Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

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scooterspal
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Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:38 pm

Hello to all and thank you in advance for any help and advice you can provide me.

Looking to purchase a "rendering laptop" of sorts to run Handbrake for windows on. Will be used to compress 1080I HD
files from around 35 Mbps down to 15 Mpbs in the high profile mode for best quality. The goal being to accomplish
the conversion in the least amount of time necessary so the files can be sent via FTP to my clients.

Right now I'm using a desktop core 2 duo 2.66 Mhz (Dell Optiplex 745) running Windows Vista 32bit. Compression is
taking roughly nine times the running time to complete. So nine minutes of CPU time for One minute of video.

Question: I'm partial to Dell and they offer their slightly older E6430 series in various flavors.

What would convert faster running Handbrake... 1x Core i7 (i7-3520M) 2.90 GHz or 1x Core i7 Quad (i7-3720QM) 2.60 GHz

Any other suggestions as to laptop type are welcome. If you have real world commpression times all the better.

Again, thanks for the input.

moneymatt4life
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by moneymatt4life » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:10 pm

well, they're both essentially the same processor besides the number of cores... the extra 4 threads in the 3720QM would probably be better for handbrake than a slightly higher base clock? :? i dunno...

if you could afford a laptop with the i7-4980HQ, that's probably one of the best laptop CPUs currently :P although that's a gaming laptop rather than a rendering laptop... regardless you have to be aware of the cooling in the laptop with CPU intensive tasks such as rendering, which are usually a lot better in gaming laptops(?)...
rendering likes high-clocked and multiple cores, which are kinda hard to come by in laptops... desktops are better suited for this ;)
no benchmarks to provide though :(

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Rodeo
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by Rodeo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:18 pm

More cores -> better, up to about 6 physical cores. Beyond that, you may need to run multiple instances to take full advantage of additional cores…

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JohnAStebbins
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by JohnAStebbins » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:19 pm

Some general guidelines. x264 scales well up to about 6 cores. So the more cores the better. More recent architectures are always more efficient in a couple of ways. First, more recent CPUs will run cooler. This is important in a laptop running HandBrake because most laptops *will* throttle CPU clock speed in order to prevent overheating while HandBrake is running (assuming software encoding). So the more efficient the CPU, the less it will throttle. Second, more recent architectures can do more in a clock cycle and therefore encode faster at a given clock speed than older architectures. In addition, you might find that you can get sufficient performance out of the hardware QSV h.264 encoder for your needs. This encoder is available in some Intel processors since Sandy Bridge, but improves in both speed and quality with each new architecture from Intel. QSV is very fast and does not cause the heat issues that software encoding does.

If you can borrow someone's Haswell based machine and test QSV, I would do this first to see if it is sufficient for your needs. If so, you could get away with a dual core i3 Haswell that is probably cheaper than what you are currently looking at. An i3 or i5 Haswell may be faster than the i7 Ivy you are looking at even for software encoding.

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:20 pm

Thanks. Guess what I'm after is a system... portable like a laptop so it can be running in my van... that can do maybe a real time conversion. That is, one minute of video converted in one minute of CPU time. That's all I'd really need. Not looking for something is mere seconds.

What I read on this series from Dell (from some test sites) was they're cooling worked quite well averaging 80 degrees or so.

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Rodeo
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by Rodeo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:32 pm

You can always adjust your encoding settings to get more speed, at the expense of some compression efficiency. Are you currently using the Normal preset? If not, give it a try, it's a good indication of your computer's "maximum" x264 encoding speed (there are ways to make encoding even faster, but you start getting into settings where compression efficiency isn't all that great).

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:47 pm

When you say "adjust encoding settings" are you talking about the switch under Options for "enable DXVA"? Tried that but got exact same speed.

Or do you mean the profiles tab to the right? I have that set to high profile and have the rate to 15Mbps. actually, the client is happy with the end result so not wanting to alter this for the time being. Just want to speed things up and retain what I'm now getting for picture quality.

As to using a Haswell-equipped machine. If i could get some input on exact models to look for that users are having good luck with that would help. I have no one I know who owns one.

Cost is a factor to some extent so an earlier model that might work will help.

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:10 pm

Tried using Normal. No good.

Looks great until the subject moves then the picture breaks up on vertical lines. Blocks and such. Need to stick with High Profile for my client needs. Thanks for the suggestion. It did speed things up about 4 times, though.

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JohnAStebbins
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by JohnAStebbins » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:23 pm

scooterspal wrote:Tried using Normal. No good.

Looks great until the subject moves then the picture breaks up on vertical lines. Blocks and such. Need to stick with High Profile for my client needs. Thanks for the suggestion. It did speed things up about 4 times, though.
What you describe here sounds like it could be a problem with interlaced source content. The "High Profile" preset has the Decomb filter enabled by default. The "Normal" preset does not. So try using the Normal preset, then enable Decomb-Default on the Picture tab.

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by mduell » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:31 pm

Or if you can't figure out filtering, start with the High Profile preset and choose a faster x264 preset on the video tab.

For fast mobile encoding you may want to try Intel QuickSync. The compression efficiency isn't great, but it's comparable to the faster x264 presets and uses a lot less power which is good on a laptop (since many have undersized thermal systems).

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Rodeo
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by Rodeo » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:35 pm

It's also good for the environment ;)

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by Woodstock » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:40 pm

Maybe this thread would be of interest for a "use in the truck" machine: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=29724

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:24 pm

Yes, the old de-interlace filter. With that enabled my time went up to 3.6 minutes to 1 minute of video as opposed to 9/1 before set to high profile.

Really, I cannot see any difference on my computer screen. Not sure how it will hold up on an HD monitor or TV.
The file size is also not that much different between the two... high to normal.

What am I giving up running in Normal mode?

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JohnAStebbins
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by JohnAStebbins » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:34 pm

scooterspal wrote:What am I giving up running in Normal mode?
A little of what is called "encoder efficiency". What this means is either the file size will get a little bigger, or the quality will be a little lower. Which of these 2 things happens depends on several factors including the characteristics of the source content.

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:42 pm

Getting back to my reason for the post. To find a faster machine to run Handbrake on...

I assume I'm likely to do way better on a quad core i7 laptop at 64bit than my current core 2 duo 6700 at 32bit, yes?

The issue that has been brought up is the heat generated. Will it be so bad, for what I'm doing, as to cause the unit
to shut down or just throttle back on the CPU speed and to what extent, can anyone tell me?

Are there laptops that handle the heat better than others with little or no throttle back? Dell's models that I mentioned had favorable heat reviews but then again they were not running Handbrake at the time.

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by moneymatt4life » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:24 pm

the quadcore i7 should perform way better with handbrake than a dualcore...

80C? i don't think a lot consider that very good :? i remember going 82C or something during the summer and something was cooking :lol: hopefully nothing bad happened
i'm usually between 66-75C depending on how many x264 threads i feel like using...

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by mduell » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:08 pm

scooterspal wrote:The issue that has been brought up is the heat generated. Will it be so bad, for what I'm doing, as to cause the unit
to shut down or just throttle back on the CPU speed and to what extent, can anyone tell me?

Are there laptops that handle the heat better than others with little or no throttle back? Dell's models that I mentioned had favorable heat reviews but then again they were not running Handbrake at the time.
There's a lot of question marks around the CPU encoding path - just how fast will it be, will it throttle/crash, etc.

I'd really suggest looking into using QuickSync, this kind of problem (mobile, ~realtime HD encoding, relatively generous bitrate allowance) is what it's geared around and can succeed at.

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:26 pm

OK. Fair enough. So my question to using hardware over software has to do with final quality.

Is there any trade off picture quality wise to using a Quicksync hardware encoder system over doing it completely in software?

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Rodeo
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by Rodeo » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:22 pm

Quick Sync Video cannot compete against x264's slowest presets in terms of compression efficiency, but that's easily worked around by giving it more bits to play with (larger files).

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JohnAStebbins
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by JohnAStebbins » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:25 pm

scooterspal wrote:OK. Fair enough. So my question to using hardware over software has to do with final quality.

Is there any trade off picture quality wise to using a Quicksync hardware encoder system over doing it completely in software?
Yes.

This is why I suggested that you find a machine you can test it on first. QSV encoders strengths are that it is blindingly fast, and doesn't stress the hardware. But it is a lower "efficiency" encoder. I.e. the output will be either larger or lower quality depending on settings used. So you need to do some test encodes and check the file size and quality to see if it works for your use case.

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by mduell » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:34 pm

Rodeo wrote:Quick Sync Video cannot compete against x264's slowest presets in terms of compression efficiency, but that's easily worked around by giving it more bits to play with (larger files).
OP wouldn't likely be using the slowest x264 presets to hit his speed target anyway, and has a generous 15 Mbps target.

scooterspal
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by scooterspal » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:28 pm

Testing is not really an option since I know of no one who owns such a machine. I'm left to buying one (probably used) on the web and taking my chances. Making the files larger is also not my goal since I still have to upload the much compressed 15Mbps version to an FTP server. Keeping the files at the size I'm now getting is preferred. Still hours of upload time with my current internet connection.

As to my settings... I have it set to the default settings for High Profile but have a check in the box for Average Bit Rate and have 15000 in the box to get 15Mbps. Only doing a single pass. No checks marks below this line.

Audio set to 256k... same settings otherwise on that dialog. The original video is 35 Mbps mp4 1080/50I or 1080/60I. Output frame size kept the same.

So am I left with getting a non-hardware encoding laptop of the i7-ish variety, quad core, windows 7 pro-64 bit and keeping it in an ice chest for the drive back home... in other words, how badly am I stressing things the way I have the settings for my needs?

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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by texasgrillchef » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:22 pm

After reading all of this, I am still confused.

I am using a X99 motherboard with 64gb of DDR4 RAM and a intel 5960 (8 core) CPU 3ghz.

So is handbrake making use of all 8 cores? Is it taking advantage of my 64gb of Ram?

TGC

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s55
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Re: Advice for buying a "rendering machine"

Post by s55 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:31 pm

HandBrake will use as any cores as it can, but depending on source and settings, typically you get diminishing returns after 6 cores.

HandBrake only uses up to around 2GB for 1080P content. What it needs is fast memory, not masses of memory. There is no benfit to having 64GB ram if all you are doing is video encoding with HandBrake. HandBrake has everything it needs in memory, in memory.

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