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DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys

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Gary Bettan
DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 2, 2011 at 2:50:57 pm

As you know has been publishing DIY guides and system recommendation pages for years. We always make sure the latest version of Avid or Adobe Production Premium runs great on it. We are asked constantly about Sandy Bridge and if we recommend it. As of today we do NOT recommend Sandy Bridge for high end NLE workstations. We feel that if you need a new machine today, your best solution is to stick with an X58 based machine like our DIY8 build.

We have some big concerns about Sandy Bridge which I will lay out here.

1) Sandy Bridge was intended for Laptops and self contained computers like an iMac that offer little or no expandability and benefit greatly from cost savings of having integrated graphics. The first generation of Sandy Bridge motherboards was recalled because of chipset issues. It’s for building budget gaming systems, not NLE workstations.

2) Integrated graphics is one of the biggest tech nightmares for NLE. On the Windows side this is just a recipe for disaster. Even when you can disable on board GPU, it creates stability issues down the road that can be impossible to resolve for video editing. While this mobo does not have Integrate graphics, the chips do. Knowing our years of frustration tech supporting integrated graphics, I'm just not willing to recommend it for serious NLE work at this time.

3) The P67 chipsets have shared PCIe bandwidth, so each slot does NOT have its own dedicated PCIe lanes. What does that mean? It means you will run into bottlenecks if you try to run PCIe based hardware like MojoDX, MXO2 or AJA along with a RAID controller card and powerful graphics card.

Please keep this in mind when reading Gamer site reviews. These guys do not add additional hardware other then dual graphics cards. We are video editors and we require the ability to add additional hardware that each need dedicated bandwidth. Unless you are 100% sure you will not be adding I/O hardware or a RAID card DO NOT go with P67 and Sandy Bridge.

4) Apple, Mac & Thunderbolt. Let’s look at my three comments above, and then think about where this is going. Why would Intel limit the PCIe bus and integrate the graphics? THUNDERBOLT. Thunderbolt gives you super fast I/O plus display port. I can’t wait for Apple to announce new iMacs running Sandy Bridge with Thunderbolt. They will deliver performance equal to or better then a quad core i7 machine at little or no premium. I love the idea of editing on a sexy iMac and still have expandability and no sacrifice for performance.

Conclusion: Sandy Bridge PLUS Thunderbolt is a winning combination!

I feel the current Sandy Bridge solutions are not future proof and in fact come with a lot of long term risk. You can get an i7 Hex-core for around $500 now. Put it in our DIY 8 build and add any and all the extra hardware you need for your workflow.

Down the road the X68 chipset will be the right choice. These motherboards do not exist at this time, but they are the real next generation of the X58. I will go a step further, and recommend you wait for X68 chipsets with Thunderbolt. These could still be a year away. That is the real future of NLE workstations and one that I think is worth waiting for.

Sandy Bridge Tech Note: As I said earlier if you do not plan on adding 3rd party I/O hardware or RAID storage, then a Sandy Bridge based machine could work for you. If your goal is to produce basic videos, with only one or two layers of video and graphics, running around 30 minutes each, I'm sure a Sandy Bridge workstation will get the job done at a great price. I'm also sure it will run low end video editing apps like Pinnacle Studio, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, Premiere Elements or other under $100 video editing programs.

If you are still going to build a system around Sandy Bridge, the Asus ASUS P8P67 PRO is our top recommendation. Here a few links to some reviews or the P8P67 Pro




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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 2, 2011 at 6:57:31 pm

Well i have to say there is much wrong with this.

1)Sandy Bridge is both a name for the architecture and the 32nm die size.
not only is it designed for laptops and desktops but also high end Xeon workstations including 4 way (4 processor servers)
Ivy Bridge will be the 2nd gen (Tick, Tock) and will be 22 nm.

to be clear again Sandy bridge was designed to be of the highest end including servers. the higher end will be released Q4 11 and Q1 2012.
not laptops.

2) P67 chipset BYPASSES all onboard video on the processor and has absolutely no effect on performance as an NLE or any other workstation class (IE Pro Audio)
the ondie video is never accessed NOR does it casue any potential for issues.

3) There are 20 PCIe lanes on a P67 native.

16x goes to the Video card (albeit not needed) that leaves 4 for AJA, Decklink ETC.
there is no issues adding an I/O card, i have numerous systems out there on SB with I/O

do you have benchmarks showing lack of performance, or is this pure speculation?

i have ones showing it (SB) outperforming X58 other than the 990x.

As to the Raid card anyone needing an 8 drive raid array (dedicated raid card) is doing either red4k or heavy uncompressed.
If thats the case then an X58 or SB system is not recommended you should be on a Dual Xeon with at least a pair of 2.93GHz
anything less means the SB and X58 will outperform CPU wise.

so one should not be using a real Raid card in SB or X58, making it a moot point.

to add to this. i have seen numbers where adding a 4X PCIe raid card has NOT decreased video performance on a SB system.
this is one thing i have not personally benchmarked so i cant comment.

FYI only 32 lanes on an X58 are native both on 2 x 16x slots.

4) talk about for laptops only...
Thunderbolt add in PCIe cards will be available in the near future.
there is nothing i cant do already without it on a desktop system.
its nothing new and nothing faster is meerly a way for a laptop to have a single interface thats backward compatible (with a break-out box thats non existant at the moment) with Firewire,usb, and drive configurations.

lets be clear the upcoming Matrox with thunderbolt has no increased speed all they did was re-write the driver

to add to this a 2600 sandy bridge @ default clocks (turbo included)
outperforms ALL X 58 processors up to the 970 and runs right there or beats the 980x 990x.
and thats tested with Adobe PP CS5/5.5, Vegas 10, Avid 5.

2600 $300
990x $1000

one would have to be brain dead to pick the latter.
benchmarks next


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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 2, 2011 at 7:03:33 pm

CS 5.03 benchmarks:

system set up,
4 WD 1Tb Sata 64 Meg Cache 600 Drives in 2x 2 drive Raid 0 arrays
Video material - AVCHD 1080P 24 Frame Each Cut to 30 minutes of material
Export Codec - H264 HDTV 1080P 24 Preset Default
4 Effects per Layer - Fast Color Corrector, Brightness & Contrast, Video Limiter, Sharpen
Each Layer Scaled to 50% for 4 frame PinP view.

I7 2600K 3.4GHZ Turbo to 4.7GHz
16GB Blackline 1600 CL 9
3 Layer - 31:35
4 Layer - 34:35

I7 980X @ 4GHZ
12GB Blackline 1600 CL 9
3 Layer - 32:30
4 Layer - 35:25

uhmm 980x beat by the 2600 you dont recommend! and this is real workflow not a synthetic test.


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Gary Bettan
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 2, 2011 at 8:38:19 pm


The main theme of all our DIY projects is getting the right chipset and CPU for video editing. I realize that I'm intermixing my Sandy Bridge CPU commentary with the chipsets to support them. I'll make sure I do a better job separating SB chips from the issues that the chipsets may have.

I respect your knowledge and your ability to build systems. My advice is for serious Avid & CS5 editors who plan on running I/O hardware and RAID. Which MANY of our customers do.

I think you need to run some professional level video timelines using CS5.x or MC 5.x on a Sandy Bridge system with an I/O card (Matrox MXO2 Mini or AJA IoExpress/Kona) and a RAID controller like the RAID cards that ship with G-Speed eS or Pro and a GTX 470/570 or Quadro 4000 card. I'm not talking about some gamer benchmark test, but a really complicated 60+ minute timeline with multiple layers of video, effects and filters. You'll start seeing the bottlenecks.

As my post says, if you are doing basic editing and you don't need 3rd party hardware, Sandy Bridge will do the job. As your tests have shown I'm sure it's good for DAW work as well.

Also note that we rarely recommend going with CPUs over $500. I have never seen a big enough performance gain for video editors. Which is why we held out on recommending the hex core i7s. Now that they are in the $500 range, we think it's the best choice.

If folks want to build NLE rigs based on Sandy bridge they can. It's their choice. We have some very real concerns that we simply can't dismiss.

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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 2, 2011 at 11:40:26 pm

You do realize Thunderbolt is about the same Bandwidth as a PCI-E 2.0 4x slot don't you? And you think that an I-mac which is a laptop chip, ram , and integrated graphics in a desktop body with a PCI-E Gen 2 4X port will somehow outperform a 2600K system with a DDR3 1600 desktop ram, a serious Discrete Graphics card, and dual Raid 0 arrays? Even if you put a raid card in the SB desktop system the Discrete Graphics card will well outperform the integrated graphics.

I have configured and tested SB Desktop systems with both Black Magic and Matrox hardware and they perform as good or better than Quad Core X58 systems. My clients are using these systems with 4+ layers of 1080P30 AVCHD and DSLR H264 among other standard HD codecs over 2 hours long without any issues playing back real time with Adobe or exporting. I have 1 client using SB's as render stations because they are proving to be the best encoding stations around for the money handling hours of material per project. I can gladly test out some R3D 4K material I got and post the benchmarks if you are interested. However there is no way a SB desktop system is lower performance than a X58 Quad Core system or limited to 2 layers of video in anyway or not suitable with Adobe CS5. Avid would not use all of the SB anyway since it's 32 bit still so lets leave that layer limitation at Avid's door for now. And a SB I-mac Thunderbolt or not is not going to handle any better than an SB desktop unless Apple changes their standard design philosophy on I-macs over to desktop hardware.

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Gary Bettan
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 3, 2011 at 3:06:26 pm

Eric, that is some very good news and impressive performance with Sandy Bridge!

What storage are these guys running? Are they using a RAID card and RAID 5?

Guys, I am not saying that the Sandy Bridge CPUs are not lightning fast and affordable. Unfortunately we've run into tech support issues for some of our customers. As you both pointed out, these are not Sandy Bridge CPU issues, but more likely the motherboard and chipsets. Which is why our current advice is to wait for the next round of motherboards.

BTW - Apple announced new iMacs today based on Sandy Bridge CPUs w/ Thunderbolt.

Apple's New iMacs Add Thunderbolt, More Graphics Muscle, and Monster Quad-Core Guts (via @Gizmodo)


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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 3, 2011 at 4:42:56 pm

Hi Gary,
What storage are these guys running? Are they using a RAID card and RAID 5?

if you re-read my benchmarks post its there. just not completely expounded upon. also if you look at what we used.. 30 minutes AVCHD to H264 4 layers 4 effects.. thats no wimpy test nor a synthetic "gamer" benchmark..

OS drive
2x 2 drive raid 0 (onboard raid)
1 as source/media
1 as export

that way you are not reading and writing to the same drive(s)

for the vast majority of users nothing more than 2 sets of 2 drive raid 0 is required.
and in fact past that becomes money spent for nothing. Most users are doing some form of AVCHD, Xdcam, P2 etc. or even less DV/HDV. which dont even need any raids.

2 sets raid 0 is best but again past that is pointless as the drives are NOT the bottle neck.
with the exception of those who want redundacy (Raid 5,6) and are to lazy to back up externally but thats not a preformance question its a back up plan.

only those who are doing uncompressed 4:4:4, Red 4K etc with lots layers/effects need any kind of massive 8-16 drive raid arays. this is 5-10% of your clients and mine, the other 90% are more than well suited by SB and in fact better off than with X58.

so again as i said those doing that type work should NOT be on SB or X58 but on Dual Xeons of at least 2.93GHz and preferably Dual Xeons @ 4GHz.

so this makes the whole cant add a raid card to the SB systems completely moot and pointless.

you can add AJA, Decklink and Matrox without any issues at all.

i do very few sales to hobbiest most of our clients are pro level and up. (broadcast, etc)

we ship over 1000 systems a yr with the majoirty of them having hardware/software installed prior to shipping. we benchmark everyone of these with real world tests

i can tell you for a fact

1) SB systems are faster than any X58 with the exception of 980/990 being right there with the 2600.
depending on the task and workflow they trade back and forth with minor margins.
they are also faster than lower end dual Xeons.

2) there are NO ISSUES at least not on our systems or correctly built, tweaked systems.

if you are seeing issues with support with your clients its due to numerous end user errors not the platform itself.
i cant imagine doing support for you clients working on who knows what system, bad windows installs not optimised for video etc etc..
and of course they blame you!


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Gary Bettan
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 3, 2011 at 5:38:26 pm

A walk down memory lane for you guys:

Back before dual-core chips we had dual CPU workstations. Integrators like yourself could put together SMOKIN' dual Athlon systems with Canopus, Pinnacle or Matrox real-time cards in them. Unfortunately my customers, do it yourselfers, could not build stable Athlon systems.

Integrators had some "secret sauce" and tweaks that gave their systems both superior performance and rock solid stability. But I could not recommend Athlons to my customers to build themselves, especially dual Athlon systems. It created some tense discussions, on these and many other forums.

I think I'm seeing this again with the first gen Sandy Bridge systems.

BTW - RAID5 redundancy is not being lazy. It's a very smart solution that gives you throughput and protects you from drive failures. Which can and do happen. Usually at the very worst possible time (ie just before deadlines)


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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 3, 2011 at 6:24:42 pm

LOL way too funny...
oh yea i remember.

we were one of the very few professional workstation builders who actualy sold thousands of the dual opterons. A lot of the other guys stuck with Intel despite AMD having a good lead, processor wise and a huge lead memory bandwidth wise.
i always get a kick out of it when someone calls who still has one running.
getting rare these days..

as far as Raid dont get me wrong if it were up to me everyone would have a raid 6 set up and external NAS.
purely from a redundant POV.
most guys are fine with raid 0 and backing up to an ext drive.
(as long as they actually back it up)

from a performance POV most do not need it.
dont get me wrong we ship a lot of 8+ drive arrays both internal and external.
but we match the systems to the clients needs as well as budget.


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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 3, 2011 at 7:25:27 pm

Also with Multibay E-Sata units with built in Raid 5 support and USB3 versions coming out this year coupled with NAS/SAN unit options, the Internal or External SAS array is becoming relegated to those who need bandwidth/performance more than data protection for R3D, Film Compositing uncompressed/DPX, or dealing with uncompressed for animation/3D. The animation/3D side is quickly moving to SSD drives so that market for large arrays may shrink as well accept for data storage. Either way there are many options for redundant arrays without going with SAS storage and with tapeless workflows, everyone should be backing up their raws on external storage before they ever clear the media off the solid state media.


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Gary Bettan
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 4, 2011 at 5:34:43 pm

Just to add some interesting news to this thread:

Apple's new Thunderbolt iMacs include unreleased Intel Z68 chipset
As picked up on by tonymacx86, the Intel Z68 chipset for Sandy Bridge 1155 is not set to debut for another week, on May 11. Yet Apple's new Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs, released on Tuesday, were granted first access to the new chipset.

The Z68 chipset allows for solid-state drive data caching when a system is equipped with either a hybrid SSD/traditional drive or a combination of a SSD and a traditional drive in the same machine. Apple's new iMacs, in both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch screen sizes, come with a build-to-order option for a 256GB solid state drive.

User "diver" on the tonymacx86 forums speculated that since Apple's SSD option is 256GB and an extra $500, it's unlikely that Apple is using the caching feature, which is intended to boost performance with hybrid drives or smaller, cheaper solid state drives. Apple's upgrade comes with Mac OS X and all applications installed entirely on the solid state drive by default, while the extra 7200rpm spinning disk drive can be used for storing media and files. But the inclusion of the Z68 could signal the adoption of hybrid drives or solid-state boot drive combos in future Macs.
Read the full article at AppleInsider

Intel Z68 Express Chipset Preview: SSD Caching And Quick Sync

Enthusiasts were forced to hit the brakes on Sandy Bridge when motherboard vendors massively recalled platforms based on Cougar Point. We take a Z68 Express-based board for a spin to see if you should wait for Intel's true LGA 1155 enthusiast chipset.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based CPUs are great. But the first round of chipsets enabling the new LGA 1155 interface (H67 and P67 Express) is not.

I aired my list of grievances in Can Lucidlogix Right Sandy Bridge’s Wrongs? Virtu, Previewed. And I heard through the grapevine that there were even folks over at Intel who agreed with me—the two Cougar Point chipsets shouldn’t have been differentiated the way they ended up.

In short, H67 Express gives you access to the HD Graphics 2000/3000 engine built into every second-gen Core CPU, while motherboards centering on P67 Express require discrete graphics cards. H67 lets you overclock the HD Graphics component (golf clap), while P67 facilitates CPU-based overclocking.

read the full article at Tomshardware

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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 4, 2011 at 6:35:28 pm

and a website post does not make for truth but rather bias opinion.
Z68 is nothing more than the P67 with added fluff no one needs (marketing)

none of which changes the facts.

1)Sandy bridge is faster than X58 unless you want to drop over $1000 on a processor then its a toss up if it will actually be faster.

2) there are no issues with SB platform.

3) there is no reason to not recommend sandy bridge.

4) Raid cards are not needed un X58/SB platforms those with that need should be on Dual Xeons.


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Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on May 5, 2011 at 3:26:08 pm

Ya Scott reminded me I am an idiot and that the CPU's in the I-Mac's are Desktop chips and not mobile. So revise that part of my posts Surprised ops:


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wouter kunnen
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on Nov 8, 2011 at 1:47:09 pm

i want to buy the blackmagic intensity shuttle. now i wanne know if my pc can handle it.

this is my pc:
Pc specification:
Windows 7 home premium 64bit service pack 1
Intel i7 2600 3.40GHz
DDR3 8gb ram
Nvida geforce gtx 460 1gb
Renesas electronics usb 3.0: driver version: Firmware: 3027

Manufacturer MEDIONPC
Model MS-7707
Version 1.1
Chipset Vendor Intel
Chipset Model Sandy Bridge
Chipset Revision 09
Southbridge Vendor Intel
Southbridge Model P67
Southbridge Revision B3

and i am going to buy the ocz vertex 3 240gb.

i'm gonna use it for recording my xbox 360/ps3 gameplay.

i wanna know if it work perfect with my pc?
i can record in compressed capture.

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Gary Bettan
Re: DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys
on Nov 8, 2011 at 3:46:11 pm

I am not familiar with that motherboard, so I can;t tell you if it will work or not. I am very confident that our DIY8 Sandy bridge build will work great.


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