Like many others, I've read the hardware threads on a continuing basis since getting CS5 about a year ago, including (I think) all of Harm's articles. I feel I have a basic understanding of the socket 1366 vs. 1155/6 debate. No need to re-hash all of it this time.
Still, I think Harm and others have made a convincing case that for those who need the best, the X58 with a big-time RAID setup cannot be beat for distributing data and achieving the Holy Grail - balance. The worst part about the Z68 is its paltry PCI-E lanes situation. I don't fully understand it, but can see that many fewer lanes, shared, is inferior to X58. But does the Z68 completely fail those of us who do not push the envelope? Who have a bit more time for waiting while the 'puter computes?
I'm on a budget and simply want to switch from my AMD Phenom II platform to an Intel rig. I primarily shoot student math videos that, by nature, need to be no more than 5 minutes or so in length. My camera is a Canon T2i, footage therefore AVCHD. I have taken the advice of a board member and will likely begin shooting in VGA, questioning the sanity of shooting HD for clips that do not need to run full screen. All in all, my requirements are on the low end (except for the codec. And I'm open to using NeoScene as a fix.). I suspect my needs are in line with many who can afford the student version of CS5 and find themselves needing a new rig, but perhaps not one decked out for professionals.
Quick Sync appeals to me, as I need to transcode frequently for mobile devices. Also, other teachers in the building shoot with JVC .mov camcorders, meaning they often cannot edit with their preferred software. I end up doing all of our small staff's transcoding.
As I get set to build something new over the summer, I'm trying to sort out the major questions facing those of us on the less-taxing end of the spectrum. I'll never have a RAID card, but do have a basic 5-disk arrangement including a 2-disk RAID 0 for footage. All I need to to is sort out which platform is best for my lesser needs
I'm just trying to move to Intel without breaking the bank. But if another $250 for X58 will make a HUGE difference, then I'd likely jump. Breakdown for a cheap(er) Intel rig:
CPU: i7-2500K. No Hyper-Threading but can overclock beyond more-expensive i7-950. Only about $30 cheaper than i7-950. Spend $100 more for i7-2600K and get a superior CPU to Nehalem, but come out behind on $$$.
Motherboards: Z68 starts about $130 for a decently-spec'ed ASRock Z68 PRO3 at the 'egg. Knock off another $20 for a combo with CPU. Cripes, X58 boards are expensive!
After motherboard, i7-2500K and ASRock are looking mighty good. $125 less than i7-950 and X58, and that's with a cheaper X58 board. Also, a four-stick 16GB memory kit is about $100 cheaper than 24 GB of G.Skill, a well-rated brand of either capacity at Newegg. Savings of $225-ish. As long as my needs are met, I'll save money and get Quick Sync to boot. At this point I'm willing to wager my short-clip needs are going to be met, in fact.
Memory: Now, here may be the deciding factor - with memory prices dropping big-time, it is within reason to max out memory on either platform. The X58 can take 24 GB, the Z68 tops out at 16GB. I recall Bill Gehrke saying the early results from the PPBM5 suite showed a big difference in (rendering?) times when jumping to 24gigs. I tell myself that 16GB sounds like a lot of memory, which it is. But would dropping $100 more for 24 gigs be a game changer? I'm talking about one of the cheap 24 GB kits with 9-9-9 timings, not something hopped up. (Does X58 require super-duper memory or a $300 motherboard to actually run 24 gigs?)
Should the fact that X58 can take 24 gigs of triple-channel memory be the final word? For all of my trying to save $250 or so by going cheap(er) with i7-2500K SB, am I going to miss out on perhaps the most important aspect? Most of the other programs in CS5 don't use CUDA to accelerate - would the mildly less powerful i7-950 CPU be so greatly augmented by another 8GB (50% more!) of system memory that it would seemingly fly through other programs compared to SB?
If CS5 simply runs like a scalded dog on 24 GB, then I'll suck it up and forgo Quick Sync and spend a bit more money. I get the feeling there is some difference of opinion on whether Sandy Bridge is a stronger CPU for editing (even though there is no debate about X58 vs. Z68 for handling data). But it seems there should be a clearer picture for the benefits of 16 vs. 24 GB memory.
Would anyone here make a decision based upon this last aspect?