I need a computer for a special application.

Discussion in 'Computers and Gadgets' started by Don Landis, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. I will be needing a low cost computer to run some software to do a specific task, I can set up and let it go to work.

    Specs from the software mfg:
    Windows 10, 8 GB RAM or higher, Fast discrete GPU (NVIDIA,AMD) with 3GB RAM, DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.2

    I would imagine a laptop would be best since it would have it's own screen, but for cost, I could add a stand alone box to my rack and connect it through my KVM switch. Once done I could transfer the files to another computer for more work.

    Any suggestions on what will meet these requirements?
  3. I got some single core xp machines that came from borders pretty cheap.

    Came from borders books a few years ago
  4. Lenovo makes some really nice tiny PCs in the $300 range, Dell has some in the ~$150 range.
  5. You can get a Zotac ZBox with an nVidia GTX 1060 or 1070 in it but these aren't cheap. The GTX 1070 ( Pascal ) version with Skylake ( 6th Gen Core i ) quad core runs about $1500. Just keep in mind that Coffee Lake CPUs ( 8th Gen Core i ) and nVidia Volta will probably be out within 6 months. A GTX 1070 would be minimum GPU for Virtual Reality.
    TheKrell likes this.
  6. Thanks for the suggestions. I will research all of them. Eventually, I want to get a new main video editing computer. What I have now can do a really good job with multiple streams of 3D video editing and 2 streams of 4K. But this new application needs to edit 8 4K cameras in a 3D 360° 4K video. The first step is reducing the 8 4K cameras to a single 4K 3D MP4 file that is designed to be reshaped by a second application to 360° spherical presentation. To edit this the processor needs to work with 2 of these files simultaneously as well as the audio channel. This is extremely robust platform that will require the fastest hardware available. But, the first step of just stitching the 8 cameras into one file actually is pretty easy and only requires the specs I posted above.

    I want to test the stitching software first on my Surface Pro Gen 1 which might work as it had 4GB of ram but has the right Open CL specs and windows 10. The mfg of the software claims it can run slowly with windows 8.1 and 4GB of ram. So if that works, then I will just use that for now and when I have the cash for a new super computer as described, probably a year from now, I'll see what is then available.
    TheKrell likes this.
  7. Just go to Dell and pick a machine. Sounds like you know what you need.
  8. plenty of refurbished computers on eBay, I just bought a Lenovo Thinkstation E20 with a quad core Xeon and 8GB for less than $150. But you'll spend more than that on a high end GPU.
    TheKrell likes this.
  9. This morning I tested the software on my main video editing computer and it failed the compatibility test, stating that both hardware and OS are not compatible.

    Next I tested it on my Surface Pro Gen 1 and it passed the test and installed the software up to the point of activation which I have to wait until the camera arrives later next week with the activation code. It requires plugging into the USB port to complete the process.

    So, it looks like I may be able to avoid a special laptop until I can build a big system with up to date hardware. I also forgot that last winter I did buy a cheap HP laptop which also may be compatible to run my wife's new sewing machine's design software and it is currently hardwired to the machine. Not sure how that will pass the wife test if I need it. :( Not even sure it's processor will be faster than my Surface Pro.

    Anyway, I think I'm good for the remainder of the year.

    Regarding the latest CPU for speed, is the i7-7700K the fastest processor out now? I checked out a couple gaming machines that have a PCIe card for fast storage and 32GB of ram with 11GB video card. It was $2500 but I thought the case was too artsy with too many unnecessary lights for show that I don't need. Seems the fastest machines are built to look fast standing still.
    TheKrell likes this.
  10. If you want an aluminum case that isn't flashy, look at Lian-Li or Silverstone. Here is a link for a custom case called N-Case M1 that takes the best of Lian-Li and Silverstone and puts it in a very small package. This case can take an nVidia GTX 1080TI and 240mm x 120mm radiator for water-cooling up to around 450 watts, which is plenty for an i7-7700K and 1080TI. There are loads of Mini-ITX boards that have m.2 slots on them for SSDs.

  11. Alas, most video editing software doesn't support using the graphics subsystem to speed things up. The only one that I can think of that does isn't particularly mainstream: Davinci Resolve.

    These guys seem to have a well organized guide for selecting an editing computer:


    This article discusses the new AMD Ryzen chips that may be an alternative to the Intel CPUs. There were also some rumblings ahead of E3 that the i9 chips (Kaby Lake) aren't far off (although affordability is an issue here).
  12. harshness- Thanks for the info and that link was excellent but I believe it is a bit dated.

    As far as a budget is concerned, I was surprised at how many sacrifice hardware cost when intending to do the state of the art formats like 3D and 4K with complex timelines. I discovered in the early 90's that it pays big dividends to go with top of the line everything in a machine even though in recent years the cost has come way down. My first Video editing platform was a FAST Video Machine with a 16 SCSI drives system that ran on a twin 486-66 Processor Back in the mid 90's that system cost me $34,000, but I could edit rings amount my local competitors with the old Newtek Toaster. I had to put the hard drive cabinet in a closet with an air conditioner due to the noise and heat! The box screamed like the deck of an aircraft carrier! Drives today are really quiet by comparison. Plus I could control betacam SP with SVHS with Hi8 and even DVCAM and 3/4U decks with two digital streams from the hard drives. The investment paid for itself in a year and I was doing well getting more business than I could handle. After that I went with all digital and DVCAM with a Pentium system at 8:8:8. Since, my platforms have come in around $5K so that gives you an idea where my head is at for budget, not hallf that as in these articles. I believe today that can put me into that i7-6950 with 10 cores and 32Gb ram. Hopefully that budget will also allow me to replace my current HD 3D monitor with a 4K UHD HDR capable 3D passive monitor, OLED next year with it. I may need to shop Korea or China as the US hasn't really carried 3D passive monitors in quite awhile.

    The good thing is I have a good 8-9 months to learn what is the best machine that I can be happy with for the next 5 years. After that I may be too old to keep up and have to settle for just watching what the new generation does. :) The goal I believe is to be sure this editor can deal with 8K video or even 16K 360 video in a couple years. It's just a hobby anymore so I don't need to consider a return on investment.

    I plan to continue editing with Edius, Vegas Pro, and Cyberlink Power Director. Each has its advantages. I have no plans to rent Adobe Premiere, or spend for any of the Black Magic stuff. Can't justify that for a hobby.

    I will be looking at Tom's hardware as that site was good when I built my current system which does ok in 4K but really well in 3D.

    Keep the suggestions coming.
  13. If you want to spec your components as in a custom build, but not do it all yourself, I might suggest AVA Direct. I had a good experience with them a few years ago for my current machine. I wanted a little more control over individual components, but didn't want to go the full route building on my own. They basically do the custom build for you. They also offer a number of nice case options that are still stylish looking, but much more discrete (and much quieter) than the fancy gaming rigs!
  14. Tom's Hardware is a very good resource for technical PC questions. The only thing you might run into is that most of the posters are gaming PC focused and their answers might not apply to your specific needs.

    The most important thing is whether the software you need to use can benefit from GPU hardware or not. Since the specs you posted recommended a discrete GPU with at least 3GBs of RAM it sounds like it might. As you have probably seen from looking you aren't going to find that in a cheap laptop though.

    If the software can benefit from GPU hardware you might want to look into a professional GPU like something from the Nvidia Quadro line instead of a gaming GPU. In many cases these are the same hardware found in the gaming GPUs at higher price points but they have drivers that are specialized for professional tasks instead of gaming. These might work significantly faster in professional software if the software is designed for it. I don't have any experience with professional cards or professional software that requires a GPU so this would be worth asking about at Tom's Hardware.

    If the software does not use GPU hardware acceleration than you might want to follow harshness suggestion and get a 6-8+ core AMD Ryzen or Intel i7/i9 CPU since a lot of rendering software benefits greatly from lots of CPU threads more than it would from a high end video card.
    Scherrman and DWS44 like this.
  15. Some of it may be, but the presence of Ryzen processors says otherwise. They've been out for around three months now. The "God Mode" CPU clearly isn't current but I'm betting that they're dragging their heels on being forced to use Windows 10 as you effectively must with 7th generation Intel. Windows 10 sux pretty bad in my estimation when the concern is raw CPU power (as it unfortunately seems to be with video editing software). The Anniversary Update and the Creator's Update bring performance further down in my experience (admittedly limited with the Creator's Update).
    I'm betting that 8K is not going anywhere at all. 3D is already dead on most of the planet and 4K is turning out to be a bit of a yawn due to lack of compelling content that pushes out the corners of the 4K envelope.
    Tom's Hardware should be consulted with any major hardware purchase. That said, they don't get particularly "vertical" when it comes to their software testing. I've found the CAD benchmarks to be rather unrepresentative (and CAD software absolutely lives and dies on GPUs).

    GIven the relative absence of GPU support in modern video editing software (other than for transcoding), I'm not sure I'd spring for the highest zoot gaming cards where a sub-$200 GTX1060 or RX580 will get you through most of what Windows 10 levies.

    While the amount of computing power has risen significantly over the last few years, it seems like the software is getting progressively more consumptive and much of the advantage in CPU speed has been negated through poor software design (slower execution and much higher RAM requirements).
    DWS44 likes this.
  16. harshness- Have you heard, HDMI2.0b has been announced that will allow variable HDR by scene, rather than a fixed setting for the entire production. They didn't stop there, HDMI2.1 has been announced too that will be supporting 8K content. They are getting way ahead of the technology, announcing standards long before hardware is out. At least we can see what is coming. They wouldn't be doing that if the industry isn't working on the devices now.

    Back to my work, present day- 8K processing is important for these new 360 VR systems. I've seen the LG and Samsung 8K flat screens and that genre is probably not going to be here in my lifetime. How many customers will we have for 8K 10 ft screens? But the gaming world with VR is where 8K and higher will find it's home. 2K HD only looks like 600 H pixels so small image screens with high pixel count will be necessary for the goggles.

    So far the Human Eyes stitching software is running flawlessly on my surface pro, just pretty slow, but I can suffer the time for now. It's not tying up anything on my other machines.

    Editing the stitched clip for 360VR in 3D was a bit of a challenge. I did a search and read an article by a guy who obviously did try it. Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus 2017. So I bought it and tried it out. Turns out it does not support the files from Vuze camera as they are in T/B 3D format. It only works in SBS. Found out that Adobe Premiere Pro is the editing software of choice, so I tested the 7 day free trial and it works great! The 3D VR360 output can not only be edited but image stabilized and the 4K is quite a bit better looking than my other 360 camera. It's running fine on my i7-950 computer but rendering is rather slow. So I will still be looking for the new machine next year. Adobe Premiere Pro is sure a lot more stable than when I last looked at it back in thr CS3 days.
  17. That's all I buy is Lenovo machines.
    DWS44 likes this.
  18. Same with our company. 99% of laptop purchases are Lenovos. Good, solid machines.
  19. Have you heard that they've developed technologies to display 3D with both active and passive glasses? Oh, wait. There's only a handful of TVs offered now that will do 3D. ATSC 3.0 has 3D support but by the time broadcasts become widely available in the US, it doesn't seem very likely there will be any consumer 3D TVs (or projectors) available any more. What are the chances that any kind of 3D (glasses or non-glasses) will make a go of it if they try to spin up the 3D hype machine again?

    That something is supported by standards (or even available hardware) doesn't mean it will happen and even if something like 8K is promoted, will it be such a paradigm shift in viewing enjoyment that it might supplant UHD? UHD continues to be hyped with much ballyhoo and yet it is struggling mightily to get rolling with compelling and high quality pre-recorded content, much less live content.

    I think I'd be much happier with HD support of HDR and WCG. I know my broadband provider would prefer it. If HDR and WCG is what it takes to get UHD going, what will 8K bring to those with less than 120" displays?
  20. Bragging rights.
  21. That's why I said the concept of 8K won't fly because the market for extremely large home screens is just not there. It will only be important in 360VR viewing. But you are wrong about 3D. While it remains to be a niche market, it is still quite popular in asia based on the availability of 3D TV's from, 24" on up. Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Epson, and many others continue to make 3D projectors and are sold in the US. I love my Sony VPL VW665ES.
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