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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old October 29th, 2005, 11:57 PM   #1
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building a laptop for video editing

I'm looking into building a laptop for photoshop and Vegas. I am speccing to bang per buck and I've searched many forums. It seems that increasing things like ram or hard disk speed etc may equate to only modest improvements in performance so I would like to check a few things with you guys before I take the plunge:

1. Is the Intel 2Ghz significantly faster than the 1.7 Ghz? is it say 10 or 15% faster? I'll admit most of my time will be editing not rendering. Rendering is all about cpu power I know and i hear that the 2GHz is also faster because it has extra cache.

2. How much RAM? I will get at least 1gig but will 2gig be better? I know Vegas and photoshop will use whatever ram you've got but I hear that windows has issues with addressing ram ie it will not recognize anything above 2gigs and even below 2gigs you have to get windows to allocate the extra ram to Vegas or photoshop otherwise it will use it for itself. It seems that 1gig is the sweetspot as well as 1gig modules cost alot more than 512 and if there isnt much improvement in performance I can spend the money elsewhere.

3. Hard disk- is 5400 adequate or would a 7000rpm be better? I think capture is the most intensive part of editing and people seem to get by on the 5400. I know alot of people get an external drive and I intend to do that too but is there any advantages in having the 7000 over 5400 for my purposes? I can save money by getting a cheaper 5400rpm internal and use the savings on a good external drive.

4. UXGA screen vs SXGA screen. Is there a noticeable difference? I find it hard to get the UXGA screens for 15" monitors.

thanks
tungbui
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Old October 30th, 2005, 12:24 AM   #2
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1- CPU:
For Photoshop: RAM is more important than CPU. Running out of RAM is really the one thing that would hurt your performance. Figure out your RAM needs by multiplying layers of undo by project size.

Vegas: A reasonable approximation is to divide the clock speeds. Since you're not comparing identical processors, you can't do that approximation.
If they had the same cache, the 2.0ghz is 17% faster. Not sure what difference the cache makes. If it's Celeron versus Pentium-M, the cache makes about a 20% difference in performance (I think). For other processor lines, cache makes a lot less difference.

If you mostly editing then I'd probably stick with the 1.7ghz.

2- Vegas uses however much RAM you tell it to. RAM is used for RAM previews and for opening multiple programs at once (i.e. multiple instances of Vegas).
You may not even use RAM preview at all.

3- Hard drive speed usually doesn't make a big difference. Your programs might load a few seconds faster.
If capturing to an external drive, internal drive speed doesn't matter. Watch out for external drive conflicts though... some people get dropped frames with a DV camera capturing to a firewire drive. I suspect it's because both devices share the firewire bus.

4- I'm so used to dual monitors at 1280X1024 that I find it annoying to work at lower resolutions. So in a laptop, I would personally lean towards the highest resolution you can get. You need to use large fonts in Windows if using a high resolution screen (by high resolution I mean too high resolution for that particular screen size).

Sager makes laptops with high-end stuff (i.e. high resolution screens), although they do cost more than other options.

I believe it's much cheaper to buy a laptop than to build one. If you look out for hot deals, I remember it was a few hundred dollars cheaper to get a prebuilt one.
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Old October 30th, 2005, 05:53 AM   #3
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Hi Glenn,
Hoping u would chime in. I used alot of information from here to build my desktop last year so thanks.

Re CPU power its always alot cheaper to go with something a notch down from the best so I 'll go the way of the 1.7Bhz.
Ram I'll get 2gig for photoshop. I'm rather fond of ram renders on vegas also.
Hardrive I'll go for 5400 with higher capacity and get a big external firewire drive. I'll still need to capture to internal hard disk for DVRack though but it seems everyone's happy with 5400 speed.
I'll have to search harder for a good screen. I want one of those glossy ones as the contrast and color is so much better than the matte ones.

I live in Australia so I'll have to find a local builder for my lagtop rather than Saga. Having my desktop burn a motherboard I really appreciate the value of a good warranty.
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Old October 30th, 2005, 11:37 PM   #4
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Just one more thing. Is it worth getting a machine with a seperate graphics card or is the inbuilt adequate for photoshop and vegas? Alot of the smaller 12" laptops dont have dedicated graphics support.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 12:12 AM   #5
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Vegas doesn't taken advantage of a fast graphics card, and neither does Photoshop. I would think on-board graphics is perfectly fine.
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Old November 2nd, 2005, 11:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tung Bui
Hi Glenn,

Hardrive I'll go for 5400 with higher capacity and get a big external firewire drive. I'll still need to capture to internal hard disk for DVRack though but it seems everyone's happy with 5400 speed.
I would get a 7200 rpm laptop hard drive for my system drive if I was buying another new laptop. It may or may not make a difference, but why not? I use my laptop for a lot of processor intensive tasks including video editing and even encoding. You know that Adobe recommends that you store your project and video on a seperate hard drive from the system drive anyway? I normally connect one of my many external hard drives (also 7200 rpm) to my laptop thru firewire and edit that way. After all, how much video can you really fit even on a huge internal hard drive. It's a disadvantage to have the same hdd (ie your internal laptop system drive) run the P Pro app as the hdd that is storing the video files.

Also, if you get WUXGA, make sure you have very good eyesight and hand-eye coordination because the screen res is pretty tiny on my now one-year-plus old 1.7 Ghz Dell Inspiron 8600, which has I think a 14.5 inch screen. It makes for great screen real estate though!
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Old November 2nd, 2005, 11:43 PM   #7
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use large fonts in and cleartype to help with high resolution screens.

In windows XP:
right click the desktop area
properties
click appearance tab
select large fonts

hit the effects button
choose cleartype
ok
hit apply
ok
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