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Video editing performance bottlenecks? Where are they?


babycheech
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I’m looking for some advice on addressing my video editing needs and current performance bottlenecks.

Background:

I'm an obssessive father who racks up hours of hi-def video of kids' sporting activities, family, etc. I do a fair amount of non-professional video editing.

For years I used Adobe Premier Elements for all my video editing and DVD production. I finally took the plunge and bought the Adobe Production Premium Suite and along with it a new workstation certified by Adobe as a good workstation for the suite.

Dell Precision 690 with two Intel Xeon 5150 2.66GHz

http://www.dell.com/downloads/emea/products/precn/precn_690_uk.pdf

When I bought a camcorder that produces AVCHD video I went looking for software I could use to edit it. Both Premier Elements and the version of Premier I had would only import AVCHD. I bought the hi-def camcorder for a reason and ended up going with the Pinnacle Suite and was pleased with the hi-def videos I could produce with it. My problem is that it's agonizingly painfully unacceptably slow to do anything. I've tried various things in Pinnacle with respect to codecs, background rendering, etc. but nothing helps. (Any tips there will be appreciated as well)

I was running 32-bit Vista with 4 GB RAM on a 80GB SAS Velociraptor drive.

The Velociraptor drive died and I’ve upgraded to 64bit Windows 7 still with 4 GB RAM.

I’ve read and heard different things about optimizing your machine for video editing applications. The first decision I need to make is whether I keep my existing system and upgrade it. Assuming I keep it, I’m looking at the following variables:


     
  1. Upgrading the processor (thinking codecs will run faster)
  2. More RAM
  3. SSD System Drive (I need a new system drive regardless.)
  4. Striped volumes (in software, haven’t really considered HW RAID)
  5. Large volumes as workspace the apps need.

 

I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on RAM, a SSD, and other hard drives only to find out the performance bottleneck is with the processor. I also don’t know what processor upgrade options I have or what to expect to pay. Some of the pricing I’ve looked at makes me think I should go for a different system. But again, I may not be looking at the processor upgrade properly. That’s my biggest unknown.

It’s a given I need to buy a new system drive. I also expect to upgrade the RAM but I don’t know how much more I should put in there without over-spending. (I’ve moved the browser cache off the system drive and I’ve turned indexing off on the system drive)

I’m not assuming that buying an off the shelf system with or without upgrades I can do myself is cheaper than a custom built system either ready-made or made to order. I’m kind of assuming it’s cheaper :-)

I’d love to build my own but I know I won’t make the time and I’m too much of a perfectionist to get it built this decade.

I think the heart of my question is whether a processor upgrade is the key to removing the performance bottleneck in editing hi-def video. I’d also appreciate a gut check as to the path you think I should take to get the best bang for the buck in general. How much RAM? Where to buy? New or used? Custom built?

Any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks, Jay

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I too do a lot of video editing. I do it on college football games, and more importantly, home video's using my HD camera. I am using an i7 2.6 GHz processor with 12 GB Ram and W7 Ultimate. I too have Premiere Elements and Pinnacle Studio 14 Ultimate. I have found Premeire to be the slowest at rendering, by far. Studio has its own problems with audio/video sync after rendering and a few others. It doesn't seem to be made for large files. I keep my video's on a box with four stripped 2.0 TB drives. They are software striped and I feel this does improve performance on rendering. Especially if I write the file to the same striped box.

 

Hopefully the hardware experts of BYOB can answer your hardware questions as I am no expert. I wonder if the Dell system you linked to is better than my i7?

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Thanks for the reply. Your experiences are similar to mine. One other variable I neglected to mention is the video card. I know Adobe is doing something that will enable vendors to take advantage (offload?) of the processing in the card.

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Here is my two cents. I use Power Director (64bit version) and have tried Pinnacle. I am running on a Core I7-940 with 12 gig of RAM, and using Dual SSD and a spindle drive. One SSD for an OS, and the other for working/temp drive. Overall it runs pretty well but it is hard to corralate with what you are experiencing. I found that certain software such as Power Director takes advantage of more power GPU's such as the GTX 570/580 that suppport cuda. That said, I would suggest not going to crazy but go for a Sandy Bridge Core I7-2600, 8-16 gigs of RAM running of course a 64bit OS. I would not worry too mcuh about the SSD's as that mainly affects load and app speed and using a couple of black caviar drives in a RAID configuration to kill the bottleneck caused by writing the files. If you pick the right parts, you should be able to put this system together fairly inexpensively (as power systems go anyway) and I think you would be happy with it.

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Thanks...much appreciated. So you don't think I can anything more out of my Dell Precision 690 with more RAM, processor upgrade, and/or graphics card? Or are you saying it might be just as cheap to byob? (or within reason to make it worthwhile)

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Thanks...much appreciated. So you don't think I can anything more out of my Dell Precision 690 with more RAM, processor upgrade, and/or graphics card? Or are you saying it might be just as cheap to byob? (or within reason to make it worthwhile)

 

I did not really mean that and certainly RAM will help as well as the RAID drive for throughput. The real question is how much faster you want. The ram upgrade will be cheap so it is worth trying however at 4 gigs, going to 8 or more will not yield you a huge gain. My guess is about 10-15% faster. If the software you are using is a 32 bit version which I think Pinnacle is, you cannot access more that 4 no matter how much you have. You may want to try power director which I believe is the only true 64 bit video editor to take advantage of the the extra memory. If your are still not happy after the memory upgrade, then you will have to go sandy bridge which is optimized for video decoding.

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I did not really mean that and certainly RAM will help as well as the RAID drive for throughput. The real question is how much faster you want. The ram upgrade will be cheap so it is worth trying however at 4 gigs, going to 8 or more will not yield you a huge gain. My guess is about 10-15% faster. If the software you are using is a 32 bit version which I think Pinnacle is, you cannot access more that 4 no matter how much you have. You may want to try power director which I believe is the only true 64 bit video editor to take advantage of the the extra memory. If your are still not happy after the memory upgrade, then you will have to go sandy bridge which is optimized for video decoding.

 

Thanks, I think I will take a look at PowerDirector. I like that it says how to take advantage of its optimizations right on the front page. I looked all over to find out how I could tune Pinnacle effectively.

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I think I am going to pony up for the Avid Media Composer or the Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. They are both 64 bit and can take advantage of all the ram I have. I know several people that are professional video editors and they use these programs.

 

pcdoc, Can you answer my question about which is more powerful; dual xeon processors or my i7 920? Just curious.

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Benchmark wise. The Core I7-920 is about 40% faster than your dual xeons. The I7-875k is faster than the 920, and the Core I7-2600 (sandy bridge) is twice as fast as the 920. In terms of CPU performance, you are much better off with either any of the core I series however if you are buying new, buy the 2600. I have all three of these running at home for a bunch of reasons, I would pick the 2600. IF you already have a x58 board, throw in a 960, or if you have an 1556 board, then throw in a 875k. My two cents.

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Benchmark wise. The Core I7-920 is about 40% faster than your dual xeons. The I7-875k is faster than the 920, and the Core I7-2600 (sandy bridge) is twice as fast as the 920. In terms of CPU performance, you are much better off with either any of the core I series however if you are buying new, buy the 2600. I have all three of these running at home for a bunch of reasons, I would pick the 2600. IF you already have a x58 board, throw in a 960, or if you have an 1556 board, then throw in a 875k. My two cents.

 

 

I would upgrade to the 2600 if I didn't have to by a new board. My board is a high end EVGA x58 and I don't want to replace it too. Thanks for the response.

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