4 Replies Latest reply on Nov 18, 2012 12:06 PM by CadenceDVE

    What parts of my economy/budget drive set up need attention?


      Question: what parts of my drive set-up should I be concerned about? Or should I be concerned? I'm not having any problems right now, but I'm attempting to plan for future upgrades when they're needed. Now that I have more experience editing, I'm seeing how important it is to tailor my system to match the footage that I'll need to work with, a concern that I did not have when I first started learning to edit, basically because I did not know any better.


      I have an entry-level, four-drive system and I edit solely in CS5 right now, with a little PS and AE when needed. 95% of my time is spent in Premiere.


      Here are my drives:

      1. Boot - 150gb Velociraptor - contains OS and pagefile
      2. Media - 2x WD Black 1tb drives with a Jmicron hardware RAID card in AID0 - holds all footage to be cut and any still images
      3. Swap - 64 gig SSD (Patriot PS-100) - holds Previews, Media Cache and Media Cache files only, nothing else
      4. Storage – WD Blue 500 gb, holds all music and VO's, as well as final renders from AME and all my Premiere project files


      Backups: The storage drive is backed up daily to an internal 500gb Seagate Barracuda and the media drive is backed up daily to an external 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda. I hate loosing data. I've killed so many drives over the years I could probably build a wall out of them...


      And here are my basic system specs:


      EVGA P55 LE motherboard

      Intel i5-650 at 3.2ghz

      Corsair 1600mhz RAM, 8gigs in 4 sticks, 9-9-9-24 timings

      EVGA GTX 465 OC'ed to 800mhz on the GPU clock and 1700 on the memory clock

      Coolermaster Silent Pro 700w PSU



      Obviously, I'm in the economy/budget arena in terms of my set up. I know I need to go to 16 gigs of RAM – that's going to be done by the end of the year. I know I will also need to upgrade my video card, but I have to say that the 465 has been really good to me so far, I've been very happy with it.


      Specifically, I'm wondering about my SSD – it's already on the way out, the read speeds are still fine but the write speeds are way, way down, at about 18 megs/sec when it used to write at over 100 megs/sec. But, I don't mind as I can replace that pretty easily, I'm just not sure if I should replace it when it finally dies. I don't really like SSDs anymore, I thought they were great when they first came out but now that I've learned more about NAND memory and its limitation on writes, I'm not so excited. I'm not sure what to replace it with when it dies, but I'm thinking another velociraptor as I'm very happy with that drive, and I like WD in general versus other hard drive manufacturers.


      I'm also wondering about my Media drive which is in AID0 – it's fast enough for the footage I work with now, which is 99% AVI files at 1280x720 with data rates of 25 megs/sec or less. But if I moved up to other types of footage, I'm wondering when I'll start having problems scrubbing around, etc... I can work at half resolution if I have to, but I prefer to edit at full resolution if at all possible. I'd originally started on a single-drive media drive, and that did not work at all with the HD footage, it was a nightmare until I went to a stripped volume.


      Until I move up to other footage with higher data rates, or with multi-cam footage, I'm thinking my AID0 Media drive is sufficient. But, I'm not sure...


      Just wondering on cost-effective ways to upgrade my drives in the next 6-12 months and looking for ways to get the most performance from my drives and their set up. I like being efficient...


      Thank you in advance for any advice -- it will be appreciated and taken seriously.

        • 1. Re: What parts of my economy/budget drive set up need attention?
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          In this well written post you raise a whole lot of issues, so let me try to go into somewhat more.


          Your source material is mostly 1280 x 720 material, in an AVI wrapper and data rates of 25 Mbps of less. I don't know what codec is in that wrapper, but I'm guessing AVCHD or something along those lines. The first thing to realize is that when data rates get lower, there is more compression and thus more burden on the CPU but when data rates get higher, then the burden shifts from the CPU (decompressing is easier with higher data rates) but requires more bandwidth from the disk setup.


          Yesterday I was testing HDV, 25 Mbps and Canon 422 MXF, 50 Mbps material. You know that even though the differences were very small, the higher data rate Canon material was easier to edit and marginally faster than HDV. The message is that often it is better to have high data rate material.


          With that out of the way, let's look at your hardware. First of all, the GTX 465 OC is a perfectly good video card if you have applied the 'hack' and even if you were to exchange it for say a GTX 660 Ti, which is faster, runs cooler and can steer more monitors, it seems like a waste of money, because the performance difference is marginal at best. Your video card is held up by the CPU and the limited memory, so IMO a GTX 660 Ti is complete overkill.


          Your current disk setup is very good for an economical/budget system. When the Patriot dies and needs replacement, you can get another Velociraptor, but you could also consider a Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 or another WD Caviar Black. If you plan on starting with multicam editing, the media cache will grow quite a bit and then either the fill rate on a small Velociraptor may become a bottleneck or a bigger Velociraptor, that is far more expensive than the two alternatives.


          Of course the system would profit greatly from more memory, especially when starting multicam, but is it wise? It requires new sticks and your system is still held back by the dual core CPU. I think that when you start the multicam and do more complex projects, it becomes time for a new motherboard and CPU. Your investements in disks can be carried to the new system, as can your video card, but investing in new memory now requires that you have already considered what kind of motherboard you may want to get in the future, so that at least you are certain that that investment can also be carried to the new system.


          From that perspective, make sure that whichever disk you will get, that it is a SATA 6G disk, even when your current motherboard does noy profit from it yet, your new motherboard will.


          For a new CPU, the minimum I would consider is the i5-3570K, which is a quad core, but no HT. Better, but also more expensive is the i7-3770K which has HT. So all you need to consider is which 1155 socket mobo would meet your needs and which memory is approved on that board. If that same memory is also compatible with your current motherboard, then you will know you can port this investment to the new system as well.


          Hope this helps.

          • 2. Re: What parts of my economy/budget drive set up need attention?
            CadenceDVE Level 1

            Hey Harm –


            Thank you for your excellent advice! My source footage, right now, is all screen captures and it's all wrapped in AVI and it's all encoded in the Fraps-proprietary format, which is not a codec I happen to know all that much about. I did some research the other day to learn about their codec, but all I could find is that it's based on the ffdshow codec. My bitrates run from about 10 mb/sec up to about 25 at the highest, with the average in the 15-20 range. I have successfully edited some MXF wrapped footage, but I've already deleted those source files so I don't remember what the bandwidth was for that project. I usually just work with a single stream of footage, but I would like to be able to do split screens, overlays, etc... with two streams of the type of footage I referenced above, the AVI wrapped screen captures. In order to do that, I'm thinking I'll need a second AID0, simply because I've never been successfully able to edit the AVI footage from a single drive, even from my SSD, it just stutters too much when I'm scrubbing, etc... I love to edit with smooth footage so I can find any errors in the footage, like bad camera moves or color shifts, something that happens frequently with the footage I work with when the camera moves too far away and the global or point illumination shifts or fails to render the way I want it to.


            I do love my 465, I tried the 470 and a 480 when they came out but neither played well with my motherboard for some reason – the 465 was much more stable for recording footage, which is something I do on my editing rig. The 470 and 480 would have occasional drops in their FPS rates for no particular reason, which made it very hard to capture my footage at without any hiccups. I did apply the hack of adding the card to the list of Mercury Engine approved cards, and it worked like a charm. I really enjoy not having to render my projects until they are done, rather than having many intermediate renders, which was the case before the MPE came out in CS5. I agree that the GTX 660 Ti is too much – it just won't provide enough of a benefit to justify the cost, at this time.


            I'd planned on replacing the Patriot SSD (which was a cheapie model when I bought it, but that was two years ago and the good SSDs were crazy expensive) with a Velociraptor because I wanted something that was close to the speed of the SSD, but I did not calculate the increase in my media cache from multicam shots. I'm glad you suggested a WD Black – that is a good alternative as I'd rather have the extra storage of a 1 tb drive versus the 300 or 600 gb I can get from the Velociraptor line. I've been staying away from Seagate for daily use/working drives because of my bad experiences in the past with that company – my 1.5 TB barracuda died after only 2 years of very light service and I've lost other drives from Seagate in the past, enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, as it were.


            I agree about the RAM – I have a huge noctura cooler installed, so getting to the RAM will require completely removing it, which is not that big of a deal but does take a little while. Fortunately, the cooler screws into the motherboard mounting bracket from the top (or front) of the motherboard, so I don't have to remove the entire motherboard to access it, which was a big problem I had with my last cooler. I see that many cases include cut-outs in the rear to allow access to those mounting screws, but my case did not include that feature as I'd never had that problem in the past and did not know better. Live and learn, eh? My current RAM is 4 stick of 2 gigs each and I bought the best Corsair RAM I could get at the time, about two years ago now, so it runs well and it's in quad channel mode, which I like. It's only able to do 1600 mhz at the most, but that's fast enough for me right now.


            It looks like my best plan is to look to build a new rig, carrying over my old disks but leaving behind most all of the rest. I'd need a new motherboard for sure as my current one is an LGA 1156, and I see that the 1155 is the current socket that popular. I'd also like to go to 16 gigs of RAM, again in 4 sticks but with low profile RAM so I can be sure it'll fit. I'd go to 32 gigs, but I'm locked out of accessing more than 16 because I bought Win 7 Home Premium... oops. Upgrading to Win 8 Pro might fix that 16 gig limit, but I have to check as I'm not sure if it does or not. Obviously, going to a motherboard with the 1155 socket (or whatever is the latest type when I am ready to upgrade) will be essential, and of course I'll have to find a new processor. Hopefully I can carry over my cooler, as I love it and I don't want to drop another $100 on another one. Nocura is just awesome. I agree that quad-core is the way to go, and I'm going to buy an unlocked processor no matter what, just so I can OC it in the future. I'll probably carry over my 465 video card, unless there is something else on the market at that time that's really worth the upgrade. Oh, and thank you for the reminder about SATA 6G – I agree that's a great feature to have for the future, even if it's not much use for the disks that are available right now. I'd also like to have more than 6 SATA ports, which is what comes on my current motherboard – 8 or 10 would be better, as I've already filled all 6, including one that is routed to an eSATA port for my external backup.


            So, ya... seems better to just save up money now and do a full brain transplant on my rig in a year or so, rather than trying to do incremental upgrades. I'd originally planned to upgrade my processor, as I started with an i5, but since I can't find any socket 1156 processors available right now, I'm thinking that I'd be best off sticking with my basic dual-core and waiting for a better, LGA 1155-based motherboard and better, quad-core processor to go with that socket.


            Oh, and a new case. At least a full tower, perhaps even bigger. Mid-tower is a huge pain to work with. Boy, that was the one piece of advice I wish I'd heard before I started building my rig, which was my first “real” editing rig. You'd be amazed at how much I've managed to cram in there. All of the drives are separated by one bay's worth of space to help with air flow, but it's still a rat's nest of cables. And I guess I'll have to go with a larger power supply – I like my 700 watt Silent Pro, but it's about at the limit of what I feel safe asking it to do, so I'd like to go with a 850 or 1000 watt PS with the highest level of quality I can get. I like the Antec line, especially the Gold series, so I'll probably go with them in the future as most all the reviews I read about them are very positive.


            Anyway, thank you again -- I feel better having a clear plan as to what I'll need to upgrade in the future.

            • 3. Re: What parts of my economy/budget drive set up need attention?
              Harm Millaard Level 7

              If you have a (number of) spare moment(s), you may want to have a look at Planning & Building a NLE System


              It describes a build I went through recently and I'm still adding to the tuning section. It is in a different league altogether, but may give you some ideas, perspectives and a general feel of what to consider when building a new system. There are a lot of pages to read, but I hope you can derive something worthwhile for your situation.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: What parts of my economy/budget drive set up need attention?
                CadenceDVE Level 1

                Yes, thank you -- I'll review that tutorial again, it's a lot to digest, but it's extremely well written and I appreciate having it as a resource, big time.


                I finally realized how to solve my issue. I added another internal drive. I'm up to 8 total now, but two are just for backups only, so they don't count.


                Here's what I did:


                Boot drive (150 Veli): Just OS and programs, plus the pagefile


                Cache (2x 1tb WD Blacks in AID0): Primary footage, plus any still images, backed up to a 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda whenever I ingest new footage


                Supplementary (64 gig Patriot SSD): Any secondary footage for overlays, split-screens, etc... this drive is just fast enough to feed the data out without stuttering all the time.


                Storage (500gig WD Blue): This holds all my music files, VOs, and Premiere's project files and it's backed up daily to a 500 gig Seagate Barracuda


                Swap (120 gig Seagate Barracuda): This is a smaller drive and holds my media cache and all my previews, but 120 gigs is enough for now.



                I like this set up, as each of my project's assets are located on a separate disk and no disk is asked to feed out more than a single stream of data at a time.


                Thanks again for all the help and advice -- it was essential it getting my knowledge up to par so I could tune my system for best performance.