• Designing a Silent & Cheap Video Editing PC

    Another in my series of text blog posts:

    In the last week or so I’ve been putting together the spec for a new desktop video editing PC, and I’ve learned a fair bit about what’s (supposedly) really needed for a video editing PC. Here is the story:

    I currently do most of my video editing at home on a HP DV7 notebook with a 4 core 2GHz i7 2630QM processor, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and ATI Radeon graphics chipset, and a 7200rpm 2nd internal SATA hard drive. But I’m not using the ATI chipset (too many driver issues with Sony Movie Studio), just the internal Intel integrated graphics (which actually pretty good). I also run a 2nd external monitor for dual screen. The chipset is a HM65. In short, it’s not bad as far as notebooks go, and it’s pretty zippy at video editing. It has a PassMark CPU benchmark of 5643

    However, my lab PC is an old dumpster dive 4GB single 7200rpm Dell XPS 420 Quad core Q6600 2.4GHz machine isn’t nearly as zippy at video editing, and I do occasionally do some editing at the lab. That PC has a PassMark rating of 2961

    So the plan is to replace the home notebook with a new video editing machine, and move the notebook to the lab as the secondary editor.

    And then the fanboy wars started on the EEVblog forum… :->

    Actually the response was brilliant when I asked about specing this machine on the forum, everyone jumped into the action and there was much research and discussion. 18 pages worth in fact!
    And that doesn’t include a thread before that when I asked about video rendering speeds.

    The result of that original thread (and on Twitter) was the suggestion that I should switch to a Mac Pro and Final Cut Pro. To cut a long story short, the Mac pro is massively slow at editing. And even a $500 hardware H264 accelerator card I was looking at would likely only bring it up to the same speed on my current HP DV7 notebook. So much for moving to Apple, sorry to all the Jobs fan boys, there was just no major incentive to do it.

    So, the decision was to stick with my Windows and my current workflow and get a new WinTel machine.
    I haven’t bought a desktop for at least a decade, as I’ve found notebook more flexible, but really that’s not good solution for a proper video editing machine.

    My Workflow

    So many people ask about my video editing workflow, so here it is:

    I shoot on a Canon HF G10 in 12Mbps 1440×1080 AVCHD. (Have just switched to 17Mbps 1920×1080 in the last few videos)

    I shot everything in sequence if at all possible, even if it means moving the tripod 20 times and changing the macro lens 10 times. That saves a HUGE amount of time in the video editing process.

    I try and get the audio level right in-camera, so there is usually not much need to tweak or level audio while editing, is possible.

    I then direct edit these .MTS files in Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 (not Vegas). Most of my editing simply involves trimming the start and end of each clip, with maybe some overlay text or 2nd video track if I’m getting really fancy.

    I then render from Sony to AVC, using the Sony AVC CODEC at a fixed 12Mbps rate (to match the input). This give me a top quality but HUGE intermediate file.

    An aside on Constant Quality

    Why don’t I use the MainConcept codec and output compressed Mp4 directly? The reason is simple and IMO, very important, and this is a point most peope do not understand and are quite confused by. I want the absolute best quality H264 HD video quality with the smallest possible file size, for every video regardless of what content is in that video (fast moving images, stills, etc). The codec like MainConcept that have a variable bit rate do not allow allow this easily. You have to know what type of content you have, and know the optimum average and peak video rate for that type of video content. If you get it too high, your file size is too big, and if you get it too low, your quality suffers. If your video contains a big mix of stuff, you have to compromise.

    Why do I care about file size? Simple, Youtube!

    Youtube cap the upload rate to 1Mbps or under (who knows why), even on my 2.4Mbps Telstra cable. This means it takes forever to upload long HD videos to youtube. Something the average person doesn’t really worry about. But to someone who does this daily, it’s really important. Optium file size vs quality is everything.

    This is why I do the intermediate step in Sony, and use a 2nd final step with a program called Handbrake. Handbrake creates fantastic highly optimised H264 files using a codec technology called Constant  Quality mode. It actually uses the x264 codec, Handbrake is just the nice GUI and command line interface to x264. There are others available like MeGUI.

    What Constant Quality mode does (in a single pass!) is to optimise the bitrate to give you a consistent quality, and hence the most optimal file size, regardless of your video content complexity. So there is no need to worry about anything, just pick the quality you want (I use an RF value of 22) and it does everything. MAGIC!

    This is something that regular (even 2 pass) Variable Bit Rate (VBR) codecs cannot match. So if you are using VBR, your videos are likely not a optimal quality.

    And there is no video editor on the market (that I am aware of) with a CQ codec option.

    Back to the Workflow

    So I pass the big rendered video file into Handbrake (I have a command line script on my desktop, so just drag’n’go) and it produces the final 1440×1080 (or 1920×1080) H264 video I upload to youtube. I call this process transcoding. I also use Handbrake to produce a 640×360 iTunes podcast version.

    Sony MS on my notebook renders in better than  “real time”, so a 1 hour video maybe takes 45-50min to process. Handbrake take about ‘real time” as well. So all up a 1 hour video takes me maybe 2 hours all up to render before I can upload to Youtube.

    I Feel The Need For Speed

    So “real time” actually isn’t bad for rendering in a general sense, so my current system is no slouch, but if I can double or maybe triple my rendering speed, then I might get to bed earlier. As I usually edit when I get back form the lab, which maybe takes a hour or two at most, and then I need to do that two step render process before I can upload to Youtube before I head to bed.

    So can a new PC be that much quicker? We’ll see the end of this week when my new PC comes in…

    Now, for all the gory details and fanboy fights, feel free to visit the 18 page forum thread. So here I’ll cut to chase of what seems like the general consensus from what people are telling me, and what I’ve researched myself.

    You don’t need a GPU!

    Joe Average will tell you that a hot shit video editing machine will need to blazing fast video card and GPU. But the fact is, Handbrake won’t use it, and while Sony Movie Studio can use it for rendering, it’s really designed for playback with a dozen different timeline items. I don’t have a dozen different timeline items, I have one video, one audio, and maybe one text. My internal chipset integrated graphic works just fine and smooth as silk in playback  on dual screens, thank you very much.

    Also, Sony Movie studio can use Intel QuickSync technology which is inside the latest i7 chipsets. My notebook has this, but I’ve tried using it and it’s actually slower than without it. But maybe my new machine will be different. Also, there is some question that using it can be lower quality than CPU only processing, but I have confirmed this. That’s one potential reason to chose Intel instead of AMD though.

    You don’t need a Solid State Drive!

    Joe Average will also tell you that a shit hot video editing machine needs an SSD drive, as the hard drive is going to be a bottleneck. Wrong!

    Compressed video rendering speed is almost entirely is driven by the CPU, number of cores, and any associated CPU features that may help. Any old 5400rpm hard drive will easily keep up with the writing speed of rendered video output. You don’t need a fast hard drive or SSD! Although my machien will have a 7200rpm 2nd hard drive to write video too, and an SSD for the operating system, just for general machine speed.

     You Don’t Need Much Memory!

    Joe Average will also tell you that a shit hot video editing machine need lots of RAM. Wrong!

    Some video editors may, but I can run 3 instances of Sony Movie Studio rendering 3 videos at once, along with a dozen Chrome windows open and still not get anywhere near my 16GB of memory. I can also run 8 instances of Handbrake transcoding 8 videos at once, with plenty to spare. 4GB is actually enough to do video encoding entirely in memory. Other video editors may vary of course! Video rendering works in small chunks, so generally not much RAM is required at all to process it.

    But my new machine will have 16GB anyway, just because I can.

    Intel vs AMD

    Cue the fanboys. Both make their case using all sorts of benchmarks to show that one is better than the other, but in the end I relied on the only test that really matters, video rendering. And as it happens Toms Hardware has a nice comparison table using Handbrake for video rendering:

    It turns out the sweet spot in terms of bang-per-buck is either the Intel i7 3770K, or the AMD 8350. The AMD 8350 is about a $150 cheaper solution give or take. Less than that in my case.

    But the Intel i7 offer pretty hot integrated graphics, with QuickSync video encoding technology. So if you don’t need a video card, the slightly faster 3770K solution is essentially a similar price as AMD with a decent video card.

    The 4 core Intel also beats the 8 core AMD (just, again) with the MainConcept encoder:

    The higher end Intels didn’t really offer any huge bang-per-buck improvement, and crucially don’t have the fast integrated graphics or quicksync encoding like the i7. So the i7 was the obvious choice in the Intel range.

    The 3770K has a PassMark of 9638, almost double my current notebook.
     Power Consumption

    The Intel 3770K beats the AMD 8350 in terms of power consumption, 13W less in idle mode in fact, and a massive 82W when running full tilt.

    That’s a lot! And more heat means more cooling required, and faster fans, and more noise.

    So the Intel beats the pants off the AMD in terms of video rendering / watt.


    My current notebook is real pain, the fan screams at the top of it’s lungs when I’m rendering, and for some time after, and it’s just 50cm away from my ears. Very unpleasant. So I decided my new PC must be designed with sound reduction in mind, even if that means over-engineering a bit in terms of cooling and PSU power.

    Modern PCs can be very noisy. Stock CPU fans are notoriously noisy,  GPU are very noisy, and cheap arse cases can be noisy in several ways. Cheap fans, hard drives can resonate, and poorly airflow ducting can have an impact too. It all adds up to a headache.

    So I decided I wanted a name brand PC cased engineered properly to be Silent. It came down to a Fractal R4 or Cooler Master Silencio 550.

    The PSU

    More fanboy wars here! It must have Japanese gold blah blah caps. Yeah, great, I agree, but not at double or triple the price in my case. I’m a tight arse, and my system is probably going to draw 15oW max or something from it’s 600W PSU. I’ll go for a relative cheapie and take my chances.

    My System

    So what did I end up going with?

    • Intel i7 3770K (K is the unlocked one you can overclock, about $50 more)
    • ASUS P8Z77-V-LX Motherboard (cheapest one with the top line Z77 chipset)
    • 16GB Corsair DDR3 1600 memory. 2 x 8GB, so room for extra if needed.
    • Corsair VS650 650W PSU
    • Corsair H55 liquid cooler.
    • CoolerMaster Silencio 550 case
    • Seagate 7200rpm 2TB drive

    The case was decided because the Coolermaster had a very convenient top mounted SD card slot, and an integrated HDD dock installed. And it was $50 cheaper than the Fractal R4, just a smidge over $100. Both have very good “silent” reviews. The coolermaster has sound proofing on the side walls and front panel, air filters, and “silent” low RPM fans. Should be good enough.

    I got upsold on the CPIU cooler. I only wanted a passive one with fan, but the water cooled Corsair H55 was only $10 more, and the box said 6dB better than the stock Intel cooler. Sounds good, and the reviews are good. Overkill maybe, but that’s a good thing. Less heat ultimately means less fan speed and less noise. It should also allow me to overclock the CPU. The H55 fan replaces the fan in the back of the case, so that’s actually one less fan in my system, that’s not a bad thing.

    It was either an ASUS or ASROCK motherboard. I wanted the top line Z77 chipset, and the ASUS was cheaper, and had all sorts of wizz-bang stuff, so meah, ASUS it is. It has 4 DDR3 slots, PCI-E 3.0, plenty of expansion, and integrated HDMI and DVI video outputs.

    Seagate was the cheapest 7200rpm 2TB drive, that is all. It’s the only thing I got from ebay, everything else was from my local computer store. I already had a 128MB Samsung SSD. I may even end up integrating my external RAID and network media hard drive into this thing (software RAID?). Comments?

    All up the whole system cost me under AU$1K, and considering I’m a tight arse and have never paid over $1K for a computer in the last 25 years, I’m happy to continue to trend.


    So how will it perform?

    I don’t really know for sure, I’ll find out soon. But from all the research I’ve done, I think this is probably the best value video rendering machine possible. You can get maybe 25% faster at best, but it’ll cost you 4 times the price.

    I’ll benchmark it without the video card first, and then out of curiosity will try a higher end GPU enabled video card and see if it makes any difference. I’m thinking  it likely  won’t. Unless you have gaming needs, or very serious multi channel wizz-bang effect video editing, then the integrated graphics will do a treat.

    I expect it to be near silent, even when rendering for an hour. But we’ll see. It will certainly be a huge improvement on the laptop.

    Power consumption should be <100W in idle, and maybe over that when rendering. We’ll see.

    And the rendering speed? I’m expecting at least double the rendering speed in both Sony and Handbrake based on the PassMark CPU results. Likely more. If it’s less than double overall for the my workflow overall then I will be disappointed. I expect 2-2.5 improvement though, and that will be very significant.

    Yes, I’ll do a build video and show the results, stay tuned.

    Text Blogging!

    People often ask how long it takes to produce a blog post like this. Well, I timed it! The post you just read took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to write and publish. That includes the gathering of links, thinking, etc.

    And I don’t consider myself particularly slow at this kind of thing, but I’m not the most efficient either. Text blogging takes time, and writing takes time.

    Don’t get me started on how long video blogging takes!

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      • Pascal

        Real silent (fanless) cases are Zalman TNN500 , Zalman TNN300 and Silentmaxx st-p1.
        I have the TNN300 and the Silentmax. They are difficult to come by because they are not produced anymore, I found mine on eBay. There is a bit of tweaking involved to get the heat-pipes right, but it is well worth the trouble. All of a sudden the power LED becomes useful when the monitors are in power save mode!

        PS thanks to you and your site (with many useful links) I am taking up my old hobby again (which I left mainly because of the arrival of SMD)

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Yeah, “silent” to the purist will of course mean “fanless” everything. I’m happy for “doesn’t annoy the shit out of me”!

          • elgonzo

            Dave, hope you have luck with your new PC.

            Regarding the hard drive: In case you have a choosen a low-cost consumer model, i would suggest to get some redundant drive (is not much of a cost factor anyway).

            Just in the last one and a half year, i had to discard 4 defective harddrives with a capacity of 1.5TB or above, amongst them 2 Seagate, 1 Samsung, 1 WD – all consumer HDDs.

            (Just to be clear, they were all spinning up and stepping the heads, hence i tend to exclude external reasons such as power spikes, and suspect reliability issues. I had another defective HDD from a friend, where the PSU from an external enclosure fried the HDD, but in that case the HDD could be made working for data rescue by simply unsoldering the burnt TVS’es — yeah, speak about backup…)

            • elgonzo

              Ahh… lovely reply fail…
              Although my post above was speaking to Dave, it has nothing to do with the topic of silence…

            • Orpheus

              I’ll second the hard drive advice. I’ve got dozens of <300Gb HDDs (I use the retired ones for archival storage), including one that has been in regular near-daily use inside a computer case (my 80-year old father's) for over 15 years. In that time, for my *personal use* (which run either 16hrs/day or 24/7), I've had a HDD failure rate on the rough order of 100K hours. My newest machine, which is much like yours (my second one that wasn't self-built in 25 years) is my first to break the TB drive barrier and has had TWO 2TBs fail since February: a Samsung and a Seagate badged, identical inner model Samsung (they've "partnered" in the US)

              I'm not bashing Samsung/Seagate, but I was lucky: both failed very early so all my critical data was on my old machines. Were I making my living off them, and needed last week's raw video to make this week's product, I'd have been gutted

              As you know, only an idiot doesn't back up early and often [even recovery time is a total writeoff, and can easily ruin a week], and the only suitable backup for a TB-scale HDD is another TB scale CD

              • http://kneake.us Travis K

                One thing about harddisk is there getting mutch better at repoting, the newer ones 500gb+ generly have better early failure tests so they “fail” early but in reality they may last another 5+ years in failure(still should replace it though)

                So its possible that 300gb is on its last leg and you just haven’t noticed yet.
                In any event EVERYONE BACKUP YOUR STUFF.:)

            • Bill Lewis

              I too have sworn off Seagate.
              Had a massive failure a few months ago on a Barracuda. The replacement is a repair, not new, slower version, and failed within two days.
              I bitched loud enough they sent me a new production replacement.

              But I’m done with Seagate. Won’t buy another and don’t trust the ones I have.

              The ‘net is loaded with complaints about them.
              They own Samsung labeled drives too, I believe.

      • kioan

        “Seagate was the cheapest 7200rpm 2GB drive…”
        Either a typo or you are a really tight arse 😛 hehe!

      • Doug

        Thanks Dave, an interesting read and aligns well with my own experiences. I know it took you a while to write, but was worth it :)

        Keep on (video)blogging.

      • arekm

        I wonder if you tried using these codecs?

        These are best from ffmpeg.org and libav.org worlds made for windows.

      • Worf

        Yeech, whoever mentioned the Mac Pro ought to be shot, because Apple hasn’t refreshed the thing in over 3 years – it’s well overdue for an update.

        No wonder it’s slow.

      • fchk

        I completly agree with you on yur choice of the i3770K and Handbrake. There is a Handbrake Batch Encoder, which makes the handling even more straightforward. Put source files in one dir, doubleclick, press start, and the result is in the destination dir. Performance-wise it’s better to use two or more smaller drives than one single large one. When the system transcodes from one drive to another there are much less seek operations, and you will notice the difference.

        I bought the i3770 without K. I never do overclocking, and the 100 MHz less saved me over 50€. The non-K was just a better deal for me.

        I recommend Gigabyte boards, just for the fact that you can run Mac OSX on them quite easily with the help of http://www.tonymacx86.com. If you stick to their shopping lists it just works!

        In order to reduce noise I had a very sime solution – a 68mm hole in the wall next to me. In this room there are only displays, keyboards, mice, and some usb hubs. Computers and printers are in the other room. No problem.


        PS: Has Australia completly switched to metric, or do you still have do deal with ounces, stones, feet and thumbs?

        • Hans de Jong

          I have had very bad experiences with the BIOS stability on Gigabyte motherboards.

          Not booting UEFI BIOS (graphics rendering just hangs) with a Logitech G25 steering wheel or a ext. harddrive, displayport support sucked, etc.
          That was a Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H, which I bought 4-5 months after the release of Ivy Bridge platform.

          RMA’ed the board and went for Asus. Worked straight away on 1st boot with ZERO configuration.. “no worries” :-) . Never regretted it.

          • fchk

            No problems here:
            Z77X-UD5H (2 months old)
            GA-Z68X-UD3H (one year old)

            with W7/64, XP, OS X

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          I wrote my own Handbrake script to automate it. Works a treat.

        • http://kneake.us Travis K

          I can total agree with that. I work at a hosting companny and we have 350+ g41 and h61 gigbyte boards (desktop grade) and after 5 years we have had 10 (failures FULLY COVERED under RMA)

          We also use supermicro(server grade) stuff and honestly gigabyte is very close to there very low failure rate at 1/3 the cost.

          • http://kneake.us Travis K

            Also say the hell away from the NEW chipsets for any cpu give it 6 months for intel/amd to work the bugs out.

      • Flip

        wont split hairs but i hope youll put in more than 128MB of SSD. Im very happy with 250GB SSD840 coz SSD rocks!

      • Olaf From Bruehl

        Hi Dave, you could perhaps have used the communities’ power more by giving them some random video snippets and tell them to render it to a video with given minimal/maximal file size and resolution.
        A kind of real world contest.

        I wonder if you can get 400% more speed by just changing the cpu and clock. HW acceleration might be necessary. But as you probably also guess: HW acc. often only accelerates effects rendering, not video encoding. So the “HW acceleration time saving effect” will depend on your kind of video editing and number of effects.

        You can try Adobe premiere pro CS 6 for free, by the way (for a limited time). Under 64 bit Windows and with a decent graphics card you can evaluate the use of HW acceleration. That difference is quite significant.

        • http://www.stealthmicro.com Robert

          I like this idea Dave?

          If you have a sample video straight out of the camera that we could test with. Let me know if hosting it is a problem bandwidth wise I can host and add a link here.

          I would love to test my system out against others for video encoding and it would be cool to see some real world numbers. We might even figure out some cool stuff along the way as to what makes a good video editing system.

      • Maik

        “Joe Average will tell you”… why do you kick some of the pro users in the ass with this? I think you are wrong! You need a lot of RAM, just because any new OS needs a lot more than older ones and for new encoders it’s a bottleneck, because they can opererate a lot faster using multiple cores and the GPU.
        You need a recent GPU, because newer Codecs use the GPU for processing, especially they are using CUDA from Nvidia. Have a look: http://www.mainconcept.com/?id=419
        Yeah you don’t need Gamer graphic cards, but at you should use at least a midrange ones. They don’t use much power and there a some that are passive cooled.
        SSDs are quite fast, I use Revodrives on the systems I build for the company. They are up to 5 times faster than regular SATA drives. And for video editing, this means on random access (for several movie parts) this speeds up the downmixing process a lot.
        The PSU: 650Watts??? Why? The parts that you chose use not more than 300W. And when you need a silent PC, take a silent PSU. The one we use on much bigger machines (4 HDD+1 SSD, passive GPU) than yours is a Silentmaxx Fanless II… this has only 500W!
        The Case: You want a Silent PC and use a steel case? Are you kidding? For a silent PC, you need thick aluminum cases, and there are only 2 manufacturers worth noticing: Lian Li, and Silverstone, Lian Li is absolutely the best you can get.
        CPU Cooler: We’ve been using the Corsair H55 on our first Watercooled machine and it sucks. The fan is not a silent one, and the pump is also very annoying. We’ve also tested the Zalman CNPS20LQ, which is better, but still not silent enough. So we changed the fan and reduced the speed down to ~33%, and it’s still cool enough.
        For your harddrives you should also get some cases, eg. Silentmaxx HD silencer… they cool the HDD, block the motor noise and absorb shocks.
        And just as a notice, I’m not “Joe Average”, because it’s my job to build silent PCs!

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Handbrake cannot use the GPU, so having one makes no difference. (there is supposedly a beta version that might be able to use it)
          You do not need a need a lot of RAM, it makes no difference, I have monitored this and tested it.
          Yes, I didn’t go completely silent, because I was also lowering cost. I did the best I could for the price I think.

      • hele

        As a GPU programmer in my day job I’m curious that computing intense task like video encoding isn’t entirely farmed out to GPUs yet. There are massively powerful stream processor / DSP arrays sleeping in our PCI-E ports. Note that Intel proudly released a (kinda rigged) case study showing that the compared GPU architecture only offers a 14x speedup against a hi spec intel processor.
        This of course only applies for certain well parallelizable task, but I think it will apply to certain task performed within video encoders.
        If one day the handbrake devs might get familiar with things OpenCL (no vendor lock in like CUDA) it might be time to fill up your PCI-E socket.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          One of the Handbrake team is mucking around with CUDA support I believe, but it’s not mainstream or fully tested or released yet. So it may happen, but until then there is no advantage to the GPU.

      • Asm

        Just a quick word of warning regarding the watercooling – I’ve got a Corsair H100 (cooling a 3930k hexcore running at 4.2 GHz), and the pump is a bit loud; a fair bit louder than the two 12cm fans on the radiator when spun down to the lowest possible speed.

        My old fancooled Q6600 (stock 2.4GHz, overclocked to 3.5) is noticeably quieter when idle. Under load… well, it’s a wash.

        Oh, and on GPU-accelerated compression: Every GPU implementation I’ve seen has had worse video quality than a pure CPU implementation. Sure it’s faster, but I stick with plain old x264. And no, not every h264 encoder uses your GPU.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          If anyone has any suggestions for a quieter/better comparable CPU heatsink solution, then I’m open to suggestions.

          • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

            The Coolermaster Hyper 212 claims 36dbA noise level. About 4dB better than the Corsair H55

            And this list is very comprehensive!:

            Looks like I should replace the Corsair H55 with this one.

            • Asm

              Looks like a nice cooler, fairly similar to the one I have in my Q6600 box.

              Do check that it will fit in the case you’re looking at using – I had to cut out a section of my case to fit the heatpipes sticking out of my cooler. (That was a fun realization when I was assembling it!)

              As for fans in general, I cannot recommend the Scythe Gentle Typhoon series enough (they’re really reboxed Nidec Servo fans). They’re very silent for the performance, and just ooze quality. Only downside is no PWM input, so you can’t (easily) use them as the CPU fan on most contemporary motherboards.

              Good luck!

          • viewer

            Google the Supermicro SNK-P0040AP4 cooler. If it will fit your motherboard it is a professional solution. I have two of those in a 24 thread video editing box and they are inaudible.

            • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

              The Coolermaster 212 has the advantage of being in-stock at my local computer place, so I can just swap it.

              • John Pitney

                Just look out for clearance inside your case for the Hyper-212. I have one, and it barely fits in a large CoolerMaster Storm case. Also, my RAM has heat spreaders which don’t fit under the Hyper-212’s fan unless I slide the fan away from the motherboard a bit.

                • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

                  Hmm, I just assumed it would fit! fingers crossed

                  • Fred

                    Hi Dave,

                    Consider swapping the fans for Noctua P12 ones, their low noise adapter is really kickass!

                    If you want to do Raid0 or 1, software raid is fine, but for Raid5, you really need an hardware card like the LSI 9260 series.

                    You may also want to consider a smaller build, as you dont have a big GPU. Look at the Fractal Define Mini and an mATX board!

                    Finally, be sure to try Fan Xpert on your Asus board. Awesome tool for fan curves.

                    Keep it up!


      • Tim Ramich

        CRF targets a specific PSNR. Stuff like cartoons will be smaller than something grainy for the same RF number.

      • tchicago

        Constant quality is actually one of the flavors of VBR :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_bitrate

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Yes, you are correct, it is. But it is not an available VBR option in almost every video editor.

      • Georgi

        I have to agree with you Dave. CPU is king with pretty much 90% of video editing as long as you don’t go into Adobe After Effects. Same applies for ram. 16GB is plenty as long as you stay away for 3D. I know that because I have a high end CUDA graphics card and a decent amount of ram. Even Premiere/After Effects don’t go much faster with CUDA at h264 encoding.

        Now, 3D effects are a completely different story. If you start making flying circuit boards and talking oscilloscopes, that CUDA card is going to give probably an order of magnitude of speed up (I’ve even seen things that used to take 2 hours, drop to about 3 minutes with CUD).

        I just wouldn’t risk my putting water next to my brand new CPU :). I use a XIGMATEK Dark Knight II SD1283 cooler on my i7-920 overclocked to 3.4GHz and I can’t get the cpu higher than 62℃ after hours and hours of prime95 cpu stress testing and it used to hit 87℃ with the stock cooling setup.

        Do let us know how the new desktop works out.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Sure, wizz-bang 3D effects and editing will benefit greatly from a good GPU I’m sure. I just don’t do that sort of stuff.

      • n2o_skillz

        If that water cooling ever showed to be disappointing I’d give a glance for some big heat sink like Scythe Mugen http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/products/cpu-cooler/mugen-3-rev-b.html

        Also if doing air cooled system i think the 4-pin PWM enabled fan that comes with Mugen 3 is a good option. This allows the MB to adjust the fan speed on load (enabled on bios).

        Oh and definite +1 for doubling that 2TB Samsung to RAID1.

        • n2o_skillz

          Oh… yes the Coolermaster 212 was already mentioned. Though I’d still give the Mugen a glance its bit bigger and not that much more expensive.

      • Goophy629

        If price is concerned much, then I’d rather go for AMD platform, opposite would be Xeon lol~

      • http://www.chubbs.co.uk chuBb

        Hope your seagate drives last longer than the last lot I bought (approx 18 months ago), batch of 8, 3 DOA (RMA’d claimed damaged in transit, big saga with couriers, now have 3 more “door stops”) 3 more died after a few months and the remaining 2 have had data corruption issues :-(

        Now i generally buy WD black or red series drives when i build encoding machines (red are the range designed for NAS/24/7 usage with a longer warrenty) must ask why not have a raid 1 (at minimum) setup for data redundancy (especially with seagate drives i would expect data loss, but im jaded for reasons above), although i assume you avoid raw video and edit already encoded video so you wont be shifting about 100’s of gb files regularly, which is typical of the encoding machines i have built (a lot of my friends either work in the pro encoding HD/4K trade or are freelance cameramen, and want decent home encoding rigs)

        • Maik

          We’ve had the same experience with Seagates, especially their 7200 RPM are not very reliable. And they are often extremly loud compared to HHDs of other vendors. We use WD only, too. And for Raid systems we only use 5600 RPM, because the lifetime is much higher.

        • Goophy629

          Agreeded on the high failure rate about Seagate drives. Just wanna add one mroe point, they are also nosier than WD’s…

          I’ve not used many of the desktop 3.5″ drives actually but quite a few laptop 2.5″s in the past few years, including one of the latest 750+8GB hybrid. It was noticeably nosier than WD black 750GB(while both are 7200rpm).

          RMAed two Seagate drives, one of them i needed to make a call, one of them needed to wait for 20+ days as they said they run out of stock…Since that, I never go with Seagate anymore.

        • David

          I agree about the Seagate reliability – it’s looking bad, especially for 1+TB drives. In my experience one died in days, another died in a matter of weeks. One of them does nothing at all; the other has click of death. Both were in AC-cooled nice environments. I’ve read bad stuff on the Web about others having similar experiences with big Samsung drives. Stay with another brand and stay with ~1/2TB drives if you want to be safe.

          I look forward to the report on the new machine Dave. Good luck.

      • Stephen

        Great Build, would have probably gone with an bigger radiator like the h100 or newer model. And probably a raid 1 for data.

        But i’m sure you have external backups making the cost of a second hard drive unneeded.

        • Stephen

          Also, water cooling was the way to go, I have a dark knight on my i7 920 and wish that I would have gone with self contained water cooler like this the corsair.

        • elgonzo

          A second HDD in RAID-1 configuration might very well provide a benefit.

          Being hit by a HDD failure without having RAID, you would first need to replace the defective HDD, then restore the backup, and only then you can continue working — this can easily steal a day or two from your working schedule.

          Already with a rather simple RAID-0, you can significantly lower the risk of loosing time caused by a dying HDD. Ofcourse, it always depends on how valueable your time and how tight your schedules are…

          • elgonzo

            Sorry, i meant to say RAID-1, not RAID-0.

            Contrary to RAID-1/5/6, RAID does not provide any protection against a failing HDD.

            God, i miss an Edit button…

            • elgonzo

              That is quite my shame day :(

              *RAID-0* (!!!) does not provide any protection against a failing HDD.

      • ac

        I would go for:

        1. ssd
        2. passive psu
        3. fan control for every fan in the system and every fan easily replaceable


        replace fans (or lubricate) as they start to become audible even at the setting of fan control where they weren’t audible before.

        I have many HDD’s but they are sleeping and mostly as archive use for infrequently accessed things.

      • ac

        Forgot to say:

        The idea with Passive PSU from POV is to have the fan outside the PSU blowing into it rather than inside the PSU. This is so you can replace the fan easily when it gets noisy without removing the PSU. Or that you can keep the PSU warranty while replacing the fan.

      • Hans

        Hi there!

        I’m doing a lot of simulation stuff (simulator-core for my thesis) and this is quite a similar workload as video transcoding in terms of cpu/cache usage.

        Actually you do a lot of computation on a small set of data and then move on to the next dataset.

        I don’t have any benchmarks stating this but as far as i have investigated this, 3 points seem to be most important:

        1. get a CPU with as much cache as possible
        2. get as much memory/cache-bandwith as possible
        3. get a binary for YOUR cpu!

        the last point got me down by a factor of 10(!!!) for a SMPS simulation on my simulator-core!

        Xeon would be the answer to the first 2 issues… but that’s a bit costy :)

        RAM could be chosen be the fastest supported speed of your board/cpu.. might be a minor price difference (you are right, you don’t necessarily need much ram, but is has to be fast (clock + latency!!!)!).

        So first see if you already have up-to-date binaries of you transcoder (from a bleeding-edge gcc or intel-compiler…) which supports AVX or at least SSE4 instructions.

        That might bring you a nice speedup for free (a quick google search brought up a thread in the handbreak forum where they report about 30%) :)

        73 from that country without kangaroos :)

        • elgonzo

          Hans, while i agree that the Xeon performs somewhat better than a mere i7, it’s cost (and the expensive motherboard) are only justified if you run heavy workloads most of the day.

          RAM faster than DDR3-1600 usually is not worth the higher price, and practically don’t perform any better. Reason for this are the CPU’s L1/L2/L3 caches — their only purpose of existence being to decouple the CPU from the “slow” RAM. Heck, in many cases you will not even find a noticable difference between DDR3-1333 and DD3-1600.

          There is a market for faster RAM such as DDR3-2000 and beyond. It’s marketed to young gamers — kind of what for one are the racing aluminium wheels on his street car, is for another the fast RAM in his PC; it just makes them feel better…

          RAM latency indeed can have an impact on general performance. However, the actual impact really depends on CPU architecture and can’t be generalized — again, i would put cost of RAM first, with latency being only a secondary concern.

          Ofcourse, having fast performing software is nice to have. But this, again, is only a secondary concern. More important is that the software is working reliable and produces predictable results. (What use would have a software that is 10x faster, but only works in three of four cases? It probably just makes me disappointed 10x faster…)

      • Franck


        Strange nobody talked about virtualization. Such a config is done for it (i7 cores and ram).

        As a linux user I would tell you : install debian as the host with virtualbox because ease of use.
        But virtualbox and win7 is fine.

        It won’t go faster but it will go smarter.

        Backup ? just copy the VMs
        Test something : start a cloned virgin xp or seven
        Revert a bad site experience ? use snapshots
        Install an ubuntu VM and enjoy surfing without virus warnings 😉

        Requires discipline to not pollute the host but you have it.


        • elgonzo

          …and how exactly is using a virtual machine beneficial for a video edition workplace (such as Dave’s)? Strange indeed…

          • edz

            He just want to impr3ss everybody that he knows linux, vm, snapshots, which are all irrelevant to this discussion.

      • tchicago

        The water cooling is not very reliable in the long(er) term due corrosion, leaks developing over time due to aging plactic, etc. When I was building my quiet PC capable of video processing, I was more concentrating on a proper soundproof case and good quality fans, making sure they all have an auto-controlled RPM. But I’m mostly concerned about the idle noise, i.e. when I’m using the PC for browsing, watching movies, etc. And the noise level while working on videos was not a problem, since it is generally a temporary issue. Not sure if this approach works for you, but also worth considering.

      • Russ

        Just thought I’d mention Dave that the default mode the Asus boards come in only runs the memory at stock speeds (1300).
        If you go into the UEFI boot menus and tell it to switch to performance mode it’ll do a few reboots and find a safer, usually higher, cpu clock and enable the XMS memory settings (enabling the 1600 speed you’ve got).
        For me this gave a 30% increase in rendering speed in Blender.

        • elgonzo

          Beware of ASUS’s automatic overclock function. Often (not always) it selects an ever so slightly too high CPU core voltage.

          That the UEFI did choose slow default RAM timings is a general annoyance in the PC market. Motherboard manufacturers tend to setup their BIOSes in way so that it works with most RAM modules, even the most crappy ones. One disadvantage of this approach is that mobos sometimes choose too conservative RAM timings.

          The speed increase you noticed in Blender is not because of faster RAM speed (clock) but either because of better (lower) latency settings in your current memory profile, or because the mobo did not use dual-channel mode before (for whatever reason).

      • Vernon

        Thanks once again Dave for sharing your workflow detail and in particular, your method for maintaining consistent output. That’s an area that can be frustrating to say the least.

        The ASUS MBs are my favorite lately too. I don’t bother to overclock them since they are fast enough at stock speed and I don’t like spending too much time tweaking that stuff.

        Nevermind the Fanboy rants, you obviously have it down good with Movie Studio P12 and Handbrake so why change that?

      • Menu

        you only have one hard drive if one fail you will loss data

      • http://eetutorials.com saeid

        Your not gonna care about my advice so I don’t bother, but corsair is as load as hell!

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          Last I checked “loud as hell” isn’t a quantitative number!
          I’ve posted a link in the forum to real world measurement numbers, and have changed to the Coolermaster 212

      • http://coeleveld.com Harald
      • Keri

        In defense of the Mac Pro…

        Several years ago I was in the same position, needing a competent video editing machine.
        In the quest for faster and faster rendering, I went through all kinds of systems, parts and accessories way back in the P4 / Core2Duo era. In the end, the total cost could have bought me a loaded Mac Pro.
        And it was still not especially fast, even with a fairly powerful system.
        Lots of time spent fiddling with the stupid thing too.

        In the end, I acquired a Mac Pro 1,1 which excels at video editing.
        For being slow, it sure saves a lot of time. Perhaps the dual CPU/ each with dual channel memory does it?
        I remember it being quite a lot faster than the PC with Premiere Pro, though I switched to FCP a while back.
        I’ve been using it now for over 5 years and it has saved me a lot of time and money. A few upgrades 4+ years ago and it still runs strong with no repairs as yet.

        Nowadays I do very little video work so it’s still adequate for my needs. I don’t miss Windows and constant tinkering a bit.

      • http://edeca.net David

        A number of people have asked about GPU encoding – I recently read http://www.extremetech.com/computing/128681-the-wretched-state-of-gpu-transcoding which compares a few popular products.

        It is a year old, but the key point that GPU encoding is very hard to do right is still valid. High end production studios often do this on a handful of very specific video cards with software specifically targeted toward them – not consumer GPUs.

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      • http://vitim.us Victor N

        This is why you should not spread the thermal past over the cpu.

      • http://www.dahlsys.com Roger Dahl

        Hi Dave,

        Thank you for your blog.

        You want to use the two blue sockets on the board for your memory. So, maybe there’s room for the fan on the other side after all.


      • edz

        You have a what? 128mb samsung SSD?
        My smallest usb stick even twice that size.

      • John

        David, you comments about not needing GPU, SSD, memory etc. makes sence for your very basic video editing needs. But they do not make a good video editing system for a full time video editor.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          I am essentially a full time video editor. But yes, my requirements as a video blogger are very basic.

      • http://alexandru2882.wordpress.com Alexander

        Hi, I found your post incredibly useful, as I will buy the same components. I a curious how they work for you. How performant and silent is your new computer? I would also like to OC it up to 4.5! Is it a good idea (how much does the performance boost count)?

        I am looking forward for your answer.

        • http://www.eevblog.com EEVblog

          The sounds almost gets lost in the backgroud office noise, it’s very quiet, although not completely silent. Does not sound any worse when heavy processing during rendering.

      • Thom L

        What you want to do is use intel xeon engineering sample cpus. I recently picked up 2x QA8Z CPUs (8 core 20mb cache) for 150 each and a MB for them @ 200 on eb.

      • http://www.electronicshub.org Sudheer

        I like your detailed explanation on Designing a Silent & Cheap Video Editing PC. Thanks for sharing your workflow.

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      • http://www.nursebob.org Bob Dunlop

        This is long overdue, but thanks for the insights! I built a new machine about 3-1/2 years ago, x980 processor (6 cores), DX58S02 MB with 24GB Corsair DDR3 1600 ram, and an eyefinity 6 video card. It’s in a Coolermaster case with the corsair dual hydrocooler. I run BOINC for the SETI project, which basically keeps the cpu pegged @ 100%, which is what drove the need for additional cooling. The system has 8 fans, which all pretty much idle around 600-800rpm, which keeps things “quiet” (as you mentioned, quiet means it doesn’t irritate me), but with this system I DON’T need to run a heater in the winter.
        I did not buy the graphics card for it’s processing power, but because I had a need for additional monitors (I run 3 Dell U2412M display port monitors to make my life easier with photshop,camera raw and adobe bridge) and my flatscreen HDMI TV as a 4th. I only recently got into video, and have noted that while the video editors will use the gpu, it doesn’t really have much impact on processing time. Further, the editors (Corel VideoStudio Pro 5X, and Sony Vegas Pro 12) never need more than 6GB ram and 30% of the CPU when rendering. I can easily run multiple instances of these process and “memory hungry” apps without stress – though I do have to suspend BOINC while rendering, it does slow the processing since it runs all cores at 100%, and even in nice mode, it still impacts. Given the memory that’s generally not accessed, I went ahead and have allocated 12GB to a ram disk, and have the editors use that as a scratch/working disk.
        Finally, thanks for the hint on Handbrake!!! Great stuff.


      • Tony Ferrelli

        Thank you Dave, once again you have given us some excellent, no nonsense and sensible advice but this time on computers. Awesome! It really makes you wonder how many people have purchased PC’s that are wildly over specced and barely touch the sides of their full potential power in daily use. I’d wager this daily use 5 year old Atom based netbook I am typing on right now falls into that category too.

        I like how you opted water cooling for its potential to make a quieter system, not because your overclocking a CPU out of the stratosphere to impress your mates. I like how you still ran with the small 128GB SSD because it is more than enough to hold the OS and still gleam the higher read speeds from it while using a regular HDD to take over other duties. Your choice on not bothering with a GPU is another good decision because the primary task of encoding video’s is just about entirely hand balled to the CPU, with the GPU doing diddly squat in the meantime. Even more common sense with highlighting how CPU’s having a diminishing return in value and power consumption ratings beyond the middle ground.

        All sensible advice. What the world really needs is ‘Dave’s advice on everyday life matters blog’. It obviously needs a catchier name first, but who else wants to see that? :)

      • http://www.displayporttohdmicable.org/category/computers/ Klick

        We live in the age of communication with a combined application of both the software as well the hardware. These two are considered as a inseparable twin of the last century.

      • http://ex-site.us/ ilanko

        Hi Dave, looking forward to the follow up video on “Video Editing PC Assembly” Mybee some CPU speed up ?

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