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 Post subject: Critique requested for quiet system spec'd for video editing
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:28 pm 
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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?

Love

Smiling Crow


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 7:46 pm 
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VGA Gigabyte , GV-N52128D, FX5200, dual monitor, DVI & D-SUB, TV-OUT, 128 MB

Thats a rather low end card.

Look at a raedon 9600xt or for a few bucks more a 9800 pro. Pair with a Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer.

Need a power supply as well. Look at recommended component list.

kogi

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2004 11:56 pm 
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Hi,

Do I gain anything with a faster GPU in video editing?

I just looked at the Asus 9600XT which has a thermally controlled fan which appeals.

I also just checked out the Matox P650 which is passively cooled and this company has a good reputation for image quality. The next model up the P750 is triple head.

The Antec case comes with a decent Antec power supply.

Love

Smiling Crow


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 12:21 am 
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smilingcrow wrote:
Hi,
Do I gain anything with a faster GPU in video editing?


Most probably not.
The 5200 most probably will suit you just fine.
I'm just concerned about picture quality, refresh rates of entry level cards.

kogi

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 12:55 am 
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I don't want to turn this into another "what's the best CPU" thread, but if you're interested in video editing, wouldn't you be better off taking the Pentium route? IIRC, this is one particular area where it still completely outshines the A64, let alone any XP you care to mention...

I don't have any links to benchmarks at hand, but if you google for them I think you'll find that most reviews come to the same conclusion, regardless of AMD's advantages in other areas... :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 1:47 am 
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hi

sounds great i agree with everything in your first post. and i disagree with the other recommendations here. radeon 9800 pro cost a $h*tload of money, don't bother. this is the "money is no object" hardcore gamer's card! (EDIT: also might be harder to cool quietly)

if you are doing 2D video stuff, you won't get speed advantages by paying for a high end video card (they are 3D accelerators). since you wanted an LCD, you don't really have to worry about refresh rates and high resolutions either. that card should be fine, even something lower like a MX440 would probably even do fine.

socket A is also the best choice. i don't believe a pentium "completely outshines" any athlon. even if they do outperform, no pentium you get at the moment will beat your price to performance ratio of the bartons. as for the ram, don't worry about pc3500 - if you get a 333 fsb barton then use ddr333 ram. if you get 400 fsb get pc3200 etc

i was going to suggest getting one of the new 400 gb seagates instead of two smaller hard drives.. (1 drive and 3 platters spinning around in there instead of 4) this would be less noise. but you are correct about source and target being on different disks, so probably this is better (but i would still get seagates tho). you are clearly not aiming to build a silent pc so the increased hard drive noise would be negligible difference.

good luck


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 2:49 am 
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wim wrote:
socket A is also the best choice. i don't believe a pentium "completely outshines" any athlon. even if they do outperform, no pentium you get at the moment will beat your price to performance ratio of the bartons.

...sigh...

If you read what I wrote, I was talking about the *specific case* of video work, not which is the best overall processor, or which gives you the most bang for the buck.

FWIW, these are the comparative video encoding speed results found recently by a UK magazine (DivX 5.05, 1024Kbit/s, XMPEG)

Celeron 2.4Ghz (Northwood): 96fps Cost: £50
P4 2.8 (Northwood): 146fps Cost: £123
P4 3.4 (Prescott): 173fps Cost: £316
P4EE 3.2 (Gallatin): 179fps Cost: £659
P4EE 3.4 (Gallatin): 174fps Cost: £752

Athlon XP 2500+ (Barton): 85fps Cost: £53
Athlon XP 3000+ (Barton): 93fps Cost: £105
A64 3000+ (ClawHammer): 111fps Cost: £151
A64 3400+ (ClawHammer): 111fps Cost: £296
A64 FX-51 (SledgeHammer): 148fps Cost: £485

I could quote the name of the magazine, but I'm not sure how this site would stand as regards copyright...these kinds of results are found all over the net in comparative benchmarking anyway. So if you're talking price to performance ratio, it takes a £485 FX-51 to beat a humble P4 2.8 at less than a third of the price, and that only by a whisker.

I'm not knocking AMD, I'm planning on getting an A64 for my next build...I just think that for the OP's specific purposes, he might be better off with a Pentium (not a Prescott though...)

Anyway, I'm not getting into this any more...I know how these threads tend to develop... :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 3:57 am 
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kogi wrote:
smilingcrow wrote:
Hi,
Do I gain anything with a faster GPU in video editing?


Most probably not.
The 5200 most probably will suit you just fine.
I'm just concerned about picture quality, refresh rates of entry level cards.

kogi


Yeah, I've been considering the picture quality, as I'm starting to realise that not all DVI connections are equal. Also in the past, lower end cards didn't always have as good a 2D picture quality. Not sure if this is still the case? Refresh rates shouldn't be a problem as I'm not using large CRTs.

nick705 wrote:
I don't want to turn this into another "what's the best CPU" thread, but if you're interested in video editing, wouldn't you be better off taking the Pentium route? IIRC, this is one particular area where it still completely outshines the A64, let alone any XP you care to mention...

I don't have any links to benchmarks at hand, but if you google for them I think you'll find that most reviews come to the same conclusion, regardless of AMD's advantages in other areas... :wink:


IMO, P4s aren't so great for running a near silent PC. Don't forget this machine isn't just for video editing, it needs to be able to function at low noise in everyday mode.
The XP-M allows me to drop the multiplier and voltage way down which helps considerably.

I've looked at a number of video benchmarks and to significantly improve on the performance of a Barton 3200+ costs a lot of money AFAIK. Remember the XP-M should easily run at this rating and costs only £58 for the 2400+.
wim wrote:
hi

as for the ram, don't worry about pc3500 - if you get a 333 fsb barton then use ddr333 ram. if you get 400 fsb get pc3200 etc



I'll be able to choose the FSB freely with XP-M, because the mutiplier is unlocked. I am considering running the FSB above spec, because it should provide a useful boost in rendering. Hence my question.

wim wrote:

i was going to suggest getting one of the new 400 gb seagates instead of two smaller hard drives.. (1 drive and 3 platters spinning around in there instead of 4) this would be less noise. but you are correct about source and target being on different disks, so probably this is better (but i would still get seagates tho). you are clearly not aiming to build a silent pc so the increased hard drive noise would be negligible difference.



I have a wild card option which is:
a 5,400 Samsung 160 GB ATA in a silent-drive &
an external Firewire drive for the video footage.

That way it will be close to silent until I plug the firewire drive in :) It's hard to source some of these parts in the Netherlands though :(
I'm not sure if I pay VAT & import duty when buying from within the EEC? I know plenty of good suppliers in the UK who would accomodate these parts.

Love

Smiling Crow


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 8:22 am 
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nick705 wrote:
...sigh...

...So if you're talking price to performance ratio, it takes a £485 FX-51 to beat a humble P4 2.8 at less than a third of the price, and that only by a whisker.


okay nick,

sorry i can't resist. let's have a look at those price to performance ratios (do you know what "ratio" means?).

first of all i'm going to ignore the celeron because i know celerons are crap and i think that 96 fps must be a typographical error. i am a divX5 encoder myself, several months ago i have bought that exact processor for a friend - Celeron 2.4Ghz (Northwood) - and i compared divX5 encoding to my machine, an XP2100+. encoding the same movie with all same settings, the XP2100+ finished first by about 2 hours. now you're telling me that celeron is 11 fps faster than the barton XP2500+?!

so, onto the ratios! these are actually the performance to price ratios (fps/£), i did it like that so a higher number means a better score.

1.2 fps/£ = P4 2.8 (Northwood): 146fps £123
0.5 fps/£ = P4 3.4 (Prescott): 173fps £316
0.3 fps/£ = P4EE 3.2 (Gallatin): 179fps £659
0.2 fps/£ = P4EE 3.4 (Gallatin): 174fps £752

1.6 fps/£ = Athlon XP 2500+ (Barton): 85fps £53
0.9 fps/£ = Athlon XP 3000+ (Barton): 93fps £105
0.7 fps/£ = A64 3000+ (ClawHammer): 111fps £151
0.4 fps/£ = A64 3400+ (ClawHammer): 111fps £296
0.3 fps/£ = A64 FX-51 (SledgeHammer): 148fps £485

:o wow, would you look at that, from your own data the barton 2500 has the best price to performance ratio! i stand by my earlier statement.

nick705 wrote:
Anyway, I'm not getting into this any more...I know how these threads tend to develop... :wink:


hey! come back and defend yourself! :lol: j/k


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 9:51 am 
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...aaarrrghh...

OK, I'll give you that the XP 2500+ has the best "wim rating" of 1.6fps/£ out of all the processors tested (not counting the Celeron)...it's also the slowest of the lot in absolute terms, and no, the Celeron figures were not a typo, and no I'm not "telling you" anything, I'm just reporting the facts as I found them... :wink:

How about this then: if you want to encode at the speed of the fastest AMD processor out of the bunch (the FX-51), the P4 2.8 Northwood achieves this, and its wim rating is FOUR TIMES better!!! According to your own figures!!! So it's a 4x better processor than the FX-51...!!! At less than a third of the price!!!

I guess you can "prove" pretty much anything with selective presentation of statistics...anyway, I stand by *my* claim that the P4 2.8C is the obvious choice for video encoding (at a reasonable price anyway), and it's a pretty decent performer elsewhere also.

I'm really, really leaving this now... mutter...mumble...the ironic thing is I'm an AMD kinda guy anyway... :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:12 am 
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heh the wim rating i like that!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 2:51 pm 
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Throw in overclocking (guesstimation)
1.8 fps/£ = Athlon XP 2500+ @ 2.3 : 95fps £53
1.4 fps/£ = P4 2.8 @ 3.4: 173fps £123

I just switched from xp-m to a P4 myself.
Granted it's winter but using stock cooler, overclocked to 3360, it's very happily folding 24/7. Speed fan at 70%, it's not silent but it's not loud either.


I think this is all moot. There is a LOT of new stuff out there new sockets, new chipsets, new bus's, new cases. I say spend as little as possible. Allow the new techs to mature(get cheaper).

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2004 7:09 pm 
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I have a pretty similar setup, and I really like it. My 2400M does 2ghz at stock voltage no problem. I could probably lower the voltage to 1.4 and it would still be stable. Haven't bothered to try because it's plenty cool and my noise levels are fine. With the ram, most cas 2.5 ram when running at cas 3 will take a pretty good overclock. My 400mhz Geil ram that's rated 2.5-3-3-6 while running at 3-4-4-9 will do 440mhz, dual channel, no change in voltage.

For video cards you may actually not be buying enough. At work we setup some computers with (Asus I think) FX5200s. They will only do 1024x768x2 in dual monitor mode. We ran into this problem when we tried to run two 17" LCDs off of one card. You might look at the radeon 9600 or even the 9200. Most of them are passively cooled, though I don't know if it will support the dual monitor mode you need.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2004 5:34 am 
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Elixer wrote:
For video cards you may actually not be buying enough. At work we setup some computers with (Asus I think) FX5200s. They will only do 1024x768x2 in dual monitor mode. We ran into this problem when we tried to run two 17" LCDs off of one card. You might look at the radeon 9600 or even the 9200. Most of them are passively cooled, though I don't know if it will support the dual monitor mode you need.


Thanks, I made the mistake of assuming that 1208 * 1024 via dual DVIs is a given. Of course it's a different interface and I need to check it out. That's why this thread :)
I'm also considering the Matrox P650 & P750 as they look more focussed on the task in hand. The 650 is passively cooled which helps. By the time I add the optional TV adapter cable, I may as well go for the 750 which is much more flexible. It has a fan though :( I need to check out how easy it is to passively cool it.

Love

Smiling Crow


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 12:40 pm 
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For video editing, you need a video card with good 2D video quality. AFAIK, the video software never uses any 3D acceleration features of the contemporary cards. The http://www.vcdhelp.com people suggest that any card is sufficient, even, as was mentioned, the MX440. However, the MX400 does not have a very good 2D quality, the quality is rather average, actually. They suggested that Matrox cards are very good for 2D quality and, therefore, are very suitable for the video editing. I am still hesitating myself whether I should get one. They look very expensive for what you get and I am not quite sure whether I want to pay the price for even the best quality picture. I don't know, really, maybe I will later... At the moment I use the MX440 card and the quality is really dismal. I will change that to at least a Radeon 9200 if I do not go for Matrox...

Don't get the Twinmos memory. Get some memory from a company with a reputation. After my Twinmos decided that it will not work at the rated 200 MHz I now buy directly from Crucial and am very happy about it.

As for the CPU, yes, it seems that Intel is faster at rendering the video. However, I stick with Athlon. Why? Very simple: Mobile Barton. I can run my machine very quietly (the HDDs are still making noise) for all those hours that it takes to make the video. You will be able to make a quiet PC with Intel, of course, but with the Mobile Barton it seems easier if you go undervolting it. It really helps if your computer does not make lots of noise during editing and rendering...


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:15 pm 
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Tigr wrote:
For video editing, you need a video card with good 2D video quality. AFAIK, the video software never uses any 3D acceleration features of the contemporary cards. The http://www.vcdhelp.com people suggest that any card is sufficient, even, as was mentioned, the MX440. However, the MX400 does not have a very good 2D quality, the quality is rather average, actually. They suggested that Matrox cards are very good for 2D quality and, therefore, are very suitable for the video editing. I am still hesitating myself whether I should get one. They look very expensive for what you get and I am not quite sure whether I want to pay the price for even the best quality picture. I don't know, really, maybe I will later... At the moment I use the MX440 card and the quality is really dismal. I will change that to at least a Radeon 9200 if I do not go for Matrox...


I'm in 2 minds about the Matrox P650. It's passively cooled, offers future expansion to triple head but it has some quirks. There are reported incompatibilities with NVidia chipsets and an ASUS board with the Intel 865 chipset. Also they've dropped support for RGB Scart which on a PAL TV is a pain. Actually I'm not clear how important the RGB Scart support is as I'm new to all this.
So may go back to a basic Nvidia FX5200 or Radeon 9600xx card, with dual DVI & TV out.

Tigr wrote:
Don't get the Twinmos memory. Get some memory from a company with a reputation. After my Twinmos decided that it will not work at the rated 200 MHz I now buy directly from Crucial and am very happy about it.


I prefer to buy branded RAM and I hoped Twinmos was a reputable brand! Overclockers.co.uk suggest that Twinmos PC3200 2.5CL is not recommended for Nvidia chipsets, which is why you probably had an issue. Even though I've jumped ship to Intel at the last, it's disconcerting to me that a PC3200 stick won't work in an Nvidia chipset. I wonder how good their validation process is? Also be a pain if I need to sell it at some point.
I would happily buy from Crucial directly, as I have in the past. but now that I'm living in the Netherlands I might get clobbered for local tax as they ship orders from the UK. Back to the drawing board.

Love

Smiling Crow


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:40 pm 
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I'm using a Sapphire (ATI Radeon 9200) AGP adaptor with 64MB RAM as my primary video card. Passively cooled, doesn't get hot (have a 120mm system fan that blows across it and some other components). Handles all the video editing I do perfectly well. Inexpensive too. 1 DVI connector, 1 HD15. I use two Viewsonic G90fbs off of it at 1280x1024x75Hz. Probably the clearest CRT setup I've ever seen.

I had a P750 in, but I'm returning it. Not nearly as crystal clear as my old G450, and a total dog at even the most mundane 3d tasks. Also, it's triple head feature is useless for everything but LCDs (1280x1024@60Hz!!!) and it treats them all like a single display. Sucks. I used to be such a Matrox fan and they really let me down. Plus, it had a fan.

Best of Luck,
-Evan-

PS - Do not opt for the lower price and very much inferior 9200SE cards. The 9200 or 9200 Pro are far better.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:12 am 
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QuaiBoy wrote:
I'm using a Sapphire (ATI Radeon 9200) AGP adaptor with 64MB RAM as my primary video card. Passively cooled, doesn't get hot (have a 120mm system fan that blows across it and some other components). Handles all the video editing I do perfectly well. Inexpensive too. 1 DVI connector, 1 HD15. I use two Viewsonic G90fbs off of it at 1280x1024x75Hz. Probably the clearest CRT setup I've ever seen.

Best of Luck,
-Evan-

PS - Do not opt for the lower price and very much inferior 9200SE cards. The 9200 or 9200 Pro are far better.


Thanks Evan,

I know the 9200SE is crippled for gaming performance, but are there any differences between the cards for video editing purposes? Gaming is not an issue for me.

Love

Smiling Crow


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:43 am 
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As far as I know, there should be no difference in any video editing application. I haven't personally sampled the SE but it should perform similarly. I decided to go with the "regular" 9200 since the card was already inexpensive enough for my budget. I worry about the SE cards possibly having substandard parts (ie - cheaper or less capable RAMDAC) although that is purely speculation. I bought the 9200 knowing I could return it if I was unsatisfied, and since I only have first-hand experience with that particular product it is the only one I can recommend. This much I know: I felt a lot better spending the $55 on the 9200 than I did on the $200+ for the P750. ;-)

Best of Luck,
-Evan-


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2004 1:52 pm 
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I finally decided to get the Radeon 9600 after all. The Matrox cards are an unknown for me while I had very good experiences earlier with the 9200 cards. So you will not get any review of Matrox from me :)

EDIT

By the way, I just noticed that the local shop put up a warning sign next to the Twinmos memory that reads "Not suitable for 64 bit systems!" Go figure...


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 5:08 pm 
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As someone who spends the better part of his days writing software for video codecs (mpeg and wmv mainly), the most important thing in a video card is that it's fully directx9 compatible.

Any video editing station should have a full directx9 enabled video card. You'll see full hardware acceleration when people are using the VMR7 and 9 renderers, as well as optemized decoders/encoders. This can result in a substantial increase in performance.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 6:14 pm 
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A possible advantage to going with a DirectX 9 based ATI card is the Video soap feature that i use on a regular basis.... i like the AIW for basic capture and also cleaning up bad video, its capible of realtime cleanup and such.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 7:12 pm 
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My 2 cents worth:

The 380S PSU with the Sonata is rather whiny, although I admit it is quiet, just the whine is sort of annoying.

Dual Layer? I'm not sure if you should get dual layer, as it is JUST coming out. I suggest you wait until they fix any problems and release 2nd gen.

And about the video card, I got an eVGA fanless 5200, works pretty well, and stays pretty cool, even for a budget card. Heatsink's pretty slim, and cools it well :P. Just recommending if you do decide to get a 5200.

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