I’m building a desktop system for general purpose usage at very low noise & also video editing.
Below is my proposed spec and I’d grateful for any critique that might point out some flaws or oversights.
Case Antec SLK3700BQE
CPU AMD Athlon XP-M Barton 2500
Motherboard Abit NF7-S or AN7
RAM Twinmos PC3200 2.5, 2 * 512 MB
Drive 1 Samsung SP1614C, SATA 150, 8 MB cache, 7,200 rpm, 160 GB
Drive 2 as above
Optical drive NEC ND-2510A, 8X Dual format, Dual Layer
Heatsink/Fan Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu
VGA Gigabyte , GV-N52128D, FX5200, dual monitor, DVI & D-SUB, TV-OUT, 128 MB
Monitor 1 Samsung 17” TFT, 710T, 1280 * 1024, DVI & D-SUB.
Monitor 2 15” TFT
The rational behind choosing the AMD socket A platform is that it is very mature, stable, inexpensive & it allows me to buy a new unlocked processor. My other choice is Athlon 64 on Socket 754. I have reservations due to its current lack of value for money and its relative immaturity.
The two advantages I see with Athlon 64 are:
1. It potentially promises a 20% performance increase in the future, as the higher clocked chips become more affordable. If I were buying now it would only be a 2800+ with 512 cache, which is probably not even going to beat the XP-M, which I can overclock while keeping the rest of the system within spec easily enough.
2. Future 64 bit performance in Video Editing, which is a big unknown and would require more software expenditure down the line.
OK, I just talked myself out of the Athlon 64 as I’m only looking in terms of the next 6 months, so I’ve pretty much made up my mind on that.
The Abit AN7 is more appealing on paper due to being more fully featured than the NF7-S. I have questions over its stability and overclockablity, which I need to research further. My take on overclocking is that I usually only overclock the CPU where I can do so whilst keeping the rest of the system strictly within spec.
The RAM is branded Twinmos PC3200 2,5 CL, which seems fine to me unless I have a change of heart and decide to bump the FSB above 200. In this case I guess I’d need PC3500 or similar?
My only question with the disk drives is whether its worth considering using RAID 0 or 1, rather than simply using a separate drive for video capture? I’m not clear enough in understanding the process of video editing to know which is more pertinent. For rendering I’m assuming that 2 discrete drives would be a big advantage, if the source and destination files are on separate discs.
I’ve specified a low-end video processor as I’m not aware of video editing software taking advantage of GPU power. Is this correct or should I look for a card with faster RAM or GPU? I specified the Gigabyte as it has dual monitor support and TV-OUT and they are a respected brand. Most of these cards use a fan, which seems excessive for their low spec. I’m hoping that it will be okay to use without a fan, as I’ve seen in the past GPU’s of this class that only use a heatsink.
The Zalman heatsink/fan combo is for low noise usage. It seems a good value option where I live, and has been well reviewed.
The Samsung drives are an easy choice for their combination of performance, low noise and 3 year warranty.
The NEC DVD burner seems a no brainer as it offers 8x burning in both formats, as well as dual layer +R at 2.4x I think.
Both the Abits come with Firewire on board.
The main monitor is a difficult choice. I’ve specified a Samsung provisionally but I need to look at this in more detail as I am not clear what makes a good TFT for video editing! The same with the 2nd TFT, but to a lesser degree. I have a Philips TV for monitoring via the TV Out assuming that is possible!
I plan on trying out software that allows you to dynamically alter the CPU multiplier and voltage from within Windows. www.hasw.net/8rdavcore
This way I can keep things low power and quieter in everyday usage and bump up the horsepower without a reboot. Likewise I will be using Speedfan, to control the fan speeds surprisingly, also automatically.
My choice of video editing software will come later. First I need a machine to look at the demo versions on.
Any thoughts on the above?