CPU/MOBO Suggestions for new build

Hello all,

I’m running 10 Pro today on an Intel 7500U laptop 16 gb ram. It runs fairly well for the first 1/2 of my projects, then I have to start freezing.

I’m primarily a guitarist and a typical project will have 10-14 DI guitar tracks running with S-Gear, TH3, Bias FX, Helix Native, or occasionally Kazrog, Trillian for bass, and Superior Drummer 3. With my VSTi running I usually have to start freezing guitar tracks after about the 5th or 6th instance, and once I start adding VST keys (Halion, Serum, Air Music etc) I have to pretty much freeze all guitar tracks and Trillian and each VSTi as I finish the track. At the end of the project I’ll normally have 35-40 total tracks so it starts becoming a pain pretty quickly.

With my current system I get acceptable latency for DI recording on my Focusrite 2i2 running 44.1 with 256 bufffer. Thunderbolt is intriguing, but for a home studio the options available for 2-4 input boxes are a little rich for my blood so I have no aversion to moving to AMD if that’s a viable option.

I’m going to move to a desktop form factor and looking to spend around 12-15 hundred USD on the total build. I may also get Komplete so there will likely be more VST usage in the future.

I’m leaning towards 8700K or 9700K with a 390 mobo, 32 GB ram and a few SSD with an SSHD for sample storage.

Would I be missing much with the 8700 over the 9700 considering my anticipated usage? What about Ryzen? I read a lot of great things about them but I’m a little concerned about multi core performance in Cubase. There isn’t much info out there about them as it relates to DAW.

Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

This http://www.scanproaudio.info/2018/10/19/intels-i9-9900k-and-the-coffee-lake-refresh is one othe better descriptions of the processor choice trade offs for current and previous generation systems. Worth a solid read. Note the two different benchmarks - one for DSP and one for virtual instrument performance. VIs in particular are highly punishing when using low latency (small buffers) and really want higher clock speed rather than more cores. Interestingly the 8th gen i7 is better overall value than the 9th Gen i7 under some conditions (they removed hyperthreading in 9th gen). Your existing i7 7500U is a little weak (and may even be throttling back the clock speed, laptop cooling in most model being quite weak). I suspect any upgrade, even an older generation, will assist a lot.

I am guessing a little but if you are tracking with DAW effects via your focusrite then you the need for small buffer size and you are probably killing your CPU for VI performance. The graphs in the link shows just how much buffer impacts the VI polyphony count - even a current generation i9 drops off dramatically a lower latency settings. You may find it useful to use an external effect chain for tracking (record the clear DI single, monitor with fx) or a audio card with a DSP onboard and guitar fx (e.g. UR44, UAD). You can then replace these later. This would allow you to increase the buffer size and give you more more CPU headroom (on any processor).

Hope this helps inform your decision making.

Thank you for the reply and the link. The reply was helpful, but the link is leaving me more confused than ever about my CPU direction lol. I’m still a couple weeks from pulling the trigger and it does give me a lot more to think about and research.

Much appreciated!



There is actually a decent amount of information in this section. But I also agree with Rob that Scan’s descriptions are pretty spot-on.

I always felt that the best approach is to figure out a budget first since that’s often a limiting factor for people, and then I write down what I absolutely need, what I want but don’t need, and what would be nice extras. That can include anything from specific connectivity to CPU performance to drive sizes. After that I just exclude all components that don’t give me what I need, and from what’s left I just figure out the best price/performance. I never care about people telling me to spend the extra dollars if it puts me over budget (because I care about my budget) and I don’t care about “the best performance” if I don’t actually need that performance… and so on…

For full disclosure I loathe Intel as a corporation so I won’t buy their stuff unless a) I have to or b) hell freezes over. But they sure make great CPUs.

Thanks Mattias,

I agree with you. I’m finding that the problem with benchmarks is that they are only numbers. If X is lower than Y and V that’s great to know, but what does that actually equate to in noticeable performance? Will someone notice a 20% difference but not 10%? User experience, while completely subjective can offer a more real world example of intended use cases. The problem with that is most commentary is geared toward the gaming community. Your name pops up in a lot of Ryzen threads so I assume you have had good experience with AMD?

After doing hours of research, playing around on PCPartpicker, and creating a more realistic budget of 9-1,100 USD, I am leaning towards the 2700x. This is just a hobby for me so I don’t “need” much. Today on my 7500U I get acceptable latency for guitar tracking with sims on my Scarlett 2i2 at 256, I just can’t lay down very many of them before I see noticeable performance degradation. I think the Ryzen will allow that to happen, and for the difference in cost from Intel I can use the stock cooler and add 16GB more of ram. Sampletank 4 is getting released soon and since I already have 3 it is better for my budget to go that route over buying into Kontakt for $600. Either way, the RAM will go to good use. Win/Win in my book.

Here is my current part list. If anything stands out as too weak, constructive comments are appreciated!

Ryzen 7 2700x (stock cooler)
ASRock B450 Pro mobo
32MB DDR4-3600 RAM
1030 GPU (I don’t game, just need decent graphic card for dual monitor)
500GB NVMe boot drive
NZXT 500 case. Seems to offer good air flow, looks nice, and is budget friendly

Toss in my existing SSDs and maybe pick up a 2TB 7200 next payday for sample storage and I should be all set!

I don’t really have time to look in depth at those parts unfortunately, but briefly;

I seem to recall Pete at Scan plus others confirming that for audio the speed of RAM doesn’t seem to matter all that much. So my hunch is that once you reach about 3200MHz memory you’re in a way “maxxed out” on performance that comes with faster memory. So IF that is correct you might want to look at somewhat slower memory (with good timings - and verified with the motherboard vendors qualified vendor list for memory of course) to save money and then that’s something you can then use for more important things.

Thank you, your reply actually saved me a potential headache. Did some research on AMD memory after your comment. Turns out the RAM I was looking may not be compatible with the Mobo/CPU. I always though ram was ram as long as it was the right DIMM/pin and speed. Turns out to not be the case when it comes to AMD. Jeez this is so confusing. I’ve been an IT professional for over 30 years but I still am tempted to just go to Best Buy and pick up an off the shelf Dell lol!

Well to be fair, all memory that is ddr4 by definition is at a specific much lower frequency. So any and all devices compatible with the ddr4 standard will work when run at spec, including amd gear. It’s just that everything listed above that frequency is technically over clocked and that’s why its a cause for confusion. Not all over clocked memory works on all intel either.

Right, and to add to that confusion there are vast discrepancies between the mobo QVL vs the mem manufacturer web site as to compatibility. I’ve learned a great deal about RAM this afternoon thanks to you! From all that I’ve read from the more reputable blogs, the common perception that the 2700 needs faster ram to reach its full potential is not entirely true. Consensus is 2800-3000 is the sweet spot. With that being said, I’ve found a 32MB 3000Mhz kit that will not break my bank and is listed as compatible on both Asrock and Crucial’s web site. Now I can go back to trying to decide if I want a mATX or full ATX build and what kind of case to get that doesn’t look like a robot or childs toy lol

Thanks for the help. You may not think it, but you have really steered me in the right direction.


Glad to have helped. I hope it all works out and you’ll be happy with your new rig. :slight_smile:

Finally got everything together. Stayed under budget except for the case. I’m 53 and felt the need to go unicorn vomit RGB/MicroATX like a 14 year old…

Overall I’m REALLY happy with the performance. Runs my latest project with no frozen tracks at around 30% on the performance meter.

Thanks for the help!