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dwywit
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mid-life upgrade

Feb 19, 2012 11:46 PM

Tags: #ssd #sata

Hi - looking for some opinions on my proposed upgrade.

 

I'm going to join the 21st century, i.e. upgrade to Win 7 and Production suite 5.5. I've only edited small jobs before but the upcoming musical production (a school production of "Fame") would tax my system - it's a 4-camera shoot of a 2-hour show (standard-def, because no-one wants blu-rays, see below), plus interviews and "behind the scenes"), so 32-bit isn't going to cut it.

 

The software upgrade will be OS (XP Pro 32-bit to 7 Pro 64-bit), and adobe (PPro 2 to Production Suite 5.5.x). The main board and processor will stay the same for now (Gigabyte H55M-S2V and Core i5), but memory will be increased from 2 GB to 4GB (1333FSB), and the internal hard drives will be re-organised.

 

Currently I have the OS, programs and swap file on an old PATA IDE 200GB drive, one 250GB SATA for source files (footage and music), and another 250GB SATA for renders, etc. Here's my proposal:

 

Install a 64GB SSD for the OS + programs, keep the 2 x 250GB SATA drives as is (plus put the swapfile on one), and move the 200GB PATA drive to an external enclosure for backups (this isn't the first drive I've re-purposed as an external backup, so I've got lots of external storage).

 

The last job I edited was another school musical (my first "big" edit) - 2 hour show, 2 camera shoot (Sony HVR Z1P), shot in HDV, and I observed a few peculiarities: my machine did NOT top out on processor or memory, although it did take up to 20 or 30 seconds to swap back from another program. The renders took about 8 or 9 hours each time, and I watched the XP task manager periodically - the CPU sat around 60-70%, memory around 1.8GB (total 2GB), so I'm assuming it was the discs that limited performance. It was re-compressing from HDV to std-def because although I shot in HDV, the customer (the school) said that no-one ordered blu-rays, all the parents wanted standard DVDs - I could have cried when I heard that - it's pretty obvious when you look at the HDV and std-def versions side-by-side on the same monitor - it looks like I shot it on a VHS camera!

 

Anyway, I think this is about the best bang-per-buck arrangement I can afford at the moment - is anything I've proposed a backward step?

 

I've no intention of moving to RAID yet - I don't think that's an option without a dedicated controller, and I'm not going to do that in a domestic-grade machine. One day I'll have my ideal setup, but for now I can afford new software and an SSD, but not new drives all round.

 

cheers

 

Bernie Dwyer

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2012 12:57 AM   in reply to dwywit

    There is no step back in this setup, but I would put my priorities differently.

     

    A 4 camera shoot of a two hour show plus interviews etc. means you will end up with at least 10 hours of source material, plus a large number of pictures of the school, plus some extra footage, so in all be prepared for around 150 GB source material. That will put your source disk, which assumedly is an older generation disk at a fill rate of more than 60% to start with. Further take into consideration you have only two DIMM slots on that mobo and you have extensive multicam to do, and your proposed RAM is another bottleneck.

     

    What I would do, taking into consideration it is only SD material and there will come a moment you will get a new system, is the following:

     

    1. Increase memory to 2 x 4 GB to a total of 8 GB or ideally to 2 x 8 GB. Can be ported to a new system.
    2. Skip the SSD, keep the 200 GB PATA as the C drive.
    3. Get a nVidia GTX 560 Ti video card for hardware MPE. Can be ported to a new system.
    4. Add a 1 TB SATA 7200 RPM disk for source material. Can be ported to a new system.

     

    The SSD will not help editing performance and on such a weak system seems like a waste of precious budget space.

    Memory and disk speed will be crucial for multicam work. The video card may not be really needed, since there is no scaling between source material and end product and it is not needed for the encoding, but if you use a lot of accelerated effects, then it will be very useful.

     

    CS2 could only use 4 GB memory max, CS5.x can use all that is installed and going from 4 to 8 GB makes a huge difference and the same applies to going from 8 to 16 GB.

     

    The weakness of your system is the CPU even after the three proposed 'mid-life conversions', but there is no price-worthy alternative, so you have to do without hyperthreading.

     

    Have a look at our PPBM5 Benchmark to see how other i5 systems do and what the impact of memory can be, especially on the MPEG2-DVD test.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2012 7:02 AM   in reply to dwywit

    For the most part, I second Harm. Unfortunately, the first-generation i5 and i7 CPUs do not support 8GB DIMMs at all because their integrated memory controllers can address only 2GB per rank for unbuffered DIMMs. This limits the maximum size of the DIMMs to 4GB each.

     

    And if your system does not have a discrete graphics card at all (and thus relies solely on the CPU's in-package graphics processor), your particular first-gen i5 has only two physical cores (albeit with hyperthreading). That's because all of the first-generation quad-core i5 CPUs require a discrete graphics card just to even work at all since they lack an onboard graphics processor. The two dual-core first-gen i5 desktop systems that are listed in the current PPBM5 results list ranked well into the bottom quartile of that list. (To be fair, all of the first-generation i5 CPU-based systems rank in the bottom quartile as well largely due to (with one exception) the lack of either an MPE-On export/render result or an MPE acceleration-supported GPU.) Unfortunately, as Harm stated, there is no cost-effective CPU upgrade since that platform is already EOL.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2012 8:02 PM   in reply to dwywit

    Does that GT240 have 1Gig (or more) of video ram?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2012 10:54 AM   in reply to dwywit

    What a waste of cooling capability for such a slow GPU, especially one with slow DDR3 RAM. My old GT 240 with faster DDR5 RAM made do with a reference single-slot cooler. Premiere Pro CS5.5 really needs a GPU with at least 192 CUDA cores and at least a 192-bit graphics memory bus in order for the performance to not be downright sluggish. Unfortunately, the GT 240 has only 96 CUDA cores and only a 128-bit graphics memory bus, so while it was adequate for the older versions of CS5, it is no longer competitive in CS5.5.

     

    And due to the fact that you currently have absolutely nothing at all whatsoever in the PCI-e x16 slot, you have one of the i5-6xx series CPUs with only two physical cores. These are the only first-generation desktop i5 CPUs with hyperthreading. Such CPUs will never be as fast as a true quad-core i5 of the same generation.

     

    As such, if you really need to use that particular PCI device, you're stuck with purchasing a reference GT 440 card at best (which will not be meaningfully faster than that GT 240). Anything higher will eat up two slots unless you get one of a select few with a single-slot cooler (which will almost always cost significantly more money than reference cards with reference double-slot coolers).

     
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