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Old May 1st, 2011, 08:58 PM   #1
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Another workstation recommendation thread

Hey guys, I'm kind of new here and I'm looking for some advice on a pc I'm thinking of having built. I'm not really a computer kid but I've been browsing for quite a while and I think (hope) I have stuff all sorted out but thought I'd make a thread just incase I missed something small, or if I totally got everything wrong.
So I'm looking to run CS5 Premier Pro and footage from a 5DMK2. I've got a bunch of footage already (a short film and a bunch of wedding stuff) that I've copied over onto an external hard drive. Originally someone was going to help me in getting a new pc to cut it together but that fell through so now I'm trying to go solo.

My budget is around £1500 and I found on the website pcspecialist.co.uk a rig that I think fits that perfectly.

OS
Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit - inc DVD & Licence
Processor
Intel® Core™i7 Quad Core Processor i7-960 (3.20GHz) 4.8GTs/8MB Cache
Motherboard
ASUS® P6X58D PREMIUM: DDR3, USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0GB/s, 3-Way SLI
RAM
12GB KINGSTON HYPER-X TRI-DDR3 1600MHz, X.M.P (3 x 4GB KIT)
Graphics Card
1.5GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 580 - 2 DVI, HDMI, DP - DX® 11, 3D Vision Ready (I think I'd need to unlock or hack this one?)
2 Hard Disks, both
1TB SERIAL ATA 3-Gb/s HARD DRIVE WITH 16MB CACHE (7,200rpm)
Power Supply
CORSAIR 750W PRO SERIES (HX750) 80+ MODULAR PSU
Processor Cooling
SUPER QUIET 22dBA TRIPLE COPPER HEATPIPE CPU COOLER
Sound Card
Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Xtreme Audio

I'm looking for any kind of advice here; have I missed something, have I included something I don't need, is it powerful enough to run...

I know these threads must get kind of boring for you guys all the time, so thanks.
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Old May 1st, 2011, 10:54 PM   #2
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

You might want to add an SSD as your OS drive, and for storing your software. I would also add another 320-500 GB drive (if possible SSD) as cache drive. With the drives you have currently, you will find it difficult to play back 1080 footage in real time. Get the best drives, it's important to the workflow.

If the ASUS comes with a sound card, why not use it instead of the Creative card? For editing, you can make do with stereo sound. Unless you have other plans for your computer, of course.

Try raising your power supply to 1KW.

If all this goes over the budget, then buy a cheaper Nvidia card that falls within the CS5 spec-sheet. Not everyone needs CUDA.

You haven't mentioned a monitor. I'm assuming you already have a monitor that can display over 1080 vertical.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 10:02 AM   #3
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

since you are in the UK look at Scan
3XS - Video Editing Workstations

the sandy bridge 2600 would be better

unless doing AE the 580 is over kill the 570 would be plenty good.

do NOT buy any SSD's they do not increase video performance as an OS or cache
in fact a seperate cache drive is unless as well. dont believe the Hype.

you need a minimum of 3 HDDs

OS and programs
media/work
export to


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Old May 6th, 2011, 11:14 AM   #4
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Thanks guys, I'll swap down the sound card and increase the power supply. I don't mind going too over buget if I need to and if worse comes to worse I can just save up a bit more and get it a little bit later.

I'm still a bit confused on the SSD/cache drive as one said I really need it and one says I really don't. What does it actually do?

If I replace the
"1TB SERIAL ATA 3-Gb/s HARD DRIVE WITH 16MB CACHE (7,200rpm)"
with a
"1TB WD CAVIAR BLACK WD1002FAEX, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64MB CACHE (7200rpm)"
would that be a better choice?
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Old May 6th, 2011, 03:31 PM   #5
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

for the OS it really does not matter much.
the WD has more cache so yes its better

cache drives are a joke as well.

we did numerous benchmarks with SSD as an OS, SSD as a seperate temp file/swap and SSD as the media and render drives

results waste of money. and separate cache/temp/swap drive did nothing for performance.

if you go with an SSD as an OS it has to be big enough (256G minimum) to handle the temp files.

really the benchmarks difference was nearly none.

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Old May 6th, 2011, 11:07 PM   #6
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Quote:
if you go with an SSD as an OS it has to be big enough (256G minimum) to handle the temp files.
Every NLE works differently, and the way you set it up during installation decides which drives it uses for what.

If you are reading a file that has a data rate that is faster than the maximum possible rate of your 7200 rpm drive, you will need an SSD (much faster) or a RAID 0 or both. It depends on what kinds of files you are using, and what your workflow is. Scott - are you saying all the people who use RAID 0 are wrong?

Furthermore, there are different types of SSD and flash drives, and each have different read/write speeds. If you choose the wrong one for your workflow, obviously it's not going to be of much help.

Anyway, I suggest Mark to start small and then build on that. If possible, visit an editing suite that runs premiere pro in your area and see what kinds of specs they run. If there aren't any in your area, then find a few on the internet and call them up. All the best.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 09:08 AM   #7
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

he is using Adobe. (where most of my benchmarks were done.)
however we tested Vegas, Avid as well.

i stand firmly by my comments as we did pretty extensive testing of this. obviously in recommending and selling systems i would want to be able to recommend the best setups for the budget.

At the same time i spend client money like its mine.
the facts stand that SSD do not increase system performance (time it takes to finsih a render, how well preview works, layer and effects count, etc)
SSDs do make windows a tad snappier.

FYI we tested with what was the fastest SSDs at the time Mushkin with 285 read, 275 write.
now we have SSDs that are even faster. having one in my personal system does not show any improvement either. and thats a $600 drive. (got it from intel for free)

and of course i recommend Raid 0 (assuming not doing DV/HDV which it would be pretty pointless for)
i also recommend raid 5,6 depending on the workflow and back up need.

4 things effect performance or can create a bottleneck
processor power
Disk speed
memory speed and quantity
Video card ability.

all of these need to be balanced to some degree.
1 thing is constant the faster the CPU the faster the render times. however you can reach a point where you have built way too much of a system for your workflow.

EG: guys still doing DV/HDV do not need fast drive arrays (3 single drives is it)
another example
AVCHD workflow. anything past 2 x raid 0 does not improve render times or preview ability.
going from 3 singles disks to, OS plus 2 x 2 drive raid 0 is a very big improvement
going to a 2 x 4drive raid 0 gives you nothing or an 8 drive raid5. (other than redundancy on the raid 5)
this is also why we didnt see a faster render time when we did raid arrays with ssds the drives were not the bottleneck. (at least with AVCHD)
other workflows can improve with ssds (animation/3D)

over doing one area and not increasing another is not best either.

same with this whole you need a separate temp/swap file drive NONSENSE. the only time that makes sense is if you have a very small OS drive like a 60/120G SSD. yet another reason not to use an SSD and why i say it has to be a 256G drive.

the $600 aint worth it

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Old May 19th, 2011, 02:43 PM   #8
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Hey guys, thanks for your help so far, but it's getting a little bit confusing for me to keep up with this back and forth between you two. I've tried to make changes based on what you've said; I've added another 500gb drive, increased the power supply and chose a processor with a higher cache. It goes a bit over my buget, £1800 but that's not too bad.

Processor
Intel® Core™i7 Six Core Processor i7-970 (3.20GHz) 6.4GTs/12MB Cache
Motherboard
ASUS® P6X58D PREMIUM: DDR3, USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0GB/s, 3-Way SLI
Memory (RAM)
12GB KINGSTON HYPER-X TRI-DDR3 1600MHz, X.M.P (3 x 4GB KIT)
Graphics Card
1.5GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 580 - 2 DVI, HDMI, DP - DX® 11, 3D Vision Ready
1st Hard Disk
1TB WD CAVIAR BLACK WD1002FAEX, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64MB CACHE (7200rpm)
2nd Hard Disk
1TB WD CAVIAR BLACK WD1002FAEX, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64MB CACHE (7200rpm)
3rd Hard Disk
500GB WD CAVIAR BLACK WD5002AALX, SATA 6 Gb/s, 32MB CACHE (7200rpm)
Power Supply
CORSAIR 1000W PRO SERIES (HX1000) 80+ MODULAR PSU
Processor Cooling
TITAN FENRIR EVO EXTREME HEATPIPE CPU COOLER

I'm obviously not looking for something crazy professional but I still want a pretty decent workstation.
would this set up be a more noticeable improvement for editing 5DMK2 footage with CS5?
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Old May 20th, 2011, 02:50 PM   #9
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

you can save some cash by going with a GTX470 or GTX460 and MPE hack it. I would still consider 3 hard drives if not 4, and ditch the sound card entirely; the built in optical is 90% of what the SB card can do, and in my experience i only had problems with audio and SB cards lately; always having to manually reset which output i want.

i would also look into a better cooling system; i have a corsair h50 and h70 on my machines and it does much better keeping the systems cool during long renders than even much more expensive air coolers, i just put a second fan on them and leave both fans at max speed. even during 4-6 hour renders i dont spike temperatures over 78c.
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Old May 20th, 2011, 04:18 PM   #10
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panagiotis Raris View Post
i would also look into a better cooling system; i have a corsair h50 and h70 on my machines and it does much better keeping the systems cool during long renders than even much more expensive air coolers, i just put a second fan on them and leave both fans at max speed. even during 4-6 hour renders i dont spike temperatures over 78c.
the noctua fans do better than both the corsairs, quieter and less $

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Old May 20th, 2011, 11:50 PM   #11
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Joyce View Post
I've added another 500gb drive, increased the power supply and chose a processor with a higher cache. It goes a bit over my buget, £1800 but that's not too bad.
...
I'm obviously not looking for something crazy professional but I still want a pretty decent workstation.
would this set up be a more noticeable improvement for editing 5DMK2 footage with CS5?
You can make do with an i7-920 or 930 for 5D footage
If you opt for the above, you can go for a cheaper motherboard
You don't need a GPU as powerful as the GTX 580.

Are you planning on using this for games?
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Last edited by Sareesh Sudhakaran; May 20th, 2011 at 11:55 PM. Reason: typo
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 06:16 PM   #12
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

I hadn't planned on using it for games. I'm not particularly computer technical and was just looking to get the best specs I could afford.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 09:50 PM   #13
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

"SSDs do make Windows a tad snappier" - Really!?! SSDs blow away any and all mechanical drives when it comes to Windows and programs installed on it. I used to have 4 Raptors in Raid 0 for the OS and a single 80GB Intel X25 makes those Raptors feel utterly slow. (I transitioned to a single SSD when a Raptor died with all 4 Raptors biting the dust within 3yrs of use). On my HP Z800, I have a Seagate 7200.12 with Win 7 installed and an Intel X25 80GB with Win 7 on it - the Seagate has a bunch of extra programs that I don't want messing with my work and the SSD has only work programs on it, but both have CS5 installed. ALL CS5 apps open considerably faster on the SSD. I can click to open AE, Premiere, AME, Photoshop and Windows Explorer and the computer doesn't miss a beat, but if I try that on the Seagate, I will sit there for a while waiting and hoping Windows doesn't crap out because so much is being done all at once. There is a reason people say "Once you go SSD, you will never go back".

And saying 256GB is a minimum is not being real either. I have 80GB X25's in 4 computers (2 desktops & 2 laptops) with 19.6GB free on my Z800. Most people have multiple drives in their PCs so moving the page file to one of those works just fine.

FYI, read & write throughput doesn't matter for an OS drive. The key factor is random I/O performance and this is where the Intel SSDs really shine; although, Corsair and OCZ have finally caught up and surpassed. However, for OS usage, 10,000 IOP vs 20,000 IOP isn't noticeable.

Aside from the speed benefits, my favorite aspect of SSDs is their reliability due to no moving parts which is why their MTBF is 2-3 times that of desktop mechanical drives.

For basic video editing and encoding, SSDs don't make a difference. However, other programs do benefit such as Nuke (Sareesh can comment on this) and Photoshop. With Photoshop's cache on a SSD, creating large panoramic images takes less time than if the cache were on mechanical drives. When I first got a SSD, I had another 4 Raptors in Raid 10 and I compared the time it took to put together 20 24MP images in Photoshop and I vaguely recall it taking 5-10 mins less with the SSD.
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Old May 25th, 2011, 10:07 PM   #14
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

For audio, I would use external M-Audio or Mackie interfaces like the Firewire Solo or ProFire 610 or Mackie Onyx 820i which can double as computer interfaces & mixers and field mixers. Personally, I have the M-Audio FW410 on my personal workstation and the Mackie Onyx 1220i on my studio workstation connected to Blue Sky International speakers.

Use a good pair of headphones (ie Sennheiser HD 280 Pro @$100) and listen to the poor sound quality from the onboard audio and then listen to the excellent quality from $150+ external devices. It is night and day.

For the OS, definitely use Windows 7 Pro x64 because the Home Premium version is limited to only 16GB of ram and your motherboard can accept up to 24GB. With a 6-core CPU, 24GB of ram is much faster in encoding than 12GB in addition to making things faster when using Dynamic Link.
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Old May 31st, 2011, 10:24 AM   #15
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Re: Another workstation recommendation thread

Every time I look around on sites now I'm seeing better things coming out or options that I haven't even heard of. I'm thinking I just need to jump in and commit to one now or I'm going to be doing this forever.

On that note, I found another rig that I could use some info on and then I'll choose between the new one and the one I've already posted (with the few changes people have said). They're both around the same price too which is good.

CPU
Intel Core i7 2600K, 3.4Ghz, Quad Core, 8Mb Cache, Hyperthreading
MOTHERBOARD
Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD5, Intel P67 - Rev3
COOLER
Noctua NH-U9B SE2 Dual Fan Quiet CPU Cooler
OVERCLOCKING
2nd Generation Intel® Core™ Sandy Bridge CPU professionally overclocked by our 3XS engineers to 4.4Ghz
MEMORY
16GB (4x4GB) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 DDR3 1600Mhz, CAS 9-9-9-24 (Though 16gb may limit overclocking apparently)
GRAPHICS CARD
1Gb EVGA GTX 460 SE, 648Mhz GPU, 228 Cores, 3400Mhz GDDR3 (Wich needs hacking, right?)
POWER SUPPLY
850W Corsair HX Series, Modular 80 Plus (Dual Graphics)
SYSTEM DRIVE
Two 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black, SATA 6Gb/s, 64MB Cache
SOLID STATE DRIVE
120GB Corsair Force, Sandforce SSD, Read 285MB/s Write 275MB/s

I also want to be able to burn onto blu-ray so I'm including
"LG BH10LS30 - 10x Blu-Ray Writer & DVDRW - Retail Box + Software"
Would I need anything else for that? Like a Nero Multimedia package or something?
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