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New computer. i9 vs i7. Is extra $ worth it?

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Is i9 overkill for home studio recording mixing? An extra $170 gets me to an i9 9900 up from an i7 9700. Will pair with a super fast SSN. Brand new machine. 16 gigs DDR4 ram. 

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An i9 9900 has double the number of threads, so you've got to ask yourself if the extra $170 is worth it.

Whether its overkill or not largely depends on how many simultaneous plugins you want to run.

The i9 9900 will definitely handle more than the i7 9700, but in all honesty both will handle even the most demanding project.

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23 hours ago, msmcleod said:

An i9 9900 has double the number of threads, so you've got to ask yourself if the extra $170 is worth it.

Whether its overkill or not largely depends on how many simultaneous plugins you want to run.

The i9 9900 will definitely handle more than the i7 9700, but in all honesty both will handle even the most demanding project.

Hi. Thanks for the response.  I'm not shy when it comes to plugins, for better or worse! 😉 I like trying a lot of things and was consistently maxing out my Gen 3 i5 machine.  Got to be pain.

From what I've discovered while researching a new computer and the specs,  hyper-threading has little to no effect on audio processing because audio processing is linear, while hyper-threading is a parallel process, two threads per core, which  is great for some apps that can take advantage of that, or in the case where the users is constantly multitasking, which a number of programs all running at the same time. I try to run only CbB.  

That being said, "multitasking" is an interesting concept, and I suppose other programs/applications running in the background while CbB is also running running (is the computer multitasking?) might be able to benefit from hyper-threading -- freeing up more resources for CbB. 

 Guess, what I'm trying to determine is if there is a point of diminishing returns between the two chips, given the performance difference between a latest generation i7 and a latest generation i9. The i9 might be a bit of future-proofing since I'll likely have this new computer for years. I'm leaning toward the i9 for that reason. 

Thanks again. I enjoy reading your responses on a variety of topics... 

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7 hours ago, Kevin Walsh said:

Of course it's worth it! Even if it's not. :)

LOL! Of course! Faster, higher, farther...!!!! :)

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Go for it.  Otherwise, you may be sorry later!  It is a lot to  set up a computer - so you may as well set it up with the best, especially when 

the price difference is not that great.

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You should check out the AMD Ryzen 3000 series while you're at it.  Even though I'm not in the market to build a PC again I like to keep abreast of technology and the guys on this thread have a LOT of benchmarks and reporting from several "geek" sites indicating that the new Ryzen 3000 series is actually better (3700 and up) in some ways or equal to Intel and costs less, too.  The results of the benchmarks keep getting better for AMD as they keep coming out with updates to the new series.

This link is from music DAW guys who delve into what really makes latency less, as well as the efficiency of cores when running multiple plugins.

Very enjoyable reading, especially as you get to page 3 and beyond on this link.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/1266481-ryzen-3000-series.html

Edited by Toddskins

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This link would be worth looking at, as well as other comparisons. You would not be getting much "real-world" improvement (+1%) for the cost, and they are both listed as "2nd of 1182" for speed (I found that odd, but may be a typo).

More real-world feedback... I upgraded from a 2600K to an 8700K last year and the improvement in the machine was not so much the CPU as the system architecture. Neither CPU was really taxed unless doing video or encryption (two processes that will fully max out a CPU to its limits). For DAW purposes, you wouldn't see much benefit if any from that extra money spent. As you noted, audio processing is linear, so you can run smaller buffer sizes with certain plugins, but the ones that are heavy on the CPU may not get any improvement from threading since they are going to govern the whole buffer queue.

Bottom line, a lot of computer "limitations" can be countered with efficient workflows, and the heaviest CPU hits will most often come from synths. If they come from FX, I would be a bit leery about them. DAWs are not that stressful to a computer system.

Edited by mettelus

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If you can, you might. If you can't you may never know what you might have done with the power. 

For me, i love to play my guitar through midi synths with high voice count pads selected. This works fine when i play slowly but as i quicken the pace, i cause issues because all the voices stick on one processor, usually the first. So, i let go and don't use it. I use weak second choice stomp boxes that aren't close to being as cool.

 

Edited by Gswitz

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11 hours ago, Toddskins said:

You should check out the AMD Ryzen 3000 series while you're at it.  Even though I'm not in the market to build a PC again I like to keep abreast of technology and the guys on this thread have a LOT of benchmarks and reporting from several "geek" sites indicating that the new Ryzen 3000 series is actually better (3700 and up) in some ways or equal to Intel and costs less, too.  The results of the benchmarks keep getting better for AMD as they keep coming out with updates to the new series.

This link is from music DAW guys who delve into what really makes latency less, as well as the efficiency of cores when running multiple plugins.

Very enjoyable reading, especially as you get to page 3 and beyond on this link.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/1266481-ryzen-3000-series.html

The link appears to be broken?

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7 hours ago, mettelus said:

This link would be worth looking at, as well as other comparisons. You would not be getting much "real-world" improvement (+1%) for the cost, and they are both listed as "2nd of 1182" for speed (I found that odd, but may be a typo).

More real-world feedback... I upgraded from a 2600K to an 8700K last year and the improvement in the machine was not so much the CPU as the system architecture. Neither CPU was really taxed unless doing video or encryption (two processes that will fully max out a CPU to its limits). For DAW purposes, you wouldn't see much benefit if any from that extra money spent. As you noted, audio processing is linear, so you can run smaller buffer sizes with certain plugins, but the ones that are heavy on the CPU may not get any improvement from threading since they are going to govern the whole buffer queue.

Bottom line, a lot of computer "limitations" can be countered with efficient workflows, and the heaviest CPU hits will most often come from synths. If they come from FX, I would be a bit leery about them. DAWs are not that stressful to a computer system.

Thank you. Great resource. Though I’m not looking at the “K” series, which can be overclocked, the difference between the straight 9700 and 9900 would be in the same ballpark. 

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If you're going to go for the i9-9900, you should just go ahead and get the i9-9900k version.

With proper configuration, all 8 cores (16 processing threads) can be locked at 5GHz.

With a quality air-cooler, it will do the above while running near dead-silent.

 

When choosing a CPU for DAW purposes, clock-speed is the single most important factor.

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

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

Playing thru an AmpSim plugin at 96k using a 32-sample ASIO buffer size doesn't lend itself to being heavily multi-threaded.

Some plugins like UVI's Falcon will only use a single core.

Also note that core performance doesn't scale 1:1.   IOW, Doubling the number of cores doesn't double performance.

 

What you absolutely don't want to do is choose a CPU that has more cores... but significantly slower clock-speed.

This is why Xeon CPUs are often a bad choice for a DAW.  They have more cores... but (typically) significantly slower clock-speed.

This results in a significant performance hit (compared to standard CPUs).

 

Right now, for the reasons mentioned above, the i9-9900k is an excellent choice for most DAW users.

You've got super high clock-speed (5GHz across all cores)... and 16 virtual cores (processing threads).

To best the 9900k, you have to go high-end socket-2066 i9 (considerably more expensive).

 

Ryzen is good for heavily multi-threaded applications (video rendering in particular).

Where Ryzen falls short is with processes that can't be heavily multi-threaded.

If you want/need Thunderbolt-3, Ryzen isn't practical.  It's available on ultra high-end motherboards (~$1000 for the motherboard).

 

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Jim,

I have heard that the 9900k runs quite hot. 

If multi-threading isn't such a big deal for DAWs, is the 9700k a strong option? (i.e. runs cooler, save $150).

Also, 

What's the best way to contact you for a consultation?

Craig

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The 9900k doesn't run particularly hot.  (Not like socket 2066 where you're forced to use a large water-cooler).

You need robust air-cooling.   Nothing at all to worry about...

Near dead-silent

 

Multi-threading is made use of in DAWs... but not all processes can be multi-threaded (as I mentioned above).

In a perfect world, you want highest available clock-speed... and the highest number of cores you can get.

Right now, the 9900k (IMO) is the sweetest spot price/performance wise.

Precisely because you can have 8-cores (16 processing threads) all locked at super high clock-speed.

At the risk of repeating, to best it... you're talking high-end (not bottom end) socket 2066 i9 (significantly more expensive).

When it comes to heavily multi-threaded scenarios, you've got twice the number of processing threads (vs the 9700k).

 

 

 

 

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Pay close attention at 14:47  

Instruction Per Clock is faster on the 3900x 

But... (the devil is in the details)

The highest Turbo speed is 4.6GHz/4.5GHz... and note that it can't be run across all cores.

@14:22 "Okay, but JF, IPS is better on the 3900x... why is the 3700x (same core count and thread count as the 9900k) losing in many of the tests?"

@14:33 You'll hear the exact thing I've said above.  "Clock-Speed"

@14:46 "Intel is still superior in the All Core Clock-Speed.

 

To actually best Intel, AMD has to get clock-speed higher.

The fact that 3900x/3700x can't run all cores at full Turbo Speed is both disappointing/telling.

That means there's little to no over-clocking headroom (no means of closing the clock-speed gap).

The 9900k can easily run all 8 cores at 5GHz.  Idle temps in the 30's with quality air cooling.

 

If I'm building a new DAW, why would I choose a 3700x over the 9900k?

  • It's $50 less for a slower CPU (especially scenarios that aren't heavily multi-threaded)
  • No Thunderbolt-3 (unless you pay ~$1000 for the motherboard)
  • Apps not fully optimized for AMD CPUs

Had the clock-speed been 5GHz across all cores, it would be a whole lot more exciting (especially with the 3900x).

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