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computer for restorations - a simple FAQ
#1
During the last weeks, I thought a lot about upgrading my desktop PC... what to do? Just add a better GPU? An SSD? More RAM? Or change the whole system?

Read on, because I learned something meanwhile, that may be of some help for someone; waiting for your opinions and advices as usual! Ok


Computer for restorations - a simple FAQ


Which computer for restoration purposes?

My advice is to go with a desktop computer, leaving a laptop for other uses.
Best option would be to make a custom built one (or buy a used one that will suite your need); also, some pre-built rigs could always do, but they have limited hardware combinations, or, with the right one, price is usually higher.

Used or brand new?
Well, nice question! If you are "rich" Money go for a brand new one; but if you aren't (like me), you could spend something like 20/30% less with "fresh" hardware, while a lot less with older ones. Sure, new hardware has warranty, but "fresh" one has it too - and some hardware has like 5-years warranty!

Workstation or gaming PC?

I do not play games on PC (actually, last time I played with my old PS3 was... few years ago! Eek), so I do not "see" gaming PC with gamer's eyes; from a restoration point of view, powerful gaming PCs have great potential, and often are great as restoration PCs; sometimes workstations are good, too, but they usually cost a lot more, often with lower specs or bang for the bucks - your mileage may vary, of course!

Which CPU?

So difficult to say! Let's start... I'd avoid non-Zen AMDs, and stay ONLY on ThreadRippers and Ryzens (possibly 7); for Intel, I'd go only with i7 and i9 (and Xeon comparable ones), possibly the K and X versions, giving maybe some chance to the best i5, avoiding at all i3 and others.

Do I need latest models?

If you have to start from scratch, I'd go for the newest model you can afford; yet, the increment in speed between two generations is usually quite limited (few percentage points); for AMD, Ryzen and ThreadRippers are quite new, so there is not too much to choose from; Intel, at the contrary, made a lot of different families over the years... I'd go at least for a 4th generation (Haswell/Devil Canyon) and not older, even if there are some older models still quite powerful, but they are frankly dated, as related hardware (MBs, RAMs etc.) - so, unless they are VERY cheap, and you do not expect miracles, you *may* take them in consideration - me, not!

How many cores?

I guess four is the bare minimum nowadays; no need for 28/32 cores at all IMHO, because it seems speed after 14/16 cores would not increase.

Frequency?

The higher the better? Yes and no... yes (usually) if you compare same family; also, keep in mind turbo boost, and possible overclocking - nowadays many motherboards and BIOS allow moderate OC automatically without big problems.

Overclock?

Apart the allowed one that I talked before, there is always the possibility to get even higher speed with tailored settings - but you must know what you are doing! Plus, there is always the "silicon lottery", where a small percentage of a given model could raise higher frequency than all the others; difficult is to spot the "right" ones!

Delid? Direct die?

Only for the most experienced users - or, if you find out a used one; but be careful, because they are usually very used ones, so they could die in a short time... you were warned!

Air coolers? Liquid?

Mmh... this will start a bloody wars between the followers of one or the other party... I can say that it's always better to replace the stock cooler, to get lower temperature - in particular, thinking that an encoding could take many hours, if not days... usually, air coolers are more than good for CPUs not overclocked, while most of the times high overclocks demand liquid coolers - but not always, so... it's up to you!

Motherboards?

Of course a compatible one! Jokes apart, there are also so many models that is impossible to say which is the best... take a look at the features first, connections etc. - I also note the construction and durability, material... do note that there are some "transitional" models, that got both new and old features; these could be useful if you have some older hardware that could be not compatible with the "all new" models.

Which GPU?

Before, I thought a powerful GPU would not be useful... well, I was WRONG! Yes, a powerful CPU is always needed, yet to get the best from some software (I think in particular to DaVinci Resolve, that uses GPU in a very heavy way), it's better to get the best GPU you can!
Nvidia, I'd go with any RTX, and best GTX (not under 1060 IMHO), while best Quadro may be useful, but very expensive; for AMD, I'd use only Vegas and RX 570/580. Of course, lower models could be enough, but as usual, the lower, the slower, so... and, try to get models with most memory!

RTX or GTX? Ti or non-Ti? Founders, or not?

RTX may have some interesting features for restoration purposes, but I think they are not yet developed (or quite difficult to use for the "normal" users); so, unless you know how to use Tensor cores, Python, Pytorch and the like, probably a "normal" GTX would do. Ti are better - more memory, faster - so, again, if you can, go for it! Founders... I'd go with the non-Founders, as usually they have better cooling and overclock capability.

Single GPU? Double, triple, quadruple?

My opinion (and not only mine) is, get the best single GPU you can afford; because a double GPU will not (usually) means double speed... also, take in account that few softwares could benefit from multiple GPUs - DaVinci Resolve is one of them, but NOT the free edition, beware!

What's about RAM?
As usual, the fastest the better, the more the merrier! Big Grin Minimum today should be 16GB for 2K, better to get 32GB for 4K and 64GB for 6K/8K; usually more than 64GB is not useful for the moment. Also, take a look at what version your motherboard support - it's useless to buy 3200MHz where your MB will support only 2400MHz; choose the right ones (DDR-3 or DDR-4), better a pair than single bank - or better four instead two for the quad channel chips like ThreadRipper.

And HDDs?

Old hard disk drives will be surely replaced by SSDs in the future, but for now the cost-per-gigabyte of a mechanical HDD is still a lot better, so... use an SSD (better M.2, U.2 or PCI-e) for OS; this does not need to be huge, but also think about how many software you think to get; for someone that uses few softwares like me, a 120GB should do, but I'd go with at least 240GB.
I'd add a second SSD for daily use (conversions, encoding, temp files); SATA would do for 2K, but fastest M.2, U.2 or PCI-e are better for 4K, and I'd say mandatory for 6k/8k. Big HDD(s) should be used as long term storage, because, even if SSDs are usually more durable than HDDs, they could fail without notice, while often (sometimes?) mechanical HDDs start to make strange noises before dying... and, remember to make backups (at least, of the most important and irreplaceable files.

And PSUs (power supply units)?

This is often underestimated, but it's VERY important! First, use a wattage calculator, put the data of the hardware you would like to get, and then buy at least a PSU with some watts more - a lot more if you plan to add "hungry" hardware, like a plethora of HDDs (like me) or a second (third? fourth?) GPU! 

Modular or not modular?

Well, once I thought that any modular PSU could be replaced with any other model from any other brand.. WRONG! Almost any brand use its own kind of cables - or, if the same, they are wired differently... so, a modular one could be useful to get more order in the cable management, or to be replaced easily with the same model (or another from the same brand, probably); yet, any track has an ampere limit, and this *may* be problematic in some (few?) cases... so, do not discard non-modular ones!

Which PSU model/brand?

Go only with the best, known one... a PSU tier list is useful; try to get one in the first tiers, avoiding the last ones - as usual, try to get the best you can, and DO NOT spare money on this, trust me!

And case?

Case is up to you, of course; yet, I strongly suggest to get a big one, with quite some fans, to let enough air to circulate - it will be hot inside, granted! - capable to cool well CPU, GPU, MB and all; also, take in account GPU lenght, CPU cooler height, room for HDDs, optical drives, added PCI-e cards etc.

Keyboard, mouse, other things?

Again, keyboard and mouse are up to you; just choose something durable, you will use them A LOT!
Other things that you may need are eventual audio and video capture cards - a must have if you want to capture VHS and Laserdiscs, but not only... vynil, anyone?

Last words

My advice is to get the best you can, trying to not spare money now, because you surely have to spend (more) later; take your time, do not rush, study, make your homeworks; think also that this computer will hopely not be used only for restorations, but also to surf the net, watch movies, listen to music, and, why not, play games - confess! Big Grin

Useful links:
[/url]
CPU database
High-end CPUs
CPU hierarchy
CPU tier list

Cooler tier list

[url=https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-motherboards,3984-3.html]Best Motherboards 2019

Best Memory 2019

GPU database
High-end GPUs
GPU hierarchy
GPU tier list

How to Buy the Right SSD
HDD tier list

PSU calculator
PSU tier list

DaVinci Resolve hardware overview

High-end audio capture cards
High-end video capture cards
Fundamental collection thread | Vimeo channel | My personal blog
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#2
AMD Radeon VII - a lot of links to reviews: https://www.reddit.com/r/Amd/comments/ao...megathread

This card, with its 16GB, could be particularly interesting for restoration purposes.
Fundamental collection thread | Vimeo channel | My personal blog
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#3
After reading a lot lately about computer hardware, I've build up some opinions, so here are some random thoughts:

desktop computers: avoid to buy a pre-built one (unless used), as it will cost A LOT more than the single parts! If you think you will not be able to put those parts together, just ask your friend (yes, that nerdier than you one) to help, or pay few bucks to a shop to make it for you; at the end, you could spare hundreds or even thousands dollars or euros; really!

RAM: the more, the better, agree. But do not take in account ONLY the speed in MHz, but also latency; to make a quick'n'dirt comparison, just divide the speed by the latency: so, a 3000MHz CL14 is better than 3200MHz CL16 (not that much, at the end); take always in account the max speed supported by the CPU and the motherboard, and pay attention to the compatibility - follow the vendor lists, but do not trust them completely, as there are some models listed that will not work (well), and others not listed that will work; also, DDR4 are even pickier than DDR3, so sometimes if you buy a certain RAM kit, and later you dedice to buy another identical kit, it's not always true that they will work flawlessly... so, better to decide in advance the amount of memory, to be safe for some years, and then, if you will decide to upgrade, sell the actual kit and buy another one. Better to buy now more RAM than needed, to avoid to sell it soon (at half price) to upgrade. And, even if speed AND latency are important, it's always better to have more memory, albeit a bit slower, if the price difference is not enormous - I mean, if I have X gigabytes at given speed/latency that cost Y, and 2X gigabytes that cost 1.5Y but 10% slower, go for the latter. IMHO.

GPU: Nvidia is not the only chance anymore; yes, it makes great video cards, but you have to decide what you need a GPU for: gaming? video editing? deep learning? To each its own. I'd prefer to have more VRAM for video editing, while more FPS for gaming, and two (or three, or four!) cards for deep learning - or video editing - or gaming (sometimes)! Difficult decision, will not say to choose Nvidia over AMD, or vice versa; just, take your time, read reviews, opinions, benchmarks about the use you would do, and make an informed decision.

CPU: I must admit here I'm keen to AMD, in particular to ThreadRipper; yes, they are not perfect for every tasks, and the biggest WX versions would be useful only for very selected tasks - and rich owners; yet, at the same price of the Intel counterparts, AMD has bigger core count, L3 cache, PCI lanes... sure, Intel is almost always better for single core tasks, so, again... which is the "best" CPU? It depends from what use you will do! (read previous statement at the end of the GPU thought)

enough for the moment... will be nice to hear your random thoughts as well!
Fundamental collection thread | Vimeo channel | My personal blog
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#4
Ive not looked at computer hardware much over the past few years.

I had a peek last year at putting together a cheep(ish) 4k Bluray player/ Media Centre but held off due to it not being cheep enough yet to justify.

Do you (anybody) know if AMD will support (official) UHD playback in the furture?
(For those who don't know Cyberlink software requires a recent Intel CPU to playback UHD discs)

Its a strange state of affairs really.
It would of been much more practical to implement this kind of security on a GPU or Dongle of some kind.
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