View Full Version : I know it's been asked, computer specs

03-07-2009, 01:18 PM
I just haven't found a useful/clear answer.

I need an assist in pointing me in the right direction for a new system. I know this gets asked all the time, but in looking at the different forums, in different disciplines, I have come away completely confused.

I have had a lot of experiences building my own boxes, but quit paying attention to all the details when companies started playing marketing games with chip designations and I needed to be working on producing video rather than researching/keeping up with all the specs. If folks can help me clarify whatís really important in putting together a new system, it would be truly appreciated. As I understand it, a quad core, not sure of the adequate vs. killer processor speeds, lots of RAM (not sure of the actual really adequate amount) and massive disk throughput.

Pentium 4 3.2g w/hyperthreading
4 gig RAM, SATA drives (8 drives), Nvidia 7600 GT
Additional ATA IDE card, additional firewire ports, additional usb
Windows XP Pro

What Iím doing: Video Post (the Adobe CS4 Master Collection), 3D animation, After Effects, Photoshop, Cakewalk Sonar 8, etc

The current machine worked well for a SD workflow and O.K. for 3D, etc

What I need now: I am migrating to an HD workflow. Currently, with my existing system
720p 60 P2 footage will play (sort of) it needs to be in draft mode and its not smooth temporally.

The input I need: Some guidelines as to what computer only (not taking into account a 3rd party solution like Matrox, etc) system specs will get me into the land of a realtime (or at least useable playback response for editing) workflow for a couple of streams of P2 HD footage. My understanding is that data streaming throughput is critical, display card for assisted display (off loading display work from the processor), possibility of more than one graphics card and availability of 4 lane PCI express in addition to the PCIe16 and lots of RAM.

I am shying away from i7. I began my computer video post career on the cutting edge of technology (really a necessity at the time) and learned the lesson that cutting edge tech means you will get cut. It is only a matter of whether it is paper cuts or a knife to the carotid artery. I cannot afford to gamble with the compatibility, missing drivers, unknown issue stuff shutting down production.

I want to be 64 bit (most of my workhorse software can utilize this) have massive HDD streaming throughput and be able to render as quickly as reasonably possible.

I know Iím asking a lot, but my hope is that the answer can go sticky and be of assist to others. I noticed a great number of threads where someone asks this kind of question and it never really got answered. More of a ďhere is some parts numbers and flame war/debate thingĒ

Thank You!
Kevin L

03-07-2009, 06:35 PM
The hardware in this:


03-07-2009, 08:30 PM
Thank you, but I should have said, not Mac.

Thank You anyway

03-07-2009, 09:24 PM
The hardware in this

I meant the hardware *in* that machine. Apple
specs out the CPU, graphics card, memory, etc.

You can find the equivalent hardware from another vendor, including Dell.

Macs run Windows just fine although at a higher
price point.


03-07-2009, 09:30 PM
The Q9xxx quads are pretty affordable and so are the motherboards and memory they go with. Go to Anandtech.com to brush up on current tech.

03-07-2009, 10:30 PM
I think you have almost answered your own question for a new computer.

3d rendering - as many cores & CPUs as possible
Photoshop - highest speed processor
Video editing - lots of HDs, raid, + good GC for dual monitor set-up
Enterprise HD for system - its going to be working hard by the sound of it

i7 is not cutting edge, I got mine (920 & a 940) in November last year & they are starting to look prehistoric. Soon the i7 975 will be available & maybe a few new other speed CPUs & a price drop. The V8 (dual CPU X5570 + others) will be available soon to the masses, Supermicro MB for a V8 wold be good, Newegg has customer reviews on most motherboards. A WD Velociraptor 300gb for the system drive would be good, without going to SCSI

03-08-2009, 07:55 AM

And see what a "dinosaur" I've become :) Thinking the specs in the apple post were about apple. I did a little bit of reading yesterday, while a render was percolating. I found one of by biggest points of confusion cleared up. Finding reviews dated 2007 when popping "quad core" in google was resolved by forcing the hand with a "2009" in there. Which helped.

I think the greatest gain was getting a little better handle on the naming conventions. I came from the school of 286, 386, 486, P2, P3, P4, (in nice neat 800mghz, 1.2ghz, etc...) So when chips labeled Q9550 quad @ 2.4ghz ran far faster than my P4 3.2ghz, I had no simple way to rate the specs that were pertinent for comparisons. And of course all the supporting hardware !

I'm not worried I won't have latest greatest (I haven't for a while) I just want to avoid buying a machine that is problematic (bios, driver, chipset...) as I have had experiences with that in the past.

Thank you kindly,

03-09-2009, 09:11 AM
I definitely recommend rolling your own. Go to Newegg and spec some parts!