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Author Topic: Building a new PC for music production and video editing  (Read 6310 times)

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Offline if_then_else

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Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« on: July 30, 2016, 04:25:01 AM »
Hi, I'm going to build a new personal computer which is essentially intended for software development/testing but which should also serve me well as a DAW or for video editing (currently only in AVCHD and not in 4k/h265. The latter format might be an option in the long run).

Did anybody here build some similar PC recently and, if so, what hardware components and which video editing software did they use?

I should add that I'm mostly using Linux (Debian and Mint) at home. Dual-booting to Windows might be an option, if there's no decent video editing software for Linux available. (Not sure, if Lightworks is supporting some dedicated GPU with CUDA cores.)

As for audio editing/mastering: I'm going to use Ardour 4 (+ jackd) as my main DAW. Possibly also Audacity as my secondary audio editing software.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Tower:         be quiet! Silent Base 600
Motherboard:       Gigabyte GA-H170-HD3 Intel H170 So.1151 Dual Channel DDR ATX
CPU:          Intel Core i7 6700 4x 3.40GHz So.1151
CPU cooler:       be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
RAM:         32GB G.Skill RipJaws V red DDR4-2133 DIMM CL15 Dual Kit
Graphics card:      4096MB MSI GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 4G Active PCIe 3.0 x16 (Retail)
SSD:         250GB Samsung 850 Evo 2.5" (6.4cm) SATA 6Gb/s TLC Toggle (MZ-75E250B/EU)
HDD:         2x 2000GB Seagate Desktop HDD ST2000DM001 64MB 3.5" (8.9cm) SATA 6Gb/s
ODD:         Samsung SH-224GB/BEBE
Wireless adapter:   TP-Link TL-WN881ND WL300MBit PCIe
Power supply:       500 Watt be quiet! Straight Power 10-CM Modular 80+ Gold

Offline Bruce Watson

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2016, 07:32:13 AM »
Any computer that can serve as a video NLE machine is serious overkill for a DAW machine.

I built a similar computer, but two years ago. The only suggestion I can make for the equipment you've got listed is to run the calculations for your power supply again. I can't be bothered to do it for you, but my experience tells me that 500w is probably too small; that's about what my video card wants by itself. But why guess when you can so easily know?

As to NLEs, I'm running Adobe's Production Premium CS6 (last software before the rental model) and can't really recommend it. If I were doing this over again now, I'd be looking seriously at DaVinci Resolve. It has nearly caught up to Adobe and the others in NLE functions, and it's color correction and color grading blow the others away. And you don't have to rent it.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2016, 08:10:09 AM »
I've been building my own systems for many years and just did a new one.  Several things you have on your list may be overkill (for example, your RAM) for what you're doing, and when I'm back home in a few days I'll post the list of parts I went with.  I've been extremely happy so far with this new system that runs near-silent and has plenty of power for my needs.  My video editing is only occasional though.  This system is primarily a general use box with audio editing.

I'm a Windows user, and like Bruce I also am a huge fan of Resolve for video work, transitioning from Vegas.  It's amazing that they don't charge a dime for it.
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Offline if_then_else

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2016, 11:02:15 AM »
I built a similar computer, but two years ago. The only suggestion I can make for the equipment you've got listed is to run the calculations for your power supply again. I can't be bothered to do it for you, but my experience tells me that 500w is probably too small; that's about what my video card wants by itself. But why guess when you can so easily know?

Thanks for your input.

I've used several PSU calculator tools (by ASUS, Enermax and MSI) for the configuration I had in mind and the results came in between 350W and 400W. Therefore, I'd guess that 500W should be OK. But thanks for the hint: I might add another +50W safety margin in case of future upgrades.

The thing is that the PC is not only intended as a DAW but also for video editing and for running several virtual machines at a time. I'd guess that for HD video editing 16 GB might be enough but, at least, I'd like to have the option to edit 4K material as well (if necessary).

Offline LIVEMUSIC752

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2016, 07:14:12 PM »
i am running a 850 watt 80% bronze and i would not go less with good video card.
voltronic a question how much ram/memory are running

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2016, 07:35:20 PM »
i am running a 850 watt 80% bronze and i would not go less with good video card.
voltronic a question how much ram/memory are running

8 GB. More than enough for everything I do, but like I said my video editing is minimal.  Currently my old video card (a fanless GeForce 430) is the performance bottleneck, especially as it only has 1 GB onboard.  That bottleneck only is evident when doing video work or modern 3D gaming, which is rare.  At some point I might get one of the new GTX cards but right now I can't justify the investment for something I only use now and then.

Like I said, I'll post more details when I'm back from my trip.  Until then, I encourage you to look at Seasonic PSUs.  I've long been a fan.  My new build has their X-650, and a nice feature is the hybrid fan which allows it to run with the fan off until the load increases past a certain point.  They also make higher-wattage versions in the series.

You may have gathered that I'm into quiet systems.  I have Silent PC Review to thank for putting me on that path many years ago.
http://www.silentpcreview.com

Two other sites I found very helpful in putting together my new build:

http://www.logicalincrements.com

http://www.pcpartpicker.com
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Offline if_then_else

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2016, 08:20:15 AM »
i am running a 850 watt 80% bronze and i would not go less with good video card.
voltronic a question how much ram/memory are running

8 GB. More than enough for everything I do, but like I said my video editing is minimal.  Currently my old video card (a fanless GeForce 430) is the performance bottleneck, especially as it only has 1 GB onboard.  That bottleneck only is evident when doing video work or modern 3D gaming, which is rare.  At some point I might get one of the new GTX cards but right now I can't justify the investment for something I only use now and then.

Like I said, I'll post more details when I'm back from my trip.  Until then, I encourage you to look at Seasonic PSUs.  I've long been a fan.  My new build has their X-650, and a nice feature is the hybrid fan which allows it to run with the fan off until the load increases past a certain point.  They also make higher-wattage versions in the series.

You may have gathered that I'm into quiet systems.  I have Silent PC Review to thank for putting me on that path many years ago.
http://www.silentpcreview.com

Two other sites I found very helpful in putting together my new build:

http://www.logicalincrements.com

http://www.pcpartpicker.com

Thanks for the information.

I had another quick look into the specifications of the CPU and the graphics card:

The i7-6700 (non-overclocked) Intel Skylake CPU has a TDP of 65W and the MSI GeForce GTX 960 Gaming 4G has a TDP of 120W.

Even taking into account the 32 GB of RAM, the SDD, the two HDDs, several external USB 3.0 devices, two or three fans and a wireless adapter card, a decent quality 500W - 600W PSU should provide ample power.

Seasonic and be quiet! appear to be the leading PSU brands. So, I'd presume there isn't much to choose between the 600 Watt be quiet! Straight Power 10-CM Modular 80+ and the Seasonic X-650?

BTW: The reason why I'm leaning towards the GeForce GTX 960 graphics card is that it has hardware-based h.265 encoding / decoding (in contrast to the gaming models GTX 970 and GTX 980).

I've also found a few commercial offers for pro-grade DAWs / video editing PCs which appear to have been built using similar components (but which are 20%-100% more expensive than a self-built PC).

http://www.da-x.de/de/audio-workstation-pro-skylake.html
http://www.tuxedocomputers.com/Linux-Hardware/Linux-Computer-/-PCs/Alle-Systeme

Thanks for the heads-up regarding Da Vinci Resolve (even if this means having to dual-boot to Windows). I'm definitely going to give it a try. Even if the free version doesn't support CUDA/GPU acceleration.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2016, 08:45:25 AM »
TDP = Thermal Design Power.  It represents the maximum heat that chip would generate in real-world conditions, and which the heatsink and related cooling system would have to dissipate.  So that wattage figure is for thermal, not electrical.  It can be related to the power draw, but you can't draw an equivalency, especially between different manufacturers.  Here's an old article related to that:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/who-to-believe-on-power-consumption-amd-or-intel/

The actual power draw of your components could be much higher than the TDP under load, especially a high-performance GPU.  PC Part Picker has a PSU calculator as do many other sites which can give you a much more accurate picture of your power needs.

There's also more to PSUs than just watts, and other quality brands you should consider.  Go to Silent PC Review and spend some time reading through their power supply reviews and test methods.  They are exceptionally thorough with PSU testing and you will learn a lot.  On the left bar, go to Power | PSU.  Check out Power Supply Fundamentals and  Recommended Power Supplies.
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Offline if_then_else

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2016, 10:19:51 AM »
The actual power draw of your components could be much higher than the TDP under load, especially a high-performance GPU.  PC Part Picker has a PSU calculator as do many other sites which can give you a much more accurate picture of your power needs.

338W according to PC Part Picker. Some other PSU calculators produced results in the range from 350W to 400W. 

http://pcpartpicker.com/list/gtnhgL

A 600W PSU should provide more than ample headroom?

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2016, 01:27:19 PM »
Yes, 600W should be fine.

I would steer clear of Seagate HDDs.  They were very unreliable for me in my PC repair tech days, though they may have improved.  I have had great success with Samsung and Western Digital drives.  The WD RED series is good for large capacity storage, I have a 3TB model.

You are wasting money on 32GB of RAM, IMHO, unless you're running applications that you know can address that much, which would be a fairly short list.  You also don't need the kind with the flashy heat spreaders unless you're overclocking.  The same goes for the bus speed the RAM supports: you won't hit that speed unless you're overclocking so you can get away even cheaper with more standard parts.

For a case, I highly recommend the Fractal Design Define R5.  Easily the best case I've used, and two included 140mm fans are excellent.

Heatsink, I would go with a Scythe Koetsu.  Much better performance for the money.

Motherboard, ASUS Z170-P.  ASUS boards are worth it for the excellent fan control alone, and this is a better choice than the one you chose for less money.

I realize this all sounds highly opinionated, and I suppose it is, but I'm fanatical about the very best price / performance when I build PCs.  When I'm back home I'll give you some more recommendations in detail; it's just too hard to flip back and forth on my phone.  You may not even need that CPU, for instance unless your applications are going to utilize 4 cores and you need the highest clock speed.  There are better CPU values to be had; you're paying almost $300 for something at the top of the range.  I went with a dual core i3-6100 as it's performance in most apps is comparable or better than a quad-core i5.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 01:33:41 PM by voltronic »
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2016, 01:44:41 PM »
One hugely important thing many overlook is the thermal compound.  Get a small vial of Arctic Silver Céramique, and the 2-step ArctiClean kit to clean and prep your chips and heatsinks.  Any included thermal compound goes in the trash.  Then follow the directions on the Arctic Silver website.  I promise you that using the best thermal compound correctly applied is well worth it.  I use this system on GPU and chipset coolers besides the CPU.
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2016, 02:44:10 PM »
My thoughts are:

- Your selected Motherboard does not have digital audio I/O. What are your requirements for audio playback and downstream equipment? I would never recommend using the built-in analog outputs. Did I read that you plan on using the 960s audio output? Maybe that would work, I'm not really sure.
- Absolutely, positively, do not skimp on RAM. Go with at least 32GB and don't let anyone tell you it's overkill because it's not. Moreover, at $130 for 32GB, it's hardly the place to be saving money. Myself... I would even consider going with 64GB and setting up a huge RAMDisk for processing large files, but whatever you go with you need to buy it all up-front and do not plan to expand later. Mixing and matching DIMM modules, even if the same Brand, is frequently problematic. You want every DIMM to be the same make / model and ideally from the same manufacturing lot.
- For Case and PSU, I really like Corsair products, but that's just me. I have no anecdotal experience with the Be Quiet! brand and choosing a case is entirely individual preference.
- For CPU fan and heatsink, I would strongly recommend going with Noctua. They are the bee's knees of cooling devices and their included thermal paste is among the best.
- SSD - I would personally avoid a TLC drive, but they are definitely a large share of today's market. Google that specific Samsung EVO model... the 840 was plagued by firmware issues the last 1-2 years. Buying an SSD is all about researching reported issues specific to each model.

The WD RED series is good for large capacity storage, I have a 3TB model.


Lot's of good advice so far, but with this I would respectfully disagree and consider it a huge no-no. RED drives are intended for NAS use, not desktop use, and there is a slew of negative reports associated with the Red line including (but not limited to) faster failure rates. Get a caviar black and never look back.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2016, 03:08:02 PM »
hi and lo, please justify your recommendation of 32 GB of RAM.  Unless you're running a server or doing pro 3D animation, there aren't many applications that can address that much, and it's also OS dependent.  While the price the OP found for 32 GB is decent, it's most likely twice as much that needs to be spent based on need.  I'd get 2 DIMMs of 8 GB now at most, and even that is probably overkill.  This isn't a matter of skimping; it's a matter of buying only what will actually get used.

A RAMdisk would be one reason to go for 32GB, but that is not as worthwhile a performance boost as it used to be now that we have SSDs, which I highly recommend the OP get to host boot and program partitions.  I've not heard of those problems with the 850, but it's definitely important to do your research.  If he gets a MB that supports it such as the Asus I recommend, an m.2 SSD would be a great choice.  I'm using an older OCZ SSD in the usual 2.5 in form factor which is plenty fast, but eventually I may step up to a Samsung 950 Pro SSD m.2.

WD RED drives are indeed meant for servers, and at the time I bought mine their reliability was excellent.  But I just did some searching and it looks like the newer production runs have issues, so I agree that you should stay away from that line for now.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2016, 03:15:12 PM by voltronic »
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2016, 05:17:08 PM »
16GB is certainly sufficient, but in no way is it 'overkill.' The price difference between 16GB and 32GB is a mere $60 and there are a plethora of reasons to have more ram.

First, virtually every OS and application developed this decade is capable of addressing more than 16GB. Even the most basic of photo editing tasks in Adobe CC can exceed 16GB on a large file and almost any sort of effects processing work is going to benefit from 32GB or 64GB. Working with compressed video formats places a significant demand on RAM as well. If you have more than 16GB or RAM, it will most certainly be usable. Has been for many, many years now.

OP also states that he might need to run windows, so a VM could be in play (in lieu of dual booting). A perfect reason to have more ram. If you're doing any kind of video editing, you don't want to be splitting 16GB between the primary OS and a VM.

A RAMdisk would be one reason to go for 32GB, but that is not as worthwhile a performance boost as it used to be now that we have SSDs,


The benchmarks tell a very different story. RAMdisks are not marginally faster than an SSD, they are many, many times faster. Like, 10x faster (citation) and this makes them ideal for processing very large files. A RAMDisk alone justifies the $60 expenditure.

Getting 2x the RAM is probably the single most valuable $60 you could spend, but if it's going to break the bank 16GB will certainly work.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2016, 06:22:43 PM »
I missed the part about the VM.  That is a legit reason to need that much RAM.

I also never said RAMdisks were not faster than SSDs, and I recommended a m.2 SSD which is MUCH faster than a standard SSD.

The issue with RAMdisks is that whatever you allocate to that disk, you lose from system RAM.  So if you want a blazing fast scratch disk for Adobe that is large enough for big projects, while still having enough system RAM available for working with those very large files, running your VMs, etc, then you're going to need a lot of RAM, 32 GB at least or maybe even 64 GB.  Then you have to schedule auto backup dumps of the RAMdisk to your HDD because RAM is volatile and you'll lose everything on the RAMdisk when you power down, intentionally or not.  If all that is worth it to you, by all means go for it.  I'm not sure the OP has quite that level of need, and personally I'd rather have the m.2 SSD.
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Offline admkrk

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2016, 10:33:42 PM »
I did not read every post, so I do not know if this was addressed or you changed your mind, but I received an email this morning saying:
Quote
We have been informed about a class action lawsuit settlement with NVIDIA regarding the GTX 960 graphics card. Newegg is currently awaiting details about the settlement claims process (instructions, website). Once we have this important information, we will send you a follow-up email with the specifics on how you can submit your claim.

If you have any questions regarding the information provided in this email, please don't hesitate to contact Newegg Customer Service through one of the convenient contact methods provided here.

Sincerely,
Your Newegg Customer Support Team 

I have no idea what it concerns, but thought I should copy it here since you are considering one. It could just be some stupid thing that does not matter.
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Offline hi and lo

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2016, 12:42:57 AM »
...
« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 03:54:53 AM by hi and lo »

Offline hi and lo

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2016, 03:16:44 AM »
I did not read every post, so I do not know if this was addressed or you changed your mind, but I received an email this morning saying:
Quote
We have been informed about a class action lawsuit settlement with NVIDIA regarding the GTX 960 graphics card. Newegg is currently awaiting details about the settlement claims process (instructions, website). Once we have this important information, we will send you a follow-up email with the specifics on how you can submit your claim.

If you have any questions regarding the information provided in this email, please don't hesitate to contact Newegg Customer Service through one of the convenient contact methods provided here.

Sincerely,
Your Newegg Customer Support Team 

I have no idea what it concerns, but thought I should copy it here since you are considering one. It could just be some stupid thing that does not matter.

It looks like this is just due to a false marketing claims on the memory specifications. Some of the 9xx series cards (not limited to the 960), were advertised as having 4GB of VRAM, but it looks like only 3.5GB was accessible. Some other stuff too, but nothing major like previous Nvidia recalls (i.e. every generation of macbooks for the last 8 years).

Long story short, it looks like most 9xx users will get $30 refunded. Nothing to to worry about in terms of product reliability and very doubtful these specification differences would mean much.

Quote
Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the GTX 970 devices were sold based on misleading representations that the devices: (1) operate with a full 4 gigabytes (“GB”) of video access memory (“VRAM”) instead of the actual 3.5 GB of VRAM and a “less performant” and decoupled 0.5 GB spillover segment that operates as slow as one- seventh the speed of the 3.5 GB pool once the device is required to access more than 3.5 GB of memory, (2) have 64 render output processors (“ROPs”), as opposed to 56 ROPs, and (3) have an L2 cache capacity of 2,048 kilobytes (“KB”), as opposed to 1,792 KB, and omitted material facts to the contrary. See Second Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint (“SACC”) ¶ 4. Defendants have denied these allegations and asserted numerous defenses.

Offline voltronic

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2016, 10:14:21 PM »
OK, as promised here is the full parts list of my current build:

http://pcpartpicker.com/list/2Fh3Fd

The following parts were reused from my old system; the remaining parts were new:
SSD
HDDs (Samsung and WD)
Video Card
Monitor
Blu-Ray drive
FW card
Audio interface

My research always starts with Silent PC Review.  Not only do they do an extremely thorough job in reviewing electrical characteristics of PSUs, they are are very detailed in testing everything, particularly fans, heatsinks, cases, and video cards.  For someone doing audio work and wanting the best performance with the least noise, you cannot go wrong with their recommendations.

For example: Noctua coolers are indeed excellent, but if you look at the test results on this page, you'll see that the Scythe Koetsu equals the two big Noctua's performance in deg C rise vs. SPL, and costing much less.

Logical Increments is also a great place to go to for what's current and at the best prices.  That's how I came across the CPU and MB I chose as being solid choices.
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Offline if_then_else

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2016, 02:41:11 AM »
Thanks again for your feed-back. It's always good to hear what people with a similar background think about these hardware components.

Quote
Motherboard, ASUS Z170-P.  ASUS boards are worth it for the excellent fan control alone, and this is a better choice than the one you chose for less money.

The thing is that >95% of the time I'll be working with Linux. While the Gigabyte GA-H170-HD3 (DDR4) mainboard is supported out of the box, a lot of issues (in particular sound-related ones) have been reported with the ASUS Z170-P. Moreover, I'm not going to use over-clocking, therefore a Z series mainboard won't be necessary in my specific case.

Quote
Your selected Motherboard does not have digital audio I/O. What are your requirements for audio playback and downstream equipment? I would never recommend using the built-in analog outputs.

Again, the answer to this question is related to Linux. I'm going to use an external USB 2.0 audio interface. In fact, on Linux there are just two viable options that are said to work out of the box - the Focusrite Scarlett series and the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6. Some people have reported issues with the the Focusrite Scarlett (i.e. crackling noises on startup or after hibernation), therefore I'm going to buy the Native Instruments device.

Quote
Get a caviar black and never look back.

Checked. Thanks for the hint.

Quote
hi and lo, please justify your recommendation of 32 GB of RAM.  Unless you're running a server or doing pro 3D animation, there aren't many applications that can address that much, and it's also OS dependent

In fact, I'm an IT application engineer and I'm going to use several DBs and application servers for software testing. I might run a few other memory intensive applications like advanced log management frameworks (e.g. Splunk, ELK, etc.) or several virtual machines at a time. I've never been a gamer, though. So, every suggestion related to optimizing my PC gaming experience might indeed by overkill.

IMHO, it can't hurt to have >16 GB of RAM (as it's rather inexpensive). Depending on whether the video editing software can make use of GPU acceleration, one might need more or less RAM.

Quote
OP also states that he might need to run windows, so a VM could be in play (in lieu of dual booting). A perfect reason to have more ram. If you're doing any kind of video editing, you don't want to be splitting 16GB between the primary OS and a VM.

I'd rather not use a VM for video editing because VMs tend to use generic drivers. Performance-wise, it might be better to use a dedicated physical partition for Windows and the belonging software applications on the SSD. I'm going to use two separate HDDs for the source files (aka "master" recordings) respectively for the resulting, fully-processed audio and video files. Otherwise, concurrent read/write access to the same HDD might lead to a performance bottleneck.

Offline admkrk

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Re: Building a new PC for music production and video editing
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2016, 08:15:07 PM »
It looks like this is just due to a false marketing claims on the memory specifications. Some of the 9xx series cards (not limited to the 960), were advertised as having 4GB of VRAM, but it looks like only 3.5GB was accessible. Some other stuff too, but nothing major like previous Nvidia recalls (i.e. every generation of macbooks for the last 8 years).

I figured it was probably nothing, but didn't look into it. I haven't noticed any problems with my card.
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