If, like me, you have what ought to be a reasonably powerful computer but are getting absolutely terrible real time performance, I highly recommend you watch this. It’s a bit long, he repeats himself in a couple of places and some of the info/advice might be a little rudimentary in places but it really shines a light on what exactly is happening when your brand new powerful, shiny computer trips up over a three track project for apparently no reason.
I’ll summarize it for those who don’t have half an hour spare;
• CPU power/speed is not everything. An i5 will outperform an i7 or even a Xeon in real-time performance if the components are well matched and there are no system resource bottlenecks
• Buying a newer/faster computer might make your performance worse if you’re changing a whole bunch of other components, with unknown interactions
• Video cards are right up there with audio interfaces in terms of performance bottlenecks, as I’m sure a few of you with nVIdia chipsets will attest to, right? If you can swap it out, do. If you can’t because you’re on a laptop like me…too bad. Up your latency, save some money and build a tower!
• Newer drivers aren’t always better, again in relation to video card performance. And, yet again, if you’re on a laptop chances are you can’t force older driver versions so, same advice as above applies
• It is possible, just possible, that the software is at fault. If you have other DAWs you can experiment with, then by all means do. Only once you’ve eliminated resource/IO bottlenecks, hardware incompatibility, driver issues, etc. can you really reach this conclusion.
The main thing I take away from this, speaking from my own personal experience, is that if you’re thinking of getting a new system, do NOT go out and buy a fancy new laptop thinking it will fix your problems unless you personally know someone who can recommend you a good model for DAW usage. Because if there’s a fundamental problem with the way the CPU handles your hardware, you are screwed, regardless of how many cores or benchmark performance points it has. Towers all the way.
Anyway, this really put my mind at ease as to why my powerful(ish) computer doesn’t always feel powerful. I’m going to bring my external guitar processor back into the mix so I can direct monitor, and then up my latency.
Hope this video is helpful!