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Critique my spec system


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 12:28 PM

Hello all,

My current editing system is getting long in the tooth, so I'm looking to upgrade. To begin, I do not consider my self an editor. First and foremost I'm a shooter. But I'm planning to make the switch to shooting HD, and I recognize the necessity of having my own system. My challenge has been to find something that will serve me in my own work, and the occasional project that comes along) for a couple of years at least.

I love, love, love editing Premiere Pro, and considering the expense of a MAC and its software, I want to stick with PC. If I were a primarily an editor, I would surely get a MAC, but as I said, this is more for my own use. I've tried to do as much research as possible, to put together a good system for editing HD footage. I'm planning on getting a Panasonic HVX200, which shoots 1080p which uses DVCPRO-HD. I intend to upgrade to Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

Surely this system is not perfect by any stretch, and so I would really like to get any feedback on this spec system: what could be improved, what is missing, and perhaps even what could be scaled back to save some money. Basically any advice would be great!

With that said, here's the system I've put together, through HP:

e9280t series

Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Intel® Core™ i7-975 processor Extreme Edition [3.33GHz, 1MB L2 + 8MB shared L3 cache]

12GB DDR3-1066MHz SDRAM [6 DIMMs]

2TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s - two 1TB hard drives

1GB ATI Radeon HD 4850 [2 DVI, HDMI and VGA adapters]

Primary optical drive Blu-ray writer & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burner

15-in-1 memory card reader, 1 USB, 1394, audio

TV & entertainment experience No TV Tuner

Sound Card Integrated 7.1 channel sound with front audio ports

Thanks a lot everyone!

Best,

BR
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#2 Rob Vogt

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 01:40 PM

If you're going to go all out like that on a desktop, I'd highly consider their z600 as it is much much more expandable, and probably around the same price range as this decked out desktop. The z800 is much more than you would need, you'd probably get away with the z400 for cheaper than this, and a much better running computer. I'm assuming this was about $1900-2200? 12 GB of ram is probably excessive unless you're planning on running Maya or 3dS Max. The other thing is that with the Z600 series you can get the Quadro FX580 which is a much better GPU for HD editing and is supported by Avid, if you ever wanted to consider them. Although I'd get the FX1800 at least if you plan on using Maya and/or 3dS Max.
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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:07 PM

Rob,

Based on your comments, I went and redid the system. Here's what I came up with:

Make and Model: HP Z600 Workstation
OS: Windows 7 Pro 64bit
CPU: Intel Xeon E5504 2.0 4mb/800 QC
Ram: 4 gig (2 x 2) DDR3-1333 ECC
Video Card: Nividia Quadro NVS 295 256mb
Hard Drive 1: 160gig.

SRP: $2,009.00

Now you may notice several things missing, like a second hard drive for video storage, a firewire and SATA card, and a blu-ray writer. I opted to leave them off because either A) I already have the components or B) the items were cheaper bought separately (from microcenter, newegg, bestbuy, etc).

Any more thoughts? I'd love to hear from the rest of you too. As I said in my first post, I'm not looking for something high powered. I'd just like a nice system, with enough oomf to handle file based HD like DVCPRO and AVCHD, while also being reasonably priced. A happy medium machine, if you will.

This is an important purchase, and one I hope to last for a while before another upgrade, so I'd really, really, really appreciate any suggestions on how to make this system as good as possible. If I can spend 2 grand, that would be great.

Best,
BR
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:12 PM

i'm not 100% on this, but doesn't CS4 still limit the amount of RAM used by the programs to 3GB? I know on my MBP with 4GB of RAM and 10.6 my After Effects maxes out @ 3gb/ram. Just something to look into.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:24 PM

Interestingly enough it's at the high end like this that Macs are often most price-competitive. Xeons are very very lovely but they're also horrendously expensive; Core i7 may be barely less powerful for a vast saving. It's often difficult to get a real idea of how multi-core processors really work, since most review sites look at them in the context of things that don't generally use them very well, such as games, whereas we're interested in things like Premiere and After Effects which lap them up beautifully.

12GB of RAM probably is excessive, although if you want to have Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects open simultaneously with HD projects open in each of them, well, there's no harm in it. DDR3 memory is expensive at the moment, though, and you likely won't notice a cut to 6 - and the option to upgrade will remain.

There is absolutely no point whatsoever buying Quadros unless you have software that specifically requires it. Just get some generic NV board. All you need is a desktop display.

What I'd do with the savings from that is put it into another two or four hard disks (bringing your total to four or six) and either a full blown Decklink board or just an Intensity HDMI card. That way, given a reasonable TFT, you can cut your stuff uncompressed.

P
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:58 PM

i'm not 100% on this, but doesn't CS4 still limit the amount of RAM used by the programs to 3GB? I know on my MBP with 4GB of RAM and 10.6 my After Effects maxes out @ 3gb/ram. Just something to look into.


It's a good point, and I believe you're correct if you're operating on a 32 bit OS. The 64bit is able to handle more memory, hence why I selected it for my OS
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 08:00 PM

I am 64 bit on 10.6 Snow Leopard... and this is after effects CS4, and yet it still just reads/pulls 3gb of ram. I do believe it is an Adobe thing. Even a 32 bit program can, I think, pull up to 4gb of ram.
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#8 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 08:15 PM

I am 64 bit on 10.6 Snow Leopard... and this is after effects CS4, and yet it still just reads/pulls 3gb of ram. I do believe it is an Adobe thing. Even a 32 bit program can, I think, pull up to 4gb of ram.


Thanks for that. It tells me to keep my ram at 4 gig for now. Seeing how its cheap and getting cheaper, I can always upgrade later.

Thanks!
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#9 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 10:05 PM

Hey Brian,
You could put a similar system together yourself for a lot less money but if you want the support from HP or another big OEM then its the best way to go.
I'm not all that familiar with HP systems but just for reference I upgraded from an older system I ran CS1 on 3 months ago and I got.

i7 920 1156 socket
Asus Motherboard
12gb ddr3
2 X 1tb
2 X 160 system drives
and a middling Nvidia card

I also got the full CS4 suite. As far as Ram goes Premiere isn't going to use 12gbs, barely uses four still even on a 64bit system (64bit Mac support is still iffy in general). I know AE can use more and it still runs in 32bit only PS has moved to any real 64bit support but I haven't really looked at that yet as all I ever use it for is light image editing to pull back into Premiere or AE.
One of the benefits of 12gb of ram is that CS4 can render externally now so you can continue to work and render at the same time and I sometimes have 3-4 operations happening at the same time. Ive seen it top out over six but if I was doing a big AE render (which I very seldom do) it has support for 1.5gb of ram per thread. The processors you've mentioned would have four cores and eight threads so in theory it could be useful but tough to reach otherwise. DDR3 is also pretty cheap so I'm not sure 4gbs is worth it in a system that's costing 2k.
I would take a hit on the processor and save yourself $500 and move down to something like the i7 940 with all the HDs and accessories you need. The price premium on some CPUs is 3X with only a marginal difference in performance. I don't know what HP options there are for this type of thing. I would have a hard time swallowing the price tag on the Quadro as well but it offers features you wont get on any consumer GPU yet but don't expect it to have any real boost to CS4 as the GPU assisted stuff is incredibly specific.
I remember reading that Mac dominate the $2000 and up PC market and now that you can run bootcamp it can be your MS box as well. If you want a PC for about two grand I wouldn't invest as much in the CPU or videocard (but obviously you know your needs better than I do) but instead put it towards some HDs and a new monitor. I wouldn't go with a pre-built OEM system either but that's me. Either way any of the systems mentioned should work with DVCpro HD just fine.
Oh, if you are thinking about less RAM now to be upgraded later try and go with a DDR3 system as it'll be much easier to source in two years than the DDR2 which is on its way out. The only other thing Id suggest is to wait till February when the new Intel chips come out which might shake the prices up a bit but something new and shiny is always around the corner.
My longest post ever, I cant believe it was about this. How depressing...
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#10 Rob Vogt

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 10:43 PM

The other week I compared my system specs for an HP Z600 with a Mac and got slightly better specs on the Z600 at $1900 compared to the worse specs for the MAC at $3000. Not to mention that the Z600 is much more expandable (Can add another Processor, up to 24GB RAM and 2 SLI GPU slots) and rackmountable if I ever wanted to bring it to the field. And they were both running on Xeons with a Core i7 socket type (same exact processor actually).

Im not saying this is for him, just for my applications the Z600 is, hands down, a much better machine. And cheaper than a mac

Also Adrian 3GB RAM is the max for 32bit systems.

Media Composer 4 reccomends the Quadro FX570 minimum for its HD editing which is why I reccomended it for him. The 580 isnt much more than most GPUs in this config its like $150, not a bad investment since he is doing graphic intensive work.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 10:49 PM

Thanks for clarifying Rob. Wonder why my AE is still only pulling 3gb despite 10.6; oh well, must be one of those Mac things I'm still to get used to...
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#12 Brian Rose

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 11:10 PM

The Nvidia quadro you mentioned...does it enable dual monitors? I'd like to have two monitors for my work, and reading the card's specs, it's not really clear...
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#13 Rob Vogt

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 11:57 PM

http://www.adobe.com...um_64bit_wp.pdf

Check to see if your CS4 is 32bit.
According to this the 64bit can use 16GB RAM

As for the dual monitors... im not sure. I know it has 1 DVI and 2 displayports connectors. so it probably can if your monitor has a displayport interface.
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#14 Brian Rose

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 12:02 AM

http://www.adobe.com...um_64bit_wp.pdf

Check to see if your CS4 is 32bit.
According to this the 64bit can use 16GB RAM

As for the dual monitors... im not sure. I know it has 1 DVI and 2 displayports connectors. so it probably can if your monitor has a displayport interface.


It's not a huge deal. I won't have a second monitor for a while anyways! But eventually, I figure I'll need two.

Check your PM. I made a few mods, and I think I'm pretty close to a system!

BR
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#15 Andres Pardo aka Gral Treegan

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 01:19 PM

if i were you i go for an alienware!

www.alienware.com
best
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