Budget Build workstation advice for HD Video Editing with CS4

Hello everyone.
I found this forum a few days ago when researching for a major upgrade to my systems that's long overdue. After reading hundreds of posts I've discovered that this is definitely a highly productive forum with great advice. Could someone please assist me with some direction.

I currently edit video on 2 really old laptops (Dell C610 Pentium 3) and I use 2 old custom built P3 machines with a Matrox RT2500 and the other is an RT.X100. I use Adobe Premiere 6.5 for all the systems.
Alright, alright stop laughing!

I do a ton of web videos and NTSC commercials. I'm getting an increasing amount of clients who need me to do HD production. As you already know, none of my systems can handle the strain in my current non-native HD mode.

Eventually I'll retire and replace all of the systems but I want to make sure I get one that works first.
Whatever I come up with, I know it'll be light years ahead of the ancient systems I'm working with now.

From the research I've done on this forum, I need to begin with an Intel I7 and plenty of memory for HD editing. I realize it'll be difficult to get everything I need within the following budget constraints.

However, by accident I discovered something interesting for $537 at Conns:
It's an HP Pavilion Elite M9650F Desktop PC with Intel Core i7-920 Processor!
Okay, now there's seems to be a lot of problems with this machine's motherboard:

So should I go ahead and get this as a starter system and upgrade the cooling fans or just proceed to do a new build?
I figured if Conn's can sell an I7 system from HP for $500 maybe I can build one cheaper. Although, it doesn't seem like I can.
With processor speeds as fast as they are these days, I don't even see a need to use the Matrox cards anymore. Am I correct? Any suggestions on a new build list?

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Sometime this week 2/15/2010.
BUDGET RANGE: 500 - 600

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: For the most part I'll be using the workstation for video editing using Premiere Pro CS4 and After Effects. I'll soon be purchasing a Canon 5D Mark II or 7D for footage acquisition.


PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: No Particular Preference

PARTS PREFERENCES: Decent Sized LCD monitor, 2 x 7200 RPM Hard Drives, 1 small hard drive for apps and OS.

OVERCLOCKING: If necessary, I'll do it.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200

Any help will certainly be appreciated.

11 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Damn, that is wicked cheap. We had our corporate supplier build out decent i7 rigs, and they were $900.

    Well, look at this estimate of you buying the parts yourself- you might shave off %10 if you are lucky.

    Cheapest X58 board I could find= $159
    Chip itself=$288
    Gfx card (x58 has no onboard) = $35
    HDD and optical drives=$75
    RAM@ 6GB = $150
    Total= $803

    I would get the computer, and buy a real motherboard, and new case, then take the CPU out and put it all together myself and still make out. And, if it gets f'd up, put the chip back in the original board and send it back for warranty!
  2. Dude,

    Thanks for responding!

    I totally agree.
    I couldn't wait any longer for my post to catch on because these models were disappearing from the shelves.
    I went ahead and picked up one. I almost bought two but I didn't want to be greedy.

    I did some research beforehand and found that the machine has been experiencing some issues with overheating and numerous freezing/blue screens.
    I didn't have to look far. Right on the HP site here and also here.
    Huge thread.
    There's even a class action lawsuit here -> regarding certain Elite models.
    I talked to the lead tech over at Conns specifically about this issue before I purchased it.
    He bought one too and said he just replaced the factory fan with a much larger one to alleviate the problem.

    I got it anyway because I'll come out ahead of the game no matter what happens.

    Of course as soon as I got home I turned the key to see what I stepped into.
    Absolutely mind blowing super fast machine! I was totally floored by its speed....for about half an hour.

    Well, I'm not exempt.
    The computer began to have these random freezes and stopped responding.
    Sure enough, it happened to me too, BLUE SCREEN.

    Let the troubleshooting begin!
    It'll be worth it once I get past this hurdle.
  3. Ah, that sucks! Just to check if its overheating, get a good temp monitor software like core temp. Monitor it like that, and then try taking off the side of the case and putting a small fan pointed in there. See if that helps. If you cook the parts, it will leave you only 1 option: RMA for replacement.
  4. Festerovic. That's actually an excellent idea.
    I've always known to use SNMP for server monitoring, etc. but I didn't think to do it on my own machines. duh. Is core temp open source or free or what?

    I did a web query search. Are these the right folks?
  5. That's the one. As far as what is an acceptable temp, well, you can google that too :) My i7 is 50* C all day, but I am running folding@home.
  6. festerovic said:
    That's the one. As far as what is an acceptable temp, well, you can google that too :) My i7 is 50* C all day, but I am running folding@home.

    Okay I downloaded the software and installed it.
    Two things happened.

    The first time I monitored the computer's temperature while it was basically idle.
    For approximately 20 minutes the temp. of all four cores stayed consistently at 30 degrees C.
    However, in the machine just shut down and Vista gave me the "Windows didn't close normally" message. No blue screen though.

    Okay...reboot normally (no safe boot yet)

    The second time I decided to put a light load on it. I went to Youtube and loaded a promotional demo
    video I created over the summer for people to see. I opened up IE in eleven separate windows....all playing at the same time.
    As you can see this is a pretty intense video ->
    I was deliberately trying to crash the box. I put small a dent in the temperature but not much (32 degrees avg. across all four cores). The load average is less than 8% average.

    At the time of this response, the box has been up for 47 minutes....still playing the videos.

    Maybe I'm working the video card but not the CPU. I need to load the CPU...make it do some work.
    Perhaps I should load Premiere onto it and try to edit something. It seems like there's an app that'll load your CPU for testing purposes such as this.
  7. This whole 20 minute thing has me curious...I mean why exactly 20 each time?
    I'm starting to wonder if it has something to do with the sleep settings within the power options on the Control Panel. I remember reading once that it was crashing people's systems...
  8. Update: I haven't had a crash since my last post. The machine seems to be doing alright...This might have been a pretty savvy investment. I'm gong switch to WIndows 7, load Adobe CS4 Master edition on it, outfit the machine with SSDs, and 2 separate Seagate Barracudas in the rig. I'll do thins in stages in case a problem arises.

    If everything turns out okay, I'll probably buy another one.
    I'll keep this thread updated.

  9. Best answer
    Nice, good to hear it. I read all 5 pages of hate mail from the HP forum, seems like if it keeps up, you may just want to buy a new mobo before you get too deep on the rest of it. Also, seems like going to the latest BIOS 5.13 solves many problems (supposedly) give it a try.
  10. Best answer selected by storytellerHD.
  11. festerovic said:
    Nice, good to hear it. I read all 5 pages of hate mail from the HP forum, seems like if it keeps up, you may just want to buy a new mobo before you get too deep on the rest of it. Also, seems like going to the latest BIOS 5.13 solves many problems (supposedly) give it a try.

    Hm...Okay I didn't catch that. I checked as soon as I read your post.
    My Bios revision is 5.03 and the core version is 08.00.15.

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