Building a PC on a super tight budget

xtraorangextraorange Website User Posts: 6

Hello folks,

I have a degree in CS, but I'm super behind the times on the hardware market, so I could really use your help:

I'm building (re-building?) a PC for HF Express.  As I enter the video field, I'm presently only doing basic editing (trimming, keying, text overlays, etc).  Sadly my existing machine (based on an older AMD APU) can't handle playing a clip in the trimmer, and takes 20 minutes to render a 30 second video clip with keying, so I think I'm going to have to upgrade.

I blew all my budget (and some) on studio gear, so I have to keep this build tight.

What I have already:
- Case I can hijack
- Drives for storage
- A pitifully small SSD (big enough I believe)
- Optical drive
- A questionable power supply
- Win 10


By my reckoning, I need the following:
- Motherboard
- Memory
- Graphics card
- Possibly a replacement power supply depending on the demand


So, what would you all suggest for some hardware that I can get smooth playback on a green screen composite shot, and reasonable render times, while still keeping the price as low as possible?


Thank you so much!


  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    Can you give me a budget? That would help significantly. I can tell you right now though, itll be close to:

    - CPU ($200-300)
    - Motherboard($75-125)
    - Memory ($50-100)
    - Graphics card ($200-300)
    - PSU ($50-75)

    so around... $600-900 for a modest computer

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    Here's a under $600 Build -

    • The Mobo, Ram, PSU are pretty good and will last quite a while (2-4 Years).
    • I would upgrade the 6600k CPU to a 6700k for an extra $100 when you get the money.
    • The GPU is pretty modest and I'd suggest upgrading that or your SSD within a year or so.



  • xtraorangextraorange Website User Posts: 6

    Awesome, thanks for the feedback!  Ideally, I'd like to spend no more than $300 on the remaining parts if I can.  I know that's unrealistic, but I'm hoping I can sort of scoot by for now.

    If it can't be done, I might push up into the $500-600 range as you suggested.  It would just take me longer to be able to put the cash together.

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    Perhaps @Aladdin4d would have some additional insight, I could probably design a cheaper computer... but after a certain point its actually better to just buy a store computer when you get that low into a market.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    @TriFlixFilms Given the budget I'd actually suggest looking at used systems. Last week a local used shop had several Lenovo and HP business class systems for around $350.00. I don't remember the exact specifics like what generation CPU but they were Core i5's with 8 GB ram and Nvidia 750 ti's. The HP's were the step just under the Z series workstations and the Lenovo's were equivalent.

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,864 Ambassador

    Wow that's a tight budget even in Dollars. What is your current GPU? CPU and Memory. It really depends on which bit of Hitfilms engine you are going to use as to what you should splash the cash most on. I might have this wrong, but particle and effects are GPU and editing and decoding is CPU.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    @Andy001z close. CPU handles encode, decode, read/write and the calculations for the particle sim. GPU does all rendering.

    Conventional wisdom has the GPU being more important, but, as Andy says, this depends on what you're doing. For vlogging or gaming vids CPU might be important. If you're doing a lot of mograph, particle stuff or animation, then the GPU is the way to go. 

    One thing to take into account is GPU RAM. I've crashed Hitfilm multiple times running out of GPU memory, but I do insane things with hundreds of thousands of particles with animated textures and tons of deflectors and forces with a lot motion blur--all very memory intensive. 

  • xtraorangextraorange Website User Posts: 6

    Thanks for all the feedback so far!

    I will almost never do anything with animation or particles.

    My primary use is basic trimming and editing, and keying out greenscreen shots to replace with basic backgrounds (studio apartment, couldn't create the space I needed to bokeh the background, so instead I'm green screening).

    At this stage I won't be doing anything fancy, I just need a machine that can run the stinking trimmer view without skipping.  Xb  It would be great if my greenscreen shots would key in real time (I saw a video that suggested with a basic build this should be feasible).


    I actually considered a few prebuilt systems, but with having all this random hardware lying about, I figured I should be able to shop wisely and put something together that can handle my limited use case.  If not, I'll just have to trek to and from work for the time being until I have the cash to invest.  :)

  • xtraorangextraorange Website User Posts: 6
  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,864 Ambassador

    @XtraOrange you need to give us a bit more info on your exsiting kit, on that kind of budget you are really looking at component upgrade or as said here, a 2nd hand unit might be best. Or you have to accept that Hitfilm might not be the right software for your machine at this time.

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    I agree with @Andy001z. Used pc is going to be the best thing for you though...

  • iDatusiDatus Website User Posts: 124 Just Starting Out

    Hitfilm guys done this video to explain what does what which will help you decide where to spend your hard earned dollar.


  • davide445davide445 Website User Posts: 306 Just Starting Out
    edited November 2016

    I agree with @Aladdin4d about used PC from old HP line.

    Currently using an old HP Elite 8100 cmt with i7-860, 14GB RAM, 80GB SSD, 3TB HDD, HD7950Boost.

    The whole cost me about €600, a price with whom I would purchase a new stripped down i5 with horrible case and PSU and subpar GPU. My rig it's noting special for modern standards but it's solid, emit no noise and allow me working pretty good in FullHD.

    A thing you need to take care is the PSU power and GPU. The 8100 does have a custom non replaceable 320w PSU, unfit for many GPU, also the original GPU was some superslow one. In my case I resolved using a second external PSU (in fact a power brick with adapter) and connecting a newer (always used) much more powerful GPU.

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