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Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY

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JD Hogg
Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 13, 2005 at 6:16:24 am

Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY-computer (will be running Avid Xpress Pro, Win XP Pro-32bit on Asus P5WD2 Premium WiFi-TV mobo) Thanx in advance...

1) P4 640 3.2Ghz *or* 650 3.4 (HT) *or* P4 D 830 3.0Ghz (dual-core)?
Should I jump on the dual-core bandwagon now or wait 6-12 months...until new drivers are available? Does Avid Xpress Pro take advantage of dual-core CPUs right now? Or should I just stick with the fastest 6xx P4 that I can afford?

2) Quadro FX 540 *or* Quadro FX 1300 ??
FX1300 is faster (right?) but costs $330 more.... is it really worth the upgrade? (want to run dual LCD monitors & Avid Xpress Pro)

3) Which is important when it comes to memory? High performance (i.e. 667,800 speed RAM) *or* total memory size; (i.e. 4 GB over 2 GB) *or* both? And how important is low latency?

So basically, which memory type should I use?: (All are matched pairs of DDR2)
--4 gigs of DDR2-533 (Corsair Value) *or*
--2 gigs or DDR2-667 (OCZ Gold) *or*
--2 gigs or DDR2-800 (Corsair XMS)

Corsair VS2GBKIT533D2 2GB Kit DDR2-533 PC4200 Value
OCZ Gold Series 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 (PC2 5400)
Corsair TWIN2X1024A-6400 1GB Kit DDR2-800 XMS2-6400


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Evan Newsome
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 13, 2005 at 1:22:29 pm

You ask some really good questions that can be hard to answer. Let me first state I am too not familar with Avid Express' requirements.

1) You have picked an excellent Motherboard but, do you really need the add on WiFi card? (no need to post your answer) Have you looked at Asus P5LD2 Deluxe (Not VM) ?
2) the price is not so bad for Pentuim D 830 or but if you want to save $$ 640 is a good price. Just remember 3.2 to 3.4 is very little speed difference compared to price difference. the 830 has 1MB L2 Cache for each core VS 640 has 2MB Cache for one core. That is the downside of the dual core.
3) Avid suggests: "Open GL graphics cards : NVidia QuadroFX 1300 PCI Express, Nvidia QuadroFX 1100 AGP 8x, NVidia QuadroFX 500 AGP 8X, NVidia Quadro4 980 XGL AGP 8X or NVIDIA Quadro4 280NVS"
So I would say the only one I see that is PCIe is the 1300. (the motherboard you have chosen has no AGP slot)
4) The memory prefered by over-clockers, based on you Mobo are; a) 'Cosair TWIN2X1024A-5400UL' 675MHz, latency of 3-3-2-8 @ 2.1 volts OR b) 'Corsair Twin2X1024A-6400' 800MHz, latency of 5-5-5-12 OR c) TWIN2X1024-8000UL 1000MHz, latency of 5-4-4-9 @ 2.2 volts. The low latency is important since you dont want the CPU waiting for the memory to release. On the flip side we are talkin milli seconds, but keep your eye on latency so you don't buy a high latency stick that may save you 10 bucks. I think A or C are your best choices. BUT THAT IS MY OPINION AND I am sure other people will give their opinions BUT I do not suggest value rated RAM. I think they are Value rated because they do not pass some super high standards test (maybe over clocking).

5) the amount of RAM I suggest buying 2GB. I think the motherboard you are looking at, only has 4 slots. The ram, at the speed you you want, are only made in 512k sticks (TO MY KNOWLEDGE.) So 2GB is your present day max. Unless someone else knows 1GB sticks exist at 675MHz or 800MHz at a latency of 3 or 4?


my 2 cents .. I am sure others will have suggestions.

PS don't forget to get a good power supply
and get a SATAII hard drive for your OS & Programs.


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JD Hogg
Avid DIY Build -- Spec List & responses
on Jul 17, 2005 at 12:20:49 pm

Lee, thanks for responding... looks like nobody else is though Sad

1) Yeah, I'll use the P5WD2 Premium "regular" after all w/o the WiFi card.... I've recently read some users have trouble with their WiFi-TV cards and I don't think you can record TV show w/ it! The Hauppauge PVR-150 should be fine for this.

BTW: this mobo has 955x chipset for upgrading to dual core CPU...

2) Gonna bite the bullet and go w/ P4-830 -- dual core. The price is comparable to the othe P4 6xx

3) I believe the Quadro FX 540 is the PCIe version of the QuadroFX 500 AGP... The QuadroFX 1300 is much more dinero.

4) All the memory types is rattlling my brain! But now leaning on the OCZ DDR2 667....good balance of speed, latency, overclocking, price. I'm sure those Corsair sticks are awesome but also more expensive.

Got my specs narrowed to this... more suggestions are appreciated!

--Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000SWA case
--AeroCool Turbine Power 550W PSU
--Intel Pentium D 830 3.0GHz (Dual Core)
--Zalman CNPS7700-CU 120mm CPU Cooler
--Asus P5WD2 Premium
--(2x) OCZ Gold Series 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 (PC2 5400)
(will probably overclock RAM)
--PNY Quadro FX 540 128MB w/ Breakout Box
--Hauppauge Win TV-PVR-150
--onboard Realtek High-Def 8-channel (Audigy 2 ZS > is optional)
--Pioneer 16x DVD+RW/-RW (DVR-109 BK)
--Samsung 1.44MB 3.5"
--(1x) Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB 7,200RPM SATA -- boot
--(2x) Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB 7,200RPM SATA -- raid 0
--TRENDnet 11Mbps Wireless LAN PCI Adapter
--Windows XP Professional; Single Full Version; SP2; OEM
--Super Talent LED Memory Cooler
--Koutech IO-FPM420 USB2.0 Front Panel Internal Card Reader
--Sunbeam CW-BK 5.25" Chromatic Windmill


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 18, 2005 at 3:22:47 pm

My opinion is that you are wasting your money, hardcore, with that memory.

Match the FSB of the processor. Get cheaper but quality DDR2-400. For customers buying retail, I usually suggest Crucial or Corsair. Whatever, as long as it work in your board without problems. You are probably paying twice as much as necessary for that highclocked, low latency RAM... and you MIGHT squeeze out a 2% performance increase... For gamers and hobbyists, that's all well and good, but for video editing and professional users, I'd suggest just getting 2GB of memory instead!

As far as the video cards go, the 1300 is definitely a better card - IF you are actually going to use its performance benefits.. Are you? Any kind of 3D work? In Xpress Pro there are some 3D effects that offload onto the GPU - will you use these enough to justify the upgrade? Some people would.


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JD Hogg
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 18, 2005 at 7:13:43 pm

My spec list does have 2 Gigs of memory... It is actually 4 sticks; (matched pairs) of 512MB DDR2-677
(2x) OCZ Gold Series 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 (PC2 5400) -------$157 x 2 = $314 (2 gig)

The website below tested the above memory with the Asus P5WD2 Premium with great success...
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2412&p=5

I won't consider less than 2 gigs! And will go with Corsair or OCZ.... Only negative using the above setup is the 4 sticks all the mobo's RAM slots are filled. I looked up some Corsair DDR2-400 and both choices are actually more expensive than the OCZ or Corsair DDR-667 !?! So the slower DDR2-400 doesn't really make much sense....(see prices below) BTW all prices are from zipzoomfly.com or newegg.com

Corsair CMSS512MBR72-400D2 512MB DDR2-400 PC2-3200 ECC ------- $95 x 4 = $380 (2 gig)
Corsair CMSS1GBR72-400D2 1GB DDR2-400 PC2-3200 ECC--------------- $215 x 2 = $430 (2 gig)

Ed, you said to "Match the FSB of the processor".... Do you mean the FSB and memory should be the same speed OR the memory should be half the FSB??
Either way, is this really important?

So, taking the memory speed out of the equation... Another question is how much total memory? 4 gigs or 2 gigs? Is 4 twice as fast/good as 2? From what I've been reading Avid really doesn't take advantage of more that 2 gigs... Is that right?

Below is a 4 Gig setup:
Corsair Value Select VS2GBKIT533D2 2GB Kit DDR2-533 PC2-4200 --------$185 x 2 = $370 (4 gig)
CORSAIR ValueSelect 2GB (2 x 1GB) Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) --------$192 x 2 = $384 (4 gig)

As far as the FX 1300 goes, I think use of 3-D effects in Avid would be minimal to none....the only other thing is that this card has 2 DVI ports as opposed to the 1 on the FX 540. That shouldn't be much of any issue as the LCDs I've choosen have both ports.

Basically my big question is which memory to go with of the ones I've highlighted in blue...


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 18, 2005 at 7:38:10 pm

I wouldn't worry too much about all of the slots being filled up. By the time you think 4GB of memory is too little, I doubt this machine will be in service. The point is to spend your money wisely NOW - so if you can get better parts all-around now you will have saved yourself enough time over the next few years for it to have been worth it.

$60 for an increase from 2GB to 4GB? .... tell me why you are considering going with 2GB?

Quick, simplified lesson on memory and 32-bit operating systems : There is a 4GB cap - with 2GB being allocated to applications, and 2GB to OS functions.

Will you get twice the performance from 2GB to 4GB? No, but there will definitely be a significant difference. As much of a difference if you are JUST editing with Xpress Pro? ...No, but when you start throwing some other things into the mix - photoshop, DVD authoring, more stacked layers, or maybe you'll end up with the PowerPack someday - Yes, then 4GB will be the way you want to go.

$60....

I wouldn't worry too much about the DualDVI... Not that big of a difference. If you are running at 1600x1200 native res on the monitors, though... I might push you to consider the upgrade. Both from a quality and performance standpoint.


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JD Hogg
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 2:35:21 am

Firstly, thanks for your help Ed... I realize my questions are nitpicking & geeky but this is a learning process for me! (I see your recommendations are in contrast of Lee's...like he said, LoL), obviously you have much experience with building PCs to run Avid/NLEs, so I will take your advice.

".... tell me why you are considering going with 2GB?"
I was considering going w/ the 2 gigs (OCZ DDR2 667) because of the higher speed, overclockabilty to 800+mhz, good price, and that 4 gigs (is normally) double the price of 2 gigs... But, you if you say that faster/OC'd memory WON'T matter running Avid, then I'll go with 4 gigs of Corsair Value DDR2-533... and the price diff of $60 is but an afterthought... Cool beans!

"Match the FSB of the processor".... What exactly did you mean by that? (See my last post)

Any advice on this one?
1) P4 640 3.2Ghz *or* 650 3.4 (HT) *or* P4 D 830 3.0Ghz (dual-core)? Should I jump on the dual-core bandwagon now or wait 6-12 months...until new drivers are available? Does Avid Xpress Pro take advantage of dual-core CPUs right now? Or should I just stick with the fastest 6xx P4 that I can afford?


I've been fryin' my brain with this builds' spec list, and I'm eager to wrap it up and start building. Ed, if could steer me on that CPU decision, that would be awesome, thanks again!


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 3:18:20 am

Memory: I stand by my general memory recommendations for Post Production. Don't get CHEAP stuff. Not at all. Just don't bother with the overclockable-super-cool-comes-with-a-heatsink memory. Won't do anything for you but look good on paper. The AMOUNT of memory will do so much more, ESPECIALLY when you are multitasking.

Matching the memory speed and FSB : I should have clarified this by saying SYNCHCRONIZE your FSB and memory speed. Meaning match your 800mhz fsb processor with 400mhz or 800mhz memory. If you jump on a 1066mhz FSB processor, then you'd go with 533mhz memory.
I won't go into a lengthy explanation, but suffice it to say that the two parts being 'off-beat' will simply not work as efficiently, effectively wasting the performance increase that the faster memory might have.

Dual-Core vs. non-dual-core with HT..... I have answered this question in length a few times elsewhere - Let me just provide a link:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=47861

In short, Dual-core all the way. Don't even consider anything else. I've pulled the Intel Penitum 600 line off of our website.

In regards to AVID taking advantage of dual-core? No - Avid Xpress isn't multi-threaded, BUT BUT BUT - Post Production is not all about Avid Xpress. Start throwing some other stuff into the mix - supporting software, etc. and you are immediately going to appreciate the extra help.


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JD Hogg
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 5:23:46 am

Sweet...dual core all the way. Just 1 more question (hopefully)

Is it possible to overclock a CPU's FSB from 800 to 1066?

I ask this because the memory I just decided on: (Corsair Value DDR2-533) is not "synchronized" with the 800 FSB of a Pentium D 830 then... If the FSB is fixed, I'll stick with the DDR2-533... I just searched and cannot find any Corsair DDR2-400 matched pair that will fit my mobo!


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 2:02:35 pm

It is possible to overclock a CPU's FSB, yes. I don't recommend overclocking in any way in a professional environment. You are only asking for trouble and headaches. And what you mentioned is a significant overclock.

Regardless of what memory speed you purchase, you can UNDERclock the memory to 400Mhz. That is no problem.


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JD Hogg
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 3:33:18 pm

Right on... Got a few more if you don't mind. I was checking out your website, very nice, BTW.

1) Just curious, do you have any problems running Avid on an AMD/nforce4 platform? Everything I've read says AMD is the faster & better setup (for most applications), yet Avid only recommends Pentium... thus I'm going with Pentium just to be "safe", but what's the real deal??

2) Can you really use GeForce 6600/6800 cards to render in Avid? Are different driver or hacks needed?

3) Right now, I've got a Maxtor DM10 7,200rpm 300GB drive for a boot drive...but I noticed that Tantus and other users use 10K Raptors for booting... Is it really worth the speed increase vs. larger capacity?

4) After formatting, installing WinXP Pro, & Avid XP Pro -- approx how much space (gigs) does that take up?

Thanks for all the info!
JD


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 19, 2005 at 7:48:21 pm

1) Yes, AMD chips work just fine with Avid. Recommended.

2) You can use Geforce cards with Avid, but some features will not work. The Quadro line is the only certified card that Xpress can offload certain effects to the GPU.

3) Using a dedicated drive for your boot drive, and using a drive with low seek time both give good overall performance gains. You will not use up the entire 36GB Raptor if you are JUST installing your programs on that drive. Avid/OS takes up MAYBE 4 or 5 GB. Even if it was 10 or 15GB, you are still only breaking half. Capacity is not a factor if this is done correctly. That's why the Raptor drives are perfect for boot drives. Are you going to use up the entire 300GB with software?... no. Put all of your music, video, and other junk on dedicated storage drives. This is also extremely useful for organization and backup (what if your boot drive goes - you can easily refresh a ghosted image or re-install the OS if you don't have to worry about nonsense that is all sitting on its own hard drive).


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Gary Bettan
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 20, 2005 at 1:16:55 pm

To clarify on AMD & Avid.

On the list of Avid approved hardware, only Intel chips are included. This is very frustrating, since we know for a fact that many, many users are running Xpress Pro/HD/Studio just great on AMD systems. And integrators like Tantus are building rock solid Avid turnkeys with AMD based systems.

So, only Intel is recommended by Avid, but AMD is recommende3d by Videoguys and integrators, just make sure you use a top notch motherboard and components.

Gary


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tantuscomputers
Re: Need help choosing CPU, video card, memory for a DIY
on Jul 20, 2005 at 10:31:51 pm

videoguy: only Intel is recommended by Avid


That's extremely important to note. To add to that : Avid won't even begin to think about helping you if you aren't using a system from a certified integrator or one from their 'certified' list. Which means, you'd better know what you are doing.

A good thing to note, though, is that the Avid user forums are extremely active and have helped me in the past at least to start to troubleshoot issues in the right direction.


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