Article Updated on 01/13/2016
Copyright 2015, Studio 1 Productions
Written by David Knarr of Studio 1 Productions
Since I originally wrote this article a lot of things have changed. Adobe Premiere is now up to Premiere CC 2014 and Sony
Vegas is now at version 13. New processors from Intel and AMD have come out and now more people are starting to edit with 4K. So an update to this article is in order.
The original version of this article was written because of the number of emails I was receiving about whether or not you could run Adobe Premiere on an AMD processor and why so many people putting down the AMD processor. A common thread in these emails was, the people didn't have the budget to buy a high end Intel processor like the I7-5930K or the I7-5960X that people on the various forums said they needed just to run Premiere. These processors alone can run $500 to $1000 just for the CPU. These Intel chips are just not with in their budgets.
So, when I first wrote this article, I decided to build a budget system for Premiere and for Sony Vegas, keeping the price around $1000. This system will include the CPU, motherboard, 16GB of ram, 3 hard drives, NVidia video card for Premiere to use GPU acceleration, case and a 750 watt power supply, DVD drive, keyboard and mouse. And I did it.
I wanted to see how well it could handle Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas.
Well since the original article I have build several more of these systems and made some minor changes to the system build, mainly in the area of the CPU. Also, during this time Adobe has release a couple of new versions of Premiere and I will address how these changes have affected how these systems handle Premiere.
NOTE: Before we get started, if you are a power user or someone who requires the most powerful system, then this article is clearly not for you. This article is intended for those people who want good performance while keeping on a $1000 budget.
In the past, AMD processors did not offer the full instruction set for SSE4.1, which Adobe Premiere uses. Because of this a Adobe Premiere ran slower on the older processors.
When AMD first came out with the FX series of processors, AMD included most of the instruction sets implemented by Intel processors including SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES, CLMUL, and AVX. Because of the added instruction sets, this allowed Adobe Premiere to run better on the FX series of processors.
The first and second FX series of processors were called Bulldozer and they are listed below:
The third and current FX series of processors are called Piledriver and they are listed below:
The fourth and also current FX series of processors are call Piledriver and they are listed below:
I will not be covering the FX-9xxx series of CPU's for several reasons.
If you choose to use an AMD FX series processor, make sure you only use the Piledriver, which is the lasted version of the FX
processors. The reason is the Piledriver will give you a 10% to 18% performance improvement over the older Bulldozer line. Also, the
Piledriver supports additional instruction sets such as AVX 1.1, FMA3, FMA4, etc.
AMD FX Chip Prices
CPU prices fluctuate up and down. The prices below are for Jan. 5, 2015.
The prices above are from Newegg, Amazon.com, MicroCenter and Fry's.
I have to say, do NOT buy the FX4300 CPU. You can get the 6 core FX-6300 for the same price as the FX-4300 or for about $10 more, depending on where you purchase it from.
When I built our first system, I choose the FX-6300 over the FX-8320 and FX-8350 and some of you are probably wondering why I did that. Like I said at the beginning of the article, I wanted to build a budget system and using the FX-6300 kept me on budget. The FX-8320 wasn't out yet and the FX-8350 was $80 over the price of the FX-6300.
Since then, prices have dropped on the AMD FX-8320 and FX-8350. If you are going to build an AMD system, I would definitely look at the FX-8320. Now, it is only $30 more than the FX-6300, so I have to say spend the extra $30 for the FX-8320. The extra performance is worth it.
Since the original article, I have built 3 more systems. One system was built around the FX-8350 and the other two systems where built around the FX-8320. These CPU's are 8 core systems and they give me about 20% faster rendering times of video animations and 15% to 20% faster rendering times in Premiere and Vegas.
As far as the different in performance between the AMD FX-8320 and the FX-8350, using benchmark programs I only saw about a 3% to 5% difference. Rendering in Premiere and Vegas, the difference in rendering times between the two processors was so only a a few seconds. So I am sticking with the FX-8320 as the best bang for the buck.
Motherboards for AMD processors
The AMD FX series of CPU's use the AM3+ socket on the motherboard. Most of the motherboard will use the 790 or 970 or 990FX chipset. Because of this, the motherboards will differ in speed and what speed memory it can use.
Motherboards using the 990FX chipset will have 2600MHz Hyper Transport (5200 MT/s). Hyper Transport is known as the system bus architecture of AMD CPU. Okay, that's technical enough, just remember the higher the MHz, the faster it will be.
When it comes to the RAM memory the 990FX chipset can use a faster memory such as DDR3-1600 or DDR-1866. I can use higher speed RAM if you are overclocking.
Motherboards using the 970 chipset will have 2200MHz Hyper Transport (4400 MT/s) or 2400MHz Hyper Transport (4800 MT/s), which is slower than the Hyper Transport with the 990FX chipset.
Also, the memory these boards can use is a little slower too. Typically they will use DDR3-1333, although sometime you will find boards that will take DDR3-1600
Motherboards using the 760 chipset have an even a slower Hyper Transport. They generally have a 2000MHz Hyper Transport (4000 MT/s) or a 2200MHz Hyper Transport (4400 MT/s). These are much slower than the 990FX chip set. In addition, the RAM they use will be as slow as DDR3-1066. I do not recommend these motherboards if you are going to use Adobe Premiere.
If you are building a system, the prices on the motherboards vary from as little as $49 to over $200. The lower price the motherboard, the slower it is going to be in most cases. it really does not make any sense to use a fast CPU on a slow motherboard.
Another thing with the motherboards is some of the lower cost ones will limit you to a couple of expansion slots and they may not offer things like USB3 port, SATA 6Gb/s support, they may restrict you the amount of memory and eSATA support, among other things.
When build my system, I did a lot of research and ended up with a Gigibyte GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard. It uses the 990FX chipset and can handle DDR3-1600 or DDR-1866 memory. This motherboard has 7 expansion slots, it has 6 of the SATA 6Gb/s ports, USB3, eSata and a lot more. At the end of the article I will show you the prices I paid.
What ever you do, don't go with a cheap, slower motherboard. It defeats the purpose of having a fast CPU. I have talked to a few people
who used a motherboard with the 790 chipset with the slower Hyper Transport speed and they had to use slower memory. Once they
upgraded to a better motherboard with the 990FX chipset with the 2600 MHz Hyper Transport and with faster memory, but using the same CPU as
they did on their slower motherboard, each person said they saw a noticeable improvement with the programs they were running.
Adobe Premiere, After Effects and other video related programs need as much power and speed as possible to give you the performance you need to run everything smoothly.
About Pre-Built Systems
When you build the computer yourself or have someone custom build it for you, you can choose the motherboard, CPU, memory, etc.
When you buy from someplace like HP or Dell, while they give you some choices, you don't have any control over the type of memory they are using or the type or specs of the motherboard they are using. For example, the may use DDR3-1066 ram, when you wanted faster memory such at DDR3-1600.
I looked into an HP computer and they are using a motherboard with the 970 chipset, which has a slower Hyper Transport and even though they offer DDR3-1600 ram the mother board will only run the memory as DDR3-1066.
While they do offer you video cards, they are the low end video cards and they don't offer enough power for Premiere. So you will have to pull that video card and upgrade to another one.
Also, they use a very small power supply in their systems, so if you want to upgrade the video card, which you will have to if you are using Premiere, you will need to upgrade the power supply.
Generally, these systems use the stock CPU fan which is not good and the computer case don't have very good air flow.
By the time you get done making all of these changes to a Pre-Built computer, it would have been less expensive for you to have either built it yourself or to have someone custom build it for.
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I decided to use Western Digital Black hard drives. They have been very reliable for me in the past so I decided to stick with them for this system build. These drives are SATA 6Gb/s with 64 MB of cache memory. I am using a total of 3 drives, as Premiere and Vegas will give a much better performance with 3 drives than with 2 or a single drive. The system has a three 1TB drives.
There are a lot of computer cases to choose from. My requirements for the case was:
After a lot of searching I found one. It is the Raidmax Helios ATX-819WB.
The Raidmax Helios case offered everything I want and more.
The original Raidmax Helios cases came with 4 fans built-in and room for six 3.5 inch drives. However, now they only come with 1 fan and room for three 3.5 inch drives. Since I am only mounting three 3.5 inch drives in the system, this is not a problem for me. Both the original and current Raidmax Helios case have room for three 5.25 inch drives.
In order to properly cool your system you will need to pick up 3 more fans. The fans I am using are the APEVIA CF12SL-SBL 120mm Blue LED Case Fan w/ Anti-Vibration Rubber Pads. They run around $10 each. They maybe a little expensive, but they are very quiet fans.
Now some of you may think that by having 4 fans in the case that it would be noisy, it's not. With these fans it is whisper quiet.
The Power Supply
The power supply I ending up going with was Corsair CX750. This is a 750 watt power supply and is more than capable of handling the power needs for this system. I also talked to several people who are in the business of building computers systems for a living and most of them recommended the Corsair CX750 as a good solid power supply for the system I was building.
When you are looking for a power supply you will have many different choices. Please do not skimp on the wattage.
If the power supply does now have enough power, you will run into all kinds of problems with your system. As I said above, most of the
people I talked to recommended the Corsair CX750 power supply. The two other people recommended I go with an 850 watt or 1000 watt power
supply, just in case I would need the extra power in the future.
NOTE: In the Raidmax Helios case that I am using the fan on the power supply is mounted down into the bottom of the case. The reason is, this is an intake fan, so air is pulled into the power supply case through an opening in the bottom of the Raidmax case and blown out the back of the power supply. This way, the warm air from the power supply never enters the computer case, keeping it much cooler inside the case.
I do NOT recommend using the CPU cooler that comes with the AMD processors for two reasons:
I ended up going with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler. Below is a picture of the AMD CPU cooler and the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler.
As you can see the size difference between the two CPU coolers. The Hyper 212 EVO has a much larger fan and a larger heat sink over the AMD CPU cooler. I tried both CPU coolers and here was my results with a room temperature of 22c / 72F :
From the temperatures above, you can see that the Hyper 212 EVO does a much better job in cooling the CPU. Also, the fan on the Hyper 212 EVO is quiet.
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This is the paste that you put on top of the CPU before you place the CPU cooler on top of the CPU chip. This is also called thermal gel, thermal grease, heat sink paste, heat sink compound and a variety of other names. Thermal paste is used to draw the heat away from the CPU to the heat sink and/or CPU cooler.
If you go to YouTube and type in How To Apply Thermal Paste or Thermal Compound, you will see a lot of different videos showing you how to do this correctly. If you have never used thermal paste, please watch a couple of videos on how to properly use thermal paste.
While the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO came with a tube of thermal paste, I wanted something that had a was rated one of the best thermal pastes and I wanted to make sure it was non-electrical conductive. There is a wide variety of Thermal Pastes available. The thermal paste I used was Arctic MX-2. The reason that I used this paste was is:
Another favorite of systems builders is Arctic Silver 5. However, this paste you have to be careful with as it DOES conduct electricity. Which means if any of it comes in contact with the CPU pins or circuit, you could short out and damage the CPU. So this is why I went with Arctic MX-2.
I wanted this system to have 16 megs of ram. The motherboard I was using, the Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 can handle a maximum of 32 GB of ram. There are 4 slots for ram. I chose to go with four sticks of 4 GB DDR-1600 ram, using all four slots in the original system build.
Since then I have started using two sticks of 8 GB DDR-1600 ram, giving me 16 GB of RAM, leaving two slots open for the future if I would need more memory.
When I first ordered the ram, I ordered the standard memory as shown on the left in the picture above. I quickly found out that the fins on top of the memory prevented me from installing the fan on the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU cooler. So, I had to send back the memory and order the Low Profile Memory as shown on the right. This let me install the Hyper 212 EVO with no problems.
As you can see in the picture above, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO's fan can sit over the memory with a small clearance.
A side benefit of this is, the fan will draw air across the memory chips, thus helping to keep them cool.
NOTE: I found out by talking with other people online, that most after market CPU cooler will interfere with the RAM on AMD motherboards. So it is not just a problem with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. So I strongly recommend you just go with Low Profile Memory right from the beginning.
The BIOS on Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard has the type of memory set to 1333 MHz RAM. You will need to change it to 1600 MHz, provided you are running 1600 MHz RAM. So here is how you do it:
1. Power on the computer and press the Delete key when the Gigabyte boot screen appears.
2. You will see several tabs across the top of the screen. The first one says M.I.T. Make sure this is highlighted
3. You will see several options for you to choose from. Look for the Advanced Memory Settings option and select it.
4. Set the Extreme Memory Profile to Profile 1
5. Save and Exit out of the BIOS.
6. IMPORTANT - Let the system boot up. After it has booted power down the computer. When you power back up, the RAM will be set for 1600 MHz.
The Video Card for an Adobe Premiere system build.
I tried several different video cards in this system to see which would give the the best bang for the buck. It turns out the NVidia GTX-760 video card gave me the best overall performance for this system. The GTX-770 gave me a very slight performance increase over the GTX-760, but there was an $85 price difference. Which made the GTX-760 the best bang for the buck.
NOTE: You can see the test results with Adobe Premiere CS6 in the article I wrote on Video Cards and Adobe Premiere Pro by clicking here.
The video card I ended up using was the Gigabyte GTX-760 video card with 2GB of video memory. This model is factory overclocked and offers dual cooling fans. The fans are very, very quiet and the do a great job in keeping the video card cool.
NOTE: I do NOT recommend going with the GTX-600 series of video
cards anymore, since NVidia has started to release the GTX700 series. The GTX600 series have a slower memory bandwidth rate than the newer 700
series, which causes the 600 series to run slightly slower.
NOTE: NVidia has released the GTX-970 and GTX-980 video cards. I did test the GTX-970 in one of the FX-8320 systems and found the GTX-970 to be slightly faster than the GTX-770 and a little faster than the GTX-760 in this system. I felt the GTX-760 still gave me the best bang for the buck. The cost of the GTX-970 is running around $150 more than the GTX-760 and I wasn't sure the little extra performance when exporting videos would be worth it. Plus, it would push the cost of the system over the target price of $1000.
If you are not keeping to a budget, then by all means spend away.
Out of the four systems I have built around the AMD processors, I am using the GTX-760 in three of the systems and the fourth system has the GTX-770.
NOTE: If you are running Adobe Premiere Elements, be aware that this program does not utilize the video card other than for sending the display to the monitor.
The Video Card for an Sony Vegas and Sony Movie Studio system build.
Sony Vegas and Sony Movie Studio, while they can use the GPU on certain video cards, mainly AMD video cards, they can NOT use the GPU on the newer NVIDIA video cards. If you have one of the older GT-500 or GTX-500 series video cards, you will have GPU acceleration. Anything new and you won't have GPU acceleration. Using the GPU acceleration is a complicated issue with Sony Vegas and Movie Studio and will require a separate article, which I am slowly working on.
While I mainly use Sony Vegas and Sony Movie Studio, I turn all the GPU acceleration feature off all together and use only the CPU.
DVD Drive, Keyboard and Mouse
For this system, I did not install a Blu-Ray burner, but simply a standard DVD burner. As for the keyboard and mouse, I chose a Microsoft keyboard and mouse package.
Assembling the Computer
This took about 2 hours, as I took my time putting it together. Again, using YouTube you can find lots of videos showing you how to assemble a computer. It's not that hard.
One thing you want to watch out for is making sure the cables and wires inside the case do not block air flow. There are also videos on YouTube showing you cable management in your computer case. You should watch a few to get some ideas of how to keep the cables and wires out of the way for better air flow.
Once the Computer is Assembled and Up and Running
Once I did a clean install of Windows 7, (I am not a fan of Windows 8) I went about tuning the system for Adobe Premiere. Here is what I did:
Monitoring the CPU and GPU
The program I use to monitor the CPU and GPU is Open Hardware Monitor. Do not confuse this with Hardware Monitor, that is a different program. The Open Hardware Monitor program will show you information about both the CPU and GPU, where Hardware Monitor does not show you the GPU information.
My Hard Drive Read and Write Speeds and How I setup Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas to Use All 3 Drives For Better Performance
All three of the 1TB Western Digital Black hard drives give me approximately the same performance. They have read and write speeds of 160 to 168 MB/sec.
When I setup Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere this is how I setup the hard drives for best performance:
By distributing the disk access across different hard drives, you will greatly improve the performance of
your editing software, no matter what software you are using to edit videos. With this computer system, when I ran different tests in Adobe Premiere with only using 1 hard drive vs. splitting things up over 3 hard drives,
I saw a 25% performance increase with the 3 hard drive setup when rendering out the videos. You can get even better performance if you setup a raid system or SSD drives.
However, for this article and explaining how I setup this computer with keeping the budget under $1000 I used a 3 hard drive setup.
Due to the components I used and the way I setup the software with the adjustment I made, this system ranks as the fastest AMD system in the PPBM5 benchmark chart. While it is NOT as fast as the more expensive Intel systems, I have no problem editing various type of HD video formats. Now your performance will vary from mine simply due to how complex your timeline is and the type of footage you are working with, so please keep that in mind.
Of the systems I have built, Adobe Premiere runs on one of these systems and Sony Vegas 12 and Sony Vegas Movie Studio 12 run on the other computers. I mainly work with footage from a Nikon D3200 DSLR camera, XDCAM footage and AVCHD footage, which is all HD material. I have had no problems working with any of this footage on these systems, even on the FX-6300.
I would recommend the FX-8320 over the FX-6300 simply because it is about 20% faster than the FX-6300 and it is only priced $30 more than the FX-6300.
If you are working with 4K material, you may want to look at one of the higher end Intel CPU's. Most people are reporting good results editing 4K material on the Intel I7-5930K or the I7-5960X CPU's. However, a few have said, the more complex the timeline becomes, they noticed the performance had slowed down. Everyone will have different results due to how complex the time line is.
I have not worked with 4K material on any of these systems builds as of Jan. 5, 2015, but I will be getting some 4K footage in here in the next couple of weeks to try out on these systems and I will update the article then.
The Editing Software I am using.
I have tried the following editing software packages on these systems:
All of the programs run just fine on these on all of these systems with the footage I am working with.
I have noticed that with Adobe Premiere CC 2014, the system can get bogged down more easily than the other programs I am using with identical
timelines. This happened to me when the timeline was becoming more complex.
The Cost of The AMD FX-8320 System
NOTE: Prices will vary, even on a day to day basis. Most of these parts where purchased between Dec. 15 and Dec. 24, 2014 for a system build I did on New Years 2015. It is best to watch for sale prices and pick up the parts as they go on sale.
Raidmax Helios Case - (Reg. $54.95)
Corsair CX750 Power Supply - (Reg. $79.95)
APEVIA CF12SL-SBL 120mm Blue LED Case Fans 3 Fans
GA-990FXA-UD3 Motherboard - (Reg. $119.95)
AMD FX-8320 - (Reg. $139.95)
Corsair Vengeance LP DDR3-1600 (Reg. $99.95)
Western Digital Black 1TB Hard Drive
Western Digital Black 1TB Hard Drive
Western Digital Black 1TB Hard Drive
Gigabyte GTX 760 with 2 GB DDR5 Ram (Reg. $209.95)
Cool Master Hyper 212 EVO (Reg. $34.95)
Artic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Paste 1.5 Oz.
LG DVD Burner
Microsoft Keyboard and Mouse
Place of Purchase
Newegg After $20 Rebate
Newegg After $20 Rebate
Newegg After $20 Rebate
Newegg After Rebate
Micro Center Sale
$19.40 - Shipping
$1033.56 - Total
If you where to build this system using the AMD FX-6300 you would save only about $30
If you are upgrading an older system and you decide to use your DVD burner, keyboard and mouse, that will save you money.
Please remember, this article is geared towards someone who wants a budget build computer system for video editing and keep the price at $1000. These systems will not be as fast as a system that is built around a higher end Intel CPU. But, then again these systems will not cost anywhere near as much either.
I have been asked, why would I build so many systems around the AMD processor when the Intel processor is more powerful for Adobe Premiere. Good question. I do have an Intel system that I spent around $3000 on and I found for the type of editing that I need to do, the AMD systems worked just fine for me. Now that is not saying it will be fine for you, as I don't know how complex your timeline will be and the type of footage you are working with. But, I know they work for us.
Also, I don't use Adobe Premiere that much anymore. I have switched to Sony Vegas. It is not as bloated as Premiere has become and doesn't require all the power that Premiere does in order to run smoothly with complex timelines. Plus, with Sony Vegas, I don't have to rent the software each month.
All of the parts mentioned in this article were purchased by us and there was no influence or contact by any of the parts manufacturers or suppliers. Nor, did they have any input to this article.