I apologise for the length of this post but from experience of reading here, I'm working on the principle of the more I explain about myself now, the less anyone willing to help me will have to ask later.
I have lurked around this forum on and off for a few years, read the various threads in the FAQ section, particularly PPBM5 and What PC to build thread and other related topics around what system to build. I have found them very useful and in particular have enjoyed reading about Harm Millaard's experiences First Ideas for a new system. For about about 12 months I've been delaying upgrading my PC but in Mr Millard's latest updates on his PPBM6 site he talks about new systems and provides a link to Intel's time line which suggests they are in no rush to replace the i739xx series CPU chip - which has I believe amongst other things 2 cores disabled. Normally bitter experience has taught me not to rush out and buy the latest technology but let others "test" it first and then benefit from reduced prices as that model is replaced. However, it now seems like last years technology is going to remain as this years technology and probably the first 2 quarters at least of next year and, if anything, the price of the i739xx series is at best staying at it's existing launch price or even rising. So it's time to take the plunge for me and upgrade.
My current hardware for editing:
I started with Premier 6.5 after I bought it as part of a bundle with a Matrox RTX 10 card - one of the most temperamental pieces of hardware I've had the misfortune to work with. I later upgraded to Premiere Pro 1.5 and edited with that using a Pentium 4 2.6 (overclocked to 3.2), 3 hard drives (no raid) and 4G of memory. The video footage used was avi recorded using a Canon MVX 30i and Panasonic NVGS27 and now I've added the Casio Exilim EX -FC100 (mpeg format) and a Panasonic HDC S90 (AVCHD).
My PC coped with the editing I did with avi footage but couldn't handle AVCHD format and this convinced me to upgrade to Premiere Pro CS5.5. At the same time I switched to editing on a Dell XPS M1530 (Centrino duo chip) - I upped the memory to 4GB, put Windows 7 64 bit home edition on and replaced the existing hard drive with a faster one. In addition I use a SATA Quickport duo attached to my laptop via an eSATA card. However, either the Quickport, eSATA card or XPS is extremely temperamental - I never see two external hard drives, 50% of the time see 1 external drive or none at all - when that happens I edit around it doing things I can with just the one internal drive - but this problem is not my question.
The type of editing i do:
I know people usually say around here not to try editing on laptops and believe me, I understand why, but using this setup I have been able to edit lots of videos - see here for examples of the type of editing I currently do:
The equipment test videos place the biggest strain on the hardware when editing. And, to do this editing I have to convert my AVCHD footage in to it's YouTube format before editing and even after I've done that it can be tediously slow to edit and playback even with premiere set to play at 1/4 normal quality. To convert the AVCHD footage to the YouTube format I edit in has to be done over many nights.
Now I am not a professional, I typically edit with up to 4 tracks of video with additional tracks for titles and my target audience is YouTube - which is why I can get away without editing in my prefered option of native AVCHD video format. However, I'm tired of all the waiting, stuttering, and many many days and hours of converting videos into a format I can use so I'm looking to upgrade. My problem is though I'm uncertain what path to take. The PPBM results are dominated by overclocked chips, and whilst the motherboard make and model is listed, the hard disks used, graphic card makes and models and memory modules are not. This is not a criticism of the PPMB tables (big thank you to Bill Gehrke & Harm Millaard for taking the time and effort to pull this much information together) but for me, I am not interested in being in the top 1000 in the world, nor overclocking like mad, and having had horror experiences of using matrox products and compatibility and stability issues with other hardware I'm more interested in compatability and practicality than speed when deciding what to build. I've also read the threads about marvel controllers, dual and quad channel memory support, the pro's and cons of SSD or standard drives, raid setups, the heat problems with overclocking the newer ivy bridge chips and general build advice etc so I'm not coming here without having done some reading first.
The type of system I'm thinking of:
So far based on what I've read here, I've come to the conclusion - but I'm open to suggestion:
- Chip - regrettably due to the cost and unlikely successor anytime soon - a 39xx (with appropriate cooler) because I want to edit in native AVCHD which seems to require the warrior type chip as opposed to the "economical" build regardless of what my target audience is and this suggests
- X79 motherboard (which must have an old PCI slot such as the Asus Sabertooth and which has room for the cooler I'm considering). As I will be carrying over my old terretec DMX 6 fire 24/96 soundcard - all my videos have their audio mastered in Audition using this card - best piece of advice I read was the audience will watch a bad video with good sound editing but not the other way round)
- 4 hard drives plus additional hard drive for operating system using onboard raid controllers (not sure whether the operating system drive will be WD caviar black or SSD and can't justify cost of external raid controller for either my type of use or number of hard drives being used)
- Video card - I can now buy a GTX 580 for less than the 670 - so not sure on the card especially based on Harm Millards observations that memory bandwith seems to be as important as CUDA cores
- Case - I have an Akasa 62 case with room for 5 hard drives - I won't be exceeding that, and if I overclock it will only be by a little so is it really necessary to replace it for a Tower Case - although I would prefer a case with a front connection for esata so I may have to change the case regardless
- Maximum memory 32G - so is it necessary to upgrade to windows 7 professional?
- Power source - I'll work out when I've decided on my components.
For me it's video source/dictated software chosen and hardware/audience(youtube) dictates format edited in. As I don't intend to change my camcorders format (AVCHD or mpeg) in the next couple of years and I'm not interested in having the "fastest" system around what I'm really interested in learning is:
- what system setups people use now for doing similar editing to me
- what make/models of the component parts in your system work well together
- and if you do have a bottle neck in terms of hardware, where is it and what hardware would you change to (not a dream model change, just a practical and realistic one)
I have deliberately not given a budget for the changes I'm intending because budget should not be the deciding factor in determining what I "need" to upgrade to for the "type of editing I do" - especially bearing in mind I've got by so far (admitedly at a tortoise pace) with by todays standards a standard spec laptop. Basically I don't want a Rolls Royce to go shopping at Wallmart but I'm tired of walking there and carrying everything back by hand!
Thank you very much for any help / experiences people can share.