In an earlier post we discussed how much computing power your desktop system might need to produce quality web videos while keeping to the HayleStorm Interactive mantra…”Spend frugally”. That post, and this one, is prompted by some of the things I read while doing the research needed to keep the information here up-to-date. I am completely blown away by what I see described as “inexpensive” when systems are discussed.
I just read an article, , that has an ENTRY level system cost pegged at $1330, mid level at $1870, and a super duper, mega kick butt system with a price of $3370…and these prices are for parts only, YOU do the assembly (which is super simple)! Wow!
Belive me when I say you DON’T have to spend anything even close to that amount of money to have a system that will exceed your expectations and needs.
The earlier post was in very generalized terms, mainly because it was written when I was in the middle of making a major change in desktop systems and wasn’t sure how the new system I was building, that I was inclined to reccomend, would perform until I had put it through it’s paces. I wanted to work out any glitches, and make any necessary tweaks, before I gave you a settled reccomendation.
Well…the system has been built, its been through its paces, and what few glitches were found turned out to be operator (me) error.
Keep in mind that this system was built with an eye towards heavy duty video work. ANYTHING else you throw at it, except perhaps serious, hard-core video gaming, will be a piece of cake for this system…and even the question of gaming superiority is open to discussion, mainly discussion centered around the CPU. Frankly, most of that discussion is centered around brand loyality, as some people are just plain Intel fanboys while others are dedicated AMD loyalists.
HayleStorm Interactive focuses on WordPress blogging and web video production for blogs from a small budget perspective. We are always trying to find a way to do more with less. With that said, I strongly suggest that you buy enough computer to do virtually ANYTHING, run ANY program, that deals with web video production. While you might be buying the budget tools we discuss here now, at some point you might want to upgrade to the biggest, baddest, mother-of-all video production tools, and you don’t want to have to spend even more money upgrading or replacing a perfectly good computer to run that software when a really kick-butt system can be had to start with while spending few dollars.
NOTE: It goes without saying that computer technology advances at lightning speed. The cost of existing components usually drops quite a bit as newer/faster/”better” components are released. Check the prices on each of the following components before buying. You can use the Tiger Direct search tool in the sidebar to find excellent prices on these, and other, electronic and computer related products.*
NOTE 2: The following system will do almost ANYTHING you could possibly ask of it. There are, however, some instances where you might want even “more” system while still keeping the price down. See below this system description for reasons to possibly upgrade and for how to decide if it is really needed and an estimate of the cost to do so.
So, let’s look at a really top notch system for less than $625.00 (not including monitor):
AMD FD6100WMGUSBX FX-6100 Processor – Six Core, 8MB L3 Cache, 6MB L2 Cache, 3.30GHz (3.90GHz Max Turbo), Socket AM3+, 95W $119.99
The heart of video work is the ability of your CPU to render an edited video. Rendering is the single most time consuming task you will ask of your computer, and the biggest effect you can have on rendering efficiency is by increasing the number of cores on your CPU, and this 6 core processor is a beast.
It comes from TigerDirect with a cooling fan (that I consider inadequate) and is unlocked for easy overclocking if you want a double duty machine good for gaming.***
AMD does make an 8 core processor but at the time of my system build it was about $100.00 more than the 6120 and, for video work, not worth the extra money, in my opinion.**
ASUS Sabertooth 990FX AMD AM3+ TUF Motherboard – ATX, Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX Chipset, 1866MHz-DDR3, SATA 6.0 Gb/s, RAID, 8-CH Audio, Gigabit LAN, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, SLI/CrossFireX Ready $189.00
An adequate motherboard can be had for roughly $100.00 less than this ASUS mobo, but buying a lesser motherboard is very shortsighted and is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
First, it is military-grade tough, with excellent durability, as demonstrated by its 5 year warranty. Like a Timex watch, this mobo will take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
Second, ASUS has features that make for unbelieveable ease-of-use. BIOS updates are as easy (or easier) than driver updates on your computer, a great feature for folks like me who break out in hives whenever they even see a BIOS screen. Additionally, ASUS has a Windows based motherboard and CPU GUI called ASUS AI Suite II, a control panel where you can control and monitor various functions like voltages, temperatures, multipliers, etc., and set up different BIOS profiles for various purposes.
XFX GT-520M-ZNF2 GeForce GT 520 Video Card – 1GB, DDR3, PCI-Express 2.0 (x16), DVI, HDMI, VGA, DirectX 11, Single-Slot, Low Profile $46.52
OK, so this is NOT the most kick-butt video card around. It is woefully inadequate for complicated live video and a gamer would laugh at the suggestion that this video card belongs in anything more than a beginner gamer’s system. Well, we are not talking about a gaming system, we are talking about a video editing system, and an economical one at that. For this application this card is perfect.
Patriot PGD316G1600ELK G2 Series Division 2 Edition 16GB DDR3 Memory Kit – 16GB, 2x 8GB, DDR3, PC3-12800, 240-Pin, 9-9-9-24 Enhanced Latency $96.99
(This is an upgrade to what you need for most of the video production work you will do.) 16GB of RAM is really overkill for the rest of the system described here. In most cases you will do fine with 8GB of RAM, BUT, if you are wanting to edit several videos and then batch them for rendering, you will eventually get the AMD 8-core processor, and at that point you will need 16GM of RAM. I suggest you go ahead and get it now.
I personally started with 8GB, but soon upgraded to 16GB.
Ultra LSP650 650-Watt Power Supply – ATX, SATA-Ready, SLI-Ready, 135mm Fan $54.99
If you need to up your available power beyond this suggested system, this is the PSU you should give serious consideration to, unless you go all the way with ultimate gaming with several screens, video cards, and more RAM than is needed to run NASA.
One other great thing about Ultra PSU’s is all you need to know about their quality…they have a lifetime warranty.
WD Blue WD10EALX 1TB Desktop Hard Drive – 3.5″, SATA, 7200RPM, 32MB Cache $84.99
This drive has two specifications that make it ideal for use in a video editing machine.
First, it is a LARGE drive. If you are new to working with video you have a big surprise coming when you see the size of some of your video files, and multiple huge files…some of my video files can be 1 GB and larger before editing and rendering…require a LOT of drive space.
Second, it is a fast drive. Rendering happens in cores, the more the better. RAM feeds corse, the more the better. Your hard drive feeds the RAM…the FASTER the better. I strongly suggest you stay away from slower, 5400 RPM “green” drives.
Thermaltake VM54521N2U V2 ATX Mid Tower Case – ATX, Micro ATX, 450W PSU, 3x Ext 5.25″, 1x Ext 3.5″, 6x Int 3.5″, 2x Front USB 2.0 Ports $69.99
This case is built by Thermaltake, a component manufacturer of good, solid peripherals, including cases, that do a good, work-a-day job without trying to be fancy. This case has the room, components, and connectors for the rest of the system described here. (NOTE: The included PSU (power supply unit) is adequate for this system, but just barely. ANY upgrades…8-core processor, additional hard drives or additional video cards for multiple monitors, will need the PSU upgrade mentioned above.)
* All prices are from TigerDirect and accurrate as of Aeptember 24, 2012.
** I edit and render one video at the time. For people who wish to queue several edited videos and begin rendering the queued videos at the same time, the 8 core processor might be worth the extra $100.00. If you are REALLY concerned about rendering time, however, you might wait and see if AMD releases it’s rumored 10 core processor this year. If so, it will run on the motherboard discussed in this article.
*** CPU cooler upgrade- I reccomend upgrading to Cooler Master RR-B10-212P-GP Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler – 120mm, LGA 1366, 1156, 775, AMD AM3, AM2+, AM2 for $26.99.