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Ludwig Bouwer

PC Upgrade Question (not sure where to post this)

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Posted (edited)

Hi guys, so here's one for the hardware gurus: 

I run an Intel I7-7700 3.6Gz chip
Asus Prime Z270-K board,
2 x 8GB Corsair 2133 DDR4 Gaming RAM,
Kingston 1TB SSD 400 MB/s for OS
Seagate 7200 RPM 2TB SSHD drive for audio and project.
External usb3 for samples
OS is Win 10 Pro x 64
Soundcard is RME HDSP9652 PCi running Asio

So my question is this: Which components do I need to take a look at to improve each of the following scenarios?
1: Faster Bouncing and Freezing of tracks
2: Faster Loading of projects with large plugin and track counts.
3: Ability to run more tracks and plugins before buffer has to be enlarged

Looking at the Windows performance monitor,  Freezing tracks only hits around 20% of the CPU and Disk usage is negligible.
Mixing down hits around 59% of CPU with Disks doing very little as well.

I look forward to hearing from you guys, thanks in advance!

Performance - Bouncing Tracks.PNG

Edited by Ludwig Bouwer

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To be honest, I'm not sure you could improve massively on what you already have.

Things that might help (biggest performance gains first):

1. Replace your USB 3 samples drive with an external or internal SATA SSD's

2. Replace your 2TB SSHD with an SSD

3. Replace your CPU/Motherboard with a i9900K 

However given your disk activity is low, I really doubt if you'll get a huge amount of difference, and IMO it's definitely not worth the cost involved. Comparing your current CPU with the i9900K (note the CPU Mark Rating is twice as fast ONLY because there's twice as many cores):

image.png.2784b05331b9f95f912a75375b26f8e4.png

The interesting figure here is the single thread rating. It's really not that different at all.

Here's the thing. The reason your CPU is only at 20% during freezing is mostly likely due to VSTi's that don't support multiple cores. If you were using 100% of one core, and none of the others then your CPU usage would only read around 12.5 - 15%.  So upgrading to a CPU with twice the number of cores really wouldn't make a difference here.

Plugin load balancing only works with effects, which explains why your CPU usage increases during mix down.  Again I suspect the CPU usage is low, not because you've CPU isn't that busy, it's just not using all the cores.

In any case, this is only my opinion - may be @Jim Roseberry can offer a better insight...

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1: Faster Bouncing and Freezing of tracks

Processor speed and hard drive speed

Quote

2: Faster Loading of projects with large plugin and track counts

Same as #1, hard drive speed and processor speed. Make use you have a dedicated hard drive for audio only. do not put audio project on your C drive

Quote

3: Ability to run more tracks and plugins before buffer has to be enlarged

Ram, Processor speed, hard drive speed and how well your audio drivers are written for that audio interface

Quote

Looking at the Windows performance monitor,  Freezing tracks only hits around 20% of the CPU and Disk usage is negligible.
Mixing down hits around 59% of CPU with Disks doing very little as well.

That monitors your entire PC, so you have other programs running in the background. So your PC is doing hundreds of task in the background.

FYI: 59% doesn't mean your DAW is using 59%, as you are looking at your entire PC. yuo need to look at the CPU monitors inside your DAW

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On 8/4/2019 at 4:51 AM, Ludwig Bouwer said:

So my question is this: Which components do I need to take a look at to improve each of the following scenarios?
1: Faster Bouncing and Freezing of tracks
2: Faster Loading of projects with large plugin and track counts.
3: Ability to run more tracks and plugins before buffer has to be enlarged

 

  • Effects count - processor speed is the largest factor
  • Track count - disk speed is the largest factor

 

1.  Faster bouncing/freezing of tracks would be mostly down to CPU speed.

 

2.  Faster loading of projects would be affected by disk speed and CPU speed.  If you're dealing with large sample-libraries (that load particularly slow), you can put those on a M.2 Ultra SSD (sustain ~3500Mb/Sec).

 

3.  Ability to run more tracks and plugins (as you can probably guess) is down to faster disk-speed and faster CPU.

 

As a point of reference:

  • Conventional HD sustains ~200Mb/Sec
  • SATA SSD sustains ~540MB/Sec
  • M.2 Ultra SSD (using 4 PCIe lanes) sustains ~3500Mb/Sec

 

When it comes to CPU speed:

Not all processes in a DAW can be multi-threaded.

  • Playing/monitoring in realtime thru an AmpSim plugin at 96k using a 32-sample ASIO buffer size... isn't something that lends itself to being heavily multi-threaded
  • Some plugins/instruments like UVI Falcon only use a single core

This is why clock-speed is the single most critical factor when choosing a CPU for DAW purposes.

Note that CPU core performance  doesn't scale 1:1 

IOW, Doubling the number of CPU cores doesn't double performance.

Having more cores is beneficial... but not at the expense of significant clock-speed.

This is why Xeon CPUs are typically a poor choice for DAW purposes.  They have more cores... but often significantly slower clock-speed (resulting in significant performance hit).

In a perfect scenario, you want highest available clock-speed... and the most cores you can get.

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