Does my computer need something else instead of more RAM ?

Hi- Computer tech virtual noob question here …

On my XP (Carillon music computer) things slow to a halt and I get audio drop outs and memory notices when I run C6.5 projects as small as 5 audio tracks and two VSTi’s (Halion Sonic SE and JamStix 3). All this is with few if any plug-in’s running, and with buffer at 2048. Error-type messages will range from things like, “Cubase 6 out of memory”, to “Jamstix 3 could not save your project to the host”.

I copied some #s off the Task Manager Performance panel, and was hoping maybe someone could look them over and give their thoughts:

1) Smaller project that doesn’t crash:
– Project not running: CPU = 4%, Page File is 634MB.
– Project running: CPU = 14%, Page File is 852 MB.

2) Big project that crashes:
– Project not running: CPU is at 47%, and Page File is 1.26GB.
– Project running: CPU is at 89%, with Page File at 1.22 GB.

3) Another big project that crashes:
– CPU 100%, Page File 1.45GB when running and crashes.

So - is the blindingly obvious also true in this case - extra RAM is the cure for my DAW ills (at least until I upgrade to W7)? I was surprised that the Page File only maxed out at about 1.5GB when the audio dropouts started happening, and seeing the CPU also so high made me wonder if there was something else I should be considering instead.

Thanks for any thoughts -

A new computer would make a world of difference… :wink:

duplicate post.

I’d say that with Cubase 6 + you’re a bit stretched and it is optimised for W7. I’d also say that as it’s computer evolution time again over the next few weeks you may see some rather good i7 bundles available.
Self-build isn’t hard to do. Bit like slapping together lego kits but with a bit of worry thrown in. No solder needed.
Just take care with the CPU and take your time installing everything. Allow a week to install all you need and so you can soak-test and bed the components, check for loose leads etc.

I see that this might only be useful for future reference. But look at self-build when you have the cash as it’s much, much cheaper. If a k4ckhanded Harry like me can do it anyone can.

Hi alexis,

Maybe you could try upgrading to XP SP3 in the very least or if your computer will run a newer OS, new audio handling while more resource hungry is ultimately more efficient, however it is likely your video card (memory) that is the bottleneck.

Thats a pretty old spec of computer you’re showing. Do you really want to spend money on it or save hard for a newer machine. The good news is you will notice a big improvement when you do upgrade.

An extra 2 GB will help but its impossible to know how much. Also depends on what background stuff you’ve also got running. Kill anything you don’t need.
This might sound a bit daft, but there are a huge number of old PC’s get “recycled” at our local waste centre, I bet you could easily find some compatible memory if you asked nicely.

Gentleman - “Resolved: I would do best with a new computer!”.

However, until that time, I would like to spend the cash now (or rummage through BA’s waste center bins!) on additional RAM … IF the #'s I posted above suggest it would help.

Ah, OK, that is helpful. I was thinking the #s I posted above (from Task Manager) might help answer how likely it would be that more RAM would help. But if not, it is what it is.

The machine is prebuilt by Carillon, and it’s not been loaded up with internet or other non-music things, so I’d guess there’s not much extraneous stuff that needs killing.

But I’d like to check - where would I check for that, and how would I disable them permanently? My first thought is to go to Task Manager/Processes, see what looks like fluff, and then go to Control Panel/Add or Remove Programs. Would you recommend this, or another way?


Another 2 gig of ram is gonna be cheap for that machine, nothing to loose trying!

“Does my computer need something else instead of more RAM”?

Yes video RAM.


In addition to the obvious…

If you download CCleaner from Piriform (it’s free)

…you can use this program to switch off the automatic start up of unnecessary processes very easily. The programs are still installed, but not taking up RAM or CPU. You can reliably streamline your registry and clear out unwanted data too.

I do this on all my systems and I am continuously surprised by how much difference a clean out every couple of weeks can make. Piriform’s latest defraggler is excellent too it displays disc health which is handy

I am not saying that it’s a cure all or that you may have other bottle-necks, but getting what you have running efficiently will help you out.

I mostly run XPSP2 as you probably know. I have had enormous projects running without issue. My systems are running hard all day everyday. problems are very rare and generally arise from bad data or plugins, not system overload

FYI I have 4gbytes RAM and use 3gbyte switch (which gets me a bit more RAM available for BFD etc)

Hope this helps you out.


Mr. Parrot - It is ALWAYS great to read your posts!

I have gone and cleaned out the msconfig-bootup menu, and it did squeeze some more MB out. I don’t have many things left, and sorting them by size, I think I’m rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns. I think since my computer never sees the internet it hasn’t gotten to full of bullarkey.

Turning my attention to fragging, my C:/ drive needs fragging badly. The drive where my Cubase projects are is apparently OK, though visually I would have guessed not. I guess because it is not very full …?

In any case, I’m in the middle of back up imaging, then I’m going to defrag. I’ll try the Windows defragger 1st. Reading up on the Piriform, it seemed one advantage there is that one can defrag by file name. Is there any other advantage over the Windows defragger (except better graphics)?

But most of all, hearing that a power user like you can make do with XP SP2 warms my heart. I dream of the day when I get the next Starship computer, but for now, would be happy to just get a little more performance. I’ll bounce down all I have to in order to get my projects done, but if I can do it less often, that would be much nicer!

Thanks again, Parrot Spain!

All you need is a new video card and you’ll be good to go.

Hi Mutesolo -

Why is that?

Thanks -

Hi alexis,

It is because Cubase in Windows is a resource intensive application and requires adequate resources in order to function properly, ie with the Windows Desktop Manager service.

I noticed my page file was only 2046 MB, but the “recommended” is 3067 MB (in the CTRL Panel/System/Advanced/Performance Options/Virtual Memory Tab). This site suggests that the page file size should be 1.5 times the physical RAM, in other words, 3067 MB. And also that the page file be put on a drive where the operating system isn’t, and in its own partition, so it doesn’t get fragmented as the computer changes the Page File size. Alternatively, one can keep its size fixed by setting the minimum/maximum size to the same value.

Does anyone think it’s worth or dangerous to make changes like these to the Page File? If so, would they recommend putting it on a partition that never gets used on the same physical drive as my OS … or as the only partition in a separate physical hard drive that happens to get used a lot?

Mr. Parrot - could I ask you to check what your Page File size is, and what drive it is on?


(P.S. - back-up imaging as we speak!)

XP SP3 added better network support, so if you are on the internet with your DAW you may want to upgrade.

As for the pagefile, let windows decide or upgrade to a newer OS.

Switch on background services and optimize for programs, which in the short term will require more resources but if the system is fully up to date, ie windows update you should have a well functioning machine.

Also, turn off windows enhancements.

There are a few other services you could switch off but it is mostly about having the system fully patched and up to date with the latest drivers for your hardware, in particular the chipset and video drivers.

Guys - Please forgive my multiple postings, I feel like I am attending “Learn Your Music Computer University” as the only student (via the internet), and I’m posting here hoping you can help rid me of the horrible feeling I may be learning all the wrong things but not realizing it. If I’m imposing by asking too many questions, someone please put me in my place. (The only upside to not buying a bigger/faster/more powerful computer is all this, ahem, WONDERFUL stuff I’m learning about page.sys and the like! :beamup: ).

So, anyway, since my last post a little while ago, I have read something that makes me wonder if my computer being under-RAM’d is NOT the problem … AND that neither is it that my Page File is too small …

Here is a screen shot of my Task Manager at a period of peak use during an audio drop out:

As you can see, the “Peak Commit Charge” (1.8 GB) is well under the “Total Physical Memory” of 2.1 GB (ignoring the 1024 factor for now). However, there are two key things that caught my eye:

1)The amount of RAM available before a Page File is used is only 0.7 GB (“Available Physical Memory”). So right now, as I understand it from reading this article , the bottleneck isn’t that I don’t have enough physical RAM, or even that my Page File is too small, but rather it’s that of 2GB of RAM, only 0.7 GB is available before the computer shuttles me off to the Page File.

2) The “Peak Commit Charge” of 1.8 GB is well under the total 2.7 GB of “Available Physical Memory” (0.7 GB) plus the Page File (2GB). In my ignorant way of thinking, this tells me that the answer to my own question a post or two higher is that a larger Page File is NOT the answer. Is that the right way to think of this?

So, I was thinking that in order of preference, this is what I should do:

  1. Get a bigger computer. Failing that -
  2. Somehow tell the computer to increase the amount of “Available Physical Memory” to closer to “Total Physical Memory”, so I would not need to access the Page File so much. (How would that be done? BIOS?). Failing that -
  3. Increasing the Page File size might not be the answer, as discussed above? Perhaps keeping it from getting fragmented might help - moving it to another drive, keeping its size fixed, etc.

As always, I’d be very grateful for any thoughts from those in the know.

Let Windows decide the pagefile since most of your memory will be reserved for system processes anyway.

A large pagefile only slows things down, it does not mean nothing will work.

Newer OS’s do this all in a vastly more intelligent manner, which I guess is why I always want to be on a bleeding knife edge anyway.

From your screenshot its obvious that your processor is at it’s limits, fiddling around with pagefiles and whatever is not really going to help much, more physical ram is worth a shot but it still wont help that much. Time to bite the bullet I think and splash out on a new computer. After all your computer must be about 9 years old now, that’s an eternity in the computer world, you’d be surprised at just how much everything has improved in almost a decade.

Alexis, I have to add without hesitation, you need at least a quad core rig. Your p4 can’t do the job, especially the MB!, no way. Your HDs are outdated as well. Brutal but true.

I say pat yourself on the back for having made your rig work this long and then move on. You are trying to fine tune a Pinto to run at the Indy 500. Every question you ask concerning why your rig can’t cut it will be answered when you get a new computer AND Win7. Don’t waste your energy on this. Really, move on.