General, yet in-depth questions (not "how do I" n00b related)


Apr 21, 2009
Just saying at the beginning of this, I'm not looking for any how to's, just some general info regarding overclocking/possibilities.

I'm looking into getting a high end desktop system to do a LOT of video editing and related things. NOT FOR GAMING******.

Software would be the latest and greatest (Adobe CS4 and the like), because most of the latest software updates are beginning to better utilize multiple cores.

From what I can tell, I don't *need* high end GPUs, at least for the video editing. Something to output to a minimum Full HD (1080p/Blu Ray) resolution. Which is the 1920xwhatever (can't remember offhand).

So from that understanding, I can only see one big thing that will help reduce the time it takes to do everything video-editing related: the CPU.

Looking around, the best (fastest) CPU right now is the Intel Core i7 975 @ 3.3 GHz.

I looked up some benchmarks and saw that it's not a whole lot faster than the i7 965 that it replaced, but that doesn't really matter since the 975 is the current model. Also something about C0 Stepping vs D0 Stepping that I've got to Google still.

Anyway, I won't have the money to buy/build this setup until around Christmas time, so this is pretty much me doing my prep work for the project.

As mentioned above, the primary component for what I want to do (video editing) would be the CPU. The i7 family is the obvious (from what I understand) choice for the highest end CPU. I've read that the i7 920 (also read it's been discontinued in favor of the less powerful i5 lineup) is almost as good a processor as the i7 96/75, the biggest difference being the ease of overclocking/unlocked multipliers on the 96/75.

So if I chose the i7 975 @ 3.3 GHz, the only way to make said computer faster would be to overclock it. From what I understand, the i7 overclocks to between 4 - 4.5 GHz fairly well. Keep in mind that I would be looking to put a VERY high end watercooling system into this machine.

I don't *fully* understand stability when it comes to overclocking yet. For video editing, I assume that I would only want a VERY stable system. Thus why I would invest in such a high end watercooling setup if I overclocked the machine meant for video editing.

Is it realistic to assume that with an extremely good watercooling system, I would be able to get a stable 4.5GHz? What about 5GHz?

From what you all know, how would that effect benchmarks that were done with the i7 975 @ 3.3 GHz? Possibly a 40-50% increase in performance?

I'm trying to learn all I can about hardware right now, so I was hoping you knowledgable guys could give me an idea of what is possible (pretend price doesn't matter for now). I'm talking practical application here, not liquid nitrogen/helium, obviously.

I know there was Skulltrail which was dual CPU (but older CPU lines, not the i7 family), but for my uses, I thought Skulltrail was more geared towards gamers (multiple GPUs etc).

Reading ahead about upcoming products closer to the Christmas/New Year timeframe of this build, sometime in early 2010 the Core i9 (6/hexacore) is supposed to be getting released. Will current software (Adobe CS4, etc) have to be rewritten again to take advantage of the additional 2 cores, or will most software written to support current multi-core processors scale to support the extra 2 cores?

If it scales, I might consider waiting to put together this system until that CPU is available. I've got an Intel Quad Core system which was damaged by lightning this year that I think I could salvage and have repaired as a temporary solution until then.

So to summarize my primary questions to make it easier for any responders:

1) For something like video editing, is overclocking at all recommended? Or are there too many stability issues?
2) For a very high end system, is a stable 4.5 - 5 GHz overclock (end result) possible?
3) My current Quad Core system had 12GB of RAM in I think dual channel. i7 is tri-channel from what I understand, what's the maximum RAM (especially in regards to overclocking) I could use for that setup? Editing large quantities of HD video is where I will likely be at by the time this rig is put together, and that takes lots of RAM. From what I recall reading, i7-compatible RAM isn't very "dense" yet.

Lastly, for video editing (not gaming) capabilities, does anyone know the big differences between high end desktops, workstations, and servers? I know the later two are probably much higher in price range, but the lines seem to get blurred a bit between high end desktops and workstations. I couldn't find any real good explanations/sites about what workstations were really used for, and their compatibility with the software/OS (Windows 7?) I mentioned.

Many thanks for any help I receive. :)

P.S. I was mildly interested in the capabilities (not these ACTUAL systems, but the performance they're capable of) of the following three systems:

"Reactor" PC (the cooling system/capabilities of this):

Dell T7500 Workstation (which was why I asked about workstations, especially when I saw the maximum RAM it was capable of utilizing [which yes I know would be in the $10-20,000 range to actually max out, and I don't even think current RAM is dense enough to hit the 192GB cap]):

I'm probably completely off my rocker here (since I know very little about cooling and hardware and the like), but would some kind of "external" setup similar to this be better for cooling (maybe only air cooling?), or am I just getting fooled by it's rather unique look? :) This is the "Level 10" PC Chasis:

And I figured I'd throw this in just because it was the first time I'd read of "Skulltrail". And I like the look of it. I'm not all about LEDs and other "bling" for a computer, but for it to look nice/customizable doesn't hurt. Compare the looks of the three systems I've mentioned down here to that Dell T7500 (and yes, I know it's a workstation, still makes my point), to see what my definition of "looks good" is.

Obviously I'll probably look at cases that suit my own tastes, so unless you know of something awesome, I'm a whole lot more interested in the components/specs here.

Okay I think I explained myself well enough now.
I'm not sure why you would need more than 3.3 Ghz processing power for video editing, but you're entitled to spend your money however you like.

The i7 920 is so popular because it can be easily overclocked to levels of processors that cost hundreds more.

Sounds like a workstation might be a better fit for you. And unless you are overclocking to the moon to get the best framerates or benchmark busting, the watercooling will be a waste of time and money. Get one of the top rated air coolers and you can overclock just as well.