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I need a fast video-editing computer - looking for suggestions

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I need a fast video-editing computer - looking for suggestions

Old 08-31-02, 02:31 PM
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I need a fast video-editing computer - looking for suggestions

I have a client who needs a video-editing computer with fairly fast speed. It doesn't have to be the top-of-the-line, just under the upper premium speed/price point would be fine. This machine has to stay up so conservative overclocking would be considered, but nothing where the system is on the edge in terms of either electronic or thermal stability.

It will be used to input digital and analog video from camcorders. Specific scenes and snapshots from the video will need to be extracted, possibly edited together, and then burned onto CD or DVD depending on their length. So I have a few questions...

1) Given that cost is not a real big factor here, would P4 or Athlon be a better choice for video editing?

2) Is there a system prebuilt that would suit this need? I don't need to build another system if it can be done more cheaply by the manufacturer. And no Apple products please.

3) If I have to build it what CPU/motherboard/RAM would you recommend?

4) What DVD-R should we get?

5) Would SCSI be worth the cost or would a high-end IDE like the WD with 8 MB cache do the job? We're going to need mucho storage and could mirror or RAID the drives if they were cheap enough.

6) What have I not considered?

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 08-31-02, 03:36 PM
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Not to sound like a traitor or anything, but why not try the forums at overclockers.com? http://forum.oc-forums.com/vb/index.php just read some threads and look at those guys' sigs to get an idea and do a search there.

What is your price range? (You should have one) 3 grand?

Other thing you forgot is you'll need a ton of memory.
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Old 08-31-02, 04:58 PM
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Re: I need a fast video-editing computer - looking for suggestions

Originally posted by X
And no Apple products please.
Have fun beating your head against the wall.

Despite the somewhat theatrical claims of a lot of mac users, it really is the first, best choice for this sort of thing. They really are designed for this sort of work, and Final Cut Pro is the best software out there short of a full blown Avid system. Don't even think of it as a computer. Think of it like any other piece of video equipment.

But since PC is a requirement, go with the Pentium 4. There are too many issues with the chipsets that Athlons use to guarantee a stable experience. Sure, there are people who have had a great deal of success with them, but there are many more who will curse the name of VIA until the end of their days. Overclocking this thing is probably not a good idea either. You're looking for stability over all else. Remember, the main thing for video is sustained throughput, not necessarily raw speed.

For editing DV footage, a 7200 RPM IDE drive will be fine. Raid cards are fairly inexpensive, but a single drive should be more than fast enough. SCSI is unnecessary unless you're editing uncompressed video or HD.

For pre-built systems, check out DV magazine. There are several companies who advertise all kinds of pre-configured systems. Promax is supposedly one of the better ones. I think Alienware has a line of editing machines too.

For the analog footage, the best thing to do is just convert it to DV. It will be a lot easier to handle that way. If the camera doesn't have the pass-through feature where you can plug a VCR into the analog inputs and get a DV stream out of the firewire, you need a converter box. A good one is the Canopus ADVC-100.

Good luck. There are a TON of options out there.
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Old 08-31-02, 07:24 PM
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For top of the line performance without paying top of the line price, look into a P4 1.8A (should overclock to 2.6 - considered a conservative overclock for this CPU) with RD-RAM.
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Old 08-31-02, 10:37 PM
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If this is to be a dedicated NLE machine, what you might want to consider is first determining what capture card you'll be using and what software you want to run and then go to the vendors' web sites and look at what hardware is tested/certified with their hardware/software. Stability and compatibility is more important than performance in these systems.

A P4 would be a good choice and if you want a conservative overclock, just buy a 400 MHz FSB chip and run it at 533 MHz. I really hate the idea of overclocking the AGP or PCI bus and letting them run asynch from the FSB is only slightly less worrisome.

If cost is not a big constraint, then set the system up to boot to a 15K RPM SCSI drive. I still feel SCSI drives are far more reliable than IDE and it will make your system a bit snappier. For the video data, IDE drives will be fine. Whether it's worth the trouble to set up a RAID is up to you. Just be sure to put them all on their own channel, but I'm sure you knew that already.

For a DVD burner, I'd recommend sticking with DVD-R and the Pioneer A04 (104 is the identical OEM version) is very popular and well proven.
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Old 09-01-02, 09:01 AM
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Yeah, everything Jason said.
I'd check out the Dell 8200 refurbs, they sometimes have such great prices you'd think they're mis-priced. Of course sometimes their refurbs are overpriced as hell.

I'd get a P4-2Ghz or above. 8200 comes with RDRAM. Your choice as to how much. If possible, get one with a cheap VC and then get yourself a good capture card. Dell has some DVD-RW drives, dunno how good they are.

The reason I say Dell is that if this is for a client, I doubt he/she would want something that's overclocked if they will keep the system. I'd get something pre-built with a warranty attached to it.
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Old 09-01-02, 01:20 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone! The P4 seems to be the consensus so far.

I was actually looking at a new Dell 8200 but refurb could be ok. The price of the new one was around $1200 for 2.53GHz, 512MB RAM, NVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200, "free" 80GB hard drive, DVD-ROM, and a few other odds and ends. Still need to add a burner and monitor though.

I think I'll look at their refurb version and see if it saves much and then compare to what I could slap together a system for.
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