Videoguys' PC & Mac System Recommendations for Avid Media Composer 7

Avid Media Composer 7 $999.00
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In addition to its new low price, Avid Media Composer now has a much lower overall total cost of ownership. You do not require an expensive HP/Dell workstation or Mac Pro to edit video with Media Composer. Thousands of video editors all over the world are editing video using our DIY 9 builds as a guideline. Our DIY X Ivy Bridge Budget Build costs less then $1,500 and runs Avid Media Composer 6.5 just great! You can edit on a laptop or Mac Book Pro, as well as an iMac. Media Composer does not require any special hardware to run just as long as you stick to the basic requirements outlined on the Media Composer Product Pages.

The major determining factor on how much computer you will actually need is the format of your source footage (SD or HD). Editing DSLR, GoPro or AVCHD footage takes a lot of horsepower because these formats are very compressed. The video quality is spectacular but you need a powerful computer to work with the media. Fortunately, you can find these powerful computers everywhere today. Our DIY 9.5 Avid build is a killer machine and it will handle multiple layers of HD footage. It's not overkill, but it's not a budget system either. We feel it really hits the sweetspot for performance and value. Just add video storage, and your off to the races! Here are our basic guidelines for editing the HD footage mentioned above using Media Composer.

Videoguys' DIY Build for Avid that we updated in anticipation of Media Composer 7:

Videoguys' DIY9.5 Avid 2013
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Pro Model $309.00
Processor Intel Core i7 3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz $569.00
RAM 32GB G.Skill Ripjaws Z 8x4 GB kit $259.00
GPU PNY Quadro K2000 $499.95
Boot Drive Crucial M4 256GB SSD $199.00
Video Storage G-Tech G-SPEED Q RAID 5 or G-Tech G-RAID RAID 0 Available at
Case Antec Nine Hundred ATX $65.00
Power Supply CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX $139.00
Blu-ray Burner Pioneer BDR-208 $90.00
OS Win 7 Pro 64-bit $129.00
TOTAL PRICE $2,287.95

Processor: Intel i7 Quad core (or Hex). We feel strongly that the i7s are the best possible solution for video editing today. You can get by with an i5, but it's going to be a much more sluggish editing environment. If you are on a PC, check out our DIY 9 article. We recommend ASUS motherboards and suggest that you stick with the same chipsets we used - these combo’s are tried and true.

Operating System: Avid Media Composer 6.5 (and Media Composer 7) is a 64 bit application, which requires a 64 bit operating System. For the Mac that means Mac OS X Lion (10.7.x) or Mountain Lion (10.8.x) (64-bit). For the PC we strongly recommend Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. While Windows 8 may be the latest and greatest OS, we are not yet recommending it for our video editing products at this time. Win 8 is not approved for use with Media Composer 6.5 and Media Composer 7 will be the FIRST version supported under Win 8 so we'd rather wait on that recommendation.

RAM: 8GB of RAM is the bare minimum. As a rule of thumb, we recommend 3GB of RAM per CPU core, so for best results with an i7 quad core CPU, get 12GB (triple channel) or 16GB (dual or quad channel) of RAM. If you do complex projects with lots of layers and filters and HD or Stereoscopic, go with 32GB.

GPU: This is where the editing application can get finicky. We strongly recommend NVIDIA graphics cards for video editing. If you are getting an iMac or Mac Book Pro, you definitely want to step up to the NVIDIA graphic cards. If you are on a PC, we recommend getting an NVIDIA Quadro card. The new Quadro K2000 is based on the latest Kepler technology, has 2GB of video RAM and is a great choice for under $500. If you are getting a Windows based Laptop, get one that offers an NVIDIA graphics card as well.

Storage: For your system drive you can use a 7200RPM hard drive or an SSD. We've become big fans of SSDs for our boot drive. With an SSD (or the Apple Fusion drive) your programs will pop right open, which is very cool. Editors hate waiting for Media Composer or Photoshop or any other content creation software to open with a standard hard drive.

For your video storage, a single 7200RPM drive will allow you to do basic editing, even with HD footage but we recommend a dedicated RAID0 or RAID5 for your video projects and media. You don't want your storage to become your bottleneck. As drives fill up, they slow down, as it takes more spin cycles to find the media. RAID 0 or 5 gives you plenty of through-put as the media is store in a specific pattern on the drive to handle even the most complex HD timelines. (See our Video Storage recommendations below).

What iMac configuration does the Videoguys' recommend for Avid?

The latest 27" iMac does a fantastic job of running the latest Apple, Adobe and Avid software. You'll get outstanding performance and be able to easily handle AVCHD and DSLR footage with some pretty multiple layers of video and fairly complex timelines. We even have customers editing RED footage on their iMacs and MBP w Retina - WOW!

We get asked all the time what kind of computer you need to run the latest NLE software. On the Windows side this is a complicated answer with many options. With a Mac it's easier to answer. If you go with the higher end model iMacs or Mac Book Pros with i7 quad-core processors you will get excellent results.

If you want the best configuration for a new iMac for video editing, Videoguys recommends the 27 inch iMac with:

  • Intel Core i7 processor

  • 32GB RAM

  • 1TB Fusion Drive

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX GPU

This is a fully loaded machine, and it's going to cost you about $3K, but it will run any Mac based NLE great and has all the power you need for all HD tapeless workflows.

If are on a tight budget the first place to look to save is by dropping down to the GTX 675MX GPU which will save you $150, the next place to cut is your RAM, down to 16G, but we can't recommend going down to just 8GB. That brings the cost down below $2500. If you are serious about editing video on a new iMac, that's the bottom. While you can configure the 21.5" model with an i7 processor, you are limited to the GTX 650M GPU, which only has 512MB of RAM, which just isn't going to cut it.

What about Video Storage and I/O?

Over the past year we have seen a revolution in the external storage industry! In the past the only way to achieve throughputs of over 3GB per second required expensive host adapters. Now USB3 and Thunderbolt provide blazing fast data rates that video editors love!

Today's computers now come with USB3 ports which provide you with 5GB/sec of throughput - which is more than 6 times faster than Firewire800!! Unlike USB2, the new USB3 is a very reliable and stable connection that is 100% up to the demands of post production work. USB3 is more than 1.5 times faster than eSata, and every bit as solid.

If your computer has Thunderbolt you can get 10GB/sec data rates - more than 12 times as fast as FireWire800 and twice as fast as USB3! In fact Thunderbolt RAIDs can deliver speeds as fast as expensive RAID controllers costing a thousand dollars or more. Even cooler, Thunderbolt gives you TWO channels of 10GB/sec throughput!!

Videoguys recommend RAID0 or RAID5 for all your video projects and media. A G-Tech G-Raid USB3 4TB is on sale for $399. When attached via USB3 you'll get over 200 MB/sec in sustained throughput! 4TB is enough storage for almost 40 hours of ProRES 422 HQ or Avid DNxHD 220 footage.

Check out our external storage solutions from G-Technology, Promise and ProAvio. If you need to edit 2K footage or beyond, then your storage choice becomes critical.

Read the Videoguys' Guide to Storage or give our team a call at 800-323-2325 and we'll be happy to review your storage options and get you in the best storage to meet your budget and needs.

I/O options: Avid makes great hardware for getting video in and out of your computer, if you need it. MojoDX and NitrisDX are definitely the best choices, but they are not your only choice. Avid is an open system, which means you can use a wide range of 3rd party Open I/O hardware from AJA, Matrox, BlueFish444, Blackmagic and others. If you need to capture or output video from Media Composer, give us a call and we'll put you in the right hardware for your budget. We offer I/O boxes for workstations, laptops and thunderbolt equipped computers. Videoguys Video Capture Cards, Converters & I/O Devices.

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