Build A Monster Computer for Video Editing & Post Production

Dave’s Monster Build is done!


UPDATE: Check out my newest build called Dave’s Beast I did 18 months after this one.

Thank everyone and all the videos. I got so many comments and I read all of them, I did a lot of research after that video asking for advise and I made some changes to the list.

OK, I have never done a computer build before, so many of you wrote in that I have to try it, it is easy they say, well let’s see how easy it is. If you are watching this to know how it is done you might turn this video off now, I have never done this before.

If I make a mistake I will be sure to point it out.

Final Parts List (updated 3/12/14)

  • i7-3930k 3.2g 6 core at $569. I picked this because of the 6 cores with hyper threading act like 12 cores. This is good for rendering my projects quickly. I have a hope that my render time will get cut in half from my current setup.
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard at $300, it has 8 DIMM’s so I can have 64G of RAM if I want to. Right now I am sticking to 32GB.
  • 1600MHz 32GB of RAM I wanted to get faster RAM than this of over clocking but I got confused when I read the mother board manual on which RAM was qualified so I went with RAM I know others have used with this motherboard since I saw one comment that their 1866MHz RAM didn’t work.
  • GTX 680 “FTW” 4gb version which costs $560. In the comments I got some many conflicting advice on this piece of equipment, which actually might be the most important in terms of video editing. So I read up on the Adobe and Black Magic’s site and also talked with some colorist that spend all day in DaVinci Resolve and they said this was the card to get.
  • Corsair H100i liquid cooler with two Noctua NF-F12-PWM fans I watched a video from Linus Tech Tips on cooling and he had an awesome video on this and which fans to use. After watching that video it was very clear what to get.
  • Fractal Design Define R4 I went back and forth on this one, but after watching a few people’s builds with this case, I went with this one.
  • CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W  I had to return this one because it made some weird fan noises.  I replaced it with Seasonic SS-760XP ATX which is nice an quiet and 80PLUS Platinum Certified, I notice that is runs the same tasks as the other PSU but at slightly less wattages.
  • Corsair Force Series GT CSSD 240GB SSD drive for my OS and programs (Windows 7 and Adobe CC).
  • Update: For my ‘M:’ media drive, I am now using the Samsung 840 EVO SSD 1TB drive which is wicked fast using the new RAPID feature, I am getting 900MB/s reads and writes. This works great for when you have a multi-cam edit or layers of video tracks streaming all at the same time.
  • I have two 3TB HDD hard drives for backups within my system and one 1TB drive for exporting my videos as well.
  • Kingston 480GB SSD for my scratch drive. You do not need an SSD this large for a scratch drive, 32GB would be plenty. I got this one because it will also work great in Black Magic Cinema camera when I need it for that.
  • Windows 7 Pro since I need to address all 32GB of RAM.

OK let’s build it and see I f*ck it up at all. My guess is I will have some missing parts. If you see me in different shirts, more than one day.

Some people are going to think this is overkill, but I call it future proofing. I want to do more After Effects and I think within 18 months I might be shooting in a RAW format at a much higher resolution than I do now. Think about how much your camera and lenses cost, then think how much time you spend behind the computer compared to how much you spend shooting – shouldn’t your computer be more than your camera?

The Build

  • I really like this Fractal case, it is really well built and has excellent noise dampening on both side panels. You can remove the upper disk drive bay and actually rotate it if you want for better air movement from the front fan, it was also nice to take it out so you have more room to work with.
  • Before mounting the motherboard I installed the 6 standoffs that came with the case.
  • Since I don’t own a wrist strap, here you can see me trying to ground the static after I picked up the MB, what was I thinking?
  • Before putting the MB in the case I wanted to install the CPU and the RAM first. I watched a lot of people on YT do this, so I followed what they did in terms on the opening it up. I tried to be very careful when pressing on the MB because I didn’t want to crack any of the traces.
  • I removed the CPU cover plate next.
  • Taking it out of the plastic case and only touching the sides was not easy
  • Even after I said not to touch it, what did I do, i touched it!
  • Closing it up was a little nerve racking because it required a lot more force than I thought, the ‘V’ shaped one was OK but the ‘u’ shaped one was harder than I thought, I was expecting to hear something snap!
  • Next up I installed the ram, this was easy since I have done it before, but I didn’t get the 4th in all the way and had to re-seat it later after I noticed the system only had 24g.
  • After putting in the MB side plate it was time to put the MB in.
  • I put in the standoffs for the Cooler, I had to stop at this point because there is a mistake in the Corsair manual on which one to use, but I got to talk with a tech at Corsair and they help me.
  • Next up I install the radiator again for the second time now that the MB is in.
  • Then I re-watched Linus’s video again and noticed that his fans were on top blowing the air out, so for the 3rd time I installed the radiator and fans.
  • Finally I got to install the cooler to the cpu, since it already has thermal paste I got to skip that step which was nice. But since I touched the CPU I had to clean it off with rubbing alcohol.
  • I took my time and made sure each screw had even pressure on the cpu.
  • Next up was the PSU, the Corsair 750 is not full modular but close, so after screwing it in a started running the cables. I would later come to find out that this PSU has a annoying feature, every 5 minutes the fan would go from off to full blast for 3 seconds and then turn off again, I called Corsair and they said it was designed that way, I told him that I would rather have the fan on all the time at a low speed, so I replaced it with a better PSU.
  • Next up I installed the GPU which was another mistake, I should’ve saved this until last because it was hard connecting the wires around in on the MB.
  • I didn’t buy a DVD so I stole one out of my old computer, I was thinking of giving away my old computer on a FB contest, but my sister saw my post and she said she wanted it, sorry family comes first.
  • Installing the DVD was pretty easy.
  • Next I installed my old hard drives, which I ended up re-arranging them several times, I then printed labels for the each, the media drive, the preview drive, the OS drive and the export drive.
  • I connected the front and rear fans to the mb, but later I ended up connecting them to the case fan controller because for some reason I could not get the fan speed down low enough using the BIOS and other programs.
  • There were lots of connection to make and I was happy that I had all the cables I needed.
  • I tried to make the messy side panel to look good, but I couldn’t so put the panel back on.
  • After fixing the fan issue, I ran a bunch of tests to find the right balance of fan noise to cooling after I overclocked the CPU and GPU.
  • I found that turning the front and rear fans down to 400 rpm and running the top radiator fans at 700 rpm with a profile in the Corsairlink2 software was the balance I was looking for.
  • With these setting during a long render the CPU ran at 58C and the GPU at 65c and the motherboard at 36C.
  • At idle the CPU ran at 39C and the GPU at 37c and the motherboard at 32C.
  • In terms of backup I use external hard drives via my Esata and have both onsite and offsite backup of my media drive.
  • This new computer which I have labeled Dave’s Monster is faster than my old one, how much faster, not sure yet, I’m going to wait a few weeks until I have made a lot of tweaks before I publishing my results. But it definitely feels faster and has solved some issues I was having with Premiere and Davinci in the past.
  • First off I would like to thank Harm Millaard for helping with my disk setup,  Juan Salvo and Dave over at Studio1Productions on the graphics card, Michelangelo Girardi for the opening bumper to this video, Linus Sebastian for the help on the fans, Paul at Newegg, Will the UnknownLobster for showing me how it is done.
  • So how much did this all cost? $2,385. For those who say that is overkill, let me ask you what percentage of the time do you shoot with your camera and how much time are you behind the computer editing? If you are like me I am spending a lot more time behind the computer, this computer cost less than my 5D3 body. Even if it gives me just a small amount of speed benefit, I’ll take it!
  • And for those who will comment, Get a Mac, I priced out a comparable system for the Mac Pro and it came in $3,000 more. I have nothing against macs, except for the “Apple tax”.

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Dave's Monster Computer Build