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Thread: Building The Best: The Perfect PC Components 2009

  1. Default Building The Best: The Perfect PC Components 2009

    Video Editors Buying Guide

    I thought I would update the buying guide as its now out of date. Please add recommendations and changes as you see fit.

    Processor:

    Probably the most important single component in the video editors arsenal, the processor will determine how responsive your software feels and how quickly rendering and effects take. There are three main ingredients to a good processor.

    1: Gigahertz (GHz) is the 'speed' of the processor, but this simple number can no longer be counted on to give anywhere near an accurate idea of performance in today's modern processors. Intel and AMD have hit a number of walls in taking processors past the 3.4Ghz mark. A decent GHz rating in today's processors is around the 2.8GHz mark and up.

    2: Cores are what Intel and AMD used to get past the GHz hump. Instead of doing one thing faster why not do two things at the same speed, that theoretically doubles ones speed. Most modern software can take advantage of dual core processors but most video editing software is multi threaded and likes as many cores as you can throw at it. There is no excuse for not buying a quad core, no matter what the Gigahertz you can get for cheaper.

    3: Cache, while not as important as the other two ingredients, still plays a role in a processors speed. It acts like RAM but is much faster and comes in much smaller sizes. I high cache in a modern processor is 12MB.

    Currently the Intel Core I7's are the fastest processors on the market, but their cost, along with the extra cost of specific motherboards and DDR3 RAM mean that they are still a bit too expensive for some of us (me). The new Core series of chips (I7, I5 and I3) are the replacement to the well loved Core 2 Duo line of processors, but as with very new tech the bang for buck will take a little longer to mature. The Core I5 may be a new performance king with regards to value, but when you add the cost of a new socket motherboard its still not worth it. That said, we are on the cusp of the Core age and people looking for a longer term machine would do well to invest in the tech now.

    There is also an 'elite tax' that comes with much tech and needs to be avoided like the plague. The bottom line is that you should never but top of the range, the price to performance is usually dismal. My recommendation at this time is an Intel chip called the Q9550

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz 12M Cache S775 1333MHZ
    mfr#: BX80569Q9550
    180.00


    RAM:

    The second most important ingredient for a video rig is RAM, specifically lots of it. While RAM speed is important the biggest factor is how much. Now is a good time to talk about operating systems. Or more precisely bits. Windows XP, Vista and now Windows 7 come in two essential flavours, 32bit and 64bit. This is irrelevant to most people but to the RAM starved video editors of this world it is essential. Your garden variety operating system is 32bit, I won't get into the gory details but that means that it can only 'see' 4GB or RAM. Some of the RAM is allocated to hardware, and depending on the motherboard can be as much as 1GB. Hence when you install 4Gb you often only see something like 3.2GB showing up. A 64bit operating system can have vast amounts of RAM, so that's what you need to get. The next bottleneck to RAM is the number of RAM slots on your motherboard, usually 4 on a higher end board. As the largest economically feasible RAM size is 2GB you are going to want to throw 4 of those in for a decent 8GB of RAM. Many Core I7 boards have 6 RAM slots so for the boys using tons of effects on 1080P that may be for you. High speed RAM is not absolutely essential, I'm going to go with a DDR2 motherboard for this guide so that will come in flavours of 533, 667, 800 and 1066. 800MHz RAM is cheap and you may find a decent deal on 1066 these days so go for those.

    2x Kingston 4GB kit (2x2GB Module) 800Mhz
    mfr#: KTA-G5533/4G
    2x 38.34 inc vat


    Motherboard:

    The motherboard is where it all happens, it determines what hardware you can use, how much you can upgrade and will give you a headache no doubt. I've chosen a Intel Quad Core processor with DDR2 Ram so I need a motherboard that is compatible with those parts. But wait! there's more. I'm going to want a graphics card, I might need to add a capture card, or maybe a sound card, I want Firewire for capture as well and an ESATA port so I can connect an external hard drive at full speed. Spending a lot of money on a motherboard feels painful because you don't get a speed increase from a better part but in the long run its worth it. I've also chosen a motherboard with built in RAID which will let me build an array of disks with faster read and write performance for my footage.

    Asus S775 INTEL P45 ATX DDR2 AUDIO LAN P5Q-E
    mfr#: P5Q-E
    104.37 inc vat


    Graphics Card:

    A lot of people mistakenly think that a graphics card is an important part for video editors. It's not. While graphics cards have the potential to make a processor look pedestrian they can't as the operating system and editing software can't use them to their full potential with video... yet. There is work being done to get them more involved but most of the software that is out is more proof of concept than legitimate option. Unless you want to spend huge money on pro gear you still need to rely on the processor. When graphics cards do get proper integration into your software of choice look out for rendering times cut in quarter or better. I have chosen a relatively entry level NVidia Quadra card, only because they have better compatibility, especially with Avid. For part time gamers or people that dont want a Quadra or Fire GL then the ATI 4850 HD is decent. I would like to do some benchmarking in the future to really se what difference a graphics card makes to render times. Anyone wanting to buy me a range of cards?

    NVidia PNY Quadro FX 370 PCIE 2xDVI
    mfr#: VCQFX370-PCIEPB
    95.30 inc vat
    Last edited by RobertS; 09-02-2009 at 11:06 AM.

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    Hard Drives:

    An often misunderstood and underestimated component of the video editors rig. Good hard drive setup can make or break your rig. There are three things to take into account here, speed, reliability and size. Before I get into my recommendations a word about SSD's (solid state disks)

    SSD's are completely different from your normal hard drive and have become a mature (and cheap) enough tech that they should start to be considered. Unlike regular hard drives that run on roughly the same principal of old LP records a SSD works like an SD card you find in digital cameras. While prolonged reads and writes are not their strong points a number of the newer drives have now far exceeded the very fastest spindle disks. The only thing holding them back for now is price and speed degradation over time. This last factor has become far less important with the very latest disks though. For now if you want a high speed 2TB disk don't think about SSD, If you want a high speed 128GB disk then go with the latest Intel (its white) or an OCZ Vertex. There is also a G.Skill Falcon which has remarkable read and write speeds. Watch this space. Within a year or three you will kiss your old drives goodbye.

    Another important factor with hard drives (and men) is that they don't like doing more than one thing at once. This is tough for the video editor who wants a quick render. Let me explain. When you render there are many stresses on hard drive activity. One is your operating system then we can throw in the actual software you are using and the systems paging file. Next is your core footage which is being read at a furious rate, the higher the bit rate the more stressful. Next you have the file you are writing too, perhaps a MPEG4 file you are creating, there is also a high possibility your software is using cache/scratch disk files. If you have tried doing all of that off one disk you will know what it is to wait This can be compounded by disks that are very full and have multiple partitions. Don't do that to yourself. I'm not a professional when it comes to hard disks but here is my recommendation.

    Firstly the System disk, this is where you will have Windows installed and your video editing software. I'm going for an Intel 80GB SSD, some people will need a larger disk, I don't. If the price scares you then you need to try out a machine with a SSD disk and then think long and hard.

    Intel X25-M SATA II SSD 80GB 9.5MM
    mfr#: SSDSA2MH080G2C1
    171.99 inc VAT

    Next we want a disk for storing all the captured footage, I'm going to go for a two disk RAID 0 setup, its not to safe but much faster, a RAID 1 setup will give you no speed increase, half the storage space but a much safer machine. I'm also adding one smaller disk that will be for the scratch disk.

    2x Samsung 1TB 7200RPM 32MB S300 3.5"
    mfr#: HD103UJ
    2x 59.77 inc vat

    and

    Western Digital 500GB Caviar Black SATA-II 32MB
    mfr#: WD5001AALS
    42.81 inc vat

    The rest of the components are not to important, just don't skimp on the power supply, get a 400W+ good quality brand.

    Antec 430W Low Noise PSU

    mfr#: EA 430 - GB
    53.41 inc vat

    A decent quality DVD writer, you may want to go for a BD writer, LG seems to have the best prices but that's not something I have researched thoroughly.

    Sony 24x Int. DVDRW Ret Kit SATA
    mfr#: DRU-870S
    21.78 inc vat

    A large case with ample room for upgrade and air flow and preferably not something so ugly your MAC friends start getting uppity.

    Antec Three Hundred Case Black

    mfr#: 0761345-08300-3
    44.93 inc vat

    For peripherals I go with a bog standard keyboard and then buy stickers for shortcuts (I'm not a pro yet)

    Logitech Media Keyboard
    mfr#: 967560-0120
    7.96 inc vat


    Shortcut stickers are roughly 10

    A decent mouse is a must, Razer make gaming mice that are a daily joy to use.

    Razer Copperhead Mouse Blue
    mfr#: RZ01050100R1M1
    36.65 inc vat



    Total price 905.65 inc
    Last edited by RobertS; 09-02-2009 at 09:55 AM.

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    I7 Machine

    Here is the same machine as above but with the I7 chip, motherboard and DDR3 RAM

    Intel Nehalem i7 920 S1366 2.66GHz In stock now
    mfr#: BX80601920
    204.18 inc vat


    Asus S1366 Intel X58 ATX A L In stock now
    mfr#: P6T SE
    139.71 inc vat


    Corsair Memory DDR3 1333MHz 12GB Core I7 Supt
    mfr#: HX3X12G1333C9
    182.85 inc vat


    Compared to the Q9550 your rendering times can be roughly cut in half. The extra cost is deffinitely worth it if you can afford it. The total system price will come to 1071.34
    Last edited by RobertS; 09-02-2009 at 11:02 AM.

  4. Default

    Midrange Machine

    This will be roughly based on the first machine but with a lot of the 'fat' cut off. The processor is still quad core but with a lower GHz and much less cache

    Intel Q8200 Core 2 Quad S775 4MB 2.33GHz 1333FSB
    mfr#: BX80580Q8200
    112.06 inc vat


    Ram will stay the same 8gb kit

    2x Kingston 4GB kit (2x2GB Module) 800Mhz
    mfr#: KTA-G5533/4G
    2x 38.34 inc vat


    We can change the motherboard to something a bit cheaper but still retain four RAM slots.

    MSI S775 Intel P43 DDR2 ATX Audio Lan FSB1333MHz
    mfr#: P43NEO-F
    53.80 inc vat


    Graphics card can be lowered but should not show much of a depreciation in performance.

    Gigabyte ATI Radeon 4670 HD 1GB DDR3 PCI-Express 2.0 DVI
    mfr#: GV-R467ZL-1GI
    56.25 inc vat


    Hard drives can be as follows

    System: Western Digital Caviar SE 160GB S300 8mb
    mfr#: WD1600AAJS
    29.94 inc vat

    Raw Footage: Seagate 1.5TB Barracuda 7200RPM SATA-300 32MB
    mfr#: ST31500341AS
    85.50 inc vat

    Scratch Disk/Cache: Western Digital Caviar SE 320GB S300 8MB
    mfr#: WD3200AAJS
    31.71 inc vat


    The other components can stay the same as the original machine. With a quad core, 8gb of RAM and seperate hard drives for the system and caches this machine will be a good little peformer.

    Total cost 620.67
    Last edited by RobertS; 09-02-2009 at 10:39 PM.

  5. #5
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    i think if we have 300, 500, 800, 1000, 2000+ pc's then we should be able to cater for almost everyone.

  6. Default

    Entry Level Machine

    Intel E5400 Pentium DC S775 2MB 2.7GHz
    mfr#: BX80571E5400
    61.70 inc vat

    MSI S775 Intel P43 DDR2 ATX Audio Lan FSB1333MHz
    mfr#: P43NEO-F
    53.80 inc vat

    2x Crucial 4GB kit (2GBx2) Ballistix 240-pin DIMM DDR2 PC2640
    mfr#: BL2KIT25664AA80
    2x 39.99 inc vat

    Western Digital Caviar SE 160GB S300 8mb
    mfr#: WD1600AAJS
    29.94 inc vat

    Samsung 1TB 7200RPM 32MB S300 3.5"
    mfr#: HD103UJ
    59.77 inc vat

    Gigabyte GeForce 9400GT 550Mhz 512MB GDDR2 PCI-Express 2.0 Low Profile
    mfr#: GV-N94T-512I
    33.76 inc vat

    Optiarc (Sony/NEC) 20X DVD+/-RW IDE BLACK
    mfr#: AD-5200A-0B
    16.13 inc vat

    Best Value 1010B Black Midi Case No PSU
    mfr#: CSCIT1010B
    11.27 inc vat

    Antec PSU/Basiq Power 350W ATX 12v
    mfr#: BP350P GB
    28.89 inc vat

    Total Cost 375.26

  7. Default

    Basic Machine

    Note that you will not be able to upgrade this motherboards memory to 8gb at a later date.

    Intel E5200 Pentium Dual Core S775 2MB 2.5GHz 800FSB
    mfr#: BX80571E5200
    45.68

    Asus S775 Intel G31 DDR2 MATX Audio Lan
    mfr#: P5KPL-AM
    34.14 inc vat

    Crucial 4GB kit (2GBx2) Ballistix 240-pin DIMM DDR2 PC2640
    mfr#: BL2KIT25664AA80
    39.99 inc vat

    Western Digital Caviar SE 160GB S300 8mb
    mfr#: WD1600AAJS
    29.94 inc vat

    Western Digital Caviar SE 320GB S300 8MB
    mfr#: WD3200AAJS
    31.71 inc vat

    Optiarc (Sony/NEC) 20X DVD+/-RW IDE BLACK
    mfr#: AD-5200A-0B
    16.13 inc vat

    Best Value 1010B Black Midi Case No PSU
    mfr#: CSCIT1010B
    11.27 inc vat

    Antec PSU/Basiq Power 350W ATX 12v
    mfr#: BP350P GB
    28.89 inc vat

    Total Cost 237.75

  8. #8
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    Very impressive indeed. i think somebody has too much time on their hands

  9. Default

    Obsession is a cruel master

  10. #10
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    indeed, i've spent 2 weeks on a title sequence because so far it has never quite "looked right". Perfection is gold but the ultimate disease

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