You are viewing an archive of the old fxhome.com forums. The community has since moved to hitfilm.com.

Tips for buying a computer?

Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 12:17am

Post 1 of 25

BackOfTheHearse

Force: 2660 | Joined: 17th Nov 2001 | Posts: 1099

EffectsLab Pro User FXhome Movie Maker Windows User

Gold Member

Hey all, I figured I'd come here to get some help on this. It's general tradition that as each kid in my family reaches the age, the Christmas before they go off to college they get a computer. I've been told by my parents that they need some specs before they go shopping for me. They obviously know that I need lots of space to store my footage on, but beyond that they are somewhat at a loss... therefore it is up to me to tell them what I need. What do you think I should go with? Remember, I am going to college for film, so I will be using it and it will be worth my time. Any suggestions? I am looking for help on everything from Operating Systems to Hard Drive space and processors.. It will be a relatively custom-built machine, but I don't need outlandish stuff. Whatever will stand up to what I'll be doing... I don't need to smother in expensive stuff I can get the same results from in a cheaper method.

Oh, and it will be a PC. No Macs. Sorry.

Thanks in advance for your help.
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 2:40am

Post 2 of 25

sfbmovieco

Force: 2354 | Joined: 19th Mar 2002 | Posts: 1552

VideoWrap User PhotoKey 2 User Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

nitroviper007 wrote:



Oh, and it will be a PC. No Macs. Sorry.

Why bother? Hehe, I'm asking the same question ecept for Macs. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 2:59am

Post 3 of 25

Aculag

Force: 8365 | Joined: 21st Jun 2002 | Posts: 8581

EffectsLab Lite User VideoWrap User FXhome Movie Maker MacOS User

Gold Member

Go to Apple's website and put EVERYTHING into a dual 2GHz G5 and there you go, sfb. Heh.
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 3:01am

Post 4 of 25

Gibs

Force: 1663 | Joined: 21st May 2002 | Posts: 1611

CompositeLab Pro User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker MacOS User

Gold Member

Well, I would recommend getting a Hyper Threading Processor, which comes on Pentium 4 2.4, 2.6, 2.8, 3.0, and 3.2 GHz processors. It is supposed to significantly speed up the performance of things like rendering effects and stuff like that.

www.tomshardware.com is a site that has info on different computer components and their performance. Might be useful for deciding what graphics card to buy and such.
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 3:09am

Post 5 of 25

Slick

Force: 1140 | Joined: 20th Jul 2003 | Posts: 924

EffectsLab Lite User Windows User

Gold Member

I have hyper threding on my 4 2.8 I would also recomend it!
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 3:24am

Post 6 of 25

Hajiku_Flip

Force: 3786 | Joined: 2nd Jun 2002 | Posts: 1669

Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

Rating: +2

Check out ABSPC.com or IBUYPOWER.com and build your own. Then perhaps you could review it with your parents, and order the one you make? I just ordered one from ABSPC for $1,300 and it should cover me for just about anything I'll need for the next few years. Some key things you'll be sure to want are:

3.0 ghz +
512 or 1024mb of RAM (Preferably 1024 for video work)
A decent video card, 5600 (ATI or NVIDIA) at least.
Firewire capture card
2 seperate hard drives. You'll need one for scratch, vital for editors and phtoshop. I'd recommend an 80gb (main) and a 120gb (scratch).
Windows XP
420+ watt power supply
You'll also want to get a DVD-R/DVD-RW burner, because they are just way cool.

Hmm..other than that, I can't think of anything else that you'll desperatley need. However, I could raddle off a list of tons of goodies that you will probably want biggrin. You can get all that listed about for about $1100 or so, minus a monitor. With a monitor your looking at anything up to $1500 or so. Whatever you do, try and avoid buying factory made computers off the shelves of Best Buy or Circuit City. They are generally overpriced, and not tailored to our 'special' demands wink Let us know if you need any more help choosing between things, and goodluck!
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 3:37am

Post 7 of 25

Amadeus0

Force: 300 | Joined: 8th Feb 2002 | Posts: 121

EffectsLab Lite User Windows User

Gold Member

Rating: +2

When you say "film" what do you mean? Do you really mean 2k academy resolution? Or are you talking about stuff shot on a DV25 camera and transported to your system via firewire?

The above question wasn't meant to be sarcastic! I really mean it. If you can define what you want to use it for, and can provide some type of budget, then it becomes alot easier to figure out what you want.

DO NOT BUY AN OFF THE SHELF SYSTEM!!! They usually never work for our...*ahem* special needs. smile

Anyway, here's the low down:
For OS: Windows 2000 or Windows XP. I say go with XP, and disable all the CPU cycle consuming visual candy. XP is newer and deals with some things better then 2000. I use/run 2000 however, and have no problems with it. I most likely would have upgraded to XP by now, but with several of the things MS has done, I've sworn off MS products, and am not buying anymore. Win2k is it for me. If you get a 64-bit Athlon I think you'll need XP, for the chipset driver support, not for the CPU support

That's about it for the OS. BSD/Linux isn't an option. (If it was you wouldn't be asking any questions smile .) OSX isn't either (not on i386 hardware) and there really isn't anything else out there.

Now for my favorite part: The Hardware. These are general guidelines, if you state your budget, and just what you're looking at, I can throw in more specifics. (Are you going to build this system yourself? If so you could save a LOT of money.)

CPU: Faster=less rendering time. An Athlon does floating point MUCH better then a P4, but the P4 whips the Athlon if you use SSE2. Some programs make extensive use of SSE2 (such as Lightwave, all Ulead products, the newer Adobe products.) Which CPU you get is decided by what sotware you're going to run.

DO NOT GET A CELERON!!!!!!!!!!!

Other then that either one will be fine at the end of the day, but I'd go with an Athlon64/AthlonFX/Opteron (Athlons XPs cost alot less, are still good budget buys, but lack SSE2 support. Athlon64/FX/Opterons have SSE2+64-bittiness hehe.) The biggest problem with Hyper-threading (on the P4 CPUs) is that if you do/run a sequence of commands that use the same portion of the CPU (which usually happens during rendering) hyper-threading doesn't do you ANY good. Also unless your running programs that are designed to take advantage of Hyper-threading (NOT Multi-threading, that's totally different) you're not going to see a speed improvement, unless you plan on doing differnet things at the same time (which doesn' treally make much sense...Are you going to be rendering in AlamDV, AND After Effects, WHILE working on a photoshop document?)

Memory: More is better. You need AT LEAST 512MB. Period. If you're really serious about adding on the effects, you're gonna need more. Don't go over 2Gigs though. The trouble/cost just isn't worth it (I know. I've had to deal with that problem too many times.)

Graphics card: Here you can skimp if you're only doing 2D stuff (or play a little 3D on the side.) The most important things for 2D would be 1. Drivers (stability, and good support), 2. Clarity (the card needs to put out a clean image, esp. at higher resolutions.) If you need to do 3D stuff as well, then good OpenGL support is a must (which basically rules out any card but NVidia. Sorry to say that but there really isn't any way around bad drivers, and Matrox AND ATI still have them in spades when it comes to professional OpenGL support.) If 3D isn't a big deal, then any good ATI card will do. If 3D is a big deal, then a GF4 Ti4x00 series card, or an FX5600 (or faster) will be your best bet.

Hard drives: Get a small system drive (anything under 80GB), and spend the rest on large HDs. It's usually MUCH cheaper to buy your storage drives yourself, and install them yourself. In fact if you're new to computer hardware that's the first thing I recommend to people to try doing. It's really easy to install one, and save a chunk of change along the way.
As for Speed: 7200rpms is fine for DV25/DV50 work.
As for Size: Bigger is better. The sweet spot right now is at the 160GB-200GB range. You can get a 160GB 7200rpm HD for about $110.

(Make sure the system include Firewire if you need it. If it doesn't, you'll have to get a card, and install it yourself. Not something you want to do if you're hardware-phobic.)

Monitor: I can not stress this enough. GET A GOOD ONE. (There, done stressing enough.) wink
Larger is better. CRTs are Bigger, Less expensive, weigh more, but are easier on the eyes. LCD are the complete opposite. It really comes down to a matter of taste, space constrants, and budget.
(I hear that college dorm rooms are rather lacking in the space department.) heh...

Well that's for starters. Just a couple more things:
1. Be careful with your nice new equipment. I've heard horror stories from college kids about having their stuff stolen.
2. If you plan on keeping your personal data on this system (and by personal, I nedd MP3, documents, graphics) you might want to get some form of backup. DVD burner are well under $100 today, and are easy to install in a system. In fact, if your case doesn't have room for an extra drive for $50 you can put ANY IDE drive in an external Firewire/USB2 enclosure and hook it up to your system.

If you have anymore questions fell free to ask away.
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 4:46am

Post 8 of 25

BackOfTheHearse

Force: 2660 | Joined: 17th Nov 2001 | Posts: 1099

EffectsLab Pro User FXhome Movie Maker Windows User

Gold Member

Hey all, thanks for the replies. I do have a basic understanding of what I want/need, but I figure that I should see what others reccommend too. Luckily, I am not hardware-phobic, haha. I've already got myself a DVD RW drive that is pretty universal with all the types of disks that it can use, which is good. I figure I can also rip out the firewire card on my home computer for use in the new one, as I am the only one who uses it anyway. Thanks very much.


EDIT: Hah, since when did I get my yellow lightsaber started?
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 6:00am

Post 9 of 25

Magic_man12

Force: 853 | Joined: 20th Mar 2002 | Posts: 1350

Windows User MacOS User

Member

RAM RAM RAM RAM RAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 gig + for sure!

External hardrives are pretty sweet too. So you can easily bring your footage to school and back and work on it @ home (or res) and at school on their system.

nice speakers are good too biggrin

logitec z540 or z560 (better) are both decent


-MAGIC
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 6:16am

Post 10 of 25

monkey

Force: 230 | Joined: 18th Jun 2002 | Posts: 62

Gold Member

Can't put it any better than Amadeus0.

I'll note that nVidia has their GeForce FX 5700 out - major improvements on the FX 5600 (with cineFX Engine 2.0, like they're top of the line 5900, 5950 GPUs), all for around $200. Also nVidia cards are the easiest to upgrade (as long as you have the latest drivers, you can literally just open up your comp and swap cards; upon reboot, it'll walk you through quick config).

Also, if you have an extra $300, go with the Logitech Z-680 speaker set. 500 Watt 5.1: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro-Logic II, DTS on-board decoding with digital optical, coaxial, and stereo / mini inputs.
Posted: Sat, 29th Nov 2003, 7:35pm

Post 11 of 25

TAP2

Force: 1128 | Joined: 8th Jan 2003 | Posts: 1848

Windows User

Member

Rating: +1

As an owner, buyer and bulider of over 6 computers, I can assure you that the advice I'll give you is worth reading biggrin

Without writing a mini essay,

- Atleast P4 2.8ghz with HT (get the best while you can)
- 1024Mb Ram or more (PC3200 is much better and faster than PC2700)
(IMPORTANT)
- ONE small drive for your OS and Programme Files (about 20gb)
- ONE Massive drive for your footage (120-200gb)
(This will make the computer BOOT one hell of a lot faster and perform better)
(/IMPORTANT) biggrin
- Either get the gaming monsters, Radeon 9800Pro Or G4FX5700)
OR buy a rendering card if you do more animaton.
- A Good Sound card, Audigy 2 Platinum EX is a damn good buy, and it Comes with a built in high quality firewire port.
- Windows 2000 (faster) or Windows XP (better looking, arguably boots faster)

THEN CONSIDER,
- Dvd Burner or CD-WRITER
- Annalogue Capture Card

Also try and get an LCD, a 17"" LCD is perfect for films if you can't afford a 22"" monster. They're superior to CRT's - They take up less deskspace, don't strain your eyes, look neater e.t.c

Hope I've helped.

As someone mentioned above, I'm NOT copying - I use this site one hell of a lot,http://www.tomshardware.com/ and It's great for finding out exactly what you want.
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 9:43pm

Post 12 of 25

OneDanShow

Force: 260 | Joined: 16th Dec 2002 | Posts: 84

Windows User

Gold Member

Just a question: if you buy the Athlon64 or Athlon64 FX, as Amadeus0 suggested, do you have to buy Windows XP 64-bit to really take advantage of it?

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/64bit/evaluation/overview.asp
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 9:53pm

Post 13 of 25

fallen

Force: 1595 | Joined: 11th Nov 2001 | Posts: 586

EffectsLab Lite User FXhome Movie Maker Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

see when i started college all my parents bought me was a bus ticket. tbph no pc (or mac comes to that) does everything you want, and there will always be annoying niggles with it. just buy the most expensive computer you can weedle out of of ma and pa's pocket. failing that take the money, buy a cheapass computer and blow the rest on getting a keg or 5 at uni
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:01pm

Post 14 of 25

Xcession

Force: 42802 | Joined: 21st Mar 2001 | Posts: 1964

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 3 Pro User Windows User

SuperUser

getting a decent computer doesn't seem to take that much of a genius to be honest. But making the def'n between whats a good price/spec between several similar models is where a little bit of cunning is needed.

Even then, its not much cunning - buy the most powerful thing you can afford, don't buy a celeron, don't be a cheapass with graphics cards either - money = power. Make sure your memory is that which is recommended for your mobo.

The athlon/intel war is pretty much stable for the time being, price being weighed up against power (and even that is debatably equal anyway) and the only remaining war is Mac vs PC, which as you so succinctly put it is already decided for you.
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:11pm

Post 15 of 25

Kid

Force: 4177 | Joined: 1st Apr 2001 | Posts: 1876

EffectsLab Lite User VideoWrap User Windows User

Gold Member

Most of the advice here seems quite good. I would seriously consider an Athlon64 even if you don't intend using any 64-bit stuff yet as it is still faster and much more futureproof than a P4.

Also as some people have said hyperthreading is mostly just hype. It doesn't significantly improve performance but once you get up to the faster processors they all have it so may as well have it if you are getting one but it is not a vital thing to look out for.

People have covered the 2 harddisk thing above already.

As for monitors, if you are going to be doing graphics then you really need a CRT monitor not an LCD. While you can get round the slow response times, by buying a decent one, you can't get round the limited number of colours or the small size. A large CRT is much more comfortable and accurate to work on and much, much cheaper. LCDs are ok for office work but I reccomend avoiding them for graphics unless you really need portability and realise the compromise you are making to get it.
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:20pm

Post 16 of 25

TAP2

Force: 1128 | Joined: 8th Jan 2003 | Posts: 1848

Windows User

Member

I must say Kid, A lot of people have told me about this CRT vs LCD thing, and to me it's just as much hype as the HT, as you said biggrin

In games, they're great - just as good response times as CRTs. Quality is superior, as I said... they don't strain your eyes.
And if you have them set up correctly, they can display 'true colours'.
But I'll agree with you on that, they don't display colours as accurately as CRT's

anyways, it's a matter of opinion. But I'd use my L1710b 17"" LCD over any CRT for ANYTHING.
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:31pm

Post 17 of 25

Xcession

Force: 42802 | Joined: 21st Mar 2001 | Posts: 1964

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 3 Pro User Windows User

SuperUser

the LCDs we have at work are shocking poor. they are 17" things with a max resolution of 1024x768, which in itself blows goats.

furthermore their colours are wank, and their crispness is laughable.

Unless you are willing to spend SERIOUS cash on an LCD screen, don't even consider thinking about possibly debating the chance of maybe getting an LCD.
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:39pm

Post 18 of 25

TAP2

Force: 1128 | Joined: 8th Jan 2003 | Posts: 1848

Windows User

Member

Prob because your work IT guy picked em up at some computer fair for about £50.

I payed £250 extra when I bought my PC for my 17"" LCD and it is FAR,FAR,FAR,FAR better than any CRT i've ever seen. (And i've seen a lot of decent CRTs biggrin )

Don't believe me
http://www.lge.co.uk/mod_perl/go.pl/site/products/pc/monitors/tftlcdmonitors.htm?product_uid=2513&category_uid=643


Review Quote:
PC Zone, Recommended - L1710B
'Perhaps the best quality 17-inch panel on the market.'

Last edited Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:41pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:40pm

Post 19 of 25

fallen

Force: 1595 | Joined: 11th Nov 2001 | Posts: 586

EffectsLab Lite User FXhome Movie Maker Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

i'll agree with the lcd thing - the definition is poor and blurry on the ones at work, and the black seems to stand out more making everything seem cel rendered and cartoonish, esp with xp's silly default gui. i wouldnt trade my 21" hitachi crt for the world
Posted: Mon, 1st Dec 2003, 10:53pm

Post 20 of 25

Joshua Davies

Force: 25400 | Joined: 21st Mar 2001 | Posts: 3029

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXpreset Maker Windows User MacOS User

FXhome Team Member

Depends if you can afford a good LCD. They are way better than virtually any CRT you're gonna get your hands on. I use a 22" Mitsubishi Diamondtron every day, and use several other brand new top of the range CRTs every month and none comes close the the Apple/Sony/SGI 20",22" and 23" screens. As long as you run then at their native resolution they are crystal clear and the colours are accurate. But unless you can afford $800+ for a LCD screen its best to stick with CRT at the moment.

I've not tested any Athlon64 systems yet, but if you are considering AlthonXP vs P4 the P4 is much faster. I've been testing on quite a few Athlon and P4 systems over the last few months and even the Athlon 3200+ can't get at all close to a 3GHz P4 on all the tests I've done.

I know Athlons are cheap (all my systems are Athlon based) but if you really want high performance then the P4 is better, unless you do the right thing and get a vastly more expensive G5.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Dec 2003, 12:17am

Post 21 of 25

Kid

Force: 4177 | Joined: 1st Apr 2001 | Posts: 1876

EffectsLab Lite User VideoWrap User Windows User

Gold Member

Another alternative to P4 vs Athlon64 is to get dual athlon MPs. This is what I have myself although I did get them a while ago before the faster P4s and Athlon64 came out.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Dec 2003, 7:21am

Post 22 of 25

Amadeus0

Force: 300 | Joined: 8th Feb 2002 | Posts: 121

EffectsLab Lite User Windows User

Gold Member

To Schwar: Have you tested an Athlon64/Opteron/FX processor? (This brings up a couple of good questions: Just how SSE2 optimized will AlamDV3 be? Will you guys be putting out a version of AlamDV that is AMD64? I guess you could call it AlamDV64.) wink

To everyone: CRT vs. LCD. Schwar said it best: LCD is better IF you can afford the best. However the best is VERY expensive (compared to a good CRT, which will give you pretty good color reproduction.) For most professionals the issue of color reproduction is pretty much moot any way. You just get a good broadcast monitor, hook it up, calibrate it, and check everything you do against that. You NEVER go by what you see on your computer monitor. (NEVER EVER.)

About the Athlon64/XP64 issue: To get the most out of the CPU you will need a 64-bit OS (that would be WinXP64), 64-bit drivers (ATI and NVidia already have those, the MB chipset providers will have them as well by launch time, and for different compents of your system it will be wait and see), and 64-bit programs.
If you don't have the 64-bit OS, then everything runs at 32-bits (which isn't all that bad considering that the Athlon64 pretty much hangs with a P4.) Even if you get the 64-bit OS without 64-bit drivers you wont be able to use the hardware you have (but that wont really be an issue unless you have Creative hardware -i.e. Soundblaster- or something estoric.) After you've meet the above, the OS will feel/run faster, and programs running under that OS will feel/run faster, but you wont see the BIG improvement that some might be looking for unless you get 64-bit programs.
On the Linux/BSD side of things this isn't really an issue. You just recomplie, and BANG at least you're running a program in 64-bit mode. If you're really serious (which honestly almost no one is) you can hand optimize the code.

To eveyone that likes to quote various "Gaming websites": The problem with most hardware-review websites is that they are catering to a (at times) very different crowd (the gamer/overclocker/crack addict smile /pseudo-engineer) who have (again at times) a very different set of needs. The perfect exapmle is the recommendation of graphics cards. The gamers say to get the faster/best. But that's a waste if all you do is 2D (which video is, and a good chunk of graphics are.) Gamers say get an ATI card. Well for 2D there are pretty good. For Direct3D there are pretty good. For consumer OpenGL they're mediocre (sp?), but at least they will run such games (even with glitches & visual problems.) Try running a professional OpenGL app (Maya, Lightwave, Messiah just to name a few), and the $400+ card is as good as a paperweight. A $50 Nvidia card will do better (better being definied as "Well at least it will run the program, instead of not drawing the display, locking-up when rotating the viewport, crashing the system when loading geometry over 400,000 polys -only if they're not only triangles"...I could go on and on.) For a gaming system 1 hard drive is enough. For Video editing you really need at least 2 (system and storage.) I'm not saying that those websites (like Tom, overclockers.com, Anandtech, HardOCP) are bad, infact they have a lot of very useful information on them, but not everything they say (or the opinions they express) are valid for Graphics artists/Video editors.

A good example of this is an article that Thresh's website wrote. They were talking about "Building a file server", but then in the first 2 pages redefined what a file server was, by saying "that this system will also need to be a gaming station" ??!?!?!?!? What? By the end of the article they had basically spend alot of money on building a gaming box with a lot of extra storage. Nothing wrong with that, but really now, if they had been serious about building a system that could serve files, they really did it all wrong...OS, Processors, memory bandwidth are the things you need in a file server. A lot of people who read such an article will however go away thinking that what they called a file server is how one should be built.

(Sorry for the long rant.)

Also a lot of these sites are saying "SATA 10000rpm drivers are great!" but wont bother to look/tell you that for the price of 1 36.7GB SATA 10k HD, you could buy a complete SCSI 36.7GB HD setup (card, cable, terminator, HD) for about the same, which will allow you to hook up more drives as you need them, or that for the price of 2 SATA 36.7GB 10k HDs that you could go with a SCSI setup with 3x36.7GB SCSI 10k HDs (and we are not talking about old SCSI HDs here, only the newer ones) for only a few bucks more. Or for that matter that you can get a 15k 36.7GB SCSI for the same price as a 10k SATA, or that a 73GB 10k SCSI is under $150, while a 36.7GB 10k SATA is about $120...

(Ok, rant really over now.) wink

Just don't go around quoting gaming-based websites as the way to go for Video, Graphics, Special Effects, and/or Audio based systems. They really are different beasts.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Dec 2003, 9:37am

Post 23 of 25

jamesgrahamuk

Force: 210 | Joined: 26th Nov 2003 | Posts: 7

Gold Member

Aww...

Just get a Mac!

smile
Posted: Tue, 2nd Dec 2003, 5:17pm

Post 24 of 25

TAP2

Force: 1128 | Joined: 8th Jan 2003 | Posts: 1848

Windows User

Member

I like being right, It doesn't happen very often biggrin
I don't know how much mine costs to buy, but it's damn good, better than a 19"" Sony LCD i've seen biggrin


There's really nothing amazing about 64Bit, it's allmost as much waffle as HT technolagy in the P4's. It's typicall of these companies, 'let's add the text '64bit to' our products and charge an extra £200'

We all know Athlons, in general, are better for games. However, we also know that P4's have better build quality, can withstand more heat and have a longer lifespan. I like to think of Athlons as overclocked cpus, personally...
Pentium 4 or Dual Athlons...
Posted: Tue, 2nd Dec 2003, 7:51pm

Post 25 of 25

Kid

Force: 4177 | Joined: 1st Apr 2001 | Posts: 1876

EffectsLab Lite User VideoWrap User Windows User

Gold Member

No 64bit is not waffle at all. An athlon64 3200+ is around 30% faster than a P4 3.2Ghz with hyperthreading. This is without having a 64bit OS or any 64bit programs. With 64bit software it will run much, much faster.

This is why Intel have released the P4 extreme to compete. It is basically a Xeon, hence the huge expense.

Hyperthreading is hype because if you have a cpu with hyperthreading you can turn it on or off in the bios and see the difference. It doesn't make your cpu faster at all, what it does is make different processes work better with each other. However this comes at a cost of overhead and also still does not work as well as having 2 slower cpus. Hyperthreading makes repetitive tasks like rendering, encoding video and so on slower because of the overhead. Hyperthreading does make your desktop seem more responsive so basically if you do a lot of multitasking you want it on, if you do a lot of cpu crunching you want it off. So for video work which envolves a lot of cpu use you are much better with dual cpus or hyperthreading switched off.