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Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!

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H.T Baldwin
Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Feb 1, 2006 at 4:27:07 am

Hi, I am looking for some additional help from guys and gals on this site.
I may get flamed for the extraordinary length, but I edited the forum in Word and pasted. Someone else may find this all useful in general.
My story:

I am looking to buy a big, fast, reliable PC computer for a first project on my own equipment. I will be working on a documentary for the year, so I need a powerful system, somewhere around the $2000 range. My buddy, who works with high def video & editing, responded to my computer inquiries with this spec list:

Buddy’s Computer (not mine):

I have a Sony Vaio VGC-RA384G. Pentium 4 3.6Ghz
1 gig of Ram (I have added a second gig)
400GB Hard drive
DVD-R Dual Layer Burner
Windows XP
My video card is an Nvidia GeForce 6600 with 256MB and DVI out
2 external firewire hard drives - 120GB each.
Mine was 2000 bucks.
2 Monitors (1 Apple, 1 PC)

Buddy’s Thoughts (not mine):

The fact that it is a Sony Vaio is unimportant, but the specs are on par with what you should be looking for. It is hard to find factory computers with more than a gig of ram, but it is a very easy procedure to add more once you get it. Capturing video takes up LOTS of space (about 15GB a tape,) So you want as big of a hard drive as you can find, and I recommend having at least one external firewire hard drive, at 7200rpm. ACOM DATA makes very nice external drives. If you wanted to really blow some cash, you could look into Dual Xeon Processors as well. You will probably need a PCI Firewire card for your computer with atleast 3 inputs, they are about 20 bucks as well. This will be used to connect the camera as well as any firewire hard drives you might acquire.

Me, Myself and I:
I will be using a Sony HDR-FX1. HDV video camera as well as Vegas 6 editing software.
Tell me everything I need and where to buy all for around $2000.

I posed these questions on another site and here are excerpts:

First Poster:

Well what you want is a good CPU and since its video editing you will probably want a dual core, Either one of the intels which excel at video editing, or the AMD X2 which are also excellent at video editing but not quite as good as intels however they are better general CPUs and are good at everything not just video editing like the intels, also a little cheaper as well but you’ll have to read up on both and decide what you can get.

You will also want a good video card, I would say something along the lines of an x800 would be could for you, i would lean towards ATI as the features for VIVO and peripheral connection and editing are a lot better than Nvidia this usually isn’t a factor as most people play only games but if you are doing video editing it becomes more important.

Ram 2-4Gb would be advisable, Motherboard anything from the nforce 4 or ati 200 chipset ranges from either Abit, MSI, DFI or gigabyte would be good for you, are you gonna build it yourself, I would reccomend that you build your own.

I would go with internal drives where you can they are faster, external drives are at a disadvantage in the respect they have to go through the slower firewire although you are better with the faster USB 2.0 for external drives you also have more USB 2.0 ports as they started to phase firewire out of motherboards as soon as they phased it in.

A couple of 500Gb drives in a RAID 0 striped array and then another drive maybe a 200 or 250Gb for the system would be good setup that would give you 1 Terabyte of storage is a fast RAID which is good for video editing and then the system to keep essential data safer off the Array as an array is good but if it collapses all the data is compromised so if one drive fails the whole array fails.

If you look around on some review sites and look around newegg then see what you think and you can asj some more specific questions, also if you don’t want to build if you can put in which country you are in we can point you to some builders.

Also remember to budget some for the OS i would say for video editing either XP pro or XP pro 64.

Second Poster:
Get a dual core amd x2 or intel dual core for sure.

Don’t get anything below 2gb of ram. I would advise 3gb of ram and I’m serious. 3gb of ram would be more than sufficient you don’t need 4gb of ram unless you are hardcore into video editing.

For video editing, a video card is important and hard-drives of course. I would go for the 500 gb hard-drives for sure.

I would just get a big flat panel monitor,. 19" or bigger.

If your only going to be doing video editing look at the intel dual core. <----- mainly what intel dual cores are for, (video editing and such).

Third Poster:

2-3 gig of Ram but make sure its high quality and fairly fast
The intel's are far better than the AMD's in my opinion for video or DVD editing more power and faster clock speeds.
go for internal they are much faster than external.
try the RAID set up you will probably see 20-30% increase in transfer rates.

Me, Myself and I: (in response)

As far as Computer Specs go, here is what I surmise I should acquire based on your comments: (Still unsure...)

-intel dual core
-internal hard drive
-4 gig of ram
-A couple of 500Gb drives in a RAID 0 striped array +
-a second drive of 200 or 250Gb for the system
-x800 video card w/ ATI features
- motherboard = nforce 4 or ati 200 chipset ranges from either Abit, MSI, DFI or gigabyte
- OS = XP Pro or XP Pro 64

Second Poster (R#2):
I think the intel dual core is perfect for video editing along with 3-4 gb of ram.

For a video card get a x800gto or above. Don’t get the regular x800. Get an x800gto or either a x800xl. The x800xl is the best performance for the money of the x800 cards id say and it has the 16 pipelines. You don’t need any faster of a video card. Find a video card with dual outputs so you can hook up 2 monitors if you wanted.

You can always get an external harddrive if you want to make backups, get an enclosure for it and keep in handy. They use usb or firewire. Either is fine. If the movie is huge the backup might take a bit to copy over though..

First Poster (R#2):

Yeah there are two companies that make all of the lcds on the market pretty much exclusively samsung and phillips(sony dabble but not as big as the other two)
Dells monitors are about the only good thing they sell.
All the x800s have dual monitor, you ideally want a monitor which uses the newer DVI rather than VGA. Don’t go Apple.

Your gfx card anything x800 or above(x1800 if you really want to float the boat out so you can get the better rendering and image quality on the R500s but its not really necessary unless you are going for total perfection) but an x800 is more than sufficient for amateur/semi-pro people.

You can get round the Raid array by not using one, its really laziness as performance is only marginally improved and the risks are much greater, two drives run separately and safely fine. I never really see the point in externals really, most new systems have ample internal space and most people have the external drive sitting on there desk all the time.

Everything else looks ok, i would get a big case for your system with good cooling as you’ll probably want a fair few peripherals and it will be running under high load for extended periods of time, the big titan from antec with the 550W psu might be suitable or an akasa eclipse.

Second Poster (R#3):

Of course he knows he will need a good powersupply to power that dual core but make sure you don’t get a cheap case with a powersupply included which that would be bad lol.

The external is last resort and it does work because its not always going to be plugged in to the pc, just plug her in when you need her lol..

I would just get all internal harddrives without any raid. You know you can make copies yourself from one harddrive to the next and is easy. You can manually copy and paste the movie or file to another harddrive for a backup or just drag it over to the other harddrive. Just get big harddrives like you picked out and you will be fine.

For powersupplies get a big antec or a big enermax noisetaker, big ocz.

Second Poster (R#4):

Newegg is good for picking all the parts like we did and then putting it all together yourself when you receive it. They do have some prebuilt systems but there is no way you can choose every single part to be the same as you chose above.

Digitalstormonline is a good place to check out for a complete custom machine already built ready to go, but they will be more money:
try this link I posted for one already built, if you dont know how to build a pc.
you can choose on the list of what parts they already have and configure it.

Tigerdirect has some systems already prebuilt but the thing is it wont have everything that you are exactly wanting. Usually your stuck with only a few video cards to choose from on that type of configuration and they are usually older video cards...

With Newegg, you can buy all the parts and when you receive it take it to a custom PC place in your area and have them put it together.. No telling how much they would charge though.. Or you could have a custom pc place in your area order all of the parts and build it for you. I dont know exactly how that works but you would probably have to put down a deposit or either pay for it up front.

Fourth Poster:

I just bought the PNY Quadro FX1300 128MB. You might wonder about this card since you probably never heard the name before. Well it's an average card, for games that is, but a wonder in 2D. it sells for about $600. All those other cards people had been suggesting in this forum are great cards but only for 3D stuff like games but not what you want right? Alternatively you could go with Matrox RTx100 (about $900)

Buddy’s Comments on the Posts:

Most of them are telling you right on computer specs.


Me, Myself and I:

I suppose I am still somewhere in limbo. I would like to spend far less than $2000, in fact - $500 less, but this may be impossible when you include the monitor costs. So, my question is this:

1) From what you users have read regarding my situation, my buddy’s specs, my wants, posters’ expertise, etc…what should I buy that may not be the best, but that I can enhance in the future? I need the most power for the best value – much like VideoGuys $2000 challenge. Can anyone here weed through all the information and give me specifics on what I need based on what is written? This would be an extraordinary help! So many options: buy this, build here, do this, pick that, this is better -- ahh! confusion...

2) Can someone link me to a site or advise me to a specific model, custom, used or otherwise that will fulfill my needs? This would be most helpful as I am anxious to buy soon. I have $2000 for monitor + powerful video-editing cpu. Could someone help me reasonably price everything?


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Evan Newsome
Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Feb 1, 2006 at 2:48:11 pm

after reading your book. my thoughts are... see what Vegas 6 recommends.

dual core will be needed... i'm not sure if it will be 3.0, 3.2, or something higher.
I like ASUS and Gigabyte MOBOs w/ intel chipset (for intel CPUs)
2 gigs of quality ram unless vegas 6 says more.
80-100GB OS drive (SATA)

I would think 2 300GB SATA Hard Drives in RAID 0 should be sufficent. I assume this doc-show is not more than an hour.

about a $80-100 power supply should be ok.

Video card is your choice.. I dont think Vegas uses the video card for rendering.

OS- does vegas 6 work stable w/ 64bit os?

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Eric Freitag
Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Feb 1, 2006 at 4:33:14 pm

I'm in the same situation, looking for a complete system for under $2k w/monitor (closer to $1500 would be better)

I'm anxiously awaiting the results of DIY4, but I am also considering a Sony VIAO (I see you mentioned a friend has one)
The model I'm looking at is the RC210G
Specs seem ok for a pre-built system.
It's got the Intel 930 dual core chip (w/intel MOBO) liquid cooling, DVD ROM & Burner, 1Gb Ram (will upgrade to 2Gb) 2 160Gb HD's, onboard RAID & firewire, video card is only an X300, but I plan on using Vegas, so I don't think this will be much of a problem (I'd upgrade eventually when I get a 2nd monitor)
price is $1400, but I've already seen rebates that take it down to $1250.
(If it goes down to $1100 I'll probably jump on it)
Add a few hard drives, more Ram and monitor -should be good to go for well under $2k...

Anybody have any thoughts on the new Sony VIAO?

I am VERY curious as to how the AMD system they're building for DIY4 turns out (especially in regards to running Vegas)

I'll probably be holding off on buying anything until they post the article

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System requirements AMD or Intel
on Feb 11, 2006 at 2:15:30 pm

My question and forgive me if its posted, i cant find it. I am trying to get a system built and the best possible senario seems to be using AMD. But why isnt AMD suggested for Editing systems more often, it blows away Intel in all specs, yet every suggested system requirements say Intel. I am thinking of using Avid Liquid maybe Vegas as the editing sofware, system maybe in the three thou range lots of speed and storage Dual core 4800X2 or Opteron, TOL MoBo, Memory, etc. But it bothers me that they(Software Producers) are not suggesting AMD. Anybody have hard data not just opinions, thanks!

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Evan Newsome
Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Feb 11, 2006 at 4:10:37 pm

If I observed the industry correctly (meaning my theory) is that; way back in the old days when Intel was the major dominate CPU in Windows based computers (mid 90s). Software manufactures designed their program around the most popular CPU and the very important supporting chipset. (Commonly known today as northbridge and southbridge)
When companies like Adobe wanted to get a program called Premiere to market they developed it for just one kind of CPU & Chipset. They did that to get it quickly to the market with the least amount of programming. Premiere was still very buggy, even based on the suggested chipset. (They went as far to mention compatible and incompatible MOBOs & hardware to avoid crashes and I’m sure the OS had something to do with it.) I believe the major problem was timing.
As Adobe updated the program, they kept designing and testing the program around Intel’s CPU.

Now 2006, (and 2005) AMD holds a much larger market share in the CPU market and software competition has increased with the likes of Vegas Video (now Sony’s product) & Pinnacle (now Avid’s product). This has caused programmers to design stable programs to run on both AMD and Intel’s CPUs and the ever-increasing market of chipsets being made from the likes of Nvidia and VIA.

Now your question was why don’t software makers suggest AMD? I think the programmers know they have a good stable program on Intel’s chip and chipset and they are still tweaking the program toward chipsets that are built around the AMD CPU. Some problems are these chipsets didn’t exist when they originally wrote the program, but programs have gotten better to be less sensitive to chipset variations. On the flip side I think the chipset manufactures are making their chips to be more ‘compatible’ with programs which demand lots of resources and timings, like Premiere.
The other part, companies like Intel and Adobe get in ‘bed’ together to write programs to utilize special CPU features like Hyper-threading, and other extensions. Then your video renders faster and all is good for both companies.

Videoguy- do you think I summarized it accurately or are my theories way out of whack?

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Gary Bettan
Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Feb 11, 2006 at 9:16:35 pm

pretty good summary, but one of the most important issues is the mobo & chipsets.

AMD based mobo's usually require more tweaking and patching to run. Via based mobos were a real pain in the neck, because fo poor 4 in 1 drivers. nVidia's first shot at mobo chipsets was a problem as well.

We are very confident that our AMD machine will do as well or better than the Intel, and so far both systems have been equally easy to put together.

I can't stress it enough - it's not the CPU, but the chipsets and motherboards that are crucial to a stable, top performning NLE workstation.

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Same Subject
on Feb 13, 2006 at 1:56:16 pm

Okay- that said, this is what i think i will be going with,- MOTHERBOARD: (Sckt939)ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe nForce4 SLI Chipset SATA RAID Dual PCIE MB w/GbLAN,USB2.0,IEEE-1394,&7.1Audio and CPU: (939-pin) AMD Athlonâ„¢64 X2 4800+ Dual-Core CPU w/ HyperTransport Technology and MEMORY: 2048 MB (512MBx4) PC3200 400MHz Dual Channel DDR MEMORY (Corsair XMS High Performance Memory w/ Heat Spreader. This seems to be the best you can do in a desktop system. I have not ruled out the Opteron, (Thunder K8WE (S2895) but i beleive that AMD will be going to a new process CPU this year and no existing MoBo 939 - 940, will be capable of using the new chips. I am trying to be somewhat future proof too Laughing Thoughts? In a desktop system will this produce a good fast operation, or will it be prone to freezing up(with editing software Vegas , Liquid). So in the end would you advise against going with AMD? Thanks again!

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To AMD or Not
on Feb 18, 2006 at 1:41:08 pm

I am Anxiously waiting for the build, maybe that will give me the answers that i need. If anyone has info about the previous post's questions please do respond. Thanks!

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Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Jun 10, 2006 at 2:12:23 pm

Have not been around for awhile but dove in and bought my unit take a peek Very Happy
Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard (Black)
Logitech G7 Laser Cordless Mouse
Creative Labs Inspire P7800 7.1 125W Black
Custom Workstation (PCI-E)SLI
Power Supply: - PS 535W - Enermax-FMA REV.2.0 ATX
Motherboard - Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe Motherboard
Processor:- Athlon FX-62 (Socket AM2)
Thermal Grease:- Shin-Etsu G765 Thermal Grease
Memory: DDR2 (667) 5400 - 1 GB (2 pcs 512)OCZ Sp
2nd Memory:- DDR2 (667) 5400 - 1 GB (2 pcs 512)OCZ Sp
Hard Drive:- SATA - Western Digital (WD740GD) 74 GB/10 System drive
2nd Hard Drive:- SATA3G - Western Digital Caviar SE 250
3rd Hard Drive:- SATA3G - Western Digital Caviar SE 250 Storage drives
RAID Setup:- RAID 0 (Zero)
CD-ROM/DVD-ROM/CD-RW:- Combo - Lite-On SOHC-5236K
52x32x52x16 DV
CD-RW/DVD-RW:- DVD±RW - Lite-On SHW-160P6S-05 16x8x8x/16
Sound Card: Creative Labs X-Fi Fatal1ty Edition 7.1
Video Card:- PNY Quadro FX 1400 128 MB DDR/PCI-E/TV-Out
Round Cable:- Round Cables Kit 2-24" IDE 1-18" FDD 1-18
But now i have to wait for it to come in Crying or Very sad

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Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Jun 11, 2006 at 4:27:27 am

if your video editing, through firewire.. a video card has really no affect on the outcome of the footage. you'd just need one so you can capture (s-video, tv, dual monitor)

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Gary Bettan
Re: Big Question for the Experts on my Computer.....Take a look!
on Jun 11, 2006 at 8:18:13 am

porchy: if your video editing, through firewire.. a video card has really no affect on the outcome of the footage. you'd just need one so you can capture (s-video, tv, dual monitor)

Not necessarily true anymore. Most NLE packages now tap into GPU (graphics Processing Unti) to accelerate rendering or provide additional realtime effects. Note: Sony Vegas does NOT tap into GPU. It is pure CPU powered.

If you plan on using compositing software like After Effects or Bors FX, the FX1400 card will give you better performance as well.

The graphics card has no impact on the final video quality, but it can substantially improve your workflow.


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