Searching for the Powerful, As-affordable-as-can-be, Graphics Workstation

Hello everybody,

I am very bad about visiting the forums. I simply don't have the time to wade through the ocean of threads, and that's just the ones that I've favorited. But whatever. I try to catch the podcasts and enjoy playing with the TF2 and Planetside 2 crews. I beseech you now on bended knee, because this community is something of a General Purpose Oracle filled with every variety of geek. I know that some among you will have good advice.

Some Background

I'm a production coordinator in a unified Communications Department for two organizations (nonprofit, 501c status). Both are dedicated to conquering autoimmune diseases. Sometimes I catch myself acting all meh about occasionally chatting with world leading scientists in diabetes and general autoimmune science.

In the comm department, I organize our workload (Basecamp ftw), do the tech-end of press releases, a little tech writing, and generally making sure we're getting stuff done. I'm also the admin for the comm dept director.

The Situation

I've got this really great pitch I'm working on. You see, I'm also the first guy everyone goes to when they have any graphics or PowerPoint problems. Since I'm something of an invo-vis geek (and a Tufte admirer), I want to use my powers of impression to lobby for an improved position focused on meeting these needs. The average scientific PowerPoint presentation is a mismatch of styles, too many words, dumb animations, and eye-gougingly awful visuals.

The Opportunity

Management is starting to get it when it comes to this stuff. Our business director seeks me out when he needs this thing put into that presentation. Every time I do that, I create slides that look - every so subtly - better than his. Requests have grown. I think I could have an opportunity to do something that, while still technically a job, is still the least boring job I could hope for, given current circumstances.

The Need

The web-services I'm asking for are a piddling sum of money (institutionally speaking). Our level of Basecamp use is $50/mo. That's for a robust, heavily version-controlled, fully extensible solution that involves 0 IT resources at our instititute. We are literally saving money by freeing up the time that IT would be spending to support us. I'm continuing this trend. But that leaves the last item I need to price out: A graphics workstation for the most processing-intensive element of my pitch: video.

My up-to-date-geekly knowledge is insufficient here. I need you youngins to help me. Basically, I need to be able to run Adobe Premiere at a decent click. I would never be creating videos more than 30 minutes. Much shorter is more likely. Please give me as little or as much information as you want. I'm selectively crowdsourcing this with you folks and my G+ stream.

Thanks for your attention.

Warmest regards to my fellow Goodjers,

Well, I'd love to help you, but the problem is that I'm not familiar with the actual requirements for video editing. What I know, sort of from osmosis, is that you want as much of everything as you can reasonably get. I'd probably be going for a high-end build ($2500ish), possibly higher.

But I can't authoritatively say, "This is what you NEED, this is what you WANT, this stuff would be nice to have." All I know to do is throw money at it, and you're explicitly asking for expertise, to avoid this. I'm not sure anyone here is sufficiently expert to give you what you want.

Maybe try asking over in one of the Ars Technica forums? If they can get you sized properly, then we can help you choose actual components, assuming you want to build it yourself. Otherwise, I'd just give you a generic balls-to-the-wall PC, going as far in every area as one reasonably can without being actively stupid (ie, no $1K CPUs or Fusion SSD cards), but probably sticking with the onboard CPU graphics. You probably won't need a dedicated 3D card, and using the onboard video exposes special video-encoding acceleration hardware that's in the Sandy Bridge chips. If your video software knows how to use it, and if the resulting quality is acceptable for your uses, the acceleration in using that hardware is something like twentyfold... it's HUGE. The quality is only middle-grade, but if that works for you, you can encode a big video in like ten minutes, instead of several hours.