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Old July 16th, 2012, 06:35 AM   #1
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Budget PC build for 4k Editing

After editing on MAC since 2005, due to numerous frustrations with apple, I am switching back to PC based editing. I'm planning on building a PC and the dilemma I'm having is figuring out at what point upgrades will provide diminishing returns and really aren't necessary. I'm an independent filmmaker and I shot my last feature and short on a Canon 5D, but I'm planning on shooting future projects in 2K or 4k resolution and editing in Premiere CS6 or Lightworks. I don't mind doing an offline edit and later conforming the uncompressed footage - but at some point I will obviously need to deal with the uncompressed footage for final processing. I don't have a problem waiting on renders - the difference between waiting 45 minutes versus an hour with a better processor/video card isn't worth hundreds of dollars to me.

However, I do want a system that is actually capable of handling that kind of footage. Originally I was looking at spending around $3000 to put a system together (including the monitor), but realized that 1.) I have another film in the works and the more money I save up to put into a computer, the further back production will get pushed 2.) The next generation of processors is hypothetically coming out in 9 months to a year and 3.)I'm just really ready to not be on MAC anymore (currently have a base imac running Intel core duo 3ghz with 4gb ram and a crappy video card). I think it's a shame to spend 3k on a system at the end of a 2 year processor cycle, but at the same time, I will need something to edit my latest film on this year. I'm really not interested at all in Final Cut X and I don't want to buy a CS6 license for MAC that will be useless to me in a year or less. I get an academic discount, but still...

My thought was to build a "budget" system for $1400-$1500 (monitor included) and then once the new processors come out, build a more substantial system late next year.

I've been doing a ton of research online the last few weeks, but on a couple of hardware choices, I was wondering if any of you currently editing on PC systems have experience with some of the various options. I'm planning on definitely having 16GB ram since it's so cheap, but I'm still indecisive on the processor, video card, and whether or not to have an SSD boot disk - all decisions that could affect my build to the tune of hundreds of dollars.

In an ideal world we'd all have the top of the line, but what I'm looking for is what's good enough. I don't have any illusions that even at $3k, a system would be comparable to a $15k system at a post house with additional hardware like the redrocket.

Processor: i5 or i7? I was reading in another forum that lots of guys were editing red code with i5's just fine - able to edit the native files in premiere at 1/4 quality prerender or full quality post render.

Video Card: I was looking at the EVGA 02G-P4-2678-KR GeForce GTX 670 FTW 2GB, but at $419 there are certainly some decent options at half that price. At the same time, i know CS6 potentially relies more heavily on the CUDA cores for acceleration than the processor. What video cards are you guys running that work fine?

SSD for boot: How much of difference does this really make in application boot and speed? It's a nice option, but I would want a 256GB drive so that I didn't have to worry about what applications I could and could not install at a given point in time - so this would run me an extra $200-$250.

I already have a raid array set up for editing, so that's not a part of this equation.

Thanks and looking forward to your suggestions.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 11:33 AM   #2
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Britt,

I'm not an expert on the requirements of 4k editing, but for ANY HD editing rig, don't even consider the Core i5 - for the little bit you save, you lose a lot of performance. Definitely Core i7 4-core minimum, 6-core if you can afford it.

Jeff Pulera
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Old July 17th, 2012, 03:20 AM   #3
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Jeff, Core i5 is now quad core with Ivy Bridge, i7 is quad core with hyperthreading, so theoretical 8 core. Price difference was so small when I last looked I would get the fastest i7.

Britt, I'm actually looking at doing the same reason so started pricing one up. Both my MBPs are crashing and suffering kernal panic regularly, and so I want to build a PC that I can have more storage in, as my RAID enclosure is full, and can run MacOS X hackintosh style.

At todays prices a top of the line Ivy Bridge i7 is a no brainer, and I'm looking at 32GB RAM. SSD is still at a high enough price that if you're on a budget I wouldn't worry about it, although I built a PC for my dad the other day with an i5, 8GB RAM and 60GB SSD and its the fastest booting Win7 machine I've seen.

GTX 670 seems like the way to go.

Ivy Bridge has just come out so you should be safe investing now. There's always something round the corner, but at the end of the day I'd rather spend once than hold off forever waiting for the latest and greatest.
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Old July 17th, 2012, 08:13 AM   #4
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Pulera View Post
I'm not an expert on the requirements of 4k editing, but for ANY HD editing rig, don't even consider the Core i5 - for the little bit you save, you lose a lot of performance. Definitely Core i7 4-core minimum, 6-core if you can afford it.
Actually, most desktop i5 CPUs are quad-core. And based on my results from Sandy Bridge (in my case, an i5-2400), it is roughly 15 to 20 percent slower per clock cycle than a Sandy Bridge i7 CPU. Performance-wise, this puts the Sandy Bridge i5 in the same ballpark as a first-generation i7-9xx quad-core CPU-based PC.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 08:39 AM   #5
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Hey, I know its a bit late but what did you end up building? I'm at the same point now where you were a few months from now.

Compared to a new i7 with an adobe recommended nvidia card, I'm getting a dirt cheap Dell t7400. That's a dual Xeon, with a Quatro FX4600. I'm thinking I'll have a small RAID for footage, and two extra drives. One for OS and one for crap.

I mostly edit DSLR footage, I think the DELL t7400 might be up to the task...although they're really old. Has anybody tried this?

Thanks.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Britt Pitre View Post
---

However, I do want a system that is actually capable of handling that kind of footage. Originally I was looking at spending around $3000 to put a system together (including the monitor), but realized that 1.) I have another film in the works and the more money I save up to put into a computer, the further back production will get pushed 2.) The next generation of processors is hypothetically coming out in 9 months to a year and 3.)I'm just really ready to not be on MAC anymore (currently have a base imac running Intel core duo 3ghz with 4gb ram and a crappy video card). I think it's a shame to spend 3k on a system at the end of a 2 year processor cycle, but at the same time, I will need something to edit my latest film on this year. I'm really not interested at all in Final Cut X and I don't want to buy a CS6 license for MAC that will be useless to me in a year or less. I get an academic discount, but still...

---

Thanks and looking forward to your suggestions.
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Old October 13th, 2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Have you checked out the Premiere Pro Hardware Forum? Lots of useful info there whether you use PP FCP or most anything else:

Adobe Community: Forum: Hardware Forum

Then check out the results page of the PPBM5

PPBM5 Benchmark

Benchmark Results

These are useful in that you can compare different specs and hardware and see how high up the table they come. The guys behind PPBM stress the desirability of having a 'balanced' system, otherwise you are wasting money on your best components if you have a bottleneck elsewhere.

[edit] Just seen this is an old thread.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 01:38 AM   #7
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Vasi,

That Dell is so old and slow, it is not worth ANY money, not even dirt cheap.

Trevor,

Under Latest News, there is an article about Planning & Building a new NLE System that may be of interest.

PPBM6 for CS6

You mention 'balanced system', but that raises the question what is 'balanced'? IMO that means a system that comprises at least 35% of its total cost for disk I/O, whether you go for an economical solution or a warrior version. This page shows some typical cost distributions per category for various systems:

Price Tag

Last edited by Harm Millaard; October 14th, 2012 at 04:42 AM.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 05:10 AM   #8
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Harm I did see the PPBM6 site, but there were no results yet, so I stuck with version 5. Glad to see you are still guiding the way for system builders. I found the PP Hardware forum incredibly helpful when I was in that position, and will be forever thankful to people like you, Bill, Erik etc. Having got my system working OK though, I drifted away from that site.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 05:19 AM   #9
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Harm,

When I expand the downloaded zip file, I do not get the Statistics_MPE.vbs file?
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Old October 14th, 2012, 08:35 AM   #10
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

Alan,

The site is still under development and there is no .VBS script included. Just some patience please. I'm struggling to get it finished. If you feel adventurous, you can do the test with the H.264 and the MPEG2 timelines exactly like in PPBM5, but using the included presets and then give me the results you get from the AME log file. If this is not clear, contact me via the website after you have registered and I will get back to you.
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Old October 14th, 2012, 10:03 AM   #11
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Re: Budget PC build for 4k Editing

OK, fine, no worries. I wondered if I had a corrupt download.

The test ran fine for me.
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