pro and switching to Photoshop CS for some photo stuff.. However, my Counter Strike Source FPS dropped about 30.. :(

Anyways.. Dual Core, AMD 64, SLI, PCI-Express...bah.. Here's my opinion.. Get what fits your budget and weigh speed/performance against budget. My setups work very well, the RT.X100 cards make it even nicer. For what I do, video projects under 45 minutes most of the time it works great. I do SD video projects and don't plan to dive into HDV for awhile. I don't spend a great deal of time rendering and overall they are good setups.. Sure it's not top of the line and it's not very high end setups, but it works for me and my pocket my book. Plus scaling back on these systems let me build my patch bay and add-on's. JVC DV-3000U Deck, JVC MiniDV/SVHS Deck, Mackie DFX-12 mixer, M-Box and Pro Tools, NTSC Sony Monitors 15", Flat Panel 42" and all my Edirol Monitors.

Also make sure you research system specs if your going with a add-on card such as the RT.X100.. Some cards and devices are picky about the hardware and slot positions you use.

Yes all my processors are overclocked, it helps to have long years experience testing intel chips and beta testing games..:)
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Old April 24th, 2005, 02:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
P4 2.8GHZ 1MB Processor
(Running at 3.4Ghz)
Dell Optiplex GX270
How'd you manage to overclock the Dell? Usually their BIOSes don't let you overclock. I presume you are using a software utility to overclock it?
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Old April 24th, 2005, 04:58 PM   #7
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Excellent information, greatly appreciated! And because I'm in the learning/curve/phase, I think I'll wait to see how the cost/performance of the Dual Core stuff pans out, and perhaps "dual processor board and only one processor for now" is a good option for the short term. Thx.

PCI Express: (I've been out of the loop, thanks for the info). Same goes for SLI, guess i'll have to read up and see if the technology is stable and has a reasonable cost/benefit ratio.

As far as the SoundBlaster Audigy goes, I've had no problems for almost two years and have recorded some great stuff with it: http://thegospelofgroove.com/audio

I use Zalman for my CPU sink/fan now.

Quietness: (my machine is optimized for silence as I do large diaphragm mic'd recording in the same room, ultra quiet case, power and fans)

"Turbo-Cool 510 Deluxe power supplies": I'll check them out, thx.

So, for drives, is 7200 sufficient? and with these boards having >500FSB speeds, where's the data bottle neck end up?
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Old April 24th, 2005, 10:57 PM   #8
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For quietness, check out the Seasonic power supply reviews over at silentpcreview.com
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article226-page3.html

They are some of the quietest PSUs around and energy efficient too (which can save you a lot of money depending how long your computer is on every day).

You might actually want to keep your current computer for recording as newer computers run hotter (especially the Prescott-core Pentiums) and are harder to cool quietly. But if you do things better you might be able to get it quieter or as quiet as your old computer.

2- How loud is the Western Digital 80GB hard drive you have (WD800JB)? I have one too and it has the whine problem some other people report. I don't hear it though because there are louder things in my basement (and I tune it out naturally).

Quietest hard drives according to silentpcreview.com are samsungs (160gb capacity max) and seagates. IBM is decent except it does a thermal resetting thing where you hear some noises from the drive every once in a while.
Turn AAM on to get the drives quieter (hey it's free).

Quote:
So, for drives, is 7200 sufficient? and with these boards having >500FSB speeds, where's the data bottle neck end up?
7200rpm is more than sufficient for DV work. It doesn't make sense to get faster drives unless you want to edit other formats.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 11:33 PM   #9
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I've never had any problems with the Western Digital, maybe I'm lucky, but I thought I did my research, maybe at the time there were no reports of that problem, but it hasn't affected me thankfully.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 12:35 AM   #10
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Someone else pointed this link out:

Videoguys' Recommended Computer Configurations for Non Linear Editing (March 2005)

http://www.videoguys.com/system.htm


Videoguys' Recommended Computer Configurations for Non Linear Editing (March 2005)

Home/ Hobby Bare Bones: PIII 1.4 Ghz+ / Athlon 1.4Ghz+ 512 Meg WinXP/2K 32 meg 20 30+ GB EIDE 17"

Enthusiast DV / FireWire & DVD: P4 / Athlon 1.8 Ghz+ 1GB WinXP Dual head 64+ 40 120+EIDE or SATA 17"

Videoguys Minimum Recommended System for Premeire Pro, Vegas, Liquid Edition or Xpress Pro: Hyper-Threaded P4 2.4 Ghz+ or Athlon 1.8+ Ghz w/800 Mhz frontside bus 1GB+ Dual Channel 400 Mhz WinXP Pro Dual head 128+ 80 160+EIDE or SATA 19" or Dual 17"

Videoguys NLE HotRod -"Big Blue": Hyperthreaded P4 3.2Ghz+ w/800 Mhz frontside bus & PCIe (PCI Express) 2.0 GB DDR2 WinXP Pro Quadro based 128+ 80 320GB (2x160) or larger SATA RAID Dual 17"+ LCDs

Videoguys Screaming Dream System: Dual Xeon or Opteron 3.4Ghz+ 2 GB WinXP Pro PCIe Quadro 128+ 120 500GB (2x250) or larger SATA or SCSI RAID Dual 19"+ LCDs


* Get at least a full gig of top-notch memory.
For best results get a motherboard supports dual channel memory and make sure you use two 512Mb ( or bigger) sticks of RAM. We did some research and discovered that ideally the memory speed should be equal to the front side bus speed. If your motherboard has a front side bus speed of 800 Mhz, go with 400 Mhz memory.

** Why we recommend a dual head graphics cards
It's all about real-estate. With two monitors you can stretch your timeline across the bottom of both screens and you can have more windows open at the same time. This means you spend less time opening and closing windows or scrolling throught the timeline. As a result, you are more productive. Premiere, Xpress DV & Edition all have optimized preset screen layouts for dual monitors.

***We recommend nVidia Quadro based graphic cards for video editing because of their superb OpenGL support. Pinnacle Liquid Edition, Adobe After FX, Avid Xpress Pro & Boris FX all take advantage of OpenGL. You will see more and more video editing software take advantage of OpenGL GPU power as new versions of NLEs get released. This is the key the reaason why we recommend Quadro cards over less expensive 3D gaming cards. While you can do fine with a 3D gaming card, Quadro cards are designed and engineered for this kind of work - and the NLE engineers are optimizing their applications to take advantage of this GPU OpenGL power.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 01:18 AM   #11
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There's some mis-information on the video guy's DIY pages. There's some technical stuff that they are wrong about... like SATA being faster (in real world performance, SATA drives perform the same as ATA drives if you compare the same model). That's in the DIY1 article.

My biggest gripes with their article is:
A- If you optimize your system for a particular editing system, you can save a lot more money. There's no point in getting an expensive workstation video card if the program in question doesn't take advantage of openGL acceleration that much, if at all (i.e. Vegas).
B- They don't know what they're doing. If you read the first article you'll see that it's Jon's first time building a computer. And don't test what they do so they don't know if they're right or wrong. For example, the Stack Cool feature on the Asus motherboard only slows down fan speed when the computer is not working hard. This does not help the system run cool and "overclock with confidence". Also... do they know if the system is stable 10% overclocked? A computer I built on the Abit IS7 motherboard wasn't. Also, there's a good chance the RAM in their system won't overclock by 10%... they should be dropping the memory divider (to underclock the RAM) or thoroughly testing their computer with Prime95 (or equivalent program). RAM errors may take a few hours to crop up as stability is related to temperature and which addresses of the RAM chip are being used.

There are people who do get stability problems from RAM heating up.

Overclocking is risky, especially if you don't stress test your system to check its stability.

C- You can get better value with other parts. (see A)

Well there's my rant anyways.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 07:23 AM   #12
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"However, my Counter Strike Source FPS dropped about 30.. :( "

ROFLMAO

i have to say, ur the first person ive come aross who actually admits to gaming on their edit box :)
everyone does it, but admitting it..? i think were a dying breed.. lol
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Old April 25th, 2005, 09:37 AM   #13
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My current editing system:

Asus P4C800-E Deluxe
Pentium 4 3Ghz
Zalman CNPS7000B-Cu CPU cooler
2GB (4x512Mb) Kingston HyperX DDR400 Ram
Seasonic Super Silencer 400W power supply
160GB 7200RPM Seagate SATA system hard drive
Two 200GB 7200RPM ATA/133 Maxtor hard drives for video
Creative SB Audigy 2
Monsoon MM-2000 speakers
Asus V9570 TD (nVidia GeForce FX5700 256MB)
iomega Super DVD 4x DVD burner
16x DVD-ROM drive
Memorex Floppy drive
Enermax Multi-Fuction Panel UC-9FATR2
Matrox RT.X100
Windows XP Professional
Lian-Li PC-6070 Plus mid-tower case

Some of my recommendations:

Don't pay extra for "low-latency" RAM. I made the mistake of doing this and found out later it didn't make much difference, especially for the price premium. See http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...1637762,00.asp. Just get the fastest memory the motherboard you choose supports, from a reputable manufacturer like Crucial. PC2-4200 (DDR2-533) seems to be the fastest widely supported RAM right now. I see that PC2-5300 (DDR2-667) is also out, so there may be some motherboards that support it, though I haven't seen any yet.

I'd recommend looking at Seagate for hard drives, as they have the longest warranties (five years). Western Digital and Maxtor have one year warranties. I just had one of my Maxtors go bad, and due to the short warranty I'm stuck paying for a replacement. Seagate may not be more reliable, but at least you don't get stuck with the tab for five years if the drive fails. They're also among the quieter hard drives.

Quote:
There's some technical stuff that they [Videoguy's] are wrong about... like SATA being faster (in real world performance, SATA drives perform the same as ATA drives if you compare the same model).
There very well may be misinformation in that Videoguy's article, but I'm not sure they are wrong about this. According to Matrox, to perform a real-time export in my RT.X100 system, "Unless you're using a Serial ATA (SATA) drive, you'll need an additional drive dedicated to perform real time exports to disk. Due to the advanced transfer rates of Serial ATA (SATA) drives, a single SATA drive can be used for both the A/V and export drives." Obviously Matrox feels SATA drive are faster than EIDE (Ultra ATA) hard drives. An additional bonus of SATA drives are the much thinner cables which improve airflow, especially in systems with multiple hard drives.

Make sure you get a good power supply. This is too often overlooked as it isn't a glamerious part of the computer, but a power supply that can't meet your computer's needs can lead to an unstable system. See this web site, http://www.jscustompcs.com/power_supply, for a wattage calculator that will tell you what type of power supply you will need.

There are a couple reasons I chose an Intel processor, both related to the fact I'm using Premiere Pro. One, Premiere Pro is optimized for the P4's hyperthreading, and two, there were some older AMD chips when Premiere Pro came out that didn't support some Intel SSE instructions that Premiere Pro required, and I didn't want to be stuck in a similar fix if I wanted to upgrade in the future and the new Premiere Pro version required, say SSE3. I think the only AMD processors that supported SSE3 at the time were the 64 bit chips, and they were too expensive then.

Both AMD and Intel processors are good, and you should be happy with either one.

Some web sites with good computer information and reviews.

www.extremetech.com
www.pcworld.com
www.pcmag.com
www.tomshardware.com

I also recommend the Silent PC Review site (www.silentpcreview.com) Glenn mentioned. I used their information extensively in building my computer.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions or need clarifications please ask.
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Old April 25th, 2005, 09:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Jefferson
"However, my Counter Strike Source FPS dropped about 30.. :( "

ROFLMAO

i have to say, ur the first person ive come aross who actually admits to gaming on their edit box :)
everyone does it, but admitting it..? i think were a dying breed.. lol
ROFLCOPTER!

All work and no play makes a Jack a dull boy.. lol! I've been playing since the early betas and it's pretty much what I play exclusively.. It's like crack and I'm addicted..
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Old April 25th, 2005, 09:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
How'd you manage to overclock the Dell? Usually their BIOSes don't let you overclock. I presume you are using a software utility to overclock it?
Let's just say it's part dell now..lol! A buddy of mine from a certain vendor who will remain nameless.. Supplied me with a BIOS for the mobo to up the FSB.
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