CPU expectations?

A little background: I use mac. Started working in Cubase and Nuendo around 2004, but switched to Logic around the time Apple went to Intel, because Nuendo was basically useless for a good while.

I returned to Cubase for version 8.5 and it has been my main DAW since. I just wanted to touch on performance, expectations and a few questions regarding it.

On Logic I rarely was able to exhaust my CPU and other resources. Big projects never seemed to max out performance. I remember being amazed by this and really not needing to be critical when adding tracks and plugins. Since returning to Cubase I feel my way of working have left me more often maxing out. My expectations is still that my computer should be able to run a ton of plugins. It doesn’t, hehe. At least not within my expectations. My setup is an iMac 5K retina 2018, i7 3,4 gHz. 40 GB Ram.

Should my expectations for this type of computer be lower now, due to more sophisticated plugins, emulations, etc.? Or is Cubase simply less efficient in terms of system resources? I don’t know coding or software development. I am just trying to bridge the gap between what my expectations are and what the computers actual capabilities are. Bridging this gap mentally will hopefully make me make better choices, and manage my computer resources better.

Not sure how anyone can really give you a good answer. I think you’re better off testing your system in various ways to see where the bottlenecks are and then you know how to work on it.

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If you want to benchmark DAWs against one another on your system, you could in theory build a project file that maximizes your CPU load and see how it performs in other DAWs. You will have to make sure that a lot of settings and conditions are exactly the same. An incomplete list of things to check to be the same for a fair comparison:

  • audio device and driver
  • project sample- and bitrate (!)
  • buffer size (!)
  • bit-depth of the audio engine
  • CPU cores allowed / used by the DAW
  • Hyper Threading on or off
  • the audio files used in the project
  • plugin formats and versions used (VST3 / VST2)
  • for VST3: the setting to disable processing when no signal goes through the plugins

Also make sure that there are no other applications running in the background.

If you can manage to create pretty much the exact same project, I recommend you try REAPER as a point of reference. This DAW is tightly coded and has a very small footprint on your system.

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I’ve definitely thought about doing something like that, but the matter hasn’t really been pressing enough. :slight_smile: