Thanks for the quick reply!
I read the article/spreadsheet, but don't really understand what to get (sorry).
So, if I downgrade to cpu to the i7-930 and keep the velociraptor as my OS, what disk config would you recommend for the $700 difference?
Edited-To-Add (What power supply would you recommend as well).
Yes I was thinking for backup. I just want to get my system built and I will consider internal Raid in the future.
I work mostly on large photoshop files. 200 to 600 megs so Ram is my main concern now. On my current XP system with 4 megs and have to go eat dinner or take naps just waiting for filter effects to complete.
I'm strongly considering 24GB of DDR3 2000 for $980
Thank you. I purchased the system for just under 2k. Now, how should I have the three 1T drives configured? Just three separate drive letters or some type or raid?
As for the drobo, I have a droboelite with 12T or usable storage. Plenty for backup and using for photoshop. I've used external drives for photoshop for many years and it works just fine. I don't game, AT ALL. I play hold 'em on my phone, but that is about it. Way too many other distractions in the world
Please allow me to impose on your time (and others who may wish to comment) by asking for your opinion about a computer build that will be used primarily for photo and video processing with CS5. After investigating several possibilities, I have tentatively decided on the components listed here.
My status is that of an amateur photographer, and this system will not be used for any critical production work. I have been using CS4 with an older computer. Since I would like to build a new computer and CS5 has raised the bar for system requirements, I feel more comfortable with some critical review.
Motherboard: - GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD7 Rev 2
CPU - Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz
RAM - Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator 6 GB 3 x 2 GB (12GB 3x4GB?) PC3-12800 1600MHz 240-Pin DDR3 Core i7 3 channel Memory Kit
Video - PNY XLR8 VCGGTX480XPB GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5
HDD - OS and Programs - WD Caviar Black 1 TB WD2001FASS SATA (6G)
- Data - WD Caviar Black 1 TB WD2001FASS SATA (6G)- (2 drives)
Case - Antec P183 Black ATX
PSU - Antec Quatro TPQ 1000
DVD - Samsung SH-S243N (2 drives)
OS - Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
CPU: the 960 is much more expensive than the i7-930, which is easily overclocked beyond the stock 960. The 930 is the more economical choice.
RAM: Get at least 12 GB, either 6 x 2G or 3 x 4G. The latter is much more expensive, but allows upgrading to 24 G.
DVD: Why two DVD burners instead of at least one being a BR burner?
OS: Win 7 64 Pro is more than enough, unless you realy need the bit locker features.
Video: With only very limited test results and rather immature MPE support, we have not yet seen a significant performance difference between the 470 and 480 Fermi cards, but it appears the 470 is the more economical choice and has the same number of cores as the FX 5000/6000.
Definitely go with 12 GB of ram. If you have the budget, the new i7 970 is a great choice for the price. If not then the I7 930 is the best choice for the price. Unless you need the HDMI out on the 480GTX for 10 bit color, save money and get the 470GTX. Use the extra for the CPU.
Revised - The 470GTX has a Mini-HDMI out.
Harm, a build your own PC almost always ends up costing me about $500 more than a configured PC from HP or Dell with the same specs (using info from this thread and Videoguys). At first I found this strange because I thought a DIY system would be a better bargain. I then guessed that HP and Dell get better deals on the main components so that's how they can sell for less... although I understand they probably cut corners in the specs they won't list, like the power supply wattage or MOBO they use.
So what are your thoughts on just buying an HP (I'll leave Dell out since I read your criticism of them) and then upgrading low cost items like the power supply... assuming your upgrades don't come close to the cost of a DIY system?
And of all the major PC companies (HP, Dell, Gateway, etc.) is there any you'd recommend to people like me considering a "hybrid DIY" PC?
Strange, a still lacking HP Z800 comes out above $ 20 K, a DIY with more and better components under $ 12 K.
I think you are comparing apples to oranges. HP/Dell only give 1066 memory, do not allow overclocking, come with crippled BIOS, charge more for a single disk upgrade than two separate disks would cost elsewhere, come with PSU's that can't be upgraded in their case, etc.
I restate: Standard configurations from HP/Dell can be attractive if it meets your needs. If you upgrade anything they steal you blind.
I've become a bit of an expert on this subject lately. I own an HP workstation that went bad under warranty and got a replacement refurb that's an upgrade. I then wanted to upgrade the power supply and get specs on the rest of the machine, and looked hard at building my own machine from scratch.
There are pros and cons.
The specs of a z400 are not so bad at all: Xeon (same foundation as i7, though I don't know which level of i7), triple-channel. Not so bad. Prices are on their site and I'm sure you'd do considerably better at CDW (or elsewhere). The tech support with an HP workstation is pretty amazing in one sense: they're very accessible 24/7 with little if any wait times, will stay on the phone with you for hours without a peep and hold your hands and bend over backwards to help you in any way possible, and will replace questionable parts in the wink of an eye when you have a warranty to cover it (they recently replaced the mobo and CPU in the refurb machine -- onsite in one day -- when I had freezes even though it may have been the GPU and I hadn't even replaced that yet).
A considerable amount of their hardware is propriety, yet tech support has precious little knowledge about details/specs of various components. For instance, they told me for days -- a supervisor and three different techs -- that it's a standard ATX case and power supply and simple to put in my own larger after-market PSU... yet it turned out that it's a propriety PSU in terms of how it mounts into the case and the pin-out at the system-board plug. And, there are no larger PSU's to be had that will fit/work in the machine. To run a GTX-470, I ended up using a second, external PSU just for the GPU.
Which is actually working fine.
The case handles the cooling with that GPU just fine, as hot as the GPU is.
I looked into moving things into a Cooler Master case, until one of the more senior techs at HP told me too much is proprietary to make that feasible -- fan controls, power-button controls, etc.
Upgrading RAM to 12GB using 3 x 4GB has to be done with Kingston memory. Nobody else but HP and Kingston make compatible RAM for that machine. Buying it from HP costs over $1,500. Kingston from an online discount retailer it's about half that. It has unbuffered RAM with error correction. It's 1333 RAM running at 1066 (CPU's limit), but from all the research I've done that's a limitation that's really not that noticeable in daily operation. (I don't know how different that is with video production.)
If you want to look into it, carefully differentiate between what should come with the stock machine from HP (or Dell, which I know nothing about) and what you upgrade on your own.
Maybe in the end the savings with HP (or Dell) and even the warranty aren't worth the limitations. I'd compare costs on the base machine to see.
Building your own takes time to make sure everything is compatible, whereas you can get a stock machine from HP and easily add, on your own, a better GPU, RAID controller, upgraded RAM, hard drives (as many as will fit, which is not many in a z400 but for me it was enough -- five hard drives and an optical drive), and just go to work, even knowing you have very good warranty support if you got it with a good warranty offered by HP.
I hope that helps.
So how much did this Z400 originally cost you?
I can't answer that accurately because, as I said, they sent it as a replacement of a prior model (HP xw8600) under warranty which was no longer available. Also, I originally bought the xw8600 loaded from CDW (under an HP lease, making cost a secondary issue).
Note that when comparing, one advantage of buying HP is that if you get a workstation from them and decide you want a different OS (ie: to change from XP to Windows 7 64-bit), you can just ask tech support and they'll send you the discs for free under their umbrella license. It's just limited to your HP workstation(s). At least, this is how they handled it with me and how they explained it to me.
CDW says they're the largest retailer of HP machines (they say they sell more than HP does).
Here's a list of z400 configurations on the CDW site:
And here's a list of z400 configurations on the HP site:
your looking in the wrong places then.
when you start getting into a real system from HP/Dell they get very expensive very fast.
where you cant touch Dell etc is the sub $1000 range. once you start hitting $1500+ its not hard.
plus they option choices they give are well silly.
an HP Z800 with a Quadro 500 series? usless.
If you only want mediocre performance go with the z400. No one has yet submitted a z400 configuration CS5 benchmark but there is one z400 on the PPBM4 (read CS4) benchmarks page it is in 92nd place on the PPBM4 Benchmark Results page out of 142 results. With no overclocking and other BIOS restrictions it would be hard to get good performance out of a Z400. That basic HP box was in excess of $3000 (it comes with a stupid Quadro card) and he had to enhance it with several additional disk drives. You would be better off going to some of the semi custom builders where you would get a motherboard without those restrictions. Or buy the suggested level i7 x58 machine from Scott at ADK for $2700. for a top of the line Premiere Pro CS5 ready great system
He will even properly install your CS4/5 software for you for no additional charge.
" Note that when comparing, one advantage of buying HP is that if you get a workstation from them and decide you want a different OS (ie: to change from XP to Windows 7 64-bit), "
Just so you know this is the standard Win 7 to XP downgrade and not part of some special umbrella license which is actually called volume licensing. Volume licensing has different SKU numbers but does not have any different options than standard OEM. You can get the Win 7 Pro with XP downgrade from any system configurator.
I absolutely defer to your experience and expertise here, and that of Harm as well.
I consider myself a lot more enlightened as a result of this dialog and will look forward to building a system myself in the near future.
(I will have to decide separately about the half-dozen and then dozen machines I'll need to put in for office staff, but I'm guessing it's still better to have them built.)
(By the way, Eric, just to clarify, in my case they "upgraded" me from XP to Windows 7 at no charge. Though that's obviously not enough to tip the scales in favor of buying a machine from them.)
Depends when you bought the system. Sounds like you bought it when HP was shipping the systems with XP loaded with a Win 7 license. That was something many system configurators were doing when Win 7 first released. That is the same as the XP downgrade I was talking about. There is not a free license upgrade to Win 7 outside of that and they would have eaten the cost of the Win 7 when they reported their licenses used to Microsoft otherwise.
Gentlement, if I may ask quickly here: I do have that z400 (I'm a bit deflated now, after having recently become encouraged that it's not such a bad system at all, but that's another matter ).
Triple-channel. Four memory slots.
It came with 8GB RAM. I plan to toss it and put in 12GB consisting of 3 x 4GB (in triple channel). I found the right memory from Kingston via CDW for about $750. I'm installing CS5 tomorrow when it arrives. The machine has an F3 for the OS/apps, an F3 for swap, and three F3 drives in a RAID 5 array for data (with a top-of-the-line LSI RAID controller -- 8888ELP). GPU is GTX-470 Superclocked+ from EVGA.
I'll be using Premiere Pro for video production -- our own in-house business presentations... not a lot of non-stop production work (we're not a production company) but time sure is money for me when doing this work (and waiting on the machine).
The question is whether my going to the 12GB of RAM is a good use of funds.
Okay, I appreciate that... thought that's kind of one of those non-answer anwers, isn't it? I know it's a subjective thing, of course, but it can't be that illusive of a question.
Bill? Harm? Please?
(And by the way, can't anyone give me any consolation about my z400 at all? I dont' overclock anyway. Similar core as i7. Triple-channel. All the right supporting hardware that I added. How bad can it be? Is one benchmark system enough to judge, really, without taking all the other specs into account?)
Harm Millaard wrote:
In your next system you can still profit from the memory you buy now, by just moving it to your next machine and reinstalling what you currently have. It is a wise decision IMO.
Actually, I need to clarify that from what I can tell this isn't necessarily the case. This HP z400 takes "unbuffered, with ECC." I haven't noticed any major mobo or CPU components that I'd likely use in a DIY machine that would take those specs. It seems to be unique to HP for some reason. (When I look up the manufacturer's cross-reference on the Kingston memory, for instance, the only OEM reference they show is that it's made to fit in "HP" machines.)
So, unless I'm missing something, I'd be making the investment for this HP z400 machine only.
Of course, until today, I thought this machine might be plenty ample for me for quite some time. I "thought" it was pretty close to what I was looking at building myself with an ASUS mobo and an i7-930. It has a Xeon 3520 and triple-channel RAM.
Now... I have no idea how short I fall of that fantasy with this machine. Sounds like you really feel I should still be looking at building a new machine as soon as possible. I'm not exactly clear on why. But, well... sigh. Live and learn.
A new DIY machine would be the same except for the CPU and mobo. And of course wouldn't have the many "constraints" of the HP machine.
If you still feel that's worth building, then the question is whether this z400 is worth putting 12GB into for the 2-3 months or so I'll still be using it, and whether it's worth keeping the z400 as a second machine for a part-time production assistant. (I can always build a machine for the production assistant, too, and turn the z400 into a general business machine, which it obviously should do fine for.)
Man, I just realized that if I'm right that the HP machine takes a RAM that has specs that are "exclusive" to HP, well, that's yet one more insane constraint that makes HP machines that much less attractive.
So, now that I've learned a great lesson for the future, I'm still hoping you can please share your opinion on my preceding question until I have more cash for building a new machine.
Of course, $750 could go significantly towards a new machine.
I just want to get back to work for now, though, really. I have been suffering downtime too long. So, either way, a new machine will have to go gradually.
So, add the 12GB or stay with... 6GB triple-channel or 8GB dual-channel?
"Okay, I appreciate that... thought that's kind of one of those non-answer anwers, isn't it? I know it's a subjective thing, of course, but it can't be that illusive of a question."
Unfortunately this is why so many people don't know what they need or is required with HD. There are 8 ot 9 codecs that are predominantly used now days and each one has it's own optimal requirements. Add on this how long your standard projects are, frame rate/resolution of material most of the time, how many layers you normally deal with, how much work is done in AE or another similar program, and the type of delivery most commonly used. Based on the info you gave, the only sure upgrade that covers most or all of those is 12GB of ram. Mind you with some material and AE that will not be enough. With almost everything in Premiere though that will give you optimal performance. So yes that is my answer. 12 GB of ram is the first place I would start and yes that system is worth it to keep an investment already made in production. Remember that can always become a render box later for longer projects if you get another system.
Thanks so much. I hugely appreciate it.
I don't know if and when I'll ever get into HD.
I mainly output to the web and DVD at present. It's mainly marketing, training, and fund-raising presentations. Though, of course, I never know how much more we'll advance.
I have a video guru out-of-state who I FTP or send files to on an external hard drive who processes our work with AE to improve on it and I believe our next plan is for him to set me up with some automated processes and workflow to do with AE no my end, but I don't expect (based on my very limited knowledge) that it will be the kind of work taxing a 12GB setup. We adjust lighting or color balance or whatever it would be called, key out the chroma-key screen and replace it with an image, and so forth. We will also be getting into a little 3D and some animation, which will be mostly done on his system.
I assume you wouldn't be over concerned from this minimal input I've been able to provide so far that I'd be running into problems with 12GB, correct?
Yes 12GB will be more than enough for SD and that type of work likely wont push the system in AE with SD material. That will also set the system for when you make the transition to HD and then you can look at your AE workflow requirements for ram again then.
I assume when you say it can become a "render box" later when I get another system, you also/mainly mean "encoding" box. I am still learning the lingo but when I ask about whether the GTX-470 and MPE will save me time on those long exports to AVI and so forth, I'm told it only helps with render but not encoding and that those long time-consuming processes are encoding. I assume we're just getting into sematics here and that I'd use a secondary machine for those long processes like export to AVI? Or is that not exactly right? (I will, of couse, have to copy files across the LAN first, and then back.)
Guys, I have half an hour to decide on the 12GB of RAM now (if I want it in time for installing CS5 tomorrow), or whether to wait a little while. Based on what I'm doing, will I suffer much if I stay with 6GB or 8GB a little while? I'm seeing varied opinions. Some say that even at 6GB or 8GB I could see some serious compromises with some of the work I'm doing and that 12GB will be substantially faster/better overall. But one respected advisor says to "try it" with the 6GB or 8GB and just look at the CPU utilization in Task Manager to see if most of my processes are even using most of that 6GB or 8GB or not.
Sorry to press the issue but right now balancing my time while working and deciding on the little bit of money are both important priorities at the moment.
What to you think?
Yes Render Box meant render/encode. Many editors have run into time sink issues with regards to exporting long projects and having to start editing new ones immediately. Having a system to offload that time intensive encoding to another system is the work around for that so an editor can start another project immediately.
CS5 will only allocate to ram what is available. It will still function as intended with 6 or 8GB of ram. It just wont encode as fast when you export or will limit your realtime playback. The only way for you to see the difference is to have the 12GB installed after you run the 6 or 8GB. It never hurts to try the current config first and see if it meets your needs as long as you can get the ram later.
Jay, here is something that I have been working on for our PPBM conclusions web pages. This is not the final version as I have to do some double checking. I will let you make your own conclusions. I cannot of course guarantee it will hold true with your setup.
Sorry about that I found I labeled it wrong check back in a couple of minutes
OK here is the corrected picture
Thanks, Bill, that's very informative, and consistent with what I've been told by an expert today by phone, too. That is worth getting the additional RAM to me.
So, if I may please ask, until I go to 12GB, are you in the camp that says I'm better off with 6GB in triple-channel mode or 8GB in dual-channel? (I own four 2GB sticks right now and there are four slots.)
I am sorry to say that I have never tested 2-channel versus 3-channel so for what is worth my opinion is you should expect more bandwidth from the three channel. Is it worth the extra money, I do not know.
i would add that tri vs dual would look pretty much like your graph (nice BTW)
only transpose the 6 gig for dual channel and the 12 gig for tri.
its about a 15% decrease in performance for pro apps. (regardless of what some hardware reviews site may have said)
Eric? you concur?
In 8GB dual channel configurations, I have seen benchmarks ranging from 13GB/s to 16GB/s for bandwidth depending on the ram speed. That is rather significant since 12GB Tri-channel configs benchmark ranging from 21GB/s to 28GB/s depending on the ram speed and whether you have a 32nm cpu or a 45nm cpu. Intel changed memory controllers in the 32nm production and the memory bandwidth performance dropped by a decent amount.
Revised: I finally was able to benchmark the new I7 970 and the memory bandwidth is 26.4GB/s which is closer to the 45nm cpu's than the 980X has been. Evidently there is been some change to the memory controller Intel is using on that cpu versus the other 32nm cpu's previously. After reviewing our current 980X cpu's and their benchmarks for this current batch, the Ram Bandwidth is consistently 26GB/s versus the 24.5GB/s we were seeing from the 980X with DDR3 1600 since it released. Looks like Intel made some changes overall to the 32nm memory controllers.
I'm back to my original question: I have a machine that supports triple-channel. It has four memory slots. It came with 4 x 2GB for 8GB. Until I spring for 12GB of RAM consisting of 3 x 4GB, I want to decide whether I'm better off "removing" the fourth memory stick to bring it down to 3 x 2GB for 6GB that will run in triple-channel mode, or whether I should leave that fourth stick in so I have 8GB running in dual-channel mode.
I know it depends on what I'm doing. I'm doing relatively simple videos in Premier Pro, outputting to AVI, maybe processing in Virtual Dub, converting AVI to FLV in Squeeze, and using Encore to create DVD images.
I have a couple votes saying to go with the 8GB. Maybe I should leave it at that. I'm double-checking partly because the HP tech who was helping me felt pretty strongly that 6GB (or 12GB) and thus triple-channel might make the machine run more stable. I don't know where he got that. He seemed to have read or heard somewhere that the particular system I have had some issues when not running in triple-channel mode. It may have just been his long-shot way of reaching to find a reason that I was getting system freezes before we replaced all the hardware and it went away.
It seems I should probably stay with 8GB in dual channel until I can go to 12GB in triple channel. Agreed?
Europe, Middle East and Africa