DIY Update: Sandy Bridge Not Recommended by Videoguys

As you know Videoguys.com has been publishing DIY guides and system recommendation pages for years. We always make sure the latest version of Avid or Adobe Production Premium runs great on it. We are asked constantly about Sandy Bridge and if we recommend it. As of today we do NOT recommend Sandy Bridge for high end NLE workstations. We feel that if you need a new machine today, your best solution is to stick with an X58 based machine like our DIY8 build.

We have some big concerns about Sandy Bridge which I will lay out here.

1) Sandy Bridge was intended for Laptops and self contained computers like an iMac that offer little or no expandability and benefit greatly from cost savings of having integrated graphics. The first generation of Sandy Bridge motherboards was recalled because of chipset issues. It’s for building budget gaming systems, not NLE workstations.

2) Integrated graphics is one of the biggest tech nightmares for NLE. On the Windows side this is just a recipe for disaster. Even when you can disable on board GPU, it creates stability issues down the road that can be impossible to resolve for video editing. While this mobo does not have Integrate graphics, the chips do. Knowing our years of frustration tech supporting integrated graphics, I'm just not willing to recommend it for serious NLE work at this time.

3) The P67 chipsets have shared PCIe bandwidth, so each slot does NOT have its own dedicated PCIe lanes. What does that mean? It means you will run into bottlenecks if you try to run PCIe based hardware like MojoDX, MXO2 or AJA along with a RAID controller card and powerful graphics card.

Please keep this in mind when reading Gamer site reviews. These guys do not add additional hardware other then dual graphics cards. We are video editors and we require the ability to add additional hardware that each need dedicated bandwidth. Unless you are 100% sure you will not be adding I/O hardware or a RAID card DO NOT go with P67 and Sandy Bridge.

4) Apple, Mac & Thunderbolt. Let’s look at my three comments above, and then think about where this is going. Why would Intel limit the PCIe bus and integrate the graphics? THUNDERBOLT. Thunderbolt gives you super fast I/O plus display port. I can’t wait for Apple to announce new iMacs running Sandy Bridge with Thunderbolt. They will deliver performance equal to or better then a quad core i7 machine at little or no premium. I love the idea of editing on a sexy iMac and still have expandability and no sacrifice for performance.

Conclusion: Sandy Bridge PLUS Thunderbolt is a winning combination!

I feel the current Sandy Bridge solutions are not future proof and in fact come with a lot of long term risk. You can get an i7 Hex-core for around $500 now. Put it in our DIY 8 build and add any and all the extra hardware you need for your workflow.

Down the road the X68 chipset will be the right choice. These motherboards do not exist at this time, but they are the real next generation of the X58. I will go a step further, and recommend you wait for X68 chipsets with Thunderbolt. These could still be a year away. That is the real future of NLE workstations and one that I think is worth waiting for.

Sandy Bridge Tech Note: As I said earlier if you do not plan on adding 3rd party I/O hardware or RAID storage, then a Sandy Bridge based machine could work for you. If your goal is to produce basic videos, with only one or two layers of video and graphics, running around 30 minutes each, I'm sure a Sandy Bridge workstation will get the job done at a great price. I'm also sure it will run low end video editing apps like Pinnacle Studio, Sony Vegas Movie Studio, Premiere Elements or other under $100 video editing programs.

If you are still going to build a system around Sandy Bridge, the Asus ASUS P8P67 PRO is our top recommendation. Here a few links to some reviews or the P8P67 Pro

· http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/40263-asus-p8p67-pro-lga1155-sandy-bridge-motherboard-review-16.html

· http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/mainboards/display/asus-p8p67-pro.html

· http://www.anandtech.com/show/4130/the-battle-of-the-p67-boards-asus-vs-gigabyte-at-190

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