A must-watch for users with real-time issues!

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!

Steinberg did recommend a chipset as few years ago so i built what they recommended and it runs like a dream still with no issues . I haven’t seen a recommendation in the last two/three years thou

Which chipset was it out of interest?

idk but when i built an i7 x79 chipset with 64 gb mem i have gotten the lowest latency ever…i use the moth pci 424 and hd192’s and can run at 16 buffers with all kinds of plugs ,they did fix the multi processor option cause low latency was better with it off untill cb8 ver20 …havent tested 8.5 yet but it seams to run better than ver 8,well see

This is why I always spend a bit more and get my computer from a source that specializes in building DAW systems. Their knowledge and expertise is worth it in the long run.

Thanks chimpspanner. I might watch it when I have time, but thanks for the summary.

Luckily I fell into some blind luck when I did my research and then hand picked components for the first DAW computer that I put together myself.
I built it just 6 months before I even considered switching to Cubase. [2 1/2 years ago]

So luckily, things are running quite nicely with 8.0.30 after a few initial tweaks.

But I plan to watch that video just the same. :wink:

Main thing with Laptops is the bloatware that’s installed. Margins are so low companies make more money from having the bloat ware than the actual hardware sale.

99% of consume laptops will run perfectly fine if you do a wipe and install a fresh ,vanilla version of windows it will run fine. I’ve done this with every laptop I’ve had over the last 8 years and had no problems.


BIG +1 for this.

Until recently i’d always self built, generally with a fair amount of success, but occasionally i would find myself having to try out various components, usually video cards, as ‘something’ would cause some kind of performance issue.
i’m no longer able to self-build, due to arthritis, so last year i bit the bullet and purchased a new system from inta-audio here in the UK. Apart from an issue on the first day which was down to microsoft issuing KB3004394 which prevented unsigned drivers from installing, i have been completely blown away with the performance!

On reflection, the amount of time i spent trouble shooting and the extra cost of having to spend money on multiple graphics cards because of bottlenecks etc, it would have been cheaper and less hassle to just go down this route in the first place… not to mention that i also got a year’s on-site warranty with another two years remote support as part of the package…

A year later and i am STILL regularly blown away with its performance and am a total convert when it comes to purchasing from a specialist builder…

Indeed! Specialised builders also test different configurations and benchmark the components under ‘DAW conditions’, allowing them to select components depending on the software to be installed on that system. This notably reduces the chance of hardware conflicts.

Yes, that is indeed a very good video, highly recommended. Thanks.
It’s pretty basic mostly, but very well explained AND illustrated.

It should be glued on the forum. There are always these “I’m having pops’n crackles with my brand new i7 CPU system, omg Steinberg please fix now!!” kind of posts coming up. All these people should see this video. :bulb:

I don’t have any issues right now (knocking on wood) but the information in this video was very timely for me as I am a hankerin for a new PC in the near future. :wink:


Regards :sunglasses:

A brief summary of the video about real-time performance issues:

The problem is seldom the CPU itself. Most often the bottleneck is somewhere else, and the CPU is waiting for another device to respond.

It can be seen in the CPU Usage Monitor that the cpu usage is often much below it’s capacity when playing real-time, although drop-outs, crackles and stutter occur. The fact that CPU has unused capacity can also be seen in the time needed for audio export (non real-time). The processor has usually no problem to actually process the export faster than real-time playing. So the problem is usually not the CPU, but a bottleneck at another place.

The video tells and illustrates how the audio buffer processing works. The setting of the audio buffer size also affects the time frame for other devices to respond to the CPU in time to not have crackles. If the audio buffer is sufficiently big enough and you still have problems, the problematic devices can be:

  • Video cards, audio interfaces, network interfaces (especially wireless), USB controllers, disc controllers.

The first two (video card, audio interface) causes more than half of the problems. Check that your drivers are up to date (but the latest one is not always the best one). The video card driver is especially sensitive for the DAW.

You could check which one is causing problem with a latency checker program (DPC Latency Checker or LatencyMon). If no problem is found the latest step is to check for a bios update.

The video doesn’t cover everything, like Windows optimization (and some cpu settings) that is covered here:

I think this should be made sticky…

Great video, thanks for sharing!

chimpspanner - Excellent video!!! Thanks for posting.

Great idea!!!

+1 Great video for those without a lot of computer background.

Paul for president! Amazing post.

Watched the video. It doesn’t explain ASIO guard problems in Cubase. If I have ASIO Guard disabled, all realtime works flawlessly, up to very high loads. But if Asio Guard is enabled, I get random occasional peaks even at low loads. So I am forced to disable Asio Guard. As if Asio Guard would be locking realtime performance. Anybody knows how this Asio Guard thing works? Why is it causing audio dropouts when it is enabled?

Agree fully, did that with a Dell Inpsiron i7 fitted for location work… runs super stable sofar with video and audio, and is seemingly very fast. i only miss my large monitor compared to a 4 year old i7 self built studio PC i still use as main workhorse LoL

I am having pretty bad realtime spikes (they start after just a few tracks and occur even if my average load is about half.)

Soloing the track doesnt help much (I cant really do realtime exports because I usually get "cpu load maxxed) error midway …

I have noticed that disabling the “cursor line” (the one that runs along the screen showing you where the cursor is located) is causing a lot of “spikes” and disabling it does help - but the performance is still below par …

Now, I have a PCI soundcard system (3 cards) so I thought I would refrain from installing a video card (as to keep the PCI/PCIe bus free from communication) and put the load on the CPU (I didnt expect this Aero nonesense …)
I have a new i7-4790 64bit PC With H97-D3H Gigabyte MoBo.
(I am currently not running video alongside projects)

Do you think a video card would be a substantial improvement to performance (vs. the onboard one) and is there a recomended card for this case ?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile: