DIY and System Recommendations
Videoguys DIY 10 Update
For the past 10 years we have been publishing our Videoguys’ DIY articles as a service to our customers and the internet community. We publish these guides as a recipe for building your own video editing workstation at an affordable price but these DIY recommendations may also be used to compare specs on already built machine like an HP Workstation.
I know it has been a LONG time since we first introduced our DIY 9 build and even our DIY 9.5 updates are over a year old. Every day we get calls and emails from our customers asking about our DIY recommendations and when we’re going to build our DIY 10 machine. I’m happy to report that we’ve finally found an enthusiast level motherboard with Thunderbolt – the Asus Z87-Deluxe/Quad – which we can use for DIY10!
Why we waited
I’d like to explain why it seemed like forever since our last DIY system build. We have been waiting for an enthusiast class Ivy Bridge motherboard with Thunderbolt and had been told would initially appear the summer of 2013. It didn’t. In February, 2013 we posted a potential DIY X build using the Asus P8Z777-V deluxe motherboard with Thunderbolt and many of you are running this build with great results. We still wanted to wait for a completely integrated Thunderbolt solution.
Why we’re obsessed with Thunderbolt
It’s not an obsession, but more of a craving. Thunderbolt allows you to attach an external 4, 6 or 8 bay storage solution and get sustained throughput comparable to an external RAID controller card like an ATTO R680 or Highpoint RocketRAID 4522. These RAID controllers cost around a thousand bucks and require special drivers and, they are not that easy to set up. External Thunderbolt RAIDs are very easy to set-up. All you have to do is plug it in, format and go. You can even daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt drives.
Blazing fast Thunderbolt transfer speeds also mean that you can copy your data from your camcorder or DSLR or GoPro much faster. And we know, the faster you can copy the footage, the sooner you can start editing!
In December, Apple will start shipping their sexy new black cylinders – the new Mac Pro. No internal slots at all, but 6 Thunderbolt 2.0 connections! If Apple builds it, the industry will come. We expect to see a ton of new exciting Thunderbolt based products to take us to our 4K future.
It’s more than just Thunderbolt
When we put the Videoguys’ DIY stamp on a recommended system we need an enthusiast based motherboard that can handle all the data I/O and computations that go on during video editing. While a gaming based machine will run your video editing software, it will run better and deliver higher performance and stability on an enthusiast level motherboard. These have faster and wider internal data transfers that allow them to handle faster I/O, faster memory and read/writes.
Multiple DIY Builds for every budget
We’re hoping to have our DIY 10 workstations built and tested before the end of the year. I’m actually hoping to have our top of the line DIY 10 system built before Apple launches the new Mac Pro so we can compare the performance between the two running Avid & Adobe software. We’re also going to go back to the basics, putting together a build for as close to $1,000 as possible. If you who have been following our DIY systems from the beginning you may remember that our first goal was to deliver the best possible machine for under $1,000. We didn’t hit the target but, 10 years later, I think we can say that our DIY guides have been a huge success.
So our DIY 10 Guide will include a budget system for around $1,000, a mid-level machine for around $1,500 and a top of the line machine, which we hope will give the baseline new Mac Pro a run for the money, at around $2,000.
|Videoguy’s DIY 10 Preliminary Builds (Jan 2014)|
|$1,500 Target with Thunderbolt||$2,000 Target Premium Workstation|
|Motherboard||ASUS Z87-PRO||$199.00||ASUS Z87-EXPERT||$234.00||ASUS Z87-DELUXE/QUAD||$339.00|
|Processor||Intel Core i5 4570 Haswell||$199.00||Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell||$339.00||Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell||$339.00|
|RAM||8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X (2x4GB) DDR3 1600||$74.00||16GB G.Skill Ripjaws X (2x8GB) DDR3 1600||$149.00||32GB G.Skill Ripjaws X (4x8GB) DDR3 1600||$299.00|
|GPU||ASUS GTX660 2GB||$199.00||ASUS GTX760||$269.00||PNY Quadro K2000||$499.95|
|Boot Drive||Crucial M500 120GB SSD||$115.00||Crucial M500 240GB SSD||$149.00||Crucial M500 240GB SSD||$149.00|
|Case||Antec Three Hundred Two||$69.00||Antec Three Hundred Two||$69.00||Antec Three Hundred Two||$69.00|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX||$79.00||CORSAIR HX750||$129.00||CORSAIR HX850||$149.00|
|CPU Cooler||ZALMAN CNPS10X Optima||$34.00||ZALMAN CNPS10X Optima||$34.00||Noctua NH-U14S||$75.00|
|Blu-ray Burner||Pioneer BDR-209||$75.00||Pioneer BDR-209||$75.00||Pioneer BDR-209||$75.00|
|OS||Win 7 Pro 64-bit||$139.00||Win 7 Pro 64-bit||$139.00||Win 7 Pro 64-bit||$139.00|
Hex Core still rules
When the Videoguys’ technicians start to design a new DIY build they try to find the fastest, most powerful processor that $500 can buy. The i7-3930K was the king from the day it was introduced. NLE’s like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Grass Valley Edius and Sony Vegas Pro are all 64-bit and multi-threaded so if you give them the 2 extra cores, you get more performance. Adobe Premiere Pro really takes full advantage of these extra cores as well and you’ll see significantly higher performance and faster rendering with a Hex core vs. quad. Last fall the Ivy Bridge i7- 4930K was introduced and it’s a great CPU but the only problem is that we never got that Ivy Bridge enthusiast motherboard we wanted.
Asus Introduces the Z87-Deluxe/Quad the motherboard I’ve been waiting for!
In August, Asus announced the Z87-Deluxe series of motherboards. These are enthusiast level motherboards that support the new Haswell processors! The Z87-Deluxe/Quad also supports the brand new Thunderbolt 2.0 standard with transfer rates of 20 Gigabits/sec, twice as fast as Thunderbolt 1.0! We’re going to use this motherboard as the cornerstone of our DIY 10 build. It doesn’t look like we are going to see a Hex core Haswell, but the Quad core is screaming fast. Intel just leaked a new Haswell-E 8-core processor that will have a new socket and will not be compatible with any existing motherboards. So DIY 10 is going to be a compromise, and our old reliable DIY 9.5 Hex Core is still going to be another powerful DIY option.
We still recommend Win 7 Professsional over Win 8
With the latest Win 8.1 release we can give it the green light, but we still don’t recommend it. From our research and what we have been told by our vendors, from a hardware point of view, Win 8 is very similar to Win 7. Which means there should be some re-coding that needs to be done to create Win 8 drivers, but not a huge amount of work. We’ll believe that when we see it. So far only a small handful of our NLE hardware even have BETA Win 8 drivers. While all of our software should run just fine under Win 8, it’s just too soon to tell. We’re going to want to wait until at least early 2014 before we can recommend Win8 to our customers.
We recommend a bare minimum of 8GB of RAM, but for any kind of serious video work you want at least 16GB. If you can afford 32GB, go for it. We put DDR3 2400 in our top of the line build, but went with DDR3 1600 in our other two. It really comes down to value. We’ve been using G.Skill Ripjaws since DIY 9. Crucial, Corsair & Kingston are all good RAM suppliers as well. RAM prices can fluctuate wildly. We’ve seen times when buying 16GB of RAM using 2x 8GB sticks was cheaper then 4x 4GB sticks, and other times they were much more expensive. It’s just a matter of luck and timing. If you do happen to catch a great deal on RAM, get the full 32GB. You won’t regret it.
Picking the right graphics card is very important. We only recommned NVIDIA based cards. ALL our NLE vendors recommend them and they have opyimized their software for NVIDIA. Nowhere is this more important than with Adobe software. Adobe has optimized their software for NVIDIA CUDA technology. We have picked GPUs with at least 2GB of RAM and 960+ CUDA cores. Our 2013 go to GPU was the GTX670, but today we are going with the newer GTX760 cards. If you want to spend a little more the GTX770 is a nice upgrade that delivers twice the RAM and 50% more CUDA cores then the GTX760.
On our Premium workstation we recommend a QuadroK series card. These cards are designed and built by NVIDIA, and while you can find gamer cards that deliver more RAM and CUDA cores per dollar, these gamer cards are not built to the same rigorous standards that Quadro cards are. Quadro cards are designed for the demands of 24/7 professional content creation and design environments. They can handle the demands of long form video editing sessions that go on for days, without skipping a beat or dropping a frame. Which is why Avid only recommends Quadro cards for their highest end networked NLE workstations. We selected the K2000 which is the minimum QuadroK card we recommend with Adobe. I prefer the K4000 card, but it will add another $500 to your build.
We’re not including video storage in the cost of our build. You should pick the storage solution that best meets the remaining funds in your budget. We waited for Thunderbolt ports on the motherboard, so you know we are going to recommend you go with Thunderbolt storage for your video editing. If you don’t have the budget for that, you can still go with USB3 or old, reliable eSata. If you want to go with an internal RAID 0 or 5 that is a viable option as well. That said, if you have the budget for it, go Thunderbolt!
Here are some links to articles about the new Z87-Deluxe/Quad motherboard:
ASUS Introduces Z-87 Deluxe/Quad: World’s First Thunderbolt 2 Certified Motherboard
ASUS Z87-Deluxe/Quad review: first Thunderbolt 2.0 motherboard
Asus Launches First Motherboard with Thunderbolt 2
How to Build a Z87 Computer from Start-to-Finish ft. ASUS Z87-PRO
ASUS Z87 Channel Motherboards: Deluxe, Deluxe/Dual, Z87I-Deluxe,
PC upgrade to Haswell i7 4770k and Asus Z87-Deluxe mainboard. From an i7 920. There is a noticable diffrence in performance.
ASUS Z87-Expert (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review
Establishing a Golden Standard? ASUS Z87-EXPERT Motherboard Review
ASUS Z87 Mainstream Socket 1150 Motherboards
more links will be posted and you can also click here to check out the
What’s with Videoguys selling HP Workstations?
We know thousands of video editors and power computer users follow and build our DIY machines every year but we also recognize that some folks don’t want to take on building their own computer or have a trusted local guy who can build one for them. There are also many business users who demand a higher level of support and a level of tested stability and performance that you can’t get from building one system at a time. For these customers, the new HP z420 & z820 workstations are an excellent choice. And, In early 2014, the HP Workstations we offer will also be available with Thunderbolt connections! These machines use the more expensive i7 Xeon processors and are optimized for video editing and content creation. You pay a premium for them, but that premium has come down over the years, and we wanted to be able to offer our customers who need a top of the line Xeon workstation the ability to get one pre-configured from us, optimized for their specific NLE.