In Tech: i7 Adobe Premiere Pro computer build (aka the anti-Final Cut Pro X decision)

At this point I was fully expecting to be plunking down a few thousand for an i7 iMac. Instead I'll be speccing out a DIY Intel i7 build that will run Adobe CS5.5 on Windows 7.

Intel i7 Processor

Intel i7 ProcessorThere was a point I was contemplating “the switch.” A few months ago that possibly meant — brace yourself — switching from Adobe Premiere Pro to Final Cut Pro X. I know, I know. Blasphemy! Don’t forget, though, that Apple wowed the crowds earlier in the year with some pretty sexy previews that produced several oohs-and-ahhs from a roomful of editing pros. But, as we all know, the real story was yet to come.

So now my Should I Stay, or Should I Go sojourn has come full circle. I’m doubling down on Premiere Pro. Having used the platform for several years for our vids here on Stark Insider, and having put so much effort into learning the nuances, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to starting anew. The poor showing by FCPX pretty much put an exclamation mark on the decision.

At this point I was fully expecting to be plunking down a few thousand for an i7 iMac. Instead I’ll be speccing out a DIY Intel i7 build that will run Windows 7. It will go into service as a dedicated media station, primarily used for Premiere, Photoshop and Illustrator. The older Quad-Core system in the office — still quite serviceable — will be used for web surfing, cloud stuff, and administration.

So, then: What is the best ground-up computer build for running Adobe Premiere Pro? (note: budget ~ $2,000)

To find out what I’m thinking, read on for the complete parts pick list.

Processor

First, we’re building on an Intel i7-2600K Sandy Bridge processor. It’s not the top end, but more than enough for my needs, and comes in at just over $300, very reasonable given its performance.

Hard Drives

I plan to use a few SSDs. One will be used for Windows 7 boot only. The other is for apps, and also a “scratch” disk for Premiere Pro files. I plan to use 7200RPM drives for media storage. At this point I’m not opting for any sort of RAID configuration, although I may revisit that down the line. I’ve read that it can greatly help throughput.

I should note that I’m quite certain that on the old system, the biggest bottle neck for performance was the hard drive. Many times I could here it chugging away when I loaded a new PP project and the timeline was being populated with clips — painfully slow! Scrubbing too seems to be inhibited by slow drive throughput.

Graphics

I’m going NVIDIA here. It’s the obvious choice given Adobe’s support of CUDA acceleration. Here, again, I won’t bust the budget, and am considering the GTX 570 series (Fermi) which is third highest line from NVIDIA, coming in at the $300-400 range.

 Itemized Build – DIY for Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5

Here’s the complete parts list. These are Newegg links where I plan to buy the system from:

Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor $314.99

Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC064MAG-1G1 2.5″ MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $122.99

Corsair Force Series CSSD-F60GB2-BRKT-A 2.5″ MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $119.99

CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory $74.99 x 2 = $149.98

ASUS GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) ENGTX570 DCII/2DIS/1280MD5 Video Card $329.99 (after rebate)

COOLER MASTER Storm Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP Black Computer Case $129.99 (after rebate)

ASUS P8Z68-V PRO ATX Intel Motherboard $209.99

CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W High Performance Power Supply $94.99 (after rebate)

SAMSUNG P2770FH 27″ 1ms Full HD HDMI LCD Monitor $299.99

Total: $1472.91

Final Thoughts

These are just my preliminary ideas for this build. Many of you I’m sure will know better ways to achieve maximum performance within this budget. Over the past few weeks I’ve researched online and in some of the forums, and I hope I’m on the right track.

I welcome all of your suggestions!

Regarding Final Cut Pro X, let me add this: Apple will get it right. In the next few releases I expect them to address a majority of the criticism. And once we get used to the magnetic timeline (is it possible?) and some of the other new features, I predict the world of NLE could be forever changed. When that happens, I’ll be pining for Adobe to add all of this whiz-bang too in CS 6.

Coming Next: building the system, performance tests with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, more. Stay tuned.

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  • Jane

    Thanks for the final notes…FCP and I have grown up together and I would need major hand-holding and therapy if I had to switch now as at least one of my friends already has.

  • Shane Yeager

    As a 20 year old college kid and video editor for the past 5 years I couldn’t agree more. I have a macbook pro 2.3 ghz quad and a I7 overclocked 3.3ghz 920 quad workstation. I’ve played in each editing system from CS4-5.5 and final cut 7-X. I feel that Apple didn’t drop the ball like everyone said, they just appealed to a larger less professional market. Lets be honest Apple is here to make money, I’m willing to bet they will release a new revolutionary Finalcut X pro edition that ups the complexity. The only problem is by that time Adobe will be on CS6. I get very tired and annoyed by the Avid fanboys and Vegas-Pinnical know it alls. Adobe is way ahead of the curve with all of their technologies. Their seamless integration between programs is hard to top. I will say that premiere has been more stable on the macbook pro but what video program isn’t a little susceptible to crashes. Thanks for the great article Clinton! 

  • Thejongshow

    How do the i7 Sandy Bridge processors (with integrated graphics) function with the Nvidia cards? I’ve heard from http://www.videoguys.com/ that Sandy Bridge isn’t the way to go if building a Custom PC – the i7 970 (hex core) might be better option…or maybe a 960, if quad core is good enough…