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Old February 23rd, 2010, 04:23 PM   #1
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Getting PC ready for HD

Well, I just ordered my HMC40 and am sprucing up the ol edit rig for handling the HD footage. It'll be getting a Q9550 quad core, and a helping of Windows 7 64 bit to run CS4. Now it's currently running 4gb of RAM, and an 8800GTS card from EVGA.

My question here lies in whether or not I should upgrade the RAM to 8GB, in particular these:
Newegg.com - CORSAIR XMS2 DHX 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Quad Kit Desktop Memory Model Q2X8G6400C4DHX - Desktop Memory

Or if I should upgrade the graphics card to a true workstation card and get a CUDA powered Quadro, card such as this guy:
Newegg.com - PNY VCQFX580-PCIE-PB Quadro FX 580 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card - Workstation Graphics / Video Cards

I'm pretty sure I'll end up doing both, just wondering what would be more beneficial in the for starters here. I'm guessing it's the RAM.

Thanks
Paul
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 06:49 PM   #2
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Paul,

As far as the ram is concerned if you like Corsair Ram, and I do, go to the Corsair web site and see what is recommended for your mother board. Also if you want to tell us what motherboard you have, maybe we could make a recommendation.

Also in regards to the video card you have selected, it has only average reviews. Do you have a single or dual monitor set-up?
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Old February 23rd, 2010, 07:25 PM   #3
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Paul,

It would be very helpful if you can tell us which motherboard you are planning to use the Q9550 on. Not all Socket LGA775 motherboards can accept even a Core2 series CPU, let alone a 45nm quad-core version of that CPU. And even if a motherboard is an early model that claims "Core2 Compatible", it might support only the older 65nm versions of the Core2 series CPU, such as the Core2 Quad Q6xxx series. And if your existing motherboard currently houses an older pre-Core2 processor, such as a Pentium D (not to be confused with the more recent Pentium Dual-Core E2xxx series processors, which are cut versions of the Core2 Duo E6xxx series processors) or Pentium 4, it will almost certainly not support any of the 45nm Core2 processors at all.

Also, even if the motherboard of your choosing can accept a Core2 Quad Q9xxx series CPU, some motherboards have no way at all whatsoever to manually adjust the DIMM voltage (or put it this way, their DIMM voltage setting is permanently fixed at 1.8 Volts). The C4DHX kit requires a DIMM voltage of 2.1 Volts in order to even use the advertised latency timings on those modules. If the DIMM voltage is not up to those requirements, then you shouldn't run those modules at their advertised 4-4-4-12 latency timings - but instead, you should increase the latency timings to at least 5-5-5-18 (the modules' default SPD setting) in order to even work.

Third, many motherboards will default the memory speed down to 667MHz (PC2-5300) instead of the rated 800MHz (PC2-6400) if you use more than two modules. If that's the case, you might be able to manually set the memory speed to the full 800MHz, subject to the other limitations that I described in the previous paragraph.

Finally, if you find that you have to buy a new motherboard in addition to a new processor and new memory because you have a motherboard that's so old (with an Intel 915 or 925XE chipset or any other older Intel chipset up to the 975X) that it won't support the Core2 series processors at all (even though the processors will physically fit the socket), then maybe it's time to upgrade to an i-series platform (such as an i5 or i7 processor in either dual-channel LGA1156 or triple-channel LGA1366 form). But then, you will have to purchase DDR3 memory instead of DDR2 memory for that new upgrade.

In other words, if a complete motherboard and CPU replacement is required, then I would not spend any more money on an aging and outgoing platform (Intel is scheduled to abandon LGA775 entirely by the end of this year - and no new processors are being developed any more for this socket type). Instead, I would save up for the major components of a newer platform. On the other hand, if your existing motherboard can accept the Q9550 with a simple BIOS update, then buying that Q9550 and extra memory makes better economic sense than a complete overhaul.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 23rd, 2010 at 08:23 PM.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 09:37 AM   #4
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I have to echo Randall on this one... if you plan on utilizing the Core2 chip you have stated and have already ordered it, then definitely go with a memory upgrade as your first option. NLEs absolutely love RAM.

However, if you find that you are going to need a motherboard upgrade (not all 775 chipset motherboards support the 45nm chips) and you haven't ordered that CPU yet, seriously consider the i7. Randall suggested the i5 and i7, but I'd say just look at i7 to maximize what you get for the money, because the i5's don't support hyperthreading.

For video cards, I have to ask what NLE you are using. If Adobe, then realize that CS4 won't really utilize any hardware acceleration so it's not going to give you much performance increase at all compared to memory or processing speed upgrades. Further, the card you listed is not one of the most current Quadro cards, so it will not be supported by CS5's Mercury Playback Engine. You will REALLY want your card to be able to use that. See in the Premiere section of this forum for more info on that.

If you end up needing a motherboard for the 9550, email me craig (at) wildflyproductions.com . I have a Asus P5K 64 WS board that I think was turned on just once. It was ordered "open box" from the major online computer retailer and didn't come with the metal I/O plate that connects to the case and covers the gaps between i/o ports. At the time those covers weren't available to order, so my client ordered himself the retail kit and this "open box" one went on my shelf.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 11:19 AM   #5
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However, if you find that you are going to need a motherboard upgrade (not all 775 chipset motherboards support the 45nm chips) and you haven't ordered that CPU yet, seriously consider the i7. Randall suggested the i5 and i7, but I'd say just look at i7 to maximize what you get for the money, because the i5's don't support hyperthreading.
You are correct on this one. Most NLEs prefer multicore and HyperThreading. The i5-7xx series is better for gaming than video editing/rendering work. With the i5, you can have quad-core but no HyperThreading support (7xx series), or HyperThreading support but only dual-core (6xx series with integrated video that's currently compatible with only the H55, H57 or Q57 chipsets; the 6xx series processors will work on a P55 or P57 chipset motherboard but with on-CPU integrated video support disabled); in other words, the i5 has only four logical cores (versus eight on the i7). Then there's the i3 which both lacks HyperThreading support and is only dual-core.

Also, the choice between the 1156 and the 1366 platform depends largely on how much money you want to spend on a large amount of RAM. Since 1156 platforms use only dual-channel, going to more than 8GB total will cost you a relatively astronomical amount of money (primarily because 4GB memory modules still cost about 50% more money per GB than 2GB memory modules) whereas you can go up to 12GB on a 1366 system without having to spend an arm and a leg. (Simply put, you can typically purchase 12GB of RAM, via two 6GB triple-channel kits, for a 1366 platform for roughly the same amount of money as what a single 8GB dual-channel kit costs for an 1156 platform.)

And if you want to run 64-bit Windows 7 or Vista with such large amounts of RAM, keep in mind that the Home Premium edition is limited to 16GB of RAM maximum. The Professional (Win7), Business (Vista) and Ultimate editions support up to 128GB of RAM. Thus, if someone wants to max out a 1366 platform's memory capacity by loading it up with six 4GB modules, that person would need to run 64-bit Win7 Professional, Vista Business or Win7/Vista Ultimate in order for the operating system to see all 24GB of RAM (Vista requires SP1 or higher or a software hotfix in order to work properly with more than 3GB of RAM). In my experience, I found the Professional slightly better suited to video editing work than the Ultimate (as far as Windows 7 editions go) due to the Professional having a little less "junk" in it.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 24th, 2010 at 12:26 PM.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 07:17 PM   #6
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Well then, I had considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable with this stuff, but I'm definitely glad I asked.

My motherboard is this model:
Newegg.com - EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards (Edit, and upon checking this out, looks like this Mobo only works with 65nm chips. Looks like it's time to get an RMA)

Also, in regards to the video card only getting decent reviews, if I end up buying that one later, I could save up for the next step up which I believe is a much nicer card.

I'll check with the RAM compatibility for my mobo as well. (Edit, upon searching this, Corsair says it is compatible.)

Also, I'll be using CS4, and eventually upgrading to CS5 I hope.

Thanks guys.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 08:15 PM   #7
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So as much as I would love to make the Jump to an i7, I just can't afford to right now, so I'm thinking that this motherboard would probably be the best purchase.

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

GA-EP45-UD3R (rev. 1.1) - GIGABYTE - Product - Motherboard - Specification

Supports 45nm chips, supports faster RAM, and is pretty decently rated as well.
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Old February 24th, 2010, 09:40 PM   #8
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Paul, I'm not entirely clear from this thread what parts you're keeping and what you're upgrading. You've mentioned a processor, mobo, RAM, video card, and new OS -- all the hardware is on the verge of being "legacy."

If you mean to replace all those components and add Win 7, with the intent of running CS4 and CS5, you're essentially building a new computer and I agree with the others that building an i7 will be a much better expenditure -- and not much more money at that if you're going for a 920 chip. IMO, it won't matter how little or much you spend on upgrading an older system; it will almost certainly still disappoint you when trying to edit HD.

Regardless of the rest of the system, a fast RAID for your data files will also make a big difference; no way around that (see the many posts by Harm Millaard about that topic).
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Old February 24th, 2010, 11:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paul Digges View Post
So as much as I would love to make the Jump to an i7, I just can't afford to right now, so I'm thinking that this motherboard would probably be the best purchase.

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Intel Motherboards

GA-EP45-UD3R (rev. 1.1) - GIGABYTE - Product - Motherboard - Specification

Supports 45nm chips, supports faster RAM, and is pretty decently rated as well.
Actually, I priced your intended upgrade versus my recommended i7 alternative. Your desired Q9550/DDR2 setup will actually cost $20 more than my recommended i7-860/DDR3-1333 alternative listed below (both with 8GB of total RAM) from the same vendor (Newegg) - and with the i7-860 setup I suggested as an alternative, you also get USB 3.0 and SATA III 6.0 Gbps support (albeit via onboard third-party controllers) should you need it (the P55 chipset natively supports RAID through its six associated SATA II 3.0 Gbps ports without the need for a third-party controller). Plus, with your originally intended setup, there is no guarantee that your intended motherboard could even run DDR2-800 memory at its full rated speed with all four memory slots filled; more likely, the memory speed will default to a slower DDR2-667 speed with such a full load of memory (plus, Core2 systems with DDR2 memory work best with memory that's running at exactly the same true clock speed as the true clock speed of the processor's front-side bus - DDR2-667 speed for an FSB1333 Q9550 processor). And even with more normal DDR2 memory totalling 8GB, the aged old Socket 775 upgrade will still cost you almost as much money as my recommended i7-860 upgrade package since part of the 775 package's high price comes from high-performance, low-latency DDR2 memory which in itself costs a bit higher than normal-latency DDR2 memory. Moreover, desktop DDR2 memory prices right now are increasing while desktop DDR3 prices remain flat due to the fact that fewer and fewer new systems still use desktop DDR2 memory which itself will hang around for just a little longer in low-cost, low-memory-capacity micro desktop systems powered by such embedded processors as the Intel Atom - a sign that DDR2 memory is now clearly past its prime. (And I could recommend an i7-860 upgrade package that's even less expensive than the one listed below simply by eliminating the nice-but-currently-unnecessary add-on SATA III and USB 3.0 controllers and ports.) This is exactly why I would not recommend spending a single penny on such an aged platform that's on the verge of being phased out of production when you can get a much more up-to-date platform for about the same price as what the older platform would cost you.

To be exact, my "recommended" i7-860 alternative is comprised of the following components:

Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Newegg.com - Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

Newegg.com - CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model CMX8GX3M4A1333C9 - Retail

Note that I did not include the other i7 alternative, the i7-920, because the motherboards available for that processor are significantly more expensive than the motherboards available for the 860. A system I priced with one of the lower-priced X58 motherboards would have cost about the same amount of money as the other two setups I compared - but the 920 system will still have only 6GB of RAM versus 8GB on the other two setups for that total motherboard/processor/memory upgrade price.

On the other hand, if you have already ordered the CPU, then yes, go ahead with your originally intended motherboard and memory upgrade. Keep in mind, though, with the motherboard switch you will need to completely wipe out your system's hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch because your existing motherboard uses an NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI core-logic chipset while the newer motherboard uses an Intel core-logic chipset.

Regardless, if you need a newer workstation-level graphics card, you will need to add the price of that card to the $650-ish total price of either the "legacy" or the i7-860 upgrade. And since your intended graphics card replacement will not be much, if any, of an upgrade from your current 8800GTS (since your intended replacement card still does not support the CS5's Mercury Playback engine), you might as well stick with your current graphics card until you save up enough money for the card upgrade to one which does support the Mercury engine.

Thus, my advice is to go for the motherboard/processor/memory upgrade now (whether you end up with your originally intended upgrade or the alternative i7-860 upgrade that I suggested), and save up more money for a truly up-to-date workstation-level graphics card later.

P.S. I did check the eVGA site for your current motherboard, and found that it does not support any of the 45nm Core2 Quad processors (Q9xxx or QX9xxx series) at all due to the limitations of the nForce 680i chipset. 45nm Core2 Duo (E7xxx or E8xxx series) processors, however, are supported with the most recent BIOS version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randall Leong View Post
Then there's the i3 which both lacks HyperThreading support and is only dual-core.
I double-checked this again, and I was incorrect on the i3. The i3 is simply a version of the dual-core, HyperThreading-enabled i5-6xx series processors with the Turbo feature (as used on all i5 and i7 processors) disabled. The Pentium G6950 (also for Socket 1156) is the only dual-core processor with integrated graphics support which lacks HyperThreading support. All of those dual-core processors have integrated graphics support which works in conjunction with a motherboard using an H55, H57 or Q57 chipset. And as I said in my earlier post they will work on a P55 or P57 motherboard but with integrated graphics support disabled.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 25th, 2010 at 11:04 AM.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 01:18 PM   #10
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Wow thanks tremendously for that. I'm on my phone so I'll read it over more when I get home from work.

The biggest issue is that I do already have the processor in my possesion and Newegg doesn't allow RMA on it despite being a retail unused version of it. I may call them and plead my case and hope for the best. You're right though at this point it seems futile to upgade this pc much further.

Wiping my system drive is going to be performed anyhow when I install windows 7. The essentials are already backed up.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 03:55 PM   #11
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*Big sigh of relief*

Well, just got off the phone with Newegg, and they are super cool and are letting me return the processor. I'll be going with your setup there Randall, and then saving up further down the road for a Mercury compatible Quadro card. Thanks for everyone's help in this rather annoying process. I thought my skills were up to par but I built this machine over 2 years ago so things had obviously changed a lot since then haha.

I'll definitely ask for a review BEFORE I buy the stuff next time to see if everything checks out.

Thanks,
Paul
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Old February 25th, 2010, 05:11 PM   #12
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Unless I'm mistaken, the 1366 platform, although just slightly more expensive now, has a more robust upgrade path than the 1156 for video editors. You may find that in 6 months or a year you want to upgrade to a hexacore processor -- anticipated to be a significant leap in performance over the current i7 processors -- which doesn't appear will be an option for the 1156. I understand you are watching your budget very closely for this computer but you may be happier longer by spending just a few bucks more now. Just something to chew on.
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Old February 26th, 2010, 12:26 AM   #13
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Well, I just purchased my Gigabyte board already, and am waiting on the RMA from Newegg. If at the point of Hexacores coming out I decide I need one, then I'll go that route, but for now, I believe this shall do fine for me.
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Old February 26th, 2010, 01:41 AM   #14
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Unless I'm mistaken, the 1366 platform, although just slightly more expensive now, has a more robust upgrade path than the 1156 for video editors. You may find that in 6 months or a year you want to upgrade to a hexacore processor -- anticipated to be a significant leap in performance over the current i7 processors -- which doesn't appear will be an option for the 1156. I understand you are watching your budget very closely for this computer but you may be happier longer by spending just a few bucks more now. Just something to chew on.
However, the forthcoming hexacore processors - if they are introduced to the market - will remain astronomically expensive for years to come (as had happened to Intel's first "x86" CPU, the 8086/8088, which had remained at relatively the same price over the feasible nearly-decade-long production life of those CPUs). This means that when such processors come out, no 1366 processor costing less than $1000 will remain in production (all sub-$1000 processors would move to 1156 by that time) - and the prices of the least expensive hexacore processor will remain at the $1000 or higher price point for many years. At that point, the 1366 platform will be moved further upscale to workstation status. (This is exactly in line with Intel's platform roadmap for the next several years.)

What that all means that if you want a 1366 platform for the lower price, better do so before the hexacore processors come out. Afterwards, the cost of the least expensive 1366 upgrade package will increase to about $1200 to $1300 even with only 3GB of RAM since all processors priced at less than i7 Extreme Edition levels will have moved completely to the 1156 platform. (A hexacore non-Extreme Edition i9 is not on Intel's current road map: These processors will only be sold as Extreme Edition processors - and therefore such an astronomical price tag - for the foreseeable future. Xeon versions will also be produced, at similarly high prices.)

And not all X58 motherboards will even support the hexacore processors at all. The hexacore processors will likely require an entirely new chipset (likely to be dubbed something like the X68 chipset) in order to even work properly due to substantial electrical differences between the hexacores (which will almost certainly use the 32nm process that's currently used by the Clarksfield-core i5-6xx and i3-5xx processors for the 1156) and the current i7-9xx processors. Hence, buying a current 1366 upgrade package is no guarantee that you can even upgrade to hexacore at all. (This is analogous to the NVIDIA nForce 680 chipset which could not support the 45nm quad-core processors at all even though it supported the older 65nm quad-cores and the 45nm dual-core processors.) In fact, if you currently have a 1366 system, you will likely have to also upgrade the motherboard if you want to upgrade to hexacore. This makes an upgrade to 1366 unwise right now since the new hexacores will likely use the same socket type but with some of the pin assignments switched around, making older 1366 processors completely incompatible with newer motherboards, as well as making newer processors completely incompatible with older motherboards (even though the processors will physically fit their sockets). If one ignores this warning and try to upgrade without also upgrading the motherboard, that person may very well end up with a system which refuses to even POST until the newer processor is removed and the older processor is reinstalled (or, if one buys a newer motherboard to replace a burnt-out older model while keeping the same older CPU, that system will refuse to POST until the owner upgrades to the newer processor). No BIOS update will even help solve this since this becomes a hardware compatibility issue.

Last edited by Randall Leong; February 26th, 2010 at 03:06 AM.
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Old February 26th, 2010, 11:17 AM   #15
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The hexacore processors will likely require an entirely new chipset...
It will definitely be prudent to do one's research and verify component compatibility before buying. Paul just got burned on that, I have burned myself on that before, and no doubt many others of us have. As always, caveat emptor.

However, currently available information does not support this opinion. Multiple sources indicate that the 980X will be pin compatible and will work in existing X58 mobos with a BIOS update. This is corroborated by timing: the 980X is expected to be released within the next month or two, while the successor to the X58 chipset (about which I can't even find much info online yet), is obviously some time further out. Intel isn't going to release a high-end chip that has no mobo to plug it in to.

As far as price, you can build an i920 system quite economically now and if you want some more horsepower later, just drop in a new processor. The high end chips have retailed in the +/- $1000 range for years. Intel seemed to have violated the "bang for buck" principle with the 975 vs 920, but in general, the "astronomical" price of the high end processors only fractionally add to the overall price of a high-end computer and in turn give an incremental speed increase over a slower processor. If it does happen that one's current mobo won't support a future super-fast xyz-core chip, then true enough, you'll add a couple hundred bucks for a new mobo to the price of the upgrade. Those are all choices the system builder/buyer can make.

It appears that any upcoming 1156 performance upgrades will be in small increments. The 1366 is poised to see 50% or more in overall CPU performance with the Gulftown (980X) processor.

There's always a three way dance between cost, hardware capability, and editing software performance. We are all excited about Mercury (presumably, but not definitely, slated for CS5 later this year), but we should all remember that the online demos were done with a top-end dual processor Xeon workstation with an expensive Quadro graphics card. I don't know what the disc subsystem was, but almost certainly was an expensive and fast RAID array -- what business is going to put out video of its upcoming wares that shows it in anything but the best light?

Six core chips aren't out yet, and Mercury isn't out yet. So this is merely a prediction, and not a fact, but here it is: I think anyone running Adobe/Mercury on an economy system (lacking ANY of these three components: high-end processor, expensive and compatible graphics card, and fast RAID array), will be disappointed trying to edit full raster HD. Especially if their workflow includes After Effects.

Myself, I was planning to take the i920 to hexacore path myself, but just haven't gotten around to it. So at this point, I'm saving my pennies and will build a new 980X with a ton of RAM, a Quadro card and fast RAID shortly after Gulftown hits the street...making due with my elderly QX6700 until then.
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