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4k+ video editing workstation.
  • The never ending pursuit……………
    The goal of this post is to build a custom PC solution that renders 4k+ footage with ease. I want to determine if this solution is more suitable than getting HP Z840 workstation.

    In my own experience it is always better to go thru the process of building your own workstation to educate yourself on the latest best practices.

    Hence my questions to be asked:

    • Vendor build workstation or custom build one?
    • CPU choice Xeon or I7 (Skylake generation)?
    • DDR 2133 or 2400 registered vs. unregistered memory modules?
    • Video card NVIDIA Quadro M6000 or NVIDIA TITAN X?
    • What about: Thunderbolt 3? *I don’t think Xeon CPU motherboards have the thunderbolt 3 feature.

    I know a lot of these things will depend on the amount of money one can spend. However, I’m trying to find the middle ground between the two and see what can get me thru the next 4 years.

    Things that I know and want:

    • High performance 4K+ editing workstation (time is money, money you can always make but you can’t get time back).
    • New CPU 12-20 cores (Intel SkyLake) Video (NVidia Pascal) architecture.
    • 64-128 GB of DDR4 memory.
    • USB 3.1 with Thunderbolt 3
    • M.2 SSD based on NVMe Protocol (PCIe, Gen. 3, x4) in Raid 0 for OS boot up and additional SSD in Raid 0 for Media.
    • Asus motherboards are really stable and I have no complains so far.
    • Editing software to be used: Blackmagic Resolve.
    • Backup to NAS storage.

    I’m going thru the research phase at this time hence this post to gather all valid points for the next workstation for video editing. If anyone is going thru an upgrade process at this time please share your thought and experience.

  • 14 Replies sorted by
  • Reformatted :-)

    Just pulled trigger on dual xeon 2670 with 64gb ram , let you know how it goes..most expensive part was the dual xeon motherboard about $315 , the chips were 150$ for both . 64gb ddr3 ram was 90$ , also got the new gtx 1060 6gb mini ..let you know how things go


    Otherwise you can just get good SSD, including PCI-E versions

    Video card NVIDIA Quadro M6000 or NVIDIA TITAN X?

    Just get 1070 or 1080, can be two, check Davinci recommendations

  • Thank you VK! I'll check it out.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev

    It looks like these are the Haswell Xeons, two generations behind the current Skylake-DT.

    • Haswell (E3 v3/E5-1xxx/2xxx v3)
    • Broadwell (E3 v4/E5-1xxx/2xxx v4)
    • Skylake-DT (E3 v5)
  • And? They are like 10% slower, and much much cheaper.

    They work on quite modern boards, so no issue.

  • Point taken.

    If that's the case maybe I should look into upgrading my

    • Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard
    • Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 (30M Cache, 2.70 GHz)

  • I would not go with dual Xeons, either overclock the low end six core or get the fastest multicore you can find. It could be the whole landscape will change after the AMD chips are introduced. I also note you can get an HP workstation for ~$1000 with a six core i7 and proprietary water cooling. You could then use that as a base, just a thought. Swap out the card and upgrade the drives and ram as need be.

    The last one I built

    Intel Core i7-5930K (Note: the E5-1680 V3 is slightly better but it is 4x price) 6 core HT minimum.
    GPU—must be Nvidia with a good number of CUDA cores
    GTX 780 (very good)
    GTX 680 (only slight difference)....or use whatever graphics card you want.
    Case with room for 8 drives and minimum 2x 5” bays for drive cages
    ORICO CD-ROM Space internal 3.5 inch SATA HDD Frame/Mobile Rack
    Internal HDD Case - Black (1106SS) Available for $17 on amazon here:
    Boot Drive Samsung SSD 500gb 850 EVO or equivalent
    (NB the boot drive won’t hold any real data, but it needs to be 500gb. You can get away with 250 but sometimes the temporary files clog it up when running video editing)
    RAM 64 gigs, can get by with 32, if using 32, use chips that allow for expansion later on
    Motherboard: minimum 8 sata ports

  • (NB the boot drive won’t hold any real data, but it needs to be 500gb. You can get away with 250 but sometimes the temporary files clog it up when running video editing)

    I strongly recommend to move all big temporary files from any modern cheap TLC system drive. Such drive use chips rated from 50 up to around 300 rewrites.

  • Interesting. The only hard drive failures I have had are from the traditional mechanical platters, and they fail especially after being stored for a few years, but I guess I have one more thing to worry about.

  • Why are those Intel Xeon Processor E3-1275 v5 cheaper from Broadwell (E3 v4/E5) Xeons CPUs?

    Processor Number    E3-1275V5
    Lithography 14 nm
    # of Cores  4
    # of Threads    8
    Processor Base Frequency    3.6 GHz
                    Max Turbo Frequency 4 GHz
                    Cache   8 MB SmartCache
                    Bus Speed   8 GT/s DMI3
                    TDP 80 W
                    VID Voltage Range   0.55V-1.52V
    -Supplemental Information
                    Embedded Options Available  Yes
                    Conflict Free   Yes
                    Datasheet   Link
    -Memory Specifications
                   Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type)   64 GB
                   Memory Types DDR4-1866/2133, DDR3L-1333/1600 @ 1.35V
                   Max # of Memory Channels 2
                   Max Memory Bandwidth 34.1 GB/s
                   ECC Memory Supported ‡   Yes
  • Here is a newer one: Xeon E3-1585 v5 that uses BGA 1440 socket (soldered down models) I guess Intel doesn't have E5v5 Xeons (Skylake-H) on the market yet.

  • So I went thru a 4k project render on two, old (2013) and new (2016) cpu/gpu platforms.

    Processor   Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3930K CPU @ 3.20GHz, 3201 Mhz, 6 Core(s), 12 Logical Processor(s)
    Adapter :   NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
    Processor   Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700K CPU @ 4.00GHz, 4001 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
    Adapter :   NVIDIA Quadro M5000M

    Just to be surprised that it actually takes 16hrs to re-render my 4K project on the older 3+ year old machine vs the 20hrs on 2016 Skylake laptop with m.2 drives only.

    I was re-rendering to 29.970 QFHD 2160P 35-50mbs bitrate on both machines.

  • Were none of the effects you were using GPU accelerated? If not, it isn't completely crazy that 19.2ghz rendered faster than 16ghz.

  • I am using a hp z840 workstation (rented - paying per month, in a couple of years it will be mine, or I can change it (most likely)), one xeon e5-2620 v3 @2.4 GHz, 32GB ram, Nvidia Titanx, and one pci-express ssd by hp. Editing 4K with Premiere CC? I was expecting a better performance. I was going to rent a Mac pro workstation, then somebody convinced me to use this workstation. I think I did a mistake. I don't think it is worthed to upgrade to a second processor to have better performance in video editing (actually around $600), while the pci-express ssd made a difference. Titanx is a gaming board. Looking at its real usage while editing (with GPUShark) I never get more than a 20 - 25 % of Gpu involved. I can't be more precise at the moment, because if I look at performance I don't work, but If you want some particular benchmark I can test it for you.

  • @davjd Thank you but I'm not using Premiere CC. This project is a simple re-render of 30+ gigs of 4k action camera only (60 Mbps) footage, no special effects what's so ever for final 14 min video. I also did a test exporting it to 1080p 20Mbps bitrate resulting in 3+ hrs to complete on the new machine.