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EphraimP

Processor and Graphics Card Selection

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Looks like I've bitched enough about my old box's performance in Premiere with 4K files that my accountant (aka the wife) has authorized the purchase of a new editing machine for 2020. My current system is a gaming laptop  with a 4-core i707700HQ processor @2.80GHz, 15 gigs of memory and a GTX 1050 Ti card.

I'm currently running Premiere (hope to migrate at least some of my editing to Resolve this year) and a mix of ProRes, h. 264 and h.2645 files. I'm definitely going to dump the memory up to at least 36 gigs, and want to get as close to doubling the processor as possible (it is possible, right?). I'm really not a computer specs guy and do zero gaming or other computer intensive work besides photo processing and a tiny bit of graphic design. I've used Macs in the past but am most comfortable on PCs and don't intend to switch my OS.

I'm looking at the new Nvidia RTX studio laptops, plus workstations/desktops. Not sure if the Nvidia program is more marketing than actual functionality-oriented building, but it does make sense to buy something that has been purpose built for graphics heavy work. I've never built a computer but I haven't entirely ruled out building my own system because I assume it could help me same some coin. On the flip side, it could lead to a lot of trouble shooting and a lack of back end warranty support.

What I'm looking for now is info to help me select a processor and graphics card, or range of cards and processors to look for that tick the right boxes, especially value for money. Budget is $2,000 to $3,000-ish, maybe a little more. Some of the Nvidia builds have RTX Quadro cards, which I thought were the go-to for graphics related work. However, I recently read a comment that the newer GeForce RTX cards using the new Creators drivers instead of game ready drives are pretty much just as good. 

I'd really appreciate feedback from those of you with experience with the new RTX studio builds and computer knowledge in general.

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Historically Resolve uses GPU more and Premiere uses CPU more. I use Resolve so I'm not up to date on Premiere builds.

For high performance, stay away from a laptop unless you need the portability. Even the best laptop components are designed primarily for small power draw, and the compact size has big thermal compromises. Building a PC is pretty easy if you put a couple hours into research. Get a good size desktop case with good airflow and plenty of case fans to keep it from thermal throttling, and to keep it quiet (large low RPM fans are quieter than small high RPM fans for equal cooling).

Speaking of noise, SSD's are your best friend for audio work. A single 7200rpm hard drive is the loudest part of my PC.

CPU: There's a lot of praise for the new AMD chips. After using Intel for 15 years, I'll switch to a Ryzen 3600 next upgrade. Benchmarks show it outperforming higher priced Intel CPU's for Resolve. Another plus for AMD is they they switch sockets less frequently, which gives a cheaper upgrade path (ie you can upgrade CPU without needing a whole new motherboard as well).

GPU: I've been very happy with my GTX 1080 for Resolve, I haven't used anything RTX yet. But if you're going from a 1050 I'd go for a 20-series rather than a higher end 10-series unless you find a really good deal. My GPU really isn't a bottleneck for anything I do, which includes Blender, Fusion, and After Effects.

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1 hour ago, Mako Sports said:

I just helped my friend build his PC, I'd reccomend an RTX 2070 and a Ryzen 9 3900x

The Ryzen could be a good choice, but I have a 2 Terra external drive for editing that supports Thunderbolt. I definitely want at least one Thunderbolt slot to take advantage of it's speed. After a quick look, I found one motherboard that supports the Ryzen 9 3900x and Thunderbolt, but it would be nice to have some choices. 

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11 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

CPU: There's a lot of praise for the new AMD chips. After using Intel for 15 years, I'll switch to a Ryzen 3600 next upgrade. Benchmarks show it outperforming higher priced Intel CPU's for Resolve. Another plus for AMD is they they switch sockets less frequently, which gives a cheaper upgrade path (ie you can upgrade CPU without needing a whole new motherboard as well).


This is why I've been a fanboy of AMD for many years, even back when they lagged a little behind Intel's performance. As AMD was the more economical choice in the short and in the long term.

 

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If you go the laptop route, I would hang on a bit and wait for the newest (maybe they are out already) Ryzen ones. Power consumption is key. I saw a comparative review, a fast laptop + graphics card will need to throttle down working on battery - it cannot deliver enough power ! I think the new AMD chips are much more efficient. Or get a ... Macbook pro ...

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I currently run Resolve on a MBP and have upgraded to an eGPU.

Computer is: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5, with 16 GB ram
eGPU is: SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon RX 470 4GB

Resolve splits the processing between CPU and GPU and I think the biggest challenge is getting the balance between both of those.  When I edit the 5K h265 files from the GH5 it can only play them back (with no processing) at around 15fps.  It's way less without the eGPU connected, but when I'm getting that 15fps the GPU isn't maxed out, it's actually the CPU that is at capacity.  The behaviour is similar for the 4K h264 files.

I've spoken with BM support and they said that the AMD hardware decoding of the files is pretty new, and so much of the processing is done by the CPU and not the GPU.  I was planning on upgrading to the new AMD Radeon 5700 but considering the 470 isn't the bottleneck in my system there isn't really much point AFAIK.

Now, if I start applying lots of effects to the footage, lots of that processing happens in the GPU, but all the decoding and other bits will still happen in the CPU, so it's about what is the limitation in your own workflow.  If you are grading the footage within an inch of its life with many effects then you will need more GPU and if not then it'll be more about CPU.   and the PITA part is that Resolve works great with external GPUs, and gets better when you add additional ones too, but you can't add an external CPU, and that's my current bottleneck.

I'd encourage you to think about this as a processing pipeline and you're looking to put your budget into the things that will be the bottleneck for your workflow.  I'd suggest doing lots of reading and try to pull together the little snippets of info from forums and YT videos etc into a (hopefully) coherent picture so that you can make sure you get enough capacity for how you work and the software you use.

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The new AI features in resolve take advantage of the Tensor Cores in the RTX series of GPU's. I believe that every (standard) nVidia carf in the RTX series has some tensor cores. 

I believe that the AMD cards don't have the technology to take advantage of the current AI features in resolve, but I could be wrong about that, so please double check on this first. Also I have no clue about the Quadro cards.

(I know that you were looking at nVidia cards already so I just wanted to mention that I think you are on the right track going with an RTX GPU).

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5 hours ago, kye said:

I'd encourage you to think about this as a processing pipeline and you're looking to put your budget into the things that will be the bottleneck for your workflow.  I'd suggest doing lots of reading and try to pull together the little snippets of info from forums and YT videos etc into a (hopefully) coherent picture so that you can make sure you get enough capacity for how you work and the software you use.

 

51 minutes ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

The new AI features in resolve take advantage of the Tensor Cores in the RTX series of GPU's. I believe that every (standard) nVidia carf in the RTX series has some tensor cores. 

I believe that the AMD cards don't have the technology to take advantage of the current AI features in resolve, but I could be wrong about that, so please double check on this first. Also I have no clue about the Quadro cards.

(I know that you were looking at nVidia cards already so I just wanted to mention that I think you are on the right track going with an RTX GPU).

I have been thinking a lot about the imaging pipeline and where the bottlenecks might be/where the lowest hanging fruit of the upgrade will be. I've been keeping my task manager on while I edit, and when things get laggy (lots of effects, h.265 files, rendering) typically the processor will be maxing out while the GPU is not overly taxed. The Ryzen 9 3900x does benchmark really well against the price equivalent i9 9900K for mulit-core tasks . The i9 actually does slightly better for single core stuff. My question is, and this shows what I know about computer processing, are most non-gpu video processes mulit-core or single core. 

My accountant 😉 is very leery of the value proposition of me building my own box, though I haven't ruled it out. I found a desktop/workstation build that has couples the Ryzen with an RTX 2080 super and the board can be upgraded to support Thunderbolt 3, so there's at least that option at the top of my price range. I need to look at the memory and storage (2 SSDs) to make sure they'll be up to snuff. It's a machine targeted at gamers, so it has all kinds of silly RGB lighting, but as long as I'm not paying any extra for it, not a big deal.

Like I said, definitely sticking with Windows, so no need to discuss Macbook options. I have looked for Ryzen laptops, but they don't appear to have hit yet. I like the possibility of being able to port a box around to show clients work, but I don't know how important that will be to me in the future and other than that I don't have a big need for a mobile workstation. So most likely it will be a desktop/workstation.

 

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4 minutes ago, EphraimP said:

I've been keeping my task manager on while I edit, and when things get laggy (lots of effects, h.265 files, rendering) typically the processor will be maxing out while the GPU is not overly taxed.

My understanding is that Resolve uses the GPU more effectively than Premiere does, so that Resolve will take more of the load off of the CPU (if your GPU is up to it).

You can download the free version of Resolve and test out whether there is much of a difference with your current setup.

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Just now, Mark Romero 2 said:

My understanding is that Resolve uses the GPU more effectively than Premiere does, so that Resolve will take more of the load off of the CPU (if your GPU is up to it).

You can download the free version of Resolve and test out whether there is much of a difference with your current setup.

Yeah, that's the standard info on Resolve. I do have the free version, but haven't had a ton of time to really play with it. For my new system, I want to get something that works reasonably well with both NLEs. And with the specs I'm looking like, it should blow my old box out of the water either way. Which will be good, especially with what's coming down the pipe this year in terms of new 6K and dare I say 8k cameras.

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I have a self built ryzen 3600 plus rtx 2060 super oc, well balanced gpu versus cpu. 4k h264 is easy. 
if you go for ryzen 3900 maybe 2x rtx2060 super gives more bang for the buck than the 2080 ?

you cannot test with resolve free, it does not use the gpu for accelleration.

ryzen 4000 laptop cpus will be almost as fast as the current desktop versions, but with less then half the power consumption, so no throttling ! They will even have a built in gpu, maybe the perfect match for your egpu ?

maybe you can send me some h265 files, or a small project, so I can run it on resolve on my pc.

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The PC industry is full of BS these days, Intel is struggling to innovate since 2015 and the graphic card market is dominated by Nvidia but Radeon is making a come back. I wrote about that in detail:

https://fstoppers.com/originals/little-lies-and-big-problems-computer-industry-lack-innovation-artificial-351357

For the rest, as someone mentioned, there is not such thing as "best" CPU or GPU, etc. It depends of your use and your budget. The key is to pick the right gears for your user profile and maximize your money.  Build a balanced setup and avoid bottlenecks like spending a lot of money on memory when your CPU is the limiting factor. As for Intel vs AMD, it depends of your editing app and your expectations (want to improve editing experience or focus on rendering?). The way to go is to check these benchmarks:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/recommended/Recommended-Systems-for-DaVinci-Resolve-187/Hardware-Recommendations
https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/What-is-the-Best-CPU-for-Video-Editing-2019-1633/#DaVinciResolveStudioCPUPerformance

Long story short, for Resole, AMD tends to be better than Intel but this app relies mainly on GPU. For Premiere and adobe in general, it relies mostly on CPU frequency and does a poor job with parallelism. Better have a 4-8 cores CPU for Premiere, you would mainly waste your money beyond that.

FINALLY, please make sure to purchase a good power supply and have enough ventilation in your computer. I cannot stress enough the importance of installing a good power supply unit (PSU) in your PC. As a rule of thumb, do not even consider a power supply below $40. Cheaply made units have poor efficiency, they will waste energy by producing a lot of heat requiring a noisy fan to evacuate this thermal load. Finally, low-end PSUs generate bad quality voltage and amperage which will stress the precious electronic parts of the PC, in turn reducing their lifetime. In the worst case scenario, the machine may become instable and crash. Don’t be cheap and save yourself a lot of trouble by investing a little bit more on a decent PSU. Rely on established brands and spend between $50–$120 depending of the power needed.

 

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4 hours ago, OliKMIA said:

The PC industry is full of BS these days, Intel is struggling to innovate since 2015 and the graphic card market is dominated by Nvidia but Radeon is making a come back. I wrote about that in detail:

Good article. I'd love it if you could expand on why 8 cores is the point of diminishing returns. Puget rates some monster 18+ core processors pretty highly and puts an 18 core unit at the top of their list of recs for Premiere. Thanks for link to Puget, btw. I was meaning to look them up but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I know they are highly regarded for their builds. As I've been told, the trick is to rip their specs and get the actual build done cheaper (if possible).

Also, is it really beneficial to run two lower tier cards, such as the RTX 2060 or 2070 units over a high spec card like the 2080 super or an RTX quadro card? 

I'm reading as much as I can on these topics, but it's good to ask questions and get responses from folks who've had experience.

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1 hour ago, EphraimP said:

Good article. I'd love it if you could expand on why 8 cores is the point of diminishing returns. Puget rates some monster 18+ core processors pretty highly and puts an 18 core unit at the top of their list of recs for Premiere. Thanks for link to Puget, btw. I was meaning to look them up but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I know they are highly regarded for their builds. As I've been told, the trick is to rip their specs and get the actual build done cheaper (if possible).

Also, is it really beneficial to run two lower tier cards, such as the RTX 2060 or 2070 units over a high spec card like the 2080 super or an RTX quadro card? 

I'm reading as much as I can on these topics, but it's good to ask questions and get responses from folks who've had experience.

Again, it depends of the App , but generally video editing software struggle to efficiently use more than 4-8 CPU. Past this number of cores, the correlation decrease sharply between the performance and the price:
Eg: an 8 cores CPU at $100 would give you 100 points of performance but a $800 16 cores would only reach 120 points. So you would have to spend 8 times the money to gain only 20% of performance. Sure, Puget would say "buy the monster 16 cores for absolute performance" but you may want get the 20% slower CPU, save $700 and put this money on NVMe SSD, additional DDR and better GPU if you use resolve. That what I said previously about balancing your rig. Don't waste your money on "status" items.


As for the card, I think that you are talking about SLI and Crossfire? Be careful with that, make sure your app really use that. Last time I checked, most software are not optimized for parallel GPU use so it might be completely useless. Again, look at the benchmarks online.
Also, you are entering in a different world with dual GPU in terms of cooling, space and power supply.. First make sure that your tower can fit two large cards and you must scale your PSU accordingly.

PS: be carefull about video game benchmark (most of the bench online actually) as video games are very poorly optimized for parallelism. Said otherwise benchmarks based on video games tend show better scores on fast frequency / low core counts CPU. And GPU is what matters the most for video games.

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Linus did a high clock speed test for their encoder server compared to core count recently and things changed sine the "don't use more than 8 cores" thing was relevant. I would not trust that based on years old info at this point.

I have not really done any value lookup on the new ryzen line so I don't know if 16 core is price competitive to 8 core etc or compared it to Epyc while more expensive could maybe still be justified if you have paid work chugging along on it. Or just want a tonne of nvme storage strapped to it.

 

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3 hours ago, no_connection said:

Linus did a high clock speed test for their encoder server compared to core count recently and things changed sine the "don't use more than 8 cores" thing was relevant. I would not trust that based on years old info at this point.

Again, I'm not saying "don't use more than 8 cores". I said, in this order of priority:

#1. Performance depends on the App optimization so check the benchmarks
#2. Based on benchmarks and your user profile (want to improve scrubbing performance, rendering h265 or ProRes? etc.), use your money wisely and build a balance computer as a whole.
#3. High core count CPU might improve performance in certain tasks in terms of absolute performance but it might not make sense economically.

All that is not contradicting Linus video above:

  • Using a 14 cores I9 9990xe costing $3000 gives modest performance gain over very fast frequency CPU.
  • Overage benchmark for Puget on Premiere Pro shows a performance difference of 20% between the $3000 I9 9990xe (14 cores) and the $500 I9 9990xe(8 cores) CPU. So 80% core increase  doesn't translate in 80% performance gain, however the price is multiplied by a factor 6.
  • Linus only compares rendering performance based on cineform source footage. Might be a different story with Pre-Render, h265, heavy effects. So we must check specific benchmark. There is right or wrong answer but if you spend 90% of your time dealing with h265, rendering performance benchmark on intermediate codec might not be relevant. Back to my point #2: check your user profile, make a diagnostic, see which tasks you want to address first and check the bench on this specific point.

I'm not against high core counts but I would personally save the $2500 difference between the I9 9990xe and I9 9990xe in order to put that money into more DDR (after effects), better GPU (resolve) and a shit load of SSD (mix of SATA and NVMe).

 

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When talking about Premiere Pro, don't expect much performance increase in any case. I replaced my old system a while ago, nothing too fancy, but approximately double the performance of the previous pc. Performance in Premiere Pro increased very little.

Still, sux at h264 and h265 codecs. Some cameras are fine, others just can't playback properly. I've read guys going from 8 core to 16 core, just to discover, that Premiere's performance still is shit.

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After a lot of research, I think I've narrowed my choice down to a Ryzen 9 3950X and a RTX 2080 Super. Puget, Linus Tech and Gamer's Nexus all rate the 3950X highly and it seems like a real value to performance sweet spot. I've got a local freelance tech who I've worked with a my day jobs for the last 5 years who will build my system for under $200 while I watch and learn. I should be able to put together a machine that will handle 6K footage (come on X-T4 or R6!) for less than 3K. 

I think the biggest things left are to narrow down the motherboard and pick the right DDR4 sticks. Looking forward to this box.

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@EphraimP Sounds like it'll be a great build, that's probably what I would go for if I had the budget (and projects to work on--my day job is keeping me too busy these days!) Make sure to get a quality power supply if you don't already have one. No point risking damage to high quality components by cheaping out on a power supply, which is relatively inexpensive for even high end models.

I'd love to hear what you settle on for MoBo and RAM. I'm still eyeing an upgrade to Ryzen 3600 and haven't settled on those yet myself. I'm not in a hurry, so I may wait a few months and see if the B550 rumors materialize.

I'm sure your tech will know this, but keeping your cables out of the way of airflow does magic for thermal performance.

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