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Ask the experts What motherboard do I choose? If you are planning on building your own system then choosing the right motherboard is very important. Very much like the chassis on a racing car it is the single most important component that allows your main component set (processor, memory, graphics etc) to work well with each other. Choose the wrong motherboard and even the best CPU, Memory, and Graphics could struggle to perform well. If you buy a custom, pre-built or pre- certified solution (from a dedicated system manufacturer like Workstation Specialists for exampleJ) then the best motherboard would already be chosen for you so this wouldn’t be an area of concern. Always look for reputable manufactures like Asus or Intel as they typically offer a more complete motherboard solution for your needs. The gamer orientated solutions might look nice on paper, but are probably not the best solution for video professionals. Look at workstation/ enterprise specific models that offer higher levels of reliability and a wider area of expansion options. The best motherboard should have the correct number of expansion slots/ ports and features to suit a user’s working environment. This would include high speed USB2.0, USB3.0 and FireWire for external hard disk drives, or PCI-Express expansion slots for add-in caption/media output cards. Some motherboards are now even shipping with Thunderbolt ports so these could be considered too. Top Tip Choose a motherboard that has plenty of growing room, as you never know where the future might take you. How much memory will I need? CPUs. Memory crashes can be costly and ECC give you a much more reliable memory sub-system in your workstation. You can never have enough memory, and with the modern digital video workflow now consisting of not just one, but an ever increasing number of individual applications (all open at the same time) it is becoming more and more important to have the right amount of memory in your system. Software applications like Adobe After Effects or Photoshop love RAM and the more you have the better. I would recommend you choose a minimum of 16GB to give yourself headroom, but always look at 32GB+ if you regularly work high definition and/or stereoscopic projects. This can be a tricky question to answer as everyone’s requirements are different. Depending on the work you do, how many applications you have open at once and the overall complexity of the work you undertake memory requirements can vary from 4GB to 48GB+. Realistically though, memory is relatively cheap in comparison to other components, so I would always recommend to go with as much memory as you can afford; and aim to get as many Gigabytes (GB) as you can without populating all of your available memory slots (this would then allow you to easily upgrade further in the future my simply populating these remaining/empty memory slots). Entry level systems typically have just four memory slots, with a maximum supported memory configuration of between 16 & 32GB so not populating all available memory slots can be tricky; however higher-end systems have eight or even sixteen memory slots so large capacity 64GB+ configurations will not break the bank. It is important to note that as your memory count increases you’ll need to consider the benefits of Error Correction Code (or ECC as it is known) which is only supported on higher-end Intel Xeon Top Tip Mem out the ory next is chea mem p, so ory always check option above your budget as the additional cost to go from 32GB to 64GB (as an example) is likely to cost less than you think. What graphics card do I need? The graphics card has changed roles over recent years. It is no longer classed as a display adaptor but now a co-processing device too. Typically the role of the graphics card was to plug your monitors into it. This allowed you to connect a number of monitors (typically 2+) into a computer and make multi-application workflows more pleasurable to work with. If you’ve ever used a single monitor configuration, then upgraded to a dual (or even triple) monitor configuration you’ll know what I’m talking about and will appreciate the benefits of having the extra desktop real-estate. They don’t just look cool, but multi-monitor workflows are more productive, creativity flows that little bit easier and you can see real-time outputs of your projects on a number of different screens. 42 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BA073JAN13.indd 42 11/01/2013 14:17