Before buying a new PC. Questions about CPU.

Hey guys.

Im about to buy a new PC for my studio. Im using a Nuendo 8 and Wavelab 9.5 - doing music production and Post production for films.
According to the pro shop Im buying the computer from, there is not such a difference for me between i7 9700 vs i9 9900 “cause music daw are using one core at a time anyway” or Daws don’t know how to use the multicore in a way.
The guy from the shop (a pro, with tons of experience) actually was very persuasive that I will NOT go for i9, cause i7 is more than enough for audio daws.
(Im going for 32 RAM either way)

His recommendation was to save the money and invest in SSDs - system and samples/SFX/Projects.

  1. What can you tell me about the claim, DAWs are not using multicore technology? can you see the logic in that?
  2. The SSDs based system is the money I would have spent on the i9 instead of i7, but do I really need 2terra SSD? can’t I just work with WD 2t black caviar? then I can go for the stronger CPU.

I will be more than happy for insight into these manners.

thnx

Take a look at this discussion:

https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=122853

For sure multicore matters.

These threads will be of use to you.
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=209&t=146698
https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=209&t=147619

Q1. That is outdated information. Cubase utilises multicore.
Q2. SSD’s will see you HUGE improvements.

My new build…
Browsing Sample based Synths presets is a dream, lightning fast load times.
Rendering, bouncing samples, offline processing etc… unbelievable speeds.

The i7 will clock as fast as the i9. If you want to maintain turbo/OC for long durations, the new bottle neck is the quality of VRMs and it’s cooling… You’d need insanely large projects to eat up all that ASIO, even at tight latency, which if you did, only the highest spec motherboard would maintain. Meaning the price jump isn’t just in i7-i9, it’s also in MB. The i9 will run fine on the cheaper z390’s but it’s extra capabilities (which you won’t need) won’t be achievable for long.

Spending on SSD’s, especially NVMe is a much better investment.

If the person actually said that a DAW uses “one core at a time” then ‘no’, that person wasn’t a pro. At least not as far as computers for DAWs go. I don’t care how much “experience” he or she has, definitely doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

It’s possible that you personally benefit more from getting other stuff. I see all the time people looking to maximize their computer build and are focusing on the CPU while forgetting about other important things… but…:

No, just pure nonsense. DAWs use multiple cores and two threads per core.

You have to tell people what you want to use the computer for in more detail.

  • How many VST instruments need to be played in realtime?
  • How many audio tracks?
  • Video?
  • How many plugins?
  • When you say “post for films”:
    — Feature length films or shorts?
    — SFX?
    — Dialog/production sound editing?
    — Re-recording?
    — Real productions with all deliverables?
    — 5.1, 7.1, Atmos?

Etc…

Thank you guys for helping.
I went through the links you gave me, and some others and Im still confused after reading cause now i know that the main difference between the i9 to i7 is that the i7 doesn’t have HT cores.

Mattias - I have probably misunderstood the guy from the pro shop, He probably talked about logical cores and HT, as something less necessary.
The guy from the shop is building systems for years and well known, so most likely I didn’t represent his POV right.
His idea that HDDs are thing of the past.
i7 9700 is 8 core, strong enough + full SSD for everything + 32ram and good cooling system and Im good to go.
So, he probably meant that HT is not so beneficial when it comes to DAWs.

the i9 is 8 core with 8 logical cores. on all benchmarks sites I so that it is superior. its cache is also bigger (16)

So - is there an issue with HT and DAWs?

the chipset is z390.

You have to tell people what you want to use the computer for in more detail.

  • How many VST instruments need to be played in realtime? on big scores/productions, can be a lot. or few but heavy like omnisphere/Kontakt
  • How many audio tracks? depends of the project. from a few to full movie mixing (150 tracks easy - BG, SFX,DIA…so on)
  • Video? yes…and runs on the onboard GPU at the moment. no black magic or anything.
  • How many plugins? can be a lot, but never to much cause Im trying to wirk smart with processing
  • When you say “post for films”:
    — Feature length films or shorts? both. animation, shorts, docs, indie full feature.
    — SFX? sure
    — Dialog/production sound editing? sure
    — Re-recording? yep
    — Real productions with all deliverables? if I know what you mean, yes
    — 5.1, 7.1, Atmos? no.
    also yes for automation and DOP

Im working with Lynx aurora and RME multiface 2, strong drivers.

Skip the Intel stuff, go for AMD Ryzen 7 1800X, with a B450 motherboard. More value for money. My next build will be a an AMD.

Some users bumped into an issue with more than X logical cores (you’ll have to search here for the exact amount, because I can’t remember). But not all users ran into that issue. So it might be ok for you. As a matter of fact I’m willing to bet it will be totally fine.

I actually agree that HD’s are sort of a thing of the past. I’m totally seeing the point in using them for SFX / Music libraries and backups for example, but for realtime audio work it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Even post sessions tend to be small enough to fit fine on a SSD. In addition to that I think that SSDs today are cheap enough that you can find a way to push that cost over to each respective client. If you have a big job that really does require a 500GB SSD then shift that cost to your customer. It probably shouldn’t be more than a few hours of extra billed work (if you don’t want to itemize that cost of course).

If you’re set on an Intel CPU then if I were you I’d get the one that gives you better performance of course. If you really have to choose between that and other components then I might actually agree with that sales person. When I tested my Ryzen chip (1700) once I turned on “ASIO guard” I could run more plugins than I typically end up running. Add DOP and other offline processing I might do anyway and for what I do at home, even post production, it’s enough. I would imagine that a CPU without HT would also be fine.

I will say however that HT does seem to come out on top and is used by Nuendo. So, again, I suppose it’s an issue of money.

You could also compare the performance of that 9700 with whatever chip AMD is selling for the same amount. The two caveats are:

  1. No guaranteed thunderbolt for AMD (though it’s reported to work with add-on card)
  2. No integrated video (which arguably isn’t preferable in post work)

On that second point a cheap Blackmagic card should do, plus a cheap video card for the GUI. Of course at that point you’re no longer saving any money and that GUI video card expense need to be taken into account when making a comparison.


One last thing:

Greatly underestimated is the loss of time you can encounter if you have a drive failure. Granted, they’re not frequent, but when they happen they just suck. So, a good backup plan to me really means a cloned system drive lying around, frequently updated, so that you can just pop that in and get back to work and troubleshoot another day. That extra system drive costs money. So, if it’s between that extra drive and more performance I’ll probably take the drive any day - IF it is important for me to have some safety to meet tough deadlines.

There’s more to say about all this but I haven’t had enough coffee and also need to poop now.

Thanx a lot Mattias.

I want to make sure I understand you correct, When you say “real-time audio work” you mean the drive where the projects are built and the system?
and if i get you correct, SFX, for example, are imported into the projects drive(ssd) anyhow, loops, backups are just backups.
What about libraries of VSTi samples used in real time? or heavy players like Omnisphere?

this way I can go for:
i9 9900
500 SSD - system
256 ssd - current projects
2t HDD - SFX, VSTi libraries (bottle neck?)

Sorry about being vague. What I meant was that one bottleneck for some people has been large projects with a lot of VST instruments playing back in realtime, i.e. not having been ‘frozen’ to audio tracks.

When I do SFX work I always try to transfer them to the local folder to keep that project self-contained. So ‘yes’, in my case SFX / library music lives on a “library” drive and get transferred to my local ‘work drive’ in the project’s folder. I’m guessing I could save some time loading from an SSD, but it doesn’t seem it’d be a significant save for me.

Those working with samples however might benefit from SSDs. I honestly don’t know, but I’m guessing it’s likely.

In my case all future drives will be SSD for work and spinners for backups and libraries. I hate spinners so fewer is better.