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Videoguys' DIY9 Sneak Peek: It's Time for Sandy Bridge-E

http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/diy9/diy9-badge.jpgOver the past year Videoguys.com have taken some heat in some online tech forums and communities. We were very late to embrace the original Sandy Bridge processors and even when we did recommend one, it was with some caveats. (You can follow our DIY8 Sandy Bridge updates here).

We have always been big fans of Sandy Bridge CPUs and the performance value they deliver. For us, the issue has been the motherboards and chipsets. The initial Sandy Bridge X67 motherboard had some very serious PCIe bandwidth issues. These were addressed, but even when the improved X68 based motherboards shipped, we still had concerns. Sure they were okay for running NLE software, but add-in an I/O device like the Matrox MXO2 Mini and some RAID storage and you could very well run into bottlenecks. When I shared these concerns with my contacts at Avid, Adobe, Matrox and other vendors, they confirmed my suspicions and said they too would not be certifying X67 or X68 motherboards. We all agreed - we had to wait for an enthusiast level chipset from Intel, one that was a worthy successor to the X58 we used for years in our DIY8 builds.

Videoguys now recommends the Sandy Bridge-E processor with X79 chipset!

Once you have pulled together all the parts for your new workstation don't forget to make Videoguys.com your source for your video editing software and hardware. Shop online or call us at 800-323-2325 today.


Videoguys' DIY9 Shopping List!


ASUS P9X79 Pro Model



Intel Core i7 3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz



G.Skill Ripjaws Z 4x4 GB kit
Model F3-14900CL9Q-16GBZL


Boot Drive

Crucial 256GB SSD
(i'd like a 512GB to fall under $500)


Video Storage

G-Tech G-RAID for External RAID 0
G-Tech G-SPEED Q for Ext. RAID 5

Available at Videoguys.com


Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case


Power Supply



Blu-ray Burner

Pioneer BDR-206 Blu-Ray Disc Burner

at Videoguys.com


Windows 7 Professional 64-bit



PNY Quadro 40000 2GB GDDR5 with 256 CUDA Cores

at Videoguys.com


~$2,699 + Video Storage

Shopping notes for DIY9 on a budget - If you are a fan of the Videoguys' DIY systems you may notice that the $2,699 price in the DIY9 shopping list above is expensive for us. This is what we refer to as a "Hot-Rod" system. We have not decided what we will actually purchase for our DIY9 machine when we start the build next month and, like you, we may make some choices based on budget.  Here are some suggestions for building a "Budget" version of the DIY9 machine for under $2,000. My guess is that by the spring, you'll be able to get it for around $1,500.
  • Motherboard: We went for the P9X79 Pro version of the motherboard, even though it lacks Firewire.  If you go with the basic model, you can save $50.
  • GPU: We went with the Quadro4000. If you go with a GTX570 you can save almost $500. Going with the Quadro2000 saves you almost $350.
  • Boot Drive: You can save over $250 by going with a 1TB 7200RPM drive that gives you 4x the space
  • RAM: Shop around, we have seen Quad Channel (4x4) 16GB  kits for about $50 less from G.Skill, Crucial and other memory vendors.

Intel Delivers with X79 Chipset!

When I first read about the new Sandy Bridge-E chips and the X79 motherboards on Tom's hardware, I knew they would be a winner for video editing. The only question for me was when would they be shipping? Then I read a great review of the ASUS P9X79 Pro on Anandtech in November 2011 and I knew it was time for DIY9. Here are just a few of the highlights of the Asus P9X79 family of motherboards:

  • http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/diy9/p9x79pro.jpg40 PCIe lanes and PCIe 3 support
  • Quad-channel memory w 8 DIMM slots
  • USB3, eSata 6 Gbps
  • ASUS Graphical GUI for easy Overclocking

Unfortunately, with it being the busy holiday season and end of the year, we will not get started on this machine until at least January 2012. I realize that with the new Avid Media Composer 6,  Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium, Sony Vegas Pro 11 and the Grass Valley Edius 6 at a special low crossgrade price, many of you want to get started now. So I'm going to but together our parts list, with the disclaimer that we have not built or tested any DIY9 machines yet. If you're one of the brave and decide to get started before us we welcome your feedback and suggestions!

Asus P9X79 Motherboard

There are several models of the Asus P9X79 motherboard and we are not sure if we will go with the base unit, the Pro or the WS. The Pro version looks the best, but it does not have Firewire, something many video editors still want or need. The advantage of the WS version is it will also accept the new XEON Sandy Bridge processors coming next year. Right now, I'm leaning towards the P9X79 base model, but I'll be monitoring the tech and support forums for more info before we have to actually make our purchase.

Intel Sandy Bridge-E i7 3930K Hex Core CPU

The Intel i7 3930K is an expensive CPU for our typical DIY machines at $599, but I feel strongly that you want to go with 6 cores. The 3960X is the extreme version and with it comes an extreme price. If you have the money - over $1,000 - go for it.

Graphics Card –GPU

For us, the go to GPU for serious editors is the NVIDIA Quadro 4000 by PNY. Yes, I know you can find a GTX570/580 card for about half the price with what looks like the same specs on paper and it will work great and it will light up the Adobe Mercury Playback Engine (MPE) in Premiere Pro CS5.5. But, I'm sticking with Quadro card! Avid only recommends Quadro cards, and their OpenGL gives you a nice boost in After Effects or when working with really big images in Photoshop.  If you're primarily an Avid guy, you can save around $500 by going with the NVIDIA Quadro 2000 by PNY, but, for Adobe, the 2000 is not nearly as powerful and it won't give you the same results as the Quadro 4000 with the Adobe MPE.


http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/diy9/gskil4x4.jpgI recommend a minimum of 2GB per core. With our hex core that comes to 12GB. Since we have Quad-channel memory, I'll go with 16GB (4x4GB). We really like the G.Skill RipjawsZ, and since that's what Anadtech went with in their review, it's a no brainer for us. 

Boot Drive - Hard Drive or SSD?

I would love to go with an SSD boot drive. I've got customers and friends who have gone this way and they love it. Their system boots in a few seconds and programs open almost instantly. Unfortunately for me, I just can't live with less then a 500GB boot drive, and that is just to darn expensive with SSD.  Crucial has a 256 GB SSD drive that you can find for under $400 at Newegg. For me the sweet spot is when the 512GB falls under $500. Hopefully that will happen before we go to build DIY9 in January ;-)

http://www.webvideoguys.com/images/diy9/videostorage.jpgVideo Storage - Internal or External

If you want to save money, stripe a pair of identical 2TB or 3TB 7200RPM drives in a RAID 0 inside the machine. These will be fast enough to handle just about every flavor of compressed HD including AVCHD, XD CAM, DNxHD, ProRes, and DSLR footage. But be sure to get plenty of cooling and power in the machine.

Our top recommendation is to go with external storage, attached via eSATA. Either a G-Tech G-RAID or G-Speed Q. We recommend the G-Speed Q for redundancy. When configured in as RAID5 they give you the same performance as a G-RAID, with fail safe redundancy. if a drive fails, you keep editing. No data is lost and athough you'll loose a little throughput, who cares? Your data is safe. Get a replacement drive and you're back in no time, with minimal downtime.

Videoguys now also offers the Stardom external RAID enclosures. I really like the SOHORAIDs. The SR2 lets you stripe a pair of drives, the SR4 works with 4.  Given the current hard drive shortages and crazy drive prices, you may find this is the way to go. Just make sure you can actually get the drives at the advertised price.

Power Supply

I'm going to recommend a minimum of 750 Watts. Go for 1,000 if you plan on running more then 3 hard drives internally in the case.  Today's GPUs also draw a lot of juice, and I just like having some headroom here.

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Operating System

We get asked all the time why we don't recommend Windows 7 Home. It's simple. None of our vendors do. The only specific reason I have heard is the ability to address more RAM. We've had great success with Windows 7 Professional and I don't see why we would change our recommendation here.  if you want Ultimate, go for it. But we know of no benefits for video editing.

DIY9 - the X79 is divine!

There you have it, our DIY9 sneak peak. I am extremely confident that if you follow this guide today, you will get excellent results and a state of the art NLE workstation.

Once you have pulled together all the parts for your new workstation don't forget to make Videoguys.com your source for your video editing software and hardware. Shop online or call us at 800-323-2325 today.

This machine will run Avid Media Composer 6, Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium, Sony Vegas Pro 11 or Grass Valley EDIUS 6 great.  Add in I/O hardware from Matrox, AJA, Motu, BMD or Bluefish444 without a worry. You can run any kind of storage you want, from a simple RAID-0 to one of our top of the line G-Speed eS Pro solutions with ATTO controller.  This machine will rip through HD footage and render blazing fast.

I've been waiting a long time to have a Sandy Bridge-E solution that I can give our 100% recommendation.  While we won't get around to building our DIY9 machine until January, there is no reason for you to wait. Unfortunately we have too - it's just too busy around here this time of year. 
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