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Old 04-15-2016, 04:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

Hoping I can get a collective brain-picking session going here!
Let me start by saying I'm not a gamer (anymore). I work in media production and find myself finishing video edits at home, where my computer is starting to feel old and honestly act a little funny sometimes. So, I was thinking I should format and start fresh, but if I'm doing that anyway, perhaps some hardware refreshing would be in order?

I've had this for a long time and I'm on a tight budget for working at home, so please don't make fun- I'm currently using a Gateway DX4860-UR21P.
Its got a Intel Core i7 2600 (3.40 GHz), 8 GB DDR3, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 520. Believe it or not, when I bought this that setup was considered awesome, and it has actually been really good to me all these years editing 1080p video and working in After Effects without much of a hiccup. Also helps that I think I paid about $500 on a special or something for this thing many years ago.

I replaced the measly 5900rpm 1.5TB drive with an Intel SSD as soon as SSDs were widely available... but 80GB was one of the largest available at the time, so that's all I have. Performance boost on startup was noticeable, but the original HDD is now my secondary drive where all storage goes, and I have a third 4TB HDD as a scratch/working drive for my media when working locally. Aside from that, I haven't really added or modified much.

Here's what I've been considering doing to improve my experience and work more efficiently:


1) First things first, I can feel the 8GB being a limitation when I'm deep into a job. Multi layered chroma-keyed after effects comps do a lot of virtual memory swapping. Clicking away from a window and back in can take a few seconds to be responsive again. I think going to at least 16 would be a big improvement, maybe even more if the mobo supports it and budget allows.

2) Replace the SSD with a normal sized one so I'm not starving for space on drive C. Seriously, I'm constantly cleaning up the drive to keep my installation low profile, most applications go on my secondary mechanical drive, often negating some of the performance benefits of the SSD.

3) USB 3.0! Yes, this box has only USB 2 ports. How have I been getting along with USB 2 you ask? Well, about 3 or 4 years ago I installed a eSATA bracket so I could connect drives faster when backing up / working off externals, but these days I don't think I even have any eSATA hardware to connect to it anymore. A lot of my card readers, for example, or Atomos recorder drive bays are currently all USB 3 and bottlenecked by my 2.0 speeds.

4) Video card. Yeah, I'm not a gamer so this isn't usually a big thing for me. My little GT520 is good on resources (ie. not power hungry) and drives my 2 monitors just fine. But now that there's CUDA acceleration for encoders, I could benefit from something a bit better. But, cost is a HUGE inhibitor here. Most of my video tools don't use the GPU much, and the cards that would really improve my encoding times are exponentially more expensive.

The flip side:
If I sell/donate/give to family member/etc this box and start over with a new one, I'll most definitely get something faster than my 2nd gen i7, probably already have USB3, and hopefully even an incrementally better gpu. I'd probably still have to buy a larger SSD either way since none of the budget friendly i7's come with one as a main drive. So I keep going back and forth with the idea of just saving my pennies and upgrading this box until something fundamentally different comes out (or I'm forced to start working in 4K or something like that and need a massive overhaul).

What do you think?
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

What's your budget? Load of text, no mention of budget.

Personally I'd stick with what you got for at least a couple more years. 16GB of RAM, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO (or bigger depending on budget), and a PCI-E AIB for USB3/SATA3.

CUDA is good for timeline scrubbing, and marginally for After Effects. Highest I'd go is maybe a 750.
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Old 04-15-2016, 05:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

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What's your budget? Load of text, no mention of budget.
Ha! Fair enough. I did ramble and didn't mention at all what I wanted to spend. The truth is my budget is flexible. I was planning on dropping a couple of hundred to bring this box up to snuff, and then remembered that this box (and the one I owned before it) were refurbs or similar that I could for around $500, so maybe I should start looking for something like that again instead of blowing more money keeping this one alive. This is probably the longest I've ever owned a computer in the 2 decades that I've been buying them!
Quote:
Personally I'd stick with what you got for at least a couple more years. 16GB of RAM, a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO (or bigger depending on budget), and a PCI-E AIB for USB3/SATA3.
I'm leaning that way too.

Quote:
CUDA is good for timeline scrubbing, and marginally for After Effects. Highest I'd go is maybe a 750.
Timeline in Premiere helps, but my current card seems to keep up alright with that. Makes a bigger difference in rendering, I think. Personally I spend a lot of time with Sony's vegas for speed editing, and I think Adobe Media Encoder doesn't use the mercury playback engine either way. So, GPU is last on my list for sure. I was just thinking that would be another pro for a new box- likely the standard stuff that comes with entry level machines would have more cores than this? And if I donate this machine to local non-profit or school, its worth a tax write off, and I get to start over with something slightly better than I had before.
But yeah- I'm thinking this ol girl has some life left in her.
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Old 04-15-2016, 06:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

All Adobe products support the playback engine and it depends entirely on the codec your using how much it helps. The only thing it indefinitely helps with is timeline scrubbing. Media Encoder only uses the GPU for specific codecs, as I have a K5200 in my server dedicated just for that. As far as actual video rendering on completion I have never seen Adobe use the GPU for rendering no matter the codec I use. It's all CPU.

Sony Vegas is AMD dominant in GPU. There are some tricks to make it work with Nvidia GPUs but there isn't much of a benefit. I moved from Vegas to Adobe just because of that.

Most all newer pre-built boxes almost exclusively use the IGP. Any with a decent dedicated card are gaming boxes.
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Old 04-17-2016, 12:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

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Originally Posted by PP Mguire View Post
All Adobe products support the playback engine and it depends entirely on the codec your using how much it helps. The only thing it indefinitely helps with is timeline scrubbing. Media Encoder only uses the GPU for specific codecs, as I have a K5200 in my server dedicated just for that. As far as actual video rendering on completion I have never seen Adobe use the GPU for rendering no matter the codec I use. It's all CPU.

Sony Vegas is AMD dominant in GPU. There are some tricks to make it work with Nvidia GPUs but there isn't much of a benefit. I moved from Vegas to Adobe just because of that.

Most all newer pre-built boxes almost exclusively use the IGP. Any with a decent dedicated card are gaming boxes.
Interesting- this is not where I expected this conversation to go, but the GPU is absolutely in use for rendering on Premiere as of CS5.5. The benefits are mostly limited to rendering from that application, however- the rendering engine on Media Encoder, AE, and other products are surprisingly independent of one another (or at least, they were before CC. I can't say what happens now as I'm refusing the subscription model for as long as possible), and last I checked only Premiere uses it extensivley during rendering.
It was actually one of the big reasons I started using Adobe for encoding back in CS5.5. When used with a GPU, Premiere would implement lanczos algorithm for scaling, which is really the only way to get a standard DVD sized version of HD content to look good. Before that, I used to have to use third party tools to resize with command-line scripts that needed to be tweaked for different formats and file properties. I liked knowing I could export directly from the timeline and have a properly resampled video, and it would ONLY do this with the GPU enabled on render. Mercury Playback with CPU only defaults to bicubic (if memory serves me correctly), which stinks and creates less detailed and blocky downscaling.

As I'm writing this, I have a client that just asked for DVD versions of a play I recorded and mastered in HD to send out in mailers. I begged them not to, as I HATE dvd's restrictions with such passion, but Blueray isn't considered common enough to mail out to parents/grandparents, and they don't want to just send out a link, they want something tangible they can send them.
So, I exported my timeline from Vegas into mpeg2 in standard def widescreen, and it looked awful. Opening text and graphics were horribly blocky, fine detail missing, just looked unacceptable to me, even for DVD. So, I exported again into full resolution DNxHD as an intermediate codec, then loaded into premiere to downsample and render into an m2v stream for Encore. It looks SO MUCH BETTER than the mpeg2 I initially tried to export out of Vegas, its not even funny. Lanczos makes such a difference! And loading the same DNxHD file into Adobe Media Encoder wouldn't have employed Lanczos either. Clicking the option to use best render quality will implement some really CPU intensive scaling that takes forever and looks better than Vegas's initial render, but none of them compare to Lanczos. Only combo worth using IMO is Premiere with GPU enabled.

Anyway, veering way off topic here. Just saying, times like just now, I wouldn't mind having a more powerful GPU. Rendering a 2.5 hour play would have gone quite a bit faster, leaving me with less downtime before I can move on to the next thing.

But anyway, this is all neither here nor there. Interesting about the IGP- I occasionally see dedicated cards in prebuilts, sometimes in business class machines (maybe they think it will help drive multiple monitors or something?). I don't think my current Gateway was built for gaming, they had a version with a dedicated card and one without. I picked the one that had. But to be fair, that was years ago and I'm a little out-of-touch with the current market I guess.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

No sir, this is VERY on topic. Your main use of the machine is video editing, and I'm here to help you get the best bang for your buck even if it means doing a little more research into the subject.

As somebody who does not deal with DVDs anymore I have never exported to m2v before and to my surprise it DOES use the GPU for rendering......but barely. I have used Premiere since CS2 days and I'm currently using the latest version of CC Premiere Pro. GPU acceleration was the absolute main reason I moved to Premiere (and now to me Vegas Pro 13 sucks absolute ***) but to my demise for what I do I only use HD content from 720p to 4k using H.264 codec so everything I do is exclusively on the CPU side for rendering and my GPUs only help with timeline (which honestly is all I need anyways). So curious to what you were saying and not doubting I decided to fire up the latest video I did for another member which was shot with a 60fps 1080p source from my iPhone and loaded up that project. I decided to render to m2v and lo and behold 10% GPU usage and the damn thing was flying. The only reason I didn't doubt your motion is simply because I use a bad@ss (to say the least) upscaling codec for MPC which uses Lanczos to make 1080p content look better on a 4k screen. It uses the GPU to about 15% which nothing else ever did. It (rendering to m2v) does use up to 95% of my CPU using your strategy though, even not using maximum render quality.

SO to clear the air, I did originally say Mercury is very dependent on what codec is being used here, and GPU usage mileage will vary. Since you use a codec that very much uses GPU if you want I will explore options for you, if you want me to that is. I can test from a very low end Quadro 2000 up to my Titan X to explore exactly how much performance you should get per bump up. Even still, I will stick to my original guns in saying a 750 is probably your best bet in GPU upgrade as it uses very little power, will absolutely destroy your 520, and should easily fit your current tower and setup. A GTX 750 low power (one that does not use a 6pin PCI-E power cable), a nice SSD, and 16GB of RAM should do the trick for you.

As to the IGP thing, yes when you bought your machine IGPs sucked hard, and now they are much better. The IGP in a Skylake i5/i7 will destroy your 520 in terms of even gaming performance lol let alone productivity. Business class machines will probably always come with some sort of dedicated **** card just to make it seem like a deal. We have to deal with this at work, and the people who work there always think the crappy little GT 720 or Radeon 8350 is better than the newer IGPs. Dell and HP literally give us these anyways so no big, just the people are wrong. I always take them out of our machines and use the IGP at work.
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Old 04-17-2016, 04:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

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No sir, this is VERY on topic. Your main use of the machine is video editing, and I'm here to help you get the best bang for your buck even if it means doing a little more research into the subject.
I certainly appreciate that, thanks!

Quote:
SO to clear the air, I did originally say Mercury is very dependent on what codec is being used here, and GPU usage mileage will vary.
For playback, yes- some decoding/encoding operations are more accelerated than others based on codec. But I'm not even talking about that- the GPU gets used for certain operations regardless of codecs involved, including scaling, deinterlacing, blending modes, color space conversions, and even some effects. In the case of scaling, it not only improves performance, it actually ENABLES functionality (lanczos) usually not available with strictly CPU processing. But you don't have to take my word for it, this is all well documented on Adobe's literature and film making forums.
If none of those specifically accelerated operations are being used, then you are correct that the operation would be pretty strictly CPU related I'd guess.

Quote:
I can test from a very low end Quadro 2000 up to my Titan X to explore exactly how much performance you should get per bump up. Even still, I will stick to my original guns in saying a 750 is probably your best bet in GPU upgrade as it uses very little power, will absolutely destroy your 520, and should easily fit your current tower and setup.
Thanks! Some quick searches revealed used 750 models for well under $100 available, which sounds pretty great to me. Now, the real question is whether or not I'll see $100 worth of performance increase- I'm not sure yet.

Either way, I still primarily use Sony Vegas for speed edits because I'm just able to finish jobs that much faster in it (I personally find the same tasks require less clicks/mouse movements than other editors I've used, including Premiere and Avid- but it might just be me and the way I work). So this leads me to my next question- would I be better off upgrading my CPU? And at that point, perhaps I should be looking at a new box already?

I saw a used XPS 8300 on sale with an i7-3770 (one generation later than the one I have now), Nvidia GTX 745, USB 3.0, etc... for just shy of $500. Then all I'd really need is to add an SSD, and I'd have a faster CPU and GPU, as well as the other stuff I wanted. Yes, my other upgrades would probably be less than half of that, but like this I'd have another working computer instead of some spare parts that aren't any good on their own.

Decisions, decisions!
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Old 04-17-2016, 06:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

Quote:
For playback, yes- some decoding/encoding operations are more accelerated than others based on codec. But I'm not even talking about that- the GPU gets used for certain operations regardless of codecs involved, including scaling, deinterlacing, blending modes, color space conversions, and even some effects. In the case of scaling, it not only improves performance, it actually ENABLES functionality (lanczos) usually not available with strictly CPU processing. But you don't have to take my word for it, this is all well documented on Adobe's literature and film making forums.
If none of those specifically accelerated operations are being used, then you are correct that the operation would be pretty strictly CPU related I'd guess.
I never said otherwise but you missed the point. It's whether or not GPU performance is negligible or not. I mean, everything from browsing the internet, watching media, playing games and productivity all use the GPU to some certain extend with hardware acceleration. The deal is how much, and by how much quicker would it make the task to upgrade said GPU. That's why I said exactly what I said, that it depends on the codec. Sure, what's utilizing is documented but they never say by how much and there isn't that much testing done to find out. Linus Tech Tips actually have several videos on this subject alone including 1080/4k, bitrate, AME, and a few other things. Not a lot of hard specifics though, which is why I prefer to take my own approach and try to do what the person is doing to better help them. That's why I rendered my own video using your criteria to see exactly how much GPU is being used. Something like that might get an up in performance from a better GPU but little things like blending, chroma, effects ect might not see a difference at all.

Quote:
Thanks! Some quick searches revealed used 750 models for well under $100 available, which sounds pretty great to me. Now, the real question is whether or not I'll see $100 worth of performance increase- I'm not sure yet.

Either way, I still primarily use Sony Vegas for speed edits because I'm just able to finish jobs that much faster in it (I personally find the same tasks require less clicks/mouse movements than other editors I've used, including Premiere and Avid- but it might just be me and the way I work). So this leads me to my next question- would I be better off upgrading my CPU? And at that point, perhaps I should be looking at a new box already?

I saw a used XPS 8300 on sale with an i7-3770 (one generation later than the one I have now), Nvidia GTX 745, USB 3.0, etc... for just shy of $500. Then all I'd really need is to add an SSD, and I'd have a faster CPU and GPU, as well as the other stuff I wanted. Yes, my other upgrades would probably be less than half of that, but like this I'd have another working computer instead of some spare parts that aren't any good on their own.
You won't see a real noticeable difference going from 2600 to 3770. SB to IB is simply a die shrink and the only real difference is clock speed which isn't much. Going from a 520 to the 745 is kind of a meh upgrade compared to going with the 750 as well. They utilize the same chip but the 745 is extremely nerfed to fit a power envelope that newer 750s and 950s are doing.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

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I never said otherwise but you missed the point. It's whether or not GPU performance is negligible or not. I mean, everything from browsing the internet, watching media, playing games and productivity all use the GPU to some certain extend with hardware acceleration. The deal is how much, and by how much quicker would it make the task to upgrade said GPU. That's why I said exactly what I said, that it depends on the codec. Sure, what's utilizing is documented but they never say by how much and there isn't that much testing done to find out. Linus Tech Tips actually have several videos on this subject alone including 1080/4k, bitrate, AME, and a few other things. Not a lot of hard specifics though, which is why I prefer to take my own approach and try to do what the person is doing to better help them. That's why I rendered my own video using your criteria to see exactly how much GPU is being used. Something like that might get an up in performance from a better GPU but little things like blending, chroma, effects ect might not see a difference at all.

You won't see a real noticeable difference going from 2600 to 3770. SB to IB is simply a die shrink and the only real difference is clock speed which isn't much. Going from a 520 to the 745 is kind of a meh upgrade compared to going with the 750 as well. They utilize the same chip but the 745 is extremely nerfed to fit a power envelope that newer 750s and 950s are doing.
Fair enough. Should I be focusing on a cpu upgrade then? Or is that also not going to make much difference unless I spend significantly more?
I'm not really doing anything in 4k at the moment, but I'd like to know I can without choking. Then again, current hardware will be even cheaper when I need to start doing that.
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Old 04-18-2016, 09:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Opinions- upgrade current or start over?

I personally don't really think you need to upgrade right now. Your next step should be a jump straight to a platform with DDR4 and IMO that isn't right now. Depending on your actual case you could in fact do a platform upgrade to an i5 6600, which would be faster and give you the added features with DDR4 being cheaper than DDR3. The only problem is your biggest difference would still be getting a modern SSD.
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