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-   -   Mid to High End Turnkey Editing System – June 2007 (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/high-definition-video-editing-solutions/95335-mid-high-end-turnkey-editing-system-june-2007-a.html)

Jon McGuffin May 29th, 2007 10:29 PM

Mid to High End Turnkey Editing System – June 2007
I’ve been a system builder since about 1988 when I bought and took apart my first XT computer system followed by a system build of a 286 computer thereafter. I thought I died and went to heaven when I bought a 386-33Mhz machine with 4Mb of memory and a 120Mb hard drive (that’s Megabytes folks). Lots of time has gone by since those times and the only reminisce from those days to now are those pesky floppy drives (I think I use one about once every 2 years).

Anyhow, I’ve been the benefactor of a lot of advice in these forums and the one subject I have enough knowledge to give back to is the construction of a quality system for video editing.

I’m writing this because I see lots of threads around here with people who are in the building stage of an editing machine and are unsure what to do. I’m going to list out here my recommendations on what to buy if you are trying to build a strong editing system. I’ve labeled this “Mid to High End” because I could definitely do better than this, but this is where I feel the “sweet spot” of performance versus costs come in while still giving the user a very powerful editing solution. I’ll comment on my suggestions at the end.

Jon McGuffin May 29th, 2007 10:31 PM

INTEL CORE 2 DUO E6600 2.4GHZ Dual Core CPU — $220

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 is the sweet spot here but if you want to burn some extra $$, go faster. Despite the benefits available to overclocking, I’m not particularly a fan unless you know what you are doing.


You can’t beat a combination for value/performance and stability the P965 is offering right now. Steer clear of AMD processors (not because I dislike AMD, they’re just not as fast and nor as efficient as these Core 2 Duo’s regardless of their price points. A year ago, I was promoting AMD, now it is Intel’s turn). Does it matter what motherboard you use? Not terribly, performance across boards based on the same chipset are typically going to be very similar. Feature set and stability should really be your primary concern. I recommend this particular Gigabyte board because it’s relatively inexpensive and has gone through some revisions and has a pretty solid feature set. I recommend a P965 solution despite their being newer “better” chipsets out there because I always go with a mature/stable product over cutting edge components. Remember, your editing software was likely created based on hardware a generation or two prior to what is available today. Better to build on top of a platform that has gone through a large base of users, the P965 is such a chipset.

CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400C4 2GB KIT (1GB x 2) PC26400 800MHZ DDR2 — $150

Incredible you can get 2Gb for $150.00 or less. This is fast memory spec’d at the full 800Mhz matching bus speed settings of the above processor. Going to 4Gb here (even though Windows XP/Vista 32-bit will only see just over 3Gb) may make a lot of sense. There are other good memory manufacturers but I’d make a point of only going with a top tier maker like Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin, Crucial, etc.

Hard Drive System
System Drive
SEAGATE 250GB ST3250620AS SATA2 16MB 7200RPM — $70

I had a tough time not recommending a Western Digital Raptor 74Gb 10,000rpm Drive here. The downsides of the WD drive are: cost ($140), space (74Gb instead of 250Gb), and noise/heat/reliability factors. In the end, it is these reasons I didn’t include this drive as my recommendation. Positives really boil down to a noticeable speed increase in system performance (boot up times, etc). Will this translate into faster editing sessions? Not likely though because you won’t be dealing with footage on this drive (too small), though your editor of choice will certainly load faster.  The Seagate gets my nod for the best system drive because they are known for producing some of the more reliable drives without sacrificing a lot in speed. They’re also well regarded for acoustically silent operation.

Capture/Playback Drives
(3) WD 320GB 3200YS SATA300 7200RPM 16MB Hard Drive — $95/ea or $285 total

Three of these bad boys in a RAID 0 configuration provides you with plenty of speed and nearly a Terabyte of storage. One note here, if you plan to shoot and edit HDV footage, the data rate of this footage is no more than what DV was at a fixed 25Mb/sec (that’s roughly 8Mb/sec) which means a RAID for capturing purposes is not necessarily needed. However, I still recommend going for RAID 0 for three reasons. #1) Read/Write’s to and from these three disks will be significantly enhanced which will make a noticeable addition to your editing experience and #2) It is the cheapest way to achieve a single disk volume of such a large size’d disk (In other words, Drive “D” will be 1TB). #3) It should be fast enough (given the other components) to record uncompressed video via SDI or HDMI should you ever have the desire and need. I recommend this specific drive from Western Digital because it is a fast drive that has support for SATA2 yet was manufactured specifically for the purpose of running in a RAID configuration.

Optical Drives
(2) PIONEER DVR-212DBK 18X SATA DOUBLE LAYER DVD RW DRIVE — $40/ea or $80 Total.

Not sure if burning Dual Layer DVD discs will be all that important once Blue-Ray/HD-DVD burners start making their way down the market but for the time being, might as well cover the possibility. Pioneer has always manufactured good DVD-R drives and this one is no exception. Other good brands are NEC, LG, and Plextor.

Video Card(s)

This is probably more video card than you need as most application software won’t use a fast 3D accelerator like a game will (we know you won’t be playing games on this system!). There are several good options from ATI as well but I typically find myself in the NVidia camp and these new 8000 series cards from NVidia offer full Vista support for future use plus solid video processing spec’s. You could probably get by with less, but buying anything more won’t likely return any noticeable gains. The performance is right and the price seems a no brain’er considering the system that is being built around this.

(2) SAMSUNG 20" 206BW WIDESCREEN 1680X1050 3000:1 2MS VGA DVI — $520 total.

Highly subjective and certainly applicable to your needs and desires. I use the term “monitors” above because I believe it is imperative, regardless of your budget, to be editing/creating on a dual monitor system. Sure, you can do without, but I guarantee once you get comfortable on a dual monitor solution, you’ll never want to go back. What a deal, I paid $900 for my first NEC 17” CRT monitor. Now you can have two vastly superior and larger monitors for nearly half that price. There is a lot of resolution and real estate here to provide for a very smooth workflow.

Westinghouse LVM-42w2 – 42” *true* 1080p LCD Monitor — $1200

For those of you who want to live on the edge and have a tool that can be impressive and quite valuable, check out this monitor from Westinghouse Digital. Though marketed a HD home television, this device is nothing more than a quality 42” LCD Monitor. What I like about it so much is that it has both HDMI and DVI inputs (DVI from your video card) and will accept and display a *true* 1920 X 1080p signal. The video card recommended above will easily support this specific resolution on either of its DVI outputs so making this your second monitor in lieu of one of the Samsung’s above would allow you to have a REALLY impressive preview monitor. If you are thinking of buying two to use as your primary devices, just be sure you are sitting at least 4-5’ away from them while working because the resolution and size of the monitor will require it to be useful.

Case/Power Supply

A semi subjective area here at least in terms of the case appearance but I’m recommending this Antec P182 based on the reputation of the P180 being an extremely popular case known for silent operation & very high quality construction.

Power Supply

There are other good power supplies in this range that are probably equally as good. I like this company though and 485W is ample enough to supply the power needs of the above system. Wattage is not the only answer here so you don’t want to settle for a cheap 550-watt PS. This is an efficient power supply and one that has a good reputation for quite operation.

Sound Card

Don’t trust the onboard sound provided by MOBO manufactures no matter how great the claims are made by the manufacturer or chipset provider. Don’t be fooled by “HD Audio”, etc. A secondary auditory unit can help improve performance and for a small $90 investment, you get a very good performing board.

An often overlooked and under appreciated part of a quality editing system is the speaker configuration. Not sure how many will be authoring 5.1 audio solutions so a good pair of studio monitors is probably ideal. I personally do not prefer the typically flat response I get out of studio monitors though and don’t feel they accurately reproduce what is likely going to be heard by the end user. Below are three separate configurations that should fit the budget of this type of system

#1) Studio Monitors
M-Audio BX5a Studio Monitor Pair — $400
You’ll need a mini to 1/4 Stereo Adapters to hook this into your computer for this setup. The speakers are self powered so they plug directly into your surge protector. A nice pair of quality studio monitors at a pretty good price.

#2) Bookshelf Speakers + Amp
X-Series X-LS bookshelf Loundspeaker set — $250 ($219+S&H)
Onkyo TX-8222 Stereo Amplifier/Receiver — $150
Personally *love* this configuration. Excellent speakers built of quality materials that have audiophile sound suitable for stereo or home theater reproduction. Just about any should do but I found this one from Onkyo fits nicely.

#3) Klipsh ProMedia 2.1 ‘classic’ System — $150
The still certified THX solution that’s been on the market for a LONG time now is still one of the best audio bargains going. Pound for pound, this system won’t sound as good as the options above, but it might sound 80% as good at about 40% the cost. When cost is an issue, this is the way to go.

Firewire Input Device

Keyboard + Mouse
Buy what is comfortable! I tend to still prefer a mouse and keyboard that use PS/2 connectivity as I’ve found fewer problems with these devices. What’s most important here is that are using something (particularly the mouse) that you are comfortable with.

Power Protection/UPS System

No system should be without a good quality backup power supply/surge suppression and I recommend one with automatic voltage regulation.

Dylan Couper May 30th, 2007 07:28 PM

Jon, thank you for an excellent post. I was actually just about to research a new editing computer and you saved me at least half an hour of reading time.
You've also just made my local computer shop very happy.
I'm going to have built exactly what you suggested, but with a few possible changes, which I'd like your feedback on.

Storage hard drives: Since I'm getting this built to last me a while, I'm considering maxing out on space. Is it worth getting 500gb hard drives, or are the 320's just such a better value that it isn't worth it for now?
I wasn't planning on having them set up in a RAID configuration, will I really see that much in the way of performance gains? (editing HDV now and XDCAM later).

To make my budget (excluding hard drives - which my company is paying for) I need to shave off possibly $200. If you had to downgrade some of the core components, where would you trim some cash? Video card? Sound card? CPU?


Jon McGuffin May 30th, 2007 09:11 PM

Hey Dylan,

Glad what I posted is helpfull. Like I said before, I've been so lucky to have a lot of help here so I just felt it was time to offer up some advice where I might be of some help...

If I had to shave $200 from the system, I'd probably go with a less "spiffy" case and power supply and then consider dropping the speaker system down to something more "multimedia" type in the $50 range rather than the $150 for the Klipsh. You could also of course forgoe the UPS Power supply and just buy a good $30 surge protector. So there are definately some ways to shave off a few coins..

In regards to the hard drive subsystem. I *definately* recommend going with RAID. Maybe others here can chime in on their opinions but I feel the it's not an area to cut corners.

Looking at prices for quality 500Gb drives and they seem to run about $130/ea. That's $260 for two drives in a RAID 0 configuration. Only about $20 cheaper than the 3 drive recomendation I made above. Not a bad alternative and you get a little bit more space. You sacrifice a little bit of read/write performance. This maybe worthwhile for you. The specific drives I'm looking at are:

SEAGATE 500GB ST3500630AS SATA300 7200RPM — $129/ea
WD 500GB WD5000AAKS SATA2 16MB 7200RPM — $114/ea
HITACHI 500GB HDT725050VLA360 SATA300 7200RPM 16MB — $129/ea

Any of the above drives should do the trick nicely....

Area's you don't want to mess around in are Motherboard (though a different brand should be ok), CPU & Memory. Let me know if your system builder suggests alternate components and exactly what they are. I'll give you my opinion if they are alright or not.


Chris Soucy May 30th, 2007 09:49 PM

Hi guys......
Great post - very usefull. Can definately support the Raid 0 suggestion, have two Hitachi 500's (Sata300) in my current system and throughput is NOT a problem.

Dylan, if your work is copping for the hard drives and you're thinking of going the XDCAM route later, go with three 500's in Raid 0. If you check with any of the on - line price listing sites you should see that the cost per gig of 500's is practically the same as for the 320's, and you can definately NEVER have too much disk.

My only reservation (and that's only because I don't know the specs) is the actual Sata300 controller on the MOBO. My MSI Diamond Plus has two, 1 X 4 way (Nvidea)and 1 X 2 way (Silicon Image). The SI controller has waaaay less throughput than the Nvidea, to the point where we put all 4 drives (C = 2 X 250 Gig Western Digital, Raid 1: D = 2 X 500 Gig Hitachi, Raid 0) on the Nvidia controller - runs like a rocket.

All controllers are not created equal (implementation issues don't help either).



Dylan Couper May 31st, 2007 05:04 PM

Got a dumb question for a second... but just to make sure, the raid array of hard drives is just to give you much faster access time to the drives, as it writes to three at a time instead of one at a time?

Chris Soucy May 31st, 2007 09:42 PM

Not a dumb question at all, and yes, it improves disc read/ write speeds dramatically, the more drives you're spreading the accesses across, the faster it goes (up to a point).

The down side is that if one of the drives in the array falls off it's perch, the whole array is cactus. There are ways around this but they all invariably mean yet more drives/ power/ controllers etc etc.

That's why I run my C drive as two mirrored 250's - I NEVER want to have to re-build this system after a C drive failure - as long as they both don't kark it at the same time, I never will. (Touch wood!).



Jon McGuffin June 1st, 2007 02:11 AM

It's not a dumb question at all. You are right and wrong. RAID gives you both faster read & write speeds but the speed increase will not be 100% per drive. So Three drives are not going to be exactly three times faster than one. There are certainly laws of diminishing return here but none the less, RAID works and should be used IMO.

Terry Lee June 30th, 2007 09:38 PM

Yea but it don't have air conditioning!


Joseph Williams July 25th, 2007 08:21 PM

John, thanks for posting this.

JUST an FYI, you need to post your cell number so we can all call you the instant that we run into problems while building this and configuring it :)

Jon McGuffin July 25th, 2007 09:14 PM

Frankly, computers are so easy to build nowadays you shouldn't have problems, but I'm definately around (email me here, and I'm not affraid to give out my cell - if you need it) for any help I can provide.

System above is already out of date...

I'd now go ahead and migrate to a P35 based board that supports 1333Mhz FSB CPU's. Intel has released new CPU's and the sweet spot now seems to be either a Quad Core 2.40Ghz or the 3.0Ghz 1333Mhz E6850. Best video card for "video" is the 8600GTS and at about $160, that's an excellent card for the price. Also, the Hitachi 1TB SATA-2 Hard Drives are out and though expensive, the performance inprovement in these drives is very notable, not to mention the huge size. With that said, I'd still probably RAID up some 320Gb drives, but the 1TB drive has appeal.


L. Kirk Kauder August 2nd, 2007 08:16 AM

Hi guys
I don't want to start a new thread about systems, so I'll drop my question in here:

I'm building a new low/mid-end HD editing station using existing PS, case and other goodies and I've narrowed down the processor, memory and video card... but I just can't seem to make that final decision on the mobo.
1. Must be around or under $200
2. Must have IEEE 1394 spigots (firewire)
3. Must be RAID capable
4. Must be compatible with the processor and memory I've chosen
5. Must be a good multimedia board and it must be HOT! :-)

Any help in making my decision would be greatly appreciated. Actually just telling us what you're using would be of considerable help.
Here's what I've got so far (the mobo in this list was my first choice, but may not be the best... that's where I need your input):

New Box List

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHZ Dual Core Processor

Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

eVGA GeForce 7900GS PCI-E Video Card 256-P2-N624-AR, 256MB, SLI Ready, w/ S-Video & Dual Dual-Link TMDS

ASUS P5K Intel Core 2 Duo (Desktop) Socket 775 1066 MHz PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) ATX Motherboard Retail


Jon McGuffin August 2nd, 2007 11:26 AM


My two cents are....

#1) Don't go with the E6600 as this processor is now an underperformer, over priced unit. Intel has released a new series of processors all with a "50" designation in the end. These processors are faster, cost less, and run at a FSB of 1333Mhz. See this link for more info: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...oc.aspx?i=3038

#2) Your RAM is great... Corsair makes a pretty good set too.

#3) Go with an 8 series Nvidia card. They aren't necessarily faster, but the video playback performance on the 8600GT or 8600GTS is much improved not to mention true DirectX 10 support plus Vista (for the future) compatability. See this for more info: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3047

#4) Choose a motherboard based on the P35 chipset from Intel. This is the most compatable chipset for Core 2 Duo right now (other than P965) but supports the 1333Mhz FSB (P965 does not). As for which brand, stick with a good one like MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte.

Good luck..


L. Kirk Kauder August 2nd, 2007 11:48 AM


Originally Posted by Jon McGuffin (Post 722349)

My two cents are....

#1) Don't go with the E6600 as this processor is now an underperformer, over priced unit. Intel has released a new series of processors all with a "50" designation in the end. These processors are faster, cost less, and run at a FSB of 1333Mhz. See this link for more info: http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...oc.aspx?i=3038

#2) Your RAM is great... Corsair makes a pretty good set too.

#3) Go with an 8 series Nvidia card. They aren't necessarily faster, but the video playback performance on the 8600GT or 8600GTS is much improved not to mention true DirectX 10 support plus Vista (for the future) compatability. See this for more info: http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3047

#4) Choose a motherboard based on the P35 chipset from Intel. This is the most compatable chipset for Core 2 Duo right now (other than P965) but supports the 1333Mhz FSB (P965 does not). As for which brand, stick with a good one like MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte.

Good luck..


Thanks, Jon. Your input has been very helpful. Now I'm off to check prices and see how they fit into my budget... my one big question is still which dang mobo would be the sweetest? Thanks for your help!

Jon McGuffin August 2nd, 2007 11:51 AM

Go to either NewEgg, or Mwave.com and do a search on Intel 775 motherboards based on the P35 chipset and sort by price (lowest to highest). This will give you a good place to start.. From that point, when you find one you think you like, go to the manufacturers website and make sure it's got all the features you are looking for. You should be able to pick up a pretty good motherboard for the $125-$140 range..


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