filmeditingtrackworld – PC spec help please

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  • filmeditingtrackworld – PC spec help please
  • smcicr


    I haven’t done very much film editing to date but am looking to do more – including copying old film onto the PC for editing / archiving.

    I’m after suggested specs for a suitable PC to do the work – preferably a desktop / tower based solution.

    Looking for numbers around suggested

    – RAM
    – CPU
    – GFX card

    I’m guessing it will be Windows8 based and the HDD answer is the bigger the better.

    I’m not looking to spend a fortune so a lower end set up would be very much appreciated (just need the tower – already have all the other bits and bobs).

    Oh and software recommendations are welcome – the simpler the better.

    Many thanks.


    The heretic option:

    ****load of RAM
    fat mechanical HD

    leaving a healthy bank balance

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    An older CAD workstation from teir1online… 😕

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    What format are the old films on, that will have a bit of a bearing on the tech.
    In the amature end of things but still working on HD Stuff.
    I’m doing mine either on a Intel I3 Laptop (3 years old) with 8gb or Ram on Win 7 with an Intel HD onboard graphics or Nvidia mobile stuff if needed. Not that rapid but fine.

    For bigger stuff or when I can be bothered to got down to the office it’s an AMD AM3 Phenom 4 Blackbox processor with 8Gb of Ram and a ATI card (Spec runs older games at high quality)
    With that I have multiple faster drives. It’s also my work machine so the spec if there for that too.

    I use adobe premiere on the cloud subscription, while not the simplest it’s very powerful and well put together. You can do all your editing then batch off the renders to the media encoder to run when your not there. there is a scaled back version called elements but you can try it for free for a month.

    For the budget way, pick the best M/board Chipset combo going on a deal when I got mine with was an older board spec with a high end chip so was significantly cheaper but I wont be able to upgrade the chip (it’s 4 years old now) and same with graphics. Toms hardware has some good comparisons. Ram as much as you can as it’s cheap.
    HHD redundancy is good as is store the Source on 1, Scratch discs on 2 and the output on 3 for better performance though when my new fibre connection comes in I’m going to try adobe’s cloud as it should be close to as fast.

    Summing up, if you want to make a feature film it’s now possible at home, if you want to do something simple it shouldn’t cost you a fortune.


    Something that can take 16/32Gb of RAM, a HDD as big as you can afford, around 3/4Tb, and an equivalent external for back-up, perhaps two, one preferably off-site, or well secured, just in case.
    Editing ‘ware is outside of my experience, the only one I know of is FinalCutPro.


    Thanks all – much appreciated – keep the suggestions coming.

    Has anybody just bought an off the shelf box that fits the bill or are these all self builds?

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    mine is self built, until yesterday the case was 10 years old and a perpetual upgrade, it was looking untidy as I had holes drilled in the front for ventilation and some for cables to come out of for another drive 🙁

    What sort of footage are you working with, old VHS or Tape?

    I can’t imagine you’ll need more than 8Gb of RAM, but by buying 2 x 4Gb sticks, you’ll have the option of doubling it if necessary. Don’t buy a single stick as running two modules doubles the speed (Double Data Rate).

    Considering the price of RAM at the moment, don’t get more than you need!

    A workstation GPU might well (will) be out of your price range but would make a massive difference. A powerful GPU will make a difference to rendering but pure computing power is what’s needed i.e. the CPU.

    CPU i7 4770k is what you need. A future-proof – as much as is possible – CPU.

    Mobo – Asus Z87-PRO

    GPU – GTX 640

    When you say, “have the tower”, do you have a PSU? Is it a branded one? If not, a Corsair CX430 will be plenty. If you’re thinking about a bigger / better / future upgraded GPU then maybe 650W would be a better idea.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    makecoldplayhistory, I reckon the chip costs as much as I spent on Mobo, chip and graphics on mine and I’m not really struggling.

    mikew – a slight exaggeration! Perhaps. What is your build?

    But, point taken.

    TBH, with zero idea of budget, it’s hard to recommend a build. I’d say the split / ratio was a good one though.

    My budget version would use the same GPU, an AMD FX CPU, 2 x 4Gb RAM and a Gigabyte (I love them for AMD builds) motherboard.

    Probably the same PSU too.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    AMD AM3 PhenomII X4 3.2 Black Edition processor with 8Gb of Ram and a ATI card (Spec runs older games at high quality)

    Chip and Mobo picked up as the last of the AM3 stuff was getting done. The graphics card is a no name Radeon HD 6700 series, not the best in the world but capable enough to run the current Premier pro.

    The specs are here for Prem Pro


    Intel® Core™2 Duo or AMD Phenom® II processor; 64-bit support required
    Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
    4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
    4GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
    Additional disk space required for preview files and other working files (10GB recommended)
    1280×800 display
    7200 RPM or faster hard drive (multiple fast disk drives, preferably RAID 0 configured, recommended)
    Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft Windows Driver Model
    QuickTime 7.6.6 software required for QuickTime features
    Optional: Adobe-certified GPU card from list below with at least 1GB VRAM for GPU accelerated-performance
    Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.*

    there are some good bundle deals around on stuff that has just gone off the boil, a bit like buying XTR 9sp over SLX 10sp.

    Edit- If your doing the video stuff right the heavy lifting/rendering is done while you go to the pub.


    I’d recommend an SSD. Also, consider get several drives as it’s good practice to have at least three copies of everything. In reality, or if you’re not doing it for business, at least one backup is a must, so a 500Gb internal drive is fine, maybe even just 250gb if your budget is tight, plus one or two 1/2Tb external USB 3 drives for storing files you aren’t using. I’m on a MacBook, so I also use a USB 3 router.

    Skimping on rendering hardware isn’t a good idea. Fair enough, leaving your final render to do while you head out for an hour or so, but that sort of sluggishness is going to really slow you down while you’re cutting. It would be intolerable for me.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    I would say there is a big difference between giving it a go, enthusiastic amatuer, prosumer and doing viedo editing for a job. The only lag I really get is if I’m doing a batch of clips on a rotate/flip on 40 mins for footage before editing. After that it’s not been much of an issue on a 4 year old system and the enthusiastic amature approach.

    The all important line for the OP

    I’m not looking to spend a fortune so a lower end set up would be very much appreciated


    Thanks again for all the info on here – I’ll peruse and digest.

    In an ideal world the budget would be around £500 or so. I’d say it’s somewhere between giving it a go and enthusiastic amateur in terms of level.

    @MikeW – it would be a mixture of old VHS and potentially even some old cine as well.

    @MCPH – I have access to a couple of old towers – one is a Dell unit that’s about 4 years old maybe? The other was a self build from yonks ago before the laptop became the go to device. The case itself isn’t going to be suitable (too bulky for the intended space) but the PSU and potentially even HDD’s might be salvageable / reusable to keep the cost down initially.

    From possibly dodgy memory the PSU was a decent one – i ‘think’ 450W and iirc the make was Hiper? That can be checked though. Happy to reuse whatever is ok to allow more to be spent on better CPU / GPU etc.

    @Three Fish (great band btw if that’s the reference :D) – I have seen other reference to SSD’s in other build threads and I think it would have to be considered a ‘nice to have’ currently but will make a note.

    So in terms of the AMD vs Intel in this case – given the level I’m going to be working at is it going to make a significant performance difference – ie: is it worth the extra to try and go Intel or am I better off with the AMD (sorry – realise it’s probably an impossible question)?

    Thanks again for all the input.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    From a brief read yesterday Intel might be edging things but I’d defer on that one.

    The one thing you seem to have missed is a way to get the video in, there are analogue import cards available so you probably need to include that on the budget.

    Do a PSU calc before you order anything as you might need an upgrade.


    Intel often wins for outright performance but it costs £££.. at the same price point I’m not sure it can match AMD

    What would you get motherboard and CPU wise for 150 quid with Intel?

    Think of AMD as On-One. My Inbred probably isn’t as good as a very expensive frame but, for the money, it’ll perform better per £.

    If the HDDs work (and are SATA not IDE) then keep them.

    Dell cases are a pain to work with – very particular fittings so it may not work well.

    £500 for RAM, CPU, GPU and motherboard…

    AMD FX8350 £135
    8 cores, 4.0GHz.

    Gigabyte GA-970A-D3P motherboard £65

    G Skill Ripjaw RAM. 2 x 4Gb £55
    Plenty of RAM and you’ll be able to double it easily if necessary.

    Coolermaster Elite 334U Mid Tower case £35
    I have the full tower version. Easy to work with and well made. Looks good too.

    Gigabyte GeForce GT640 £62
    All you need.


    add into that your HDD(s) and possibly an SSD / PSU. A great machine, in budget!

    A ‘proper PSU’ will give you peace of mind. I haven’t heard of Hiper. If you buy new, you won’t need more than 500w. Look for Corsair, Seasonic, Enermax.

    An SSD probably won’t be the drive you work from i.e. the files you’re editing will be on a secondary drive, but everything else you do on your PC will be so much quicker. Boot times, opening software. It’s the best upgrade you can make.


    I have an amd fx8 and its awesome for video, but its very noisy with the onboard cooling. You get used to it but as above it does make it a bit ‘on-one’!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    just looking now and it would make a good upgrade for me 🙂 the top end FX in the set is water cooling only so that kills the noide issues.

    Mikew – as long as you got an AM3 + board.

    Those high-end chips generally aren’t used by people who’ll use the stock cooling. Watercooling like a Cosrair Hx might be quieter but watercooling systems will have a pump and also fans on the radiator.

    I have full watercooling over the GPUs (x2), CPU and north & south bridges. If I turn the rad and case fans up to full, it sounds like a jet engine!

    The noise saving comes in when the PC’s not using much power and the more efficient cooling can run much more quietly.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    yep, spied that about the board. It was the compromise and the reasone the old bundle was a good deal as they were not making any AM3 stuff after that. Got till June for the tax year here so might upgrade just before the end of the year to balance a few things. Still way more than you need for standard messing round with video though.

    We had water cooled workstations back in the UK and they were a significant improvement. Noise isn’t really that much of an issue you just need bigger speakers or longer cables…

    Premier Icon bigjim

    I’m looking to upgrade my pc for video editing and audio production, so the “Scan Z87 VB25i” bundle for £361 at looks like the same spec as this suggestion, just need to figure out if it is cheaper as that bundle or shopping for each bit seperately

    CPU i7 4770k is what you need. A future-proof – as much as is possible – CPU.

    Mobo – Asus Z87-PRO

    Premier Icon slowoldman

    What format are the old films? If not digital what are using to import them?

    Premier Icon bigjim

    can anyone link me to something that explains actual benefits of i7 hyperthreading in video editing, compared to not having it in the i5? just finding bajillions of forum posts of people saying/arguing yes’s and no’s

    I’m looking for a factual link now.

    A big part of getting an i7 over an i5 at the moment though is futureproofness (excuse the word). Hyperthreading’s becoming more efficient and software is being developed to make better use of more powerful CPUs, more RAM etc.

    If I was cutting costs on a build though, an i5 is still a great chip that won’t frustrate you.

    Whilst I look, I upgraded from an i5-4670 to an i7-4770. Big difference in rendering and multitasking, although no times or percentages.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    Depending on what software you are using GPU may have more impact than CPU

    Some interesting reading.

    How pro do you want to go Bigjim?


    I see no ones really mentioned the importance of Hard Drives. You really want 3 or 4 as a minimum; but RAID would be much better but not a cheap RAID thing on a motherboard.

    1x – OS/Programs – SSD (150gb+)
    1x – Raw Footage/Project (1tb+)
    1x – Scratch Disc (1tb+)

    It makes a very big difference having separate drives. Coupled with an i7, 16gb RAM, CUDA Core GPU & Premiere Pro CUDA hack and you will never have to wait to render things, it will do it all on the fly. 😉

    As for software I watched Gadget Show the other day and Adobe Premiere Elements came out top. Adobe Premiere is very good and there are loads of tutorials on Youtube.



    If its old stuff, then your looking at standard definition formats of footage. There is going to be little point in capturing old poor-ish quality at the highest HD format. You may want to look into how to capture things in the first place … for old footage, I would possibly be looking at the DV format and capture devices that can convert video into that format and transport it into the PC through firewire ports. This type of method is quite reliable and robust in doing this … but you may be looking to get old equipment for that.

    As to editing the files … there is so much information on it, its not possible to put in a single post, or even thread. Basically, to get the high resolution formats down to manageable file sizes, the compression used is quite complex. In order to calculate that, the CPU has to do a lot of work. The same is true if you a compressing or uncompressing video data … HD formats need a lot of effort.

    Where hyper threading comes in useful is that because you have a large file of data, and the operation you’re performing on it ( compress / decompress ) is going to happen across the whole file, then you can break the file up into chunks, and assign different chunks to different operational threads to be run by the CPU to be completed. Where an i5 might have 4 cores and 4 threads, an i7 with hyper threading might have 4 cores and 8 threads … so the video work and be split 8 ways rather than 4 on the i7 … in theory doubling the work rate ( but its not that much of a difference in practice … but you get the idea)

    Following from that, then you need to consider, how are you going to feed all the cores/threads of a CPU with enough data for efficient processing. IIRC Adobe suggest that for max efficiency on normal HD stuff, RAM should be in the region about 2.5Gb to 4 Gb per CPU core.

    Then how do you feed the RAM? The video files come from the hard disks … so the computer has to be able to get access to that quickly. As Milkie suggests, the common, effective method is to have 3 disks. One for the operating system and applications. One to store all your main video file data ( a repository ) and a scratch disk.

    Video programs like to have data space to work with so that they can dump and access temporary data caches quickly as they need it. Having a separate disk for this means that this quick access is kept separate and doesn’t conflict with the access to the main video files or applications. The scratch disk doesn’t need to be massive either – but the faster the better.

    Obviously your on a budget … a scratch disk expense maybe something you can add later. I would suggest though that your video files are kept on a separate disk from the OS/App drive as a minimum … that makes a big difference.

    If its basic editing, then a decent video card will help in making the software display video smoothly for editing. Both AMD and nVidia cards offer acceleration for smooth playback in the likes of Premiere. nVidia has some more features for acceleration though the CUDA system, but they really only kick in for the more fancy editing effects.


    All that being said, I used to have an 4core 2.66Ghz i7 windows 7 PC with 24Gb RAM, a 680GTX 2Gb GPU, 3x HDD system that i did photo and video stuff on.

    For a number of reasons, I now have a 27″ iMac. Its a 4 core 3.4 Ghz i7, 8Gb RAM an internal HDD and an external firewire HDD, and an AMD GPU.

    To be honest, and because its a hobby from time to time, the difference in editing video is minimal between the machines. If anything, I prefer the Mac cause its all a neater package, even though the old PC may have performed a bit better.

    I had to go out before finding links but fisha’s post summed it all up well.

    One thing I’d stress more is that hyperthreading isn’t perfectly efficient i.e. 4 physical + 4 virtual cores ? 4 physical x 2. However, it’s getting closer to it all of the time.

    RAID arrays are a) starting to add cost b) whilst not hard to set up, not easy.

    If I were that worried about access times, I might be tempted to think about an i5 and SSDs. 1 x SSD for the OS and software, 1 x SSD for the current ‘project’ and one mechanical drive for storage.

    Premier Icon bigjim

    What is the scratch disk, the one you set as a temporary data store? I will actually have two disks, but one is really noisy so I might not use it at all.

    I bought an i5 4670k deal on offer from Scan. Seems i7 helps with rendering video and other such tasks, saving something like 30% of time required, worth it if you do it a lot but maybe not otherwise. I’ll only be editing go pro footage and some other fun bits and bobs, very recreational, and don’t mind going for a poo whilst stuff is exported.

    I’ll primarily be using it for audio production, seems again apart from bouncing down audio that I won’t be missing much with the i5 for that. Some daw companies recommend turning hyperthreading off actually.

    Premier Icon bigjim

    any thoughts on win 7 vs 8.1 wrt video/audio work whilst we’re at it…? I detest 8 but I do read people saying it is faster and easier on cpu etc.


    The scratch disk is a bit like the notepad you’d have at a desk, you’d use it to scribble down bits n bobs you’d refer to later. To the computer, the scratch disk us the same type if thing. It’s where it can put temporary data and read it back. It needs to to this for info such as the render previews that software generates when working in the editor.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    again Bigjim how pro are you going?

    Everything in life is a trade off, the questions are probably more software specific.

    I’ll only be editing go pro footage and some other fun bits and bobs, very recreational, and don’t mind going for a poo whilst stuff is exported.

    No need to worry about Win 7 or 8.1, only hassle with 7 is getting a copy, not sure whats in or out on 8 but you have to get to pro I think to get network back ups etc. in 7 as standard and that is hard to find from someone I’m willing to pay actual money too round my neck of the woods.


    If you’re going to use Premiere then check the adobe site for gfx cards that are compatible with their Mercury playback engine. It really helps with rendering and previewing your edits and source footage. Not really sure the full spec but our machines at work all use intel xeon processors, have 6gb ram and run win 7. No problems running avid and after effects on them.

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