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Old April 26th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #1
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Worth doing these upgrades?

First off, hello to everyone, this is my first post on DVinfo.

The question today is about upgrading my comp. Let me give you guys some background:

I started on Final Cut 2 on an imac G3. soon after i purchased a dell 1.8 Ghz for audio production running Cubase. About 2 years ago, i bought a dell laptop 2 Ghz celeron. I have since moved to Premiere Pro since my imac grew outdated and i couldnt afford to buy another mac and be dual platform. So, i now have two dells, a laptop upgraded as far as possible, and the desktop. I've outgrown my laptop, which i have been editing video on with external drives for way too long :-), and i was planning on ditching both machines in favor of an alienware or sager desktop replacement(I know some people dont think these are worth it, but i need to be mobile so it was a best case situation).

Well, now i am forced to hold off on the desktop replacement, and partially because i want to wait for PCI-E to show up in some of their mid range laptops. But, my current config's are not adequate for working with video or flash. So i am considering some upgrades to my desktop to hold me over for the year. For reference, i will not be doing HD or HDV in the next year, but i regularly edit SD 24p DVX footage (my laptop cries right now when i feed it progressive...it skips frames. sad eh?)

Here is my current desktop config:

1.8 ghz, 256 L2 cache
512 MB DDR
40 GB 5400 primary, ata 100
80 GB 7200 secondary, ata 133 (seperate bus card)
tascam us-428 usb audio interface/control surface
16 mb 4x AGP ATI video card, second old pci 8 mb card strictly for adding a second monitor for the mixer section of my audio program

I have two external 7200 rpm firewire drives that i use on my notebook that can be used here as well, so storage is not an issue at the moment. I also have a TDK 12x DVD burner in an external case, if i do this it is going into the desktop tower.

Obviously, i never did much video with this comp...the video cards were way under spec. I want to add some juice to it to allow for audio/video/flash work for another year, then get something new. Bear in mind this is thrown away money so i am going generic(but well rated) where i can...the upgrade is necessary but any new parts will be left in the old machine when i upgrade. So here is what i am considering from newegg:

Chaintek 256 mb video card 4/8x AGP, 1 DVI connector, 1 DSub, 1 svideo out

an additional 512MB DDR chip, maxing it out to 1 GB

P4 2.8 processor, 512 L2 cache - $179
(maxes out the board, doubles L2 cache)

plus, a usb 2.0 card, and a usb 2.0 spdif 5.1 output adapter. Together they are only 15 bucks-ish.

So, i realize i wont have hyperthreading or a fast bus speed (this board is 400 mhz), but will i realize enough gains for the $300 to be worth it? How about the processor, is the 1Ghz gain plus double the cache worth $170? Or should i do the other upgrades and skip the processor?

Finally, i have never used a video card for NTSC monitoring - will this Svideo port be addressable by adobe? So, basically i can run two monitors plus an NTSC out simultaneously?

Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

Jeff dePascale
Test Pilot One Eleven Productions
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Old April 26th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #2
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Dual head cards only allow two outputs at a time...even the ones that have two dvi plus s-video. if you enable the s-video one of the monitors is disabled...that what the dual stands for.
Although the output is in the s-video connection format I think it just does standard composite out because the cable that comes bundled with the cards is s-video/composite.
To be able to do the dual monitor plus tv display setup you must do one of the following:
-get a matrox (e.g.) triple or four head card
-do what most people do (I guess) and do the preview through the firewire out->camera->TV this implies a greater cpu usage and may not work well in weaker specd computers.
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Old April 26th, 2005, 03:04 PM   #3
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Previewing out through firewire is the way to go. This doesn't take up a monitor/display on your video card.

2- Check that your Dell is upgradeable. Sometimes:
A- Low end Dimension models only have 2 slots for RAM.
B- Power supply may not be strong enough for the new processor. If it's a Prescott-core processor, you may or may not have problems. It might be possible to get an older Northwood processor.

*Check motherboard compatibility, although it should be compatible.

With the power supply, you may be able to replace it if it's insufficient. Your Dell might be one that has a proprietary PSU that looks a lot like the standard ATX one, but isn't. A standard ATX power supply will fry stuff without the right adapter. You can check if this is the case by popping open the case and looking at the wires to see if they follow standard ATX.

As far as I know it should otherwise be a standard ATX power supply, unless you have a small form factor computer. You should measure the dimensions of the power supply to double check.

C- Check motherboard compatibility with the processor. Sometimes Prescotts won't work with older motherboards. You should get a Northwood-core processor anyways though.

D- Does your Dell have an AGP slot? Low end Dimensions don't.

E- Isn't Premiere Pro slow unless you have a hardware acceleration card for it? (You need to carefully watch out for configuration issues with those.) With a laptop you can't even get one into it (although you can get a PCI expansion chassis from magma.)
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Old April 26th, 2005, 03:27 PM   #4
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yea i was afraid of that - the video card thing. The miniDV cam i have is getting kind of dated (i dont own a DVX, i shoot on one but use a sharp miniDV as my deck). The cam doesnt support pass through - so i was looking for an alternative to the firewire out. Any other options?

Re: the PS and motherboard and such, i have researched this pretty well, the board i have does support up to 2.8 P4's, northwood only, it does have AGP 4x, and the power supply is a not an issue either. I only have 1 512 stick in at the moment, i thought ahead to get a single stick when i bought it, so i can add another stick, i have 1 empty slot.

but are the upgrades worth the added juice? Thats the big question.

EDIT - FYI, i ordered the memory from crucial and the processor and video card from newegg. I decided to upgrade the video card to a geforce 6200, worth the benefits for $50 more.

So the question still remains, what about video out? Given that my current cam does nto allow pass through, is my cheapest bet to get a broken cam on ebay and use it for video out? Or is there another solution besides using a dv cam, deck, or capture card for video out?
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Old April 28th, 2005, 02:52 PM   #5
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For external preview I use the Canopus ADVC100 DV converter. You can connect a TV or production monitor directly to this box through S-Video or composite. It also converts analog video to DV and can lock the audio to the video. I think they came out with an *upgraded* model; the ADVC110. But the previous one works great.

ADVC110 (235 USD at B&H)

The only difference I can see between the 100 and 110 is that the 110 is Firewire bus powered. I guess it also performs *Audio-only conversion* according to Canopus. I'm not sure what they mean by this. Does it have a sound card driver or something? Don't know.

Anyway, I recommend getting a used ADVC100. There should be plenty available.
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Old April 28th, 2005, 06:45 PM   #6
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That Canopus box would work. It has the slight benefit of handling 7.5IRE setup correctly. You may need to re-calibrate your monitor if you had it calibrated before to 0IRE setup.

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