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Thread: The "perfect compromise" Video Editing (and general use) PC -- please comment

  1. #1
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    Default The "perfect compromise" Video Editing (and general use) PC -- please comment

    The following machine is going to be both a vide editing machine and the general-purpose ‘family’ machine. This means that although I would love to spend most of my time editing video, it will mostly be used for web surfing, office utilities, etc. No one in the family is a gamer (yet), so it does not need to be optimized for gaming. I might hook it up to the entertainment system for the ‘digital home’ experience, but I’m not dead-set on that.

    The one thing I do want it optimized for is video editing. For the past three years I have been using Pinnacle Studio (versions 8 and 9) on my dell x300 laptop to do my amateur video editing, so just about anything will be a huge upgrade. I will keep using this editing software for a while on the new machine, but ultimately I want to take the time to learn to use something a little more high-end. Since I haven’t decided which editor to go with when I do upgrade (Adobe, Avid, Vegas), I am getting a cheapish video card right now and upgrade later.

    So, I need a decent, stable system that is capable of low-end (i.e Pinnacle Studio) video editing right now and can be upgraded in the near future.

    The following set-up is just about the limit of what I can spend. As far as the alternate options go, I can probably add up to $100, but that is it (i.e All of the alternate options are not a possibility).


    Processor:
    Intel Core 2 Duo 6300
    [alternate option: upgrade to 6400 – add $50]

    MOBO:
    Asus PW5 DH*
    [alternate option: P5B Deluxe – save $20]

    Memory: OCZ 2 X 512MB DDR2, 800MHz, PC2-6400
    [alternate: Corsair 2X1GB DDR2 PC2-4200 533MHz Value Select 240-pin Unbuffered DIMM – add $80]**

    HD:
    Western Digital Caviar SATAII (WD2500KS) X 2 – one system drive, other dedicated to video editing

    Video card***:
    BFG /3D fuzion GeForce 7300 GS 256MB GDDR3 PCI-Express
    [Alternate 1: XFX nVidia GeForce 7300GS Supporting 512MB DVI, TV-Out PCI E Video card – save $5]
    [Alternate 2: Asus Extreme EAX550TD/128 Radeon X550 128MB DDR PCI-Express TV-Out – save $20]


    Case:
    Antec Sonata II (with 450W power supply)
    [alternate: Antec P180 with Thermaltake W0009RUC PurePower 420-Watt Power Supply – add $80]


    DVD burner:
    LG dual layer with lightscribe


    *Note #1: I have decided to go with top-of-the line Asus boards so that I have maximum stability, compatibility and options.

    ** Note #2: I have to decide whether to go with 1Gig of high quality memory or 2 Gigs of ‘value’ memory

    *** Note #3: This will be upgraded when I decide which higher-end video editor I will go with.

  2. #2
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    LMAO (I really did) Asus and stable should NOT be used in the same sentance!

    If you are looking to upgrade the system over time you should start with the things that can be upgraded to a high spec system.

    SO you need to start all over again. (sorry)

    First of all, Pro video editing systems (high end) will use two or more processors, not dual core but two seperate ones. so that means that you are now looking for a dual processor board - Dont worry they do work with a single processor (that's the upgrade part of it)
    You will need to get a Dual core Xeon processor, they are better at data crunching and have a 8MB Cache. I would leave this to last and get the best you can buy, the prices will drop on them and then a matching upgrade will be less.

    for hard drives I would go for the 2500JS drives, they are sata2 but have a great continual data rate. you may want to check that.
    If your budget on HDD's is fairly low, then get some smaller drives hitachi KS ones are good. RAID 0 the drives, and but a large single back up or two as singel drives that are not RAID'd

    The RAM that you have selected, like Value have poor responce times, latacy will slow the workflow down as most of the procced data resides in the RAM and therefore the slower the RAM the slower the system. Idea RAM size would be 4 GIG but 2 is OK, you can always add to it.

    the P180 case isnt the best, It looks nice but isnt practical, the wiring is hard and impossible as the PSU location is different and requires a long feed route to get to where it should be. - the P160 is nice, it looks better in real life than in photos and runs nice and cool.
    I would head towards a full tower case or a RACK mount so you can hide it in a closet or some where else.

    If you are not a gamer then you really dont need a graphics card. You can buy a low end card and there will be no difference, the 6600 VIVO will give you more than you need.
    The main option for video editing card is the Agein physx card for anime/SFX productions these are stand alone graphic rendering processors which pop into the PCI -E slots
    Gaming cards such as you mention are out put cards not control cards, you should be looking at the fireGL or quadro cards or even a matrox.


    Hope that helps
    Need Pro Computer advice?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your response GTWCMT, but herein lies the problem: I am not a professional (or even semi-pro) editor. I have two kids, a full-time job and many other activities competing for my time. If I am lucky I might be able to dedicate 4 or 5 hours a week to editing videos.

    As far as what I edit -- it is pretty much entirely home video shot on DV tapes, approximately 20 hours each year that I distill down to about an hour or two.

    I really enjoy the editing, but in addition to having little time, I also don't have a huge amount of cash to dedicate to the hobby. Perhaps another thousand above the system I spec'd, including the software. Obviously, the system you recommend would require way more expenditure than that.

    So, am I stuck using Pinnacle Studio on a pretty low end machine? And if so, will th system i spec'd above help me with that or should I just buy a cheap off-the-shelf alternative and expect pretty much the same results?

    Again, input is welcome. Thanks in advance.

  4. #4
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    There is two ways at looking at it, if you buy a TV for $1000 or a 32" Monitor & speaker to watch TV on, Swapping out the Hifi as well. you replace it with a media center/entertainments system.

    I have kids and with all the businesses that I run I dont have alot of time on my hands myself.
    But then Im pretty rashional with where my money goes and why. So with that said.
    If you buy a average PC it will need replacing or upgrading to its limits and replacing. What I am saying is add 50% more performance after a year or so for around $200.00 (it makes sence dosnt it?)

    I recon that you can build that system for less than $860 + shipping.
    I know this as I am looking at the prices of the lot from new egg, (less two hard drives and a lesser GPU together with only a single gig of RAM) I didnt cherry pick by price either.
    On the list was:
    Gigabyte Dual Processor EATX mobo
    EMT 604 3.0Ghz XEON CPU
    Corsair 1 GIG DDR400 (match mobo)
    2X 160G Deskstar HDD's SATA
    X300 Pciexpress GPU
    Antec 500W PSU (didnt find the ESP which is required but is the same price)
    Full ATX Case.

    I know what you mean you with video editing eating away at time, Put it this way I just updated my system for about £270.00 and cut my editing and rendering times by 70%

    Heres a few money saving tricks.
    Overclocking offer speed and performance at cut prices.
    A Nvidia 6200 will unlock giving you all the pipes tha tthe 6600GT has and will match its performance, the 6700GS also unlocks, the X850GTO unlocks.

    All processors should give you 20% more performance, AMD are better as they run cooler.
    RAM will give you a few extra MHZ = PC3200 gives you PC4300.

    So you can work around a budget when perfromance is concered.
    Need Pro Computer advice?

  5. #5
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    I should think any well built machine based on any dual core processor with 2 drives, one for system will make a very good machine for video editing.

    I spend much of my time editing and whilst i am looking to upgrade my current 'low spec' pc running 'only' an amd xp3000 1gig ram, with a fast system drive and a bunch of other drives for media still serves me very well.

  6. #6
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    In my experience, Asus motherboards are amongst the most stable around. In addition, when working for a system builder, this brand was the prefered supplier.

    In my opinion, overclocking should not be considered with an editing environment where redundancy and stability are of paramount importance. Indeed, the 'perfect compromise' PC should certainly not include running system components beyond their designed tolerances: overclocking places increased stress on system components, thereby increasing the propensity to fail. It could be argued that overclocking does no harm to the components, but there is no argument that overclocking will increase the RISK of failure.

    As a proportion of the times spent editing, encoding / rendering is insignficant. Given the time savings associated with overclocking, the percieved gain is outweighed by the potential loss. There is a real danger of your editing project becoming corrupt should a PC fail during rendering. This could involve a siginificant loss of work.

    There's a vested interest in CPU manufacturers pushing encoding times as a selling point of their processors. However, given that encoding times certainly do not provide an increase in talent, and when taken in context of the total production time, the productivity gains of spending more on (or indeed overclocking) a processor is negligible.

    To answer the OP's question, I would say the ultimate machine for a videographer is one that's built by a system builder. Why? Well the videographer is reliant on the machine working at the right time and to specificiation. If there is any kind of hardware failure, the vendor and not the individual is responsible for putting it right. Morever, you get the experience of experts matching components - an essential requirement for stability.

    To summarise, you need stability. You also need redundancy.

  7. #7
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    I have to disagree with you mark, When Asus brought out the A8N SLI, We had two faulty ones and a large number of people reporting instability issues, in fact the complaints on this motherboard had reach about 5000 in the first two months.

    WHY.. Well getting the first thing on the market is esential when every one is waiting for it. Asus Rushed out there motherboard a full month before most of the other manurfactures did. Plagued with issues and has had serveral BIOS updates to make the system stable. The other makers of the boards had NO issues.

    Overclocking hardware (when done by a pro) is not stressing the hardware. I know that alot of processors are built to the higher end specs, if they fail a test then they a clocked down and sold as a lower grade CPU.

    Most hardware has a 20% tolerance which can be applied. the faults that people do is cause to much heat by over volting the systems or having a badly cooled system.
    When you look at locked pipes on a graphics card, these are acomplished simply and they are inplace so they can sell that upgraded chip on a budget to keep the market prices up on the high end kit.

    After many years of running overclocked hardware I have never had a fault, I have seen alot of stock system have a failure: a Hard drive wil break with or with out a clocked system.

    When costs are considered - I paid 1/6 the cost of the top processor yet I put out 10% better performance.

    After we have done our editing, its nice to see the final results faster than waiting for a few hours for it to happen.
    Need Pro Computer advice?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTWCMT View Post
    After we have done our editing, its nice to see the final results faster than waiting for a few hours for it to happen.
    I have lost an entire project due to a hardware malfunction. In an editing system stability and redundancy is paramount: the idea of overclocking stands in direct contrast to this. I agree that if done by a 'professional' then some CPUs can be oveclocked efficiently, but that isn't to say overclocking will benefit everyone. And if done incorrectly one will have an unstable machine with a short life span.

    Rendering speeds are rendering speeds. You can see the finished product before you output to MPEG, so it's not really a matter of waiting. In fact I'm normally quite please to see that render bar pop up! It means I get a break from my PC!

    The editing world is far removed from the gaming and benchmark world. Sure encode speeds are nice, but encoding to MPEG is still barely real time on ahigh end machine. Now make that a two pass variable encode and a standard one hour DVD still takes one hour to render. Then if you want to burn 5 DVDs, you've got about another hour on your hands! Us editors are a patient bunch that spend days rotoscoping 2 minutes of footage or weeks piecing together a nasterpiece. 2 mins saved on the encode is seconds!

  9. #9
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    Speaking only for myself, and meaning to cause no personal offence....

    GTWCMT - I think it is unscientific of you to attempt to devalue someone's personal expirience in the light of your own. Your expirience is no more valuable than anyone else's, to claim otherwise appears rather grandiose.

    To give advice based on your expirience in the guise of an expert when that advice and purported facts quoted to support said advice has often contained factual errors and questionable suggestions is unhelpfull and misleading.

    I am sure you do not mean to mislead or misinform but it may be unhelpfull to others to present yourself as an 'expert' when the knowledge base of that expertise may be less then sound.

    Case in point - in claiming cpu performance 10% better than the best at 1/6 of the cost and to fail to back up this claim in any way or to place this observation in a sensible context you risk painting yourself as some latter day silicon miracle worker who can achieve unheard of levels of performance that have eluded intel / amd / and ibm.

    I am sure you have a great deal of knowledge about computers but here we need usefull advice on real world systems. Very few real world systems in use today are little more than carefully made 'ordinary' PCs, all this talk of editing systems needing 8 gig of ram and 2 xeons is nothing more than idle fantasising; even our local bbc is getting rid of it's huge avid system and having journalists edit their stories on 'ordinary' desktop PCs. I know this because I have been around the newsroom and talked to one of the editors.

    With respect I suggest qualifying your advice and distinguishing between fact and uninformed opinion more.

    Truly I am not making a personal comment about you but am concerned about the veracity and helpfullness of some of your advice.
    Last edited by Mark W; 10-12-2006 at 10:20 PM.

  10. #10
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    Mark, I have built computer for some years now and have worked closely with professional from a wide range of businesses from around the world.

    We have built world class leading systems with the highest performance records. Our record of stability and reliability is 100% as we test each system which is built by pro's and these carry out a long and arduous testing.
    We build both stock speed systems and more so, people are interested in over clocked systems for both the performance and the speed at which they can work.

    On our computer systems site, we have proven ourselves to provide systems that have a cost which is 66% less and 35% more performance than say the Alienwares top of the line systems, Also Alienware has stated that they cannot build a system which would match our performance.

    When we design systems, we hand select the hardware that is used for building these systems and they are tested before, during and after the building of the systems. The selection takes a long time and extensive knowledge of computer hardware, electronics and design. We also deal direct with the hardware manufactures to ensure that the hardware is built to the desired levels.

    I must point out that I do not devalue others points that they wish to make, I do wish to point out that I have a opinion from a qualified prospective.

    "miracle worker who can achieve unheard of levels of performance that have eluded intel / amd / and ibm"
    Your point I have quoted, is founded based on a average, If you knew of the developments that are held back on, you will find that the business world do this with many things.
    To give you an example; You have just designed the latest processor that can do 70 teraflops (500Ghz) it costs £90 to make.
    If you set this on the market, it would devalue all your other processors and you wouldn’t make that much money. This processor would answer everyone’s requirements and your business would shortly end after everyone has one.

    BUT

    If you took that technology and reversed engineered it, you could sell a 5Ghz, then shortly after a 9Ghz then a 12 Ghz and so on.
    These times can be a year apart and people will by them to have the latest, most wonderful processor not knowing that you have this super processor.
    As the years go on, you have made billions of billions instead of a a few billion.

    I guess you can tell from that and the way in which things develop that this is the case, its all money to most businesses.
    If you think this isn’t true, think again. I saw a ‘hollow projector’ more than 10 years ago, No not like star trek, but unbelievable, I didn’t even believe my eyes as i waved my hands through it.

    "all this talk of editing systems needing 8 gig of ram and 2 xenon’s is nothing more than idle fantasising"
    I didn’t say they did need this spec, a lot of people go for what are called desktop computers, I am sure that many people go for gaming graphics cards rather than pro graphics cards.
    IMO editing systems should be using 4 gig's of RAM at the least, dual processors are proven to be quicker at rendering and the software is designed to use multi processors to carry the rendering and processing intensive work.
    I guess that is like this:
    You can travel up a motorway at 40mph or 70mph, you will get there either way. If you travelled by a reliant robin or a porche is also a choice that you can make.

    I guess that its difference for me as I have seen a lot of systems side by side; even your old AthlonXP system (I had one) and then I can run it like for like against a modern all singing and dancing machine.

    It brings up a point that I have made many times in editorials.
    Computers were built to make are life's easy, they have made things faster, but now, instead of using the free time generated, we just do more work (for the same money).

    Forums or typed text isn’t the best way to make a point as they lack empathy that goes with the spoken word, I am not under mining other opinion or trying to cause controversy. What I see, do and know is often what I base any comment I make on.
    Need Pro Computer advice?

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