DIY and System Recommendations
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We started doing our research on DIY8 back in early 2010. We had been getting calls and emails asking about our then current DIY 7.7 system. Click here for our DIY 7.7 article and build. We first built the Videoguys’ DIY7 video editing workstation back in the spring of 2009 and it has seen a few changes since.
Just take a look at the DIY7 and DIY8 timelines below. You will see that we are constantly updating and tweaking our recommendations, based on the very latest technology and industry news. We realize that our current DIY8 build is getting a little long in the tooth, and that many of you are chomping at the bit to go with the very latest Sandy Bridge chips from Intel. We have been following Sandy Bridge very closely, and while there is some great price/performance in it, we still have concerns.
- April, 2009 – The Videoguys DIY 7 was originally configured running Windows Vista 64-bit on the Asus P6T motherboard with an Intel Core i7 920 processor.
- December, 2009 – We rebuilt the computer late last year, keeping the specs the same but running Windows 7 64-bit.
- April, 2010 – This spring Avid announced a special offer for Avid Liquid owners to upgrade to Avid Media Composer and we posted an article to help users migrate. With that article came an updated build list for DIY 7.7 that included the Asus P6t Deluxe V2 and the Intel i7 930 processor.
- June, 2010 – Later this Spring, with the release of Adobe Production Premium and Premiere CS5 and Avid Media Composer 5, we realized it was to start working on a new build. Over the past month, the Videoguys have started researching our DIY 8 parts list, and we invite you to follow the progress on the Videoguys’ Blog, our Facebook Fan Page and/or the official Videoguys Twitter Feed.
- December 2010 Update– When we first published the DIY8 Sneak Peak back in July we had hoped to have the build done and the full article published in September. That has not happened. We are still waiting for Intel to deliver a $500 Hex-core CPU. Until then, we’re going to stick with our trusty DIY 7.7 machine. It’s running Adobe CS5 and Avid Media Composer 5 just great. Since our initial sneak peak we have changed the motherboard to the more affordable P68X58-E version from Asus.
January 2011 Update- Sandy Bridge?!?
I am concerned about the integrated graphics capability of the Sandy Bridge CPU. For years we have been warning against using motherboards with integrated graphics for NLE. I’m just not sure how this will effect the current generation of video ediitng apps, or if it will create conflicts with CUDA based graphics cards. I have also heard reports of PCIe bus limitations with the chipsets that could cause potential problems for video editors needing I/O hardware and external RAID storage.
- February 2011 Update– When we first published the DIY8 Sneak Peak back in July we had hoped to have the build done and the full article published in September. That did not happen until December, because we were waiting for Intel to deliver a $500 Hex-core CPU. Well we have great news! Intel has dropped the price on the i7 970! While it is still over $500, it’s close enough, so we are going HEX-CORE!!
- May 2011 Update- Sandy Bridge Not Recommended By Videoguys
As you know Videoguys.com has been publishing DIY guides and system recommendation pages for years. We always make sure the latest version of Avid or Adobe Production Premium runs great on it. We are asked constantly about Sandy Bridge and if we recommend it. As of today we do NOT recommend Sandy Bridge for high end NLE workstations. We feel that if you need a new machine today, your best solution is to stick with an X58 based machine like our DIY8 build.
July 2011 Update – Getting closer with the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Motherboard
I’m still not ready to recommend Sandy Bridge or the Asus P8Z68-V Pro motherboard yet for our more advanced editors. If you think you are going to be using one of our advanced NLEs such as Avid or Adobe or Edius or Vegas with hardware I/O and /or a RAID, stick with our DIY8 Core i7 Hex core.
- If you plan on using one of these NLEs for DV, HDV or tapeless workflows like AVCH or DSLR footage; and you do not plan on adding an I/O card, then Sandy Bridge is worth considering.
- If you use consumer level video editing apps like Pinnacle Studio, Sony Vegas Movie Studio or Premiere Elements then Sandy Bridge is a very good choice for you.
- We are going to keep watching Sandy Bridge and the newest chipset, if it meets our expectations, we will begin our DIY9 build around it. That said, I really want to see a Sandy Bridge motherboard with integrated Thunderbolt! check out the latest DIY blogpost here.
- DIY9 Update: I am waiting for the new Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) And X79 Platform to be released later this year. We posted a blog article from Tom’s Hardware in Sept about it. The Intel Core i7-3930K Hex Core should hit the price/performance sweet spot that we hope will deliver all of the promise and potential of Sandy Bridge for our professioanl NLE apps and workflows. Click here for our DIY9 Sneak Peak.
CPU – Intel putting the HEX on you!
The Intel rumor mill has been going strong since April with expectations for a new hex-core (that’s 6 cores for those who don’t speak geek) CPU, the Core i7 970 that would start shipping this summer with a street price of around $500! Well summer is here and we’ve got mixed news for you. It looks like the i7 970 hex-core is a reality, but the street price isn’t going to happen ….yet. From what we can gather the i7 970 will have a street price closer to $900, which begs the question, “Should we go with a hex-core in DIY8?” Our tech’s are leaning towards building a hex-core ready machine and waiting for either the 970 to come down below $500 or for Intel to release a new sub $500 hex-core CPU.
Feb 2011 Update: With the release of the Sandy Bridge chips, Intel has lowered the prices on their i7 970 CPU and you can find it online for $599!! While it’s not the sub-$500 price we had hoped for, it’s pretty close.
Motherboard – Revenge of the P6T!
From the day we put together DIY7 with the Asus P6T motherboard we were in love. It’s a great motherboard. Loaded with every feature you could need or want, outstanding performance, simple and easy overclocking and most importantly – it was a tremendous value. With each new iteration of the P6T, we’ve updated our DIY 7 builds. That’s why we’ve got our sights locked and loaded on the Asus P6X58D-E motherboard for DIY8.
When we first published our DIY8 sneak peak we were going to go with the P6X58D Premium. Since then Asus has released the P6X58D-E which really replaces the P6T used in our DIY 7 articles at about the same price level! Asus picks up where the P6T family left off, and adds support for two technologies that we feel will become very important down the road. Both USB3 and SATA6 interfaces will allow for faster and more powerful storage and 3rd party devices to be developed and used for video editing. While I don’t recommend any USB3 or SAT6 devices today, I’m sure that within a year or two we’ll be singing their praises. We want to see our DIY8 project last for a while so we’re obviously very excited to see these new technologies supported in our top motherboard choice. Note: The P6X58D-E is a slightly feature reduced version of the Premium, and for our DIY8 we think the savings are worth it, but both boards are an excellent choice.
Oct 2011 Update: It appears the P6X58D-E has been discontinued. We’ve done some researcha nd we’re going to go with the Asus P6X58-E Pro from this point on. We found some nice reviews of it here and here.
GPU – Fermi takes CUDA to the next level!
Right now a major battle is going on between Intel and nVidia over processing power. It’s CPU vs GPU and the ultimate winner in this war will be you! Editing, encoding and producing video is the most power-hungry application you can do with your computer. With the introduction of CS5, Adobe has set the standard for tapping into both CPU and GPU performance with the new Adobe Mercury playback engine. The folks over at Avid know a thing or two about harnessing CPU & GPU as well, and the AMA performance of MC5 sets the bar for native support and tapeless HD workflows. What do Avid and Adobe have in common here? They both demand nVidia CUDA based GPUs for optimal performance. For the best results we recommend a QuadroFX card optimized for content creation.
Back in the spring nVidia started introducing their new Fermi based CUDA cards for high performance gaming systems. Fermi is like CUDA on steroids, dramatically increasing the number of CUDA processors packed into a single GPU. The new lineup of Fermi based Quadro cards is now shipping. The Quadro4000 is under $900 and our top choice for your workstation. If you are on a budget the Quadro2000 for under $500 is good enough for Avid Media Composer, and far more powerful than the old FX1800. For Adobe CS5 Videoguys recommends the GTX470 as our go to card for optimized Mercury playback. For under $300 you get a card that delivers the Mercury performance of a new Quadro4000 card!!
Boot drive – Is 10K the way?
After our last DIY7 series of articles we received lots of questions about our choice of Boot drive. Is it the right time to switch to SSD? Our opinion is that the higher cost and relatively small capacities of SSD still means it’s not worth the added investment. Instead, why not go with a faster 10K boot drive to increase overall system performance? The recent release of the 600GB Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD6000HLHX) 10000 RPM at a $279 street price has caused us to reconsider 10K. While it’s still a big premium when compared to a 1TB drive at under $100, there is a real system performance boost with a 10K boot drive, especially with the VelociRaptor supporting the new SATA 6.0Gb/s spec. .
I/O, I/O the MXO2 is the way to go!
For I/O there is only one way to go, and that’s the Matrox MXO2 Mini. For under $500 it will allow us to output in full HD from both Adobe CS5 and Avid Media Composer 5 timelines. That’s full resolution HD via either HDMI or component video. You can also use it to capture HD footage via HDMI or component with Adobe CS5 or the included Matrox utility.
In fact, we’ll be going with the MXO2 Mini with MAX hardware for $400 more. The MAX gives you superb H.264 encoding faster than real-time. H.264 is the best choice for your HD encoding, whether for Blu-ray, YouTube, iTunes, web streaming or mobile devices. Not only does the Matrox MAX technology deliver your H.264 up to 10x faster than software based encoders, but the image quality is as good or even better!
Stay tuned – more news to come!
So there you have it, a sneak peak at what DIY8 is going to be. We’re still doing research and like I said earlier we’re anxiously waiting for Intel to release a sub $500 hex-core CPU. I have a feeling this guide is going to end up with us building two machines, using the same core components and motherboard, but with budget and hot-rod options. The more budget oriented workstation will use the i7 950 processor and standard 7200 RPM boot drive while the hot-rod system will upgrade to the i7 980 hex-core and the 600GB 10K VelociRaptor for a boot drive.
In the meantime we are confident that the components mentioned in this article will deliver outstanding performance and stability for you. Feel free to mix and match the components between our Budget and Hot Rod builds to create the right NLE workstation for your needs. If you want to invest in a faster CPU, you can – just make sure it is compatible with our motherboard. Same thing with memory. If you want to go with six 4GB sticks, for a total of 24GB, and it is in your budget, by all means go for it. The more memory the better!
We have received so many questions about Sandy Bridge that I have decided to include a parts list for a potential DIY9 machine. Please note that the new Sandy Bridge CPUs will not work with the DIY8 motherboard, and the P8Z68-V Pro is the only Sandy Bridge motherboard we are comfortable recommending at this time. If you plan on using hardware I/O cards and/or hardware RAID for storage, we do not recommend Sandy Bridge. Stick with our DIY8 builds.
|(Oct 2011 update)||Sandy Bridge||$$$||DIY8 Budget||$$$||DIY8 Hotrod||$$$|
|Motherboard||Asus P8Z68-V Pro||210||ASUS P6X58-E Pro||220||ASUS P6X58-E Pro||220|
|CPU||Intel i7 2600k Sandy Bridge||299||Intel i7-950 Quad Core||249||Intel i7-980 Hex Core||580|
|RAM||16GB (4 x 4GB) G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)||105||G.SKILL Ripjaws 12GB (3 x 4GB) SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)||75||G.SKILL Ripjaws 24GB (6 x 4GB) SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)||150|
|System Drive||Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM||60||Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM||60||WD VelociRaptor WD6000HLHX 600GB 10,000RPM||250|
|Case||Antec Nine Hundred Two v3Black ATX||119||Antec Nine Hundred Two v3Black ATX||119||Antec Nine Hundred Two v3Black ATX||119|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W||135||CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W||135||CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W||135|
|OS||Win 7 Prof OEM||139||Win 7 Prof OEM||139||Win 7 Prof OEM||139|
|$ 1,485||$ 1,415||$ 2,541|
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