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Benchmark Results: Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, And Photoshop

Boxx Technologies 3DBOXX 4860 Workstation
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We have three tests that use Premiere: two custom tests that were originally written for CS4 and are shown here in both CS4 and CS5, and the CS5-only Paladin test supplied by Adobe.

Paladin Test

The “Paladin” test is an effects-heavy (but comparatively I/O-light) metric that primarily stresses the graphics card's ability to leverage the Mercury Playback Engine in CS5.  We will continue to use this to benchmark CUDA performance on workstations moving forward.

Tom’s Premiere Test

This custom workload is a montage edit of various footage shot around Los Angeles on a Panasonic HVX200 camcorder. The source footage is 1280x720 at 60 FPS, compressed using DVCProHD at 100 Mb/s. There are various transitions, color correction, and cuts between multiple clips (which should stress the drive, due to random access becoming a factor.)

Even though this system’s render time is dramatically faster when using software, the CUDA-enabled render time of 26.6 seconds shows how much additional performance this can offer.

Adobe Premiere/ Adobe Media Encoder Export Test

This test takes the same edit as above and encodes it to H.264 for Blu-ray. The CS5 software time shows a dramatic improvement over CS4, and using the CUDA acceleration inherent to the Mercury Playback Engine trims even more time (though not as dramatically as it does in the editing test above.)

Adobe After Effects Motion Graphics Test

This is a standard definition sequence with a large 2D image being panned over in the background, while three video sequences are played in the foreground. The video sequences are 720p HD clips in DVCProHD format.

The first thing to notice is that the 3DBOXX 4860 took longer in the CS4 conventional render than the z400. This is possibly due to issues discussed by Chris Angelini in his Westmere review. The multiframe render, where each processor core is given its own frame to render in its own memory space, makes a much more efficient use of the processor cores, yielding a result much more consistent with the difference in processor speed.

After Effects CS5 offers a much faster render with very little visual difference between the two engines. The single-frame render is literally a tenth the time of the same render in CS4, and the multiframe render is about a fifth of the CS4 time. This is a drastic increase in performance that should be in and of itself enough reason for any After Effects user to upgrade to CS5.

Adobe Photoshop

The standard Tom’s Hardware Photoshop test uses a scripted action to run several filters on a large image.

The test shows similar results in both CS4 and CS5. Since it doesn’t test interactivity or large memory space, many of the changes between CS4 and CS5 are not seen.

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  • 1 Hide
    one-shot , March 3, 2011 5:20 AM
    Almost $8000 USD and not even a dual CPU workstation? Hmmm....
  • 1 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , March 3, 2011 6:22 AM
    what a way to waste $8000
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , March 3, 2011 7:23 AM
    what a cheap cpu cooler they have....really...for 8k they could have installed a better cooling system
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , March 3, 2011 7:32 AM
    major ripoff, the system is worth at most 30% of that price
  • 0 Hide
    sudeshc , March 3, 2011 10:44 AM
    Agreed waste of $$ ....
  • 0 Hide
    vaughn2k , March 3, 2011 11:34 AM
    ridiculous!
  • 2 Hide
    utengineer , March 3, 2011 11:42 AM
    mayankleoboy1though if i were to take each component separately and build our own system, it would be cheaper.

    You forget, the cost of a commercial PC includes service, support, and licensed certifications.
  • 0 Hide
    nforce4max , March 3, 2011 12:08 PM
    I wouldn't purchase this workstation. First you can build a better base machine for the fraction of the cost. Second you can purchase on your own the software you require or pirate. Third there is a flaw, yes there is always the temptation of mounting the hard drives in that manor but isn't recommended due to the uneven wear on the spindle that can lead to early failure.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 3, 2011 12:10 PM
    For this price, I'd go with a workstation from a major player (ex. HP or similar). You could easily build a dual socket workstation with similar (or better) overall performance; remember that many apps that require this level of hardware are optimized for Xeon instruction sets and 8+ threads. Additionally, you're software vendors would actually support their products on a system running within spec. Simply put, this is a toy not an enterprise class product
  • 0 Hide
    wiyosaya , March 3, 2011 12:17 PM
    utengineerYou forget, the cost of a commercial PC includes service, support, and licensed certifications.

    Licensed certifications may be confidence inspiring to some, however, I think they are a waste of money. It is just a different form of branding that can be marketed at what is usually an expensive premium. Think THX certification. It was expensive in consumer audio and video, however, in my opinion, it has had it's 15-minutes of fame.
  • 1 Hide
    Onus , March 3, 2011 12:32 PM
    I found the conclusions about value entirely reasonable. You guys being critical aren't the market for this box, or the services behind it. Someone whose job isn't messing around with workstation hardware and getting specific software configured and working on it may be very happy to pay someone to do those things.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , March 3, 2011 12:43 PM
    any decent modder can build this at less then half the cost and tweak it further. Not any value to this but for business people who don't know the difference between socket 1366 and widget 1998
  • -1 Hide
    malnute , March 3, 2011 1:09 PM
    All you complaining about prices talk your broke a## home, its a great build and did you see they make their own chasis how cool is that.
  • 2 Hide
    TeraMedia , March 3, 2011 1:39 PM
    Quote:
    I found the conclusions about value entirely reasonable. You guys being critical aren't the market for this box, or the services behind it. Someone whose job isn't messing around with workstation hardware and getting specific software configured and working on it may be very happy to pay someone to do those things.


    I agree with this, and it also points out something else. For all of us who build custom systems for ourselves and our friends / family, this type of product provides a data point for the value of that work. your time is worth money - don't ever forget that. So if you built a custom workstation w/ comparable parts and OCed to 4.2 GHz and supported it for 3 years, then you are providing roughly $4k of value to the recipient.
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , March 3, 2011 2:14 PM
    I think overclocking is almost essential in a workstation. Performance is everything when you have expensive employees waiting on the computer. We run AutoCAD and Revit in my little company, and our manager enforces a very tight budget on us. I built our last 3 CAD workstations myself. I used i5-750 processors, 8GB ram, WD velociraptor drives, FireGL video cards, Antec cases, Win7-64bit, and a good Xigmatek CPU cooler. I also added 2 more fans to the 2 that the Antec cases already had. When I built these over a year ago I wasn't the best overclocker but they would run at 3.9 and pass my stress tests. We run them 24/7 and I set them at 3.5GHz for that. We don't have any temperature problems, the CPU's run very cool. For our software the video card isn't that important, the lowest FireGL will run AutoCAD just as fast as the most expensive one. The reason to even buy the FireGL is to get better drivers that will work with the 64bit OS. I've tried with other brands of cards and they weren't reliable. The only problems we have had with any of these machines has been with the cheaper video card when the FireGL that we wanted to buy was not available. I believe we spent about $1200 each on these machines, I spent about 2 hours each at home building and testing them.

    At the time that I built these, the i5-750 system offered a $300 savings over an i7-920 system. Today it might be a different story, and with the i7-SB we might run them at 4.0GHz.
  • 0 Hide
    sunflier , March 3, 2011 2:36 PM
    malnute...its a great build and did you see they make their own chasis how cool is that.


    Thanks for pointing that out. The case looks like crap.
    For $8000.00 case looks cheap and dull.
  • 1 Hide
    d_kuhn , March 3, 2011 2:38 PM
    I've got an older Boxx machine... their systems are top shelf. Sure they're expensive (I paid 10k for mine) but they're not intended for consumer use but for high end business workstation use.

    I'd buy one again, quality, fit and finish, component selection... all as good as you can get.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 3, 2011 2:39 PM
    interesting article, even more interesting is i have worked extensively with at least 3 of the named blue chip companies mentioned in the intro and i have yet to come across one of these beast, and i have worked in departments which are given the high performance gear. i would be interested in how the companies planned to utilize such raw power

    in reality a 100% boost in performance does not equate to a 100% boost in productivity, you are still limited by the user and his work flow, a faster machine does not mean you can reduce head count, dude A is still going have to finish his job (all be it slightly faster) and dude B still has to finish his job, dude A is not going be doing his and dude B's job just cause he got a faster machine

    where this kind of power becomes useful is if you got big numbers to crunch (3d rendering, FEA) and even then you'll be better served by a high density setup like a blade server. The only real use for such a machine would be for bespoke jobs whereby a person might need to spot check some work his been doing, but that's not a daily occurrence and you dont give everyone a machine like this just in the off chance they need to spot check their work once a while, in reality this would be a single shared machine that would not be creating production data, in which case an overclocked machine makes sense
  • 0 Hide
    Niva , March 3, 2011 2:41 PM
    Sure you can build it, but this is for professionals who don't have time to build systems and would rather buy the product and the support the comes with it. Boxx is a very good company.

    On a sidenote I like their case/chasis. Good performance in the end.
  • 0 Hide
    d_kuhn , March 3, 2011 2:44 PM
    Their chassis is all metal, layout is great, capacity is great. It includes things you don't get in low end cases like dust filters on the fans and room for redundant PS setups.

    Mine has been running 24/7 nearly since I got it (however old Opteron 250's are), maybe 6 or 7 years. It still boots faster than non-SSD systems today (15k SCSI RAID, stupid fast in its day and still very respectable).
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