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How to Choose a PC for Video Editing

How to Choose a PC for Video Editing.
By Adrian Lee ©2004

August 2004 marks the arrival of the 6th video editing PC into our
studio. She will also serve as a VCD and DVD churning machine.

Here's what I look for in a PC for video editing:

(1) Fast and Supported Processor: Intel Pentium4 3.2ghz HT.

Get the fastest available. Don't let the PC salesman tell you that
there is not much difference between a 2.8ghz and a 3.2ghz. Get the
3.2ghz. Get an Intel brand processor as most editing programs are
optimised based on Intel. Better if you can get dual processors (2
processors in 1) or the Hyper Threading (HT) type.

(2) Firewire/IEEE 1394 Port: at least 2.

You will not hear me talk about video capture cards. They only tie me
down to 1 PC and give endless troubleshooting between card
manufacturer and PC manufacturer when things go wrong. A firewire
port is enough to do video editing and conversion jobs as long as you
have a digital camcorder with a firewire port. I have 2 other PCs and
1 notebook manufactured with firewire ports. I have the
freedom to do my editing on any of the PC I like, especially for the
notebook, ANYWHERE!

(3) RAM: extended mine to 1GB.

You must have lots of RAM in order to have a smooth editing
experience. My system came with built-in 512MB RAM. Doubled it to
1GB. This is a risk as the extra RAM is not supported by the
manufacturer if anything goes wrong... And it did went wrong, there
were some conflict on the first week which made the system shut down
randomly. Though the retailer solved the problem by replacing the
extra RAM with a new one, it's not worth the time (downtime).

(4) Large Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Space: 120GB.

You need a huge capacity for video editing. 5 minutes of DV video
takes 1GB of hard disk space. A 2-hour wedding video will take 24GB.
Leave another 10GB free space for making 1 DVD. 120GB came with my
system. For video editing work, I recommend partitioning the drive
into 2 partitions. The main partition (or c: drive) will be for
program files, 40GB is enough. The other partition will be only for
video files or media files you will be working on. As for me, I have
an external 250GB HDD, which I can carry from PC to PC.

(5) DVD±R writer (burn-proof).

The DVD±R writer can read as well as write CDs and DVDs. Notice
the "plus" and "minus". They are 2 different types of recordable
DVDs. The DVD developers have not agreed which direction to go. The
brands which developed the "plus" format will manufacture their DVD
players and writers for the "plus" format only and brands which
developed the "minus" format will manufacture their DVD players
and writers for the "minus" format only. Very annoying. My
recommendation is get a player or writer that supports both formats.
At this point of writing, there is yet another recordable DVD format
being introduced, the Dual Layer (DL) type.

(6) Dual Monitor and TV Out.

The last major/must-have feature I look for is the capabilty to
display on 2 monitors. Though most of the time we work with only one
monitor. The second monitor will be useful if we are editing with a
client. The "TV out" feature is useful for conversions, for example
powerpoint to video.

Never buy a PC with lesser features and think of upgrading later.
Never think of upgrading your old PC. Just buy a new PC fixed to the
max. It will serve you better and longer.

The upgrading never ends. What I got today will be outdated 6 months
later. I am now looking out for the 7th editing system. It will be a
notebook with the same or better specifications than the above.

Adrian Lee provides video recording, conversion and duplication

It is the Acer Aspire T310-32H5MF desktop PC with the following
Intel Pentium4 3.2ghz HT.
Firewire/IEEE1394 port
Super multi dvd±rw.
256mb nvidia geforce fx5200 w TV out.
7 in 1 card reader.
17" crt.
Windows XP home.
Creative 2.1 speakers.


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