Best CPU/GPU upgrade for video processing max $300

I would like to upgrade my computer to speed up the processing of videos. The 2 fps conversion rate from an unusable M2TS format to MPEG-2 (both in 1920x1080 at 29.97 fps) is extremely slow. I can't even play back 1920x1080 video encoded with XviD (MPEG-4). I would also like to record screen capture at 1440x1080 max resolution (using Virtual Dub and FastCodec).

I currently have an LGA 775 motherboard with a Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB RAM (3 GB effective due to 32-bit OS limitation), and the somewhat outdated GeForce 7600 GT video card. Chances are, if I'm to upgrade the CPU (I'm leaning toward the Intel i5 or i7 quite likely), I'm also going to have to upgrade the motherboard and the RAM. I have Windows XP Pro SP3 and would like to upgrade my computer almost exclusively for significantly faster video processing, both lossless and XviD lossy, both using the open source Virtual Dub. The maximum budget I have for the CPU, motherboard, and RAM combo is $300.

I can reuse my SATA hard drives (my 250 GB drive is SATA I and my 1 TB drive is SATA II), my PCI-based X-Fi Platinum audio, my somewhat outdated PCI-e GeForce 7600 GT video card, my 1920x1440 CRT monitor, my 500-watt Antec Earthwatts powersupply, and various other components in my current computer without problems.

Also, would upgrading just the video card (V1.1 of PCI-e max) provide a significant encoding speed boost, such as the 560 on Nvidia? I see on Wikipedia that the kind of video card I'm looking into is 40 times more powerful than the one I have now. I only play low end games on my computer, what rare times I do (and by low end, I mean games from 2004 and the like). Games played via my TV tuner is a different subject though, but this isn't anywhere near as demanding for HD video processing (I average about 40 fps with XviD when converting MPEG-2 to XviD).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I prefer Newegg for all my computer hardware. Thanks.
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More about best upgrade video processing
  1. Unless your encoding software specifically is setup to use your video card you will see zero speed gain in encoding from upgrading the video card. Depending on the playback format an upgraded video card may be able to decode (play) the videos faster than what you are currently using.

    As far as workstation performance you will be much better off switching the CPU/mobo/ram than the video card.

    here's one I found just quickly searching Mobo/CPU combos and picking some Ram:

    (AMD quadcore)
    AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W+
    MSI 890GXM-G65 Motherboard
    Kingston Hyper-x ram 1600 9-9-9 1.65v

    Here's another Option (intel-dualcore)
    i-2100 intel 3.1Ghz dual core CPU
    Kingston Hyper-x ram 1600 9-9-9 1.65v

    both setup leaves you with a little bit of money to upgrade graphics if you feel the need to but not enough to go a long way.
  2. What video conversion software are you using? You may benfeit from one of the phenom II x6's if its able to make use of the extra cores. You need to check this first as if its a single threaded app then the only thing that will help your transcoding speed is a faster processor, not more cores.
  3. I have several video conversion software programs. Virtual Dub is my primary. I don't do any advanced stuff so I don't need any sophisticated software - just deleting frames, changing audio tracks, and doing basic encoding. It's extremely rare that I ever run into cases where I need something Virtual Dub can't easily do, such as merging frames for a time lapse effect (I wrote my own C program for this, processing BMP files).

    Another commonly used program is the one supplied with my TV tuner. It records at 720x480 and the only way I can record that is to use MPEG-2 which isn't a problem (aside from 8000 Kbps being rather low).

    For cases where Virtual Dub doesn't work (such as a file format I can't use (like my camcorder's M2TS or my still camera's MOV)), I convert it to a format that I can use in Virtual Dub. The M2TS conversion involves 2 conversions - one for the video, the other for the audio. I'm constantly getting 2 or 3 fps for the conversion rate for the video in Free HD Converter. It's twice as fast for the audio portion. Virtual Dub processes the resulting MPG file to AVI at about 6 to 9 fps, triple the speed. Playing the original MPG video (1920x1080 at 29.97 fps) plays back at 85% true speed, with the audio repeatedly starting and stopping because my computer can't keep up. When encoded in the H.264 format, it's much worse - 20% (I'm better off without the audio in this case because it otherwise can't play).

    I use both XviD and H.264, mainly XviD. There are others as well, lossless codecs like Huffyuv, FastCodec, and Lagarith. I use these when I need to reencode a video, such as from stitching multiple video files together. This preserves quality, but hogs up a lot of disk space. I also intend on using the lossless codecs for realtime recording (screen capture in particular). Right now, I'm stuck with uncompressed since it's the only way I can record 1024x768 video in real time at 30 fps.

    Hopefully this information helps guide you to what I'm looking for. The use of H.264 is a recent addition (started the day before yesterday (July 12, 2011)). Before that, I used XviD, like I have for over 4 years. I've used Virtual Dub for a decade by now.

    Edit: Additional details to consider for the motherboard:

    One critical detail that I'm noticing while browsing Newegg is the lack of PS/2 ports. I must have 2 of these as, if I don't, I won't have a keyboard and/or mouse. I'm seeing plenty of motherboards with only 1 PS/2 port, which means I can only use either the keyboard or the mouse, but not both. The motherboard must also have onboard networking. I have my own video and audio cards so these are not necessary (they can be present - they'll just get disabled in the BIOS). I don't care for overclocking support as I never do that (don't know how either). I doubt either of my hard drive are SATA 6.0 Gb/s so this shouldn't be a problem. I don't use RAID so I don't care for it. The number of slots for RAM doesn't matter - I can't have more than 4 GB anyway so there's no point in having 32 GB support. I need at least 1 PCI-express x16 slot and 1 regular PCI slot (the latter for my audio card). At least 4 USB ports are needed (6 would be nice, but I can do with even 2 quite well (printer and one other, such as my TV tuner, my most used USB device)). I have nothing that uses USB 3.0 so having that is not necessary (I do have plenty of USB 2.0 devices, but this is very common and thus not a problem). Much of my needs are commonly provided anyway... except the PS/2 ports for some unknown reason (and Newegg has no searching capability for this). My case supports either Micro ATX or ATX, of which helps to provide more options. So far, I've found this combination to work for me: - Motherboard ($80) - RAM ($40) - CPU ($220)

    Although this totals $340 ($40 over), I have other components that I have yet to sell that I forgot I still had that could make up for it. I can also sell my current components once the new ones are replaced and are in good working order. One question though - what do the performance scores mean on passmark? My current CPU is rated as a 2416. The 2500K i5 is ranked as a 7227, slightly less than triple. Does this mean that 2 to 3 fps processing rate will become 6 to 9 fps or is it something else?
  4. Hardware transcoding is faster but the quality is worse, especially with Nvidia. You need a good CPU.,2839-9.html


    AMD Phenom II X4 955
    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB)


    The onboard video on the mobo is fine for HD playback.
  5. Well, If the GPU isn't used by the program, there is basically no point to upgrading it for just video encoding. It sounds like you don't need a GPU upgrade for gaming, and so the best upgrade I reccomend (even if you do need a new 1155 pin motherboard) is the i7 2600. If you can afford a little more, get the 2600k, but if you have to spend under 300, the 2600 is your best bet.
  6. The i7 2600K alone costs more than what I'm after, but, throw in a motherboard and RAM replacement as well and I'll easily go over $400 with that setup. From my research, the i5 2500K seems to be the best, especially given this benchmarking site:

    The i7-2600K only appears to be 35% more effective than what I'm considering (of which costs $220). It does look good and compatible with the motherboard I've otherwise chosen so I've added it to my list of possibilities. I can sell older parts I have lying around to help make up for it, then, later on, sell my current components to also make up for it. Given OuterVision's PSU calculator, my 500-watt PSU has no trouble with the upgrade - 302 is the minimum (a 66% clearance is easily enough, even though it's about 2 to 3 years old by now).

    Thanks for the guidance so far though.
  7. CPU more core will fast like : XEON or i7980X .... and this soft + GPU acceleration match :
    * Avid Media Composer 5.0+: Quadro FX1800/3800+ or Quadro2000/4000+
    * Adobe Premiere CS5+ Mercury Playback Engine: GTX470/570 or Quadro 2000/4000+
    * Adobe Premiere CS5+ Mercury Playback Engine (Mac): Quadro4000 Mac
    * Sony Vegas Pro 10: GTX470/570
    * Grass Valley Edius: GTX470/570 or Quadro 2000/4000+
    * Pinnacle Studio / Avid Studio: GTX470/570
  8. If you are willing to push your budget I can recommend the i5-2500K. It is difficult to get anything like $300 for the budget when the CPU costs around $200 online on it's own. if you live in USA (I don't) you can visit a microcentre and they can probably offer you a better deal than that.

    I also agree that if you are looking for workstation performance for cheap you are better off skipping the GPU upgrade.

    Why are you limited to 4GB of Ram? if you are still using a 32bit OS and upgrade might be in order (depending on cost as always) because some encoding programs will perform better with more RAM (most in fact) and 4GB is quite limiting for a workstation environment. you could do some research on your favorite programs (like virtual Dub) in order to see if they like having more RAM or faster RAM.

    Overclocking may be a real boon to encoding performance. If you totally aren't interested I would at least take a look first. The i5-2500K (get the non-k version if you are not OCing) can easily reach 4-4.5GHZ on a $40 cooler which is about a %25 speedup. I would suggest you look into it if tinkering is at all your Cup of tea.

    If you want to lower your Budget the AMD build posted by Mosox will do very well for your dollar and should meet all of your needs and will be about 2 or three times faster than your current config depending on the Core2duo processor
  9. I've ordered the parts very early (3:00 AM or so) on Monday morning. I've really stretched my budget though, having to temporarily downgrade the RAM. This was all worked out in another thread though (unexpectedly - I was only after knowing whether or not overclocking was worth it). - Gigabyte GA-Z68P-DS3 motherboard - the RAM I will be getting - Intel i7-2600K CPU

    I'm limited to 4 GB of RAM not because of hardware, but software - the OS in particular. I have Windows XP Pro SP3, a 32-bit OS. Besides, it's very rare that I ever go past 2 GB of RAM used anyway. Given Windows Task Manager Virtual Dub doesn't use a lot of memory, even with dealing with 3-hour-long videos. I don't do any advanced video editing so VD is fine (aside from being unable to open M2TS and MOV files, forcing me to have to convert first before I can start editing (and in the case of 1920x1080 M2TS, a 2 fps conversion rate is pathetically slow (VD does 7 fps)).

    I won't be able to make use of quick sync though for 2 reasons - I have my own dedicated graphics card and VD (my only video editing program) doesn't support it. I don't have access to cuda on 2 fronts as well - the GeForce 7600 GT doesn't support it as far as I'm aware and VD doesn't support it either (meaning that I have no video editing software that supports it). Since I see that both of these lower the quality of the video, I don't think they're worth it outside use on YouTube. I'm apparently not going to be upgrading my video card though and probably not for a while (Although I am a gamer and game designer, the games I play are on consoles and the game I'm making could run nearly maxed on a system a bit weaker than mine.).
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