(update 22oct2001) See my write-up on the Intel
Northwood Pentium 4 CPU.
This should be the way to go if you can wait until February or March,
If you saw the first incarnation of the Behemoth, you know how badly I wanted a dual-CPU system .. mainly cuz dual-CPUs sounds
so cool. But the Behemoth is built around the RT2000 (now the RT2500), which only
recently (20apr2001) received Win2K sppt .. so it was difficult to justify a dual-CPU system
with editing limited to a single CPU (in WinME).
system contains only one CPU. But .. now that the RT2000
(+RT2500) has Win2K
sppt .. a dual-based system could easily be justified.
It took us two
days of editing with Win2K to know that we'd never go back to editing in WinME
again. Editing in Win2K is so much sweeter. Matrox did a great job with the drivers
(it took them over a year to finally release Win2K drivers).
Adobe Premiere & After Effects are coded to take advantage of SMP
(dual-CPUs) .. altho not all the plug-ins for these programs
people who edit seriously use dual-CPU-based systems .. dedicated solely
for editing video. But most people need to use their systems for normal PC functions. A dual-boot config gives you
the stability of a dedicated
system, while also allowing you to use your PC for everyday stuff.
researched SMP systems, but arrived at no clear solution jumps out at me.
For now, I'm still a single-CPU guy.
I'm currently using an Intel P3-700/100MHz, over-clocked to 938MHz (by raising
FSB to 134MHz & voltage to 1.80v .. default = 1.65v). But I
don't recommend this, not with Northwood
right around the corner.
- 512MB minimum.
Video-editing eats lots of RAM.
Intel 815e chipset that we currently have (Asus
CUSL2) limits RAM to 512MB. We started with
128, then upgraded to 256 and saw a dramatic performance
improvement. Then we upgraded to 384, which is a decent amount for
editing. We now have 512, and this is a good amount. RAM is so cheap
Mushkin has great
& support. If you can purchase their RAM at competitive prices,
use them. If not, Crucial's prices are usually hard to beat (things
change too fast to make a blanket statement which is better). I don't mind paying a little extra
for good service. I think Crucial *always* usually offers free
shipping, whereas Mushkin only does so on occasion.
quality RAM is a primary source of system instability. And there's no
way to test for it - other than taking it to some place
that has a tester (they are expensive), or trade with a friend who has a
system similar to yours. So if your system has stability problems, it's not easily to determine if your RAM is the
Video-editing will provide you with plenty of opportunities
for stability problems. You don't
have to buy the very best RAM on the market (e.g. Mushkin rev2 & 3), but
beware against buying bargain-basement RAM. This is not what you want to
put in a system you're building to edit video.
You want to do everything within your power to minimize the potential for
quirky stability problems. The few extra bucks you spend on quality RAM is
a wise investment.
VIDEO-EDITING CARD: Matrox RT2500. About
This is the centerpiece of the Behemoth. Everything is built around it. I
strove to select components that are compatible with it, and that are
included on Matrox's approved list.
Obviously, no one is going to spent $1,000 without doing plenty of
research. You will find that, for $1,000, this card is a bargain, when you
consider what it's capabilities.
RT2000 comes with a special version of the (32MB) G400 - a
super graphics card. Once you edit in real-time, there's no going back .. to software
rendering. Great card, great support. Win2K just arrived for this card
19apr01 (with Matrox Video Tools 3.0). Not sure how stable editing
with 1st-W2K-release drivers will be.
currently setting up another boot for Win2k dedicated solely for video
editing. I'll report back when I have a chance to report on W2K stability.
originally thought RT2000 drivers would be a snap for Matrox, cuz they
(also) make the DigiSuite, a high-perf NT-based editing suite .. but it
seems that the RT2000 is whole 'nuher ball game. They can't simply modify
DigiSuite drivers for the RT2000. Doesn't work that way. It's a totally
speak lustfully about the DigiSuite from Matrox.]
We've had the card from the day it was released. We had it on
back-order for over six months, enduring delay after delay. The
RT2000 comes with Adobe Premier
may also want to check into the DV500
by Pinnacle. It's also a real-time editing card, that doesn't come with a
dedicated graphics card. We had a Pinnacle card (the DV300) before
the RT2000, but became frustrated with Pinnacle support .. which is why we
migrated to Matrox. I figured they couldn't be any worse.
support told me that I was "abusing the tech support system",
asking too many questions .. cutting into their coffee break time, I
guess. That's when I decided to try Matrox. Maybe they've cleaned up their
act since then. I don't know.
Matrox sppt has been good .. a godsend
compared to my experiences with Pinnacle. To be fair, I should note that
Pinnacle has more experience in the video-editing world than Matrox .. or
most other NLE players.
RT2000m has its own, dedicated bulletin board - two actually: one official
(password req'd), and one unofficial
(password not req'd).
3C905C. About $35.
Again, you can save a few bucks by purchasing a cheaper network card, but you want to shoot for maximum
compatibility & reliability when designing your system. 3Com has a
reputation for manufacturing quality network cards.
you have multiple PCs, and you want to network them together, make sure
you get network cards that can transfer data at the 100Mbps. The older
10Mbit protocol is simply too slow to transfer large video files between
different PC. A file that takes 3 mins to x-fer with 100Mbit equipment
would take 30 mins with 10MBit hardware.
you need a modem instead, you'll have to do your own research. I
know that broadband connections are not yet available in many areas. But if you have
the opportunity to get a broadband connection, do not hesitate to order. It's the single best upgrade you can make to your
system. I know people who will not move to an area that doesn't have
Iiyama Vision Master Pro
This monitor is based on the 19-inch Mitsubishi Diamondtron TrueFlat tube. Gorgeous aperture
grille tube, which are especially good for reproducing colors .. as
opposed to shadow mask tubes, which are better for reproducing text). Max resolution 1920x1440 at 76Hz. 300MHz bandwidth, 50-160Hz
monitor is F-L-A-T flat .. flatter than my first girlfriend. =) If you're
looking to save a few bucks, I heard good things about the Samsung
.. similar to the Iiyama, the 900NF is also a flat-screen aperture
grill, spec'ed at 1920x1440 at 73Hz. I don't know who makes the Samsung
tube, but I know it's not Mitsubishi .. who makes the tube used in the
MONITOR: 13-inch Sony Trinitron. About $200 at your local TV retailer.
This is where your video will be displayed while editing. It hooks up to
the dual-head channel of the (32MB) Matrox G400 that comes with the RT2000.
you didn't have this NTSC monitor (fancy name for a TV), you'd be checking
your editing changes in a (relatively) small window on you 19-inch Iiyama
monitor. You simply cannot see any detail is Premiere's small window. It
never fails that, when
you output your video, you'll say, "Dang, I never saw that
before." .. and end up having to re-edit sections.
CARD #2: CardDeluxe
by Digital Audio Labs. Supports 24-bit depth and 96KHz
sample rates (DVD audio quality) - both analog & digital .. up to 4-channel
operation using both. Cards are slave-able, so you can sample lock
multiple card together for more channels. Both WinME and Win2K support.
(street prices of these excellent recording & editing cards have gone
up with demand). Limited time promo
card is used for audio recording & editing. It plugs into your mixer,
using balanced TRS cables. "What mixer?" you say. This
with BurnProof technology. About $189
for the Retail kit. It's no secret that Plextor makes the best burners.
Their drives also excel at
(digital audio extraction).
(SCSI model) Review here.
- 1200dpi USB/parallel, about $150.
- choose the size that suits you best. The baby, the 1202VLZ costs
The 1402 comes with sliders instead of knobs, which I wish I
would've got instead.
(shock mount) - about $300.
STAND: Quicklock A-206
- about $50.
- about $1,000.
A necessity if you you live in sunny Southern California, where rolling black-outs are
a daily threat. Review here.
(for pro model, which comes with auto shutdown software).
- choose the size that's right for you.
Pick your favorite .. either clickety or quiet.
Aluminum full tower server case, with 6 exposed 5.25-inch
drive bays, 3 exposed 3.5-inch bays, & 6x3.5-inch hidden bays (~$235).
If you want to record audio & edit video, you'll need plenty of
room .. for lots of hard drives. Most
people start with a few, adding more as the need arises (and
prices drop). A
big, roomy case is easier to work in than a small one.
It wasn't long after building my first editing system that I regretted not buying a larger
case. A larger case isn't much more expensive than a average-sized one. It's no fun, taking everything out of one case and
transferring it to another
.. cuz you ran out of room. Better to do it right the first time. My advice for selecting a case is to leave
yourself plenty of room to grow.
SUPPLY UNIT: Enermax EG465P-VE
(FC Series, 430 watts, Pentium4-compatible) - About $82.
Review posted here.
If you're going to run lots of hard drives, you'll want plenty of power. I
used to like PC Power & Cooling until they pissed me off by not
sending me a new unit when I needed one. Also, their cables *barely* reach
the mobo connector. Enermax PSU's give you plenty of length. Not to mention
that they offer more power for less money. Hey, I tried to buy
I read an
article that claimed 30% of all system instability to 'dirty' power ..
from over-worked, or cheaply manufactured PSU's. Clean power regulation
aids system stability. A review here
recommends Zippy/Emacs. I have a problem with the name Zippy.
It does not evoke an image of quality for me.
PSUs are not very expensive, I'd rather pay a little extra, and get a
professional-quality PSU that I can sure will handle the job. It makes no
sense to me to spend thousands on a system, only to risk system
instability by saving a few measly dollars on a bargain-priced PSU.
Editing video will give you plenty of other opportunities for stability
problems. There's no need to compound the problem with a marginal PSU.
I currently have the Asus
& love it. The TUSL2 is the newest version of the CUSL2. The two boards should be
identical except for the differences spawned by the upgraded chipset. There's also a
web site (here)
devoted entirely to this mobo .. with forums
where you can ask, and get answers to any question you might have. I like
real-time video-editing card, and the CUSL2 is on their approved list.
You'll appreciate the 6 PCI slots (no ISA slots).
But right now I would get the
You can read more about it in my
STORAGE: Much of audio
recording, & especially video-editing, is about storage.
Video files are huge. Tailor your disk storage system to your
particular needs. Since everyone's needs are different, there's no
single 'correct' storage configuration. My storage needs began small and
The RT2500 is a dual-stream real-time editing card. It requires more
horsepower from you storage system than a software-rendering system.
Matrox says here
that your disc needs to be able to thru-put at least 12MB/s. Most
any drive manufactured within the last year should suffice.
discussing storage req'ments for DV, many people say,
"DV only requires 3.6MB/s". Note the word, requires.
What some don't seem to understand is that the 3.6MB/s number applies only to capturing
(video from camcorder to hard drive) and outputting-to-tape
(edited footage from hard drive to camcorder). The camcorder cannot play
or record video faster than real-time (3.6MB/s).
this number does not apply to *editing*. Your system will shuttle files as fast as your drive
is able to find & transfer them. [As per manufacturer specs, the IBM 60GXP
takes (on average) about 12.5ms to find the files, and will sustain a data transfer
them between 20 and 40MB/s, depending where on the disk the files
people interpret the statement "DV only requires 3.6MB/s"
to mean "Anything above 3.6MB/s is wasted". It's not ..
not when editing. And editing video is how you will spend the vast
majority of your time .. not capturing or outputting. If one thing has
become clear to me, it's that you can never have too much disk horsepower
or storage space when editing video.
A tip for editing
video is to break up larger projects into smaller ones. For
example, if you're editing a 15-min project, try to find appropriate seams
where you can break it up into three 5-minute sections.
The best places are where you can fade to black, and fade up from black. You editing will
go smoother. That trick alone can make a big difference. I delve
deeper into things here -> Lessons
from building a system designed to edit digital video.
Let's continue designing the system.
HARD DRIVES: 2x 100GB Western Digital Western
IDE/ATA drives offer tons of storage inexpensively. About $200
each. These are ATA100 drives. The CUSL2 supports the ATA100 protocol, but
you'll need to purchase a 2nd (80-wire) ATA100 cable .. as the CUSL2 comes
with only one ATA100 cable. Manufacturer specs of (up to) 40MB/s and
would partition these drives into 3 partitions each. If you plan to
use one of these drives as your dedicated capture drive, make it one large
could get away with nothing more than these two drives for video editing,
depending on your specific needs and requirements. But we are serious
about editing - have been doing it for a few years. We use our IDE/ATA
drives purely for cheap storage. We use SCSI drives for working with the
actual audio & video files.
reason get technical, and I've even written a SCSI
for booting from an enterprise-class SCSI beast .. but where you really
notice a difference is *using* the SCSI drives .. especially a SCSI boot
drive. Your system becomes much more *responsive*.
could write a book on the subject, but will merely document what I've
found (from experience) to be the optimum configuration for (serious)
SCSI drives. One 18GB 10Krpm Maxtor / Quantum Atlas
for multi-boot Operating Systems, programs & graphics. A 36GB 10Krpm
Atlas III dedicated for video capture (about $389).
Those who crave the absolute fastest drive on the planet (FDOP) will want
(PDF) by Seagate (review here),
which sells for ~US$359
in the 18GB flavor and ~US$579
for the 36GB variety. It's been difficult to find these in stock.
If I was going to get one of these, I'd use it for my boot/system drive,
and use a cheaper 10Krpm drive for the dedicated capture.
the 18GB drives in equal thirds (6GB each) - one primary & two
extended/logical partitions. Partition the dedicated capture drive as a
single large 36GB primary partition.
SCSI IDs on the SCSI drives as SCSI ID 0 and 1 for the two
18GB drives. Set the 36GB drive as SCSI ID 2. Set delayed start
jumpers on all SCSI drives. Check out my SCSI
for more configuration info.
Install your OS of choice to the primary partition of the drive at SCSI ID 0. Install
another partition to the first extended/logical partition. Make one of
these a dedicated solely for video-editing. Which ever you use more should
go on the primary partition.
The dedicated capture
drive will be assigned to SCSI ID 1. Partition & format all drives
before installing the first OS. Use Microsoft's FDISK to partition. Doc's Guide
to Partitioning a hard drive with FDISK
Drives cont'd - These
drives come with manufacturers specs of 4.5ms (average) seek. Some say you
don't *need* SCSI to edit video, and they're right. You don't *need* a
Mercedes, Porsche or a Ferrari .. but editing life is sweeter with a team of blazing
SCSI beasts working for you (speaking from experience).
you can't afford 2 SCSI drives. I'd start with one as a SCSI boot drive ..
to run the OS and apps that you use to edit video with. That will give you
the biggest performance increase. Next go for the SCSI capture drive. The
3rd SCSI drive allows you to install another OS (Win2K) on its own drive,
and use it to handle the audio and graphics files used in your
video-editing projects. It's a sweet set-up.
The 4 drives mentioned here add up to 254GB. That might sound like a
lot, but you'll be surprised how fast you use it up. IBM discusses
video-editing here. Again,
this system is designed for *serious* editing .. someone who will be
editing every waking moment for a week or two.
you're only going to edit for a few hours here & there, you can start
with two IDE drives - one for your system/boot drive .. to run your OS
& apps .. and another as a dedicated capture drive. I don't know
anyone who uses the same drive for both. That's asking a bit much of *any*
DRIVE COOLERS: Today's drives - both SCSI & ATA - don't *need*
active cooling .. as long as you have a well-ventilated case. But I cool
all my SCSI drive regardless, cuz they do work hard while editing, and
will warm up. I like the BayCooler
by PC Power & Cooling. It offers metal construction. Other units are
made of cheap plastic. About
ADAPTER: Tekram DC-390U2W
(not U2B) - about $130.
This card comes with all the cables & terminators you'll need. I have
personally used it with the following operating systems: W98/SE, WinME,
Win2K, Whistler Pro beta2, Caldera 2.4 (Linux), Mandrake 7 (Linux), and
can also consider the Tekram DC-390U3W.
(scroll to bottom of page) but this is not necessary since even the
fastest drive on the planet (Seagate Cheetah X15-36LP) cannot exceed a
transfer rate of 60MB/s,
32-bit PCI bus is limited to about ~100MB/s (realistic data x-fer). But
this card is not a bad choice, and represents better future-proofing than
the U2W card (that I have).
We have found that a trackball is much easier on the tendons ..
especially when editing for hours, days, weeks. Sometimes we have to soak
our arms in an ice bath & eat Advil. Find a trackball that uses your
thumb to click with. We use the Marble FX by Logitech, but they no longer
make this model. See here
for others. Also learn to use keyboard shortcuts to minimize wear
& tear on your mouse-arm.
4-port SMC Barricade.
About $80. If
you have multiple PCs that you want to network together .. or, if you have
a broadband connection that you want to share among multiple PCs .. this
router is the ticket. I also heard good things about the SR41
by LinkSys .. especially with the newer firmware revisions. Alternative
(see Hardware NAT Routers).
is the HD580 model, not the HD 580-1). Everybody raves about these headphones. Great sound *and* comfortable.
Like slippers for your ears. Grado
also makes some great headphones, but they're not the most comfortable
things you've ever worn. Consider their SR-80
if you're budget is tight.