14 Replies Latest reply on Mar 11, 2012 4:01 PM by benson-2

    Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.

    benson-2

      This is yet another "is the computer I want good enough for CS5.5" question. Before I begin I'll ask you to please forgive my ignorance and the length of this post. I'm new to having to care about computer hardware. In the past any decent PC has met my needs, but I'm no longer finding that to be the case as I now have a need to edit video.

       

      So I'll start with my particular needs. I need portability. I'm a student and direct a summer camp. In my role at camp I have identified the need to improve our camp promotional material, and that's where the video editing comes in. I'll be shooting and editing several promotional shorts and a couple of documentary style shorts using DSLR footage and perhaps a little camcorder or two. After much research, and playing around with some free trial software, I've settled on CS5.5, but there's only one problem, my computer just isn't up to the task. Conveniently enough, my current computer has seen better days and it's time to upgrade anyways, so I've been researching and shopping around trying to find an appropriate computer. As portability is a must, and I can't afford a decent desktop and a laptop (and even if I could always transferring data back and forth would be annoying), I've been looking at laptops. It seems like any off-the shelf laptop that is well suited to run adobe isn't really all that portable. Sure you can transport it a lot easier than a desktop, but you can't expect to get a full day of battery life out of it, nor is it a reasonable weight to carry all over creation (my point is that a 17" laptop is out). So I did a little digging, and after reading a lot of posts on this forum and a lot of information from other sources I think I've come up with a solution. I'm looking for input into potential problems any tech-savvy people see with my idea, and sales reps for dell aren't tech savvy, so I figured this was a good place to find out how well adobe would run on my proposed set-up (I'm not a pro, and won't be editing feature length films, so I don't think I need the same performance as a tricked out desktop, I just need it to perform well with as few hold ups as possible).

       

      Here's what I've come up with:

       

           Dell XPS 14z:

        • Intel core i-7 2640M (2.8GHz, with "turbo boost" up to 3.50GHz)
        • 8 GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM
        • 750 GB SATA, 7200rpm  hard drive
        • Nvidia Geforce 520M 1GB graphics card
        • The only information on screen resolution I could find on the Dell web-site  was "true 720p HD display" after reading a few reviews, I found the specs were lower than the minimum recommended by Adobe, I forget exactly what they are though.

       

      So this computer is more than I would ever need for my non-video editing needs. On paper it's a nice little laptop, a little pricey ($1300!), but they can be had at a very reasonable price ($700 - $800) refurbished from the Dell online outlet. None-the-less I can see several problems with this set-up.

       

      First is the Display: it's inadequate. That's easily solved by using an external monitor, and you can get a pretty decent monitor off of tiger direct for less than $200. I can tolerate video editing at a desk, I need portability for other applications.

       

      Second is the hard drive. From reading this forum I understand that editing with only one hard drive can slow things down quite a bit. I was wondering how big a deal this really is for the casual editor? There are adaptors that allow you to place a second hard drive where the optical drive is in this laptop. If it's necessary, I plan on putting a second 750GB 7200 rpm HDD where the optical drive is. Problem solved, right? Does anyone see any problems with this idea? My next question about the hard drive topic is: how much would a third hard drive really benefit me? And would data transfer using an external HDD with a USB 3.0 connection be fast enough to be a viable option for a third drive? Either way I could pick up an appropriate hard drive and caddy for a little under $175 and around $100 for an external HDD with USB 3.0 to be used as a third drive if necessary.

       

      The third potential problem is the RAM. It seems there are a lot of opinions out there about how much is enough. Is 8 GB adequate? According to intel's web site this particular processor is compatible with up to 16GB of RAM, and after searching various forums I found a couple instances of people expanding their RAM on this computer to 16GB with no issues. I understand that I can replace the current 2x4GB set up with either 1x4GB + 1X8GB or 2x8GB to give either a total of 12 or 16GB of RAM. Is this necessary or even beneficial?  8GB would be more than enough for anything else I do, and since I have little experience with video editing I thought I'd ask those who know. Is a RAM upgrade necessary? Using this configuration I could update the RAM to 12 GB for around $100 and to 16 GB for around $200.

       

      Finally, the graphics card that comes with this computer isn't on the list of cards recommended by Adobe. I understand that this is because it doesn't support CUDA, how much of an issue is this? Will I be able to efficiently edit video without a recommended card?

       

      The point of all the numbers is this: 800+200+175+100=1,275. For $1275ish it seems to me I could get a very reasonable video editing set up that's still portable. That's less than the sticker price on these laptops, and a lot less than a mac book pro, which is everyone's first recommendation when I mention I want to use the computer for video editing. This seems like a very reasonable price for a laptop with an intel i7 2.8GHz, two 750GB 7200rpm HDD's, 12GB of RAM, and an external monitor for when I want to sit down and edit. Am I delusional in thinking this would run well using CS5.5?

       

      So I guess the point is this. Life is about trade offs, and since I primarily need portability and I'm not a professional (just an anal consumer with high standards :), I'm willing to trade a little bit of video editing performance for the improved portability. I want the opinion of those who have experience using CS5.5 with various set-ups, does my proposed set-up seem like a reasonable trade-off? Are the upgrades even neccessary? Would they be enough to provide a reasonable editing experience? Any other advice (besides buying a desktop or a wicked expensive 17" laptop that weighs two to three times as much and chews through battery life)?

       

      Thanks for sticking with this and giving me any feedback. It's appreciated!

        • 1. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
          Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

          I did not take the time to read your length post, I scanned it fast. 

           

          If you really want a CS5.5 much more capable notebook take a look at this ASUS G74 unit at TigerDirect on special right now for only $1299 .  It far exceeds the Dell in that it has more RAM, it is a full 1920 x 1080 HD display, it has internal space for the Adobe required second hard drive without loseing your optical drive, you yourself can easily upgrade to a full 16 GB of RAM much cheaper, and it has a better nVidia GPU.. 

          • 2. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
            RjL190365 Level 4

            Bill,

             

            Unfortunately, that laptop is out because the OP cannot lug around a 17" screen.

            • 3. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
              RjL190365 Level 4

              Benson,

               

              In the case of that 14" screen, its resolution turned out to be only 1366x768. (I got the specs from one of Dell's non-US sites.) Premiere Pro CS5.5 requires a minimum vertical screen resolution of 900 pixels to display properly (that screen has plenty of horizontal resolution; it just falls well short on vertical resolution).

               

              And a single hard drive for absolutely everything can make everything that you do in editing take more than twice as long as it does with two or more hard drives doing something at the same time (and I mean separate physical hard drives, not multiple partitions on the single drive). Remember, SATA is only half-duplex, which means that the interface must wait for a block of read operations to be completed before a block of write operations can commence - but editing requires simultaneous reads and writes, which is something that no SATA device can perform at all. In addition, there is additional latency in switching between reads and writes within the same device.

               

              Third, even with all those upgrades and external monitors, the weakest point about that Dell laptop is the GPU itself: It is glacially slow compared to even a mediocre desktop GPU. The GT 520m has only 48 CUDA cores, only a 64-bit memory bus width and lousy DDR3 VRAM. (Technically, it supports CS5.5's MPE GPU acceleration mode, but its extremely sluggish performance would almost certainly drive you insane.) It is so slow that you might as well permanently lock Premiere to the MPE software-only mode at all times.

              • 4. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                benson-2 Level 1

                billm thanks for the link, I looked at that, but it's huge, and i can't lug it around. RjL, I would add a second HDD, which would take care of your first point, but if I understand you correctly, even with more RAM and a second HDD it wouldn't matter because the GPU just won't cut it? i'm OK with being a little patient, but maddenly slow just won't do.... maybe it's time to consider a desktop?

                • 5. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                  RjL190365 Level 4

                  In the case of that Dell, the GPU just would not cut it. In transcoding HD material to SD DVD, the GT 520m with MPE GPU acceleration enabled in Premiere Pro CS5.5 would take 10 to 12 hours just to process one hour's worth of video content even with the very fastest CPU in the world. That could drive you mad if you have a deadline to meet in handing the finished product to a client. (By comparison, a fast GPU would process that same content in just over real time - a little more than one hour.)

                  • 6. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    If you can't lug around a 17" laptop, how did you think you would do that with a 14" laptop PLUS a full HD external monitor, that needs a wall outlet anyway? Just work in the blind without the external monitor, making guesses at choices that can not be seen from the user interface?

                    • 7. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                      RjL190365 Level 4

                      By the way, if you're going to use an external monitor for editing anyway, you should consider a desktop instead. Not just any desktop, but one with at least three hard disks, a GTX 560 Ti or higher GPU and an i7-2600K or higher CPU (an i5 quad-core based system would only be about as fast as a first-generation i7 system as far as performance in CS5.5 is concerned) with at least 16GB of RAM (plus a sufficiently powerful PSU and a nice, big, roomy full-tower case to handle more disks and provide better cooling). Use the small laptop for everything else besides editing: It lacks both the resolution and the GPU horsepower to be of much use in CS5.5.

                       

                      By the way, despite Harm's recommendations for 850W+ PSUs for even a minimally basic configuration, I feel that the eXtreme Power Calculator and other PSU calculators are completely inaccurate: The values that they use to calculate power requirements are flat out wrong. Besides, they have to allow for a PSU that cannot handle even half of its labeled wattage in the calculations. And a good-quality recent PSU does not degrade anywhere near as much with capacitor degradation as many older ones did. Thus, a PSU of at least 650W would be recommended for the build that I recommend (and an 80 Plus Gold or an 80 Plus Platinum certification is usually a sign of a higher-quality PSU than an 80 Plus Bronze or an 80 Plus standard certification).

                      • 8. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                        benson-2 Level 1

                        Harm, I wouldn't be carrying around the monitor. I don't need to edit on the go, the mobility is for other things. the monitor would obviously sit on a desk, and when I sit down to work I could use it. Small screens are OK for most things, but editing needs aside, having a monitor when you're just sitting at home and working at your desk is nice.

                         

                        RjL: ya, I've been considering a desktop, but as I need a new laptop anyways, both are not in the budget, and I'm kinda hoping I can have my cake and eat it too (be mobile and be able to edit) The computer you describe is way more than I ever need for anything besides editing, and I'm just wondering, is it really all even necessary for CS5.5? I'm not trying to be a pro here, just to get the job done.

                        • 9. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                          RjL190365 Level 4

                          My opinion:

                           

                          If you were to buy such a small laptop, you might as well settle for an el-cheapo ($100-ish) consumer video editing program (such as Premiere Elements, whose editor is 64-bit but the rest of that program is only 32-bit) or skip video editing completely. Premiere Pro and all of the other upper-prosumer editing programs require both a robust CPU and a robust GPU to run at the speed that's even close to acceptable to you. And there is absolutely no way at all whatsoever around this fact.

                           

                          In fact, running CS5.5 on such a small laptop with a severely underpowered GPU is like racing an old beat-up Ford Pinto (or Ford Fiesta) on a track that's designed to be used by super-powerful NASCAR race cars.

                          • 10. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                            JEShort01 Level 4

                            Benson,

                             

                            Trying to stick with your original goals, and I think that I can see where you are going, I've got some advice and suggestions...

                             

                            - Since DSLR and camcorders (I'm assuming ACHDV) are really tough codecs; I suggest you only consider Intel QM 32nm CPUs (i.e. i7 2670QM w/ 4 cores + hyperthreading); having twice the cores is HUGE for CS5/5.5

                            - Suggest you go with 14" 1600x900 display for a good balance of size, weight, and cost

                            - A "gamers" level nVidia video setup will allow for the massively helpful MPE to be switched on (GPU cuda cores)

                            - 8GB of RAM will work; of course 16GB would allow for faster DVD burns, but I don't sense that to be a need

                            - NewModeUS optical bay conversion caddies are asesome to add a 2nd 2.5" drive if you need to edit on the fly, but since you said you don't need that capability I suggest getting the biggest, baddest, 7200rpm USB3.0 external drive you can afford to plug in when you are editing. Of course a RAID 0 (2 drive) USB 3.0 device would be even more ideal, but may also bust your budget.

                            - Dell's Alienware M14x meets all of this criteria; yes, it will be a bit heavier. yes, it will be more expensive. But, most importantly, it will get the job done. Any "thin, light, slick" laptop, and that includes the current smaller Macbook Pro line as well will not IMHO.

                             

                            Regards,

                             

                            Jim

                            • 11. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                              RjL190365 Level 4

                              I also forgot to mention that the i7-2640M on that Dell notebook has only two physical cores. As such, the i7-2640M is not a true mobile i7 CPU at all - but rather a mobile i5 CPU with a little more L3 cache. (All mobile i5 CPUs are only dual-core with Hyperthreading and Turboboost.) As such, in combination with that way underpowered GPU, expect it to perform at best about 9 to 11 times slower than a fast PC.

                              • 12. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                                benson-2 Level 1

                                Thanks Jim! That's incredibly helpful. I originally wrote of the M14x because the processor was 2.2GHz compared to 2.8GHz on the xps14z, not realizing that the M14x was a quad core. It's only marginally thicker and heavier than what I have now, so although it's not by any means a slim and light notebook, the extra size and weight won't make a difference to me. Overall, the M14x sounds like it's got a lot going for it. I looked at it a little more and it's got the option of an upgraded processor that can handle more RAM, and a better GPU as well. Thanks for putting the alienware laptop back on my radar! For what it's worth I'd agree with you on the macbook pro assesment. I did a little research on them, and they don't seem to be the amazing video editing machines people told me they were, so aside from looking "cool" I don't see any advantage in having one   Oh, and as a side note, the xps14z and the alienware M14x are very close in price, the price I quoted for hte 14z above was a refurbished model. Brand new there's no price difference (that's comparing an M14x with 6GB RAM, it's cheaper to upgrade after buying anyways....).

                                 

                                Thanks again for the comments RjL, they're appreciated, it's good to know how much the xps14z would have sucked before I spent $1300.00, that was the point of posting here

                                 

                                A couple final questions:

                                 

                                Jim you mentioned that 16GB or RAM would allow for faster DVD burns, would I see any other benefits to that much RAM? would CS5.5 (or any other programs for that matter) run any more efficiently?

                                 

                                I'm also wondering about the graphics card. Dell lists a 3GB and 1.5GB option. Is there any advantage to having more RAM available for the GPU?

                                • 13. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                                  JEShort01 Level 4

                                  Benson,

                                   

                                  Glad the comments were helpful!

                                   

                                  Regarding RAM, the following test results were mine from an old thread:

                                   

                                  "...RAM size: increasing from 4GB to 8GB doubled the MPE GPU performance [11 sec. vs. 6 sec.] and improved the MPEG2-DVD performance [122 sec. vs. 91 sec.]; the other tests only improved marginally. Increasing from 8GB to 16GB made significant additional improvements to the MPEG2-DVD time [91 sec. vs. 37 sec.]; all other tests hardly changed at all". [Note that my testing, and current system, run 5.0.3, not 5.5, but I suspect that these results are still probably reasonable for your situation.]

                                   

                                  Thread was: http://forums.adobe.com/message/3465135 (How changes to CPU speed, RAM size, and drives impacted my PPBM5 score)

                                   

                                  Regarding graphics card RAM, either card would work just fine for you. User's that have a need for massive frame sizes might benefit from the 3GB model, but for normal HD work the 1.5 will be fine.

                                   

                                  Regards,

                                   

                                  Jim

                                  • 14. Re: Another "will this set-op be OK for CS5.5?" post.
                                    benson-2 Level 1

                                    thanks for the link to the thread, once again it's appreciated.