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Timothy Connelly

My DAW is getting old CPU suggestions

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I have a sweetwater creation station CS 400 V2. It's not unusable yet (still works pretty good with about 20 tracks of audio, a couple of synths, numerous plugins, typical small band project) I really don't want to buy or build a completely new system, but think my next upgrade step should include a new mobo,CPU and probably 32gigs of RAM. Right now I have 16gigs of RAM and an i7 3770 quad core with8 threads.SSD for main disk 7200 rpm HDD for audio drive. It gets tricky when I start to record toward the end of a project. I have to start being judicious about whether I use FX bypass , mute tracks, render synth tracks etc.What CPUs are you using, as this will point the direction for all others. Alas, i7 3770 uses LGA 1150 socket type, so I'm at the end of the road.Can't just drop in a faster cpu. What are you folks using?

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Posted (edited)

hello Timothy,

right now im running a ASUS m-32 series i7-6700 12gig ram ddr-4

im doing projects with about 25 to 36 tracks with about 50plugins and softsynth,all if fine for me with this set-up.

i dont freeze nothing (i dont need)

 

 

cheer

martin

Edited by martsave martin s

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Timothy . . . I have a similar system to yours, and sure, I did the upgrade to 32 GB ram . . . it helps to be able to load large and intricate sample libraries, but there's always a ceiling to how much CPU and a mere USB audio interface can actually do. A man has to know his limitations. From what I've seen, the most recent developments are the M.2 SSD drives that plug right on to the mother board, you just can't get that fast with those "older" motherboards. I also keep feeling I have to upgrade or get left behind, though, the Beatles did amazing things with no CPU and a 4 track reel to reel. So, I don't know much about your music, or your system set up . . . If you use large sample libraries just buy the ram while the computer stores still stock it for your "antiquated" system. If you live for the music, like me, buy the newest motherboard, lots of ram, and the best audio interface you can get for it.

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thanks to both. Like I was saying, my system still performs, i7 3770  is quadcore 8 threads 3.4 ghz. I know that soon, I will want to be taking the next jump. That's why faster CPU, more memory, more current mobo is intriguing to me. Cores seem to be the way that current  cpus get their extra juice. My system is approx 8 years old (that's what buying ahead of the curve or close to it can do). I have room for more ram. I guess what I'm concerned about is Ryzen vs i7 (or others worth considering?) The only thing I ever did, on the current machine is install a SSD operating drive.(that was as much about space as it was performance) So, if YOU were considering upgrading, what would YOU get (Ryzen,i7 ,i9)? Heard or experienced any issues with processors? mobos? The 32 gigs of ram is to future proof my upgrade. (I get plenty of juice from my 16gigs, considering what I do, if I'm going to go the upgrade route I'll throw the extra ram in now)

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PS if I can upgrade my old machine, then I can possibly get UA Apollo Twin. My wife might freak if I buy a 1700-2000 $ machine, but wouldn't blink twice if I use my current machine and do the "necessary upgrades" to keep it relevant.😉

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Posted (edited)

I expect that by the time you do the necessary upgrades, you will in essence have a new machine. You can generally reuse the case, power supply and drives, but by the time you get a new CPU and a board that has Thunderbolt either as is or via an add-in card you will probably not have saved all that much. The memory is also often tied to the board. It is often a better investment to buy the new case and PS, move all but one drive to a new machine and use the old one as a general PC. Of course you can spend a fortune on case and PS, but the performance will not benefit from the cost.  Two grand is a pretty expensive machine, and you would probably have to pay extra for what you want from an assembler, since most off-the-shelf systems are made for gamers, and are not automatically suitable for audio. You can save a lot over a gamer machine simply by using an inexpensive graphics card or just the on-CPU graphics capability--should be more than enough for a DAW. I also doubt you are going to notice a lot of improvement in track count by adding another 16 GB of memory, unless you have a sampler that needs to load everything into memory initially and a huge use of samples. 

The audio interface connection speed is of little consequence unless you are trying to simultaneously record dozens of tracks. If you are doing softsynths and in-the-box mixing, you only need two tracks as output, and the throughput of a USB is more than adequate for that. A single Apollo Twin is a two preamp interface, and the only big advantage you are going to get for that price is built in effects, and bragging rights about noise and sampling that most of us would be unable to hear. 

I built my current machine because I won one of the 5 GHz Core i7 8086K CPU's in their fortieth anniversary lottery a couple of years ago., and I needed a place to put it. A case, two new drives, a  PS and 16 GB RAM and a motherboard that has the option to add a Thunderbolt  add-in (which I have no intention of ever getting) brought the cost up to a bit over $400.00, which is as much as I have ever spent on a DAW. I added another 16 GB of memory when I saw it on sale for about $70 a year ago, but its only purpose is to keep the room a bit warmer in the winter--16 was more than enough for my actual use. 

Edited by slartabartfast
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Well, look at my sig. 😐

My take on upgrading your current system with a new mobo and RAM is that I'd hope you'd find a good home for your still perfectly viable i7 3770 motherboard and 16G RAM. Mine ain't going anywhere anytime soon unless someone gives me a better computer for cheap or free.

I just figured out how to trick the BIOS into running the CPU at a constant 3.7GHz even though it's a Dell, so look OUT. It's as "overclocked" as a Dell Optiplex is likely to get.

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Thanks to all. As I've done my research, I've come to the conclusion that it may be a little early in the game to upgrade. i7 3770 still seems to have a couple of years of life left in it. The issues I have with off the shelf systems is the stupid bloatware that comes installed on them, and inflexible at times expansion options. Premade DAW computers are expensive, (I should know, I have one) so I'm leaving the option to just upgrade to new mobo and cpu open. What I'm ultimately looking at, as I do research, are what pitfalls can I avoid by steering clear of certain mobos and cpu. Ryzen looks promising but I've never used AMD products.  I have a 650 watt PS. Do you HAVE to liquid cool these faster cpu's like Ryzen or i7 latest gen.?

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23 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

I just figured out how to trick the BIOS into running the CPU at a constant 3.7GHz even though it's a Dell, so look OUT. It's as "overclocked" as a Dell Optiplex is likely to get.

Intriguing... what did you do?

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6 hours ago, Timothy Connelly said:

Thanks to all. As I've done my research, I've come to the conclusion that it may be a little early in the game to upgrade. i7 3770 still seems to have a couple of years of life left in it. The issues I have with off the shelf systems is the stupid bloatware that comes installed on them, and inflexible at times expansion options. Premade DAW computers are expensive, (I should know, I have one) so I'm leaving the option to just upgrade to new mobo and cpu open. What I'm ultimately looking at, as I do research, are what pitfalls can I avoid by steering clear of certain mobos and cpu. Ryzen looks promising but I've never used AMD products.  I have a 650 watt PS. Do you HAVE to liquid cool these faster cpu's like Ryzen or i7 latest gen.?

I think so too - it's easy to forget that all plugins and instruments does not need to run realtime - use freeze options.

Your cpu benchmark at about 6000 and a new i9-9900k about 18000 - but translate that into project it might mean 50% larger project is my estimate. It's not 3 times bigger.

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

My old i7-860 benchmark at 5000, and have no issues running projects live plugins to about 50 tracks or so.

And Cakewalk freeze is the best in the business, so quick to go back and forth. Even multi out VST instruments are cool.

Troublefree daw also depend on soundcards used, and maybe look at that part too is an option. It's nothing like RME internal cards and I run HDSP 9632 at 64 samples as I mention above, no issues with crackles and pops.

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7 minutes ago, Matthew Carr said:

Intriguing... what did you do?

I faced directly into the windstorm of "common wisdom" and peed into it by turning Intel SpeedStep on in my BIOS. Every compendium of tuning tips says over and over again "TurboBoost good, SpeedStep bad." And if you look at the description of what SpeedStep is supposed to be doing, yes it looks like something that's there to throttle your CPU cores. But apparently in practice, at least in Dell's implementation, it ain't that way as long as you have power plans like mine that tell the system to leave the CPU at 100% all the time.

So my Optiplex went from idling at 3.4GHz to 3.7GHz, and the cores don't budge, according to HWINFO64.

Even with the Latitude E6410, whose core speeds bounce around no matter what power plan I try to enforce on it, when I enabled SpeedStep, at least they started bouncing higher than the baseline processor speed, according to HWINFO64. And when I do something demanding, they rally like good soldiers and ramp up. I'm planning on rewarding the E6410 with a processor upgrade to a quad-core i7, which should be a nice upgrade from the dual-core i5 she has now. Thing is, it's scooting along so nice now, there's really no need at the moment, other than my impulse to hot rod.

6 hours ago, Timothy Connelly said:

i7 3770 still seems to have a couple of years of life left in it.

I sure hope mine does!

Now that you've decided to cruise for a while longer with your aging, but still viable workhorse, you're in my territory, so pull up a chair. I have a few tricks for you to try for your next session, that if you're not aware of them, might make it so that you don't have to tiptoe once you get into double-digit tracks. If you are aware of them, maybe someone else will benefit.

I notice that you said your audio drive is a spinner? I would remedy that, unless it's something really quick like a WD Blue with a lot of its own cache. First trick: set the project up so that it records to your SSD system drive and see if you notice a difference. Cakewalk does a lot of disk I/O, as it streams every non-archived piece of audio in a project, even muted take lanes and entire tracks. My guess is that by the time your track count is up in the teens, your disk I/O is getting heavy. Do you do all your tracking, then edit and comp? That's the way I do it, and if you do, you wind up with a large number of audio files streaming away, especially with multi-mic'd instruments like drum kits. Multiple takes on a drum kit that has 6 mics on it? Yikes.

Next trick, go into your Windows 10 Security settings and tell Defender to exclude certain folders from realtime scanning. The most important is your Cakewalk Projects folder, which is where your projects' audio is written to and streams from, but I also include the Cakewalk program directory, my plug-ins folders (including VST3), samples folders, anything to do with Cakewalk. With all that disk reading, it's no good to have Defender scanning our recorded audio files for malware every time we hit Play or Record.

Since your system was pre-configured, and you probably know how anyway, you know to set your power plan for 100% max/100% min, but with the advent of Windows 10, it's weird, but I've found that my customizing settings can get mysteriously set back to the default after a few updates. I make the rounds and check to make sure that one or more of these hasn't been set to the default.

Finally, and this may be controversial, but you read what I said about my Optiplex. I turned SpeedStep on in the BIOS and squeezed a little more speed from the processor. Go through your BIOS and see if there is anything that may not be optimized, or may have once been but got switched.

(Caveat: Dells are....different. They deliberately lock them down so that you can't overclock them in the traditional sense, many OEM drivers will kick you out of their installer and tell you to get the Dell driver, etc. (there is a workaround for that). I understand why they do that, it's to prevent "clever" office drones from screwing up their computers, and Dell has a well-earned reputation for supplying solid, reliable office machines. They don't want to tarnish that reputation because some dolt tried to overclock his work Optiplex and melted it down and then lied and blamed it on the computer.

They wind up in the hands of people like me when some middle manager gets computer envy and wants the latest thing because their friend at another company just got a brand new desktop. And we're tasked with trying to squeeze performance out of something that was designed to thwart people like us.)

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