After getting my plug-ins, codecs, fonts and little nick-nacks synchronized I was ready to do some test renders. To compare my desktop and new laptop I used a recent project that I edited using Sony Vegas Pro 10 and Adobe After Effect CS5. The results surprised me.
|Core i7 930
Clock: 2.8 Ghz
Max Turbo: 3.06 Ghz
Cache: 8 MB
Clock: 2.2 Ghz
Max Turbo: 3.3 Ghz
Cache: 6 MB
|24GB DDR3-1066 CL 7-7-7-20 Triple Channel
|16GB DDR3-1333 CL 9-9-9-24 Dual Channel
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 260
CUDA Cores: 192
Graphics Clock: 576 Mhz
Shader Speed: 1242 Mhz
Memory: 1792 MB GDDR3
Memory Interface: 448-bit
|Nvidia Quadro 2000M
CUDA Cores: 192
Graphics Clock: 550Mhz
Shader Speed: 1100 Mhz
Memory: 2048 MB DDR3
Memory Interface: 128-bit
|Intel X58 + ICH10R
|WD 3.5" 7200rpm
WDC WD1001FAES-60Z2A0 1000.2 GB
|Intel 310 SSD
SSDMAEMC080G2 80.0 GB
|Seagate Barracuda 3.5" 7200rpm
ST31000340AS 1002.2 GB
|Seagate Momentus 2.5" 7200rpm
The Desktop which was purchased around August 2010 as a custom configured system is the baseline for this comparison. Its WEI is 5.9 overall with 7.5 processor, 7.5 RAM, 7.1 Graphics, 7.1 Gaming Graphics and 5.9 Primary Hard Disk. The Laptop was purchased in May 2011. It's WEI when Optimus is 4.8 overall with 7.5 Processor, 7.5 RAM, 4.8 Graphics, 4.8 Gaming Graphics and 7.7 Primary Hard Disk. The WEI increases to an overall 6.9 when Discrete Graphics is switched in the BIOS. The test was done in Optimus mode because I hadn't read the threads in NBR about stability yet.
The HPE-380t was upgraded recently with an NEC USB 3.0 PCI x1 card. It shows up as a Renesas USB Host Controller which is also what appears on the W520's system information.
|Seagate Barracuda LP 3.5" 5900RPM
ST32000542AS 2000.3 GB
|e-SATA on Thermaltake BlacX Duet (single-drive on HDD1)
|Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable 5400rpm
ST1500LM003-9YH148 1500.3 GB
|GoFlex on USB 3.0
The Operating System contains Windows 7 Professional and applications. In the case of the W520 some executables were also stored in the Target Disk but those were not invoked for this test. The Target Disk is where I render the final output.
Project Media drive has most of the video clips, images and voice overs used for render. Additional Media contains Action Essentials 720p, Sony Motion Picture SFX and Stock20 music which I use across projects.
The same external drives were attached to e-SATA and USB 3.0 respectively. These external drives are the slower "Green" or portable versions which may limit the I/O speed somewhat. But this isn't an artificial test, I actually do store my media and work this way. It's not as optimized as a full-on RAID configuration but it is what it is. Also note that the BlacX only had one drive installed. I learned that the QM67 did not support port-multiplier so only one disk can be seen in the Disk 1 slot.
Sony Vegas Pro 10d Comparison 64-bit
I took a finished project, GoMilsim Evolution 9, and re-rendered it. The video was 08:21 long with some pre-rendered elements using a mix of 1080p and 720 clips in various formats. NeoScene was installed on the Desktop while NeoPlayer was on the Laptop. The Cineform license required disabling and reactivating when moving between computers but I didn't feel like doing it. Sorry.
2 Overlay Tracks with Text and Video
1 Main Video Track with JPEG, WMV, AVI-Cineform 720p 24fps, and MOV-Canon 7D 1080 24fps clips of mixed resolution/frame rate
3 Audio tracks
Resize from 1080p to 720p
Bit Rate Conversion
Render output used codec Sony AVC/MVC with 1280x720 resolution at rate 4,000,000 Mbps. This codec had options for CPU only and CUDA when available.
|Sony AVC-CPU only
|22 Minutes 55 Seconds
|21 Minutes 31 Seconds
|Sony AVC-GPU if available
|25 Minutes 11 Seconds
|23 Minutes 55 Seconds
Oh my! The results were not expected. Not only did GPU acceleration take longer to render, this year's Laptop outperformed the Desktop. Just because GPU is used doesn't really mean it will be faster. What it does allow is for the CPU to do other work while render is in progress. Effects and transitions may not benefit from GPU acceleration depending on how they are programmed. Observing the CPU utilization, it seems to me that resize from 1080p to 720p and text overlay is all done in CPU. Transcode from Cineform to Sony AVC was level at about 33% with GPU. Windows was showing 4GB RAM used during render in both cases. That's quite a revelation to me as this Vegas is a 64-bit application. The original project was created using Sony Vegas Pro 10c 32-bit. I wonder if that has anything to do with it?
After Effects CS5 Comparison
The VFX in the closing scene of Evolution 9 was originally done with Adobe CS4 32-bit. It was re-rendered using Adobe CS5 64-bit.
The project was 00:00:14,53 long. Rendered output was to 1280x720 Lossless 60fps
Composition with 23 Layers with 8 MOV files (7 from Action Essentials, 1 Canon 7D 720p 60fps, 1 JPEG
4 Motion Tracks for Compositing
|5 Minutes 33 Seconds
|4 Minutes 33 Seconds
It takes quite a while to render 14 seconds of VFX. The original render on a Q6600 with 3GB of RAM took 14 Minutes 6 seconds. The 64-bit renders consumed about 13GB! Both the 380t and W520 do much better than that but I didn't expect the Laptop to do better by a full minute. I know it's a mobile workstation but I was expecting it to be slightly slower than the Desktop. If you view it negatively, you could say my Desktop sucked. Hey! That Desktop served me well. Viewed positively, I'd say the Lenovo W520 is winning!