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Old April 21st, 2010, 04:42 PM   #1
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What can I salvage from my current NLE?

Hi folks-
I'm brand new to the forum, at least brand new since I last posted probably in 2005. I need input as to what I can salvage from my current NLE to build one that will edit AVCHD. My current setup, as I tried to build it up, is certainly not cutting it.
What I have:
Adobe CS4 4.1
Windows XP Pro 32-bit
Dell Optiplex 745 MB w/ Intel Pentium D 3.4 ghz
8.0gb ram (DDR2)
NVidia GeForce 9800 GT Video card
430 watt PS
1- 400gb 7200rpm SATA for the OS and apps
2- 1tb 7200rpm SATA in RAID 1 config for data

Do I need to start from scratch? Can I use the DDR2 RAM w/ i7 processor? Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Paul
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:18 PM   #2
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You'll have to purchase mostly new components and software for a new NLE system. The Intel i7 processor requires DDR3 memory (it will not work at all with your existing DDR2 memory). And during all of those years you had been using only about 3GB of your current system's 8GB of RAM due to the limitations of 32-bit versions of Windows (roughly 5GB of memory became dormant and unusable). Plus, the Pentium D processor (in the case of your particular system, the Presler-core Pentium D 945) is very inefficient and outdated even by current entry-level standards. (And please note that during the production lifespan of the Optiplex 745, it was available with either a Pentium D 9xx series CPU or a Core 2 Duo E6xxx series CPU. The best-performing CPU that you can put onto the Optiplex 745's motherboard is a Core 2 Duo E6700.)

On the "plus" side (if I can even call this a "plus"), the 9800 GT is OK but is beginning to show its age. And the gains from RAIDing two 1TB drives in a RAID 1 (mirroring) array are debatable. Plus, your system boot drive is slow by modern standards (a 400GB hard drive of your system's era used three 133GB platters whereas newer hard drives now use 500GB platters).

In other words, the two 1TB hard drives plus maybe the graphics card are the only components that can be carried over into a new build. And you will need a 64-bit version of Windows (Windows 7 is strongly recommended rather than Vista or XP) in order for your system to see more than about 3GB of RAM.

Last edited by Randall Leong; April 21st, 2010 at 10:55 PM.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:23 PM   #3
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Thanks Randall. So are 7200 RPM SATA drives fast enough for data, I just need to upgrade the OS drive to a faster drive?

If I purchase a motherboard that is i7 I can just replace the existing motherboard in my existing tower?

That makes sense on th 3GB of RAM, when I boot I see where it shows 8mb RAM but when I'm inside the system specs said only 3GB and I thought I was going crazy.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:30 PM   #4
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Paul,

Your Optiplex 745 minitower system will not accept any standard ATX or even microATX form factor motherboards at all. You'll have to special-order a microBTX motherboard, which is now nearly impossible to find.

As such, you'll have to purchase an entirely new case in order to even accomodate a standard form-factor motherboard.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 08:15 PM   #5
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Randall, as I did with Harm, I need to correct the 'idea' that Raid 1 offers no performance benefit over a single drive. Everything from onboard Intel software Raid to Areca/LSI/Adaptec hardware raid controllers can read from both drives simultaneously, which increases MB/s read throughput in addition to random access. There are many benchmarks online illustrating this. In addition, I noticed booting times of about 40% faster with 2 drives in Raid 1 vs a single drive (in my business partners Dell). Furthermore, Raid 10 offers a similar performance improvement. Heck, good hardware raid controllers can match Raid 0 read speeds when using Raid 10. This is partly why I use Raid 10 with my Areca rather than Raid 5 - better read speeds, faster random access, and no parity to calculate when a drive fails.

Paul, everything else Randall has said is dead on accurate.

Upgrading to Windows 7 Pro 64bit will provide a very noticeable performance increase by itself. If you buy another Dell, make sure it has at least 3 hard drive bays. Even their high end XPS systems only have 2 with an 5.25" optical bay converter for a third, but that bay has NO airflow so I recommend not using it unless you get a SSD or Velociraptor for the OS. For $80 or $90, you can now get 74GB Velociraptors (via newegg).
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 01:01 AM   #6
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Paul,

Start from scratch. It's easier. I would opt not to utilize the old hard drives in the new system. I try to make it a habit to upgrade hard drives every two years with the amount my machines are on. Hard drive space isn't that expensive, and I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Go with an i7 system (9xx series, forget the 8xx series) with 12GB RAM and get a video card that is on Adobe's list of approved cards for CS5/MPE hardware engine. I have a GeForce GTX 285 with 2GB RAM, and I love it. It's on the list. Make sure you have a good sized power supply, as the more powerful equipment needs more power (duh). I'd suggest maybe an 850W, making sure you get a high quality brand. Don't skimp on the power supply.

Hard drives: Go with a multiple drive RAID array, preferably not RAID 1. AVCHD needs fast drives, especially if you are using a higher bitrate like the Canon DSLRs shoot. Further, you should probably look at transcoding into a more edit-friendly codec such as NeoScene (or NeoHD... FirstLight is incredible and I have something new to spend more money on soon). This will increase your bitrate even further on the files, so hard drive performance is critical.

Remember that lots of drives make lots of heat. Your case selection is important. I like the big CoolerMaster cases if you are going with a tower system. Personally I run a rackmount 4u system, and I run all my drives in an external hotswappable rackmount unit to keep the heat away from my processor.
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:25 AM   #7
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Will 7200rpm drives cut it for the RAID array? I had just purchased two 1tb Seagate drives for this. What about the OS drive, 7200rpm work?
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:26 AM   #8
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And I was setting up RAID1 because as I understood it that was the config to run so the drives mirrored each other? Which RAID should config should I run?
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 01:26 PM   #9
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I wouldn't use a RAID 1 for your video drive. That's all. Your options:

Video in RAID 0 (2 drive min, but I would suggest 3 or more). This gives you NO redundancy, but is fast and cheap. You'll most likely want some external drives with large sizes that you can store backups of your media on. With AVCHD, I usually just transfer my footage from CF card to the external first, then run Neoscene and transcode to the cineform codec with the output being pushed to my video array. That makes one copy, one transcode rather than two copies, one transcode and saves time. If for some reason I lose my video array because a hard drive fails, I can rebuild the array and then push the original files from the camera (on the external drive now) through Neoscene and back onto the raid array.

Video in RAID 5, RAID 6, or RAID 30. Gives redundancy at the cost of using more drives for that redundancy. You'll also want an external array if you are doing this. Oh, and you DO NOT want to use Seagate Barracuda drives for this... use enterprise class drives. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why I kept having my RAID 5 break, and it ended up being a problem with those drives that I don't believe has ever been corrected. They have no problem in RAID 0 however.
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 05:54 PM   #10
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I agree with not using a consumer desktop drive for high-level RAID use.

And yes, I agree that more drives in a RAID 0 array will improve performance up to the maximum practical limit of the SATA or RAID controller. After all, if an onboard SATA RAID controller is rated for only 300 MB/s maximum, the performance improvement in the RAID 0 array could be controller-limited with as few as three drives. Plus, most of the very fastest systems in the PPBM4 benchmark recommended to me all have multi-thousand-dollar ($3,000+) external RAID arrays ranging from eight to 12 drives.

And my particular system did pretty well (overclocked or stock) in that PPBM4 benchmark even though it has only a simple dual-drive RAID 0 array and 6GB of RAM. Most of the other i7 systems on the results list have 12GB of RAM.
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 08:33 PM   #11
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Craig, I don't know what exactly your problem was but I have been using each of the last 3 generations of Seagate desktop drive in Raid 1, 5 and 10 and never had a problem with the drives (while using 3ware and Areca true hardware raid controllers).

On a side note: this doesn't necessarily apply to Paul but it still is important. With large raid arrays and large drives, using enterprise drives to protect your data is important for one specific reason - UER. Unrecoverable Error Rate. Consumer/desktop sata drives are only 1x10^14; enterprise sata/sas are 1x10^15 and enterprise sas 10k/15k rpm are 1x10^16. When using several desktop sata 1-2TB drives in a raid array, your chances of problems are rather high. I was oblivious to this until recently and that is why I am switching to the new Seagate Constellation ES drives. Furthermore, SAS provides another benefit in error correction on both reads and writes.

Back on topic: I have found computer problems to almost always happen at the worst time. This is why I choose Raid 1 at a minimum for important data. Imagine working 6+ hrs on a project in Premiere and a drive has a problem. I don't know about you but that time is easily worth the money spent on extra drives to give me redundancy. Oh yeah, don't forget the time lost while reloading the data from your backups.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 12:07 AM   #12
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Steve,

I think the problem may have been confined to the 7200.11 series Barricuda drives by Seagate. It was an issue with the drives temporarily going into an unresponsive state long enough for the RAID controller to think the drive went bad. They would come back online after the momentary lapse, but the problem was when two drives had this issue overlap in a RAID 5. The controller would then immediately think it had a broken array, and there wasn't any recovery available at that point.

I agree on the RAID 1. I put my project files in a RAID 1, while leaving my video files in Cineform codec on the RAID 0. If the RAID 0 goes down, I just convert the files in Neoscene again from my external drives the source footage is stored on.

Randall,

You don't have to spend thousands. Look at Highpoint RocketRaid as your controller. For $150 (4 port) or $260 (8 port) you can get a nice controller that is fine for video production. Mine is the 2322, and it has 2 external miniSAS that connect to my Norco Technologies 12 bay rackmount. The external portion isn't necessary, it's a luxury for me, though it's how I can afford to overclock my machine to 4.2ghz. Getting the hard drives out of the same chassis as the CPU makes a big difference in temps.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #13
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Thanks guys. So far I have a CoolerMaster chassis, an Asus P6T S1366 motherboard with the i7 930 processor.

Question on the Asus P6T, I know it will do RAID control but will this also be sufficient as my RAID controller?

Since I already have a pair of 1tb Seagate drives I'm going to give those a shot for the RAID drives.

Next up is Video Card, Power Supply and boot drive. I looked into the GeForce GTX 285, and it is pricey, is there anything slightly less that will fit the bill?
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:07 AM   #14
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Paul,

If you are going to use Premiere CS5 as your NLE, then don't buy anything other than what is on Adobe's certified list. The 285 is on that list, and I can tell you it's a great card. I have the 2GB version.

The ASUS P6T is fine for RAID as long as you are fine with the limited amount of ports. Remember that you'll need to account for your DVD/BluRay burners that use SATA when counting up your drives.

For the other stuff, just make sure you don't skimp on the power supply. Go with an 850w or higher, with an established brand. Do your research on Newegg.com, they have plenty of reviews. I'd possibly go with one like this:

Newegg.com - CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply

Keep in mind that one is not modular. Some people prefer modular, but those people are mostly gamers. Boot drive: Western Digital Velociraptor or an SSD (though you need to research SSDs... not all perform well as boot drives). If you have questions on which SSD to use, post them up here. One of us should be able to answer you.

Oh... and lastly, do NOT purchase any of the "green" hard drives that spin down for any drives that need to remain powered at all times within your system. They are fine for archival, but their performance sucks.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:38 PM   #15
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Paul, the ASUS P6T is an excellent choice (its what I currently use).

A word of advice, if I may: get a good cpu cooler for your initial installation. Adding one later can be a real pain the a$$. For max efficiency and low noise, the Noctua is the best. Newegg.com - Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO CPU Cooler
You can spend a little less, but you either sacrifice cooling and/or increase noise.

If you plan to upgrade to CS5, you might consider getting 3 sticks of 4GB ram, which will leave you with 3 free slots to add more down the road. Its a little more money for 3 - 4GB sticks versus 6 2GB sticks but its an option to consider. Just get at least 1333MHz ram so you can overclock if you ever decide to.

For power supply, Corsair has an excellent reputation. The 650w is more than enough for your currently proposed system (GTX 285, 3-4 drives, i7 930). I use a PC Power & Cooling 750w with an i7, 10 drives, 2 hardware Raid controllers (3ware & Areca), nvidia 8800GT, that Noctua cpu cooler and 6 case fans.

Also, a modular power supply is very nice to have since you can remove unused cables, which helps keep clutter down and maximize airflow.

The built in Raid is certainly good enough for Raid 0 or 1. Just NEVER use it for Raid 5.

For the OS and application drive, you can't go wrong with the 74GB Velociraptor, especially since its only $90 Newegg.com - Western Digital VelociRaptor WD740BLFS 74GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
And add $5-10 for an adapter to fit this 2.5" drive in either a regular 3.5" slot or a 5.25" optical bay.

However, for the ultimate OS drive, the Intel X25 80GB ($220) drive is utterly fast. This is what I use in all of my PCs now, whereas I used multiple 10,000 rpm Raptors in Raid 0 before. And let me tell you, a single Intel X25 SSD makes those Raptors feel like they were 10yrs old.

I hope this info helps.
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