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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:10 PM   #1
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I need a new PC, I think!

Spring is here up on the Mexican plateau and daytime temperatures are routinely in the mid 20ís, thatís about 77 F, and maybe the thinner air makes a difference, but yesterday was a hot one and I was rendering in Vegas 6d to DVD widescreen a 50 minute interview shot with my HDR-FX1 HDV and it took over four hours and my old Dell Dimension 8250 sounded like an asthmatic chaff-cutter with a hangover. And now even doing email this thing is wailing like a banshee. Maybe I cooked something somewhere but frankly the noise this computer makes is getting worse, it seems, and it feels as if Iíve got my foot flat to the floor and itís uphill against the wind, spinning wheels and taking forever. No matter what software I use to play Cineform avi files it is painful to say the least and I recall David Newman commenting that the memory bus on this old beast is not the fastest on the planet and that no doubt is part of the problem. And with the arrival of summer this will only get worse. Iíve done all the usual things like defragging and pulling it to pieces and cleaning out all the scorpions and rattlesnakes along with the mountains of dust, but to little avail.

I think I need a new computer!

Cooling is an issue as I donít have the luxury, nor do I want it, of sitting working in an air-conditioned comfortable early 20ís shirtsleeve environment. But I do need to hear myself think from time to time. Using Sony MDR 7506 headphones is little help and not the best way to edit anyway.

So do I get myself the latest Dell desktop equipped with Intel dual core processors or go for broke and drop a bundle on AMDís latest and greatest duals, and if so which makes the most sense from a price break point of view?

Iíve visited John Rofanoís website and he talks about his Ďnewí system that performs and is whisper quiet, so that sounds promising. If you read this John is this a recent list? Would you suggest something even better now? Maybe I need liquid cooling; I really have no idea, but I need to beat the heat, tone down the noise and speed things up somewhat.

Iím not into gaming but I note, thanks to Johnís reference, a machine at ABSís website, the Ultimate M6 Sniper that looks interesting. Anyone had any experience with this company and or this machine?

Comments/suggestions most appreciated.

John
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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:29 PM   #2
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John,

It sounds like a fan must be going out. And you obviously know that heat is the great equipment killer, so that's what you have to fight. I'm not familiar with that particular Dell model, but if the performance was OK when cool, you may not need a new computer, just improved cooling for that computer.

Visit NewEgg or FrozenCPU for the latest cooling gadgets, many of which will work on your existing rig. Bigger and quieter fans, improved case ventilation, or liquid cooled setups with neon colored lighting in see through case mods.

However, if this really is the reason (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that you've told your wife that you need a new editing PC, then VideoGuys has a pretty good article on the lessons learned from building their own system, and it includes advice about computer cooling.
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Old March 13th, 2006, 02:30 PM   #3
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I had a Dimension 8400 that did the same thing - the cooling fan was incredibly noisy when the processor was under any significant load. This was a well known problem with that version of the Dimension. There was a bios update that supposedly made it better, but did not work for me. In January, the motherboard crapped out, or that was the conclusion after an hour on-line chat with Dell support (apparently someone from India). I gave up and bought a new Dell XPS 400 (which is essentially identical to the Dimension 9150.) Nice and quiet, dual core processor and relatively quick on HDV rendering using Vegas 6.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 02:16 PM   #4
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Thanks Patrick, for your input. In the cool of the early morning the computer performance is OK, at least the fan is not screaming madly but as the day heats up so does the noise level increase.

Fortunately I am between wives, or at least I donít have one right now, not even a serious girlfriend, so the good news there is that I donít need to get Ďpermissioní and furthermore I can consequently afford to get a new computer. I mean, who in their right mind would choose a new wife (to be politically correct perhaps I should say Ďpartnerí to include the Ďcowboysí among us) over a new computer! No worries there.

From what Iíve read, and Iím interested in more input, an up-to-date computer with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ Socket 939 and a couple of gigs of ram and a state of the art video card to drive my Dell 24 inch LCD; with that set up Iíll be laughing; a truly significant performance increase will be clearly apparent and I wonít need bench tests to note the difference versus the old Dell 8250 hyperthreading 3.06 Pentium, based machine. At least thatís the impression Iím getting from others on this board.

Thanks for the links, NewEgg looks like a good place to go.

Harry, thanks for your input too. I did the bios upgrade some time ago and maybe it helped a little, donít really know. Think Iíll stay away from Dell and the Intel duals as from what Iíve read the AMDís are cheaper and run cooler and beating the heat here is very important.

Or is that perhaps not entirely true?
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Old March 15th, 2006, 02:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCully
Fortunately I am between wives, or at least I donít have one right now, not even a serious girlfriend, so the good news there is that I donít need to get Ďpermissioní and furthermore I can consequently afford to get a new computer. I mean, who in their right mind would choose a new wife (to be politically correct perhaps I should say Ďpartnerí to include the Ďcowboysí among us) over a new computer! No worries there.
John, I am rolling on the floor laughing and gasping for breath. Fortunately my wife is not here to share the humour...

For what it's worth, I think your ideas on a new box are sound. A P4/3.06 is barely in the game for putting heads and tails on native M2T, and rendering to proxy or intermediate is painfully slow for long form content. A buddy has built the AMD monster, and it just chews through any variant of HDV you'd care to use.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 03:05 PM   #6
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If you want the cheapest dual core system possible, Dell is likely the way to go. The way their pricing scheme works, the base system is very cheap and Dell makes money off the upgrades.

If you want better performance:
Look at the editing program you are using. Some of them accept hardware acceleration cards- that might be the best route. Those cards however may have really picky hardware requirements.

Otherwise, get the fastest CPU you can afford (but remember that cost increases exponentially). The AMD dual cores are faster than Intel's offerings on the mid-high end.

2- silentpcreview.com has lots of great, un-biased information on how to get a silent computer.

You probably don't need a super super quiet computer like some of the fanatics there, but they do review quiet computers that are pre-built.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 07:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCully
Fortunately I am between wives, or at least I donít have one right now, not even a serious girlfriend, so the good news there is that I donít need to get Ďpermissioní and furthermore I can consequently afford to get a new computer.
Yep, You're right. You need a new computer, no doubt about it. You need a blazing fast one with big quiet fans and liquid cooling. And if you design the tubing for the liquid cooler correctly, it'll keep your cerveza cold too!

Just don't get one like mine, it came with two slide-out cup holders, but they were one right above the other so you can't really use but one at a time. ; )
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Old March 15th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #8
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I'm not trying to start an editor war, but just qualifying this response to the AMD dual core issue. I seem to have pretty good results direct HDV editing in Premiere Pro 2.0, using an X700 256 mgb PCI Express card. I don"t know for sure, but I have heard PPro uses the video card extensively for renders-- but I don't know. It all plays fine too in the outputted .m2t files-- media player. I am using a bargain combo board/cpu bought at FRYs -- 3800+ dual core, and 2 gig mem.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 12:03 AM   #9
 
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PP2 has some nice benefits in how it manages to decode the m2t streams. That's all well and good, but regardless of how optimal the decode might be, you're still dealing with mpeg2, which is not a good editing format either in 6GOP or 15GOP. Using the intermediary will ALWAYS provide better results. This is why every NLE out there offers an HDI.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 08:00 AM   #10
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Tests run on the Core Duo and AMD X2s show they are comparable WRT throughput when at equivalent clock speeds. So, choosing one or the other would work. The Intels seem to run hotter than the AMDs, though, even with the new 640 nanometer cores. This might be important if you are going to stay on air.

What really seems to make a difference is the new render engine in the ATI X1000 series graphic card. ATI has incorporated software in the latest drivers to enable render acceleration using the graphic card. From what I've seen, the improvement in render speed is substantial.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 09:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCully
If you read this John is this a recent list? Would you suggest something even better now?
That parts list on my web site is still current. Iím very happy with the system I built. The only change I would make in the future is to get a dual cpu / dual core motherboard. That would give you two CPUís with two cores each for a total of 4 cores. Iíve found that with HDV, you can never have enough processing power. ;-) While the my new PC renders DV to DVD MPEG2 in less than real-time (80%), it takes 3x real-time to render HDV to DVD MPEG2 (300%). :(

AMDís do run cooler than Intel. I donít think Iíll ever buy an Intel ďspace heaterĒ again. My temps are significantly lower with my AMD PC. It makes perfect sense since they run at a slower clock speed but get more work done per clock cycle. So the AMD is clearly a more efficient processor than an Intel. I would definitely go with an AMD for use in a hot environment. The Zalman cooler that I used was rated as good as some water cooling units which is why I bought it. I use it on the lowest setting so it has a lot more cooling capacity then I'm using.

Personally, I would never buy a Dell again. A combination of cheap parts and bad customer services is a formula for disaster. Nufí said. I have not bought from ABS because I build my own, but I do know people who have and they are very happy with them.

~jr
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Old March 16th, 2006, 10:30 AM   #12
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Question for John Rofrano

I looked at your latest PC specks and was wondering if your using a PCI card instead of a AGP for video. Or is the PCI card extra for dual monitors or ? Thanks

My old setup---> http://public.fotki.com/jlscott/me_a..._center_2.html
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Old March 16th, 2006, 07:16 PM   #13
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Yes, Iím using a PCI Express card. It has nothing to do with dual monitors. It has to do with AGP technology being dead so it makes no sense to buy a new motherboard with AGP technology (unless you are strapped for money and already have an AGP card you want to keep). Most PCI Express and AGP cards support dual monitors these days.

That motherboard supports dual PCI Express cards in SLI mode but you still have the same number of displays. In SLI mode the cards are strapped together internally to increase the overall speed. But I didnít select that motherboard because of that. I selected that motherboard because it used heat pipes for the Northbridge instead of a fan and one less fan means a quieter PC.

Also the reason I selected the particular make and model graphics card is because it had a fan adjustment switch on it and I could lower the fan speed to keep the PC as quiet as possible. I had an eVGA 6800GS card in there first and it sounded like a Jet Plane talking off so I sent it back for the MSI 6800GT card that I have now.

All of those parts were selected for top performance and quietest operation.

~jr
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