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PC Spec Question



  • I am looking to configure a PC that will be used for video playback using Isadora. I am hoping to be able to get 4 channels of video output at 1280x800 plus an operator monitor. Because I will need to be able to fade between videos on each channel I really need it to be able to support simultaneous playback of 8 1280x800 videos. There won't be any sort of post processing other than some cornerpinning and potentially edge blending of each output. I'm not super concerned if I can't get perfect 30fps playback but it definitely needs to be at least 20fps or so because it can't look visibly jittery.

    I'm planning the build the computer myself and right now I am looking at an i7-4770K or i7-3770K for the CPU with 16GB of RAM, a Radeon HD7970 3GB GPU, an SSD boot drive, and 1 or 2 additional SSDs as media drives. Any thoughts on whether this will do what I need or if there are other improvements I should be looking into?

  • Tech Staff

    If you can afford it i'd go with 2 SSD's. One for boot and one for media. Get a cheap standard HD or external HD for back-ups and other media.

    I'm not a PC user so my knowledge is very limited but I defiantly recommend SSD's for media.


  • Separate SSDs for boot and media is a given for this machine. I actually think I'm going to do two SSDs in a RAID for media and then a third for boot



  • With three SSDs I think I should be okay in terms of storage device bandwidth but I'm wondering whether the CPU or GPU will represent a bottleneck



  • The architecture of your motherboard will have quite impact. Manufacturers cut costs by having certain parts (even pcie slots) share a controller). Super micro make some unfriendly boards that have dedicated bandwidth for everything but most other manufacturers do not. If you want fast raid get a raid card or check the controller on the board and what it shares resources with. Some of the on board gear on a lot of motherboards even from good names are actually junk. Sometimes it is worth losing some built in features and putting them in yourself. Various manufacturers also have proprietary performance boosts and especially in the north bridge / south bridge to CPU. Some of the are crap and some work. As opposed to a Mac you can really tailor a system to you exact needs if you know what you are doing. And had the money to spend. Do research into cases and cooling. Almost all systems fall over here. Cheaper cases have bad airflow and bad fans. It is really worth getting the cooling right as you will get instability at high temperatures that will drive you crazy. Also video cards and CPUs can be safety overclocked with good cooling and you can get more power from the system.



  • I have had really good experiences with Isadora and Watchout systems built from higher end Shuttle barebones and I was leaning towards going that direction on this one too unless you think there's a good reason not to.



  • The shuttles are tiny and limited machines, the power supplies are small and will not handle a big video card, there may also just be not enough physical space for a big double wide card. Motherboard wise they are pretty limited with everything onboard sharing resources. Looking at what you want to do you are looking at a mac pro replacement (8x 1200X800 videos simultaneously). There are some good small form factor boards (micro atx) I use a few of them in rackmount cases, but with big power supplies and extra fans etc. The shuttle component specs are generally about 6 months to a year behind what is available as they carefully test and approve a small number of devices to maintain compatibility. Turnkey solutions as the shuttle are often like this, some of the music computer turnkey systems are better - rackmount and more up to date but you pay a lot for it.

    From your posts and website you are working at a higher level than a shuttle system, put together a powerful machine that is ready for the job easy to store setup and transport (rack mount- with rackmount screen and keyboard), get a good raid card and a backup drive inside and keep it clean, go way over the top with the power supply and fans as you want it to take a beating all day for a long time.


  • Hi,

    Take care to how many real sataIII ports are integrated to your motherboard ( as you want 3 ssd ).
    Some Ivy Bridge have only two I think.
    Buy some storage HDDs, SSDs are full so fast...
    Mehdi


  • Thanks for all the advice, can you recommend some Micro ATX boards you think are suitable based on what you've used? For portability reasons, I'm trying to see if I can do this in a 2U or 3U case so I can keep the whole rack to 6U or so



  • I have a few, one nice one is GIGABYTE/GA-Z77MX-D3H_TH good for hackintosh and 2 thunderbolt ports too. If you use a full gfx card you will have o get a 3ru case or higher unless you get the pcie riser that lets you horizontally mount the card. I used this board for my last build but I am sure it has been updated. The dual thunderbolt ports are great extras. Watch out for rackmount cases there is also a lot of crap out there. If you are putting it in a portable rack case you will have to search long and hard to find one that is not too deep. (Starting with micro atx is a good start). I could not find a supplier easily in the Netherlands but here is a shorter case 1 x Chenbro 19" 2HE RM24200-L mATX It is only 2ru but is just too long to leave the cables plugged in in my rack. I think there is a new shorter model. I think you can also get a riser kit for your pcie card for this one. If you do use a riser make sure you have airflow around your card. Also try leave one rack space either side to keep the unit cool. In a 2unit case you cannot fit a large CPU cooler so go for a top of the line short unit. I also modified the case to add more fans and added rubberized washers everywhere for safe transport. Let me know if you have more questions. I really like these configurations as I roll them on and turn it on and go. Patch bays in the back to get in and out, a keyboard tray and a monitor in the top. You can get nice foldaway monitor arms but finding a high resolution monitor that fits inside a rack is almost impossible. Blackmagic make an HD sdi input monitor that is not too expensive and rackmount, overkill for a computer monitor but a inca addition, although generally the angle of slanting to rack cases is too low to work unless you are standing. Otherwise you are pretty much limited to 1440 x900'ifyou want and LCD that fits in a rack and is not 3k+ Good luck Fred



  • Here is a low profile card and you can run 2 on that motherboard. http://www.afox-corp.com/en/products_details.asp?proid=209



  • Hi,

    I use these rack cases: Antec take 4
    [http://www.antec.com/product.php?id=1167&pid=93](http://www.antec.com/product.php?id=1167&pid=93)
    You can fit a normal atx motherboard and up to 6 HDDs
    Any High-end graphic card fits in.
    They are pretty big, but even with full loaded configurations ( I actually have 3 x HD-SDI inputs & 4 outputs ( 2560x1600 + 2*1920x1080 + 1280x1024 )), the machine stays very silent and very well cooled.
    For what I have tried in the past, this model of rack cases is really designed for studio use and not for server rooms.
    I use to have them on stage, with actors with wireless omnidirectionnal mics around, never had any noise problem...
    Most of the 2U cases I've seen where super noisy.
    @Fred : a feedback on how loud are your cases would be great
    I have a rack with 5 of these cases, the loudest thing is the 24 ports ethernet switch.
    Take care, they are big and heavy, you don't really jump in the train with it...
    After 4 years touring and component upgrades mines are still perfect. 
    Best
    Mehdi


  • For me noise was not really a priority although I always use very low noise fans. The enclosure is not that loud (some machines I have built with serious cooling were really noisy). The rackmount unit is louder than my mac pro for sure, but as I said this was never a priority for me.

    I use rubber strips on the case and as I said low noise fans. I could reduce the noise more by altering the air intake and outlet as they are now a large mesh with a wide grate on it.
    Keeping things small and light is also a priority for me.
    @ Mehdi Do you have screens in the racks? If so what resolution can you run?
    Fred


  • Hi Fred, I don't have screens in the racks. My use is that the rack is on stage so I can connect cameras and beamers ( that I use most of the time on stage) without running long cables. Then I have 3xcat5 + 3 SDI cables running in the audience for KVM + monitors + midi controller. One of the goals of this setup is to have a control station as light as possible and fanless that I can take a nice seat in the audience without disturbing... Mehdi


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