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PC Build (Many thanks to Harm's articles)

Jul 2, 2010 2:12 PM

Hello all.


For the past months I've been reading a lot about Hardware for building a new system. Actually it all started a few months back while reading Harm's excellent guide:A PC buying guide for NLE (mainly Intel) I also read  To RAID or not to RAID, that is the question and a few more of his great articles. I printed and marked it. That led me to read other forum threads, and other sites, and so I made my own list. It was a lot of work!!! I learned a lot! I'm not sure I'll do that for my next build, but anyhow I've learned a lot and I'm about to go to the computer folks as a more knowledgeable customer who knows what to buy. Thank you very much Harm Millard!


Anyhow, I'd like to hear a few opinions. Here's my plan:


A system for Production premium CS4 (will upgrade in a few years or when I feel there is a need, not right now), editing DV and possibly HD formats (not uncompressed)

CPU: i7930

MoBo: GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R

Ram: 6/9/12 GB RAM

Win 7 pro.


disk setup:

1. OS &Programs  (500 GB)

2. Backed up captured/imported media  (RAID0 2x 500 GB)

3. Scratch (media cache, preview files). (Raid 0 2 X 500GB) exports?

4. Projects, digital media, media created for the project, exports [(500 GB) or 1 TB?]

5. Miscellaneous. (500 GB)


Using these disks:

· Samsung HD103SJ 1TB SATA 2 32MBSpinpoint F3 – 

·   Samsung Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ,500GB,7200rpm,16 MB Cache



·   nvidiaGTX-285/280/275/260/250  


·   Nvidia9800GX2 or 8800gts 


·   QuadroFX 580 or Quadro FX 1800

My questions are:

  • How much RAM?

3x2GB Ram=6GB - Could that be enough?Is it true that if I want 12GB RAM I better buy a set of 12 and not 2 sets of 6? what about a set of 3X2GB RAM=6 + 3X1GB RAM= 9GB?

  • What do you think about my disk setup?

I planned it that way so that no crucial unrecoverable file would be on the risky raid0. I think perhaps to first export files to the raid array for speed, and afterwards, transfer to the non raid disk. Are the disk sizes right? 500 GB or 1TB for no.4 (projects, digital media and export)?

  • GPU

A card that would be enough for CS4: Premiere,After Effects, Photoshop, Flash and the rest of the suite. No need for CUDA approved cards at the moment. I think open GL is relevant for After Effects. I still have to check availability and real prices on those cards. What do you recommend?


Extra smaller questions of preference:

What's your preferences regarding an adobe keyboard vs. stickers vs. a regular keyboard?

What's your preferred monitor set up? 2 small ones or one big screen?

Is a Firewire 800 card useful for you?



Any opinions or comments would be of great value!!! Thank you all in advance!

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 2, 2010 2:25 PM   in reply to Editor Naama

    As far as I know, CS4 does not use the GPU for much of anything... so any ATI card with enough video memory will work


    nVidia and CUDA is CS5 only... read


    For nVidia, the GTX 2xx line is "old" (the 285 is no longer made) and the GTX 470 is what is "usually" recommended now


    For multiple drives in RAID, plus to allow for nVidia's power requirements if you go that route, you need at least a 1000watt power supply


    My computer is described in my notes... no raid, but a GTX 285

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 2, 2010 4:13 PM   in reply to Editor Naama

    So much depends on your available budget, that it is hard to give you good advise, but here are some remarks:


    1. Memory. Start with 6 (3 x 2) GB. When the budget allows go for two of these kits to increase memory to 12 GB. It can improve performance by around 30%.


    2. Video card. None of the ones you mentioned. It is a waste of money. As long as you use CS4, any ATI card below $ 100 is enough. When you make the switch to CS5, then I would consider the GTX-470 as the most economical choice.


    3. Disk setup. With all those disks, 7 x 500 GB F3's, I would follow these suggestions: Adobe Forums: Generic Guideline for Disk Setup but that may entail that you need to consider a separate raid controller. You have read some of my articles, so you already know that I favor the Areca ARC 1680 iX with BBM and prefer a raid3 setup. I would abstain from using a raid0, because of the lack of redundancy. With 6 disks in a raid3 (and one as a boot disk) you can achieve an average transfer rate of around 400 MB/s or better and a net storage capacity (using 500 GB disks) of 2.5 TB.


    FW800 is not useful unless you intend to use FW800 externals.


    For dual monitor setup I use two 24" PVA screens. I would never go back to single monitor, but that is a personal choice. For CC work I use a CRT over FW400. Even on my 16.3" notebook, I use a 2-nd 20" monitor.


    I use a Bella keyboard. To summarize it, it is way too expensive, it is nice to have the colored keycaps, it has only mediocre touch, my keycaps are completely worn off, there are no replacement keycaps available and I have serious doubts about getting a new one because of the ridiculous price and I have used keycap stickers before, that always got loose, dirty or uncomfortable, mostly within 6 months of use. Notice that if I lived in the US, I would directly order a new one from BHPhotoVideo, since their prices are acceptable to me, but over here it is utterly ridiculous and shipping costs make it way too costly. You can get a pretty decent keyboard for around € 50, but for a Bella keyboard you have to pay € 250 (current local prices).

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 4:56 AM   in reply to Editor Naama

    GPU: Yes, I intended something like the ATI HD  4650/4850/5670. These are not very expensive and with CS4 will not make a whole lot of difference.


    Disk setup: 400 MB/s is not amazing! Look what you can achieve with a larger array:




    Your raid0 considerations are solid.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 7:31 AM   in reply to Editor Naama

    >internal sound card


    My Asus P6 motherboard has built-in sound that works Ok with the AVCHD files I use


    I will guess that if you really want to hear 5.1 sound you would need a sound card and that number of speakers

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 11:03 AM   in reply to Editor Naama

    Definitely not. I prefer to use the on-board sound over an extra sound card, that takes up a slot, often comes with bloated software and often causes software problems.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2010 4:31 PM   in reply to Editor Naama

    >  Which ATI card do you recommend that would also be good enough for after Effects?



    The video card is not important to After Effects, relative to things like RAM, number of processors, processor speed, and having multiple fast hard disks. If you get a stock graphics card, you'll be fine with regard to After Effects. Yes, a better graphics card will make some things work a little better, but I'd spend my budget on the other factors that I mentioned before even considering that.


    But, since we're on the Premiere Pro forum, I have to reiterate the thing that you already know: One of the supported CUDA cards with Premiere Pro CS5 makes the world of difference.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 4, 2010 6:39 AM   in reply to Editor Naama

    Instead of using 2 x 2 raid0, you could also consider 1 x 4 raid0. But now I'm getting confused. You have 7 disks, one for OS & programs, and 6 for projects, media, scratch etc. If you have enough SATA connectors to connect them all, you have a variety of ways to setup your array(s). One approach would be 3 x 2 disk raid0, so the OS will see that as 4 separate disks (including the OS disk). Or 2 x 3 disk raid0, that the OS will as 3 separate disks, including the OS disk. I don't think it will make much difference, but in either case use the suggested setup here, where the number of logical disks is relevant, not the physical disks. Adobe Forums: Generic Guideline for Disk Setup

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 18, 2011 11:16 AM   in reply to John T Smith

    I have a 'funny' problem with my on-board ASUS Realtek sound card. Following mainly Harm's advice, I built a very nice system (P6X58D Premium MoBo, i7-930 CPU, ENGTX 480 graphic card, Lian Li case, etc...) that works great  - except the sound card .


    With a really inexpensive microphone, and the headphone plugged in the front panel, I can only record (to Windows Sound Recorder and/or Audacity) if the output is muted. More precisely, the more I decrease the output volume the more power goes to those recording software.


    I have read so many bad reports about this on-board sound card and ASUS technical help that instead of struggling to fix this problem, I would rather add a nice medium-to-high quality sound expansion card to this otherwise very good system (unless there is a simple solution). I would appreciate any advice.


    Thanks in advance, Laci.

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