3 Excellent Computer Choices for Video Editing

Gregory Watts's picture
Last seen: 4 years 3 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 2:31am

OK, I give I give. (In this post the word gamers is to be equated with videographer)

I do not like to make computer suggestions, why? Well if someone is unhappy guess who get's bit in the hinnie? YEP me. But here it goes. Here are 3 of the top computer companies that focus on gaming systems. As I mentioned in another post, those who work with video should buy gaming systems. The reason? I will restate. Games cannot predict the path a player will take, therefore with each and every move a gamer makes in a game the ENTIRE video on the display must be redrawn from scratch, this is not like a DVD playing, that information is processed then sent to the GPU, in a game the GPU must draw as the player moves about, that tells you how fast that GPU must render.

Rendering video is the same, the "next step" information does not exist yet, you are creating it, therefore the GPU must be the muscle in rendering the unpredictable path you the videographer has taken, therefore a gaming PC is the best option.

Here are the 3 top gaming manufactures in the U.S. (world for that matter) I do not favor one above the other (I do really but for the sake of this post I will attempt to remain neutral) So in random order here we go.

1) Alienware
http://www.alienware.com/
They just make some crazy awesome gaming systems. Alienware started out as a gaming only company and still holds to that. Therefore since their entire focus is on gaming ALL their systems are suitable. They also make some crazy awesome cases. You can't really beat Alienware for their gaming focus and power, therefore they would be the tops for video rendering. One more note, Dell did buy the company in the mid 2000's but Dell left the design and focus of the company alone.

2) MSi
http://www.msimobile.com/level2_productlist.aspx?id=6
They fell off in sales last year, so they refocused on the gaming market this year. In fact their entire business model is toward gamers. Although they are focusing on gamers in 2012 they have been around a long time and are tried and true. Another good thing about their entry into the gaming field is their prices may be a bit lower than others for the first few months.

3) Asus
http://www.asus.com/Notebooks/Gaming_Powerhouse/G73SW/
In the computer world Asus is the (BMW, Lexus, whatever you lust model car is) of computer makers. Asus is consider one of the top makers of all computer parts that are gold in quality and they have one of the best lines of systems out there. I do feel they are fat on pricing, but Asus is Asus, they are more than a brand, they are status and power.

So there it is, any of the above 3 makers is going to give you the best bang for the buck to render video. In fact It might be the last system you would need to buy for a very long time since we are approaching the end of Moore's Law. I will not suggest on above the other however if anyone should so desire you may order this one for me and just ship it right to me

http://ecomm.dell.com/dellstore/basket.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs&oid=8628659d-24f7-44ee-aa52-6d3ab81c792d

Enjoy your video rendering experience.


TimWard34's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 02/17/2017 - 8:48pm

I know this is an old article, but it is still of a relevant nature, plus the internet is forever.

A few points to make:
1. Gaming PCs do NOT make good systems for professional work. Gaming systems and video production systems have overlapping requirements and specs, but also differ in their focus, requirements, and performance. They can be ok for ocassional-duty, "weekend warrior," and amateur work, but fall short for professional requirements.

2. Where video editing systems primarily differ:

PROCESSORS: Video systems benefit more from processor core count than pure clock speed, so they use workstation-class Intel Xeons instead of desktop-class Intel Core i3/i5/i7. A current gen quad-core i7 still offers good performance, and can be used to save money, but would also necessitate having a custom built system, whether by you using pre-qualified components (good), or by a video editing systems integrator (better). I'd use one in a home system, but I'd be hesitant to use anything but a workstation while in a session with the client present.

MEMORY: With the Xeon processors come the ability to use ECC (error-correcting code) RAM. This ultimately results in fewer crashes and better system stability. Video systems also need lots of RAM, which is afforded by the Xeon processors.

GPU: Here is where gaming systems and video systems share hardware. I will only talk about Nvidia GPUs as their CUDA tech is currently used in more software programs than the OpenCL tech in AMD GPUs (Nvidia cards can also do OpenCL, and more and more software is able to take advantage of OpenCL). While Nvidia Quadro GPUs are great heavy lifters in video systems, the best performance per dollar comes from the desktop-class Nvidia GTX series. With video systems, they typically run better with reference cards (not-overclocked). Vendor-overclocked cards can be run without issues but crashes can still happen. USER-overclocked cards should never be used. Video processing taxes your GPU(s) more than anything else, so the GPU needs to be stable one.

3. The best three manufacturers for professional video workstations are HP Z-series, Dell T-series, and to a lesser extent currently (performance-wise), Apple. Third-party integrators also custom build systems for video but they know them inside and out, perform testing specific to video, know what the industry and software requirements and quirks are, and provide support for them. Companies that build custom gaming systems are not the same as those that build custom video systems, in that they do not (typically) understand the needs of video vs. the needs of gaming. In addition, software companies also are guaranteed to test and qualify their software on the HP, Dell, and Apple workstations, so there are fewer "gotchas" from unknown/untested hardware combinations.

To be clear, I am talking about professional-level systems that are used on a daily basis to make your living.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 15 hours 46 min ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

I'm confused - HP and Dell from my personal experience have extremely wide product ranges, but really they're just boxes of fairly common bits, assembled to your preference of processor and other critical components. They tend to standardise on their drive choice - so if you have a favourite, it won't probably be on their list - but even favourites are often just personal good luck. If you wish to buy a ready made PC, you can get HP and Dell machines that tick the boxes. However, you have to rely own them to look after the warranty period - which for some is a good experience, others shout loud and clear on social media about how crap their service is.

I buy Dell for office and noncritical systems here, but all my music and video computers are purpose built (and when I say built I really mean assembled from a preferred pile of parts).

I choose motherboards that get good reviews, and are reliable, I select the drives, and maybe plug in caddies if that's appropriate - then I look at the monitors, and this drives the choice of video card. Same with all the other important bits. ALL of my work PCs are in 19" heavy duty housings - and I cannot even remember what the original insides were!

The only computer I would buy intact would be Apple - they seem to do the job out of the box, but maybe that's just because they're not PCs? The day to day money making machines are all PCs, and it's simple to keep them going.

I just cannot see how Dell, HP and the other well known big names are always thought of as somehow special, when they are essentially putting together piles of bits they can buy in huge quantities at low prices. I have in the office the slowest PC in the world, and from my investigations just a selection of poorly performing individual components that gang up against the user, and filled with Dell's selection of bloatware that seems to defy being uninstalled.


Charles Bennett's picture
Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: 10/27/2016 - 7:53am

I have to agree with Tim Ward. I run a Dell Workstation for audio production with Pro Tools. It has dual 4 core Xeons, 16gb ECC ram, 3 internal drives, far higher build quality than an off the shelf PC, and it's built to run 24/7 if needs be. It is also extremely stable. I also use a Dell XPS 8700 i7 24gb ram. It's not in the same league as the Workstation.


TimWard34's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 02/17/2017 - 8:48pm

Hi Paul-
If you re-read my point #3, you'll see that when I mention Dell and HP, I'm referring to their workstation computers. I should clarify that "workstation" is a specific classification like "server," and is a separate professional product line from their consumer desktop lines. An example would be the HP z820 workstation which is the HP equivalent to the non-trash can Mac Pro classic (the 2013 trash can Mac Pro is also obviously a workstation...it is just limited in performance and expandability). The z820 has since been followed by the superior z840, for which Apple has no current equivalent to (which I'm also considering switching to from an aging Mac Pro classic). As an aside, HP tower workstations have for years come with an optional rackmount kit and they rack up very nicely. On the Apple side, they don't really make consumer-grade computers like the PC manufacturers do, so they are going to have been tested and qualified for the various professional audio and video software and hardware systems, just like the HP Z-series workstations, and Dell Precision workstations (the T-series Precisions have been superseded).

As Charles Bennett stated, he is running his Pro Tools rig on a Dell workstation. He knows he can't afford to have system bugs or downtime, especially if running a session with an artist or producer in the booth. That can be embarrassing at minimum, and lost business and clients at worst. It just needs to work. Dell's desktop workstations have been qualified by Avid for Pro Tools versions up to v11 (according to Avid's website, v12 only qualifies a couple of Dell mobile workstations at the moment), which means that Avid has tested these specific systems and Pro Tools is guaranteed to work as reliably and smoothly as possible (as it should), as long as you follow their guidelines. This sometimes also specifies certain hardware recommendations, such as the PCI slot order and configuration for your graphics, audio interface, video capture, HBA cards, etc.

As I said previously, you can also buy custom systems from third-party integrators. These companies use only select components that have been tested to work together well (typically workstation-class components just like HP, Dell, and Apple), and they have tested these configurations with professional audio and video software/hardware to make sure they perform well as a whole system. They then provide tech support to you, and since they know how these systems are integrated and work with professional audio and video software/hardware, they can quickly and easily identify and resolve any problems, so you get a similar experience as if you had bought a system from HP or Apple.


tina89's picture
Last seen: 1 week 6 days ago
Joined: 07/15/2017 - 12:33am

Thanks for the advice. Those tips are very useful.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 15 hours 46 min ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

Personally - I would NOT buy a Dell to use to run intensive audio or video applications because Dell know zero about the specific needs of these types of computer users - Dell in particular install software you really do not want on a critical workstation, and their options cater for a bit of the CAD market, but all my machines are Carillon computers - 19" rack mount, bomb proof cases, good interference rejection and inside the most appropriate selection of parts. The video ones have the Adobe recommended video cards and extra inputs and outputs, and the audio ones are designed with front panel buttons for tape machine style control on two of them - using MIDI control boards. Dells are nice- but powerful ones are very expensive. I have better value and better performance than an off the shelf machine can provide.


TimWard34's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 02/17/2017 - 8:48pm

@paulears

I mean no disrespect, but it seems that you don't understand the difference between a consumer/business-class PC and a professional/enterprise workstation. Just think of the Dell Precision line (and HP z-series) as operating as a separate company (they kinda do).

You say:
"Personally - I would NOT buy a Dell to use to run intensive audio or video applications because Dell know zero about the specific needs of these types of computer users - "

-Dell actually does know about the specific needs of professional audio and video users, as their Precision workstations are rigorously tested by Dell and independent software vendors, and are ISV certified for various audio, video, and graphics applications. HP and Apple also.

You say:
"Dell in particular install software you really do not want on a critical workstation,"

-Again, none of the manufacturers—Dell included—install bloatware on their workstations, unlike they do on their consumer and business-class PCs. You can elect for some to pre-install software, but no bloatware comes on workstations.

You say:
"all my machines are Carillon computers - 19" rack mount, bomb proof cases, good interference rejection and inside the most appropriate selection of parts."

-The Apple and HP workstations I use/have used are also "bomb-proof" with an exacting design and selection of high-grade parts. The HPs have been rackable for over 10 years since at least the xw-series.

You say:
"The video ones have the Adobe recommended video cards and extra inputs and outputs, and the audio ones are designed with front panel buttons for tape machine style control on two of them - using MIDI control boards."

-This is where VARs can assist (with fully-tested, qualified, known configurations with third-party add-ons), whether you buy pre-configured from them or buy the add-ons and install yourself with guidance from the VAR.

You say:
"Dells are nice- but powerful ones are very expensive."

-Yes they are! And HPs, and Apples are too. However, quality components and rigorous testing and qualification cost more, but you're also paying for peace of mind.

You say:
"I have better value and better performance than an off the shelf machine can provide."

-Yes and no; it depends. It comes down to what works for you and your business. Buying ISV-certified workstations means you don't have to worry about crashes, hangs, hiccups and delays, plus you can get all the performance you need from them. Tech specs, math and paper say that you should be using workstation-class GPUs like Nvidia's Quadro line because they are more precise in their calculations and prone to fewer errors, but experience with their GTX-class GPUs shows that their raw horsepower is usually more beneficial and cost-effective, with no discernable loss of quality or reliability. Buying/building custom-built PCs can be cost-effective and reliable if they use qualified/certified parts (as you have stated), and are best when purchased pre-built from systems integrators who do their own rigorous testing for our audio and/or video applications. I built my first (and last) video editing PC back in 2000 based around a Matrox video capture card, using only Matrox-certified components, and it ran pretty well (it wasn't used for daily work) and I had only occasional issues. But my machines (now daily use) since have been Apple and HP workstations. I've seen the problems that custom-built systems for daily operation (dual hex-core Xeons) can give, when they have not been tested and qualified for use in video applications, and the headaches given, productivity lost, and time wasted in trying to solve the various issues and problems.

In the end, it's up to you and me to make these decisions regarding our businesses based on what we feel gives us the qualities and functions that most benefit the businesses.