10 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2011 6:43 PM by Bill Gehrke

    First time builder

    illucine Level 1

      I need a new workstation for CS5.5 and 3D.  In the past I've always purchased ready-made from big names (my last two have been Dells) but I'm leaning more and more towards building my own. I've added cards and drives before but never built a complete system from scratch and hope I can get by without the all-in-one tech support I've relied on in the past.  I've been lurking on this forum for a while (this is my first post) and learning a lot from the excellent discussions (thanks everyone).  I've also learned some basics and gained confidence from reading O'Reilly's Building the Perfect PC.  I probably won't be overclocking at first but may eventually as I become more comfortable with this.


      In the past I've used mostly AE and LightWave but I'm working on a feature-length documentary now and using Premiere and Encore more.  Rather I was, until I gave up because CS4 is so slow and painful on my 7 year old system.  I currently have a little over 400 GB of raw footage and should have at least twice that amount before I'm through shooting.  About 85% of that is AVHCD from a Panasonic HMC150.  The remainder is from Sony EX3 and Canon T2i.  There may also be some P2 from an HVX200 at some point.


      My current budget is around $5,000 and is somewhat flexible. Here's a rough configuration I'm starting with:
      Xeon W3690
      24GB DDR3
      Quadro 4000

      30-bit display

      4-10 hard drives (still working out configurations and have a lot of questions about this)


      Please let me know if you have any suggestions for first time builders or comments on this configuration.  I'll make separate posts with more detailed questions so this isn't so lengthy.  Thanks.

        • 1. Re: First time builder
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          The W3690 is nothing other than the i7-990X, same socket, same clock speed, same cache, etc. but being branded as a Xeon, usually more expensive and because of the mobo choices, more limiting in memory choices. For the rest no remarks yet. I'll await further details.

          • 2. Re: First time builder
            Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

            Welcome to the forums.  It is evident that you have not done much reading of the resources here.


            If you really want to see what is good and bad Read the Hardware FAQ list in the front of this forum, also look at the successful builds listed on Harm and my Premiere Pro BenchMark (PPBM5)


            If you do not feel very confident in building your own computer take a look at ADK for a custom built and guaranteed proper functioning video editing computer.

            • 3. Re: First time builder
              illucine Level 1

              Thanks for the info Harm but there must be some architectural difference because benchmarks indicate the W3690 has slightly better performance than the 990X.  The W3690 also supports more memory, ECC (although most true workstations use ECC I'm not sure this is worth it), and I have read where some people think it's more reliable although this might be conjecture.  It's also compatible with some of the same motherboards as the 990x (although a different mobo might be needed for ECC).  The price is slightly higher ($1064 vs. $1000(US) last I checked).

              • 4. Re: First time builder
                illucine Level 1

                Not a very friendly welcome Bill.  I hoped to find wisdom and encouragement here.


                Actually I have read the hardware FAQs and looked at the PPBM5 chart.  What leads you to believe I have not?

                • 5. Re: First time builder
                  Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                  The W3690 severely limits your choice of motherboards and the capability to overclock which is a major handicap in my book if you want that additional memory capability.  The only good reason to go with a Xeon solution is if you are going with the two processor version.

                  • 6. Re: First time builder
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    The reason I was not very positive about the Xeon line is the following.


                    Xeon can use ECC memory which is slower than non-ECC, and ECC memory is much more expensive.


                    The number of motherboards to choose from is often limited and with ECC capabilities, often more expensive.


                    If the number of DIMM slots is not more than six, you will not benefit from the larger address capacity of the Xeon's. If the number is larger that means higher price, but often coupled with the incapability of overclocking


                    In speed there is no difference between the 990X and the 3690 when used at stock speed, Depending on the motherboard and memory used, the 990X may have the edge, because it is easier to overclock.


                    In terms of pricing, the 990X is € 812 and the slower W3680 is € 1047. Couldn't find the 3690 here, but the message is that you will pay a premium without any performance gains.


                    Xeons (IMO) are similar to nVidia Quadro cards. They are not the top of the line, the consumer models mostly have better specs, but they are marketed differently with much higher margins for the company.

                    • 7. Re: First time builder
                      illucine Level 1

                      Good points.  I had (wrongly) assumed that because several of the motherboards I've considered (Asus P6T WS, Intel DX58SO2) are compatible with the W3690, that all LGA1366/X58 motherboards probably are.  Thanks for prodding me to look deeper into that.


                      I've heard it is possible to overclock the W3690.  Are OC limitations due to more limited motherboards?


                      Why would the W3690 achieve a higher PassMark than the 990X (11,004 vs 10,645) if they are the same processor?  That chart also mentions a 995X but I'm not sure where they got the numbers from because I don't think it's an actual product.  Is there such a thing as an i7 995X?


                      I'm certainly not sold on the W3690.  It just seemed like a slightly better processor than the 990X for a slightly higher price.  The W3690 is only about 6% higher according to the US$ prices I've seen.  The difference in € prices that Harm mentioned are about 29% and I agree it's not worth that much more.


                      I'm also curious about more cores (dual Xeons) versus clock speed.  Should I proceed with questions re. that or start a new thread?

                      • 8. Re: First time builder
                        Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                        Intel motherboards and Supermicro motherboards generally are not overclockable.


                        Overclocking is definitely related to the BIOS at the motherboard level/


                        I would suggest you follow discussions that ADK has presented as to the value of dual processors.  But as you can see for our PPBM5 testing they do not provide cost effective performance increases.  Now if you really need heavy duty multitasking and are willing to pay heavily for it then you might justify dual CPU's

                        • 9. Re: First time builder
                          illucine Level 1

                          The Intel DX58SO2 appears to be overclockable from what I've read (eg. Xbit Labs, Legit Reviews) although some think it has less OC options than other boards.  Having never overclocked a system, most of this is currently over my head although I would like this capability for when I'm more knowledgable.


                          I have noticed previously in the PPBM5 results that dual CPUs do not generally seem to add much for Premiere.  However, as I mentioned in my intro, this system will also be used for other applications (After Effects, Lightwave 3D) which might be able to better utilize a dual CPU setup.  I'm not sure where the "discussions that ADK has presented as to the value of dual processors" you are referring to are.  Could you post a link, please?

                          • 10. Re: First time builder
                            Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                            illucine wrote:


                            .  I'm not sure where the "discussions that ADK has presented as to the value of dual processors" you are referring to are.  Could you post a link, please?

                            I have no idea where they were posted but if Eric or Scott read this maybe they could refresh us on the pros and cons that they deal with everyday.