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New Computer Build Part 1

Post ProductionPosted by Benedict Mart Wed, January 20, 2016 15:07:57
It's been afew years since my last computer purchase, a Sony vaio laptop, which has done me for basic HD work on the fly and has been a really solid machine over the years. With the progression from HD to 4k over the last a couple of years and a whole load of new components, alongside the advancement in programs, it's time for me to build my next little workstation.

So here's an outline of what I require from the workstation...

Be able to mange 4k and VR workflow with Adobe After Effects, Davinci Resolve 3d model programs.
Semi portable from edit suite to studio(DIT CART) to events.
To be able to connect to old and new AV devices
Very fast connection speed for transferring 4k data - thunderbolt 3

To start with I began researching into what programs run best on which specs and types of CPU, Ram and Graphic cards.

After abit of research into Abode After Effects (cc 2015) and time using it over 10 years both After Effects and Premiere love the RAM...more the better - it's recommended to have minimal 8gb but know some editors to have 64gb for these applications. I was especially interested in how it works with the CPU, I came across this really interesting article testing CPU's with After Effects by Matt Bach of Puget Sound Systems...

The tests conclude '....if you need to use AE 2015 (13.5), it is clear that dual CPU systems are a bad choice After Effects 2015. However, a single CPU with a relatively high core count should show decent performance gains. To summarize the results of our testing, here is the parallel efficiency we saw with only a single CPU for each project (since you would never actually want a dual CPU...'

So basically for A.E. it suggests a single CPU with a high core count...with this being the best in class Intel Xeon E5-1680 V3 3.2GHz Eight Core 20MB 140W .

Later this year Intel are releasing the Broadwell-E chip with the range of cores from 6,8,10 that includes hyperthreading to a possible 20 cores, in effect! The article below discusses the new processor....

Blackmagic Davinci Resolve software is the premium colour grading software out there used by high end post houses have recently started to give give this away free in the form of a "Lite" version which also has new editing capabilities. The timeline reminds me more of Imovie X than Premiere. I think the free version is a kick in the teeth to all the subscription based programs out there presently. Good call Blackmagic! Anyway before I rant on about that, back to Davinci Resolve spec requirements...basically its a GPU monster so need a decent Graphics card with alot of users stating 4gb(scraping the barrel)-12gb(top of the barrel) GPU to run 4k smoothly with alot of nodes. The Lite version only supports 1 graphics card, so to have multiple cards you need to purchase the Studio version. Along with that if you have a smaller GPU on one card it will base it on that GPU so you'll waste the Bigger Graphic Card GPU as it splits the workload between them. The end game will be to purchase a Nvidia Titan X 12gb GPU with a blackmagic 10bit output card.

For 3d modeling programs such as Blender and Cinema4d both are the graphics card hungry that take advantage of Nvidia's Cuda cores (more the better) and other specific API's such as ShaderModel, OpenCL, Open GL and Direct X. So higher GPU and alot of Cuda Cores will help out alot esp render times. Also the programs aren't tied down to one Graphics card and will happily use as many as you have PCI slots.

The mother board is a major consideration as I need usb type c for the VR camera, including thunderbolt 3 as I want my next wave of external devices to be compatible. Currently the only motherboards I've found with these are Intel's Z170 range by Gigabyte and Asus that use the 1151 size processor - 6th generation Intel® Core™ i7-6700K and i5-6600K, both of which have 4 cores with the i7 enabled for hyper threading extending it to a 8 core chip.

So it's either getting a motherboard with more cores and no thunderbolt 3 connection or a motherboard with less cores and thunderbolt 3 connection. Well from the article above the data sheets reflect that After Effects seems to flatline around 10 cores. Blackmagic Davinci Resolve also uses the GUI rather than the CPU so I don't need a multi core monster by any means. To date there isn't many thunderbolt 3 devices but there will be an avalanche of products coming this year and I want to have that compatibility. I need to have ATX size motherboard for my requirements.

As your aware computers come in all sizes from the mirco(uber portable) to the workstations(tower blocks:-). Here are some of form factors of cases...
The cases above are a basic sample and show that they are not intended to be transported there are models that have handles but are only for the mini and micro motherboards. Alongside the cases above there are the rack mounted cases to be considered...
So stick one of these in a flight case and we'll have a portable computer, that's easy to carry and above all safe.

Housed in a shockproof flight case, these can be stacked with other cases to build a modular edit system for example a monitor flight case that includes waveform and a preview monitors ideal for the DIT Cart.

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