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Old February 12th, 2007, 01:07 PM   #1
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Need info on best PC Specs for Vegas

Hi everyone. I am shopping for a new PC for HD editing on which I will be using Vegas (currently on 6.0) and I am trying to determine the specifications that I will need. I am presently looking at the following in a Dell Precision 6900 PC:
1st Processor: Dual Core Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2, 1333
2nd Processor: Dual Core Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2, 1333
OP System: XP Pro SP2.
Graphics card: 512MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4500, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA.
Memory: 4GB, DDR2 SDRAM FBD Memory, 533MHz, ECC (4 DIMMS).
Optical Drive: 48XCD and 48X CD-RW/DVD Combo with Cyberlink Power DVD.
Raid Configuration: C# All SATA drives, Non-Raid, 4 drive total configuration
Hard Drive: 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8MB DataBurst Cache.
Hard Drive Internal Controller: SATA/SAS Integrated Card - For Connecting Internal Hard Drives.
2nd Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache.
3rd Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache.
4th Hard Drive: 250GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8MB DataBurst Cache (final project storage/DVD file etc).
Monitor: Dell 24 inch UltrSharp 2407FP Widescreen, VGA/DVI.
Note: I will also be using an existing 19 inch VGA.

The questions that I can think of:
1) Should I get Windows Vista 64 to take advantage of more than 2 gig memory? Will not getting this waste 2 of the 4 gig of memory I am planning on getting? Can Vegas take advantage of more than 2 gig memory? How will I be limiting myself if I only have use of 2 gig memory if I go with XP Pro? Would XP work with HD for (low budget) feature film editing?
2) Is it better to go with a Quad Core Intel E5320 2.66GHz X 4MB L2 ...or, with two separate Dual Core Intel 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2. (?).
3) Is it necessary to run RAID 0? I was planning on just using the two 500MB drives for projects and the fourth drive for a final output library only. ...perhaps so that it could be removed and transported if desired. Although I guess that an external hard drive would do the same.
4) Also, is the fact that the main hard drive is only 8MB DataBurst Cache a limitation? I know that there are other (more expensive) drives that go at 10,000 RPM but I understand that they are somewhat louder. I also plan on recording music to the PC so I'm not sure if this would be an
issue.
* I have many questions about workflow and file organization but I should probably save that for another post as this is long winded enough. Any and all insights are greatly appreciated. Basically, you guys all rock!
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Old February 13th, 2007, 10:50 AM   #2
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I am not sure if Vegas can take advantage of 4 gigs memory but as far as I remember it is not full compatible with 64 bit OS.
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Old February 13th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #3
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workstation class systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott E Wilson
Hi everyone. I am shopping for a new PC for HD editing on which I will be using Vegas (currently on 6.0) and I am trying to determine the specifications that I will need. I am presently looking at the following in a Dell Precision 6900 PC:
1st Processor: Dual Core Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2, 1333
2nd Processor: Dual Core Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2, 1333
OP System: XP Pro SP2.
Graphics card: 512MB PCIe x16 nVidia Quadro FX 4500, Dual DVI or Dual VGA or DVI + VGA.
Memory: 4GB, DDR2 SDRAM FBD Memory, 533MHz, ECC (4 DIMMS).
Optical Drive: 48XCD and 48X CD-RW/DVD Combo with Cyberlink Power DVD.
Raid Configuration: C# All SATA drives, Non-Raid, 4 drive total configuration
Hard Drive: 160GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8MB DataBurst Cache.
Hard Drive Internal Controller: SATA/SAS Integrated Card - For Connecting Internal Hard Drives.
2nd Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache.
3rd Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 16MB DataBurst Cache.
4th Hard Drive: 250GB SATA 3.0GB/s, 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8MB DataBurst Cache (final project storage/DVD file etc).
Monitor: Dell 24 inch UltrSharp 2407FP Widescreen, VGA/DVI.
Note: I will also be using an existing 19 inch VGA.

The questions that I can think of:
1) Should I get Windows Vista 64 to take advantage of more than 2 gig memory? Will not getting this waste 2 of the 4 gig of memory I am planning on getting? Can Vegas take advantage of more than 2 gig memory? How will I be limiting myself if I only have use of 2 gig memory if I go with XP Pro? Would XP work with HD for (low budget) feature film editing?
2) Is it better to go with a Quad Core Intel E5320 2.66GHz X 4MB L2 ...or, with two separate Dual Core Intel 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2. (?).
3) Is it necessary to run RAID 0? I was planning on just using the two 500MB drives for projects and the fourth drive for a final output library only. ...perhaps so that it could be removed and transported if desired. Although I guess that an external hard drive would do the same.
4) Also, is the fact that the main hard drive is only 8MB DataBurst Cache a limitation? I know that there are other (more expensive) drives that go at 10,000 RPM but I understand that they are somewhat louder. I also plan on recording music to the PC so I'm not sure if this would be an
issue.
* I have many questions about workflow and file organization but I should probably save that for another post as this is long winded enough. Any and all insights are greatly appreciated. Basically, you guys all rock!
Check out this discussion and this as they may contain useful information.

Regarding Vegas & Vista, most posts I have read here on DVInfo say to stay away from vista because of the direct sound driver problems. Vista doesn't offer anything (for vegas) that XP Pro doesn't already have.

the 4MB cache on those Xeon chips will be a BIG asset to your rendering / previewing in vegas. cache is king when it comes to multimedia apps. the less a CPU has to hit up main memory the better and a small cache (like 1MB on most consumer chips) means lots of cache misses where the cpu has to go to main memory and wait till the data is returned.

the other advantage to a Xeon system is the components are likely to be workstation class. what I mean by that is they won't be cheap consumer crap. my dual athlon MP system still runs strong and it is 5 years old. the problem with a dual-dualcore xeon system is more fans (noise) and electrical usage. don't get a cheap case for that system. a cheap case transmits internal noise and means you have a noisy system. my dual cpu system is like a tornado, but that is mostly due to the dual cpu fans, and the 4 other case fans. a well designed case, even with a 4 disc raid system, should only need 2 case fans, and the bigger the better. don't use cases with 80-90mm case fans, go with the 120mm fans. that means slower RPM with same cubic feet / min of air flow.

as far as memory is concerned, my P4HT systems has 2.5GB of ram and I ALWAYS have 1GB of ram sitting around unused even on huge projects (8 audio layers, 3 video, color correction, contrast filters, etc). this is mostly a windows problem (windows splits available physical RAM in 1/2 and it takes 1/2 for itself, even if it doesn't need it). More RAM might not even help me out because the bottle neck is ALWAYS the CPU to RAM speeds.

previewing footage with lots of effects, corrections is a huge drain to the CPU-cache-RAM subsystem. if any component is crucial to an HD edit system, it is that.

hope some of that helps.

jason
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Old February 13th, 2007, 01:03 PM   #4
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more ramblings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott E Wilson
2) Is it better to go with a Quad Core Intel E5320 2.66GHz X 4MB L2 ...or, with two separate Dual Core Intel 5150 2.66GHz, 4MB L2. (?).
3) Is it necessary to run RAID 0? I was planning on just using the two 500MB drives for projects and the fourth drive for a final output library only. ...perhaps so that it could be removed and transported if desired. Although I guess that an external hard drive would do the same.
4) Also, is the fact that the main hard drive is only 8MB DataBurst Cache a limitation? I know that there are other (more expensive) drives that go at 10,000 RPM but I understand that they are somewhat louder. I also plan on recording music to the PC so I'm not sure if this would be an
issue.
I completely forgot to cover these two:

2) go check out some CPU charts at TomsHardware. Each CPU is benchmarked om PP2 rendering to MPEG2.... it isn't Vegas, but it is a good indicator. I don't know if the dual CPU options provide dedicated memory busses like AMD. if not, then both CPUs would be fighting over the same memory buss just like a quad core and there might not be an advantage. that is the major feather in the hat for AMD. THeir memory control model is far superior to Intel because they build a dedicated memory controller right into the cpu and provide a dedicated buss to dedicated RAM for each CPU where Intel throws that all on a single chip and makes the cores & CPUs fight over access to ram.

You will see almost all encodng benchmarks (MP3, HD, DV) show the intel quad core as the fastest. BUT the Athlon 64 FX-74 is almost always second place despite being an older CPU, smaller cache and slower MHz because it has a better dedicated memory controller built into the CPU and the server quality Opteron components. The FX-74 name is actually for a dual-CPU dual core athlon product with many components taken from the server level Opteron product line.

I did some reading about the new multi core Athlon's due out this summer. They will have major feature that Intel lacks..... dedicated cache for each core. Right now, the core 2 duo and quad core chips have a shared 2-4MB of cache. the new AMDs will have a dedicated 2MB cache for each core and that combined with the built in memory controller will provide amazing perfromance (adn the new 65nm fab process will make energy efficient chips too).

I'll just quote from this TomsHardware article that explains where Vista and Athlons may have a good advantage over WinXP and Intel.....
Quote:
In a worst case Windows XP scenario, processing unit A has to wait until unit B completes memory access. Then A accesses the memory to fetch data, which it stores in its L2 cache to provide it locally for processing. If, however, Windows assigns the thread to CPU B, it will have to fetch the current data from A's L2 cache, causing additional Front Side Bus traffic. For coherency and performance reasons, data cannot be fetched from the main memory again at this point, since it was already processed. In the end, all of the elements involved are slowed down by this maneuver.
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition will be able to tell processors or nodes apart from simple processing cores. This allows the operating system to assign threads in a more resource-efficient manner: one large task can be executed exclusively on CPU A, while another huge workload runs autonomously on CPU B. Inter-processor task switching is eliminated due to the enhanced hardware awareness of Vista Ultimate, and performance will scale much better with increased core count per processor.
Now, let's go back to the beginning: why is this so important? Remember that an Athlon 64 processor has its own memory controller, and thus a higher memory bandwidth per processing core. As soon as intelligence is added to the multi-threading/multi-tasking game, AMD's Quad FX platform will be able to show some serious muscle that it cannot in today's operating environments.
So in otherwords, WinXP just throws threads at available CPUs and it doesn't care which CPU the thread used to be on. That means the entire thread, its data, and instructions, need to be transfered down the bus and out to the next CPU with a free core. If Vista can fix this problem, then Vista will have a sizable advantage for multimedia encoding. Then there is just the direct access sound problem.

3) RAID 0 might help, but both of my computers have RAID 0 and they practically sit idle waiting for my CPU to finish its work. I haven't tried HD editing much (just a little) but all of that was CPU limited due to the higher compression. First off make sure your RAID solut ion is NOT SOFTWARE. a software raid card will be $200 less than a hardware raid system BUT software takes CPU cycles to do what the hardware card does. this means you don't get the benefit you could have if you went hardware. RAID5 (which requires a chip called a hardware XOR aka exclusive OR) will always be the fastest and most reliable (can hot swap a drive with minimal performance problems). having said that, RAID 5 is usually only on server level equipment (64bit PCI busses or SCSI) because it is too expensive for the consumer level and consumer level usually doesn't need that kind of redundancy (4 discs store 3 worth of data and the remaining disc space is distributed among the 4 discs to store the "parity bit" to restore a failed drive).

If anything, with HD you have the potential (depending on if you use intermediates, or render to full AVI before editing) to chew up far more HD space. Raid 1 (mirror) will halve your storage space while providing read performance boosts. That means I would maximize storage space.

4) when you say mai ndrive, i assume you mean that this is the drive that will have the windows partition. this probably isn't a huge problem. the jump up to 10K RPM will substantially increase the noise from your system. if you need to work with sound, or hear yourself think, then don't use 10K drives in the same room. They have the fastest performance (usually just for servers where multiple processes request different data... that is different from how video editing needs the HD). But honestly the sound wouldn't be worth it for me.

there.... long and boring, but hopefully that gives you some food for thought.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #5
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Thanks!

Sorry for the late response..Thank you very much for the info. It will help a lot.
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Old February 26th, 2007, 04:59 PM   #6
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No problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott E Wilson
Sorry for the late response..Thank you very much for the info. It will help a lot.
No problem. Let me know how that systems functions, I'm always interested in hardware. :-)

jason
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Old February 28th, 2007, 05:01 PM   #7
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One more question (so far)

A few more questions which I think you may have answered but just to make sure I'm on the right track.
1) Sony recomends a 2.8 GHz processor for HDV. Does the fact that I will have 2 separate 2.66 GHz processors exceed the 2.8 recomendation?
2) Also, one option I saw regarding operating systems was for Windows XP 64 bit. Would this be better than (standard) XP Pro for Vegas? (given that there are issues with Vista drivers)... And, in general, are there far less applications which will run on 64 bit? ...noting here that everything I use this pc for will related to audio recording and video/graphics editing.

Last edited by Scott E Wilson; February 28th, 2007 at 05:16 PM. Reason: addition
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Old February 28th, 2007, 05:36 PM   #8
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possibly

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Originally Posted by Scott E Wilson View Post
One more question which I think you may have answered but just to make sure I'm on the right track. Sony recomends a 2.8 GHz processor for HDV.
Does the fact that I will have 2 separate 2.66 GHz processors exceed the 2.8 recomendation?
But it depends on how multithreaded their app is, and what parts of it are multithreaded. For example, decoding and lpaying HD content is entirely different from encoding it. just because the encoder is multithreaded doesn't mean the preview / playback will be (though I am betting it is). Likewise with effects. I read the manual and only some Sony Brand effects (visuals, layers, color correction, etc) are multithreaded (as of Vegas 6). That means if you have lots of 3rd party effects applied then they may not make any use of your second core. So your playback will seem very sluggish as more effects get layered on top.

But someone more familiar with the scripting environment or the stuff under the hood would know more.

jason
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Old February 28th, 2007, 05:39 PM   #9
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Stay clear of 64bit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott E Wilson View Post
A few more questions which I think you may have answered but just to make sure I'm on the right track.
1) Sony recomends a 2.8 GHz processor for HDV. Does the fact that I will have 2 separate 2.66 GHz processors exceed the 2.8 recomendation?
2) Also, one option I saw regarding operating systems was for Windows XP 64 bit. Would this be better than (standard) XP Pro for Vegas? (given that there are issues with Vista drivers)... And, in general, are there far less applications which will run on 64 bit? ...noting here that everything I use this pc for will related to audio recording and video/graphics editing.
I doubt the advances in memory controller would be that big compared to the possible problems with drivers for 64bit systems. Unless you are buying an off the shelf 64bit version of WinXP Pro that comes that way from the company, I would avoid it. My roommate played with 64bit XP Pro and had lots of problems with device drivers (like network, video, and audio). It was not worth it for him, but he was just playing. I don't know how much of an advantage the additional addressable memory will provide. Hard to say. I have 2.5GB of RAM and Vegas hardly uses past 1GB no matter what I am doing. In fairness this is probably because Windows does not allow vegas to chew up more RAM than 1/2 the systems RAM (the other 1/2 is reserved for the OS).

jason
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Old February 28th, 2007, 06:05 PM   #10
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"1) Sony recomends a 2.8 GHz processor for HDV. Does the fact that I will have 2 separate 2.66 GHz processors exceed the 2.8 recomendation?"

That is based on the Pentium4 which does less work per gigahertz. The new Intel chips are just about twice as fast per gigahertz as the P4 and that doesn't include the second core. A 2.6GHz Core2Duo should be quite fast with Vegas and the performance comparisons show that to be true. I just got a firewire card in my new system, so I'll be trying mine out soon.

In addition to the Core2Duo, the AMD dual-core chips also seem to work well with Vegas. A friend of mine has a 2.2GHz AthlonX2 and he says Vegas7 is smooth. The Core2Duo is faster per Gigahertz than the AthlonX2. It seems to be that any dual-core chip of at least 2GHz should be able to do the trick.

I saw a tech news blurb that showed Intel dropping the price on the 2.6GHz quadcore processor to less than $550 in April. Existing Core2duo systems are supposed to be able to drop in the Core2quad.
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Old March 2nd, 2007, 12:15 PM   #11
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Thanks guys! I will probably go with the configuration that I have listed. I think that I will wait a month or two due to financing and perhaps see if the prices come down at all or better options arise.
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Old March 3rd, 2007, 12:40 PM   #12
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Hi,

I can also confirm the rumour that Intel will drop prices in April. Therefore I put on hold my own project to build a killer hardware to run Vegas.

Christian
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