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Video Editing System on the cheap

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March 19, 2007 2:36:12 PM

A friend of mine wants me to build a video editing system for him. Problem is he only has a budget of about $800.00. Now that being said, he doesn't need a monitor or an OS. Doesn't help a lot but it does a little.

My problem is that I know more about gaming systems than video editing. I have done some reading around the forum and the best bets seem to be focusing on the CPU, RAM and Hard Drives. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for the help.
March 19, 2007 3:20:59 PM

I'm a video editor myself. And yes the main focus of a video editing rig is the hard drives, cpu, and memory. Video cards isn't a big factor but best to get a cheap graphics card as well to take the stress off the system if you plan to go onboard. CPU is the lifeline when it comes to encoding. Ram helps big time on renderings and speed in the editing environment. Hard drives speed also is a huge factor when outputting large files as well as intaking them into a editing application. They all tie together rather well...So try to focus on these aspects the most. 800 dollars is quite a small ammount of money for a editing rig...But it should be possible. They're quite different from budget gaming rigs but let's see what we can do.....

I'm going to edit this post with some new egg links in a little when I have the time...Sorry for the wait but working on a website gig with a deadline so need to get it finished quickly...Just needed a little break so hopped on Toms Hardware. ^.^
March 19, 2007 3:31:51 PM

Yes. Since you already know about hardware...
Video apps are cpu hogs- core 2 duo
They like ram too. Depending of the software: 2Gb is good
And they love also hdd speed to manage through tracks and flile transfers: Raid 0 is nice.

So, on a budget (it's better he knows how to OC, otherwise he needs to spend more on the cpu; or wait more for those renders :wink: ):

Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz 2M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail - $169.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI P6N SLI-FI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail (has firewire which is needed and is cheap) - $114.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SUPER TALENT 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Desktop Memory - Retail - $60.99x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

POWERCOLOR X1550 256MB SCS (Silent Cooling System) 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail - $72.99 (the beauty of silent, with minimal system requirements for some video apps and and manages to play a few games) Although, any card won't help on renderings...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $480

This way, you got $320 to spend on HDD, Case, DVD, PSU and whatever.
Choose whatever you want or his needs, specially on the hdds sizes.
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March 19, 2007 4:29:48 PM

IMHO a decent unit can be built for home/semi-pro editing use for $800. A large second physical hard drive for storing the video files on is always recommended.

PMR has already given you a good start on the hardware. RAIDing may be nice for speed but may not always fit in the budget. Your friend should also consider an external case/drive to store completed projects on.

Good case ventilation/cooling should also be considered, long encoding times will definitely cause the CPU-hard drives and ram to heat up the system.
March 19, 2007 5:01:35 PM

You will want fast hard drives and plenty of RAM for video editing... let's see what we can do for around $800.

First of all, you can expect a price drop from Intel in April. I would recommend waiting until then, and then get yourself a processor with at least 4MB L2 cache. This will cost you about $180.

CPU - $180

Secondly, lots of cheap RAM would be better than a few high quality sticks. NO MATTER HOW SLOW RAM GETS, its always faster than your hard drive. This is important because when you are editing videos, data will be cached into RAM first... and when your RAM fills up, it then gets cached on the hard drive. Once it goes to the hard drive your performance is substantially reduced. Therefore I would suggest something like: 4GB Patriots

RAM - $300

The MSI Board mentioned by PMR will work.

Board - $120

A 256MB Radeon X1300 should work for you too.

GFX Card - $70

Finally, I would suggest you setup your hard drives in some sort of RAID array. Use these WD Caviar RAID Edition drives. With the MSI mainboard suggested above, you can either set 4 drives in RAID 0+1 (twice the read/write speed as one drive, plus all your data is backed up). Or if you don't care about data security, then get 2 or 3 drives and use RAID 0 (gives you the speed of multiple drives, but no data security)

RAID 0+1 setup: $250
RAID 0 setup: $125-$190

That's about it. All you need then is some cables for the hard drives, a PSU and a case to put it all in.

Lets see what the total is..........

$795 - $920 depending on the RAID setup that you choose.

Its a little over budget, but I think it would perform well.
March 19, 2007 5:11:38 PM

I wouldn't underestimate the importance of a decent video card if he's going to be doing high-resolution editing. You need a solid card for playback to even be smooth once you start getting up to high definition resolutions.
March 19, 2007 5:36:21 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't underestimate the importance of a decent video card if he's going to be doing high-resolution editing. You need a solid card for playback to even be smooth once you start getting up to high definition resolutions.


WTF are you saying?
March 19, 2007 5:59:10 PM

Most comments are spot on except for one thing. If CPU is an issue, you are using the wrong editing software. CPU is the one area where you may be able to save a lot of money on the first build (and upgrade later).

Except for extreme cases you should use cut transitions. With cut edits, there is no rendering and the entire operation should end up being a file copy. So hard drive/RAID performance is the key. If possible, put source on one drive and output files on another.

Even mpeg edits should only rerender the few GOPs around a cut or transition.

If you are editing mpeg, run a trial of mpeg2vcr from www.womble.com to see how things work when software knows how to properly handle mpeg. It detects mpeg parameters from the input files and copies GOPs with the minimum possible rendering and without setting any "project properties". Why most editing software forces you to re-render multiple times is beyond me.

Even editing 1080i HD transport stream on an old PC is disk limited for me using this method.
March 19, 2007 6:13:36 PM

CPU is a heavy factor when it comes to rendering time as well if it's not just normal cut and slabs. Especially if after effects is a issue too. I've been editing for 10 years now and I must say with the sources I use and the manner I run my programs in...CPU is a very important aspect. I run all my footage via mpeg2...Through AVIsynth with many processor intensive commands...Real time editing with direct VOB's through premiere is a huge file saver when it comes to dealing with high quality footage and minimizing the space needed for editing. Last thing I need are huffyuv exports of entire dvd's.

Overall Astarias it all depends on what type of editing he's planning to do. Heavy editing with special effects and lots of filters then a strong cpu....Just beat editing with edits and not much clip alteration via filters/masking what not then get a decent hard drive setup.

Overall raid is probably out of budget range..I just purchase two seagate 500 gig sata drives for 150 each...7,200 rpms with a 16 mb buffer...Great value for the money. If you want you can get some 200-300 gig drives for nearly the same price of a single 500 gig seagate (150) and raid them together. But keep in mind that raid 0 has it's faults and has a much higher risk of him losing data. So if he wants a computer that won't mess up on him better to go with a single drive.

Paulpod is right on the upgrade path though. CPU's can always be held back for a future upgrades since they have one of the easiest upgrade choices.

If you could give me an example of what your friend likes to do then I can give you some ideas based on his editing habits.


PMR: A decent video card does impact video editing...But not that much unless your talking about HD editing. The enthusiast cards coming out around now have built in HD video decoding, which helps big time for taking the strain off the cpu. What Aero said was correct. But I doubt this build will be used for HD video...So a decent yet not so expensive graphics card should work. Maybe a geforce 7600?..should cost around 100..not too much but nothing to extravagant.
March 19, 2007 6:41:58 PM

Quote:
Good case ventilation/cooling should also be considered, long encoding times will definitely cause the CPU-hard drives and ram to heat up the system.


That's right on the mark. I've seen dual prime stable OCs crash during renders.
March 19, 2007 6:45:49 PM

The question here is: why does he need a fast graphics card to edit HD?
He's going to capture from an HD cam and not use that I-don't-know-what-it does purevideo, vivo or avivo in rendering tracks, apart from decoding the streams (if really does something more), if he really does edit HD...

We are not talking about Avid, AJA or Matrox systems here. :wink:
March 19, 2007 6:58:30 PM

Well I never said he needed a great card :lol: . I recommended a 7600 nvidia which should be around the 100 dollar range...If he wants he can even go a little lower...Up to how much the others parts cost.

But having a video card that has a built in HD Decoder helps a lot. The size of 1080 footage on my monitor is a NIGHTMARE..I use 1152x864 as my resolution...And it literally fills up my screen 4 times via quicktime...Scaryyyyyy....Also unfortunately my rig is getting outdated and can't play 1080 or 720 HD files without lagging up...::sighs::...this rig is 3 years old..coming around the time for a new rig though. The light at the end of the tunnel has drawn closer. ^.^

But yea...I doubt he's going to do HD editing...If he was he would of mentioned it. So a geforce 7600 GS or x1600 pro would do fine...The choice would be up to you ^.^
March 19, 2007 7:27:58 PM

Thanks for the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

As for what kind of editing he does I should have told you, sorry. It's pretty light really. He is my pastor and he makes little movies for the church and pretty much loves taping whatever he comes across and likes to make a pretty simple movie out of it. He has enough interest in editing to get into it deeper so I don't know exactly how far he would go if he had the right hardware but for now its pretty light.

Thanks again guys :) 
March 19, 2007 7:55:06 PM

If that's the case the rig above should suit him fine. Don't go too crazy on the graphics card...50-100 dollar range is good...so a geforce 7300 or 7600..or radeon x1300 or 1600..up to you...use toms hardware's video chart to figure out which you want to nab for him. Also airflow is a big situation when long renders are in the mix...So make sure you save around 10-30 dollars for some intake/exhaust fans. No need to get a aftermarket cooler so just stick with the stock heatsink for cooling as well as to trim some cash off the rig.

One dvd-rw drive should be enough but if he plans to do lots of copying then 2 drives might be neccesary...but one would be more ideal with the budget. For the hard drive I wouldn't reccomend raid then. I'd never toss raid on a build for someone unless they know the fault tolerances and can understand how to fix minor problems that come up. you might just want to nab a decent single hard drive for him.

320 gig model seagate for 89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or you can go for a 200 gig model for 70.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can also nab a 160 gig for around 50 on new egg as well. I just posted seagate drives since I always end up getting them. It's all personal preference really but they do have differences in performance. I use the seagates I have for storage only...No real extreme performance needed unlike my raid setup. You can also nab WD Caviar drives at the same price from new egg as well. Decision is up to you. I'd also reccomend checking out the Toms Hardware hard disk charts so you can see the differences in performance between a caviar and seagate drives to make your decision since they are different in performances.

for the psu once again that's up to you...I'm not an expert on psu's but I make sure I always nab one that's recommended and goes over the power sumption I need..Also gotta make sure the voltages on and amps are right on the rail. But overall since this pc is going to be a single drive (if you decide to stay away from raid) with not many components...Also the fact that your not overclocking...You can get away with a lot. If someone could help him out on this that'd be great...I have no idea when it comes to PSU's even though I can read and understand the voltages and amps...I still don't know which is a quality product to a fast and furious dead psu in a short while power supply.

But overall..One big important is the airflow..Make sure you get case fans. Also try to nab a SATA dvd drive...IDE cables are so bulky they kill airflow...God I can't even think how much clean airflow I'm losing because of these damn IDE dvd drives as well as hard drives in my rig. This rig is getting too old..gotta get a new one soon. Although I haven't used a SATA dvd drive before I don't know how the installation process is..especially with a windows installation setup. If someone could add their 2 cents to this that'd be great...Don't want you getting something that won't work easily for you.

Hmm..Let's see...I guess that should cover most the stuff. If you come out with some extra cash leftover try to up the ram to 2 gb if possible. 512 has become nothing now-a-days and it will eventually happen with 1 gb as well although not very soon.

Arctic 5 silver is up to you though...If your not overclocking don't bother...save as much cash as possible.

That's all I can remember..If something else pops up in this aging head of mine I'll drop a reply ^.^
March 19, 2007 9:06:00 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't underestimate the importance of a decent video card if he's going to be doing high-resolution editing. You need a solid card for playback to even be smooth once you start getting up to high definition resolutions.


WTF are you saying?

He's saying something that is very true. My old dell had an nvidia geforce 2 gts and when I tried playing video fullscreen at 1024 by 768 it looked like crap. My new build with a 7600 GT (for a little gaming) can play HD video fullscreen no problemo. I edit a whole lot of video and the vid card (especially the video memory) has a lot to do with viewing the finished product fullscreen. An alternative can be reached-something between a low end card and a 7600 GT.
March 19, 2007 9:10:15 PM

Also, some cards have more of the outputs people use and some don't, read the specs on the card and the monitor/tv you will be using. Some will be fine with composite and others want s-video
March 19, 2007 10:14:06 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't underestimate the importance of a decent video card if he's going to be doing high-resolution editing. You need a solid card for playback to even be smooth once you start getting up to high definition resolutions.


WTF are you saying?

He's saying something that is very true. My old dell had an nvidia geforce 2 gts and when I tried playing video fullscreen at 1024 by 768 it looked like crap. My new build with a 7600 GT (for a little gaming) can play HD video fullscreen no problemo. I edit a whole lot of video and the vid card (especially the video memory) has a lot to do with viewing the finished product fullscreen. An alternative can be reached-something between a low end card and a 7600 GT.

So, your pc was fucked up. As simple as that. Any integrated video plays video at that resolution...

I guided him to a fully compliant videocard that manages to do pretty much...everything and said that these kind of video cards don't help in video renderings or in mainstream software. (as previous said, just helps on HD decoding for viewing purpose).

Somehow you can distort the sentences and fly around of what was said without debating what matters... :roll:
March 20, 2007 12:31:45 AM

Quote:
I wouldn't underestimate the importance of a decent video card if he's going to be doing high-resolution editing. You need a solid card for playback to even be smooth once you start getting up to high definition resolutions.


WTF are you saying?

He's saying something that is very true. My old dell had an nvidia geforce 2 gts and when I tried playing video fullscreen at 1024 by 768 it looked like crap. My new build with a 7600 GT (for a little gaming) can play HD video fullscreen no problemo. I edit a whole lot of video and the vid card (especially the video memory) has a lot to do with viewing the finished product fullscreen. An alternative can be reached-something between a low end card and a 7600 GT.

So, your pc was ****** up. As simple as that. Any integrated video plays video at that resolution...

I guided him to a fully compliant videocard that manages to do pretty much...everything and said that these kind of video cards don't help in video renderings or in mainstream software. (as previous said, just helps on HD decoding for viewing purpose).

Somehow you can distort the sentences and fly around of what was said without debating what matters... :roll:

Yeah the card you showed him will do just fine. I just thought you were saying AeroB1033's post was bogus or something, and it didn't seem like he was discrediting the card you mentioned either way. I was just stating a fact that I experienced.
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