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Question on HDD setup for video editing

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July 6, 2009 6:18:52 PM

OK, I'm new here and not too terribly computer savvy so please bear with me.

I am currently building a new computer system for my wife who is studying to become a digital animator for feature films like Pixar's "UP." I've already determined the system setup and have bought everything except possibly enough hard drives.

My question is, what would be the best setup for the HDD? I was planning on doing a RAID 5, but after some research I'm not sure this is the best option. Also, I have been told that certain HDD perform better for video editing/storage, but I ave not been able to find any specs confirming this, only manufacturer's notes saying theirs is for such and such. I am also unsure as to what size of disc drives to use if I do a RAID array, I do need at least 300GB of storage for personal files (pics and home videos mostly) plus room for the video editing of course.

For now I am going to run the system on a single HDD and plan to upgrade when I get the funds in a few months. I plan on doubling the RAM, possibly adding a second video card in SLI, and adding additional accessories that are not performance based if that makes a difference

If this is in the wrong place, I am sorry and please direct me to the correct place. Any comments and/or advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Specs as follows

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: One week ago

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Video animation (using Autodesk Maya 2009) and editing, File storage for animated and home videos and pics

PARTS REQUIRED: HDD for RAID

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: Western Digital HDD Caviar series (if best ?)

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I am planning on using Windows XP 64 for the OS. Current parts list as follows:

Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1180-AR GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR10664GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80569Q9550 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply: Rosewill RX950-S-B 950W 80Plus Certified,ATX 12V v2.2 & EPS 12V v2.91 SLI 8800Ultra SLI CrossFire Ready Active PFC PFC Power ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 6, 2009 6:38:08 PM

You might run into difficulties running four 1066 MHz modules of that RAM on that motherboard. Should you decide to go ahead with it, buy all modules at the same time to ensure they're the same. You should also read the reviews as they sometimes are helpful.
July 6, 2009 6:58:35 PM

I think that video card is a little overkill. Unless there's some sort of CUDA acceleration, video editing will rely more on the CPU not the GPU. Likewise you should rethink the power supply, Rosewill isn't one of the more recommended brands and 950W is way more than you need. Other people might have better suggestions but I would look at a ~750W Corsair or maybe even lower.
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July 6, 2009 7:43:49 PM

Your getting a GTX285 for a video creation computer why? Drop it down to a 9800GT/9800GTX/GTS250/whatever its called this month. Stay with Nvidia so you have CUDA if you ever need it, but you don't need that gaming card. I would also dump the 9550 and switch to the i7 920. It will be much better for what you want. You'll want to move to 3x1GB or 3x2GB. Get three gigs if your using a 32bit OS, 6GBs if your using a 64bit OS. Dump the rosewill PSU, its junk. 500-650W Antec, Corsair, PCP&C, or Seasonic would be best. (current lines only ofcourse.) You'll need to get an x58 board as well. Not sure whats best here.

As for drives, this gets tricky. I'd probably get a nice 640GB 7200.12 or AALS drive (Current Seagate or WD black) for the OS. After that you can get as simple as another 640 or a 1TB drive for the movies, a simple two disk AID0 array, or a 4+ disk AID0 array or RAID5 setup. I would suggest some form of RAID if you are working with large 1080P videos. You might even want to look into Intels SSDs, but only if the files will be small enough to fit.
July 7, 2009 4:57:13 AM

OK, to address the video card. I'm getting it because for the program I will be running I need something with this cards type of performance. I can't really afford what I should get, namely a quadro fx 1500, which is the minimum recommended video card for running Autodesk Maya on XP 64. The link for that card is as follows;

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you compare the specs you'll see the card I've chosen isn't exactly what it should be.

I think the problem here is some confusion as to what I'm doing. I am NOT simply editing video. I'm creating and rendering fully 3 dimensional movies. That means that I am literally starting from nothing and building a movie by first creating a 3 dimensional environment, populating it with various models, or Rigs as they're called, and then animating them frame by frame, viewing, adjusting , re-viewing, adjusting some more, re-viewing etc... until I have a smooth looking animation that must then be rendered and finalized into a movie. Once I have that done, then I do some standard video editing.

I'm not trying to be an a** here or anything, and I do really appreciate any advice given, I just want to clarify what this machine will be used for.

I'm looking into the other hardware suggestions, though I'm still not real sure about my hard drives. I'm trying to figure out the most optimal setup so as the maximize my read/write speeds. In my research I've found many conflicting accounts on the performance of Raid5 vs Raid10, vs (r)aid0. I've also read that doing multiple partitions on a single disc can increase speeds, but again many conflicting info there two. Also does it really matter what size the drive is as far as read/write speeds are concerned when using any type of Raid array?Can anyone give me any solid performace specs on these different setups? The SSDs won't work, my files are way too large.

As a side note I do want some redundancy so I don't lose anything in progress, but all of my finished work is backed up on external drives, so I'm not worried about needing internal long term storage.

Again, any comments/advice is greatly appreciated!
July 7, 2009 6:33:08 AM

Have you checked out what video cards Maya supports? (I'm looking at the latest version here.)

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112...

Note they only support quadro line, Geforce is not recommended. Read the read me first for Maya 2009. You might want to dump that card. (or make sure you get one that you can flash a quadro bios onto.)

I am aware of what you are doing, thats why I suggested the i7 build. Trust me, things will be much faster with that chip then the 9550.

If you want pure read/write speeds, nothing will beat a multi disk AID0 array. Setting up 4+ drives on a good controller will give you the most MBps read/write compared to anything else. I wouldn't bother with RAID10, backup for a scratch disk is dumb. RAID5 is ok, but slower then a pure AID0 array.

Partitions won't speed up what your trying to do. If a drive is partitioned into smaller drive, its faster for backups or defrags. This is because you only have to do 100GBs instead of the entire 500GBs. You don't gain any read/write heads when you partition, so the write speeds should be the same.

Drive size doesn't matter, but drive model does. The newer the drive, the higher the density per platter, larger the cache, etc. I can totally see a 7200.10 series 500GB drive having slower speeds then a 320GB 7200.12. Just get the newest ones you can afford.

Why would you want redundancy? You would be better off getting a battery backup so you can shut down properly then wasting money on RAID10. RAID only helps you if you have a drive die on you, its not a backup solution. I purpose the 640GB AALS (WD black) drive for your OS and program files, and perhaps a 3 or 4 disk AID0 array for fast read/writes. Backup all your finished files on a ??? USB/Firewire external drive.
July 8, 2009 5:22:33 PM

4745454b, Thanks for the detail!

I did look at the specs for Maya first, that is what I based what I put together on. A friend of mine helped me select the parts I listed earlier. I posted the question on here because he wasn''t explaining my hdd options to me very well.

I realize the problem with the video card, but I was considering using it anyway as I have been running Maya 07 and 08 on geforce cards for the past few years with no problems as of yet, and it is a much cheaper card.

The reason I was looking for some redundancy is because recently I lost all my work on my last project when one of my two (r)aid0 drives failed. I'm still recovering some files from that, but my work files are gone. I had been backing up only when I finished my projects, not while I was working on them, so maybe that is a habit I need to change.

I'll see about making those changes then. Again, thanks for your help, you explained much better than my friend had!
July 8, 2009 11:46:45 PM

Perhaps my time frame is off, how long does it take you to work on a file? You could do RAID5/10 if it takes you more then a month for each one, but I think I'd stay with my original idea. Use your backup 1TB drive to make backups of the work in progress every night/every other night. This way is the drive dies, you replace and copy everything back over. If you buy the replacement drive at the same time and set it on a shelf, getting back up shouldn't take much time at all.
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