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Sub $3,000 video editing system

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January 25, 2012 5:47:27 PM

I am looking into building a video editing system from scratch.

I'll be using Adobe Premiere, which ties directly to nVidia's CUDA cores for processing, so video cards will be in the nVidia GTX family. Further, video editing relies heavily on processing power.

I was looking into (and had ordered) a prebuilt system from one manufacturer (Alienware, if it matters) who sent me a spec including an Intel i7-3930 (because video is processor-heavy) and a GTX 580 video card, but they then contacted me to say they couldn't provide that video card; they want to substitute a GTX 560 Ti, with a resulting loss of a couple hundred CUDA cores. No real explanation was given, so they may have realized their PSU didn't have the oomph, or who knows - but I'm now looking elsewhere to make sure I get what I really need.

I want that kind of processing power, so a big i7/hex core is where I'd start - but I need help with pretty much everything else, including choice of motherboard to allow for decent video. I don't even know if video editing benefits from dual GPUs; if someone out there does know, please speak up - then maybe help me build something based on dual GTX 560 Ti units, which is still a lot cheaper than a 580 anyway. Unless there is a compelling reason to drop $800 on a 580 or similar.

I have a monitor (1920x1200), keyboard and mouse - but everything from the case inward will be new; I'll also use a separate external RAID array for storage, so don't need huge storage in the build (though space in the case for future additional hard drives is wanted.) Future upgrade ability would be desirable.

I don't need a fancy shmancy case, but wouldn't mind something that doesn't look like it belongs in a bank.

Finally, I'm in Canada, so parts readily available here would be best.

Thanks
a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 6:22:00 PM

Quote:
I was looking into (and had ordered) a prebuilt system from one manufacturer (Alienware, if it matters) who sent me a spec including an Intel i7-3930 (because video is processor-heavy) and a GTX 580 video card, but they then contacted me to say they couldn't provide that video card; they want to substitute a GTX 560 Ti, with a resulting loss of a couple hundred CUDA cores. No real explanation was given, so they may have realized their PSU didn't have the oomph, or who knows - but I'm now looking elsewhere to make sure I get what I really need.


I honestly haven't been a fan of Alienware since they got bought by Dell. The problem with getting a pre-built system is that manufacturers (especially Dell, HP, and so on) don't use standard form factors in their systems and proprietary and watered down hardware - this makes upgrading or OC'ing extremely difficult or near impossible in some cases.

If you want to build your own I'd suggest that over buying an Alienware in half a heartbeat.

Quote:

I want that kind of processing power, so a big i7/hex core is where I'd start - but I need help with pretty much everything else, including choice of motherboard to allow for decent video. I don't even know if video editing benefits from dual GPUs; if someone out there does know, please speak up - then maybe help me build something based on dual GTX 560 Ti units, which is still a lot cheaper than a 580 anyway. Unless there is a compelling reason to drop $800 on a 580 or similar.


You'll get far better results from a professional card like the one listed below than if you went with any consumer "gaming" hardware - the professional cards see better details and have faster refresh redraws than the gaming cards do.

Maybe try something like this:

Case: Corsair Carbide 500R - $139.99
PSU: Corsair AX-850 - $199.99
Motherboard: Intel Box DXX79SI - $279.99
CPU: 3.30 GHz Intel Core i7-3930K - $599.99
Cooler: Corsair H100 - $119.99
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $331.99
SSD: 128GB Crucial M4 - $199.99
HD: Seagate Barracuda XT 1TB - $149.99
Optical: Lite On Bulk DVD Burner - $20.99
Video Card: ATI Fire Pro V7800 - $629.9
OS: Windows 7 Pro - $139.99

Total: $2,811.91
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Best solution

a c 259 U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 7:18:26 PM

Disclaimer: I am no expert on video editing.

My understanding is that adobe premier can use all of the cuda cores from supported nvidia cards. It can only use a single gpu, so that leaves sli out of the equation.
No doubt that a GTX580 is the best you can do today, but supposedly, once you get to 96 cuda cores, the performance benefit is minimal.
Here is a link to the specs and supported cuda cards:
http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/tech-specs.html
I think I might go with a more modest card than the GTX580 such as this EVGA GTX570:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Also, in 1H2012, Nvidia kepler 28nm cards will arrive. It is simple to replace a GTX570 if that should seem to make a big difference.

The 3930K would seem to be the best cpu available to you today. The "K" will allow you to overclock those 6 cores to a reasonably high level if done conservatively.
It is not clear to me that the extra cache and one more stock multiplier is worth a doubling of the price.

Most oem coolers for 2011 sockets will do the job. Noctua makes one of the best,and quietest. The NH-D14 SE2011 will cool just as well as the fussier all in one water coolers when put in a decent case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your need for psu wattage is primarily determined by the graphics card.
Here is what EVGA recommends for their graphics cards:

GTX560Ti needs 500w with 30a on the 12v rails plus two 6-pin PCI-E power leads.

GTX570 needs 550w with 38a on the 12v rails plus two 6-pin PCI-E power leads.

GTX580 needs 600w with 42a on the 12v rails plus one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-E power lead.

It is not wrong to overprovision the psu a bit; it will operate a bit more efficiently in the middle third of it's range.
Buy a quality unit.
My short list of quality psu's would include Seasonic, PC P&C, Antec, Corsair, and XFX.
The efficiency rating is not a big deal to most, but a gold rated psu will tend to be quieter. I have a Seasonic X750 in my case, and the fan never turns on.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any X79 motherboard should do the job. If you will be using only one gpu, you will have the option to use a smaller M-ATX motherboard. There is little need for the multi pcie motherboards that extreme triple sli gamers will pay for. The ASRock X79 EXTREME4-M is modestly priced:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MSI also makes one, if you prefer that brand.

Since adobe premiere is a 64 bit enabled app, I would imagine that it could use all the ram you can supply to improve performance and reduce i/o. Fortunately, ram is cheap today. The new intel cpu's have an excellent ram controller, capable of keeping the cpu fed with data from any speed ram. For >16gb, you will want to use windows 7 pro pr ultimate, not home premium. I would look at a 32gb kit of 8 x 4gb such as this G.skil kit:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I really think a high end pc should have a SSD of sufficient size. 80gb will be enough to hold the os and a number of apps. If your temporary work space can be acommodated by the space on a SSD, then that is, by far, the best performing option. Expect to pay $1.50 per gb. I would look first to Intel, samsung, or crucial, in that order for reliability. Do not be influenced by various benchmarks which are synthetic and bear little in common withwhat we really do. Performance among all current ssd's with real apps are virtually identical.

Any sata dvd burner will do the job. I think Samsung is a bit quieter, bur asus is ok too.

For bulk storage, it might pay to go slow on hard drives, because of the current crazy prices. I think the WD 1tb drives might be the best in general.
You might want to be guided by this report on hard drive(and other component) return rates:
http://www.behardware.com/articles/810-6/components-ret...

Cases are a personal thing. If you see one you lust after, get it. You will be looking at it for a long time.

I use a Silverstone TJ-08E M-atx case. It is simple, small, well cooled and relatively quiet. I added foam padding to the sides to make it quieter yet.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For a full atx sized motherboard, look at the Antec SOLO II. It is very quiet, and simple.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is a review:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/antec-solo2
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 7:26:38 PM

Quote:

Any X79 motherboard should do the job. If you will be using only one gpu, you will have the option to use a smaller M-ATX motherboard. There is little need for the multi pcie motherboards that extreme triple sli gamers will pay for. The ASRock X79 EXTREME4-M is modestly priced:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813157283
MSI also makes one, if you prefer that brand.


I recommended the Intel board because they're rock solid and stable, and have unreal longevity (my D975XBX is still going strong after six years that I've owned it). I don't normally recommend Intel boards because some don't really have that much of a proven track record but on a workstation you don't want any room for error, and that's where these boards are really strong.

Quote:

My understanding is that adobe premier can use all of the cuda cores from supported nvidia cards. It can only use a single gpu, so that leaves sli out of the equation.
No doubt that a GTX580 is the best you can do today, but supposedly, once you get to 96 cuda cores, the performance benefit is minimal.
Here is a link to the specs and supported cuda cards:
http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/tech-specs.html
I think I might go with a more modest card than the GTX580 such as this EVGA GTX570:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814130595
Also, in 1H2012, Nvidia kepler 28nm cards will arrive. It is simple to replace a GTX570 if that should seem to make a big difference.


Again I'll say that if gaming isn't the high priority here (and I don't think it is) it would be far better to go with a Fire Pro or Quaddro than any consumer-level gaming card and it will give you far better results every time.

Quote:

Most oem coolers for 2011 sockets will do the job. Noctua makes one of the best,and quietest. The NH-D14 SE2011 will cool just as well as the fussier all in one water coolers when put in a decent case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6835608024


I'll really hesitate to recommend gigantic coolers like that as I had one and it actually made my system HOTTER than anything else I've ever used and it got to the point where I chucked it for a much smaller fan and it's cooled my PC down considerably. If you don't want to run an H100 there's plenty of other options out there that will get the job done.
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January 25, 2012 8:38:51 PM

geofelt said:
My understanding is that adobe premier can use all of the cuda cores from supported nvidia cards. It can only use a single gpu, so that leaves sli out of the equation.
No doubt that a GTX580 is the best you can do today, but supposedly, once you get to 96 cuda cores, the performance benefit is minimal.
Here is a link to the specs and supported cuda cards:
http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/tech-specs.html
I think I might go with a more modest card than the GTX580 such as this EVGA GTX570:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Also, in 1H2012, Nvidia kepler 28nm cards will arrive. It is simple to replace a GTX570 if that should seem to make a big difference.



Thanks for this; can you tell me where you saw that really only the first 96 CUDA cores are used efficiently?
It would certainly simplify things for me if I could stop counting cores - that would immediately leave me looking at Quadro cards instead, I think, as I assume that those cards are, other than the CUDA-count, more powerful/useful for what I'm doing. Any input on that?

Also, thanks for the pointer to the Adobe details re: supported cards: the GTX 560 offered by Alienware/Dell isn't even on the list. It might be upcoming - but what a disaster if not.
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January 25, 2012 8:57:18 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:

Again I'll say that if gaming isn't the high priority here (and I don't think it is) it would be far better to go with a Fire Pro or Quaddro than any consumer-level gaming card and it will give you far better results every time.
Quote:


Thanks for the input re: motherboards - I'm looking for solidity/longevity as much as performance here. Part of the issue right now is the eSATA connectivity - most external RAID arrays these days are still on that standard/USB 3.0 still isn't easily available.

Given that (as you thought) this machine will not be for gaming, but just for video editing, can you please explain why the Quadro would be better? What is the real-world difference between the GTXs and the Quadros? I don't know how the processing required for gaming differs from the processing required for video editing. And nVidia's site is full of a combination of marketing bumph and technical jargon that makes it difficult to figure out where the real value is for my purposes. I can look at their tables and see where the memory and memory bandwidth etc. differ - but that still doesn't tell me what will transcode and/or process video faster.

I do see how the pricing lines up - a Quadro 4000 lines up with a GTX 480, pricewise, so if for the same money I get something significantly better for my purposes, then that's a no-brainer. Or if, in fact, for video editing what I need is really all in the main processor, with the GPU "good enough" once I've got the 96 CUDA cores as mentioned earlier by geofelt, then I can save $400 right off the bat with a Quadro 2000. My version of Premiere apparently doesn't support much lower than that, in terms of cards currently available.

Note that my understanding is that Adobe really gets its kick out of those CUDA shader cores - so ATI cards don't really work for this job.
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 9:24:05 PM

Quote:
Thanks for the input re: motherboards - I'm looking for solidity/longevity as much as performance here. Part of the issue right now is the eSATA connectivity - most external RAID arrays these days are still on that standard/USB 3.0 still isn't easily available.


I usually don't recommend Intel boards but in your case they make sense. They are very solid and stable if you don't do anything to them (overclocking, for instance) and if you install them correctly they will last a long time. Like I said my D975XBX board is still running strong after nearly 6 years of owning it.

Quote:
Given that (as you thought) this machine will not be for gaming, but just for video editing, can you please explain why the Quadro would be better? What is the real-world difference between the GTXs and the Quadros? I don't know how the processing required for gaming differs from the processing required for video editing. And nVidia's site is full of a combination of marketing bumph and technical jargon that makes it difficult to figure out where the real value is for my purposes. I can look at their tables and see where the memory and memory bandwidth etc. differ - but that still doesn't tell me what will transcode and/or process video faster.


Simply put - the Quaddro is a professional card, it will give you the professional results you want. Is it worth the high premium? That all depends on what you get out of it.

This post explains it far better than I can: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/311119-33-versus-quad...

Quote:
Note that my understanding is that Adobe really gets its kick out of those CUDA shader cores - so ATI cards don't really work for this job.


I use a lot of Adobe programs (Photoshop, Acrobat, etc) and even with external and third party plug-ins I've never seen how it favors one GPU over another, and I alternate frequently between my Radeon 5800 (for multiple displays) and my GTX 470 (single display) and I've never seen a performance increase or decrease.
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January 25, 2012 9:45:24 PM

g-unit1111 said:

Simply put - the Quaddro is a professional card, it will give you the professional results you want. Is it worth the high premium? That all depends on what you get out of it.

This post explains it far better than I can: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/311119-33-versus-quad...

Quote:
Note that my understanding is that Adobe really gets its kick out of those CUDA shader cores - so ATI cards don't really work for this job.


I use a lot of Adobe programs (Photoshop, Acrobat, etc) and even with external and third party plug-ins I've never seen how it favors one GPU over another, and I alternate frequently between my Radeon 5800 (for multiple displays) and my GTX 470 (single display) and I've never seen a performance increase or decrease.


Thanks for the pointer to the explanation of Quadro vs. GTX; I think that covers it.

Re: nVidia vs. Radeon - apparently the current version of Adobe Premiere (as opposed to Photoshop/Acrobat) has as a fundamental element a processing tool that ties directly into those CUDA shader cores; the hardcore video editing sites all indicate that nVidia makes Premiere fly, while Radeon can't. Don't know, and probably can't hope to understand, the technical details.

Thanks for all your input.
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 9:50:39 PM

cppen said:
Thanks for the pointer to the explanation of Quadro vs. GTX; I think that covers it.

Re: nVidia vs. Radeon - apparently the current version of Adobe Premiere (as opposed to Photoshop/Acrobat) has as a fundamental element a processing tool that ties directly into those CUDA shader cores; the hardcore video editing sites all indicate that nVidia makes Premiere fly, while Radeon can't. Don't know, and probably can't hope to understand, the technical details.

Thanks for all your input.


No problem - on those types of sites you will run into fanboys who prefer one video card over the other (also here :lol:  ), but the thing is they can use all kinds of technical jargon to prove their points and that's really not how win debates. I use a wide variety of systems on my network and a wide variety of video cards - mostly ATI (a few Quaddros, GTXs, and the occasional Radeon 5800 and 6800) and even with CS4 and CS5 using all the applications involved I've never seen any sort of difference using one brand over the other. It's pretty much pick your poison.
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January 25, 2012 9:56:31 PM

Thanks; I think I'm close to ready to go shopping. Any input on soundcards? No one's had anything to say about sound so far....
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January 25, 2012 10:22:33 PM

Just to chip in, unless you're running a nice surround sound system or are a real audiophile, the soundcard built into the motherboard will be more than sufficient; most onboard sound systems are quite nice.

The trick with CUDA is that most code written to run on the GPU(e.g. whatever this processing tool you've mentioned is) has to be written in Assembly language; CUDA allows for higher-level languages (C/C++, for example) to run on the GPU. My bet is that some feature(s) of Adobe Premiere were written in a high-level language and meant to run on the CUDA cores of a GPU; in an ATI card, since they can't read high-level languages, those functions would run on the CPU instead of the GPU, and thus run slower. (I hope that makes sense :/  ) Just ask yourself if you'll be using that processing tool alot; if you will be, you'll need an NVidia card; otherwise, just go for whatever is best for the price.
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a b U Graphics card
January 25, 2012 11:02:02 PM

PurpleHayes said:
Just to chip in, unless you're running a nice surround sound system or are a real audiophile, the soundcard built into the motherboard will be more than sufficient; most onboard sound systems are quite nice.

The trick with CUDA is that most code written to run on the GPU(e.g. whatever this processing tool you've mentioned is) has to be written in Assembly language; CUDA allows for higher-level languages (C/C++, for example) to run on the GPU. My bet is that some feature(s) of Adobe Premiere were written in a high-level language and meant to run on the CUDA cores of a GPU; in an ATI card, since they can't read high-level languages, those functions would run on the CPU instead of the GPU, and thus run slower. (I hope that makes sense :/  ) Just ask yourself if you'll be using that processing tool alot; if you will be, you'll need an NVidia card; otherwise, just go for whatever is best for the price.


I completely agree about sound cards - even though I listen to a ton of music and use my computer mostly to listen to and manage my rather sizable media collection that I've accumulated over the last several years, the onboard audio has worked fine.

I see what you're saying about CUDA and that does make sense but I guess I don't use anything like that enough to really know what the differences are.
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February 2, 2012 7:27:27 PM

Best answer selected by cppen.
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