Cubase, cores and threads (not forum threads!)

I have seen a couple of forum threads on cores and threads as they relate to Cubase. They basically tuned into pissing matches, with “I am right!” followed by “No, I am”, followed by… guess what?

Without anyone chest thumping and trying to prove to the rest of us that you KYS, does Cubase perform any differently with a 4-core CPU, as opposed to a 6-core CPU, as opposed to a 8-core CPU? And is this version dependent?

Any insight will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I don’t know the answer.

But for what it’s worth, I routinely mix big projects (full drumkits, half a dozen vocal takes, 4 guitars and 2 bass tracks… plus a synth for good measure) on a 4-core i5 2500k (3.3), without hyperthreading.
That said- the rest of the rig is pretty maximized.

I can’t see actually seeing any improvement with more cores… with the possible exception of mixdown time. And my impression is that most people bottleneck is in the Hard Drives, not the CPU.

In terms of the audio itself, meaning the VSTi, recording, mixing etc, it’ll either work or it won’t. By that I mean that if it doesn’t work and you run out of CPU resources you typically get clear indications of it; clicks, pops or whatever. So when that’s the case either more cores or a faster CPU will typically help.

Since the new Ryzen CPUs came out I’ve followed testing again since I might assemble a new computer, and what I’ve seen is that there seems to be slightly different results depending on how you load the CPU. If you’re purely mixing you can increase the buffer size since there’s no practical difference to the operator (you) between 64 samples and 256 samples, and when you do this you can benefit greatly from having many cores. When you drop the buffer to record however it seems speed is king, and you benefit more by having a faster CPU.

Lastly, I think the argument can also be made that the CPU not only has to deal with your DAW’s handling of audio but also many other things that go on in your computer at the same time. So I think there’s probably an argument to be made for more cores making for a smoother experience in many cases, simply because you can allow yourself the convenience of having a browser open or whatever at the same time without any issues. This is a hunch of mine and I haven’t tested it, and neither has anyone else in pro-audio as far as I’m aware, but it holds true in gaming for example where gamers want a great gaming experience while streaming video of them actually playing. More cores help there.

I think it is, but I also think that you probably don’t see differences between every generation. Instead I can imagine that between versions maybe a decade ago perhaps Steinberg tweaked something. Similarly, if ASIO-Guard changes something when it comes to threading or efficiency or whatever that may make for some different results. I wouldn’t worry about it though. If you’re in the market for a new computer it’s probably most cost efficient to buy either the low end in which case you’ll have problems no matter what, or aim for just below the high end, and then in many cases you’ll have enough power for a few generations of the software, unless you’re always pushing it to the edge of course.

I actually think that the description above is of a small project to be honest. Thanks for sharing though, it’s really valuable!

Hard drives haven’t been the bottleneck for years - and I’m not even mentioning SSDs.

The faster the cores the better, the general issue is as the core count goes up individual core performance generally drops off. Obviously some CPU architectures perform better per clock cycle than others. AMD FX cpus are hampered by FPUs being shared between normal CPU cores.

With more modern CPUs you can have the best of both worlds via overclocking.

There’s also the multimedia thread limit to consider if you are running Windows 10 which may cause issues if you have over 14 logical cores.

Just a note: No need to consider AMD FX CPUs since they’re by now on an old and irrelevant platform. Their new Ryzen and upcoming Threadripper CPUs are really the current platform to consider. Price/performance is fantastic, though some may prefer Intel IF they run a very heavy load while recording at very low latency. For anyone that doesn’t do that AMD appears to be offering a tremendous value.

Thanks guys :slight_smile:

cam - yeah, that project is rather small by today’s standards :slight_smile:

I am pretty sure cores do not have speed. Did you mean clock speed?

Lastly, I think the argument can also be made that the CPU not only has to deal with your DAW’s handling of audio but also many other things that go on in your computer at the same time.

Right - I tend to not do anything else when I am writing and/or mixing. I may take a break and browse the internet (like now!), but when I am working, Cubase is it.


… am I old now?


Yes,Ryzen performs at about 85% of a top-end Intel at under half the price. A strong contender if you don’t need the absolute best achievable performance.