Best Windows OS for dedicated music system?

I am building a dedicated Windows computer for music production that will be off the network most of the time.

I wonder if there are any compelling Cubase and VST performance advantages to using Win 7 or Win 8.x rather than Win 10? And are there disadvantages relating to music production? I am mostly interested in smooth playback, which is now a problem on my very old and network-swamped i7 system. I saw the recent posts about Win 10 threads and glitching.

Will use an i7-7700 four-core processor to keep the fan noise down.

Would appreciate your comments.

I didn’t notice any change in stability or performance between Win7 and Win10 when I upgraded (new install of Win10 on existing PC). Most if not all of my dropouts are caused by networking, and if I turn off the adapter then I get a very smooth operation. I keep drivers fully up-to-date and I update windows manually but regularly. I personally like Win10 because it boots faster and it generally seems a bit snappier to me. I was happy on Win7 for many years, and now I’ve been on Win10 since the free upgrade and I’m still happy.

I have an 8 core CPU and I purchased the biggest heat-sync that I could, which was a Noctua NH-D15. The twin fans are controlled by the mobo and I have them running at the lowest possible speed, with a super quiet Noctua NF-F12PWM case fan on the back of the chassis. I run using Idling is about 54 deg C and very heavy load is 80 deg C with minor fan noise occasionally (because they sometimes crank up to a medium level).


I would go with W10 (again if I was building a system for music) which seems to be the choice of Pro system builders. W7 will lose support first of course. I have had excellent stability results with Cubase 9 and W10. I was told by the dev of a well known synth… “It has much better memory and threading management and will run more stable and faster than Windows 7”

Thus far, my personal experience backs this up. Working like a dream.

Win10 x64 for sure. Much less bloat and no Teletubbie interface.

I have had many problems with windows 10 in the production computer…I would stick with win 7 pro 64 sp1 ,it has been rock solid and sometimes that computer is on for weeks straight

It has been working great here since the launch 1607 was even better.
You will only get a good experience in any OS if you do a clean install (no upgrade) and invest time in installing all updates and sourcing the right drivers.

If you have a CPU with more than 7 physical cores, there is a known limitation in Windows 10 that can result in audio glitches if you don’t hack your Cubase settings to limit its threading capabilities.

I find Windows 10’s constant forced updates and reminders to use Microsoft products endlessly annoying, and Windows 10 has been proven to offer little-to-no DAW performance benefits for pro audio. (All that hype about improved audio performance around its release was only about Windows’ native APIs, not ASIO which most Windows pro audio relies on.)

I’ve also suffered problems where a mandatory Windows 10 upgrade broke devices or applications I was using until further patches were deployed. (Graphics cards seem to be the most common casualties.)

So with no production-specific benefits and a fair number of hassles, I do not think Windows 10 is the best Windows for production. I’m still using Windows 7, but I have no problem with Windows 8.1 either. (8.1 has some of Windows 10’s benefits, like native USB 3.0 support, without some of the headaches.)

Again, your experience is not mine.

Windows 10 is the only way to go for a new computer.
You can’t even install win7 on computers using the newest CPU’s.
If it is going to be offline most of the time, then there is even less arguments for using an ancient OS.
My Win10 system is always online and always up to date, no problems.

Windows 8.1, if you have 8 cores or more and use hyperthreading. It doesn’t have the thread limit that Windows 10 has.

For the i7-7700 (4 physical cores), Windows 10 is the best option for Cubase.

Plus I tested win10 vs win 7 and I just have had better performance on win7 …win 10 is a resource hog

That’s not a conventional result. 7 isn’t lighter per se, and games tend to run better on 8.1/10.

Thanks everyone for all the great and on-topic replies! And thanks Mike for the tip about the Noctua NH-D15, now you’ve got me thinking about a bigger, badder cpu…

That is the cooler I use, I recommend it. (Just make sure you have enough space for it.)

UltimateOutsider is right. This is absolutely true and it’s more than annoying. The forced major updates will reset many important DAW tweaks and settings and after the last ‘creators update’ Cubase 9 projects containing instances of Kontakt wouldn’t open here. Luckily I had a disc image of my pre update system drive so was able to go back. I’m in the middle of back to back jobs at the moment but in the new year I plan to go back to Windows 7 and if you can, I’d recommend it as the most stable OS due to the lack of forced updates alone.

I’m curious though, the people in this thread that are having a good Win 10 experience. How are you dealing with the sytem changes that the updates bring? You’ve had no problems with updated drivers? No problems with having to re do any DAW specific tweaks etc? Obviously going forwards Win 10 would be best if these problems could be avoided but I can’t see how that could be.

I have to say windows 10 is great.

A few things to be aware of.

Windows registry:

When ever windows have one of their bigger updates, they also do big changes to the registry. This can mess up 3 party installed software/drivers.
This happens caus the 3 party software use “hacks” on the registry to install and function properly.
So if you find yourself with programs or drivers not working after a windows 10 update. You need to uninstall the software/driver, clean out the restovers in registry and reinstall it. This is alot quicker then 50 posts on various forums and end up with a full reinstall. And then swear to never update windows ever again. Learning a bit about windows registry, drivers and software can save you alot of time and effort. You can also hack the registry to stop the windows update permanently. But it is way better to learn abit about windows.


There are some ways to end up with blackscreen. Some have to do with poorly drivers.
But there is one that is easy to avoid. Dont install 3 party desktop customizer tools. They do major changes to registry, and will suffer when windows do a upgrade. If you need that pimped screen, you will have to remeber to uninstall the software before updating windows.

And to the last classic issues
Hardware, routing and windows software control.

If you are going to build your own powerhouse of a daw computer. There are a few classic misstakes to avoid.

First thing, motherboard architecture layout:

Now this is realy important. Most motherboards offers alot of connections. But they never offer enough lanes to use all connections at same time.
Some connections have hw switches, so if this is connected, that dont work, or if that is connected this wont work. Other connections chear buss/lanes, wich can make alot of irq conflicts and headakes. Most intel layouts have lanes/connections direct to cpu and 4 lanes wich connects to the chipset wich offer the rest of the connection points. Different cpus offer different amount of supported direct lanes.

So map out all the devices you need and check routings. You dont want your audio (pcie, usb, firewire, tb), graphic (pcie), hd (sata, m.2, usb), midi (usb), dsp (pcie, usb, firewire, tb), wifi/lan, cd/dvd/br (sata, usb) to be in any conflicts. The chipset will handle the traffic to the cpu on the 4 lanes, so as long as those 4 lanes arent maxed out, it will work. That is a tall order. Alot of builders over look this importent step. Wich brings me to the next thing.

Chipset and cpu:

The latest and greates is always fun. But and thats a big but. Are they tested and supported by all the components you are planning to put in the new build? If you do a google you will find 1000’s of posts from angry builders that went for the new and untested. you might end up with a cpu that dosent support the ram. you might have a older pcie card with a old chip on it wich the new chipset dosent support at all and never will. you might end up wating for several months to get new drivers that work with the new chipset… for a daw build it is better to be safe and find the motherboard that has a tested chipset, wich support your audio interface, dsp and midi interface. Find the cpus wich support your graphic card, ram and other devices that has lanes directly going to it.

Windows is green:

Windows will powersave the living daylights out of your daw. So you will have to take off all powersavings wich can give you dropouts.
That would be usb, hd, screen saver, powerdown standby… in the bios you can just take off anything thats has to do with cpu powersavings, throttling and boost. You just want it to run steady.


So got that new build and finaly up and running and then there is this annoying background noise, wich you dident have on the old build.
Thats the sweet sound of cheap coils. What ever you are planning to save cash on, dont let it be the psu. You dont need much power to run a modern computer, but you do need good caps. So putting in some extra cash for a better built psu, will save yourself troubleshooting and a lot of google.
There are many crazy threads out there wich will pull you in the wrong places to look for the fault.

Now if you manage to get these things right. You will have a daw wich you can use on online sessions, keep up to date and it will serve you well. until you upgrade some device you never planned for wich is not supported.

I always recommend having a ghost drive of the system disk, and try keeping it up to date with a weekly backup. It is handy if you need a quick fix in the mids of a session.

The noctua is great, it runs so slow you can barely hear it.

Yes, this model really is very tall. I bought an especially wide case for it, and even then I had to remove the side fan to get it to fit!! Manufacturers quote external case sizes but you can’t find the internal sizes at all.

With regards to updates I always do them when I have a time afterwards to check things are working (and I do nightly OS backups). But I don’t recall ever having any big problems with updates. As mentioned earlier, pimped desktops may change… I like gadgets so I’m using 8GadgetPack to bring Win7 gadgets into Win10, this sometimes gets removed with an update. Classic Shell (for Win7 start menu and helpful tools on Explorer windows) glitched with the creators update, just un and reinstalled.

The dropouts I mentioned earlier (wrt what the average might be) are largely due to networking, so any time I’m needing to work in real-time low latency then I simply disable the adapter.


There really isn’t much to tweak on a win 10 system, I find it less of a resource hog compared to win 7.
Major updates will reset some settings, but nothing I haven’t been able to set back to my preferred settings in a few minutes.
Driver updates via windows updates are extremely rare, it only happens if you have a driver that is known to cause problems.
I’m not relying on my own experiences here, but on what the major DAW computer manufacturers are reporting.
I believe they all have moved on to win 10, now that it has matured.
On a perfectly good running Win 7 system it would be foolish to waste time and energy upgrading to Win 10 in hope of getting a little better performance.

I guess one question is how long you’ll be able to actually install/upgrade Cubase on Win7. That’s why I upgraded from XP really, because it stopped being supported by Steinberg (whereas I upgraded to Win10 because it was free and seemed quite good). The same will happen sometime for Win7. MS end extended support for Win7 at the very start of 2020, so probably for Steinberg it’ll be at least the same if not earlier - not long away.

I personally purchase new plugins fairly regularly and when purchasing invariably you have to download the latest plugins set, licence handler and/or drivers, therefore I really do need to keep up-to-date with the OS and Cubase versions in order to keep compatible (e.g. UAD hardware drivers). So, using Win7 as your OS could be a risk if you need new tools, plugins and latest bug fixes.