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What Workstation? I nvesting in a new computer workstation or high end PC for use with digital video/or and media production can be a daunting task. With so many different manufacturers to choose from, and with a practically endless list of components to select from customers can be left with literally millions of possible choices. Scary if you aren’t a hardware guru. What make/model processor, how many cores, Intel or AMD, how much RAM, what graphics card to choose? really does depend on your workflow, the types of software packages you use, and most importantly the types/ size/complexity of projects that you undertake. Without the correct advice people could invest in totally the wrong piece of hardware. I get asked many questions on a daily basis, some can be painfully obvious but others require quite a complex/ detailed answer so I’ve summarised the most commonly asked ones below: - As a hardware specialist myself, I often get asked by perspective clients what type of computer system would suit them. There isn’t a straight forward answer as one cap doesn’t always fit all “Jack of All, Master of None” is a phrase I quite commonly use. It If you are the next James Cameron, then realistically you won’t get very far with a budget £1000 workstation; however if you specialise in smaller corporate presentations/videos then this level of budget would be pretty accurate. What is the best processor for my needs? The processor (or CPU as it is more commonly known) is the brain of the computer system. It is responsible for everything the computer does, from basic tasks like playing solitaire, browsing the internet to more complex tasks like digital video and broadcast video editing. As the complexity of these tasks increase, it is important to take into consideration that they will have an increasing demand on the CPU (so the bigger/better the processor you have, the faster and easier you can work). A CPU typically has four main technical characteristics that need Ask the experts with Mike Leach, Workstation Specialists to be considered when purchasing. These are: • Frequency/clock speed (represented in GHz) • CPU Cores (with dual, quad, six and even eight core models now regularly available) • Memory/Cache • System Bus (known as the interconnect or older front side bus) Typically the higher the number the faster the CPU, and better suited this would be to digital video workflows. Intel has the best line up of CPUs at the moment, with their Core i7 and Xeon models making the most appropriate choice for digital video professional. The Intel Core i7 3770 offers great price/performance/value in the entry level space. This quad- core processor is perfectly suited to the lesser demanding video workflow, whereas the more powerful six-core Intel Core i7 3930K offers increased flexibility thanks to 50% processing cores. The range topping Intel Xeon E5 series is available with up to eight-cores and would suit the most complex of user environments (and is available in either single or dual processor configurations) NB: It is worth noting that Intel Core i7 CPUs are only supported in single CPU configurations, whereas the higher end Intel Xeon CPUs are available in Single/Dual or even Quad- CPU configurations with full support for advanced memory features like ECC (see later memory comments) 40 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BA073JAN13.indd 40 11/01/2013 14:17