19 Replies Latest reply on May 28, 2010 10:33 AM by ECBowen

    Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?

    J.Elliott8652 Level 1



      My first post, so bear with me if it's a stinker. My situation is common to casual users, students/teachers, and those on tight budgets. I'm looking for a "cheap" setup to run CS5 PPro.


      I teach high school math at an alternative school. Excepting present company , most folk recall math to be their least favorite course. Add to that my kids' behavior issues and I've got work to do in keeping their interest up. My approach has been to shoot video of them doing their thing, which has been successful enough that I've bought CS5 Production Premium. I'd like to start cranking out some really spiffy math vids.


      I put four computers into my room this year to shoot video and make screen captures. Vis-a-vis typical educational needs, these are rockets:


      AMD Phenom II 955BE quad core CPU

      1 TB WD10EADS WD Caviar Green 7200 RPM disk

      4 GB PC1066 DDR2 RAM

      GTS 250 video card

      Asus M4A785-M motherboard

      Win 7 64-bit Home Premium


      My camera and video device, just received and not yet used, is the Canon T2i. I think this unit shoots AVCHD, and if I am correct on this, the high compression will be a bit of an issue with the AMD CPU but perhaps not the hard drives.


      HERE IS MY QUESTION - If I cannibalize two of these, I could make a unit with 8GB RAM and set up 2 or 3 disk RAID array, run off the motherboard controller. Would this machine be worth the trouble?


      I keep up with current tech info and know where all these parts rank. I've been doing my homework on these forums for over a week and have some background on the software, CUDA and MPE, and the high bitstream needs of both decoding and playback. I am aware that an 8GB motherboard max on RAM will be a bottleneck and that these aren't the fastest disks, nor is the AMD CPU in league with the i7-930.


      But, since the GTS 250 has been shown to CUDA accelerate the MPE, I am sitting on parts that will technically run the software. I've already blown most of my paychecks for the year on this stuff and would just as soon see what I can get done with what I have. The AMD/DDR2 platform is considerably cheaper than the Intel 860/930 route.


      So - anyone have an idea what an AMD 955/8GB/GTS 250 setup might do with a modest RAID setup? I mean, has anyone actually seen a machine of similar design try to handle a few AVCHD files at once? Choke up or manage it within reason?


      I don't intend to be demanding by asking for hands-on knowledge, but the lower cost of the AMD platform will mean a lot to students and teachers. If it works, perhaps not beautifully but functionally, this is important info. Yes, we get a great discount on the software but even with that, we're looking at $1,200 to $1,500 for the outfit on the AMD parts. If CS5 truly requires an Intel platform, that'll push the cost up another $300 to $400.


      We all have to deal with the cost of the thing. I'm simply thinking of what the bottom-line configuration might be, and imagine that the first consideration is whether the AMD Phenom II/DDR2 can cut it.


      Lastly - I've never set up a RAID array and know little about it, other than the basic benefits of RAID. Would this entail formatting the disks and re-installing the OS? If so, I've got to wait until the year is over.


      Thanks all for the feedback.

        • 1. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          For editing these machines are too slow for the material you want to edit.


          But, do you need to edit on all machines or can you use them just for playback for your students?


          From an editing POV, the problems with all of these machines is the slow processor, a single green disk and only 4 GB memory. To put it bluntly, they stink for editing.


          A single disk is not enough and the golden rule is to never, never use green disks. The only affordable way I see is to get an extra computer for editing and keep the 4 you have for playback. Look here: Adobe Forums: What PC to build?


          Keep in mind that the budget line is OK for DV and to a limited degree for HDV, but that AVCHD requires the economical version as a confortable minimum.


          Configuring a raid means a complete reformat of the disks and thus a new installation of OS, programs and data.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
            Steve C2 Level 2

            I don't claim to be a hardware guru, although I have built my own systems for years.  I can share my experience and you can match it with other feedback.


            My experience with running raid off of a motherboard is that I had problems with instability.  Things might depend on the particular operating system, hardware, etc.  Regardless, I personally would not try this again.  I would get a dedicated RAID adapter card if I want to implement RAID.  You should

            also ask here if people can share their experience - is RAID really necessary now that SSD drives are available?  Of course, unless you have the right motherboard, you will also want to purchase an adapter card for your SSD so that you can get the most from your SSD.


            My current system is not a powerhouse, by today's standards... a Core 2 Duo E6750 with 8GB RAM and a non-CUDA video card.  It has been adequate for my needs, in general.  The things that take a lot of time are rendering, especially when I use a certain third-party noise plugin and when, outside of Premiere, the video needs to be transcoded prior to being burned.


            If you are stuck with a badly compromised system because of budget issues, you can consider overclocking.  In this situation, you still cannot get by with cheap components.  You will need capable memory, motherboard, power supply, specialty cpu heat syncs, and a case with excellent ventillation.


            Regarding cost effectiveness, in general...You have to decide how important time is in the cost equation.  Your personal time and the time that you get to do meaningful teaching and/or projects.  I understand that, in many situations, human labor and sacrifice are discounted.  Nonetheless, my advice is to fight for every penny that you can get so that you can have a worthy system.


            Hope this helps.

            • 3. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
              {KMS} Level 2

              From what I can tell, it looks like your current setup(s) would work for PPRO CS5.  I would not put too much faith in a RAID setup off of a motherboard controller.  I know that many people will tell you that you need RAID to edit, but with today's hard drives it just is not true for many formats.  I went the RAID route at one time, but once I had my computer built I did some testing on Read and Write speeds and a single 7200 rpm drive had a Read and Write speed only about 10 mb below two drive in a raid.  My single drive could maintain a Read and Write speed around 80-90 mb/second, which is more than capable of playing back multiple streams of compressed footage from the T2i with a data rate around 6 mb/second.  I have the Canon T2i as well and using CS5 I can play back about 4 streams of 1080p at half resolution without a problem (all off a single 7200 rpm drive)*.  I have a feeling it could play more, but the processor is the bottleneck in this case.


              *  I don't have a supported graphics card for hardware acceleration, so my playback is using software only.


              The GTS 250 card will not give you any hardware acceleration.  However, PPRO will still use the software MPE.  You could try the hack to make PPRO  recognize your card as an option for hardware acceleration, but may not be stable.


              More RAM would be nice in each machine, but if you are only running PPRO and creating fairly short videos, 4 gigs may be enough.  Also, I would encourage multiple drives.  I have three total, one for the OS, Project Files/scratch and source files. 


              I hope this helps.  I am not running a high end computer, but my experience has been a positive one so far.  I am amazed at how well it edits AVCHD footage.




              i5 750 @2.66 ghz

              MSI p55-gd65

              8 Gigs Ram

              Nvidia GTS 250

              • 4. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                J.Elliott8652 Level 1

                Wow - one gets quick answers on these boards!


                I should have been clearer: I could "soup up" one of these computers by pulling parts off others. The best config I can manage off my current inventory is this:


                AMD 955 BE, overclocked a bit

                8GB DDR2 PC1066 memory

                up to three 7200 RPM Green 1TB disks

                GTS 250 1 GB video card (should enable MPE with hack, right?)

                OCZ 700 watt power supply


                Harm - thank you for your reply. As it turns out, my kids go bonkers on the computers and can't focus. I'm selling off the lot and going to iPod touches in conjunction with worksheets. That way, they can have access to an app that'll help them visualize the math while being able to listen to music (and it's music that mainly interests them). With luck, we might even be able to package some of our best work on iTunes so they can see themselves on the iPods.


                Basically, the full computers aren't working out well. So, I'm sitting on a pile of soon-to-be-sold AMD computers and am wondering if I can make a suitable unit by loading up as much memory as the motherboard will take (8GB), perhaps overclocking a touch, and maybe setting up a RAID array. If I read here correctly, there is a hack that'll enable the MPE with the 1 GB GTS 250.


                My main problem, and seemingly unfixable, is that my CPU is underpowered for the Canon T2i clips I'll be working with. Although, as mentioned already, the highly compressed T2i footage plays back fine off a single drive, from the hard drive perspective. A single hard drive can supply several AVCHD clips at once, even. But nothing is free. The work, then, is shifted to the CPU as it decodes the compressed files and this is where my systems come up short. AVCHD takes it easy on the drives but bogs down the CPU. Is this simplification about right?


                It would be a shame if the Phenom II simply can't deal with CS5 PPro, even if helped by an MPE enabling video card. The platform is quite a bit cheaper than the i7 route.


                How about this idea, gleaned from another post: Transcode the T2i footage into an easier-to-digest format, such as the Panasonic P2. It seems some lucky fella 'round here (Chuck McIntyre) has been loading up 20 clips at once on an i7-920/GTX 285 and the best guess was that his file type was the key.


                This would balance the bitstream back to the hard drives and lighten the load on the CPU. If I were to RAID several drives, then maybe I could strike a balance that works between low-powered CPU and just-good-enough hard drive subsystem.


                I'm no wizard on this stuff and may well have something major misconstrued. But my guess is that there are enough of us on the budget buffet to make it worth someone's time to nail down exactly why the AMD Phenom II quad core platform can't work (as opposed to work acceptably, but clearly not as fluidly as an i7 or i5 rig). I know I'm pushing tightly worded questions forward, but there are a lot of students and teachers for whom the $400 difference between the AMD/DDR2 and Intel i5/i7/DDR3 platforms will be a deal breaker.


                I guess to sum things up so far: The Phenom II is underpowered for a CPU, and since this is about as fast as we can get for a quad core AMD AM3+ CPU, one might as well lump it and go for the Intel parts. (The six core AMD 1090T costs about as much as an i7-930 but is significantly slower, so why bother, even though it fits these motherboards.)


                The only way to fix this problem, given that I'll be using the Canon T2i, is to do something to ease up on the CPU. Is there likely to be such a solution, such as transcoding to a low compression format? If so, what upgrades to the hard disk subsystem would be necessary to supply low compression, transcoded footage? Lastly, even if this works and I could live with waiting for the transcoding process, would it necessarily demean the image quality?


                Wait! OK, really lastly - what is wrong with green hard disks, even at 7200 RPM? Some kind of energy saving stuff that cripples throughput? I know this must be answered somewhere, but I've got EOC tests coming up and need to get of the computer soon....

                • 5. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                  Adobe Forums: Storage rules for an editing rig. Some...


                  Green disks get their name from shuttling down on the rotational speed, which spells utter disaster for editing.


                  Have you considered teaching your students 'Synthetic programming' on HP-41 calculators. It is fun and they can be had cheaply on eBay. It will give them a distinct advantage in logical thinking, which is the basis for math.

                  • 6. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                    John T Smith Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    I am told that my new computer (see http://www.pacifier.com/~jtsmith/ADOBE.HTM for info) "may" work for AVCHD... or it may not work well


                    Once I have CS5 I will find out... but my only use for a green drive is external USB for file backup... never for current files

                    • 7. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                      shooternz Level 6

                      Here is what I do not get!


                      Why do "people" get so sucked into HD?  (ie hardware purchase with a serious implication down the line)


                      In the case of the OP...you are dealing with a Youtube Generation.  HD Quality does not mean jack sh*t to them.


                      You want to make maths videos on HD.  Jeezus .... why?


                      This forum is full of the issues of people making videos / movies about their cats, holidays and grandmas 90th birthday.


                      Do these really need to be made in a "HD" ?  Proviso - Fine until you want edit them.


                      I blame the manufacturers  first (Canon / Panasonic / Sony ...)  for pushing out this stuff ....and the people that sell this stuff to you guys next.  I then wonder about the research you guys do pre-purchase if you intend to edit it.


                      Unfortunately you are getting left with less choice in your camera hardware but  you can still back off the rez a bit to help.  You dont actually need to use "CINEMA MODE" for this stuff.



                      FWIW : Today I was shooting stuff for the web. (Professional / Commercial) and I chose to shoot DV to P2 mxf.   Why. It doesnt warrant anything else for streaming video. Its eay to edit despite that I can handle virtually everything. It uses less disk space and its appropriate and adequate for the task.

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                        J.Elliott8652 Level 1



                        Great point! Answer: I wanted a DSLR that'll do a decent job of both photo and video. I don't have unlimited time to devote to multiple cameras and when the new T2i was reported to do a good job with video, I jumped. Maybe any top shelf point-n-shoot would have worked for my school videos, which are typically run at way less than full screen. In that case, I'm into huge overkill and wasted money. I'v been working with puny Flip-style video cameras and mini-DV, which was both a pain and always ugly once captured.


                        I appreciate the heads-up on the sufficiency of SD. I haven't done enough work with NLE to know from experience.


                        Until last week, all I knew about AVCHD is that it's some type of compression scheme. Now I know that I've bought a camera that places a big load on my computer, and is perhaps hard to edit for other reasons.


                        I suppose I could sell of the T2i and start again. I got a good deal on it and might even make money selling it.


                        OK, here's my situation: I shoot video clips that will mainly be embedded in PowerPoint slides and occasionally opened to full screen. Maybe on a computer, maybe on a TV as my kids show off their work to their families. All I want is for it to look clear and of decent quality. One thing - to get all of our work onto a single DVD or even a CD, I compress the heck out of the final clips. I need them around 4 megs or so for 3-4 minutes. For all I know, I'm killing off the HD aspect right then and there.


                        My experience with mini-DV was less than satisfactory. I never did figure out how to get a capture that was even half the quality of the images played back directly off the camcorder. This left me figuring that HD was probably the way to go, and since the market is moving that direction, I didn't question it.


                        Now that I'm looking at $1,500 for a computer to handle AVCHD clips, I'm open to suggestions....


                        Long term, I think I'm really going to like making videos and want to begin doing it well, with all the crazy transitions, spinning cubes with faceted clips, etc. that'll keep my students awake. I guess I've figured that HD is part of that process. Perhaps not?

                        • 9. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                          Steve C2 Level 2

                          Have you considered Premiere Elements?  There are simpler products, yet, that might meet your needs.  Consider the freebies that are packaged with Roxio and Nero.


                          You might also want to look for a forum that has discussions on PowerPoint, as well as books and shopping guides on how to get started.


                          Good luck.

                          • 10. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                            shooternz Level 6
                            My experience with mini-DV was less than satisfactory. I never did figure out how to get a capture that was even half the quality of the images played back directly off the camcorder.


                            Its a  pity because mni-DV is a great little format and really looks great.   I have broadcast heaps of it and never found that it lost anything picture wise, once it left the camera.


                            Only hassle with mini-dv was the realtime capture (digitisation) process but I would suggest even that does not compare to the issues of dealing with AVCHD. 


                            As a professional...I was presented with some off this stuff by a client who decided to shoot a touristy style (hand held, wobbly, crappy sound)  trade show in the highest rez his camera could output.  The intended audience was his sales reps via email.  6 GBs of AVCHD was not what he needed for this task.


                            I took a look at it and played with it for a bit then told him to take it away afetr it wasted my time for 3 days.  I will not now touch the stuff for any reason.


                            Anyway..I hope the point was made that you do not always need to shoot the highest rez just because you can.


                            @the OP.  You also got sucked into the emerging DSLR technology that even the pros are struggling with a little.   I hope it works out for you.


                            Sounds,  from your efforts for the kids, like you are a great teacher by the way.

                            • 11. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                              joshtownsend Level 2

                              Man I wish they had teachers like you and cool toys like this when I was in school. Sad you can't get the equipment you need to teach kids stuff that could possibly keep them off the streets and give them a hobby.


                              Your idea about transcoding to P2 is the best option. the computer will be able to handle it. I have a green WD drive for back up and it's fast enought to play P2 footage. Transcode to 720p DVCPRO and the clips will be half the size, (2gigs a minute)


                              Finding a 1500 dollar computer that can play back those DSLR clips on CS5 shouldn't be a problem at all. They are selling 6 core AMD chips for $200 to $300 bucks. Add 12 gigs Ram and a GTX 285 and you'll still be under budget.


                              Keep up the good work, any questions and the bunch around here will be glad to help you out. How old are the kids you teach?

                              • 12. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                J.Elliott8652 Level 1

                                Thanks for the encouragement and kind words.


                                My kids are high schoolers with a penchant for doing little work, creating drama, and causing distraction. It's an alternative school and was the only opening in the county. Ah, forgot to mention - this is my first year teaching.


                                I'm pleased to have taken the position, actually. Good comes with the bad, as my class sizes are small - 3 to 6 students. This gives me a lot of freedom to try new ideas. My thinking is that kids love to see themselves and the clips will prove useful during test review.


                                We'll see. I wasn't able to blend in much of it this year, but I'm still quite hopeful.


                                My aim for our clips is to embed them in a type of interactive database. As we develop our material, we'll make PowerPoint slides (or some other program, I'm not yet sure of this) that have plenty of animated examples showing the steps playing out. We'll add audio commentary, a PIP with the keystrokes required on the TI 83 Plus calculator (you'd be amazed how important this part is, as the kids come to me knowing almost nothing of the calculator), and whatever else we can think of that'll make for a more interesting source of info than the textbook. These textbooks - jeez. As a teacher I love 'em because they're so big. The kids hate 'em, and since they'd lose them, can't take them home. Coupled with their poor to non-existent note taking, we have a real issue with reference material when they are home.


                                The real kicker will be to eventually develop something which engages the kids and gets them to answer questions within our database. As envisioned, what I have in mind this year is simply a more personalized, interesting source of information. It is only a better way to tell about the math. What I really need is something that grabs hold of them and pulls them in!

                                • 13. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?

                                  If you're going to buy a whole new computer, at my college we are using Dell Precision 5500 with 4GB RAM, 32 bit OS, but running CS4 and it hogs the resources a lot just using HDV. Supposedly the NEW Precisions in the line with 64 bit are capable of running CS5 with AVCHD. Dell do education deals, don't they? You could maybe see if they're willing to sponsor you because it sounds like you're trying to do something out of the norm. Could be worth a try...


                                  At worst, you could just get one for yourself and use it as a tax write off for work necessities!

                                  • 14. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                    the_wine_snob Level 9
                                    This forum is full of the issues of people making videos / movies about their cats, holidays and grandmas 90th birthday.


                                    Wait a minute Craig, I am about to undertake M-I-L's 90th b'day, but in SD!


                                    BTW - Harm's cat video was really well done too.


                                    However, I do agree with your assertions. Too many get hung up on the latest, greatest innovations, with little to no concern for the final delivery format. They pick up an AVCHD camera, 'cause the salesman told them that it was the latest thing. Then, in a few weeks, they are back to buy a system to actually edit that material. We see a bit of it here, but the PrElements forum is full of AVCHD users with horribly underpowered machines, and most want to find a way to write to a DVD, as they do not yet have a BD burner.


                                    Having a plan is the best course for approaching video editing, and for a classroom situation, I would still be looking at SD, and maybe having one block of lessons on HD, as it is taking over.


                                    Just thinking,



                                    • 15. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                      Steve C2 Level 2

                                      Good point about SD.  I still use a camera that produces SD and I expect to continue with it until it breaks or until such a time that it actually is less expensive to shoot with a new camera that uses flash memory (or something better).  The real challenge is composition, rather than the resolution.

                                      • 16. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                        Fighting Sticks Level 2

                                        I know the question's but what do you need CS5 for in a school environment, especially if it's not a film & television subject.  Sure shooting at rabbits with a 4000rpm mini-gun is fun but it's also overkill.  Why not just use Windows Movie Maker, it's free, probably already on your systems, & so easy to use your 4yr students could probably be trusted to do up a great effort.  So if the kids aren't studying in front of a Pandora backdrop or 'blowing up' when they get a number wrong - keep it simple.

                                        • 17. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                          bertrenolds Level 1

                                          I like the setup you first were thinking about, 4gb of memory will get you by until you can buy more. I have the phenom 955x4 3.2 and am completely happy, haven't even had to overclock. I have 4gig of meomory and I can get my HDV .m2v projects together just fine, watch and render them in Ppro.  It's just a little slow when I have multiple adobe softwares open, memory would probably fix that. If your gonna use HDV, which you should and I am sure you will at some point, I would get at the least a 3.2ghz processor, the phenom is awsome for the price in my opinion. And I would avoid flash video if possible, I did have a cheap flash card but a few of my video files corrupted and it pissed me off, if you were using tape you would still have some footage where a flash card corrupts and you lose an entire clip. Stick with HDV, I found my Sony HC3 on ebay for $250, sweet deal and I'm never going back to crapy DV/SD or any format like that again. My DV cameras are now paper weights


                                          The Phenom is not under powered, if your having issues up the clock speed and cool accordingly, the thing was made to be overclocked! At half the price of an intel it hangs in there just fine by my standards, I imagine harm will not agree with me. If I had a never ending budget as it seems harm does then I would probably disagree with me as well. As long as it gets the job done, it should not matter!

                                          • 18. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                            Jeff Bellune Level 6

                                            [Moved to the Hardware Forum]

                                            • 19. Re: Usable CS5 PPro machine for school/budget environment?
                                              ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                              Simple solution = Cineform Neo Scene $100-$129

                                              Then you dont have the hardware requirements needed for realtime AVCHD editing.


                                              Scavenge what you can for the system to get the 8GB of ram and 3 Drives.


                                              Problems solved and edit really nice material with a much lower compresion level.


                                              It really suprises me how many people would rather deal with the headaches of editing AVCHD on a lower end system or just give up on the material rather than spend $100 and get the best of both worlds.