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Old November 25th, 2007, 10:33 AM   #1
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Building/Buying New HD Workstation for Vegas

Am researching an upgrade to HD and am looking for suggestions. Unfortunately, this will not be a dream machine from scratch, due to the budget.

Considerations.

1. We do everything from documentaries to music video, everything with a creative, artsy look. Output thus far has been DVD, anticipating high def DVD in the future.

2. Have used DC30 and currently DV500, both with Premiere.

3. I have the tech responsibilities and have never built a computer and don't want to try that now. Thinking to buy off the shelf and have extra hard drives added or buy one form a 'value added' builder familiar with video editing.

4. For a camera I'm thinking of the new Sony HVR-27U [Feb '08] for it's 1080p, interchangeable lenses and tape [simple, cheap archive, important for documentary footage].

5. Have VHS, SVHS [have decks] & DVD archives & will need to capture for documentaries.

6. This is not a money-making venture, so need to keep budget tight, even if it means some compromises.

7. Thinking of a system drive + 2 500 Gig storage drives. Is RAID necessary? Had bad experiences with a RAID before and want to keep this machine as simple [reliable] as possible.

8. Have 2 ACER AL1714 computer monitors currently used dual to increase the screen real estate, helpful, would hate to give that up. Could I re-use them? They are not wide-screen. Would need a graphics card that is dual capable, right?

9. As for TV monitoring, to get an idea what the result looks like on a TV [important for my editor to be able to see how the result of the creative editing will look like to the viewer], what would you suggest? I've seen disucssion about the cost of real monitors - I'll need to compromise and use a TV. And need to include something to plug it in to, right?

Thanks for any & all comments!

Jaums
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Old November 25th, 2007, 11:34 AM   #2
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In your search, remember don't get distracted from the fact your processor is single most important item, IMO.

Simply as an example of what you can find out there, at the Dell Online Outlet, I bought a Dell Quad processor with RAID 0 and 4 MB RAM for $2K. The included video card retails for $1295, which I sold on Ebay for $600 and replaced with my old one, effectively giving me a Quad processor for $1400 with 2 years on site repair. At one point I had an issue and Dell sent someone in one day to replace the motherboard. Didn't need it, thankfully.

HP also has some deals on their site.

SATA Raid is, in my opinion, trouble free (especially when it's integrated into the mainboard) but that's just me. It is so much more efficient for video editing. But I've been running Raid in the form of SCSI or SATA for over 12 years, and can't imagine life without it.

For a PC compatible Hi-Def TV, the Olevia HD 32" is at Circuit City for under $500 and has received rave reviews from customers, but it is 720.
Good Luck.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 12:06 PM   #3
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$2000 sounds great! Off the shelf with a RAID . . . 2 drives in a RAID? Are you using Vegas that way with no separate system drive?

My bad experience was a machine with a system drive and a RAID 0 pair. One of the raid drives failed, so lost all video & project files. Ended up removing the RAID and getting an extra HD so I can back up everything on another drive.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 12:37 PM   #4
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If you're looking to really pinch some pennies, I'd suggest taking a look at HP's Pavilion 9060 ($1400)or 9080($1900). They both feature the Q6600 Quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, and great video cards (Nvidia 8500GT and 8800, respectively). The 9060 comes with 640GB of total storage, but the 9080 comes with a full 1TB of space.

Personally, I picked up a 9060 to replace a recently deceased machine, and my new Adobe Production bundle works flawlessly. The one caveat you might notice right away is that it comes with Vista, but the only issue I have with Vista right now is that I can't install the firewire driver for my printer. Other than that, it's a really sweet system.

A couple of cool things about them: S-Video inputs on the front of the machine, a couple of open bays on the front of the chassis for removable media, and it comes with some simple instructions on setting up a RAID configuration if that's what you want. There's also one or two open drive bays inside for expansion, and you remove the more, in my opinion, frivolous items like the 56k modem and TV tuner card, you have a few PCI-express slots open for more.

It's a great system, and I'm thinking of picking up more when time and budget allows to set up a "poor man's" render farm. They're off-the-shelf systems too, so you can probably see one up close and personal in your nearest computer retail store.

Last edited by Shawn McCalip; November 25th, 2007 at 12:38 PM. Reason: Added ball-park prices...
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Old November 25th, 2007, 01:02 PM   #5
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Thanks Shawn! Interesting idea! An off the shelf "Media" PC. Good processor, memory, graphic card, lots of hard drive space, lots of inputs/outputs, a memory card reader, etc!

With Premiere it is recommended that you have a system drive [C:] for programs and separate drive(s) for video and audio files. Not important for Vegas?
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Old November 25th, 2007, 01:27 PM   #6
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since we are on the topic... can anyone come up with a unlimited budget system (NLE) that one could buy running only long form HD and stepping up to 10/12 bit
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Old November 25th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaums Sutton View Post
With Premiere it is recommended that you have a system drive [C:] for programs and separate drive(s) for video and audio files. Not important for Vegas?
I'm not very familiar with Vegas, but I'd be willing to bet that it would be good to have your project files living on a different drive from your applications/OS. That way, Windows and Vegas would have more "freedom" to communicate with your CPU without being bottlenecked by the hard drive having to spin up and access large and clunky video files on the same disk.

Fortunately, hard drives are relatively inexpensive, so it wouldn't be a major expense to expand storage capabilities when you need to.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Helm View Post
since we are on the topic... can anyone come up with a unlimited budget system (NLE) that one could buy running only long form HD and stepping up to 10/12 bit
An unlimited budget? You mean something like a fantasy system where only your imagination is the limit?

If that's the case, I've always managed to have a little bit of fun at HP's or Dell's websites. HP has the xw8400 workstation that offers a TON of super-powerful and large-storage based configurations. Dell has a similar type system for a comparable price. You'll see components like the Quad-Core Xeons in single and dual setups, and over half-a-dozen internal bays for monster-sized hard drives.

If you're looking to spend the GDP of some small country somewhere, take a look at Boxx Technologies. I think they've shifted more towards the 3D animator/modeler, but I believe they still offer some interesting solutions for video editing. They have some slick custom systems with AMD chips offering 16 or more processor cores. Some of those higher end systems will set you back as much as $60k, and that's BEFORE you start installing software.

Since you're doing long format work as well, there's always the proprietary systems like Autodesk's Smoke.

Aside from that, I'm not aware of any businesses that offer a full turnkey solution. for the 10-12 bit I/O, you'll undoubtedly have to purchase one of those cards separately. I know a few of this site's sponsors carry a whole bunch of different kinds.
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Old November 25th, 2007, 03:35 PM   #9
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Jaums, no I run RAID for everything. I have four RAID 0 configurations: Two RAID 0 one TB storage areas on a server, (everything is backed up twice), and a RAID 0 work drive where video files I'm working with are stored until I'm finished, located on my workstation, and lastly the OS.

I save project files on my desktop, and a copy of them in on the server.

I'd go for the less expensive HP system, $600 dollars will buy two brand new internal 1TB hard drives!
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