Picking a power supply for my video editing PC

I rebuilt my video editing system this past week.
Some months ago, Windows 2000 decided to start acting really goofy–it would start up, and Explorer would crash and restart every 10 seconds. I was able to make the system usable again by going into win.ini and changing the shell from Explorer to the old Program Manager, but seeing as I can’t stand Program Manager, I didn’t like that solution much.

I took the opportunity to make some more changes to the system too, specifically, upgrading to a 1.2 GHz Duron CPU and adding a second 18 GB 10K RPM drive (both purchased for an aborted project) and replacing the Adaptec 2940UW host adapter with an Adaptec 19160 I purchased over a year ago and for some insane reason didn’t use when I built the system in the first place. I also dropped in a Sapphire Radeon 7500 card, since I loaned out the S3 Savage4 card that was originally in the system.

The Radeon is overkill for this application, but it’s a $40 card so I really don’t care. Having a faster processor and a drive dedicated exclusively to holding my source video improved performance noticeably. By today’s standards, this is a very modest system, but it’s very nice for editing. It’s on the low end as far as disk space is concerned–figure a gig per four minutes of video in the standard DV format you’ll get from a firewire-equipped camcorder–but it’s very fast.

It’s also extremely unreliable. In a 90-minute session, the machine locked up twice. One was a black screen of death, and the other was a spontaneous reboot. In its previous incarnation, the system had a 750 MHz Duron processor and a 4500-rpm Quantum lct as a secondary drive for overflow use (I’d use it as a holding bin for video, then move it to the 10K drive for final output to tape to avoid dropped frames). Until the weird Explorer problem, it was rock solid. My Antec 300W power supply handled that load just fine.

That Antec power supply is about three years old, a relic from an era when 500 MHz was a blindingly fast processor and power requirements weren’t as obscene as they are now. Its age and the standards to which it were built are probably a problem.

PC Power and Cooling’s power supply selector gives a nice way to size a power supply to match a system. For me, it suggested that a PCP&C 275-watt power supply would be adequate under some circumstances. Well, assuming the box provided 275 watts divided properly on the correct rails, that is. (That kind of talk makes most people’s eyes start to glaze over, so people don’t talk about it much. PCP&C included.) But this machine has exactly one PCI slot still open, so it’s heavily loaded. I want more headroom than that.

PCP&C has its 350W box on sale for $71, which is considerably higher than Newegg will charge for basic 350W Antec or Enermax units, but pricing on business-grade or enthusiast-grade Antec and Enermax units is in line with PCP&C, and the PCP&C units have a better warranty. Plus PCP&C will ship it free and they throw in some freebies worth about $5 retail when all’s said and done.

I’ll get the Turbo-Cool 350 model rather than the Silencer 275 model. Quiet would be nice, but the system already makes a racket. So I’ll take overbuilt. Everything else about this system is.

One thought on “Picking a power supply for my video editing PC

  • December 24, 2002 at 5:30 am
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    A good power supply is a great thing.

    I need to get a 400 watt jobbie for my latest PC project. Sigh.

    I do need to sell off some of the old power supplies I have around here. Double sigh.

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