Building an editing computer

Hey gang,

I'm building my first computer (I've *built* a laptop before - i.e. selected parts for my sager). I'm not a complete slug, and do have more friends who've built their own to help me out a little - but I don't know a heap about desktop parts and good editing setups.

I don't really do a lot of after effects work (pretty light), but I want to be able to easily handle the light stuff, with the option of running heavier stuff passably.

What sort of hardrive config should I look at?

This is a build my friend (who doesn't do film) suggested: http://pricespy.co.nz/list.php?l=119053&view=m
His suggestion was use 1 SSD for OS and editing programs. The 2nd for current project files. Then the HDD for eveyrthing else. Does that make sense? Is anything in there overkill?

Ideally I'd want to spend about $2000NZD or less, but I figure that's unlikely, and can push to $2500nzd tops
 
Probably not so unlikely, actually.. I just built a hackintosh for $1800USD, and it's more than is really necessary for a normal editing machine.

What kind of footage are you going to be editing? HD, 2K, 4K, RED/5K? How many clips are you hoping to playback simultaneously?

I can piece together some better components for you than that. That'd be a decent gaming machine, but not ideal for editing.
 
Probably not so unlikely, actually.. I just built a hackintosh for $1800USD, and it's more than is really necessary for a normal editing machine.

What kind of footage are you going to be editing? HD, 2K, 4K, RED/5K? How many clips are you hoping to playback simultaneously?

I can piece together some better components for you than that. That'd be a decent gaming machine, but not ideal for editing.

Yeah I thought as much (he's a gamer and a coder) based on my own research, but I'm just using it as a starting point.

I'm editing HD footage from my GH3. So, if it matters, it's 72Mbps h264 encoded .mov files. As for how many clips simultaneously... I can't say. I usually don't do too much complex stuff, but it's hard to say...
 
Also what editing program are you using. Does it use multiple cores and so on.

I'm not very knowledgeable about hard drives but I don't think the Green drives are a great choice for this kind of system.

2 SSD drives isn't really going to help you, depending on what you're editing. You'd usually be better off picking up another SATA3 drive or two and putting them in a raid 0. Just make sure you do frequent backups.

The video card seems like overkill though it's hard to tell depending on what you're editing and the workflow you'll be using.
 
Ok, for what you're describing, you're really going overboard with the hardware.

No need for 16gig of ram or the multiple SSD drives.

You wouldn't even need the CPU that good.

The video card would be wasted too on most pieces of software.

You'd be better off with a second/third monitor.
 
Ok, well might as well prep for future anyway.

The water cooler he picked is kind of pointless, it won't do much better than a good air cooler. There's no reason to get two 120GB SSD's, better off getting a singe 240 or 250GB for your system disk. For video scratch, you'll want ideally 3 or more drives in a raid 0 configuration (for speed!). For those, your best bet right now are probably western digital red. 2TB drives are hovering right around $100USD for the WD Red. (I have 4 in my new machine).

You'll also want something for longer term backup, since raid 0 could fail and cause loss of everything, there's no redundancy built into raid 0, but it's great for speed.

An intel i7 processor will serve you much better than will the AMD chip, additionally you'll get more raw GPU power for color grading and whatnot from an nVidia card than an AMD card. That extra sound card is a waste, since the motherboard should have adequate onboard audio.

You could almost certainly find a better deal on a monitor.

The case is fine, though probably overpriced -- I only paid $36 for my new case ;)

I like the power supply, same one I have, in fact. The samsung evo is a really nice SSD, but bump it up to the 240 or 500GB, and stick with one.

Western Digital RED are intended for use in a raid array, which is why I'd suggest them over something else that might have better specs (the green is decidely a bad choice for video though).

I like gigabyte motherboards, maybe look at a z77 series and an intel i7 3770k. That'll be a 3.5GHz quad core, unlocked.. you ought to be able to get that overclocked (easily) to 4.2GHz with a good air cooler.

For GPU, nvidia GTX 600 or 700 series, highest number in the series you can afford, 790 Ti would be ideal, but it's not cheap. I have the 760 FTW (has double the ram).

EDIT: Sweetie's right, you can probably skip the GPU altogether, at least initially, as the onboard graphics would be plenty to handle your editing. If you're using after effects you'd get some rendering benefit from a good gpu, likewise for davinci resolve.
 
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You could of course skimp on the ram and cpu too, but that'll slow your rendering down, and you'll run into general system sluggishness much sooner as well. Granted I've spoiled myself a bit, but I don't like waiting for the computer to think and/or swap memory to disk when I'm editing. ;)
 
Thanks guys, I'll read through properly in the morning (bedtime for me). Prices are high because it's New Zealand and everything is super expensive. THat's the cheapest options in NZ

Dude, I can't advise you on what to spend your dollars on. There are people here far more knowledgeable in that aspect.

My advice would be this though as a fellow kiwi.

Avoid pricespy. Yes its the cheapest way to source goods here in NZ, but if you are clever you can source your gear from the States. People on here will again have a good idea of what to buy from where online.

Heres the trick. Some/many of those places require a US postal address for delivery, but you are lucky in that there are some good people on here that are in the US who might be happy to have stuff sent to them, before bundling it into two or three packages and sending to you. You will save some serious dollars doing it this way.
Also, by sending it in 2-3 packages, the value of each remains under that $400 value mark that gets customs interested in charging you import fees.
(For those not familiar with New Zealand import laws, we do not require any licence or permit to import, but once things come in with a value of over $400 NZ, customs will charge an import fee)

Payment can be made very safely with paypal. AVOID Credit Union.

I personally have a good friend in the States who I would absolutely trust with this and if you want I can ask him if he would mind doing the collecting and sending to you.


The one thing you MUST take note of though is that the US runs on a different voltage to us, so when ordering the power unit, make sure that it is adjustable to work on our power systems, or buy that part from here.
 
Also what editing program are you using. Does it use multiple cores and so on.
I'm using Premier Pro and a little bit of after effects/ I have cs6 but am planning on upgrading to cc soon.

No need for 16gig of ram or the multiple SSD drives.
How much ram would you recommend then?

There's no reason to get two 120GB SSD's, better off getting a singe 240 or 250GB for your system disk. For video scratch, you'll want ideally 3 or more drives in a raid 0 configuration (for speed!). For those, your best bet right now are probably western digital red. 2TB drives are hovering right around $100USD for the WD Red. (I have 4 in my new machine).

You'll also want something for longer term backup, since raid 0 could fail and cause loss of everything, there's no redundancy built into raid 0, but it's great for speed.
So for HDD's, you'd recommend: 1x 250GB SSD, 3x 2tb WD Red, 1x large backup hd?


For GPU, nvidia GTX 600 or 700 series, highest number in the series you can afford, 790 Ti would be ideal, but it's not cheap. I have the 760 FTW (has double the ram).

EDIT: Sweetie's right, you can probably skip the GPU altogether, at least initially, as the onboard graphics would be plenty to handle your editing. If you're using after effects you'd get some rendering benefit from a good gpu, likewise for davinci resolve.
What would be a minimum GPU to get? I do game a little on the side (or, should I /only/ use my computer for editing?), so I'm thinking somewhere in the higher end of midrange, without being top of the line.

Dude, I can't advise you on what to spend your dollars on. There are people here far more knowledgeable in that aspect.

My advice would be this though as a fellow kiwi.

Avoid pricespy. Yes its the cheapest way to source goods here in NZ, but if you are clever you can source your gear from the States. People on here will again have a good idea of what to buy from where online.

Heres the trick. Some/many of those places require a US postal address for delivery, but you are lucky in that there are some good people on here that are in the US who might be happy to have stuff sent to them, before bundling it into two or three packages and sending to you. You will save some serious dollars doing it this way.
Also, by sending it in 2-3 packages, the value of each remains under that $400 value mark that gets customs interested in charging you import fees.
(For those not familiar with New Zealand import laws, we do not require any licence or permit to import, but once things come in with a value of over $400 NZ, customs will charge an import fee)

Payment can be made very safely with paypal. AVOID Credit Union.

I personally have a good friend in the States who I would absolutely trust with this and if you want I can ask him if he would mind doing the collecting and sending to you.


The one thing you MUST take note of though is that the US runs on a different voltage to us, so when ordering the power unit, make sure that it is adjustable to work on our power systems, or buy that part from here.
Yeah, I was planning on using stores overseas, but just using pricespy for the moment to get an idea. I may get back in touch with you about your friend.
 
I've got the GeForce GTX 760 FTW in my new machine. Not top of the line, but certainly has plenty of power for gaming and rendering/AE acceleration. I want to say I paid about $250ish for it.

Personally I'd go with more ram than less. Whether you *need it or not is subjective, but I'd opt for at least half of what the max your motherboard can handle is.

So, if the motherboard will support 32GB by way of 4x 8GB dimms, get two, then upgrade later to the full 32. The reason I'd go this route is you ideally are going to want two dimms at a minimum due to the way the memory channels work with modern processors, and if you opted for 8GB (2x4GB dimms) you'd end up having to replace instead of add on later, that just seems like wasteful spending to me.

You may not need 16GB right now, but you certainly won't be unhappy about having it. Better overall system performance, longer ram previews, etc. Adobe apps will use as much as you make available to them. As such, I see no reason to limit that amount if you can afford it in your budget. Overall, ram is pretty cheap.

Also, as has been mentioned, you might be best off getting someone over here in the states to order for you and ship it to you to save on total expense if prices in NZ are awful.
 
How much ram would you recommend then?

I'm going to go against what Will said. While what he said is correct, you won't be unhappy with more ram, most of it is going to sit there idle with what you're doing. (assuming you're not triyng to do feature length films - I think this is safe as if you were, you'd probably already know all this).

Now to be clear, having lots of ram is critical if you're going to veer outside the scope of what you mentioned, though I don't see you using more than 8gig of ram for a little while.

One thing that Will did say I'll also emphasize. Put as few sticks of ram into your machine as possible to allow you to upgrade later. For instance, if you can put in 4 sticks and you're going to go with 8mb ram, don't get 4 x 2gig sticks. Get 1 x 8gig stick.

So for HDD's, you'd recommend: 1x 250GB SSD, 3x 2tb WD Red, 1x large backup hd?

My recommendation was before I saw what you were editing. You're busting footage with a little under 80bmps bitrate. This would limit it to about 10MB/s. Most SATA3 hard drives can read 90 to 110MB/s these days. So while you can set up a raid 0 hdd setup, it's not going to gain you that much performance (not including seek times) unless you're planning on showing multiple videos at the same time.

I think you'd be fine with a single hard drive for footage, with preferably another one for software/misc. Even though, a single drive would probably be enough all up.

What would be a minimum GPU to get? I do game a little on the side (or, should I /only/ use my computer for editing?), so I'm thinking somewhere in the higher end of midrange, without being top of the line.

Almost any video card will do (not including on board cards that use shared ram) will do. I'm not aware of h.264 offloading any load to the video card, so the video card will idle most of the time anyway. Going to a more expensive card will help you empty your wallet faster.

The biggest bottleneck is usually the CPU in these situations, though to give you an idea, an I5 could handle what I assume you're going to throw at it with relative ease.

If you are going to switch to ProRes footage, Red footage, go higher than 1080p then all the recommendations change. The same goes if you're going to use After Effects, Speed Grade etc. or considering future proofing/gaming, the recommendations change considerably.
 
Thanks for the advice guys, I feel a bit more comfortable now. A few follow up questions;

My recommendation was before I saw what you were editing. You're busting footage with a little under 80bmps bitrate. This would limit it to about 10MB/s. Most SATA3 hard drives can read 90 to 110MB/s these days. So while you can set up a raid 0 hdd setup, it's not going to gain you that much performance (not including seek times) unless you're planning on showing multiple videos at the same time.

I think you'd be fine with a single hard drive for footage, with preferably another one for software/misc. Even though, a single drive would probably be enough all up.
I'm thinking that my setup from the start will be 1x SSD for OS and programs, 1xHDD for everything else and use my external for a backup. Then if it does struggle, I can always get one or two more and try another config?



If you are going to switch to ProRes footage, Red footage, go higher than 1080p then all the recommendations change. The same goes if you're going to use After Effects, Speed Grade etc. or considering future proofing/gaming, the recommendations change considerably.
I'm probably not going to go higher than 1080p for a while, but I want this setup to be solid for a couple of years (and then upgrade components as need be to extend its life). And I also have ambitions of making a larger scale, more *professional* film over the next year or so, which may mean editing more intensive than 1080p GH3 footage. I also want to explore colour grading and correction a bit more, and I do use after effects here and there. But of course, I don't /know/ what will happen.
I've got the GeForce GTX 760 FTW in my new machine. Not top of the line, but certainly has plenty of power for gaming and rendering/AE acceleration. I want to say I paid about $250ish for it.


Looking this up in New Zealand it is twice the price. How depressing.
 
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