Old 01-10-2017, 07:04 PM   #1
OldTascam
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Default Best CPU?

Trying to figure out what would be the best CPU to build my system around.
By best, I mean fastest and most reliable. Does anyone know of any test data that compares performance of various CPUs with Reaper (or if not with Reaper, then with any DAW software)?

If there's no hard data, what CPU would you recommend, and why? TIA!
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Old 01-10-2017, 09:17 PM   #2
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I already mentioned Scan UK - and no, I'm not a salesman for them, or connected in any way

Here's a link - you can scroll down and click on "The right CPU for Audio Workstations" and there's a pretty good summary. There's also info on all the other parts for a build. Maybe that would be a good read to begin with, and twould at least give you a good starting point.

https://www.scan.co.uk/3xs/custom/da...tation-pcs#anc
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:45 AM   #3
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Visco is right - Peter at Scan knows his stuff. And he is a member on here IIR

In the USA if you look on Gearslutz there are a couple of well known and respected audio PC builders that regularly post on there & there is if I remember a current but long thread about building a music PC.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:45 AM   #4
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For a DAW PC get an Intel, don't even bother looking at the competition. Same goes for games machines actually. I hope AMD catch up or even surpass Intel again someday but for now......

Usually best to look one or two models down from the top model to get a sweet spot between VFM and top performance. The best available is always poor VFM with little extra performance for much higher cost.
Typically there is one i5 and one i7 that the mag's/sites are recommending owing to this sweet spot. The manufacturers will put out much more of these. No point paying 50% more for 5% extra performance.

Typically two options a "K" version and a non K version. K being overclockable. Sometimes the non K is better VFM as enthusiasts often like to risk overclocking, especially gamers.

Go i7 or possibly Xeon if you find a silly (used or package) deal on the latter, if it works out cheaper than going i7, otherwise just keep to an i7.
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivansc View Post
Visco is right - Peter at Scan knows his stuff. And he is a member on here IIR
Is he? Maybe we'll get a few quid off?

The Scan article on CPUs for audio does indeed recommend Intel - and an i7 4790K for "best bang for buck".

There's a few things to be said about the idea of "the best" ... and how that relates to CPUs (and lots of other things ... digital cameras spring to mind).

You can keep adding extra cash and getting higher spec - but is the extra spec actually relevant to your end purpose?

afaik processor speed (GHz) is relevant, but not necessarily number of cores ... given that in an i7 you're getting at least 4 cores anyway. 6 or 8 might be nice to have, especially if you also do video which might be able to leverage those extra cores. But the gains per $ taper off rapidly above a certain point for the vast majority of audio users.

The requirements of audio are not necessarily CPU and GPU grunt (unlike video) - but more a balance between power and a system where all parts work well together.

That is, for most people's purposes, simply buying the top CPU will solve nothing, and may well be a step backwards. That's because real-time audio recording has very particular requirements ... the first of those being maintaining a constant absolutely unstoppable flow of relatively lightweight data. With zero hiccups.


This excellent video has become a bit of a classic (it's only a year old tho!) and it explains all of this :


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Old 01-11-2017, 02:58 PM   #6
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It depends on what you require from your DAW PC. Ultra low latency with live recording isn't all about having the fastest CPU.

OTOH CPU grunt is pivotal to performance with top end soft synths. U-HE Diva and AAS Chromaphone 2 for instance demand very solid single core performance, though the former does utilize multi core, even within a single instance.
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Old 01-11-2017, 03:08 PM   #7
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That video is annoying because he's on the right track but comes to the wrong conclusion that faster CPUs are not always better for reducing pops and clicks that aren't caused by an interrupt that consumes an entire block worth of processing. Faster CPUs give more headroom and whilst the performance at ultra low latencies is dependent on the max amount of time other processes hog the processor, where there is wiggle room - which there should be - a faster CPU will improve things. On the same system.

So yes, a fast processor (or a slow one) will be restricted by other processes hogging CPU time at uber low latencies. But putting a processor that is twice as fast in there will allow twice as many operations to be done in the time left in that audio block. It also can reduce the time taken to process the other blocking processes. At higher latencies it kind of doesn't matter since the reduction in processing time available due to DPC latency etc is a much smaller percentage of the audio block.

Btw, AMD might be about to change the game with Ryzen - we'll see what the power management is like first though, but they are matching i7-6700K performance at the moment in engineering sample batches.
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Old 01-11-2017, 04:09 PM   #8
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For a DAW PC get an Intel, don't even bother looking at the competition. Same goes for games machines actually. I hope AMD catch up or even surpass Intel again someday but for now......
Do you have any measurements or real-world tests to support this statement? Don't get me wrong, I know the current AMD line-up is far older than Intel's and their architecture is inferior to the most up-to-date Intel CPUs. But I've been hearing this all these years, even when AMD just had released their most modern CPUs. And almost never you get any supporting evidence. Especially in a music-related field, where many people are subject to a cargo cult behavior.

What I'm really interested in, is how good and efficient is modern software (e.g. Reaper) in using all those available resources, especially multiple CPU cores. Specific use cases means that we should look at specific tests and not just general everyday usage anecdotes or results of possibly biased commercial benchmark applications.

From my personal experience: I've been running a 6-core AMD FX fore some time and I can't find anything wrong with it. When I selected that rig I came to the conclusion that I could get more than enough performance for much less bucks compared to Intel. And one should also remember to factor not only CPU price, but also the motherboard, and the pace of abandoning old sockets (which leads to full rig overhaul in case of an upgrade).
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:56 PM   #9
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Do you have any measurements or real-world tests to support this statement? Don't get me wrong, I know the current AMD line-up is far older than Intel's and their architecture is inferior to the most up-to-date Intel CPUs. But I've been hearing this all these years, even when AMD just had released their most modern CPUs. And almost never you get any supporting evidence.
Except all the benchmark articles? I was buying the new CPU relatively recently and all the benchmarks I've read showed that AMD is no discussion outclassed in raw single core speed. They're making it up somehow by having a bunch of relatively cheap 8-core CPUs which looks decent in multi-threaded benchmarks (in relation to price), but they're still no match for i7s really. I hope new AMDs will change it, it's getting a bit boring.

BTW, how heavy project has to be to actually make recent i7 feel it's working at all? With my kind of projects with like 6 guitar tracks (amp-simmed), drums, some samples and a bunch VAs even a 2008 dual core wasn't overloaded. I suppose it must be some heavy Hans-Zimmer or Junkie XL soundtrack-grade monumental sounding stuff. Or I'm lucky enough to use only CPU-light plugs.
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:13 AM   #10
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I was 100% AMD fdor years until I finally gave up after my 6 core Athlon2 started struggling.
There just wasnt a viable AMD "step up" at the time so I went with an i7 4770k.
I have no idea what current AMD performance is like but I havent seen anyone saying they are as good as the Intel equivalent for DAW work, let alone better.
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Old 01-12-2017, 06:12 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTascam View Post
Trying to figure out what would be the best CPU to build my system around.
By best, I mean fastest and most reliable. Does anyone know of any test data that compares performance of various CPUs with Reaper (or if not with Reaper, then with any DAW software)?

If there's no hard data, what CPU would you recommend, and why? TIA!
Budget?

This will be the factor most influential to your decision.
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Old 01-12-2017, 11:43 AM   #12
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Indiscipline,
Ivan and Zeekat have pretty much said it all.

I haven't looked into the upcoming new for 2017 AMD "Ryzen" chips recently, but it is nice to see AMD battling on with new designs. I hope they can give Intel some real competition once again with good performance and efficiency.

I have had plenty of AMD CPUs in the past.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:22 PM   #13
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I did two builds over Christmas vacation. Agonized over the parts selection. One i7-6700K and one i5-6600K with Z170 motherboards. Both turned out excellent. The biggest mistake was not going microATX on both of them. My ATX case and motherbord is huge and clunky. My sons microATX i5 gamer is packaged perfectly. The Fractal cases are really nice.
An i5-6600K with a Gigabyte gamer motherboard is more than enough to get some work done in Reaper. Really low prices lately.
My old AMD X4-965 from 2009 still runs Reaper perfectly with amp sims and EZdrummer and a bunch of other VST with Win10 even.
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Old Yesterday, 07:39 AM   #14
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If one is not into eletronic music, even then i5 with reaper is enough . Een with electronic music with synths that crank up unison and have modeled filters, i found one cool feature its called FREEZE
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Old Yesterday, 07:45 AM   #15
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I went for i7-6700K (mild OC to have it in constant "turbo" at 4.5 GHz) with AsRock Z140 Extreme 4 and a very nice Fractal Design Define R2 XL case. I don't believe in microATX
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Old Yesterday, 10:44 AM   #16
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I went for i7-6700K (mild OC to have it in constant "turbo" at 4.5 GHz) with AsRock Z140 Extreme 4 and a very nice Fractal Design Define R2 XL case. I don't believe in microATX
Micro ATX can be a fine choice IF it has all the features you need. Performance differential is not an issue.
Micro can of course be used in a full size case.

If you can get a better deal on a micro ATX board then do not rule them out, especially if your current motherboard dies in the future and options are reduced.

Often people make the mistake of wasting money to get an SLI board when they are not buying multiple high end graphics cards!!!
This ALONE substantially increases the price (with no other performance enhancements). Quad SLI worse still. A pointless feature unless you are going to be using the graphics muscle of thousands of pounds worth of GPUs.
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Old Yesterday, 10:48 AM   #17
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The only reason I didn't want a mATX board is the number of SATA ports and PCIe ports (not for graphics cards, but for other stuff like firewire card, 8x SAS HBA for even more SATA connectivity, Thunderbolt riser card that AsRock has for Z170, etc.)... they always have a lower number of them compared to ATX offerings... Plus they'd look bloody ridiculous in a big tower, wouldn't it Sure they can be used in big towers, that doesn't mean it's always a good idea

Why I needed more SATA connectivity: if you want to use an M.2 for SSD, you lose 2 SATA ports, no matter how many the mobo has. Period. That's how the Z170 chipset works. So that shaped my choice.
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Old Yesterday, 10:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
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The only reason I didn't want a mATX board is the number of SATA ports and PCIe ports (not for graphics cards, but for other stuff like firewire card, 8x SAS HBA for even more SATA connectivity, Thunderbolt riser card that AsRock has for Z170, etc.)... they always have a lower number of them compared to ATX offerings... Plus they'd look bloody ridiculous in a big tower, wouldn't it Sure they can be used in big towers, that doesn't mean it's always a good idea

If you have a very large tower then yeah, a bit of a waste of space. Even so it depends of why you are buying a motherboard, which features you really need, and what's available at the time; Latest CPU will have many options, used bargain Intel CPU not so much (such as bargain 1155 CPUs).

If a well heeled hardcore gamer an SLI board is obviously the right choice, but full ATX boards without SLI but all the same features (other than snazzy style gamer heatsinks) can be had typically for half the price, or even less with all the same features and same performance other than the potential for top gaming cards.
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Old Today, 03:13 AM   #19
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My last three builds have been micro atx in silent cases...
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Old Today, 03:40 AM   #20
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http://ark.intel.com/products/93790

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3672/...093b6081_o.jpg
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Old Today, 02:01 PM   #21
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Early Smerk!!!!!

Wonder what the current draw is on that little puppy....
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