Premiere Pro CS6 Video Editing Computer Build

HEX-Core video editing computer
HEX-Core video editing computer

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 video editing computer build updated April 6 2012

It is time to retire the “old” video editing computer that I built for Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 in early 2009 (pictured below with green trim on the case). It isn’t that it wasn’t fast enough for my workflow but I got an offer I couldn’t refuse to sell it and have decided that the timing was right for me to build an even faster video editing computer for when Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 is released. Adobe will announce Premiere Pro CS6 and the entire Production Premium CS6 suite at NAB 2012 in April and will release the software in June or July 2012May 2012.

My old Core i7 920 build

My Core i7 920 system was cutting edge when I built it and although I did upgrade a few of the components over the years, it still is basically the same system I started with and is still blazing fast. I called her “Green” because her NVIDIA co-branded Coolermaster case had green ribbing, a transparent green side panel, and emitts a green LED glow from its fan.

Here are her final specs:

Intel Core i7 920 CPU 4 core 2.66 GHz LGA 1366
Asus P6T Motherboard
12 GB RAM – Triple channel
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 video card (Premiere Pro GPU supported)
USB 3.0 PCIe Card
Blu-ray Burner
750 Watt Power Supply
2x2TB RAID 0 Video editing hard drives – Western Digital Black (Hardware RAID using ASUS Drive Xpert)
1×1.5TB storage hard drive – Seagate
500GB SATAII operating system hard drive – Western Digital Blue

Basically this was a quad core system with a good amount of RAM, a Premiere Pro supported NVIDIA CUDA card for GPU acceleration, and traditional spinning hard drives. The USB 3.0 was a late add-on for me and I used it for both speedy client file transfers to external USB 3.0 hard drives and for my always-on and backed-up-nightly 10TB Sans-Digital external RAID tower that backs-up of my video editing and storage drives.

My new system is a much different beast. My OS will be Windows 7 Professional 64bit. I’ve listed the actual prices I paid from my local computer supplier, NCIX. Thanks to Videoguys for getting me started on this build with their DIY 9 specs, on which this build is based.

Here is what I chose, and why:

Intel Core i7 3930K CPU 6 core 3.2 GHz LGA 2011 – $600
Moving to a higher clock speed will speed-up video render times but adding another two cores, all running at a higher clock speed, will add even more processing power. Premiere Pro is built on a 64bit architecture and supports multi-core processing so this should dramatically improve my video render times.

ASUS P9X79 Motherboard – $302
There aren’t currently too many options for LGA 2001 CPUs and with one exception, all my previous and current video editing systems have ASUS motherboards. The P9X79 has all the features I need, including support for multiple GPUs, which might be useful if I was to add the NVIDIA Tesla C2075 companion processor, but I don’t have plans to at this point as my 1920×1080 HD workflows don’t need any more GPU power. (It turns out that the base model lacks some of the features I need – see below)

Update – February 24 2012
ASUS P9X79 Pro Motherboard – $323
I returned the Asus P9X79 base model motherboard and upgraded to the Asus P9X79 Pro (for a measely $21.61 more). Although it lacks a Firewire connection (which I really no longer need) I do not recommend the base model for two reasons:

1 – The ASUS P9X79 lacks a hardware RAID solution. ASUS did a poor job of documenting which of the X79 motherboard models include the ASUS Drive Xpert feature that allows hardware RAID 0 or RAID 1 arrays – I had to download each of the motherboard manuals to confirm which featured ASUS Drive Xpert and which didn’t. It turns out the base model lacks this feature but the Pro, Deluxe, and WS models include it. In hindsight, the lack of the Marvell controller on the base model should have been an indicator that the hardware RAID solution that I wanted was not included on the base model.

On my last two motherboards I have used the ASUS Drive Xpert, which is a two disk (only) hardware RAID solution, offered by the Marvell® controller. Even though it is only a two disk RAID, it is a hardware RAID, and is much more stable than an Intel software solution. I’ve had too many Intel RAIDs fail. Despite this, and faced with a motherboard that didn’t have a hardware solution, I instructed my system builder to continue with the build anyways by enabling the RAID mode in the BIOS. At that point we ran into problems. By enabling RAID in the BIOS, the SATA controllers for optical drives no longer would work and we could no longer install Windows 7. My guy thought the problem was with my Blu-ray drive but it turns out that it was a driver issue. He eventually got Windows 7 installed with an external USB DVD burner and a lot of luck but the system was so unstable that I wasted a day fighting with it before trying to reinstall Windows 7 myself with an external USB DVD burner. The install failed and the only solution I could find online was to change the RAID mode back to AHCI. So I RMA’d the board and upgraded to the ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard.

May 28 Update:
It turns out I wasn’t using the ASUS Drive Xpert on my 2600K system because I previously came to the conclusion that it was slower than a non-RAID SATA drive. So for the time being I’m going to leave it in the Drive Xpert RAID mode but will either use my external RAID tower (10 TB) as my video editing drive or add a proper RAID controller card.

2 – The base model has one less PCIe slot than the Pro model does and in its place it has an older PCI slot. Because of my choice of video card, the three-slot-hogging NVIDIA GeForce 570 GTX DirectCU II (since replaced with a 2 slot EVGA GTX 570), I wanted the extra PCIe slot that the Asus P9X79 Pro has. I am decided to add the Blackmagic Design Decklink Studio as it has both HD-SDI and HDMI. The Decklink Studio requires two slots but the 2nd slot doesn’t require a PCIe connection so I seated it below the lowest PCIe slot on my motherboard as pictured in the top photo. My case has an extra mount that is below the lowest PCIe slot on my motherboard, in case you were wondering.

I’m keeping my Matrox MX02 Mini with Max on my 2600K system. For a time it conflicted with my set-up. Two weeks ago I installed it on my 2600K Red system and it worked beautifully except that Adobe Encore would no longer open. I uninstalled the Matrox drivers and the problem went away. This isn’t the first compatibility challenge I have had with Matrox over the years. Fortunately Matrox just released updated drivers for the MX02 Mini and Premiere Pro CS5.5 that should solve this problem. I haven’t tested them yet.

May 28 Update: Matrox released CS6.0 drivers and I’m now using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 so will start testing the Matrox MX02 Mini in that configuration shortly.

32 GB RAM – G.Skill RipJawsZ 8x4GB DDR3-1866 – $245
This is more RAM than my two previous systems combined but my motherboard has 8 DIMMS (RAM slots) and a 4GB RAM stick is only $30. This will also be the lowest price for system RAM I have ever spent. Do I need this much RAM? I don’t know. But with six cores I knew I wanted more RAM on this video editing system than the 16 GB on my current Core i7 2600K system (named RED because it has a red fan LED).

Update – April 5, 2012
Kingston KHX1600CpD3K4/16GX 8x4GB 1600Mhz DDR3 CL9 DIMM – $181.98
I was having some stability issues in general and my system builder decided to change the RAM to see if that made a difference. I didn’t have a say in which RAM he chose but it turns out it is only 1600Mhz compared to the 1866Mhz one it is replacing. I’m not sure if this will matter so much, especially seeing I have 32GB of RAM and doubt I’ll use all of it in Premiere Pro CS6 but it will come in handy when I’m working in After Effects. A small bonus was that this RAM is a few bucks cheaper than the faster G.Skill RAM it is replacing so I actually got a bit of a refund, which I used to buy a DVD burner with. I decided to skip a Blu-ray burner on this build because I have on one my other video editing system that rarely gets used.

ASUS GeForce 570 GTX DirectCU II– $360 (less $20 MIR)
NVIDIA likes to promote their Quadro line of cards for video editing on Premere Pro but I like their GeForce line for the combination of a high number CUDA Cores and a much lower price. I chose the GTX 570 because it hits the sweet spot of cost and number of cores. I could have saved a bit of money by selecting a not-officially-supported but unlockable GeForce card but I like that the 570 is officially supported. The GTX 580 is faster but the price is also a few hundred dollars more. The DirectCU II means that this card occupies three card slots (GTX 570s usually occupy two slots) but the benefit is quieter cooling, thanks to the copper heat-pipes directly connecting with the GPU. CU is the elemental symbol for Copper.

Update – April 5, 2012
EVGA GeForce GTX570 HD Ferni 2560MB – $349.99 (less $10 MIR)
I was having too many video card crashes with the Asus GTX570 card, even when I wasn’t running any applications, so I decided to RMA the video card and try a different model. I went with EVGA on this one and this particular GTX 570 has twice the amount of RAM as the one I am replacing it with. Harm at Adobe forums says that RAM on the GPU is important so I consider this an upgrade at a slightly lower cost. One of the other benefits is that the card is smaller in that it uses only two slots rather than three slots and isn’t as long, so I have an easier time accessing the SATA connectors on the motherboard.

Corsair Professional Series Gold AX850 Power Supply – 850 Watts – $170
850 Watts for this build should be enough power and the jump to Gold gives me more efficient performance, which means less heat and higher quality components.

2x2TB RAID 0 Video Editing hard drives – Western Digital Black – 2x$200
I’m going to use ASUS’s RAID controller for a two drive RAID 0 array. I don’t like software Intel RAIDs and a hardware card would support more drives but I don’t need any more speed than a two-drive RAID 0 can push, so I can’t justify the additional cost right now. I’ve been happy with WD Black hard drives in the past and Black drives are faster than Blue and Green drives.

May 28 Update: I’ve decided to add a hardware RAID solution, either internal or external.

1x2TB storage hard drive – Western Digital Black – $190
This is same drive as I’m using in my RAID. The internal storage drive is for non-video editing projects and temporary storage of archived projects that I might want access to but don’t want to take-up space on my RAID. Because I’m using an SSD (below) for my C drive, I won’t have much extra space for traditional My Documents and Desktop storage and these files will be saved to the storage drive instead.

128 GB Crucial M4 Solid State Drive (SSD) – $170
I’m hooked on solid state drives for my boot drive. I have one on my Core i7 2600K system and applications load so much faster. The Crucial M4 is very fast and has a small price and I didn’t like that my OCZ Vertex Max IOPS SSD required several firmware updates before it was stable so I’m moving to Crucial on this one. The downside with an SSD is that the cost per GB is very high so my storage, as I described above, will be assigned to a regular SATA HDD.

May 28 Update:
128GB is too small for an OS drive. I’m pretty good at not storing stuff on my C drive but I don’t like running my OS drive at 85% capacity, which is where it currently is. I’m going to move to 256 GB at some point and use the 128 GB SSDs on my Blackmagic Design Decklink Studio.

Coolermaster Haf X EATX full size tower case – $170
I’ve used Coolermaster cases for my last four builds and have been very happy with them. Full size video cards require much larger cases so I’ve selected a full size, or EATX, case in order to give me enough room in the case for proper airflow and so that it is easier to work around my massive video card. I selected this case for my Core i7 2600K system (pictured below) so now I will have a matching pair of these massive towers. I also like that this case has a pair of front USB 3.0 and a slider over the power button (although my two year old son has long ago defeated this small safety, it at least gives me a chance to catch him before he powers-down my computer).

Core i7 2600K video editing computer in Coolermaster Haf X EATX case

Intel RTS2011LC CPU Liquid Cooling System – $79
I almost forgot to order one of these. I’ve never bothered with after-market cooling, let alone liquid cooling, on my previous builds but my hex-core CPU doesn’t include a heat sink fan and this liquid cooling solution will give me the cooling I need, along with a bit of street cred that I have a liquid cooled system.

So watch this space for future Premiere Pro CS5.5 and CS6.0 benchmarks comparing this new build to my Core i7 2600K build.

If you have any questions, comments, or advice, please leave them in the comments section below.

Feb 13 update: My system is in. It runs extremely quiet, thanks to the liquid cooling. Unfortunately I’m sending it back to the shop for some more work as Windows 7 wasn’t installed in RAID mode as per my instructions and the video card keeps on crashing.

Feb 14 update: My system is ready for pick-up. It looks like my Blu-ray drive (the old one that I installed) had some issues as well, which prevented my from installing Windows 7 when I tried. No word on the video card stability at this point but I’ll be picking it up tomorrow morning.

Feb 24 update: It turns out the problem was not with my Blu-ray drive but with a driver problem which causes Windows to fail when installing while the motherboard in RAID mode on the BIOS. I replaced the board with the Asus P9X79 Pro motherboard that has the hardware RAID that I originally intended on using but was lacking from the base model.

February 28 update: For my first benchmark I took an AVCHD file from my Sony NEX-FS100, colour corrected it, and exported it as an H.264 video file. I exported both with GPU acceleration enabled and disabled (software only). I then compared the results to my 2600k system (specs below).

April 5 update: I thought I have everything stable back in February but there were a lot of little things that had me worried. Programs wouldn’t install properly, data would get corrupted, Internet Explorer kept crashing and Chrome would freeze. The video card was also freezing-up, mostly when I was outside of Premiere, but this wasn’t good either. So I changed the RAM and video card, as I describe above. I’m going to run the below tests again on both Premiere Pro CS5.5 and the Beta build of Premiere Pro CS6 that I now have access to. Unfortunately I won’t be able to share the CS6 results until NAB.

May 28 update:
My system is stable and running Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. I installed most of the components of the Adobe CS6 Master Collection – I skipped a few programs that I never use. Regrets: Not buying a larger SSD for my OS. I’ll be upgrading that soon. And not opting for a proper hardware RAID solution. I’ll be upgrading that as well soon.

Effect: “Fast Color Corrector”
Source Footage: AVCHD 24Mbps FX mode 1920 30P
Output: H.264 Baseline 4.2 1920×1080 30P 6 Mbps VBR 2 pass with 10Mbps Max and Stereo audio at 128 Kbps. Max Render Quality Enabled.
Hard Drives: RAID 0 array for footage and single SATA drive for export
Timeline length: 3 minutes

GPU Enabled Results:
3930k Build – GPU acceleration enabled: 3m31s
35 seconds per minute of footage per pass

2600k Build – GPU acceleration enabled: 4m21s
43.5 seconds per minute of footage per pass

3930K CPU ran between 75-85% of max, evenly on all twelve cores (6 primary and 6 hyperthread cores). 10-11GB of the 32GB of RAM was addressed. 26GB was available to be shared by Adobe CS5.5.
2600k CPU ran between 80-99% of max, evenly on all 8 cores (4 primary and 4 hyperthread cores). 7.75-7.9 GB of 16 GB of RAM was addressed. 12 GB was available to be shared by Adobe CS5.5.
Please note that with 2 pass VBR times will be double single pass times.

Conclusion: 3930k has an 18% advantage with GPU enabled. This is not as much of an advantage as I thought a system with 50% more cores, each with a higher clock speed and more available RAM per core would have, but it points to the GPU being the new bottleneck whereas the CPU on the quad core 2600k build once was (99% CPU utilization is the tell).

Software Only Results:
3930k Build – GPU acceleration enabled: 7m53s
79 seconds per minute of footage per pass

2600k Build – GPU acceleration enabled: 20m13s
202 seconds per minute of footage per pass

3930K CPU ran at 90% of max, evenly on all twelve cores (6 primary and 6 hyperthread cores). 13.5GB of the 32GB of RAM was addressed. 26GB was available to be shared by Adobe CS5.5.
2600k CPU ran between 35-40% of max, unevenly on all 8 cores (4 primary and 4 hyperthread cores). Some of the hyperthread cores showed no activity at times. 6.9 GB of 16 GB of RAM was addressed. 12 GB was available to be shared by Adobe CS5.5.

3930k has a 256% advantage in Software Only mode. The low CPU utilization and inactive-at-times hyperthread cores showed that there is a serious bottleneck in this build that only rears its ugly head when GPU acceleration is disabled. This is probably why I never noticed the bottleneck in the almost year since I build the 2600k system because I always enable GPU acceleration.

Discussion of Videoguys DIY8 Sandybridge build:
Videoguys updated their DIY8 build in the DIY9 article (the DIY8 is what I based my 2600k build on) and offer it as a lower cost built alternative to what they are calling their DIY9 Choice Build (they also list a “Hot Rod” build that is $1,200 more). At first glance the DIY8 build appears to be $850 less expensive than the 3930K DIY9 choice build but when you take a closer look at the components, it reveals that lower cost components were suggested. But if you wanted to isolate just the motherboard and CPU combo the price difference is just $394 different (exact pricing depends on the day of the week and fluctuating sales prices). Is the $395 premium worth it for an 18% performance boost for GPU acceleration? For my workflow it is, especially as the benefit increases for more stressing workflows.

The questions you need to ask yourself when deciding between these two builds are the following:
1) Do you need 32GB of RAM? This test didn’t utilize all of the 16GB of RAM on my 2600K build.
2) If you build the DIY8 system, you probably want to upgrade the CPU from the 2600K to the 2700K. The price difference is just $25 and you get an extra 100K! Just kidding – you get an extra 1 GHz of CPU power on each core.
3) Most importantly, regardless of which system you build, the most important component in an Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 (or 5.0 and likely 6.0) build is a supported NVIDIA CUDA card for GPU acceleration. I’ve selected the GTX570 card for its cost per CUDA core value over the slightly faster GTX580 and the much more expensive and possibly even slightly slower Quadro cards.

Shawn’s 2600K Build:
Here are the specs on the 2600K build that I compared to the 3930K build. If I had to rebuild it today I might change a few components so don’t take this is a recommendation of what I think you should build in a 2600K system. For that matter, I’m sharing the results of my 3930k build for information purposes only and I take no responsibility for any problems that you may run into in the future if you decide to build the same system as I have.

Intel Core i7 2600k CPU 4 core 3.4 GHz LGA 1155
Asus P8Z68 Deluze Motherboard
16 GB RAM – Corsair XMS3 4x4GB
PNY GeForce GTX 470 video card
LG Blu-ray Burner
Corsair TX850 Watt Power Supply (I wouldn’t choose this again because the cables are not modular)
2x2TB RAID 0 Video editing hard drives – Western Digital Black (Hardware RAID using ASUS Drive Xpert)
1x2TB storage hard drive – Western Digital Black
128GB SSD – OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS (which was initially very unstable but with firmware updates is now stable)

78 replies
  1. Bill says:

    You’ve chosen almost the identical components that I’ve picked for a new build. Makes me feel a lot smarter. Question: Is the RAM RipJaw X or Z?


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Bill. Good luck with your build. I chose the RipjawZ because the were designed for Sandy Bridge E or x79 motherboards. The “X” series is for the older z68 series motherboards.

  2. Tony P says:

    Thanks Shawn
    I have also gone with this build although I am a bit too nervous to use a liquid cooled system .
    I have read good and bad for liquid cooled.
    Biggest draw back for me is no one has the i7-3930k .
    Every time I get my auto notify from newegg , they are sold out by the time I get to their website.
    Is it worth the wait??
    Thanks again Shawn

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Tony. This will be my first liquid cooled system but if it is what Intel recommends, I’m fine with it. I was a bit surprised when they didn’t include a stock fan with the CPU and because the LGA2011 is so new there aren’t too many fans that will actually fit, so the Intel liquid cooled solution was an easy choice for me.

      Is it worth the wait? I sure hope so. I should receive my system tomorrow, or early next week, but I fully expect it to be much faster than my current build, a quad core i7 2600K.

      • Tony P says:

        Hi Shawn . Thanks for your reply. I am really looking forward to see the progress of your build. As it looks at the moment, I have plenty of time to wait for my i7-3930k ..

  3. Bill says:

    Thanks for the info, Shawn. I picked up the 3930 and the Crucial SSD today and my local MicroCenter ( is ordering the other pieces and will do the assembly. I’m only running Avid Studio (purchased in a blu-ray bundle from Videoguys) but I’ve got tons of home video to cut, plus audio stuff, so I wanted something really fast.

    Thanks, again.

  4. Clint says:

    Are their any recommendations you could suggest on this build around making the system very quiet and giving it a smaller footprint/case. Ie do I have to build it in a big case with large diameter fans in order to keep fan speed and noise low or could I fit everything including the video card in a smaller case without adding to a noise problem? THX

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Great questions. Let me try to answer but I’m going to preface my response with a disclaimer that I am not a cooling expert. You could use a slightly smaller ATX case, like the Cooler Master HAF 912, which will still allow the large NVIDIA video cards. Anything smaller would have to be considered on a (oh no, unintended pun time…) case by case basis.

      As far as cooling goes, a liquid cooling solution like the one I have in my specs above, replaces the traditional CPU fan but I don’t know yet if the new fan is quieter. You still have fans for the power supply and the case to cool the hard drives. Gold power supplies will run cooler because they are more efficient and if the PS fan is adjustable you can save a few db there. That leaves the case fan. The ones that came with my current Haf X case runs very quiet but will be replaced with a fan that forms part of the liquid cooling system. I was under the impression that the larger the fan, the quieter it runs because it doesn’t need to revolve as fast in order to deliver the same cooling power and a larger case will naturally run cooler than a smaller one because there is better air circulation.

  5. Jared W says:

    Hi from New Zealand Shawn. I’m collecting info for nearly an identical build based on DIY9 – hopefully videoguys has an update soon. Things I’ve chosen the same as you are: Case, MOBO, CPU, 32gb Ripjaws Ram (very sexy), Corsair PSU.

    What’s different to yours: I’m not going SSD yet – just 600GB 10,000rpm boot, 2x2tb raid0 media, 2x2tb raido export. PNY Quadro 4000 (more stable apparently?), Noctua NH-D14SE cooler (very quiet apparently?).

    Glad to hear your system runs quiet. How do you mean they installed in non-raid mode? (I’ll be installing IS myself) Looking forward to your updates…

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Jared. Thanks for sharing your location. You’re probably the first New Zealand videographer I have connected with. How come you don’t want to go SSD? They aren’t that expensive and should improve speed in many areas.

      I can’t really comment on the stability of Quadro vs GeForce but I know that Quadros run slower in Premiere Pro CS5.5 and cost more, which in my books, makes it a poor choice. The Noctua looks like a very nice cooler. My supplier doesn’t list that specific model so it didn’t even come across my radar until you mentioned it. I can say that the Intel liquid cooler that I selected, which was pretty much the only option presented to me for the new LGA2011, runs quieter than the stock case fan, so I’m happy with it.

      Windows 7 was installed in AHCI mode because the installer didn’t understand that I was going to RAID two of my HDDs. RAIDs require that the SATA mode in the BIOS be changed from AHCI (or IDE) to RAID prior to installing Windows so that the necessary drivers are installed and the system registry has the proper settings. Windows does have a fixer program and instructions to manually make the necessary changes. I tried both but ran into problems so decided to do a clean install. I then ran in to additional problems with a missing CD/DVD driver so decided not to waste my time and have my system builder figure out what to do. I dropped it off yesterday.

      • Jared W says:

        Hey Shawn, most of my decisions are based on reviews, VideoGuys advice and Adobe forums. A lot of what I read contridicts so it’s a matter of applying some common sense, and advice from my local supplier/builder.

        I have no experience with SSD’s and from what I have read, they give you quicker boot and load times, but won’t affect the speed of rendering or exporting in the slightest. If proven wrong, I can simply upgrade when SSD prices have come down a little in 12+ months time.

        There is tons of debate over Quadro vs GTX cards. VideoGuys prefer Quadro, the Adobe forums people prefer GTX. My local supplier told me that if I want stability go for Quadro4000, if I want *slightly* better performance but a bunch of compatibility and heating issues – go with GTX. It’s good that we are choosing different paths here – maybe we can run some real world comparisons when both our systems are up and running? If I do have problems with the Quadro, I think I can sell it on because they hold their value quite well and popular with Avid and CAD users… the GTX 6xxx line is due end of year and might provide a good alternative upgrade path. (Or at least drive GTX570 prices down a little).

        After seeing your latest picture of the cooler installed – I think you’ve convinced me to go with that over the HUGE Noctua air cooler. I didn’t realise the exhaust fan replaced an existing fan – it looks very elegant… and if you say it’s quiet, I think I’ll make that change.

        Did you use any of the hot-swap HDD bays? I’m thinking of making my boot drive hot swap so I can run 2 different OS flavours (ie: switch nicely between a production stable, and a development experimental) Multiple partitions are a no-no apparently.

        • Shawn Lam says:

          You might be right on the SSD, although I have not tested. Although I do value boot and load times and don’t find I need a larger boot drive than 128GB if I am careful not to save files there.

          There is a lot of debate over Quadro and GTX cards but surprisingly few direct comparisons for performance. I couldn’t find a single comparison the last time I checked and was pleasantly surprised when my tests revealed that GTX cards were indeed faster. I’d be happy to run some tests when everything is stable.

          I had no idea about the cooler either. I only saw the box when I made my decision to purchase it and only realized I needed to buy one when I went to my supplier and asked if NSF meant “No System Fan” and I would need an after-market cooling solution.

          I don’t use any of the hot-swap bays. I did try on my 2600K build in the same case but it the SATA connectors didn’t work and I gave-up quickly as I didn’t have a similar hot-swap bay in the i7 920 system that I just sold and I have no need for multiple OS flavours. I have used eSata for external back-ups but now prefer USB3.0 because it doesn’t slow the post/boot times

  6. Tj says:

    Please would you explain your decision to go with the NVIDIA GeForce 570 GTX DirectCU II over the Quadro Line,,,,

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Tj,
      It comes down to performance and cost. In my previous published tests, the slowest and oldest GeForce card, the GTX285, outperformed my Quadro Card, the FX4800. The difference can be attributed to number of CUDA cores. GeForce cards have way more CUDA cores than Quadro cards and cost a fraction of what an equivalent Quadro card does. I don’t buy the claim that the Quadros have a better build quality and that this will make a big difference. GeForce cards are punished by gamers who push these cards at 100% for hours on end and they stand up very well. My Quadro card used to crash on me at regular intervals and my old GeForce card never did. I’ve since sold both cards and now have a 470 and new 570 in my systems.

      If I had another go at this new system, I might consider “downgrading” the 570 GTX DirectCU II with the standard 570 because it frees-up one slot. I’m not sure how many I will end up needing but but will be adding a Blackmagic Design Decklink or Intensity card and suddenly this detail is a more important consideration.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Unfortunately not. I’m having issues setting up the RAID and getting the system to be stable. The problem is that you have to select RAID in the BIOS before you load Windows 7 but when you do so Windows, requires drivers that aren’t on the Windows 7 install DVD so you have to load them with a USB stick. My system builder got it up an running a few days ago but I wasn’t happy with the system stability and I can’t seem to get Windows to re-install on the fresh-formatted SSD.

      I now realize that I selected the wrong motherboard for my needs. As I indicated in my RAID section above, I don’t like using the Intel RAID set-up. The reason is that from experience, it makes the Windows install a challenge. I indicated that I was going to use the ASUS RAID controller on the motherboard, which is called Drive Xpert. Unfortunately ASUS did a poor job of documenting this feature and it turns out this RAID set-up is powered by the Marvel Controller, which is only included on the Asus P9X79 Pro and P9X79 Deluxe motherboard models. I was only able to confirm this from reading their individual manuals as ASUS doesn’t list this feature on the website.

      The advantage of using the Asus Drive Expert is that this can be done in ACHI mode, which doesn’t require special drivers to be loaded during Windows install. Drive Xpert limits you to only two hard drives in the RAID and only RAID 0 and RAID 1 options but a two disk RAID 0 is fast enough for the AVCHD and ProRes Footage that I’ll be using. If I needed faster RAID performance for uncompressed footage then I would use a 4 disk hardware RAID solution.

      So I’m taking my system back to the shop today and will swap the motherboard to the ASUS P9X79 Pro.

      • Jared W says:

        Oh bugga. Joys of early adoption huh?

        I wonder why VideoGuys are taking so long in getting a DIY9 up and running? It’s these issues with RAID setup, disk setup, cooling, overclocking etc that I’d love to know in advance – so much fine print to deal with… good luck, look forward to the updates. (PRO board lacks Firewire if you need it)

        • Shawn Lam says:

          Not sure why Videoguys haven’t started their build yet but maybe they are waiting for me 😉

          That was one of the things I liked about the basic board but at the end of the day I really don’t use Firewire anymore and would rather have a system that I can install a RAID on and reinstall Windows myself down the road if needed. I dropped-off my system yesterday and they agreed to change the board to the Asus P9X79 Pro for me. I’m not sure if they had one in stock or not but haven’t heard back but by the end of the week I want to get this system up and running.

          • Shawn Lam says:

            You may have noticed, btw, that Videoguys announced an update to their DIY9 system last week supporting the ASUS P9X79 Base motherboard. I contacted Gary over the weekend via Twitter and shared with him my experience trying to create a RAID on the base model and why I recommend the Pro model instead. He updated his recommendations on Monday and noted this:

            We are going with the Asus P9X79 Pro motherboard after getting some valuable feedback from one of our DIY followers. We’ll pay $50 more, but the added stability will be worth it. We may still need FireWire for capturing our older legacy DV & HDV footage, so we may end up adding a cheap FireWire card later.
            We’re going to go with an SSD boot drive even though it adds almost $200 to the cost of the build.
            I’m still thinking we may go for the full 32GB of RAM. I think we may be a penny wise and pound foolish going with just 16GB.
            We’re also going with a GTX570 to save costs, although for Avid you really want to go with a Quadro2000 or 4000.

            You may also notice that their Videoguys DIY9 Choice build is almost identical to mine – the only exception is the case and I haven’t installed a BD burner yet.

  7. Jared W says:

    Hey Shawn – good to hear you’ve got things progressing… I’ve changed my mind on the SSD and might switch my boot to a Crucial 128gb now too! How quiet would you describe things at the moment?

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Jared – I finally was able to run a few tests on the new P9X79 Pro motherboard this past Tuesday. My system is running smoothly, although every now and again I get a video driver crash. I think this is more related to the driver as this started happening on my other system when I updated the driver but it was stable on the older driver.

      I’m going to update the above post with my first few benchmark tests right now.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      I can’t remember exactly when Premiere Pro started to support ProRes but I think all you need to do is install Quicktime player in order to get ProRes support in Premiere Pro. I’ve tested in both CS5 and CS5.5 but nothing prior. Now I should be specific too, I can edit ProRes but I cannot export it.

      Check out this link from Karl Soule’s Adobe blog for instructions on how to add ProRes for export on Premiere Pro and Media Encoder, although I don’t think this would work on a Windows system:

      • Karl Soule says:

        You cannot output ProRes, or render to ProRes preview files on Windows, but you can definitely work directly with ProRes files in Premiere Pro. When you render final deliverables, just render direct to the files necessary (H.264, MPEG-2, Blu-Ray, etc.)

        It’s up to Apple to release a Windows codec, and they have not chosen to do so at this time.

  8. Clint says:

    I bought a 240 GB SSD and 3x1TB WD blacks. I was considering using the SSD cache on one of the WD blacks, calling that the drive for the operating system and programs and then running a raid 0 on the other two for data. I am using the ASUS x79 pro. Would you anticipate any problems in setting the computer up this way? THX

    • Clint says:

      I think I answered my own question. It is redundant to use the MB’s SSD caching because the SSD in this case is large enough for operating system and programs by itself. This leaves 3x1TB drives. Two of which will be RAID O for date, and the third drive will be a scratch disk. The ASUS P9X79 pro has the two 6gb/s Marvell raid connections and two 6gb/s intel raid connectors. Could you tell me where the RAID O data drives should be connected and where the SSD operting drive should be connected? Thx

      • Clint says:

        Again, answered my own question. I hope this helps someone else a little new to this like myself. The SSD (operating system & program) disk need to be hooked up to the INTEL connections on the motherboard because it will only boot from HD’s connected on that side. The raid 0 data drives would then be connected to the MARVEL connections. Thx

      • Jared W says:

        Hi Clint – I think what you’ve described is the correct way. Marvel is a hardware controlled RAID and preferable over the Intel software controller.

        I’m pretty much set to start assembling a similar system to Shawn – I think the only difference being a Quadro 4000 graphics card.

        I found this very good article on optimzing the SSD which I think I’ll follow:

        • Shawn Lam says:

          Thanks Jared – that sounds right. RAID on Marvel and OS SSD on Intel.
          I agree that you don’t need SSD caching as well. Some would argue that an SSD won’t improve video edit speed but it will allow your computer and programs to boot faster, which is worth it for me – I hate waiting…

          Jared – let me know how you do with the Quadro 4000. Just be prepared that your times will be slower than mine, despite paying more for the 4000, because it is a slower card (fewer CUDA cores).

          • Jared W says:

            Hi Shawn. Hopefully the reports of more stable drivers with Quadro is true. I’m happy to trade a little bit of speed for a rock stable system. Having system crashes while editing with clients is really embarrassing.

            3 questions… (1) Do you think the 850w PSU is sufficient… I have a 1200w PSU in mind, but maybe I don’t need that much? (2) How quiet would you describe the system as running? (Fan noise, HDD’s etc) (3) Do you have Magic Bullet Looks? The main reason I’m upgrading is so that I can layer and playback AVCHD footage with 1 layer of Magic Bullet Looks applied and be able to playback smoothly without rendering first. Would I have a problem doing this?

            • Shawn Lam says:

              1 – I hope 850w is enough and haven’t found anything to the contrary but if you are putting in more HDDs or components then more power doesn’t hurt. 1200 is probably overkill but 1000 should give you some peace of mind.

              2 – The system is quieter than my 2600k system with the same case because the Intel liquid cooling solution is quieter that the stock fan. Can’t say that I can hear the HDDs at all.

              3 – I don’t have Magic Bullet Looks. I don’t believe MBL is GPU accelerated so it will be much slower than using a GPU accelerated effect but otherwise I can’t comment on how smooth it will playback.

              • David Ruby says:

                Hello. Did you have any frame drops on playback with your 2600 machine? I am building a puter with the dyi 8 system from Vidguys. Looking to upgrade the cpu or mobo though. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Also you are running a raid for media and a single drive for storage and renders correct? No moving of cache etc?
                Thank you

                • Shawn Lam says:

                  I think if you compare prices from DIY 8 and DIY 9, you will find they are very similar. So go DIY9 if you can. If you look closely at their parts list you will notice that they chose less expensive and slower components for the DIY8 but the mobo/CPU combo are not much different and those will make a bigger difference and give you more upgrade options looking forward. I did not notice any dropped frames with my 2600K and GPU acceleration enabled. RAID for media, single drive for export, cache on RAID.

      • Clint says:

        Hi, I followed most of Sean’s (Author fixed typo) Shawn’s directions. one update is: Currently with Windows 7 SP1, you don’t need to “Configure drive using an UEFI motherboard and GPT format”. Windows 7 will do it automatically and I believe correctly. I spent many hours trying to configure a GPT until I found a blog indicating it was automatic, and it was. (You just choose “NEW”, “something like partition”, then straight into install)

        • Shawn Lam says:

          That makes sense, Clint. I was going to say something a bit earlier about Jared’s link but I didn’t get a chance over the weekend to see if there was anything additional that could be done for a Window 7 install on SSD. But if you ever want to clone a regular SATA HDD with an OS and copy it to a SSD, don’t do it. A fresh install makes sure all the settings are set properly for an SSD, like trim, that would otherwise not be set on a SATA HDD install.

  9. Michael Hunt says:

    I was having a hard enough time finding i3930k CPUs in stock, but I really can’t find the i9390k anywhere except in your first picture. Tell me, how did you find that? And where can I get one? Would you say I’ll get similar performance with the i3930k, or should I wait until I can find an i9390k? 🙂

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Michael – looks like you found a type of mine. My computer build is the 3930K. I thought I actually fixed that a few days ago but it turns out I did make a change but typed it in incorrectly a 2nd time. Sorry for the confusion.

      If you want an extra 0.1 GHz performance, you can pay $1,000 for the Core i7 Extreme 3960X. I also hear that there are plans for a Core i7 Extreme 3980X, which will add an extra 0.1 Ghz per core.

  10. Darin says:

    Great post here Shawn! I’m in the process of building my next editing machine and your build is pretty much just like what I put together so far (on paper). My main hang up at the moment is the lack of a clear choice in motherboards. It seems like all the x79 boards are getting less than stellar reviews. I wonder if the LGA2011 is just not mature enough. I’m constantly looking for people posting info on working/stable 3930k systems but the pickens are pretty slim at the moment. I really appreciate the time you took to put this info out for us to see. Keep us updated!

  11. Annie says:

    Hi Shawn, I am building a Hackintosh which will also be used for video editing of HD footage. I am looking for one piece of advice. My quote from NCIX is coming in around $2000 and I have an extra $500 that I could add.

    On my current list is:
    Antec P280 XL-ATX Tower Case
    Corsair Professional Series HX1050 1050W Power Supply
    Intel Core i7 3820 Quad Core 10MB 3.6GHZ Hyperthreading LGA2011 Processor
    Intel 520 Series 120GB 2.5IN SSD MLC 25nm SATA3 Solid State Disk Drive
    EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Fermi 732MHZ 1280MB GDDR5
    16GB Corsair CMZ16GX3M4X2133C11R Vengeance Red DDR3-2133
    Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 64MB SATA 6Gbps 3.5IN Internal Hard Drive

    My question is, should I spend the extra $$ on the 6 core processor, more RAM, a better or a second video card, or a Raid setup? Do you know which would give the most bang for the buck in terms of editing with Premiere Pro?

    Great blog by the way 🙂


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Annie,
      Great questions – My thoughts are that a RAID set-up and the Pro version of the P9X79 motherboard (which supports a 2 disk RAID array) are the most important and then a hex-core processor.

      Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 can only support one graphics card but I’m not sure is Premiere Pro CS6 will support wither multiple GPUs or the new GTX680 video card.

  12. John Shaw says:


    Thanks for posting this up – I found a link on the VideoGuys website, and I’ve found your article really useful. I’m currently using a MacBook pro to do After Effects / FCP / PhotoShop and Illustrator work, but I need to get something more powerful (I’m on a 15″ i7 with 8GB RAM) particularly as the After Effects performance is very sluggish when doing anything beyond basic.

    Do you have any idea how your suggested build above would handle After Effects and Photoshop? Also if I may ask, do you have any recommendations for good monitors that aren’t too expensive? Ideally I’d like 2 x 24″ monitors (my other problem with my MacBook pro is lack of real estate) but I find the choice bewildering and would welcome any views you may have. I’m fairly new to customising my own PC having not built my own for about 10 years and moved to Mac in the meantime – as I can’t afford a Mac pro though and I find the iMacs lack upgradability it feels like the right time to go back to the PC.

    All the best from the UK,


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi John,
      I don’t think you are the only Mac user who is questioning the wisdom of sticking Mac for AE/PS/IL work. My above build would be great for After Effects and Photoshop. Photoshop CS6 is supposed to offer the same GPU support that Premiere Pro already has but I have not looked into which cards are supported, although I can’t see the list being much different that the Premiere supported CUDA cards.

      I don’t have any recommendations for monitors at this point as I have not evaluated enough high-end monitors myself. On one of my systems I use an Asus ML249 monitor as primary and a 720P Sony HDTV as my 2nd monitor. On the other editing system I use two Asus ML249 monitors.


    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hey Jared – good timing for your question. Apparently not so stable. I updated this post with my latest round of changes, including the RAM and Videocard. I think (hope) this will do it.

  13. Steve Garman says:

    Shawn, Really appreciate your posting here. When your system is up and running (the new one) I would appreciate knowing your “Windows Experience” Scoring for all facets of your machine. You know it’s the one you get when you go to “computers” “properties” you get an overall score and then can break it down further into 5 or 6 categories. I’d love to know what these numbers are for your running i7 3930 setup. Thanks!

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Steve – thanks for the feedback and question.
      My Windows experience score is 7.8 out of 7.9. All the scores are 7.9, with the exception of the processor, which is the “weak link” at “only” 7.8. For the record, I don’t find the Window experience score too relevant for faster systems and the only thing holding me back from a 7.9 (and what kind of scale goes from 0-7.9 anyways) is that I haven’t overclocked my CPU and the 7.9 is reserved for the 3960x.

  14. wsmith says:

    Hi Shawn,

    I most curious to know about your performance results with multicam editing if you do any. I’ve just heard that CS6 will now offer unlimited camera sources. (Of course the number of cams depends on the horse power of one’s system.)

    Late last year I built a new CS5.5/MXO2 Mini w/Max system: Asus Sabertooth x58 MOBO, i7 980 hexcore, 24 GB Corsair (not fastest but stable), GTX470.

    I get some heat issues that are solved by taking side off case (latest Noctua fan). I can deal with that for now but my multicam of just 3 cams (HMC150 AVCHD native) is not what I’d hoped for. Works but not smooth.

    Do you ever do multicam editing? To me this is now the test and smooth multicam of 3 or 4 cameras the benchmark I need to aspire to.

    I’m interested in hearing any insights on this you have to share.


    • Shawn Lam says:

      CS5.5 didn’t support GPU acceleration on the MX02 Mini output so you were using software only in that mode. CS6 will support GPU on external devices. Adobe calls this Mercury Transmit and this should improve multicam output with a MX02 Mini. My multicam support has been satisfactory but it is not as smooth as I would like it to be all the time. I’ll review Premiere Pro CS6 multicam at some point in May.

  15. Clint says:

    Hi, I also ran into a lot of stability problems. I changed out MB, RMA’s Patriot Wildfire SSD 240 gb, and reinstalled countless times. After I got the Patriot Wildfire back all seemed to be fine until I ran the firmware update. instability and crashes followed, the video was jittery and would do some automatic recovery (screen would go black then redisplay). Crashes were predictable on the random write test (crystal & passmark). So in my frustration I bought an intel 520, 240 GB SSD. Since installing it the system has worked fine. If you don’t mind my two cents from this experience, I’d suspect the SSD if your having trouble.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Clint. I’m feeling things are stable after my most recent RAM change. For the record I’ve now changed the mobo, RAM, SSD, and video card. By my count that is pretty much everything, except for the CPU… I’m going to start loading things back on the system now but first I’m going to update the firmware as Asus released an update 4 days ago:
      P9X79 PRO BIOS 1104
      1.Improve Improve system stability.
      2.Enhance compatibility with some USB devices.

  16. Jared W says:

    Hey man – hope you are well. Just ordered mine. Should be here in 2 weeks.

    Coolermaster HAF X Full Tower
    Asus P9X79 PRO
    CORSAIR 850W Gold Plus Certified
    PNY nVidia Quadro 4000
    32GB G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 1866 (PC3 14900)
    Intel CPU Liquid Cooling System
    Crucial M4 128GB SSD
    2x 2TB WD Cavier Black’s on RAID0 (DATA)
    1x 2TB WD Cavier Black (EXPORT)

  17. Jordy says:

    Thanks for this amazing guide Shawn. As many Mac users I’m also considering to make a Windows machine since the professional line is being pushed in a little corner at Apple’s. I’m waiting for the WWDC ’12 and then I’ll make my choice. But I don’t think Windows shall be so bad, I’m just a little concerned about the stability, where I did have that trust with a Mac Pro. Is your build still doing fine and would you highly recommend it for professional business use?

  18. Ramin M says:

    I just came across this blog and I admit it was a nice read. I also noticed your raid troubles. I wonder why you don’t use a raid card instead of the onboard raid controller? It’s not that expensive; it generally has a better better performance and, it is also generally much more trouble-free. For example, I acquired a lightly used LSI 9221-4i off ebay for $100 to which I connected two crucial M4 128gb in raid 0 configuration. There is no need for a driver or whatsoever. Windows sees them a single 256gb drive. When I had them connected to the onboard Marvel controller, Windows 7 had not detected them at all and I had to go through the complication of the driver installation in the middle of Windows installation. Moreover, the onboard Marvel controller cannot not fully utilize to speed potential of a multiple hdd’s in raid zero since according to others, its bandwidth easily gets over-saturated.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Ramin. I came to the realization that the Marvel controller is actually slower than a single SATA drive configuration so will take your advice and implement a proper hardware RAID solution for my video editing drives.

  19. Jordy says:

    Hey Shawn,

    I hope you don’t mind that I post again. I made up my mind and I’m going for the windows system. I’ve ordered Adobe CS6 for Windows and made up a hardware list:

    CPU: Intel Core i7 3930K (459149) – €530,18
    COOLING CPU: Intel Liquid Cooling Solution (463104) – €80,91
    MOTHERBOARD: Asus P9X79 PRO (459329) – €275,90
    MEMORY: Kingston HyperX 1600Mhz 4X4GB (255655) – €103,35
    GPU: eVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD (432480) – € 315,14
    SSD: 256 GB Crucial M4 Solid State Drive (403637) – € 213,61
    HDD RAID-600: WD Caviar Black 2TB (363252) – € 173,62
    HDD RAID-600: WD Caviar Black 2TB (363252) – € 173,62
    HDD RAID-300: Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (262640) – € 297,32
    HDD RAID-300: Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (262640) – € 297,32
    CASE: Coolermaster Haf X (279720) – € 135,96
    POWER: Corsair Professional Series Gold AX850 (282017) – € 179,93
    DVD: Samsung SH-222BB (477517) – € 16,18
    KEYBOARD: Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360 (423610) – € 24,95
    MONITOR REF: ASUS PA246Q 24” (433607) – € 416,08
    MONITOR GUI: BenQ G2450HM 24” (477528) – € 151,28
    OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64bit (394665) – € 131,86
    Total: € 3.517,21 inc. Tax

    The numbers behind each component is the article number from (for the belgian and dutch people). I think I’m going a into the mist with my RAID setup. I’d like to have some storage internal, so that’s why I have so much hard disks. Now I read a lot that it’s important how many disks you have, the speeds combination etc.

    Second question Ih ave is about the GPU. I wanna hang 2 monitors on it. One reference monitor and one cheap work monitor. Can the card handle two monitors? Or should I also add a cheap GPU for my work monitor?

    Again, thanks for this amazing blog post!

    • George Sei says:

      Funny the cost of the estimates is almost the in Canada. The only difference is that it is in Canadian dollars and that ram will be 24gb. So things are expensive there

      • Shawn Lam says:

        Not sure where you are located, George, but the Canadian dollar is pretty much at par with the USD right now. Also the CDN and USD prices of computer parts are very similar.

  20. Michael I. says:

    Hey, Shawn…

    Your post has been incredibly helpful–thanks for putting it up and answering all the questions. I’m about to do my first-ever self-build. It doesn’t have to be absolutely top-end, but I DO want to be able to work effectively with Premiere Pro CS6. (My goal is to produce a short documentary.)

    It looks to me like you started your build before the “third generation/Ivy Bridge” Intel processors hit the market. I’m wondering if you would change CPU/MOBO now that they’ve been released. Specifically, I’m looking at something like the i7 3770K processor paired with an ASUS p8Z77-V MOBO–which supports Thunderbolt. I’m then thinking of maxing out on RAM (32GB). I’m torn about video–Quadro or something from the GeForce GTX series.

    Your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Thanks Michael – sorry for the delay in responding but June was extremely busy for me. I don’t think I would change anything and especially building a third generation Ivy Bridge system. My hexa-core Sandy Bridge system is way faster and isn’t that much more expensive. But you have to understand that I was replacing an Core i7 920 system that was working very nicely so any upgrade would have to be substantial. I’m no expert on bottle-necks but I was led to believe that the Ivy Bridge motherboards had one that limited video editing performance. This is why Videoguys wouldn’t recommend an i7 2600K build and only offered specs as a lower price alternative to their DIY9 that is similar to my build because the DIY8 build was old and hard to get parts for.

      Thunderbolt is exciting but I decided this time around to pass on trying to build a system to support it as I don’t have a single piece of hardware that supports it and I don’t feel I need it with my AVCHD 24 Mbps workflow from the Sony NEX-FS100. If I was a MacBook Pro user then I would consider it but I’ll take a faster computer over a connection that I can’t really use right now.

      As for video cards I thought I discussed my reasons for preferring the GeForce GTX series over the Quadro cards. It comes down to price and performance. Usually the most expensive option has better performance but in this case the less expensive GeForce cards also have a performance benefit over the Quadro cards in my workflow the last time I tested and from what I have read of other users’ experiences.

      I don’t know if you need 32GB of RAM. It isn’t that expensive anyways but I don’t think I’ve ever addressed 16 GB of RAM at any point, although I don’t typically use After Effects which would benefit from more RAM, nor do I use effects that aren’t GPU accelerated. Your mileage may vary.

  21. andy prada says:

    Shawn, I would be very interested to hear what performance (or not) you have from the combination of X79 motherboard and your Decklink Studio card. I know there were plenty of issues with the X58 boards not interfacing with single lane PCIe cards – I myself got rid of an Intensity card because of it and never replaced it.

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Andy,
      My Decklink Studio card is performing as expected on my above build. I haven’t really pushed it for uncompressed recording but have recorded for a few hours using compressed codecs and haven’t had any issues.

  22. Thomas says:

    Hi Shawn, thanks for this detailed writeup, it’s always fun to have a shiny new PC, isn’t it? (except for the teething problems of course)

    I have a question which I hope you can answer, I have an older setup which I use for video editing, similar to your previous 2600K-based one. But, I have a non-CUDA video card. So, I am also looking into the Matrox MX02 Max line of hardware accelerators, as I am doing more and more 1080p H.264 encoding. Do you think it would be more worthwhile to go for a high-spec GeForce video card, or the MX02 Mini Max? And, if I were able to get both, would they both work together to further accelerate the encoding?


  23. Richard Malzahn says:

    Hi Shawn,
    I built essentially the same system that you did, based on the videoguys DIY9. I used the GTX670 from EVGA and the GSkill 32 GB RAM kit. What I found out when I used anything over 16 GB was that the system became very unstable, siting video driver issues and all sorts of weird error messages. After doing a bit of research I found that anything exceeding 16 GB of RAM requires you to enable the XMP profile in the system bios. After doing that the 32 GB of RAM worked (and continues to work) flawlessly. Thanks for your build notes. Really helpful in a lot of ways.

  24. Mark says:

    A great post for those of us building PC video editing stations. It’s really wonderful to find direct and detailed discussion on the subject. Many sites include video edit builds as a second thought to game machines. While we can learn from game machine builds they are not the same thing for the pro video editor. Your build experience was an invaluable tool to follow for our own upgrades and decisions. Thank you – to everyone who shared.

  25. Kate Raisz says:

    Hello Shawn:
    We’re switch from FCP to Adobe Creative Cloud. Do you think your specs still are good 6 months later? Or are there other components you would pick now?
    Thanks for your advice,
    Kate Raisz

    • Shawn Lam says:

      Hi Kate,
      Great question. I actually just finished a round of changes that I had planned for a few months but only just go around to doing. I also just build a new webcast encoder so was in the right frame of mind and swapped a few parts from the old to the new.

      I don’t think you will get much better that my system unless you go with a dual CPU solution but that is completely overkill. The two things that I changed from the original build are that I increased the size of the operating system SSD from 128GB to 256GB and I replaced the motherboard on-board two drive RAID with a hardware four drive RAID. I chose the Adaptec 6405e, which is pretty much the entry-level for true hardware RAIDs. The Adaptec 6405 has more RAID options and more memory so could potentially be faster but I’m getting 380MBps read and write speeds on my RAID 0 array, which is more than I need right now. I chose Western Digital Red drived (4x2TB) because they support Time-Limited Error Recovery (TLER), which is important for RAIDs not to degrade. They are a bit slower than WD Black HDDs on their own but in a RAID they are ideal and way less expensive than enterprise class drives.

      Other than that I updated my BIOS and got the USB3.0 speeds working faster with a combination of three different drivers, including the SansDigital USB3.0 Turbo Mode (I use a SansDigital RAID tower as my external back-up). Read/Writes times improved over USB 3.0 from 150/170 to 215/225MBps.

      If I was to start again I would probably re-try the faster RAM that I originally had as I’m sure the issue I was having would have been solved by the updated BIOS and I think one of the comments in this thread offered a solution. But I think the differences would be very minor so I’m not going to bother spend over $100 on something I doubt I would notice just to say I’m closer to a theoretical maximum.

      • Andrew Chae says:


        I have been following this blog for over a year now and am now launching my own HD video production business in Irvine, CA. On the topic of RAID, I am considering either the Adaptec or the Highpoint below to RAID[0] 4x128GB SSDs and 3x2TB WD Red drives.

        RAID: Highpoint 2720SGL vs. Adaptec 6405e

        I am thinking of using raid on 4xSSDs because of the reviews I have read about the Highpoint v1.5 firmware configured in Raid 0 for maximum read/write and I would get 500GB SSD as my main boot drive. Thoughts?

        • Shawn Lam says:

          Goo luck with your video business launch. The first thing you need to look at is how much speed to you need? Unless you are working wit Raw or a high bitrate codec, you may not need SSD speed.

  26. Aditi Sharma says:

    Sir, Your knowledge on hardware is really amazing and commendable. I am from India and into graphic designing and looking for a laptop for Graphic designing/Photo editing. The software i would be using are latest version of adobe Photoshop, Coreldraw, Flash, Illustrator etc.
    1) I am confused regarding the display quality of laptops as they generally doesn’t give TRUE COLOR performance.
    2) Can you please suggest me a good laptop with at-least 15.6″ display/ USB 3.0 support/ 500 GB or above HDD 7200 rpm 32 cache/8GB DDR3 1600 Mhz expandable to at-least 16 GB/ 15.6″ or higher TRUE COLOR display.
    3) Please also suggest if I should go for wide screen (16:9) or (4:3) display.

  27. damien says:

    hi shawn i am an editor but on a super tight budget i would like my system to cost 1000us i have a system in mind but need advice i am torn between going lga 2011 or lga 1155 i have been getting jobs and the footage is mostly achvid 1920 x 1080 24p

    here is what i put together it came over my budget but would like some honest advice thanks

    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case Item #: N82E16811129066

    3 Western Digital WD Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ Internal Hard Drive -BareDrive Item #: N82E16822136533
    one system drive the other 2 for storage etc

    PNY VCGGTX660XPB GeForce GTX 660 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card Item #: N82E16814133470

    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power … Item #: N82E16817139021

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9Q-16GBZL Item #: N82E16820231497

    ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131801

    Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73820
    Item #: N82E16819115229

    Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 140mm and 120mm SSO CPU Cooler
    Item #: N82E16835608024

    LITE-ON Black 12X Blu-ray Burner with Blu Ray 3D Feature SATA IHBS112-04 – OEM
    Item #: N82E16827106369

    this system comes to $1587.00 us

    any suggestions would be welcomed thank you

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