24 Replies Latest reply on Sep 4, 2009 5:14 PM by Jim_Simon

    Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4

    Paulson7

      Dear friends,

       

      I realize that there are many posts on hardware requirements, recommendations, etc... Perhaps this is my problem, there is too much info.

       

      Here is my scenario and I would love some expert advice.

       

      What I Have:

      I have been editing my home movies since Premiere 6.5 and have been using CS3 for the past couple of years.

      My current PC is an HP 9100t which has a ...

      Quad Core 6600 2.4GHz processor

      3GB RAM (max RAM is 8GB according to the stats for the motherboard)

      500 GB System Drive

      I recently added a 1.5 TB SATA Seagate Barracuda drive

      Also have external 1TB WD connected via USB

      Windows Vista Home Premium (32-Bit) OS

       

      What I Just Got:

      Recently purchased a Sony HDR-XR 500v and just love the HD picture quality. But now I want to edit the AVCHD files and thus upgrade to CS4

       

      What I'd like to Know:

       

      I'm tired of buying a new PC every couple of years, this machine is 16 months old and runs just fine.

      Do you think I can upgrade the processor, add RAM and move to Windows 7 64-bit and happily edit my HD movies?

      Or, do I need to once again try and convince my wife to let me buy a new PC

       

      My Upgrade thoughts:  I could Buy these items...

      Intel Quad Core 9600 processor  2.8Ghz (the HP motherboard supports the Intel Yorkfield processors)

      Max out the RAM at 8GB

      Upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit (I actually pre-ordered this for $49 a few weeks ago)

      and of course upgrade to Premiere CS4

       

      DO you think a few hundred dollars spent on upgrades will extend my editing life for another year or two?

       

      Thanks so much!

      Paul

        • 1. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          No.

           

          The marginal upgrades will be just that, marginal, except for the price. For AVCHD you need a beast with lots of muscle. Your PC will not be sufficient for comfortable editing, even after pricey upgrades. Better start saving for a new PC and meanwhile suffer less than optimal performance. You will appreciate the difference even more when you saved enough for a new system.

           

          Be aware that any investment now into your current system will be useless when upgrading to a new system. Memory, CPU, they will all be useless in a new system.

          • 2. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
            Jim_Simon Level 9

            I agree with Harm.  At this point in time, the only real upgrade path an editor should be considering is to a Core i7, which will also require a new motherboard and memory.  Anything less, especially coming from a Q6600, just isn't a worthy investment.   Save your pennies and get at minimum the new Intel 860 when it comes out in September.

            • 3. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
              Rich Pulham

              Harm,

               

              I just built a new system.  What's your opinion on this hardware?

               

              i7 3 ghz quad core

              Asus P6T mb

              12 gigs ram

              Radeon 8970 video card with 1 gig ram

              2 TB raid 0 for video files

              several TB drives for asset storage

              running on Win7

               

              Is there anything I should have that I don't?

               

              Thanks,

               

              Rich

              • 4. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                Jim_Simon Level 9

                A beautiful new Red Scarlet to shoot with, whose media will edit like butter on that system?

                • 5. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                  Looks pretty close to my own system, so of course I would say GREAT!

                   

                  Radeon 8970 video card with 1 gig ram

                   

                  This is where I assume you made a typo, I think you intended to say 4870, right?

                   

                  You went for the i7-940? Latest D1 stepping? Any OC? What memory timings do you have?

                  • 6. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                    Rich Pulham Level 1

                    Duh!  My head is too wrapped around any problem I am working where I can't get saved files to open.

                     

                    Yes, it's the 4780.  I hope tje cpu is the latest D1 stepping.  Bought it at Newegg and haven't had time to check.  It isn't overclocked -- yet.  I bought some fast memory for that timed at 7-7-7-20.  I thought the price jump from the 950 to the 965/75 was too big for too little gain.  That leading edge stuff is a killer.

                    • 7. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                      Harm Millaard Level 7

                      Great system! Off the top of my head I can't think of anything you may have forgotten. Which CPU cooler do you have installed?

                      • 8. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                        Rich Pulham Level 1

                        Stock so far.  I was in a hurry to get a system up and running as my old system was very jerky on hi-def.

                         

                        Any suggestions?

                        • 9. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                          Harm Millaard Level 7

                          Two of my favorites are Noctua NH-U12 SE and Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme. Be aware that push-pull configurations are the best for these coolers, one fan in front to push the air into the cooler and one fan in back to pull the air from the cooler. The Noctua comes with both fans standard. I'm not sure about the Thermalright.

                          • 10. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                            Paulson7 Level 1

                            Based on these comments, I'm wondering if perhaps Sony's Vegas Pro 9 might be a better solution for AVCHD editing. Reviews seem positive and their system requirements don't seem to be quite so daunting.

                             

                            Don't get mad at me Adobe fans, I've been using Premiere since 2002 and have a certain comfort level with the product, but if I'm going to put out $299 for the CS4 upgrade along with the $$$ for a new super-duper PC, maybe this is the time to switch to Vegas for $599 and do the incrimental upgrades to my current processor and memory.

                            • 11. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                              Harm Millaard Level 7
                              Don't get mad at me Adobe fans, I've been using Premiere since 2002 and have a certain comfort level with the product, but if I'm going to put out $299 for the CS4 upgrade along with the $$$ for a new super-duper PC, maybe this is the time to switch to Vegas for $599 and do the incrimental upgrades to my current processor and memory.

                               

                              Although I'm a fan of Adobe, I think your considerations are valid. Only you can decide what editor works best for you, which gives you the most productive workflow and if it happens to be Vegas or Edius (another NLE worth considering) or another, you have made the right choice.

                               

                              Yes, Adobe does require a beefy system and that costs. OTOH, even though Vegas and Edius do not require the same amount of muscle yet, they will shortly, because users demand more support for editing esoteric sources and export to even more esoteric formats.

                               

                              Be aware that your intended incremental upgrades will be like band-aids. For a short time they will adhere to the wound and help it heal, then they will come off and you will be the same as before, only older. Older will also mean that relatively, you are slower than the new kids on the block. It is postponing the inevitable. At some moment you need a new PC.

                               

                              Whatever you decide, good luck and happy editing.

                              • 12. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                Rich Pulham Level 1

                                For AVCHD (and it also does HDV and Canon 5d Mk II files), I've been using Cineform's Neo Scene to process files.  I believe it removes the long GOP compression so it doesn't take so much processing power from the computer and more easily allows for frame accurate editing.  The files certainly grow larger doing it.  I've seen 600 meg AVCHD files grow to nearly 2 gigs.  It also interpolates color from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2.  I've had great success compositing greenscreen shots with it.

                                • 13. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                                  I'll make another guide on MPEG encoding, but here are some initial remarks about using intermediate formats and 4:2:2 recoding.

                                   

                                  At heart is the belief that because long-GOP MPEG2 is highly compressed, you'll probably want to convert that MPEG2 stream to something else before you do any editing or compositing work. Converting MPEG2 (or H.264/AVC) to an intermediate codec - other than uncompressed - results in at least some quality loss because it involves a decode followed by a recompression using an intermediate codec. Moreover, conversion always increases the size of all your source files because interframe source files require the least possible storage space. But, more importantly, conversion during import in no way can improve or preserve image quality. Even with a conversion to uncompressed video, image quality only remains constant.

                                   

                                  Upsampling 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 and then later to 4:4:4 opens the window to more conversion rounding errors. In all cases, the key to upconversion quality is the equations themselves and the degree to which rounding errors are prevented. To convert 8-bit sources to an intermediate format that uses 10-bit data is useless. Placing 8-bit samples within 10-bit words, of course, does not increase the precision of the digital data. It simply needlessly increases the size of all source files.

                                  • 14. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                    naartjie gello

                                    Ah, good timing with this post. I'm so frustrated with using CS4 on a laptop that I'm even considering moving to a Xeon 5500 quad-core Mac Pro. But then I looked at running PPro on Mac, and the thought of having to switch over to Quicktime put me off.

                                     

                                    Most of the posts I've seen recommend using the new i7 processors. Would there be any advantage in moving to a Xeon based workstation? Although more expensive initially it might be more future-proof in terms of not having to upgrade the machine again in 2 years. Thoughts anyone?

                                    • 15. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                      Harm Millaard Level 7

                                      Naartjie,

                                       

                                      Have a look here: http://www.passmark.com/baselines/top.html

                                       

                                      and look closely at the results of the systems at rank # 16 and # 17. An i7-920 versus a dual W5580. I think the price difference is quite significant, my guess is that system # 17 is at least triple the price of system # 16, maybe even more.

                                       

                                      FYI, # 16 is my system moderately OC'ed and my best score is #3.

                                       

                                      I can't advise a dual W5580/W5590 system from a price/performance point of view.

                                      • 16. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                        naartjie gello Level 1

                                        But look at #10 - the same Xeon processor but running Vista like all the other tests except for #17! But you're right - difficult to justify that extra cost.

                                         

                                        What is that #1 processor - Intel 000?

                                         

                                        I've been browsing Tom's Hardware Guide and am starting to get my head round some of the concepts - number of cores, AMD vs Intel, etc. What motherboards do you recommend? Maybe an ASUS P6T6-WS Revolution? I'm looking at maybe a Core i7 965 or 975 Extreme CPU with a decent cooler, a Radeon HD 4870 or Nvidia GTX 275 graphics card and a boatload of RAM. I'm just not sure which board to go for.

                                        • 17. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                          Harm Millaard Level 7
                                          What is that #1 processor - Intel 000?

                                           

                                          I have been wondering about that myself and I do not know. I do assume that this score has been significantly influenced by running the benchmark with a RAM disk and only 640 x 480 screen resolution. It is not a real life performance IMO.

                                          • 18. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                            Harm Millaard Level 7

                                            Funny you should mention #10, since #9 is again the score for my system, but OC'ed to 4 GHz, instead of the regular 3.6 GHz I usually employ.

                                             

                                            Have a look at these links, if you haven't already. At the end of the PC Buying Guide there is a link to my system, showing all components. Maybe it will give you some ideas. How to get the best from a PC? Some guides...

                                            • 19. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                              naartjie gello Level 1

                                              Thanks Harm and my apologies for not finding that link earlier

                                              • 20. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                                Luke Flegg Level 1

                                                Harm,

                                                 

                                                I'm humbled by your vast knowledge in video & computing, as well as your generous time investment in helping others, but I was surprised to see you comment that it's pointless to upconvert video before working on it.

                                                 

                                                As I understand, there is a point in taking for example a 8-bit 4:2:0 file of pretty much any flavour, to 10-bit 4:4:4 as it it like repotting a plant, giving it room to take advantage of the increased bit depth and colour space when you come to colour grade it, particularly if you're using secondary (or beyond) colour correction.

                                                 

                                                I believe this ideology also applies to sound; if you start with a low quality original, you have more scope for repairing it or messing around with it in a higher bit depth/frequency environment. (Doesn't Audition for example use 32[?]bit 'floating point' bit depth when working with audio files, subsequently downconverting them again to 16bit / 44.1khz or whatever?

                                                 

                                                I've been following you Harm, you've been teaching me a lot.. thanks!

                                                • 21. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                                  Harm Millaard Level 7
                                                  but I was surprised to see you comment that it's pointless to upconvert video before working on it.

                                                   

                                                  It can easily be you misunderstood my intention. It is somewhat like people often thinking that converting from a compressed format to a lossless format will restore the original quality. That is nonsense, because what has been thrown away during compression, can never be regained by uncompressing. That is an expectation similar to orange juice being uncompressed will restore the original oranges.

                                                   

                                                  My intention with my remark was to emphasize that going from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 will not restore original data or improve the image, only increase storage requirements.

                                                   

                                                  But clearly that is not what you meant. You are talking about chroma keying and similar being best done on 4:2:2 or even better on 4:4:4 material. You are completely correct, but keep in mind, and that is what I tried to convey, is that starting out from 4:2:0 and upconverting to 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 will not restore original quality, it will still be (slightly less than) the 4:2:0 quality, because of the rounding errors in the algorithms. You will increase storage space significantly by this upconverting, but if you want to do any chroma keying,  the quality of the keys will be significantly better than when performed on 4:2:0 material and the loss when again converting to 4:2:0 for final delivery will be significantly less than had you used chroma keys on 4:2:0 material.

                                                   

                                                  I hope this explains it somewhat.

                                                  • 22. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                                    Jim_Simon Level 9
                                                    That is nonsense, because what has been thrown away during compression, can never be regained by uncompressing.

                                                     

                                                    That is also a bit of a misstatement.  The decompression stage attempts to do precisely that - restore what was thrown away.  There are varying degrees of success.  Highly compressed WMV files won't be very successfull. DV will be much more successful.  And lossless codecs like Lagarith restore what was lost perfectly.

                                                     

                                                    But this is a separate issuse from chroma subsampling.

                                                    • 23. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                                      Harm Millaard Level 7

                                                      Jim,

                                                       

                                                      I agree with what you said, that your statement is:

                                                       

                                                      a bit of a misstatement.

                                                       

                                                      How can you add precision, when you have 8 bits to start with by extending that to 10 bits? Mathematically and logically completely impossible.

                                                      • 24. Re: Hardware Upgrade Advice for HD editing and CS4
                                                        Jim_Simon Level 9

                                                        That's why I said your point was a separate issue than mine.  I was only commenting on the general idea that once data is thrown out, it cannot be recovered.  That statement is not entirely accurate, as that is precisely what the decompression step does, rebuild the original (as closely as it can) based on the data available.  Sometimes it really misses, and sometimes it recreates the original perfectly.