Starting a university degree in video production, I needed something that could handle far more than my current gaming build. So, with new high-core CPUs from both Intel and AMD to choose from, this article looks at the parts that I’ve used to my new editing build.
If you don’t want to go down into the detailed breakdown of the parts and so forth and just want to see a quick overview, I have created a handy video which you can watch below:
Performance Costs Money!
When you start looking at productivity PC builds, the most important question is, “What are you going to be making?” For my course, the focus is around video production and various post-production environments.
One of my larger software purchases was the student edition of Adobe Creative Cloud. The course will predominantly involve editing footage at 1080p or higher resolutions in Adobe Premiere. Knowing that my PC may need to eventually handle editing 4K footage, I started to pick out my parts.
The observant readers might have noticed that we removed Ryzen 7 from our parts lists with the recent Intel Coffee Lake update. However, for the core and thread count, the Ryzen 7 1700X with its 8 cores and 16 threads is still a great choice for the money. This is important when looking at the differences between the AMD and Intel platforms when looking at Hyper-Threading and Simultaneous MultiThreading performance, as well as single core performance. Although Intel does have the edge on single core, the more cores and threads of the Ryzen 7 do edge them out when looking at productivity on a budget.
For those wanting some benchmarks, I suggest watching the video I embedded above! However, having used the system daily for the past month, I’m hugely impressed by the performance I’m able to get with this CPU. I haven’t been as aggressive as some in my overclocking, although I was able to boot and stress test the system with the CPU at 4.05GHz. That was throwing more power at it than a small sun, so I dialed it back to 3.9GHz, where it has happily remained since.
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D15 SE-AM4 ($90)
Not wanting my CPU to melt through my case, I’m relying on the great NH-D15 from Noctua to keep my CPU cool. Having never personally built with this cooler before, it did present me with a few challenges with mounting. Firstly, I couldn’t use the second fan thanks to my RAM being in the way. Secondly, I really should have installed my M.2 drive before mounting the cooler! However, the hottest I’ve seen this under maximum load (AIDA64) was 66°C which is significantly below the 95°C maximum. When idling, it runs happily at 35°C, so zero complaints from me here.
So the first thing here is: BE CAREFUL OF PRICES!!! The link above is the exact set I purchased, however, they have since jumped up in price. This is due to low availability, which is driving prices all over the place.
The main aim of going with 32GB is to have a lot of system memory to support the various productivity software I was using. Although Adobe only recommend 16GB, having the 32GB really does help with rendering, especially when coupled with an M.2 SSD.
However, this RAM was not without issues. Although I managed a few boots into Windows with it running at 3000MHz, it wasn’t stable at all and hard locked whenever I tried to run anything. Nine times out of ten, the system wouldn’t even post. So, a few annoying manual BIOS cache clears later and I set it 2666MHz, which is the maximum stable clock currently on my motherboard. Although for smaller memory configurations (up to around 16GB) essentially any RAM speeds are fine, for larger kits there is still a lot of stability issues which the manufacturers are still resolving.
M.2 SSD: Samsung 960 EVO 500GB ($255)
Like the RAM above, keep an eye on pricing here. Sometimes (like the time of writing this) there isn’t so much of a difference in price between this and the superior 960 Pro. However, when I purchased mine here in the UK, there was over £120 difference.
For those who aren’t aware, the difference is because the EVO is a TLC drive, while the PRO is an MLC drive. What this comes down to in practical terms is write speeds. With the EVO, I could happily write at the insane 2GB/s speed for the first 26GB of data. That is because the EVO can only write at super fast speeds thanks to its SLC cache, which is 26GB on the 500GB model. Anything over that and the drive will essentially just run at 300MB/s. This is all part of its normal operation and the drive does this all the time, just moving data from the cache to the main drive in the background. Finally, what I have described here is write speed only — read speed is not impacted by this.
Now for me mostly using 1080p footage, that is fine as most of my projects are not enormously large. However, you will find if you’re using larger 4K or higher footage, it is worth paying up for the PRO for the guaranteed write speeds. As you will soon see, this isn’t the only drive in my system, mainly as I did think about workflow to optimize my performance. So with an eye on the cache on the EVO, this is my project storage drive. Any files I want to use for current projects go onto here. Once I am done with them, they are moved to my larger 2TB HDD.
OS SSD: Crucial MX300 275GB SSD ($93)
One of the parts which has followed me over from my older gaming build was my 256GB MX100, of which this MX300 is the newer version. This is the drive for my Windows installation, as well as many additional software installations. I don’t really need super fast read/write for the software itself. As such, this gives the system more than enough spring in its step for my needs.
Storage HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB ($67)
The final piece in my storage puzzle is the 2TB HDD from Seagate. Essentially, completed projects and data are all stored here when I no longer have a requirement for huge read/write speeds.
In Premiere Pro, the main thing the GPU is used for is GPU acceleration for things like previews and then later down the line for me CGI tools. For the money, the GTX 1070 is a beast for these sort of tasks.
Motherboard: ASUS PRIME X370-PRO ($160)
On paper, this is a little overkill for my build. However, with the feature set of the build, coupled with there being a large rebate of £50 at time of purchase, it was a no-brainer for me. It has everything I needed to get the performance I wanted, and aside from the RAM clocks (which are still a work in progress from ASUS), I honestly can’t complain about this board.
Although I initially ordered the 750W version of this PSU, at the very last minute I switched it for the 650W variant, as it was on offer on Amazon UK for Prime users. Whichever you end up getting yourself, the gold-rated PSU provides some much-needed stable power delivery on the board for the RAM and CPU.
This is such a good case for the price. The internal design allows for my full size GTX 1070 simply by removing one of the bays and my two drives snuggle up nicely in the bottom enclosure. If you go and watch the video too, you’ll see there is still plenty of space in there, even with the large CPU cooler.
Total Build Cost: $1,912
Honestly, it takes a lot to beat this build for the price. For me in the UK, the total cost of the build came in around £1,500, which does put it up against all kinds of different options from professional laptops to iMacs. Yet none of them will come close to the performance that this can provide me.
All told, I am very happy with my student editing build. It provides me with plenty of performance for my studies and should happily last through my three years at university.
What do you think? Would you go for some different parts, do you think I’m mad for going with AMD over Intel? Let me know in the comments!