Seeking Portable Laptop for NLE video production

Apr 8, 2018
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I am interested to get an 8th Gen laptop preferably having the new Core i9 processor and discrete graphics (AMD?). My primary power-related tasking will be NLE video production using a program like BlackMagic's DaVinci Resolve. I want to be able to edit 4K without frame drops thus the desire for something having discreet graphics. I seldom do games so that is not so important. However, if any particular is good enough for high frame rate gaming, I reckon it should easily be good enough for 4K video editing. Dell just released a core i9-based machine and I think there is a HP Spectre coming soon. Upgradability would be nice. I already did that with my ASUS F510UA ( https://photos.app.goo.gl/pxpUwfdYe8P65ZxC3 ) with a bit of pain to 3TB/32GB. On the desktop side I will be getting Intel's Hades Canyon to replace my existing Skull Canyon so no problem there. It's just the portability / mobility factor I am trying to find an appropriate machine that will allow for NLE video production, 4k on-the-road and without frame drops. Thanks.
Jerry
Tokyo, Japan
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Video playback is typically handled by the graphics core. You definitely do not want to rely on the CPU for video playback. This is because the graphics core contain circuitry that is dedicated to specifically for video decoding to allow for video playback. I am not familiar with DaVinci Resolve so I cannot tell you why you are experiencing problems when playing back 4k video clips. You will need to go to Blackmagic's forum to get specific and informed help.

https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewforum.php?f=21


If 4K video plays back fine with whatever media player you are using and you only experiencing frame drops when doing so in DaVinci Resolve (which does support OpenCL based on a quick search), then there is definitely some processes going on in the background with the software that is likely putting a strain on the Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics core.

I don't think you need to step all the way up to the Core i9 to use DaVinci Resolve well, though it would likely speed up the video editing / encoding processes. I again refer you to Blackmagic's forum since members there will have hands on experience with the software and should be able to help you decide what hardware will work best for your needs without breaking the bank.


BTW...

How do you like the ASUS F510UA excluding issues with DaVinci Resolve? I have a friend that is simply looking for an "everyday" laptop just to do basic things and prefers Asus laptops. Does anything about the laptop stick out whether it is good or bad?
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Both AMD and nVidia GPUs support OpenCL. Though I am not sure which has better performance in general. I encode my movie collection to be stored on my PC, but I rely on CPU encoding only. It may be slower, but generally provides better video quality compared to using GPU accelerated video encoding based on past research.

Getting a nVidia GPU means you have the option to use any software that supports CUDA and OpenCL, but OpenCL performance and / or image quality may not be as good as AMD's OpenCL support. On the other hand, going with an AMD GPU definitely means you will not be take advantage of software that only supports CUDA. I found the following video that benchmarks the GTX 1070, GTX 1080 and RX480; results for DaVinci Resolve is at about 2:30 into the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=102&v=N4ILYnKv5i4
 
Apr 8, 2018
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Hi,
Thanks much for that feedback. When mentioning AMD, what I am thinking to do is, to get a laptop that would contain the the Kaby Lake-G processor as is incorporated in the Intel Hades Canyon NUC.
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/01/kaby-lake-g-unveiled-intel-cpu-amd-gpu-nvidia-beating-performance/

To rely on CPU only probably won't do it for me. I already have that in my ASUS F510UA and it is 8th Gen. when just trying to do simple playback of 4K video clips loaded into the media bin inside DaVinci Resolve, the playback is not smooth and there are a fair number of frame drops too. I am looking to avoid that and am thinking that a laptop based on this Kaby Lake-G should suffice, I hope. Perhaps the Core i9 processor with 6 cores / 12 threads might be better. I am not so technically oriented and thus, don't know much about these OpenCL and CUDA graphics systems or protocols. However, if AMD supports this OpenCL and the Intel / AMD marriage of Kaby Lake-G has an AMD graphics, can I not conclude that this should handle NLE video production work? Perhaps I should present this matter on BlackMagic's forum as well.

Thanks for the video benchmarks video. I presume that is the result of using external GPUs, which would be an issue outside trying to get a laptop with self-contained GPU. Oh, and I should mention, I am fairly sure that DaVinci Resolve does support OpenCL.
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Video playback is typically handled by the graphics core. You definitely do not want to rely on the CPU for video playback. This is because the graphics core contain circuitry that is dedicated to specifically for video decoding to allow for video playback. I am not familiar with DaVinci Resolve so I cannot tell you why you are experiencing problems when playing back 4k video clips. You will need to go to Blackmagic's forum to get specific and informed help.

https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewforum.php?f=21


If 4K video plays back fine with whatever media player you are using and you only experiencing frame drops when doing so in DaVinci Resolve (which does support OpenCL based on a quick search), then there is definitely some processes going on in the background with the software that is likely putting a strain on the Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics core.

I don't think you need to step all the way up to the Core i9 to use DaVinci Resolve well, though it would likely speed up the video editing / encoding processes. I again refer you to Blackmagic's forum since members there will have hands on experience with the software and should be able to help you decide what hardware will work best for your needs without breaking the bank.


BTW...

How do you like the ASUS F510UA excluding issues with DaVinci Resolve? I have a friend that is simply looking for an "everyday" laptop just to do basic things and prefers Asus laptops. Does anything about the laptop stick out whether it is good or bad?
 
Apr 8, 2018
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Thanks very much for that valuable feedback. Your explanation on the CPU vs GPU functionality helped tremendously. Per your explanation the with the graphics core having a big roll in video playback perhaps therein lies my problem. I currnetly use Intel's Skull Canyon NUC which is capable to load and run DaVinci Resolve but as previous mentioned is not smooth, the graphics and CPU are as follows:

Intel(R) Iris(R) Pro Graphics 580
[Intel(R) Core i7-6770HQ CPU @ 2.60GHz, 2592 Mhz, 4 Cores, 8 Logical Processors


Although 6th generation on the CPU that in and of itself is still fairly robus. Intel's Iris Pro Graphics 580 I presume is the problem point, not being powerful enough to handle the 4K edit and playback demands. I hope the upcoming Intel Hades Canyon with the discrete AMD Vega graphics alongside Intel's 8th generation processor on the same die should easily rectify this situation. Intel is touting this as being the most compact high frame rate gaming machine and good enough for VR as well. If so, it should handle 4K video editing as well.

On the mobile front, all I have for now is the ASUS F510UA (more on that below) It also will load DaVinci Resolve but with similar results as the Skull Canyon described above. I guess this again is attributable to the integrated Intel graphics which is not much of an improvement over Iris Pro 580.

Intel UHD Graphics 620
Intel Core i5-8250U, CPU 1.60GHz, 1800Mhz, 4cores / 8 logical processors


To conclude, then perhaps I should be able to do my video edits with a new Coffee Lake-H based Core i7 versus the Core i9 unless I have the money to afford the latter. (retired here in Tokyo) I want to avoid eGPUs if possible for both home use and mobile machine. Thus these considerations of Hades Canyon and Coffee Lake-H equipped machines. The Coffee Lake-H equipped mobile laptops will have 6 cores in the CPU and if the laptop is also equipped with the mobile version of GEForce 1050 or 1060, I think I should be OK for video. At least thats the impression I get per that YouTube video link you provided. I will also visit BlackMagic's forums on the subject matter as well. Thanks for the guidance.

ASUS F510UA
Aside from NLE video production with DaVinci Resolve, the machine performs very well for pretty much any other routine tasks, including photos editting. I am quite happy with the machine. I also tend to like ASUS myself as you generally get more bang for the buck on price versus your typical HPs and Dells, which also source their components from Asia anyway. Considering it only costed $499 USD at Amazon U.S. when I purchased it and it incorporates an Intel 8th gen processor, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, you really can not go wrong for the price. I would like to have a touch screen, metal case, 2-in-1 convertible as well, but then for this price, beggars can't be choosy. I watched a YouTube video on how one guy having the exact same machine opened the base plate, removed the hard disk and inserted an SSD in it's place. After removing the dozen or so screws, it was a bit of a hassle to remove the base plate, but being careful and meticulously prying the seam open bit by bit with a guitar pick, credit card or some similar slim plastic instrument (not metal) it is doable. To my surprise I also found an M.2 slot in there as well which is not indicated in the description when purchasing the F510UA. I reckon it's there for when the want to up sell higher end models using the same motherboard. Anyway, I did upgrade to a total of 3TB SSD (M.2 x1TB and 2TB x 1 SSD). I removed the 8GB module (single slot) and replaced with 32GB using both slots. (You can see my initial post in which I provided a link to my Google Photos albums describing what I did.) Everything works fine. And in theory should be a nice powerful mobile unit for my video requirements. But alas, the integrated Intel graphics just isn't quite enough to the video task.

Anyway, for your friends needs, aside from the video for routine tasks it is a very decent machine for the price. Heck even Chromebooks can cost that much and more, but here you are getting an 8th gen processor-equipped full-fledged Windows machine. Price went up to $549 I noticed since I purchased from Amazon U.S. Early this year they had a special on it at $499. I also skim over purchasers' feedbacks before making a purchase. 4 of 5 stars is not bad for over 250 reviews. The body is plastic not Macbook-ish type of aluminum, but still has a confident sturdy feeling and lightweight as well. Battery life could be better but still fairly decent. I hope that helps.
Cheers,
Jerry
 

jaguarskx

Champion
Moderator
Thanks for your overview of the Asus F510UA, Jerry. Now my friend thinks he wants to play a few games that are a bit too graphically demanding for the Intel UHD 620 to handle.... So that particular Asus laptop may be out of the running.


Now regarding NLE video production... Are you opening multiple video sources in DaVinci Resolve to create your video projects? If so then that could be the cause of stuttering and dropped frames. The issue is not related to the CPU or the GPU, but is instead related to the SSDs. 4k videos are very large files, the more of them you have open to work on a project, the more bandwidth you will be using. With too many 4k video files open they completely saturate the bandwide available to the SATA SSDs. This can result in dropped frames and stuttering because the software needs to wait for the video data to transfer.

I am not sure how many 4k videos can be streamed from a SATA SSD, but the SATA interface is more restricted compared to PCIe NVME interface for SSDs. Unfortunately, the Asus F510UA is too inexpensive of a laptop to have PCIe NVME so you are limited to only using SATA SSDs in it. I think this is a question you should ask on Blackmagic's forum.
 
Apr 8, 2018
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Thanks for the added feedback and my apology for not getting back sooner. One correction is in order on my ASUS notebook. I mentioned the model as being F510UA. But upon checking my System Information, under System Summary it says the ASUS System Model is X510UAR. I don't know what the difference is (if any) but when I purchased from Amazon U.S. the machine lists as ASUS VivoBook F510UA (even now). I have since read some articles

Some other resources at Laptop magazine that might help for your friend seeking gaming capability ...

https://www.laptopmag.com/t/laptops
Take $400 Off XPS 13 with 8th-Gen Intel, 256GB SSD (April 11, 2018)
The Best Refurbished Laptop Deals Right Now (April 13, 2018)
What kind of Laptop Do You Need to Plauy Far Cry 5? (April 17, 2018)
Save $200 On These GTX 1060-Based Laptops (April 20, 2016)
HelpMe, Laptop: I'm a Gamer and Video Editor (April 22, 2018)

Maybe something in that mix might provide 'food-for-thought' as to what might be appropriate for your friend. In fact, I might look into the last couple myself regard video editing for the road. On that note.....

NLE video production... I do import multiple video clips, images, and audio tracks for production purposes into the media bin in Davinci Resolve. But basically I only work on one project at a time, with just one timeline. I am not doing multiple projects. I think the lack of smooth playback pure and simple must simply be that the technology is not quite up to snuff. The Intel Skull Canyon's CPU is 6th Gen versus the 8th which is regarded as a pretty big performance gain. Also, I am dealing with integrated graphics back from the 6th generation as well. (Intel Iris Pro Graphics 580) I think once I settle on an appropriate 8th Gen model and preferably with discrete graphics I should see marked difference in playback performance. For the actual edit's itself, no problem. It's just when I playback and/or scrub for review that the smoothness falters. I also reduced my project settings to 1920 x 1080p even if imported clips are 4K. The free version of DaVinci Resolve export is restricted to 1080p anyway so, just as well.

As for the SSD, I do have SATA SSDs in the ASUS as you aptly pointed out and is perhaps a possible source of the problem. However, the Intel Skull Canyon (the main home machine) it has Samsung NVMe SSD 960 and 32GB RAM so the playback / scrubbing performance should not be an issue from that perspective. The Intel 6th Gen and above-mentioned integrated Intel Pro Graphics 580 may be the bottleneck. My upgrade machine will definitely be 8th Gen and with discrete graphics or the Kaby Lake-G Vega M in which Intel and AMD teamed up to deliver powerful gaming laptops

https://www.pcgamesn.com/intel-kaby-lake-g-vega-m-release-date-specifications
 
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