Videoguys' DIY7.7: Intel Core i7 with Vista 64 AND Now Windows 7
For over 5 years Videoguys.com, one of the world's leading resellers of Non-Linear Video editing solutions, has been publishing our DIY articles as a service to our customers and the internet community. Our guides have been recommended by video editing, post production, gaming and general computer blogs, websites and user forums all over the world. The reason we publish these guides is to assist you in making the best possible choice for your non-linear editing workstation. This gives you an added level of confidence that the video editing software and hardware you buy from us will deliver the best possible performance and stability. The general computer parts and prices used in these articles are sourced from Newegg and TigerDirect. Not only can you purchase the video editing related software and hardware from Videoguys, our techs are here to help you select the right gear for your budget and we can offer you additional bundle savings when you combine products!
Videoguys' DIY7: Intel Core i7 8-core NLE Workstation

Videoguys' DIY7.7: Intel Core i7 8-core

New Intel Core i7 processor makes 64 bit computing a reality! Now on Windows 7! We knew this day would come. We've been waiting for more then two years to break free from our 32-bit shackles and finally embrace the 64-bit future. We have seen the future, and we have built a machine to take full advantage of it. Videoguys DIY7 was originally built in March, 2009 as simply the most cost effective workstation we’ve ever put together for video editing. For around $2,000 this machine blows the doors off any DIY build article we’ve ever done. The jump in performance and power from DIY6 to DIY7 is nothing short of amazing! The newest DIY 7.7 build (updated in December 2009) has been tested and approved with Windows 7! We've run Avid Media Composer, Adobe CS4 Production Premium and Sony Vegas Pro 9 on it so far. We'll be testing the mighty Matrox MXO2 Mini hardware on it next, now that Matrox has released the Windows 7 drivers for Adobe CS4.2. To understand why this machine represents such a huge leap in NLE performance, we first have to understand the underlying technology under the hood. That would be Intel’s Core i7 processor and X58 reference motherboard design. For our very latest DIY recommendations check out our DIY8 article. It is still a work in progress, but we are very confident in our recommendations. In fact, we provide both a budget and "Hot Rod" parts lists, feel free to mix and match as needed!

Videoguys' DIY7.7 Shopping List! Intel i7 8-Core NLE Workstation

Now with Updated Windows 7 Shopping List Posted Apr 2010

diy7-main.jpg We built this system as a guide for you to use in building your own video editing computer. The closer you stick to our 'recipe' the better your results will be. We do not sell these computers or the components other than the video editing software, hardware and video storage solutions. If you have any questions about building a machine like this for yourself, feel free to give us a call at 800-323-2325
Motherboard Asus P6T Deluxe V2 $289.00
Processor Intel Core i7 930 2.8GHz $295.00
RAM Corsair Core i7 XMS3 12GB PC12800 DDR3 Desktop Memory Upgrade - 6x2048MB $285.00
Boot Drive Hitachi Deskstar 1TB Hard Drive (0A38016) - 7200rpm, 16MB Cache, SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $85.00
Video Storage RAID 0 Qty 2 Hitachi Deskstar 1TB Hard Drive (0A38016) or G-Tech G-SPEED eS 4TB with PCIe Card Click Here - $1,139.00 -
Case Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $119.00
Power Supply CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W $99.00
DVD Burner Pioneer BDR-205 Blu-ray Disc Burner Click here $229.00
OS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit OEM $139.00

Check out our DIY upgrade bundles including a QuadroFX card, BDR-205 Burner and G-SPEED eS

GPU NVIDIA FX 1800 by PNY Click here $450.00
TOTAL SYSTEM PRICE Dec. 2009 Update $1,990.00

Intel Core i7Core i7 – 8 core performance for under $300!! That’s right, the 920 processor used in our DIY7 machine gives you 8 cores of processing power, just like a dual Xeon HP workstation or Mac Pro. How could this be possible? Easy, sometimes you have to go back to the future. In this case it’s an old technology called Hyper-Threading. What is Hyper-Threading? It’s when the processor splits itself into two virtual processors in order to share the workload it’s being asked to run. In its first incarnation, going back to P4 processor, Hyper-Threading was hit and miss. Under Windows 2000 Intel actually recommended shutting down Hyper-Threading as it caused instability. Videoguys also recommended turning off Hyper-Threading with certain NLEs and video capture cards. While the concept was great, the execution wasn’t there yet. Mainly because most software and operating systems were not optimized for more then one processor, so while they were Hyper-Threading aware, the cost in stability often outweighed any performance gains. All it took was one finicky application or device driver and Hyper-Threading became more trouble then it was worth. Windows Task ManagerNow, Window XP and Vista fully support multiple processors. Single CPUs with dual or quad cores are the norm, and high-end workstations with dual quad-core Xeon processors (8-cores total) are the top dogs. The time was right for Intel to re-introduce Hyper-Threading. With the i7 you get 4 cores, each one Hyper-Threaded into 2 virtual CPUs. The result is 8-cores of unprecedented computer power for a phenomenal price!! The Intel Core i7 also includes a new SSE4.2 instruction set that enhances SSE by speeding up media trans-coding and 3D graphics. For video editors that means even faster rendering and encoding times. SWEET!
Tech Note: While today’s operating systems fully support multiple cores, and all of our NLE software will run reliably with multiple cores, not all NLEs are multi-core optimized. So you won’t see all 8 cores light up every time you edit. That said, the engineers are working hard on utilizing these cores more and more with every update and version of their software. At any given time some sub-routines and processes will be running on multiple cores even though the application overall is only using 2 or 4 cores most of the time.
X58 Motherboards – taking the i7 to the next level Anyone who has been following the DIY Articles on the Videoguys website knows that we feel it is the chipset and motherboard, not the CPU that ultimately determines the stability and performance of your NLE machine. Pick the wrong chipset and you may find yourself frustrated by a finicky system that crashes far too often. The new X58 chipset by Intel does far more then just support the new i7 processors; it introduced some new technology that allows it to soar, including triple-channel RAM. RAM InstallDual channel RAM allows the CPU to more efficiently split the load between two matched pairs of RAM. Triple channel takes this concept a step further, splitting the workload between 3 sticks of RAM. This increases the speed by which the CPU can address memory, and will result in much faster rendering and encoding for your workstation. We put our DIY7.7 build together with sixsticks of Corsair 2GB RAM for 12GB total.

Tech Note: With triple channel memory it is crucial (pun intended) that you use 3 identical sticks of RAM at a time. Using pairs of memory will cause a performance hit. If you motherboard has 4 RAM slots, adding the 4th stick of RAM will also cause a performance hit. With i7 processors you want to go with 3/6/12/24 GB of RAM.

The X58 chipset also includes something called Turbo Mode that allows for easier and safer over-clocking. We do not overclock our processors for our DIY articles, but we do overclock them later on when the machine migrates out of our demo room into someone’s (this one will be mine) home video editing suite. If you plan on over-clocking the most important thing you need to do is provide adequate cooling and airflow. That’s the main reason why we tend to put our DIY machines into gamer type cases. These tend to go a little overboard on the fans, airflow and cooling. Asus P6T DeluxeWe went with the Asus P6T motherboard. We’ve had great success with Asus in the past and we are confident that we made the right choice again. When we first decided to go with the P6T back in January I sent an email off to both Matrox and Avid requesting they also test it for their certified configuration list. I’m happy to report the Matrox has approved the P6T for use with the RT.X2 hardware, and I’m confident that Avid will also be blessing this motherboard in the near future. One of the things I like best about Asus is all the extra goodies and features they roll into the P6T. The motherboard actually ships with a mini operating system that allows you to launch a browser and access the web. This is very cool. Now you can download the latest drivers and patches for your hardware before you install the OS, eliminating some headaches. We did just that, downloading the latest Vista 64 drivers for our Quadro FX1700 card to a USB thumbdrive.
64-Bit Operating System – the secret sauce that makes it all happen You are reading it here first, Videoguys now recommends Windows Vista or Windows 7 64-bit operating systems for your non linear editing workstation. We have found that they are running quite stable and you can shut down many, if not all, of the bloated features that drain the life of your systems performance. 64-bit processing brings several advantages for video editing, the biggest and most important being memory usage. Windows 32-bit Operating Systems are only able to address 3GB of RAM. Actually the original amount of RAM that can be addressed is only 2GB, but you can tweak the OS to use 3GB. What happens if you have 4GB or more? Unfortunately, it goes unused. Some applications may be able to address and use some of that excess RAM, but in general, it sits wasted. With 64-bit operating systems you can address pretty much as much RAM as your motherboard can hold. With our Asus P6T motherboard that means six sticks of RAM. With 2GB sticks you get a whopping 12GB, use 4GB sticks and that’s an insane 24GB of RAM! The other important part is that our vendors are starting to add 64-bit optimization. This is no small matter and it has involved tons of engineering work with tons more to go - some of it requiring code to be completely re-written from the ground up. That explains why you are only seeing Vista64 and Windows 7 64 drivers and support, without Windows XP 64 support. It’s simply too costly to go back and redo the old XP code. Engineering resources are limited, and companies have to go in the direction that will yield the best results. In this case it means focusing on the newer operating systems, even if that means upsetting some users of other operating systems.
Videoguys recommends Windows Vista Ultimate or Business 64Windows Vista 64 Here are some very important guidelines:
  • That you are putting it on a new system. Quad-core or faster with at least 4GB of RAM.
  • If you’re going to try running it on an dual-core machine, then feed it more RAM (8GB) to make up for the less powerful processor.
  • We do not recommend running Vista64 on a single core processor or with less then 3GB of RAM. If your machine is that old, stick with XP.
  • Ideally you are running Vista64 with an i7 processor and 6GB of RAM, just like our DIY 7 machine.
  • Make sure all of you hardware and software supports Vista64. Trying to run software and especially hardware without Vista64 support will create lots of problems including but not limited to: instability, sluggish performance, crashing, lock-ups, and even failure to boot.
Tech Note: While the Videoguys now recommends Vista64, we do not recommend the 32-bit version of Vista for video editing. To run Vista right you need the extra RAM, and that is the primary benefit right now of Vista64. If you can’t go 64-bit, stick with good old reliable Windows XP Professional. Here is a quick list of Vista 64 optimizations that are a must for anyone running Vista 64 for video editing:
  1. Disable Windows indexing
  2. Turn off window search
  3. Turn off UAC (User Account Control)
  4. Get rid of a few things you'll never use
Click here for the Videoguys' Vista 64 Tips and Tweaks article with step-by-step instructions for the above Vista 64 tweaks and more!
Windows 7 64-bit on Videoguys' DIY7.7 hits the Jackpot! Back in the summer we started talking about Windows7 and how we couldn't wait for it to be officially released. We told you that we would be updated our DIY7 build and posting a new article once we had the chance to test it. We built it, we tested it, we love it! JACKPOT!! We dare you to build a better, faster, more stable system for video editing for under $2,000. We've run Avid Media Composer, Adobe CS4 Production Premium and Sony Vegas Pro 9 on it so far and they're all running great! We'll be testing the mighty Matrox MXO2 Mini hardware on it next, now that they released the Win7 drivers for Adobe CS4.2. Tech Note: Since posting our DIY 7.7 update we have recieved several emails and calls asking about Windows 7 Professional vs Ultimate. We went with Ultimate because Microsoft was offering a $99 OEM deal on it when Windows 7 launched. That deal is no longer available. As best we can tell there is no advantage to Ultimate over Professional for video editing. Here are some very important guidelines:
  • That you are putting it on a new system. Quad-core or faster with at least 4GB of RAM.
  • If you’re going to try running it on an dual-core machine, then feed it more RAM (8GB) to make up for the less powerful processor.
  • We do not recommend running Windows 7 64 on a single core processor or with less then 3GB of RAM. If your machine is that old, stick with XP.
  • Ideally you are running Windows 7 with an i7 processor and 12GB of RAM, just like our DIY 7.7 machine.
  • Make sure all of you hardware and software supports Windows 7 64. Trying to run software and especially hardware without Windows 7 support will create lots of problems including but not limited to: instability, sluggish performance, crashing, lock-ups, and even failure to boot.
Graphics Card –GPU – Your mileage may vary We put a PNY Quadro FX 1800 card into our DIY7 machine. We feel this is the minimum card you want to use to run Avid Media Composer or Adobe After Effects. If you do a lot of compositing then the FX 3800 is probably going to be a better call for you. We can also tell you that the NVIDIA GTX 260/280 and ATI Radeon 3800/4800 series of graphics cards are working well for many of our customers. We will be adding the NVIDIA Quadro CX graphics card with CUDA acceleration down the road. The additional encoding and Open GL acceleration this card delivers should take this system to another level. Potentially outperforming even Dual-Xeon workstations! Storage We decided to go with a 1TB system drive. Some folks would say this is overkill. Some tech experts recommend getting a very small boot drive, as a way to force you to keep the system lean. We don't recommend the skinny boot drive theory. While it's good for office computing and maybe gamers, it's not so good for video editing. You don’t ever want to have a clogged up C: drive in your NLE workstation.
  • G-Tech G-SPEED eSWhen a drive fills up past 75% capacity it gets slower, so I recommend keeping the C: drive big and lean. Lots of space, with lots of unused capacity.
  • We install a ton of programs. Adobe, Avid, Sony, even consumer titles like Pinnacle. All of these programs now install media, help files, even video clips. The drive fills up faster then you think.
  • Sometimes with encoding you'll get faster results when you select a separate physical drive from your media drive (or RAID) for the destination drive. We set up a folder on our C: drive for these files to go. This has to do with the fact that encoding requires both reading and writing simultaneously.
  • Let’s face it, 1TB is HUGE, but the cost per GB is so small. At 7200RPM and around $129 bucks, why would you go smaller?
For our video drive we went back to our trusty G-Tech G-SPEED eS from our DIY6 machine. We just installed a new G-Tech PCIe RAID card (It’s actually a RocketRAID card) and the software provided by G-Tech in DIY7. We then plugged in the G-SPEED eS and did a cold reboot. The system recognized the G-SPEED and when we opened up Avid Media Composer, our projects and media were right were we left them. SWEET! DIY 7.7 – This baby rocks! Videoguys' DIY7I know this article took a bit longer then expected to get published. We decided that getting the new Videoguys website launched had to be our top priority and we put all the resources of our DIY tech team towards the new website. Based on all the early feedback it looks like the new website is a hit and we appreciate all your patience and input. We didn’t run into any issues with the build. It actually went together far smoother then we expected. We didn’t run into any driver problems, and so far everything is running great under Vista64. For testing we’ve got DIY7 running our favorite NLE software suites including: We are using HDV footage from my Canon HV20 for our testing. We hope to get our hands on some P2 and XD Cam HD footage for additional testing. We’re also going to see how Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 handles AVCHD footage given all this computing power. We’ve been able to go from HDV to Blu-ray Disc and the results are simply spectacular. Not just the image quality, but the editing workflow itself. All this computing power makes editing even HDV footage manageable. With this system, we did notice that Avid Media Composer handles the HDV footage a bit better than Adobe Premiere Pro. Not just more layers, but the overall handling was superior in Avid. That is why I still see the need for the Matrox RT.X2LE hardware with Premiere Pro CS4. I like being able to see my HD footage in all it’s HD glory on our big 37” LCD HDTV. If you want to add several layers of HDV footage with 3d transitions and graphics the RT.X2 will give it to you in real-time, and that means you can be more creative and efficient. As I said earlier, Matrox has certified our DIY7 config for use with the RT.X2. We recommend Newegg and TigerDirect for your DIY parts shopping.

Links to articles used for this article

ExtremeTech
  • Intel Core i7 Review: Nehalem Gets Real http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2333764,00.asp Nehalem is here. Anticipation for Intel's latest CPU architecture rivals the intensity for the original Core 2 Duo. It's not just that Nehalem is a new CPU architecture. Intel's new CPU line also brings along with it a new system bus, new chipsets, and a new socket format.
  • The X58 Chipset: Exploring the New Core i7 Platform http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2333939,00.asp Motherboards for Intel processors have become as familiar as a comfortable pair of old shoes. Sure, there are differences between manufacturers—Intel chipsets and their associated BIOS setups differ somewhat from Nvidia core logic. But when you dig into them, the similarities when it comes to matters of CPU and memory are far closer than the differences.
  • Overclocking Core i7 920 on the ASUS P6T Deluxe http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,2335836,00.asp Intel's Core i7, th
AdobeAvidCs4DiyIntel core i7Matrox rt.x2Media composerVista64Win7Windows 7

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