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Video editing system under £350 - laptop or desktop, Intel or AMD?

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January 28, 2012 8:03:39 PM

Hello all,

I am helping my girlfriend select a new system to replace her ageing laptop. She creates and edits videos for YouTube, so decent video encoding performance is a must. That being said, she's not all that hardcore into it - Cyberlink Powerdirector and 5-10 min 720p videos atm, but this might change in the future. Besides that, it'll only be used for general internet/productivity, and of course, playing Sims 3 :) 

Approximate Purchase Date: mid-February 2012

Budget Range: £300-350

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Cyberlink Powerdirector, Sims 3, watching movies, surfing the internet.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: scan.co.uk if desktop (had good experience with them, but open to other suggestions)

Country: UK

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

After a glance at Scan.co.uk, I came up with something like this:

This brings the total to £437 inc. carriage, so I'd need to trim it down to fit in the £350 budget - and it still needs a keyboard and mouse. I could replace the Antec with a generic PSU and the mobo with a cheap H61 one with only 2 RAM slots, but it still won't quite do it.

I originally wanted to go Intel because of Quick Sync for video encodes, plus the integrated graphics can handle Sims 3 without a problem, I believe. In regards to lowering the price, perhaps it would be worth going an AMD instead?


At the other end of the spectrum, my girlfriend found a Core i3 laptop that was £350 during January sales: http://www.comet.co.uk/p/Laptops/buy-ASUS-X54H-SX270V-L... It is out of stock and higher in price now, but a comparable deal will probably pop up somewhere by mid-February. I am apprehensive about laptops - as the years go by, performance seems to degrade and bugs pop up much more than with desktops. Moreover, I know laptop CPUs usually have lower performance off the bat compared to their desktop counterparts, though people say this is no longer the case with Sandy Bridge.

So please, pitch in. What would you recommend? Cute-n-portable i3 laptop? Desktop with Intel or AMD?

P.S. The desktop doesn't have to be homebuilt - if you know of a place that sells decent quality pre-built ones that fit the bill, don't leave it out.
January 28, 2012 8:20:10 PM

For what you are doing, the laptop would be fine. If the screen is constraining, you can always hook up an external monitor, and a keyboard and mouse for that matter.
January 28, 2012 8:55:24 PM

If you want to use Power Director then that machine will not cope I am afraid. I tried it out recently and it pushed my i7 2600 K with 16 GB RAM to the limit. For the first time my Rig felt like minimum specification. You need fast drives as well. When i used my WD Greens Power Director lagged badly. I had to switch the HD files I was working on to my RAID 0 Velicoraptor Scratch Drives. My CPU was hitting 98% across all 8 Cores (Hyperthreading) and it cached up my 16 GB of RAM in about 2 minutes flat.
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January 28, 2012 8:56:23 PM

Thanks for your reply, tlmck. It's good to know the laptop will do fine. The screen is not so big of a deal. If anything, it will be the hard drive and the CPU that will be restraining IMO. And these are the things that aren't easily upgraded with a laptop.
January 28, 2012 9:02:13 PM

A laptop wont cut it I assure you. You need screen real estate to Video Edit and a laptops HDD would be so slow Power Director would probably fall over in shock. Keep in mind that the latest Video Editing programs are coming out in 64 bit and as they can use big RAM configurations they are pushing systems very hard. A dual core with 4 GB RAM is just way underpowered.
January 28, 2012 9:09:56 PM

Wamphryi said:
If you want to use Power Director then that machine will not cope I am afraid. I tried it out recently and it pushed my i7 2600 K with 16 GB RAM to the limit. For the first time my Rig felt like minimum specification. You need fast drives as well. When i used my WD Greens Power Director lagged badly. I had to switch the HD files I was working on to my RAID 0 Velicoraptor Scratch Drives. My CPU was hitting 98% across all 8 Cores (Hyperthreading) and it cached up my 16 GB of RAM in about 2 minutes flat.


Other than 3D editing, I cannot think of anything that Cyberlink Powerdirector could do that would bring a Core i7 to its knees.

For 3D editing, you really need a dual processor Xeon type system with 32gb ram and a very pricey workstation type graphics card. And that is the minimum.

BTW, for simple editing and file conversion type stuff, I recommend something called Avidemux. Available for Windows and other platforms, and insanely fast. http://avidemux.berlios.de/
January 28, 2012 9:29:43 PM

Wamphryi said:
A laptop wont cut it I assure you. You need screen real estate to Video Edit and a laptops HDD would be so slow Power Director would probably fall over in shock.

Right now, she is running PowerDirector OK on her Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, so I don't think she'll run into the issues you describe. The main problems are the lag encountered while inserting and manipulating video clips, buffering during previews, and frequent crashes.

tlmck said:
BTW, for simple editing and file conversion type stuff, I recommend something called Avidemux. Available for Windows and other platforms, and insanely fast. http://avidemux.berlios.de/

I'll definitely get her to give that one a try, thanks!

I appreciate all the replies, but we're way off-topic now :??: 
Can anyone comment on the Intel vs. AMD question, and how I could bring the build down below £350?
January 29, 2012 1:22:52 AM

tlmck said:
Other than 3D editing, I cannot think of anything that Cyberlink Powerdirector could do that would bring a Core i7 to its knees.

For 3D editing, you really need a dual processor Xeon type system with 32gb ram and a very pricey workstation type graphics card. And that is the minimum.

BTW, for simple editing and file conversion type stuff, I recommend something called Avidemux. Available for Windows and other platforms, and insanely fast. http://avidemux.berlios.de/



I'm talking about the latest 64 bit version. I also tried out the latest Adobe Premier Elements and that used 10 GB RAM at one stage and that was actual memory not caching. Both pushed my Rig to its limits. I had Performance Monitor up on a second screen and saw what resources were being used.
January 29, 2012 5:44:14 AM

paganompu said:
Right now, she is running PowerDirector OK on her Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, so I don't think she'll run into the issues you describe. The main problems are the lag encountered while inserting and manipulating video clips, buffering during previews, and frequent crashes.


I'll definitely get her to give that one a try, thanks!

I appreciate all the replies, but we're way off-topic now :??: 
Can anyone comment on the Intel vs. AMD question, and how I could bring the build down below £350?



As much as I suspected. She is going for more "home" type of video editing and Wamphryi is heading more towards the professional level.

At any rate, getting top level performance from such a low budget is going to be next to impossible. The jump to Core i3 and 4gb will effectively double your current performance. Whether that is enough all depends on what type of editing you are doing, or more specifically the file sizes you re working with. The Core i3 is a dual core processor with multithreading so it acts pretty much like a quad core.

As to the AMD question, you could certainly get an AMD with more cores for around the same price. What I would suggest is reviewing this chart and see how AMD stacks up against Intel in a certain price range. http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

I would also seriously consider stretching the budget if possible to get 8gb(2x4gb) DDR3 1333 ram. That would help as well. This would also require 64 bit Windows 7.

Lastly, I would offer up more programs to try. These are free trials only, but may give you ideas for other options. Note the links to the free trials. http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegassoftware

Among the choices is Sony Vegas Pro and here is an example of what it can do. http://www.videobash.com/video_show/split-screen-bohemi...
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