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Thread: Editing HD - My current setup and problems.

  1. Default Editing HD - My current setup and problems.

    Hi Everyone

    I've not posted on this forum for just under a year, so apologies for the absence, but after a raft of issues both personal and technical, I believe I'm back to filmmaking in some capacity or other! And I need a bit of technical advice.

    My former editing PC, and I use that term loosely as it was never designed as such - it was a PC I used to use for producing music/audio on, but then stuck with when I moved into visuals, has been retired to spend the rest of its days as the much maligned home/internet machine after the demise of our previous one. That was another reason I haven't been doing much filming, no machine to edit on! My biggest issue with the old machine was that it couldn't edit more than a single track of hi-def (1280 x720) at a time in my editing software before the preview playback became so choppy as to be unusable. I put this down the PC specs, an aging dualcore running 32 bit Win 7 pro, only 2gb Ram and a bog-standard graphics card, without much ram at all. My camera can shoot in full HD, but if I could barely edit the standard below, I didn't bother seeing how bad it would be in Full HD! I do need to use more than a single track as I am planning to work with multiple camera footage.

    I've now bought a slight newer machine - alas could buy a modern custom PC, but found a second hand quadcore in good nick for a very tasty price, figured it had to be better than what I had been using before.

    So, I've got an Intel Core TM2 Quad Q8200 with 3 GB, running Windows 7 Home PRem 64bit, but unfortunately another basic graphics card without much Ram. I had been using Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum, and while I will be buying a more contemporary version of it - especially one that utilises 64 bit tech more, I have persisted it for the time being.

    For my first experiment experiment I shot some 1280x720 test footage and began sticking the tracks into Sony Vegas. Again, a single track played backed perfect, and I found I was able to add a lot more extensive effects to it without the issues, an instant improvement on my old setup. I added a 2nd track of footage on track 2, below the first one - and it seemed that there was no issues at all, I was chuffed. Things got a bit jerky if I added effects, but otherwise it was good. However, adding a third track of footage, it all went 'blaaaaaaaaaaah,' and the playback became rubbish.

    I was a little disappointed, I guess I hoped the extra Gb of Ram and two additional cores would have more impact, and I began pricing up upgrade costs. However, one factor I didn't consider was the speed of the hard drives I've been using. I believe 7200rpm is pretty much the minimum recommended speed for a hard drive to be used for live editing. Sure enough, the Hard drive in my new machine is only 5000rpm, and I can confirm that the drives in my old editing PC were of that same speed too. Might I have found my main problem here?

    I know I could doo with more RAM, a better graphics card, etc, but at this stage its not like I need to have more than 5 simultaneous HD tracks playing at once, could simply using a faster drive make that possible?

    I've decided to check - I do own a 3.5 inch internal drive that does run at 7200rpm, but its too big to go in the case of the PC (its a small form device) and I know using it with a USB enclosure is no good because of the slow transfer rates, but I've found that my PC has got an eSata port, so I've ordered a cheap eSata enclosure - apparently there isn't much difference between esata and actually having the drive in the machine, I'm really hoping this will make the difference - but wanted your opinions - has anyone else had HD editing woes that were simply down to the speed of their drive? How much difference did upgrading make, and how much more benefit would there be from say a 10,000rpm drive?


  2. #2


    TL.DR version No need for more expensive drives, just get yourself a second hard drive for the media.

    Let me explain why.

    How fast the actual drive spins is irrelevant to you. What matters is the READ/WRITE speed per second.
    Download and install the "Aja System Test" software.
    read-write test.JPG
    The above is a read/write test of an external USB 3.0 single drive 7200 RPM box.

    And of my SSD:
    read-write test SSD.JPG

    Now why does this matter?

    Let's say my footage has a data-rate of 6 megabytes per second - I'll need the drive to be able to read that speed, according to the speed test, my 7200 RPM can handle that fine.
    Now what happens If I have three pieces of footage all on the timeline at the same moment, 3 x 6 = 18 megabytes per second, still not a problem.

    A single SATA 7200rpm drive generally (unless it's pure toilet) can deliver a speed of 100mbps or more.
    But if it's the same drive that the operating system is on, with the editing program + the cache files and the footage? that 100mbps gets chewed up by everything trying to use it at once.

    Which is why generally, you would want two hard drives at least, one for the operating system and one for your footage to live on.

    With your spec, you are more likely to want to upgrade processor & ram + motherboard years before you ever want to think about 10k hard drives.
    Last edited by Bpotter908; 12-22-2013 at 10:27 PM.

  3. Default

    Okay, I ran the test on a 7200rpm internal drive currently in the old computer, I took the opportunity to pop that in the old computer to replace one of the older smaller drives I had in there when I rebuilt it as a home machine. Its an identical model to the one I'm hoping to use with the enclosure - it didn't give very high numbers, I'm afraid. I ran an identical test to yourself and got the following numbers

    These are for my 120 GB seagate Barrcuda drive
    Write 42.2mbs / Read 43.1mbs

    I then decided to test out the older drives that were in the machine, they are 80gb 5000rpm IDE not Sata drives, and they've come out witrh slightly better figures for the same test;

    Write 57.7mbs / Read 58.5mbs

    What do I read into this - that my 7200 rpm drive is actually crap for video editing? Are these typical speeds?

    And I can see how upgrading the RAm, and perhaps buying faster Ram would have a big difference, but is the processor I've got really not up to the task?


  4. #4


    Without knowing of the quality/age of the drives, I would guess that the bottleneck in this case is the CPU, Yet actually 7200rpm has been around for a long time, quite a few people were settling for those speeds and editing content down just fine (Some guys even edit off a USB 2.0 external and it runs fine)

    I'm going to jump to an extreme end of the spectrum for a moment.

    Or a little more sensible?

    The prices probably seem crazy to you but that would be the ball-park figure if you want "very fast" speeds. - These are the kind of speeds you would probably want if you were doing 10 video tracks with 1080P video with more effects shooting left right and centre than you could possibly count. Which means that for what you need it to do...You can be very happy for settling for much much less, especially if you think these are brand new systems under warranty with all the nicest new toys.

    If you were to start with the below:

    Zoostorm is a pretty awful brand, but in terms of a benchmark for the pricing of components, this might give you a better idea what to think about.

    One key question to ask yourself is how much money do you want to spend to make things faster...OR are you happy to settle for less speed?

    There are ways of working which put less strain on your hardware whilst editing, here are a few possibilities:

    - Proxy files - editing with low grade junk footage and then for the export, dropping in the quality footage.
    - Making sure your import & project settings are correct, this saves the PC having to work harder.
    - Giving the PC some TLC, no nasty free software, keep your PC clean and treat it like any valuable tool.

    One last note, Can you tell me what the megabytes per second of your current footage is?
    Last edited by Bpotter908; 12-23-2013 at 10:02 PM.

  5. Default


    Righto, I checked the data rate of a typical bit of footage - its coming up around 9400kbps - so converted it comes out at 9.4MBps. I'm assuming this is pretty significant as the rate for the standard def footage I've happily been editing previously is about a third of that?

    As things stand, I don't have hug amounts of money to throw at the problem, just ascertaining exactly where the problem lies has to be my main concern!

    Of your suggestions the option of proxy editing sounds the best. I do not believe the cut down version of Vegas I have allows for this, I've seen this come up in reviews as an issue previously. Could you possibly suggest a decent budget video editor that does allow proxy editing - ideally with a workflow not too dissimilar to Sony VEgas/Movie Studio. I've tested out Coral Studio and totally hated the workflow.



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