Desktop PC for future editing of DV : LUSENET : Editing DV Films : One Thread

I am a new film student and I am about to invest in a desktop PC. I am a bit confused as to what to purchase in order to eventually edit dv at home. I doubt I will invest in editing equipment right away, but I need to make sure I get a system which is compatible with editing software, firewire, cards?, etc. I have read a bit in your site, but I must admit I need a simple breakdown spelled out for me. Any response would be greatly appreciated..thanks from a novice.

-- Nicole Barrett (, January 26, 1999


I have just researched this same issue for myself. The answer depends on what level you want to go to.

The first thing is to get a mini tower rather than a flat desktop unit so there will be room for all the cards with adequate ventilation.

The second is to get at least 128 MB RAM and a fast hard drive that is as big as you can afford. The cards and software keep getting more demanding so you should get at least a Pentium II (which should get cheaper because they are releasing Pentium III now).

The third question is what operating system? If you get a MAC, this isn't an issue, but if you are buying a PC, you will have to choose between Windows 98 and Windows NT. Some higher-end editing programs require NT. If you are planning to stick with a consumer-level card and program (one of those under $1,000 bundles) you can use Windows 98 -- although some programs are still only Windows 95 compatible I am sure this will rapidly change. Cards at this range require the camera as a deck and playback device. If you get a MAC the Radius Moto DV/Edit DV looked good to me. If a PC, they will be releasing a PC version somewhere down the road. They currently bundle their card with Premiere 5.1.

If you want to edit anything longer than a music video you will ultimately need external AV drives which will require a SCSI controller card. This is something you can add when you can afford it(that's why you'll need a tower).

But if you want to really read all about it, there are a couple of good places to go: - their web site gives specs for a system and makes some specific recommendations. They sell card and software bundles when you are ready for that purchase. It's a good place to see what's on the market and has links to all the manufacturing sites.

editing software - all the manufacturers link to reviews praising their product.

-- (, January 26, 1999.

Actually, don't just go for a mini-tower... get a full-tower. Those fast a/v drives and video cards can generate a lot of heat. You'll want plenty of room for extra fans in your case. For the hardware right now, I'd opt for...

A dual-processor capable motherboard. That doesn't mean you need to start with two processors. Get a processor that you're happy with, because when it comes time to add another it will need to be the same type.

You'll eventually need to invest in fast a/v drives. A common setup right now is an Adaptec 2940 U2W card with Seagate ultra 2 wide compatible (LW) Baracuda drives. If you want to start with an EIDE drive, get one of the fast Seagate Medalists. The extra speed will come in handy, and with some DV setups may even be fast enough to do double-duty as both your system and audio drive.

Be careful about systems with proprietary motherboards. I'd suggest you pick out the video capture card that you're going to go with and then look at their web site for a list of approved motherboards that it works with. If you can't make a decision now, then Intel motherboards are usually well behaved and work with most cards.

I'm really fond of the Matrox G200 Millenium graphics cards. You can start with one of (AGP or PCI), and later down the road add second card for a dual monitor configuration under Windows NT. Very spiffy, no hard tech stuff involved, and the G200 cards are relatively inexpensive ($120 or so each).

As a final note, if you were planning on this system doing double duty as your general work computer, think again. Editing systems are finicky enough without the likes of Microsoft Office and other big applications being installed and mucking up the system. If you do use it for general work, before putting in a video capture card and installing the editing software I'd give serious consideration to reformating the drives and starting fresh.

-- John

-- John Windmueller (, January 28, 1999.

Thanks so much for the quick responses. God, the internet can do is nice to know you two (John and Bretherton) are out there! Your information was great and very valuable. I plan to keep researching a bit, but thanks to you both I am now on the right track! I will let you know what comes of my quest. Cheers and Thanks!

-- Nicole (, January 28, 1999.

I have done extereme amounts of reaserch in this area and wish to offer my 2 cents to the DV community (we have to stick together). Anyway, EIDE is the way to go -- hands down. Do not waste your money on expensive SCSI drives. Get a decent speed drive and buy a Promise FASTTRACK controller to establish a RAID (stripping up to four drives together). I tested and purchased the controller and awaiting 56 gigs of storage (14.4 gig 7200 rpm IBM deskstar drives) which will allow me for over 3 hours of DV footage (can you say feature) -- Plus the FASTTRACK will give me the speed needed to even do DUAL stream DV if necessary. OH, and BTW there is no other company than Canopus on the PC side for reliable solutions (I have tested Fast and DPS -- trust me)

Just looking out,


-- (, February 06, 1999.

JesKid, I have just read your post and want to say you sound very sure of your editing system. That speaks well. SInce I am reading this in Jan or 2001, I wondered have you found any updates to your initial post that you would recommend to another beginner, I mean ROOKIE! Thanks LB

-- Len Baxley (, January 06, 2001.

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