Video Editing homebuild

This will be my first home build.

I am a professional video/film editor and visual effects artist who is looking to build a top of the line desktop. I've always been a Mac person, but I realize I can save a bundle by building a PC and also have the ability to easily upgrade it a few years down the line.

Because I am new to all this, I went to the apple website and put together my "dream" Mac Pro setup. It was $8500. I then found all of the components on Newegg (as if to build a similar computer myself). A custom built setup with the exact same specs would cost $4500. I would love to save that extra 4000!

I posted the setup below and would love some advice from you guys. Are any of these components not practical? Are there better deals out there for faster components at lower costs??

Processor: Two Intel Xeon X5670 Westmere 2.93GHz 12MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 95W Six-Core Server Processor
$1,442 Each

RAM: 24GB: Six PNY 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Registered DDR3 1333 Server Memory Model MD4096SD3-1333-ECC
$42 each

Video Cards: Two SAPPHIRE 100283-3L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX
$110 each

HDD: 1TB Seagate Baracuda

case, optical drives, displays I can figure out down the road. Would love a recommendation on a motherboard though.

Understand that I will be running very complex projects in After Effects and Nuke so I'm looking for the highest performance / best deal for under $5000. Most of the builds I've seen on here are primarily for gaming, so I thought I'd ask for help from a HD video perspective.

Thank you guys, you're all the best!
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  1. bump
  2. I looked at the server MBs on Newegg, and they all had PCI-Express x8 slots, but no information about which PCI revision. So, I'm a little confused as to whether they support video cards at the PCI-Express 2.0 specification. So, looking at dual 1366 mb's It doesn't look like you could populate it with a pair of high end graphics cards.
  3. What editing software are you using?

    Crossfire GPUs are useless for editing,
  4. I use Avid and After Effects, with other programs like Nuke occasionally. Its for very intense workflow, stuff that my current Macbook pro just can't handle anymore. Cutting extreme HD footage (RED, 2k, 4k possibly), and hardcore compositing in After Effects.

    Good to know that I shouldn't go for the two processors... I just don't really know where to go from there.

    Thanks y'all
  5. Also been reading a lot about the Intel i7. Is that a good option to consider?
  6. The Xeon you tagged *is* an i7.

    By 'Avid' do you mean Media Composer? Avid recommends a dual quad-core or dual six-core for editing RED footage and does not reccomend ATI GPUs under Windows.

    Yes you need decent GPU support... no ATI isn't the right answer. You also need good OpenGL drivers and good CUDA/OpenCL/DirectCompute support. Avid's reccomended setup is at least a GTX 560. After Effects and Nuke also both use OpenGL.

    All three of your primary applications are primarily CPU-based so you need as much CPU power as you can afford. Since Avid can't be renderfarmed, you need them all in one machine. (Otherwise I'd say to use the cheaper four-core Xeons and built a render node.) So Dual CPUs (processors) is not a bad idea... just that dual GPUs (graphics cards) isn't necessary.

    (By the by if you're wondering my 'creds' I'm the THG writer that wrote the renderfarm article and created most of the workstation tests... and reviewed both the HP and Boxx workstations.)

    You don't *need* the ECC RAM. It just costs extra.

    All of the motherboards with graphics card slots on them are extended ATX. You're going to ned to make sure that your case can take it.

    You're going to need more storage and fast storage. That 1 TB hard drive will be okay for a boot and software drive but you're going to need more fast storage for storing footage. In addition to the 1 TB drive I recommend at least a 2x1 TB array.

    This motherboard will do:


    (If you're going to spend $1442 for the Xeon spend the extra dollar to get the 3.06 Ghz version)

    (2 o f em)

    Graphics card:
    (Avid Recommended GTX 560 series)



    Hard drives:


    So, so far the running total is $3785. Add a case, PSU, SATA optical drive, OS....

    Also this motherboard has no E-SATA or firewire ports, something to keep in mind.

    Anything else just holler at me.
  7. Thank you Draven!

    Am I correct in understanding that OpenGL (which both Avid and AE utilize) relies on the power of the processor(s) and NOT the video card? Is this why you recommend the dual processors with only one vid card?

    Also, I have to mention that I am considering a Hackintosh construction. Although I prefer Avid Media Composer, the fast-paced commercial world requires I have Final Cut Pro (7, not X of course). I know that there are other forums that focus solely on Hackintosh but I prefer to take your guys' advice on building a crazy awesome PC, and then double check that the parts are compatible with a Hackintosh build.
    According to tonymacx86, the mobo that you suggested ( isn't supported for Hackintosh because of the DSDT or something. Also the fact that there are no ESATA or firewire ports are a major dealbreaker as I plan on having an external Raid 4 array connected and need to connect it somehow.

    So if my original build is useless, how should I proceed? (With Hackintosh in mind...)
    Dual 6-core 3.06GHz processors
    One GTX 560 Video card
    6x4GB memory
    and 1tb system drive (possibly 500gb SSD depending on how much $$ I have left over)

    Are the two processors supported in a hackintosh build? and what motherboard options does that leave?
  8. Avid and AE use OpenGL for preview purposes, and for displaying 2d and 3d transforms (including things like mattes, in MC) not for final rendering. Final rendering is primarily CPU-based. Most of their media decoding is CPU based (and RED footage means LOTS of media decoding...) so you're going to need lots of CPU power.

    (also, as a hint, make sure the "Render multiple frame concurrently" option is checked in AE for best use of your CPUs.)

    Yes you can use multiple processors on a hackintosh. You'd have to do further research on which graphics cards and motherboards work, tho.

    If you're operating under Windows, get an NVidia card, as NVidia's OpenGL drivers are much better under windows.
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