Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Technique › Editing › To Build or not to Build….
- March 27, 2009 at 6:59 PM #37506composite1Member
Lately in the post threads I’ve been gettingquestions concerning thebenefits /drawbacks of buildinga custom system versus buying a pre-built system forNon-linearEditing. Tokeep from taking over other posts I’ve opened up this one to specifically address theseissues.Up front I am not a computer engineer by any stretch. However, since 1998I’veupgraded and built PC’s and Mac’sout of ‘self-defense’ because either it was too expensive to send out for repair orif I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t have gotten done.My current depth of knowledge leansstrongly toward PC because it’s still ‘legal’ to build them on your own. However, nowwith the resurgence of the ‘Hackintosh’ I am again taking an interest in ‘mac clones’. So with all that in mindplease bring yourquestions / comments about building and upgradingpc’s and mac’s, butspare us the PC’ vs Mac’ debate.
Great idea on starting this new thread.
I probably fall into the ‘combination’ category. For me, dollars are limited, buttime is critical.I am basically a “one man show”, and while I am trying to learn, I really don’t know all that much yet,soI need to do whatever I reasonably can to maximize productivity, and then save money, and in that order. If I hit a snag or too-big of a learning curvethen I am basically down, which I cannot afford; and so tech support is really, reallyvaluable for me (time being money, you know).
I have never built a machine, and am a littlescared to. I mean, I think I could build it OK, but then I would be without tech support. Dell Gold Technical Support has been reallygood to me. (Dell Home and Home Officeis awful, but Dell Gold is really pretty good.) I know their components are not always top drawer, but whenever I get stopped I can almost always email chat with them, and get going again in short order. If I build my own box then I probably won’t have tech support, so to pay an extra four hundred dollars for four years of 24/7 hard/soft tech support and next-day on-site replacement of broken hardware seems like a real deal. Am I wrong? The only thing is that I am learning I don’t always liketheir choice of mobo and chipset (so next time I will research it first, or maybe I will go with another manufacturer for the box?).
I guess I like buying a box, and then trimming it out. My existing box isa Dell Precision T3400 Workstation, 575W PSU, CoreDuo 3.0GHz (2 cores). C: came as two 250GB WD Caviar HDD’s in RAID 0. I added8GB Crucial Ballistix RAM, 4GB ReadyBoost RAM, Vista Ultimate 64, and then did the tweaks as recommended by Videoguys. I addedtwo 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0 for D:. All backups are external via USB, eSata, and Firewire 400.(I am thinking about upgrading to a Drobo for backup of D:). My video card is an olderPalit GeForce 8600GT Super +1GB (which is only a Gen 1.0 card, while I have two Gen 2.0 slots).
For video cards, I would love to run SLI, butI just learned that the Dellmotherboard has an Intel Bearlake X chipset (which does not support SLI). Also, I only have a 575W power supply.I can run with this video card for now, butI am consideringone of those new GTX 260 cardsfor about $180, or maybe a GTX 280if I really want to splurge, but I don’t have any more power supply than that. I am not considering running Boris Blue in the foreseeable future, so I really do not see any advantage in spending the extra cash on a Quadro FX1700 or 3700.
Upgrades I am considering are as follows:
Q9650 CoreDuo Quad at 3.0 GHZ when the price comes down below $200.
Better video card once I am done learning HTML (perhaps a GTX 280? Hopefully the price will come down).
Matrox RT.X2 (supports real-time rendering of two layers of HD, and two layers of effects in PP, AE and PS)
Drobo for backup of D:.
As you know from previous conversations, my present NLE is Sony Vegas Pro 8.1. I will probably buy Adobe CS4 once I am done learning HTML, and then expand into Lightwave 3D, and then Avid MC3, probably in that order. Maybe someday I will get Maya, but probably not for a long time yet.
I would really appreciate hearing all of your suggestions and comments. Mostly I am looking to speed up my system for the least amount of dollars. I know I can go extreme, butsome upgrades it makes more sense to put the money aside forthe next machine, with faster architecture.
Also, do you recommend hyperthreading?
Thank you very much,
I definitely caught some of that. AndI don’t minddissertations.I have about a bazillion questions, and your responses are an answer to prayer.
From where I sit (i.e., knowing almost nothing),the main thing is to maximize my time. Dollars arelimited, but time is critical.I am basically a “one man show” here, soI need to do whatever I reasonably can that willsave time, and money, andmaximize productivity all at once. However,your letter really set me back.I got theVideoguys’ new DIY article (http://www.webvideoguys.com/newwebsite03-09/DIY7.html) right before I got your post, andIrealized that for not much more than the cost of a Quadro CX card I could have a whole new box, withmuch faster architecture. Also, I guess they have a new class of video card out (GTX 260/280) that has multiple cores similar to the Quadro CX, so that would seem like the Quadro CX cardis not the best use of cash (although I am not 100% sure about the Matrox).
Would you mind commenting on my new box? The old one crashed, and Dell replaced it. Ijust want toease any potential bottlenecks, if it can be done for reasonable numbers.
Dell Precision T3400 Workstation, 575W PSU, CoreDuo 3.0GHz (2 cores), 8GM Crucial Ballistix RAM, 4GB ReadyBoost RAM, Vista Ultimate 64, Palit GeForce 8600GT Super +1GB (Only Gen 1.0 card, while I have two Gen 2.0 slots).C: is two 250GB WD Caviar 7200 RPM’s in RAID 0, backing up to an external USB HDD via Symantec Backup Exec.D: is two 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM drives in RAID 0,backing upvia eSata to a 1.5TB Seagate HDD (which does not quite cover it, but I have not got started yet, so it is OK). I am thinking about upgrading to a Drobo for backup of D:.
For video cards,I just chatted with Dell. They tell me I cannot run SLI, as this motherboard has an Intel Bearlake X chipset (which does not support SLI). So I can run with this video card for now, butI could probably geta GTX 260 for about $180 (or less if I wait until I am done learning HTML). I have no idea which manufacturers are best, but here is one from Tiger Direct: (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4369730&CatId=1839).It comes withextra GPU cores, and it is aGen 2.0 card, and it isa lot less expensive than a Quadro 1700 (and I am not planning on buying Boris Blue).
Would either of those things help speed up the system? And also, do you hyperthread?
Thank you very much for your help,
I hear you on the ‘One man show’ thing. Fortunately now I have some good people working with me but I’m usually the guy who’s the ‘dot connector’. But I got that way from doing the ‘one man show’.
Anyway, from what I’ve read in your last post you sound more than ready to start building your own systems. Your current Dell sounds pretty customized. I am concerned about you RAIDing your C: Drive. Despite what anyone says about a particular OS, there’s always the potential of something stupid happening (operator error 90%, hard/software failure 9%, act of God 1%) and your OS drive goes down.In my experience it’s far safer to just partition the OS drive for 2 reasons; first, to cut down on the time it takes to run maintenance programs like defrag, back-up, etc. Second, if the OS wigs out for whatever reason it’s easier to just wipe it and fire up your back-up. If the drive’s hardware goes down then it won’t matter. Having it RAIDed will bring up ‘unique’ problems like your extended drive(s) getting corrupted if not ruined if the OS drive croaks. I’ve found it much safer to keep the OS drive available only for the OS and the programs to be used on the system.
But really the specs you spelled out suggestyou should stand pat on that system and start turning your eye towards your next. All the money you’re looking to invest in upgrading will get you going on building a newSLI capable system. Now, the advantage of having a pre-built NLE is the company has worked out the initial bugs already. The drawback is, when you start ‘customizing’ their gear you are introducing a whole new set of bugs most of which tech support will only be vaguely familiar with (if you are lucky.)
Building your own is another animal however. Hard on the one hand, but a lot easier than you would think. You mentioned Tiger Direct and I dealt with them for many years with only a couple of glitches. They are an excellent source for building your own rigs. The thing I stress more than anything is be excited about your build’s potential, but not so much you blow money on stuff that is incompatible because you didn’t research it. You’ll have much to consider, what type of case, power supply, mobo, CPU(s), RAM, Graphics Card(s), Harddrives, Expansion Cards, Cooling,UPS and all will have to be tailored for compatablity with your intended software pipeline and expected output. Throw in the time for building / test and evaluation and you’ll find you have a potentially daunting task ahead. Just make sure your first build is simple with the potential for complex. That, and don’t blow a ton of cash getting the ‘latest and greatest’ right off the bat. You will find your first ‘simple’ build when complete (when bugs are worked out) will run so much better than you expected. After you have a few builds under your belt you’ll be doing like so many of us who look at the stuff the ‘big boy’s’ make and say, ‘I can do that a lot cheaper!’
>>I hear you on the ‘One man show’ thing. Fortunately now I have some good people working with me but I’m usually the guy who’s the ‘dot connector’. But I got that way from doing the ‘one man show’.
Yeah; “The buck stops here.” (lol).
Thanks for the vote of confidence. If Ibuilt a machine, the first thing I would probably try would be theVideoguys’ DIY kit. (http://www.webvideoguys.com/newwebsite03-09/DIY7.html). They seem like they know their stuff, and they recommend top components. I even have a friend who will doassembly and the initial burn-in. But what do you do if you have a problem, andyou have no tech support? I guess I could call my friend, and we could troubleshoot it together?
I appreciate your advice not to go crazy on components. I keep dreaming of a dual Xeon machine with 64GB of RAM and triple SLI (lol). But of course, that is ridiculous. I need to be realistic with my price points, because whatever I buy today is only worth half of that next year. You do this all day, and you don’t even spend that kind of money on machines! Maybe I ought to think about that some more.
Some questions for you:
What isSLI RAM, and what is it used for?
I heard that most guys run Avid on a Mac. Others run it on PC’s. Is there any difference to the platform? And can you please comment on FCP, versus the other NLE’s?I guess I am just curious to learn what all is out there. (The only thing I know about buying a Mac is not to buyRAM from Apple, because you can get it five times cheaper through Crucial or Kingston).
And what do you do when you have a tech support problem?
>>I am concerned about you RAIDing your C: Drive.
I appreciate that. However, I run Symantec Backup Exec (like Norton Ghost), and try to take a new image anytime I make a major change to the system.
Since I have a clean install right now, I am also considering making a fresh image of my ‘clean install’, and then leaving it on the shelf, just in case anything gets corrupted.
I also make backups of D:, but need to get a larger backup for D:, so I can do incremental images and all that (which is why I am considering the Drobo). I would think the Drobo would be a good upgrade, since it would translate to any new system.
Great letter. Lots of food for thought.
>>All the money you’re looking to invest in upgrading will get you going on building a newSLI capable system.
Is SLI the ticket?