NLE: convert/upgrade my desktop or buy a new laptop?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by idiotprogrammer, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. Hi, I have a hardware dilemma resulting partially from a change in my
    requirements over the past year. I am wondering if it's feasible to
    upgrade/gut an old PC I built Feb 2005 and use it for video production,
    or whether it's better to use a new highend laptop for
    videoproduction/NLE? Fe el free to throw out warnings and gotchas.

    I have one PC I built last February for the purpose of building a web
    server. Good processor, good memory, average video card, no sound card,
    adequate hard drive space.

    But over the past year my priorities changed. It no longer is a
    requirement for me to use this machine as a webserver. I could use it
    as a video production desktop, but need advice about what parts need to
    be upgraded.

    My initial thought was to keep the old server PC as a test box (albeit
    a fairly expensive one!) and then buy a high end laptop for Windows
    video production. I actually plan to use the laptop for independent
    contracting and make a lot of use out of it as well.

    But then a knowledgeable friend said, "use a laptop for making
    videos--are you out of your gourd??" We talked about it for a while. I
    was willing to spend a premium ($2000+) for a high quality laptop, but
    he mentioned things that did not occcur to me: the overheating problem
    with sustained processing to output your video, LCD's going bad, higher
    incidence of maintenance problems for laptops, risk in depending too
    much on a single laptop (with my webserver staying relatively unused!).

    Then I had a brainstorm: gut the server PC and upgrade as needed for
    video production. And buy a moderately priced laptop for $1200 or so
    (instead of $2000 as I had originally planned).

    I haven't mentioned my video plans/requirements:

    I'll be importing miniDV and using Vegas as my NLE. I haven't decided
    on what camera (and this could potentially be a huge factor).

    Either I use the $1200 Panasonic 3CCD GS-400. Or use the 1 CCD $1700
    Sony HD-HC1 camera (with the capability to make SD or HDV output). I
    initially dropped the Sony out of the picture until a poster pointed
    out that I didn't NEED to set the HC1's output as HDV (if my
    desktop/monitor isn't ready for example). I could simply use the much
    less strenous SD output (with the option to go to my miniDV/HDV source
    later on when I found a monitor to view it with). Even at SD, the Sony
    camera has been said to deliver superior picture quality, 16x9 and
    superior low lighting. I should mention I don't have an HDTV or a
    monitor capable of viewing HD/HDV output, and don't plan to for about a

    So 2 decisions which might be dependent:

    1)is it more practical to gut/upgrade my relatively new desktop or try
    to do my NLE on a high end laptop? (Would there be any advantage to
    having a portable laptop for NLE and serving as a second monitor for
    2)would my decision to go for the HD-HC1 have a great impact on what my
    desktop should be like? (or are my specs good enough?). Assume that
    I'll be using HD-HC1 mainly for SD output, although I'd certainly like
    to try HDV out.
    3)if I gut/upgrade my current desktop, what components would be most
    important to upgrade (keep in mind I'll be using USB2 hard drives for
    data). My guess is that as long as the upgrading/switching costs for my
    desktop would total no more than $600-700, it will still be worthwhile.

    So I keep my mobo, tower, dvd writer, harddrives,
    I have a 21 inch monitor, not HD ready, but hopefully I could switch
    this in a year or two if I go 100% HD/HDV).

    I need to replace/add:
    upgrade my processor?
    upgrade my RAM from 1 gig to 2 gig. (That would mean that I would have
    512mb, 512mb and then a 1 gig stick. Is that awful?
    upgrade my videocard (a must)
    upgrade my soundcard

    My specs for my current (unused) server which I am thinking of
    converting to a video dekstop?

    I would appreciate your input

    Robert Nagle
    Houston, Texas

    AMD Athlon 64 3500+ CPU-ADA3500AWBOX 1 286.00
    2.2GHz Microprocessor,
    Socket 939, L2 512K,
    ADA3500AWBOX. Retail Box
    Asus A8V Deluxe Socket MB-A8V-Deluxe 1 132.00
    939 ATX Motherboard,
    AGP8x, 1394 & USB2.0, 8ch
    Audio & GB LAN, S /
    OCZ 1GB (512MB X 2) DIM-OCZ4001024PDC-K 1 183.99
    OCZ4001024PDC-K DDR
    PC3200 400MHz Premier
    Dual Channel
    Xion Mid-Tower ATX Case CS-Xion 1 69.99
    *Choose Color = Blue
    w/ Side Window, LED
    Lights & 450W PS, Color:
    Blue, Silver, Black
    Zalman CPU Cooler, COOL-CNPS7700-CU 1 42.99
    CNPS7700-Cu, Pure Copper,
    Support Socket Intel
    Pentium4 775/ 478, AMD
    754/ 939/ 940. Retail box
    Asus V9520Magic/T/128 VD-V9520Magic-T128 1 65.99
    Video Card, GeForce
    FX5200, 128MB DDR, AGP8X,
    TV-Out, Retail box.
    Western Digital Caviar SE HD-WD1600JD 2 102.00
    Serial ATA 160GB Hard
    Drives (WD1600JD), 8MB,
    7,200RPM, OEM
    UPS Tracking Number:
    Plextor SATA PX-712SA DVD DVR-PX-712SA 1 114.99
    Dual Burner, 8MB Buffers,
    idiotprogrammer, Dec 13, 2005
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  2. idiotprogrammer, Dec 13, 2005
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  3. "idiotprogrammer" wrote ...
    Add a sound card and some more disk drives and you're ready to go.
    I agree with your friend. I'd never use a laptop for video editing
    unless I was in the back of a jeep on the plains of central Africa.
    You'd have to spend significantly more on a laptop than on a
    desktop machine, and even then you could never get the things
    you really need (like multiple large hard drives, etc.)
    Richard Crowley, Dec 13, 2005
  4. I guess the question boils down to:

    Does working with a (admittedly lower end) HDV cam necessitate
    upgrading CPU? Is that a limiting factor?

    The motherboard comes with RAID, and I have 2 160 gig drives. For SATA
    drives, I could get 300 gig for $125, 400gig for $210. I'm not sure
    I'm interested in implementing a RAID solution (that would probably
    lock me into buying another 160 gig drive). I've seen online resources
    about hard drives/buses/raid for video, but I haven't looked recently.
    Anybody want to throw me a link on the subject?

    If I'm going to add storage, should it be another external USB drive?

    Other limiting factors seems to be monitor (not HDTV) and memory
    density (1 have 2 512mb sticks instead of a single gig stick.

    I'm assuming I can find an excellent videocard/sound card.

    Where's the weak spot on video desktop systems usually at?
    idiotprogrammer, Dec 13, 2005
  5. Depends on your particular economics of cost/benefit for speed
    of rendering, etc. Nothing particularly to do with HDV.
    RAID is largely unnecessary for video editing, IME.
    It is more trouble (or potential trouble) than it is worth
    and has several factors that make it "contra-indicated"
    (as the doctor says).
    USB2 external drives are viable options. I have taken to using
    raw drives sitting on the shelf connected to the computer with
    an $8 USB to IDE cable. Works remarkably well.

    USB1.x will NOT work. Way too slow
    I'd go for 1GB minimum, 2 is better.
    Dunno why you need "an excellent videocard/sound card" for
    editing video? Waste of money, accomplishes nothing. The
    "quality" of the sound and video cards has no effect on the
    quality of the video or editing.
    Weak spots:
    CPU speed (for rendering)
    RAM size (for fast operation)
    Hard Drive space. (and multiple logical/physical drives for
    ease of transcoding, rendering, etc. between drives instead
    of thrashing the head back and forth, back and forth, back
    and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,
    back and forth, etc. This problem is frequently worse with
    Richard Crowley, Dec 14, 2005
  6. Thanks for your input and suggestions.

    Actually it occurred to me that my power supply is 450V. Previously I
    thought that was more than adequate. However, that might limit how many
    hard drives I can attach (and make usb2 external drives more

    It sounds strange to say that the videocard isn't important. Wouldn't
    you be viewing some sort of output on a (admittedly nonHD) monitor?

    Now that I come to think of it, I've seen good playback on video with
    less robust videocards, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

    Now if only HD monitors were within the range of nonmillionaires...

    Robert Nagle
    idiotprogrammer, Dec 14, 2005
  7. 450W is pretty beefy. Remember that disc capacity
    practically doubles ever year (while drawing roughly
    the same amount of power).

    (450V will zap you!) V=volt, W=watt
    USB drives are usually powered separately, not from
    the PC supply.
    Nothing a $35 video card couldn't handle.
    Richard Crowley, Dec 14, 2005
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