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I was looking around for computers aimed at AV production, and there doesn't seem to be many. It seems you largely have the option of SOHO PCs, business machines, or gaming machines.

Is a gaming machine optimal for AV production? What aspects of a gaming machine are unnecessary for AVP? What aspects are missing?

I plan on mostly doing audio production, with some graphic design, and maybe a little video production (mostly 2D).

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My biggest concern with buying a "gaming" machine is that a large part of the cost is the graphics card. You don't need a super powerful graphics card for making music. –  ObscureRobot Sep 11 '12 at 4:58
    
@ObscureRobot: yeah, that's part of what I was wondering - I mean, how important is a decent video card for, say, HD video production, where you might have 2-3 video tracks running simultaneously (with fades, etc)? I mean, I don't need 150fps running the latest shooter, but I also don't want to buy something that's going to be useless for hi-res video editing that I might end up doing. –  naught101 Sep 11 '12 at 5:25
    
Good question, but I can't help you with video. –  ObscureRobot Sep 11 '12 at 16:36
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Graphics processors currently are of no relevance at all in audio production; in video production they are primarily used to run codecs on, but for that a really high-end graphics card isn't much better than an average one. However, things might well change in the future – as technologies such as CUDA and OpenCL become more popular, more video and perhaps also audio software will use them. In some cases, this might greatly boost performance. –  leftaroundabout Sep 12 '12 at 17:04
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re: Graphic design, Adobe products (photoshop, Illustrator, inDesign etc.) do actually make use of the GPU by default. The performance difference with gpu enabled is slight in my personal experience. –  horatio Sep 14 '12 at 21:34
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I researched this when building my own computer for HD video editing about a year ago - I don't remember all of my sources, but there's a hardware guide on the Adobe Primiere Hardware Forum (very helpful place) that was a big help. That guide is several years old, so the specific hardware recommended is out of date, but the principles are still there.

Basically, most gaming PCs are going to have a more powerful graphics card than you need and less RAM than you'll want (and possibly inadequate hard drives). It's better to build yourself, but if you're going to buy an off-the-shelf model, a gaming PC will probably serve you better than one that's not (since most of the manufacturers' high-end stuff is geared toward gamers). There are companies that build PCs specifically for video editing, but they are VERY expensive, especially compared to what you can do yourself. I built mine for around $1000, which is what I would've paid for the Dells and HPs I was looking at, but I was able to get exactly what I wanted.

I don't know about audio, but for video, I'd recommend:

  • The fastest processor that fits your budget (use benchmark scores, not clock speeds, to compare)
  • Fast hard drives. An ideal setup from what I've read (and based on Premiere benchmarks) is to have a small SSD for your boot drive and a RAID array for the actual editing. Those are fairly expensive, but at minimum, you should have 2 hard drives, one to boot and one to work in (and do NOT get 5400 RPM models).
  • A mid-level graphics card. I've got a GeForce GTX 550 Ti and it handles my 1080p/60fps video just fine.
  • RAM will depend on what software you're using (as will all of these, but RAM more so). For Premiere CS5+, for instance, you probably want at least 12 GB; I use Lightworks, which is still a 32 bit program as of this writing and therefore can't use more than 4 GB.
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