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Myriad Rocker

Is it time for a PC upgrade? Help a cheap/frugal person out.

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Posted (edited)

So, I'll come right out and say...don't laugh.  There, that's out of the way.

My main recording PC has been kicking around for a while.  I originally built it back in 2011.  It has had a RAM upgrade since, but little else.  I took a lengthy bit of time off from doing any real recording not long after building the machine, so unfortunately, I don't feel I've gotten my money's worth out of it.  Actual life got in the way and music took the back burner.  Or not even on the stove, actually.

Fast forward and a few years ago I started remixing some old tunes and planning to record new songs with some old bandmates.  Then the pandemic hit.  Everything kind of got put off.  I recently started doing it again with the remixing and I'm noticing clicks and pops at 512 samples.  Noticing a few occasionally at even 2048 if I'm being honest.  I recently picked up some ML Sound Labs amp sims and those run terribly inside Cakewalk.  Especially when more than one instance is running.  As a stand-alone, it's fine.

Here's my current system specs (this is where the no laughing bit comes in):

Mobo:  ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Rev 3.0 LGA 1155 P67 Intel
CPU:  Intel Core i7-2600 QuadCore @ 3.40GHz 1155 w/Zalman cooler
RAM:  32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 1600
PSU:  Corsair TX 750W 80 Plus Bronze
GPU:  Sapphire Radeon HD 5570 1GB DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 (I only have this because it supports 3 monitors...which I no longer use)
SSD (OS & Programs):  Samsung 840 Pro 128GB
HDD (Audio):  WD Blue 1TB
HDD (Samples & Plugs):  WD Blue 1TB
Interface:  RME Fireface UFX (a bit old, but still solid as a rock for me)

For programs I'm using, it's Cakewalk, Slate Drums, various synths, Toontrack EZbass/EZkeys, Slate All Access, a few Waves plugs, Melodyne, Kontakt, ML Sound Labs amp sims, Neural DSP amp sims, and various other bits and bobs.  Also plan on getting Fab Filter and potentially some other things, but I haven't tested resource consumption on those.

So, with those specs out there, I will say that watching the performance meters in Cakewalk, the CPU is hitting red on one bar quite often.  The others are up higher, but not as high as the first bar.  The RAM is only getting about 25% utilization on a given project with mostly audio.  More so if I'm running samples (drum VI, EZkeys).

If I need to upgrade, which I suspect I might need to, below are my thoughts.  The old parts will get repurposed into a new computer for my woodshop.

Mobo:  MSI Z590-A PRO LGA 1200 Intel
CPU:  Intel Core i7-10700KF Comet Lake 8-Core 3.8Ghz LGA 1200 w/ Cool Master 212 V2
RAM:  G.Skill Ripjaws 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 3200
PSU:  I'm planning on re-using the one above...don't think there will be any issues, but it's not modular.  That seems to be the thing right now.
GPU: Planning to use the onboard video as I only realistically need 2 screens, maybe less.
SSD (OS & Programs):  Again, planning on reusing the Samsung 840 Pro 128GB, although it's getting a bit full with only 45GB left.
SSD (Audio):  Samsung 980 M.2 2280 NVMe 1TB
SSD (Samples & Plugs):  Samsung 980 M.2 2280 NVMe 1TB

My motivation for re-using the small Samsung drive is that I don't want to have to re-install everything.  I can, hopefully, just copy my stuff from the old HDD's to the new M.2 SSD's and everything will be fine.  If I get sucked into buying a new OS drive, I'll have to start over. 

Those parts total to almost $1,000 so this isn't just pocket change I'm throwing at it.  Truth be told, it's painful.  I'm not exchanging food for new parts by any means.  I'm just a cheap b*****d, LOL.  I'm really open to any and all feedback here.  Do you think I need to upgrade?  What do you think about what I'm looking at?  Anywhere I could save some bucks?

Also, any other info you think would be helpful here?  I've added about all I know to for the post.

Thanks all!  Appreciate it!

Edited by Myriad Rocker

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I think that system could have plenty more life as a Cakewalk system, depending on what kind of work you're doing with it.

Since you're seeing a single core spike, I have to ask: in Preferences/Audio/Playback and Recording, do you have Plug-In Load Balancing enabled? If you don't, then enable it and see what happens with your ML Sound amp sims. Other settings that can help are Preferences/Audio/Configuration File, where you can set a Thread Scheduling Model (mine seems to work best with 2) and Extra Plug-In Bu

Also, in your system's BIOS, do you have Hyper-V support enabled? When enabled, it splits your 4 physical cores, giving you 8 virtual cores to play with, and DAW's love more cores.

Your system is (I think) one generation older than mine, and mine runs just fine.

And if all you're doing is mixing down already-tracked material, who cares if you have to crank the buffers up to 1024 or 2048?

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I didn't look up the specs on that motherboard, but on many an NVMe takes up two SATA channels.  If that is the case with that MSI motherboard then you will lose 4 SATA ports.  That old Samsung 840 has some age and relatively little free space; I would seriously consider a new replacement.  You don't have to reinstall everything, you can "clone" the disc (my least favorite way to do it) or best way (and you should have a disc image backup anyway) is to make a full disc image to a separate drive and then restore the disc image to the new drive.  If you don't have a backup program, the free and popular Macrium Reflect is suggested (what most techies I know use). Although I haven't tried it, Macrium Reflect is able to restore to different size drive and properly partition.  If you just clone to a larger size, the clone will not use the full capacity of the new drive and a partitioning program will be needed.

Another possible issue.  if the RME you have is Firewire, you will need a PCIe Firewire interface card.

Finally, if you are using Win 10, later this year Microsoft is updating to Windows 11.  Published MINIMUM specs for Win 11 is an 8th gen Intel CPU and "TPM".  This may change when Win 11 is released, but it is Microsoft's specs now.  Based on that your old system is not eligible for the free Win 10  to Win 11 upgrade.

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