I've been lurking online at component lists for the past 6 months as my HP z420 was getting really long-in-the-tooth. I'm super happy with my new system and I thought I would share my build in case it helps anyone out.
Build is primarily for DaVinci Resolve Colour, Online Editing, and Fusion Compositing, and teaching these subjects at the college level. I also capture my screen using OBS while using these apps for training videos.
I'm also using Media Composer, Premiere, Photoshop, and Gigapixel
It's late at night and I have to get an episode up (25 min show) on Frame.IO
for client review and my complete mixed bag of SD, HD, 2k, and 4k footage (Sony XAVC, GoPro, DJI, H265) which I had to absolutely cake with noise reduction and super scale and the final export was 7 minutes
. It's taken me longer to write this post than the render took to complete.
During Resolve exports - CPU usage in Task Manager is pegged at 100%, GPU peaks at 70% but hovers around 40%
I bought a generic gaming PC pre-built by Canada Computers and upgraded a few components. Affordably added a 3-year warranty to everything.
Blackmagic Decklink PCI
Deepcool Macube 310P case (very quiet, not MacPro quiet but nearly)
Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wifi Mobo
1TB M.2 WD Blue (boot)
500GB M.2 Kingston A2000 (disk cache)
500GB SSD (media)
2TB Seagate Green (media)
For workflow, I'm connected over 1 gig/e to a 20TB Drobo (11TB usable). The Drobo will be retired very soon. I'm looking at a QNAP or a Synology in the future. I dump media onto the Drobo first. Then I copy over show media to either the internal SSD or platter and change the folder path in Resolve for a fast relink. So the Drobo is pulling double duty with ingest and archive.
If I am really in a pinch, or get DPX sequences, I put those on the 2nd M.2 drive or create optimized media on the M.2 drive.
This is the box that was my starting point. I upgraded the RAM and had the 3 additional drives already and installed them myself. https://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=1446_1448&item_id=171187
A few weird things with the motherboard. The first M.2 slot runs at x4 speeds but the second runs at x2. That makes my second M.2 drive slower. So the boot drive can do 2100MB/s / 1800 MB/s Read/Write but the cache drive only does about 1250MB/s / 1250MB/s.
Another weird thing is that for every M.2 slot that is in use, you lose 2 SATA ports on the motherboard. So I have 6 physical SATA ports but can only use 2 of them since I have 2 M.2 drives.
Both of these measures are to control the PCI-lane usage on the CPU. I wasn't familiar with this and was planning on loading up more physical drives in the case (just random mechanicals I have laying around from old builds). I was so used to working with old Xeon machines that I forgot about keeping PCI lanes in mind.
No Thunderbolt but it has USB-C and USB 3.2, and (obviously) PCI slots. I may add a 10-gig/e card over PCI or a 5-gig/e card over USB-C next year.
Was the 3700X worth it? I'd say yes.
You could go with the 2700X if the sale price is good and lose a little bit of speed. Or, bump up to the 3900X and gain 4 more cores, but the cost shoots up pretty quickly. I mean, an encode heavy show exporting in 7-minutes is amazing, having spent more and have the render run in 5-minutes would not impact my life in a meaningful way.
If you are strictly a Premiere user, there are some really compelling benchmarks that show Intel can be a bit faster, since the export engine relies on the Intel integrated graphics in a way that it does not with Ryzen. However, I don't use Premiere as my primary encode or editing tool.
64GB RAM - I never max out the RAM but I do regularly use over 40GB just running Resolve and Power Point. If you wanted a no-dollar wasted build you might do with 48GB? But, 64 is working great for me.
It's really nice working with M.2 drives. I don't really need two of them but I like doing my caching and exports to a separate volume, it makes file management easier. I can also really comfortably work with image sequences now. Before, I would try to strongarm my clients into using ProRes4444 for VFX plates and outputs because I didn't want to deal with DPX. Now it's not an issue.
I like being able to access the drives myself and add components as I need them. M.2s are very affordable and very fast.
Liquid Cooling is damn quiet and temperatures are really under control. I was locked at 71 degrees Celsius during the whole render with the CPU at 100%.
I couldn't wait for the RTX3070 as I had to buy this in August for a job. And, Ryzen 5000s are around the corner. But, that will make my current build drop with clearout coupons for a while.
I would prefer to be on MacOS, but Windows 10 is quite fine.
Canada Computers was a decent vendor. They are very close to me and I have 3-year coverage so I take comfort in being able to take the rig over to them if there is a problem and have them deal with it.
I have built PCs in the past and had compatibility issues. I will never build my own PC again. Paying for a warranty is critical when it comes to business machines.
I was holding my breath for the 2020 27" iMac and it came out and... while it's a decent bump all around, the prices are just too much for me to go for. It has upgrade issues, heat issues. Basically issues with taking a laptop/desktop hybrid and sticking it in an aluminum monitor stand, which I don't need in the first place. I'm open minded to the new ARM based machines, and I very occasionally get offered FCPX teaching work so a new Mac might get added to my setup sometime next year. Maybe the bare minimum ARM Mac to run FCPX in 2021-2022 will also get added to the setup.
EDIT - COST
Base price was $1799 (on sale). After RAM, 3-year warranty, and Ontario sales tax price was $3050 CDN. I already owned the other drives and the Decklink from previous builds which was a selling point for getting another tower.