Discrete GPU, or integrated video, for HD editing?

All -

I'm trying to decide if I need a GPU or not for the machine I just built. My intention is to get into consumer-level video editing. I plan to trial these programs - Adobe Premiere Elements, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, Cyberlink PowerDirector. Note none of these are Pro versions and from what I can tell none make extensive use of GPU's.

A key here is I have no intention of playing games. Just HD video editing, AVCHD from my Canon camcorder mostly, and internet/email.

What I can't tell - or am getting very mixed answers on - is if software at this level uses a GPU AT ALL. I'm running an i5 quad-core with 8 GB RAM on a Z68 MB. Would I benefit at all with a GPU, or should I just stick with my i5 integrated graphics? For that matter, is an i7 with no GPU better for me than an i5 with any GPU?

I'd be most concerned about performance during editing - no lag while trimming clips, playing/previewing, adding effects, etc. I'd also like to avoid long render times, though I assume you all can't help me much with that until I tell you what file type I'll be writing to, and I don't know enough about it yet other than to say some HD type for viewing on PC/TV and possible burning to DVD.

I've heard others talk about the GPU benefits with Pro level software but I can't get a straight answer on consumer level software. Any advice you all can give to help clear that up would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. Best answer
    you're pretty much right about most pro level software taking more advantage of pro GPU's.. and consumer level software utilizing mostly the CPU only...

    with no game-playing.. and using apps like Adobe Premiere Elements, Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Cyberlink PowerDirector, etc... i'd recommend not investing in a discrete GPU
  2. Hi,
    I have not used premier elements nor sony vegas movie but I use Vegas pro 11, Media Composer 6 and Premier Pro CS5 to edit raw HD video and both Vegas and Premier use the "CUDA" tool kit that you can download from Nvidia that is somewhat like a plug-in along with performing equal a quadro video card on playback and encoding times but that is not the case fo Media Composer 6 but I have not ran into a issues in Media Composer 6 while running a GTX 570. If you find that either vegas movie or premier elements will use the CUDA from Nvidia (Which I beleive I read on that vegas movie will for the Sony AVC encoder if selected) the I would get a current gforce video card.
    Now cyberlink might have the Intel Quick Sync abilty that use the the intel gpu on the Sandy Bridge I7 and I5 cpu and if you should see some good transcoding time for at least the H264 codec.

  3. use quicksync, google which programs make use of it
  4. What about the Lucid Virtu functionality on my Z68? Sounds like that allows simultaneous benefit from a GPU and the CPU/QuickSync?

    It was suggested elsewhere that I could get by with a mid-low end graphics card so it would handle the actual display/playback portion of my editing sessions and free up the CPU somewhat. Any truth to that?
  5. Hi,
    I would get a GPU that uses Nvidia "CUDA" which I believe is almost all the Nvidia cards, if it was me I would go with a 500 series GTX if you have the money if not I would then look at the GTX 460 or even a GT card. I believe Adobe has a spec of at least 896 MB of GPU memory for there Mercury Play Back Engine but that is for Premier Pro not Elements. I am not sure Elements uses CUDA, But if you are editing AVCHD clips I would be looking at a program that would give you some GPU help in the encoding times. I think sony vegas claimes 12-20% improvements with CUDA. for encoding times. But your most improvement in encoding times will be from the I7 over the I5 as you have twice the threads.
    I hope venders get on board with the Quick Sync from Intel as the demo I saw in Edius 6 was about a 50-60% improvement of time( but only for H264 at that time) and could not see a quality loss but this was a a show Grass Valley was showing off there new Edius 6 about a year ago.
    I know Main Concept makes a codec package for Quick Sync but it is not cheep.

    Jeff King
  6. quicksync is faster and u already have it. yeah, you can use it with virtu.
  7. Best answer selected by kev921hs.
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