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Advice for Video Editing: "Throw Away", "Upgradable", or "Monster"?

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March 17, 2010 1:13:58 PM

I'm trying to spec out a new computer for Video Editing, but I've been out of the loop for awhile.

I'll be buying the machine within 2 months, and have no loyalty to Intel/AMD/Mac/PC. The machine will be used by multiple people for importing/editing/exporting video. No special effects / 3D rendering, aside from the occasional chroma key / green screen stuff.

Budget for this project is "Oh, man, can I borrow a buck for a burger? I haven't eaten in days..."

*At the moment* we don't need anything more than intro text/graphics, so almost any off-the-shelf video software supports our needs. *With that in mind*, obviously there are concerns for the future, so my choices are:

The Throw Away: Get a steal-of-a-deal on last-gen (DDR2) components, so that when we need to upgrade, we just replace the whole thing and don't sweat it.

The Future Proof/Upgradable: Get something on a new DDR3 mobo, that has plenty of room for the future, and upgrade it later when more power is required.

The Monster: Go all out, and buy the biggest thing we can find.

If we go with The Monster, obviously we'll have to delay projects, and just pinch pennies to save up for awhile.

Any suggestions?

-

For the curious, none of the people using this are pros, and have no particular favorite editing suite. Some of us have used Premier, and that runs on both Mac/Windows, but the software isn't of great concern. We'll use whatever the hardware platform requires.

More about : advice video editing throw upgradable monster

March 17, 2010 2:48:49 PM

How graphics intense is your work? Depending on that, there could be several "monster" type builds that wouldn't be too expensive. You should really explain your uses better. What software do you use most? What kind of display devices do you use (mulitple monitors, single monitor, resolutions, etc.)?

You really should assign a dollar amount to what you want to spend. For example, a very cheap, very upgradeable build can be had for less than $600. Or a true monster machine can cost around $2,000. What are your limits?

The thing I would absolutely NOT do is get the throw away. Right now, older DDR2 tech is roughly the same price as DDR3, so there isn't any cost savings to be had.

Here's a very cheap build that uses top of the line AMD parts, but assumes you don't need a discrete GPU. If you do need one, you could easily put a $100 or so card in it and be just fine, unless it's super heavy graphics work. In that case, I would recommend looking at the workstation GPUs (AIT's Fire and nVidia's Quaddro lines).

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H $280
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Neo Eco 520W $120
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $23

Total: $593.
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March 17, 2010 2:50:19 PM

I am an editor who has been doing some very serious research for my next build. The reason *I* "feel the need" is because of VERY long render times with my current P4 ... Over 7 Hrs to render 5 min of highest quality HDV 1080P/30 to a .wmf file at 25Mbits/sec and 2-Pass CBR.

I am 50yoa, built my first PC in 1976 and my 2nd in 1979 (before the IBM PC).
I have been in Tech Suppt for well over 25 yrs ... DELL, Compuadd, Tracor Aerospace and many other Corps.
I have edited (in SD) on Pinnacle, AvidXP, Media Srudio Pro and VEGAS ...

After 8 weeks of doing builds and re-learning the INTEL and AMD lines and mobos and comparing workstation cards and fast gaming GPUs (as well as brodcast video cards), I believe I have the answers to your questions.

Two main questions govern your major choices ...

1) How much editing are you going to do (volume of output and length of deadlines) ?

2) What is the usual (or highest) digital bitrate which you will be working with ?

So ... The dividing line is at 25Mbits/sec (HDV or AVCHD H.264) ... That is the very top of the CONSUMER codec quality spectrum and I am guessing that you will be working at or below this bit rate. If so, there are many ways you could go.

A tertiary factor is your "degree of need" (urgency) and how you plan to amortize the cost ($$$/yr times "Y" years) ...

On the low end ... (For HDV/AVCHD H.264 >>> .wmf ) . . .

AMD socket AM3 (890GX chipset mobo) and a fast Phenom-II x4 Black Edition CPU
The following link shows the only two AM3 boards that I would recommend.
(please note that the small # of reviews is due to very recent release dates)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

Middle tier is Socket 1156 INTEL Core i7-860 based system

Top tier is Socket 1366 INTEL Core i7-930 (X58) based system
( the socket is designated by the number of "pin-outs" on the CPU package)

The minimum graphics config is ONE nVidia (NOT ATi) GTX260 (or above)

The Ideal setup would be a PNY QuadroFX 1800 with possible other secondary cards (depending on number and type/usage of display(s) options)

You will want (at least) dual displays running 1920 x 1200 or 1920 by 1080 ... Must have UNDER 6millisec refresh with 2ms optimal (two displays minimum) and you will almost certainly want those displays to run from 24" ~ 28" diagonal.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

*I* personally cannot justify going ALL IN on a monster system, knowing that the next iteration of the INTEL system bus architecture (PCIe3.0) will be on the market within 12 months and I see the current bus standard as a bottleneck. I do not want to pile-in on a bus standard which is on it's last leg. (I'm thinking you don't either). THAT assumption excludes the middle and upper tiers.

Finally, it would not hurt to invest in a nice infrastructure with that "throw-away" compute core (limited to AMD and 4GB RAM) ... The lo-ball compute-core WILL get you 2 years down the road and no reason not to invest in a nice graphics subsystem and two nice displays ... might as well go with the nVidia GTX-260 (or it's replacement, due out in 2 weeks)

READ THAT LAST PHRASE AGAIN

You should get a 500GB 7200RPM Caviar Black Boot Drive and a SAMSUNG SpinPoint 1TB media drive. (500GB platter tech is essential to edit flow).

If you thing you can come up with an extra hundred dollars (after your build total is known), you may opt for a KINGSTON 64GB SSD for boot and apps (ditching the 500GB HDD).

That is my take and I am qualified to advise with authority. As for me? I'm gonna SUCK AIR until next spring, limping and dragging on my old NorthWood P4(3.2c) ... This is gonna hurt really bad ... Ahhhrg!!!

= Best of Luck ! =

= Alvin =
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March 17, 2010 2:55:58 PM

MadAdmiral said:
How graphics intense is your work? Depending on that, there could be several "monster" type builds that wouldn't be too expensive. You should really explain your uses better. What software do you use most? What kind of display devices do you use (mulitple monitors, single monitor, resolutions, etc.)?

You really should assign a dollar amount to what you want to spend. For example, a very cheap, very upgradeable build can be had for less than $600. Or a true monster machine can cost around $2,000. What are your limits?

The thing I would absolutely NOT do is get the throw away. Right now, older DDR2 tech is roughly the same price as DDR3, so there isn't any cost savings to be had.

Here's a very cheap build that uses top of the line AMD parts, but assumes you don't need a discrete GPU. If you do need one, you could easily put a $100 or so card in it and be just fine, unless it's super heavy graphics work. In that case, I would recommend looking at the workstation GPUs (AIT's Fire and nVidia's Quaddro lines).

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H $280
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Neo Eco 520W $120
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $23

Total: $593.


I like the way you think ! The Admiral is right (as always), except I might advise you beef up the GPU and (nVidia only). You REALLY need 2 drives, for any video edit system ... just make sure they are both 500GB platter tech @7200RPM ... So two 500GB "Blacks" would be perfect (spinpoints too).

= Alvin =

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March 17, 2010 3:06:49 PM

Alvin Smith said:
just make sure they are both 500GB platter tech @7200RPM ... So two 500GB "Blacks" would be perfect (spinpoints too).

Some more HD research is in order. The WD Black 500GB drives are old technology and use old 250GB platters. The only 500GB drives that are currently using 500GB platters are the Samsung F3 and Seagate 7200.12 series.
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March 17, 2010 3:11:26 PM


I never argue with ShortStuff ... He is "always right" even more often that the Admiral is "always right ... er ... yup !

You are getting the best advice on the planet ... right here ... no sh*t !

= Al =
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March 17, 2010 3:18:09 PM

Shortstuff, didn't you originally link the article with research on the WD1002FAEX 1 TB (500 GB platter) drive?

Of course, it's $30 more, so it isn't really cost-competitive with the Samsung & Seagate drives...and it's at best, only marginally faster than the 7200.12, even with SATA3.
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March 17, 2010 3:25:54 PM

Yes, there is a new SATA 6.0Gb/s 1TB WD Black drive that uses 500GB platters, but the 500GB Black drives still use 250GB platters. The ONLY WD drives that currently use 500GB platters are the new SATA 6.0Gb/s 1TB Black drive and one of the latest 2TB Green drives. This conversation was about 500GB drives, so I had to clear up some mis-information.
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March 17, 2010 3:27:01 PM

Duh, 500 GB drives. Not enough coffee yet.
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March 17, 2010 3:37:33 PM


I've had a mug of espresso and, it is starting to show. All good to know.

I couldn't see using 2 smaller platters on a modern "perpendicular" drive ... more parts, and all...

... live and learn.

= Al =
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March 17, 2010 3:38:46 PM

Thanks for the tips. I mentioned light requirements, but not throughput. I'd say we'll be processing about 3 hours of video a week; doing very basic editing: cutting, splicing, and adding some text/graphics to the beginning of the footage. Deadlines are generally a week from recording, sometimes longer.

Monitors - Two is good for workflow, but a single might do for now. As for resolution and software: I mentioned that no-one has a preference - we're willing to start with anything, and work our way up if we need more functionality. As for resolution, I dunno... I'll be looking into what's best for the possible future. I figure the specs for Adobe Premier are a good minimum expectation, eg?

I didn't mention anything about displays or hardware, because we're kind of starting from scratch anyway.

I didn't mention a budget because I don't believe our requirements should be limited to our budget. What I mean is, I have dealt with too many people that say they need something done "top of the line, need new stage decoration and lighting setup, new gear, and did I mention top of the line? Oh, and our budget is $300."

If there is a realistic base price for a realistic base system, then I should at least be aware of that before setting a budget. Right now, I'm not sure what that is. Considering we'll need displays, and that someone might scream for a Mac, I'm thinking that $2000 isn't unreasonable. As I mentioned, our budget is "$0" right now. I'm setting the expectations.

As for resolutions/medium, most of the material will end up on the web, but possibly for broadcast / DVD consumption. Beyond that I'm clueless. We record mostly live stuff, speaking, music, so it's not like we're making movies for Blu Ray ... I believe our current gear is all standard def. As I said, I'm out of the loop on video.

Thanks again for all the leads/info so far. Very much appreciated!
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March 17, 2010 3:53:18 PM

I'm thinking "off-hand" that $1200 should do it (including one 28" monitor at $300).

I also have some extremely good news. SONY VEGAS Movie Studio 9 Platinum Edition is available at your local Best-Buy or CompUSA for under $120 and does EVERYTHING you need it to (up to 4 layers of video recognizing 4 CPU cores).

Sounds like a "church rig". I am a perfectionist and am rendering at the most extreme (lossless) rez ... few consumers do that. If you are airing on local cable, you prolly DO want to do that ... If you are uploading to YouTube (at 720P) then you can render MUCH more quickly (VBR 1-Pass).

VEGAS has an online "auto-magic" interactive tutorial wizzard that is actually very quick and effective ... burn DVDs from the timeline, etc. Great classic 2D titles and default crossfades that "handle" your audio crossfade levels without a lot of "cross-ramping" fuss.

I know budget is very tight but you *might* (just) want to purchase a custom "color-coded" tutorial keybord (Vegas specific) from videoguys.com for about $100 ... if you have a lot of different "noobs" trying to learn it. If not ... the online tutorials will help them to muddle through.

= Alvin = You are in luck !

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March 17, 2010 4:18:03 PM

Qty. Image Product Description Unit Price Savings Total Price
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Update19-103-727 AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ965FBGMBOX - Retail
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Item #:N82E16819103727
Return Policy:CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
In Stock
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Model #:GA-890GPA-UD3H
Item #:N82E16813128435
Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
In Stock
Note (Add13-128-435)


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Model #:ST3500418AS
Item #:N82E16822148395
Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
In Stock
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Model #:SH-S222A
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In Stock
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Subtotal: $1,002.84

Select All - Select None
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March 17, 2010 4:20:18 PM

So, for *MY* build, that would be $1,003.00 plus a $300 28" monitor plus ~$50 shipping ...

$1350 TTL

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March 17, 2010 4:21:08 PM

That's a pretty good looking build, except for the IDE DVD burner. SATA burners are the same price and eliminate the big air-flow blocking ribbon cable.
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March 17, 2010 4:23:11 PM

OH ... Add $128 (max) for Vegas9 Platinum

$1478 TURNKEY (except you have to build it)

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March 17, 2010 4:24:07 PM

+1 to the SATA burner. Also, save the bit and grab the X4 955 with that board. It should be in a combo, saving somewhere around $40.

With the shipping cost, the Antec 300 costs the same as the 300 Illusion. Might as well get the two extra fans for free.

Also, I'm not seeing a PSU. That will add a good $50-100...
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March 17, 2010 4:24:36 PM

woooops !!! didn't catch that !!! (IDE) ... Thought I would have to try real hard to find one of those, these days ...

... Good catch, BOSS !

= Al =
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March 17, 2010 4:25:53 PM


Dang !!! PSU ! I was gonna hook it up to my car battery!

Let me revise all that.
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March 17, 2010 5:03:42 PM


I didn't see that the Antec 300 Illusion would save anything or come out the same ... I could not save combos to my wishlist ... The PNY card just went out of stock ... Switched to BFG but forgot to make sure it has 2xDVI or DVI+HDMI ...
... Switched to SATA DVDR and ... What about this Rosewill PSU ? Qualms ?

... ANY WAY ... I did add the Vegas SW ... AND ... you can shave up to $100 off this build by scrounging a used ATX mid-tower chassis and by (very slightly) downgrading the CPU (speed by .2) and RAM ($10 less for other kit) but I think this build reflects your IDEAL vegas build (I would add a 64GB SSD for boot ... that would add $100 ... cause I would ditch one of the seagates, in leiu of).

Here it is ...

.
Update19-103-727 AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ965FBGMBOX - Retail
Model #:HDZ965FBGMBOX
Item #:N82E16819103727
Return Policy:CPU Replacement Only Return Policy
In Stock
Note (Add19-103-727)


Save Cancel $184.99 $184.99
. .
Update13-128-435 GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H AM3 AMD 890GX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #:GA-890GPA-UD3H
Item #:N82E16813128435
Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
In Stock
Note (Add13-128-435)


Save Cancel $139.99 $139.99
. .
Update32-116-758 Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
Model #:FQC-00765
Item #:N82E16832116758
Return Policy:Software Return Policy
In Stock
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Save Cancel $139.99 $139.99
. .
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Model #:Three Hundred
Item #:N82E16811129042
Return Policy:Limited Replacement Only Return Policy
In Stock
Note (Add11-129-042)


Save Cancel $69.95 -$15.00 Instant $54.95
. .
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Item #:N82E16835103065
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In Stock
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Update35-186-020 ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail
Model #:MX-2R
Item #:N82E16835186020
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Update22-148-395 Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
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Item #:N82E16822148395
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Save Cancel $59.99 -$5.00 Instant $109.98
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Subtotal: $1,164.82
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March 17, 2010 5:06:48 PM

Wow guys! Thanks for the suggestions and your time! I appreciate it, a lot! I'll pore over all of this tonight, and try to make some decisions!

Thanks!
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March 17, 2010 6:19:56 PM


We'll be interested to hear what you end up doing.

= Al =
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!