APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within three weeks. BUDGET RANGE: Approx. $1500-1750
SYSTEM USAGE: Hi-Def video editing (by Hi-Def, I mean HDV/AVCHD, not uncompressed HD)
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitors, speakers, soundcard
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: I'd like an Intel i7 processor with at least 12GB of DDR3 memory. Need a 10,000 RPM system drive, second drive (7200rpm is okay) for video project files and scratch disk, and third drive for video data files (plan to use a 2TB Raid-0 configuration I already have). Needs to have a good video card.
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not right now, maybe in the future if the budget allows
MONITOR RESOLUTION: At least 1920x1080. Also have to have 2 DVI ports and I would like an HDMI, but not required.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Plan to run 64-bit Windows 7, so all the parts need to have drivers compatible with Win7.
PARTS LIST: Here are the parts that I've found and put together, many of them are from the suggested parts list here on Tom's Hardware. Anyone see any problems, or can suggest better parts?
Total cost for all that from Newegg (before rebates) is $1639.87
Any suggestions or recommendations based upon my needs would be welcome. For sound I have a Behringer USB audio output device that will run into professional studio speakers. My monitors are Dual ASUS 24" widescreen displays that are fairly new so I'll just stick with them.
I've read some good comments about the Intel ICH10R chipset for being a good onboard RAID controller, and I've also read some positive reviews about it working well with the WD "Black" 1TB drives I've selected, so unless anyone has a really convincing argument for switching to a third-party RAID controller, I plan to stick with that.
Sounds good. Intel ICHxR is the best onboard RAID. Performance can be enhanced by enabling the "write cache" option when using their RAID drivers. This is dangerous because it can lead to filesystem corruption in case of a crash (though only in rare circumstances) - but it will enhance performance because you'll have a RAM writeback cache just like hardware RAID controllers have. This is something other onboard RAID or windows-based software RAID does not offer.
Its also good you have several disk volumes which can operate independently, so your video disk (array) will not be slowed down by the I/O caused on the system drive.
However i'm puzzled; do you really need a good video card? I heard Photoshop 4 now has some CUDA videocard acceleration - but otherwise the videocard does nothing to accelerate the work. If you do need a powerful discrete graphics card, i would opt for the new ATi 5000-series which consume less power when idling and are also faster.
Also, you might want to opt for new 500GB-platter disks, which should be a little faster than 640GB disks which have 2x 320GB platters. The higher the data density, generally the higher the sequential transfer rates; which is what you need.
Also, the velociraptor should be used and not the older Raptor drives.
Other than that, looks like a good setup. You might not need such a powerful power supply though
The Caviar Blacks may not be the best choice right now since they haven't released too many drives with the higher 500GB platter densities yet. If you look at the hard drive benchmarks, the Samsung F3 and Seagate 7200.12 beat the similarly sized Caviar Blacks at just about everything. I'm not sure what your absolute total budget is, but if you want the best performance, I'd use SSDs for your OS/Programs/Scratch. Intel G2 MLC drives are the very best "reasonably" priced SSDs right now, OCZ Vertex would be my second choice.
This one uses 500 GB platters and some other new WD technology to improve performance. It keeps pace very well with the new Seagates and Samsungs.
Realistically, I think 6GB should be plenty for any high performance system right now. If you were doing CAD design or tons of CG rendering, then you might actually get close to benefiting from 12GB right now.
I'd recommend upping to a 5850 for graphics when those are available. Almost twice the performance for maybe $100 more.
I see you have additional firewire, do you need more than just 1 port? Your ASUS board has one 1394 port built in, but if you have to connect lots of firewire devices at the same time, then the expansion card makes sense.
As for RAID controllers, generally onboard is fine for RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. A third party controller won't offer too much more with those configurations, and will maybe reduce CPU load by 3% at most. If you start looking at RAID 3, 5, 10, this is where the onboard RAID really shows its weakness and when the use of an expensive host controller like an Adaptec really starts to make sense.
I'm thinking of building a very similar setup, but since my system will be used only for Avid Media Composer 4.0.2, AfterEffects CS4 and PhotoshopCS4, I have opted for the Nvidia Quadro FX1800 or FX3800 as my video card. This card is "required" by Avid (although I have read reports that cheaper gaming cards will also work).
I've read that it is better to buy a complete 12GB memory kit rather than two 6GB kits as the manufacturer supposedly tests the entire memory set. I'll let other more experienced builders comment on that.
GeIL Value Series 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066
(PC3 8500) Desktop Memory Model GV312GB1066C7HC - Retail $247.99
CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91
80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $199.99
80 Plus Silver Recommended for Core i5 and Core i7
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM
32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives – OEM $94.99 (x3) $284.97
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX
Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $139.99
I'm waffling on the motherboard, although the ASRock is getting rave reviews from a lot of folks. The PT6 is my second choice. I'm also leaning toward the:
Pioneer Black 8X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 8X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA Internal Blu-ray Burner 8X Blu-Ray DVD Burner w/ Software Model BDR-203BKS at $199
This will be my first computer build, so I'm still intimidated by the BIOS setup and hope I cam make it through that with out a disaster.
Are you using the 10,000RPM drive as your boot drive or do you need it for a specific video application. I figured to get by on 7200RPM drives for my system - not sure if I need RAID for HDV or not at this point.
Let me know how your system works out and I'll do the same.
As for RAID controllers, generally onboard is fine for RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations. A third party controller won't offer too much more with those configurations
Though you offer great advice, i'd like to correct you here. Hardware RAID is a must if you want to use RAID5 or RAID6 under Windows; as there are no good software RAID drivers for the windows platform. But Hardware RAID can accelerate also RAID0 and even single disks.
There are two ways to accelerate I/O which is commonly seen on true Hardware RAID like Areca. The first is I/O reordering - something that accelerates random I/O for mechanical disks. The second feature is their onboard memory, providing a large writeback buffer that can store data that should be written, but can be delayed until the disks are less occupied. It can also group reading and writing: switching between reading and writing data more slowly to cause less seek times if the application(s) do both read and write at the same time. This accelerates I/O performance not just synthetically but measurable and probably even humanly noticeable, where you need at least 20-40% increase in performance.
No onboard RAID does this, the Intel RAID driver doesn't support I/O reordering, but it does support writeback buffer by enabling the 'write cache' option (incorrect because its a buffercache not only a cache).
Therefore the Intel RAID drivers are a really cheap way to get high performance like true Hardware RAID can. It's still host-based (100% software) but that doesn't matter; with the current RAM bandwidth this shouldn't be any problem. The disk is still the bottleneck for many situations such as application loading and boot times. Sometimes the best stuff is what you already have.
On board RAID controllers are hardware based, you can create bootable RAID volumes on Intel RAID drivers, this would not be possible if it was purely software. I also said that for the higher level RAID configs it's pointless to use the onboard controller. While it's true that the Intel RAID drivers won't have the advanced features that you mentioned, the typical benchmarks are not all that different with disks configured in onboard RAID vs 3rd party RAID when looking at RAID 0: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/highpoint_rock...
The 3rd party cards are obviously better, but the point of my comment was to convey that on board controllers are fine for most people under RAID 0 or 1, and don't cost an additional $300 for extra performance.
Software RAIDs can be perfectly bootable. For example you can boot off ZFS RAID-Z (RAID-5) or RAID-Z2 (RAID-6) software arrays. No windows coder ever implemented this though. Windows doesn't offer any advanced storage technologies - only basic.
Onboard RAID is also certainly no hardware RAID; the only mechanism that allows you to boot is in firmware; tiny software that that knows the absolute minimum to read some blocks off the volume to make bootstrapping work; so it reads a few megabytes until the RAID drivers take over and it becomes a 100% software mechanism. The firmware itself is software too; still no hardware part here.
Some controllers like Silicon Image can be 'flashed' with both a SATA BIOS and a RAID BIOS; the former being a plain SATA controller while the second adding bootstrap support for RAIDs. So again, its all software, no hardware acceleration is performed.
You're right though that for simple RAID levels (RAID0, RAID1 and combinations of those) - onboard RAID is doing just fine. Though that does not mean software RAID5 or RAID6 is any bit inferior to hardware RAID; its just that no good software RAID5/6 engines exist for Windows; only for non-windows operating systems.
The most advanced RAID engine today is probably ZFS, dynamic stripes is something no RAID engine can have, because it needs knowledge about the filesystem. This can only work if both filesystem and RAID engine are combined in one package, which is what ZFS is all about.