Let me first start off by saying I've been a viewer of this forum for a few months now and am blown away by the knowledge and friendlyness of users on this forum.
In a few months I will be graduating from film school, I hope pursue my career of becoming a video editor. Recently my computer of 7 years decided to finally call it quits and die. I said goodbye to both the computer and my "gaming" days.
Basically, with the immersion of Windows 7 - I'm in the market for a new PC. For awhile I was going back and forth about getting a Mac, however, I decided to stick with a Windows based computer as I feel I can get more 'bang for my buck'.
What I need from you guys is some computer knowledge, I know some but not nearly enough. If someone wouldn't mind taking the time to help me pick the right computer for me, I'd really appreciate it...
What I need this computer to do:
As I mentioned, I hope to one day become a video editor.
I deal with a lot of HD video (huge file size) and experiment with nearly every editing software on the market. I need this computer to be able to render, compress, and multi task at a fast rate. This computer will basically be my personal and business computer, I do not play games - but feel I need a decent video card just to experience no lag when editing. I would also like this purchase to realistically last me 3 to 5 years, and be able to be tweaked with more RAM etc down the road.
I was looking at the Dell XPS 9000 - Would this machine be powerful enough for my needs? Here are the specs:
Software & Services
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
Intel® Core™ i7-975 processor Extreme Edition(8MB L3 Cache, 3.33GHz)
No Productivity software pre-installed
2 Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis - Important Information
No Security software pre-installed
12GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs
1TB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
Blu-ray Disc (BD) Burner (Writes to DVD/CD/BD)
nVidia GeForce GTX 260 1792MB
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
No speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)
Dell USB Consumer Multimedia Keyboard
Dell Studio Optical Mouse
No Modem Option
Integrated 10/1000 Ethernet
Are there any other computers on the market you would recommend? Please help! What should I be looking for?
That Dell is more or less the spec you're after, but I would strongly recommend you build yourself or get one of the many online computer stores to build you a system - don't go with the traditionally overpriced and pain-in-the-ass Dells and HPs of the world.
If you're doing heavy HD video editing I would adjust the spec to this:
Replace i7 975 with i7 920 and overclock it - either match the 975's 3.33GHz or let the 920 show its true potential and go to 3.8 or even 4GHz. You will need a meaty cooler to go this high - Prolimatech Megahalems or Thermalright Ultra-120 Rev. C (MUST be a Rev. C) with a pair of 120mm fans on it. Scythe Mugen 2, Thermolab Baram or Cogage True Spirit will also do the job.
Take your RAM up to 1600MHz - it does make a some small but noticable improvements to video work and rendering times (I've shaved 6 minutes off a 1 hour H.264 encode using 1600MHz RAM with 7-7-7-24 timings, that was an hour total saved for the 10 jobs I had on).
No lag when editing has nothing to do with the video card - it's the speed at which you can get the video data off your drive. So, change the 1TB drive to a pair of 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 drives in a RAID 0 - you will see a massive performance boost in reading your raw footage. You don't need a RAID controller though as the software RAID on every X58 motherboard will do the job fine.
Add a smaller hard drive to act as dedicated OS and apps drive. It would be nice to make it a 150GB Velociraptor or even a SSD for some ***-hot loading times, but it doesn't matter really how long the apps take to boot because all the work done will be coming from the fast RAM, fast CPU and the data RAID.
If you're not gaming then you don't need the GTX 260 with that much RAM on it, but prices are comparable to the more traditional 896MB version anyway so it's not much cash saved dropping down. At this point though I would recommend sticking with an NVIDIA card because the few GPGPU video apps out there (like the H.264 encoder for Premiere CS4) specifically use CUDA and that's NVIDIA-specific.
If you're not using GPGPU stuff and only want OpenGL acceleration for your apps (like the CS4 suite) then you can save some cash and go with a 4700 or 4800 series Radeon instead.
From what I understand about video encoding you would see a large improvement with multiple harddrives when you are rendering video when the original is on one drive and the rendered copy is on a second.
LePhuronn - I am not too knowledgeable with building a PC, however, I understand that is the only way to truly get the "right system" for yourself. Overclocking scares me, Since my computer knowledge is not extensive - I wouldn't know how/when to overclock. Also, doesn't overclocking put the computer at risk?
As far as the harddrive situation goes, I plan on getting a smaller drive from somewhere like Newegg to house my OS and Programs (as you suggested) later down the road.
Basically, I shouldn't worry about this CPU not being able to handle what I throw at it - correct? Also jimmysmitty makes a good point, later on I can always just upgrade the CPU for more power/speed. I only wish Dell told you what type of motherboard this machine has to see if it's good or not.
Again, thanks everyone for the responses - keep em comin!