help me pick a machine.
September 18, 2011 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to get a used computer for video editing. What's a minimum reasonable hardware configuration for editing 720p video?

I have about six hours of footage to be edited into some 3-5 minutes bits; this will include some amount of titling, after effects, etc. I'm planning on using Cinelerra on a Linux platform.

It would be useful to know what's minimal for doing this, what's reasonable, and what's completely overkill.
posted by kaibutsu to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
I'm only a video editing n00b, but I was editing a screencast the other day. Guess it was about as heavy as 720p. I was using a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Macbook, it had 4GB RAM and a decently fast laptop drive. I was surprised at how capable it was.

I think basically any modern computer is able to do the job very well. At least basic editing and effects.
posted by krilli at 9:27 AM on September 18, 2011

Oh, and maybe check this Ask thread about a budget gaming build: Some great links were posted! Especially FfejL's link to this wonderful table of hardware du jour. I'd take the 'destitute' build, put 4GB in it, and a second 500GB hard drive. Maybe a known-good Linux video card (i.e. NVIDIA). Done.

Note that gaming places burdens on a video card. I doubt Cinelerra will tax modern graphics cards, so ignore the 'upgrade graphics' posts. Unless of course you find that Cinelerra users/devs recommend heavier duty video cards.

(W.r.t. Linux compatibility, I strongly prefer NVIDIA cards. Just works. Driver support is rock solid. I'd get a small cheap heatsinkless NVIDIA card. I wouldn't spend time on investigating if onboard graphics work, nor would I spend time on AMD/ATI graphics under Linux. But that's just me.)
posted by krilli at 9:38 AM on September 18, 2011

I would put much more than 4GB into it. Ram is very cheap.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:01 AM on September 18, 2011

Resoundingly seconded :)
posted by krilli at 10:03 AM on September 18, 2011

Computer hardware is so fast/cheap now that just about anything that isn't bottom-of-the-barrel should be good enough. 720p video "only" takes about 3x the resources that standard-definition video does, anyways.

Ditto with video cards -- you'll want some manner of acceleration (assuming Cinelerra supports things like accelerated video decoding), but a low-end $50 card ought to be enough for that.

DDR3 memory is dirt cheap these days, too. DDR2, being older and less in demand, is actually about twice the price.

Drive space is cheap too, just be sure to get a 7200 RPM drive instead of the cheaper "green" 5400 RPM ones. Drive performance will be your biggest bottleneck, so you might want to consider a RAID.
posted by neckro23 at 2:51 PM on September 18, 2011

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