Memory size and CPU load

Hey guys,

I would like to ask you some advises and experience feedback regarding Memory.
I am not having a new PC and no plan to buy new one soon then…

I was wondering what would be the real benefit of going from 16Go RAM to 32Go?

I recently had an issue working in a heavy project which had many tracks and which was very long too as it is a bit made like a mini album with all the tracks going one after the other into the same project. So at the end I coulnd’t even not play the project before waiting a very long loading time, having cracks and fluidity issues so I had to switch the latency from 512 to 1024 to at least be able to do something…
With normal projects I even’t noticed real issues

Here my PC specs:
-Motherboard: ASRock Z97M OC Formula
-Processor: Intel I7 4790K
-RAM: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2x8GB) DDR3L 1600 Mhz CL9
-Hard drive: Samsung EVO 850 512Go SSD
-OS: W10

Thank you guys for your feedback

I think that the key is how many plug-ins (and instances of them) you are using in your usual projects, especially samples based instruments. These often use memory to avoid too much disc library accesses, especially in these multisampled and multilayered instruments days.

After this, I guess that using very long projects will indeed become a bottleneck at a certain extent, especially if a lot of MIDI stuff is involved in it.

These days, 16 Gb seems rather minimal to me. I built my present system three years ago and opted for 32 Gb from the beginning, as recent VSTis and plug-ins requirements are constantly increasing. In all cases, updating your system to 32 Gb won’t do any harm, espacially at today prices (seems that you canstill get a 4 x 8 Gb DDR3 kit for something like 80€). I would be sure that all the memory sticks used are of the same model, though.

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First of all the question is, was your memory really completely full? Did you check the amount of memory used at the time of the problem?

If the memory is not fully used you wouldn’t really benefit from more memory.

From your description it seems to me like your CPU is overloaded, have you checked that as well?

It depends…

If you use sample libraries then you need memory. I load samples directly to memory, Opus player and Kontakt have those options. Playback and workflow improves significantly since every time you press play the samples are played from memory instead of reading them from harddrive. Memory is always faster. I have the fastest SSD M2 drive and memory is still faster.

VST effects and instruments are mainly CPU bound. Delay, reverb, EQ do almost exclusively calculations from the CPU. 10 channels that use individual delay effects will bog down a CPU even if you have 128GB of RAM.

So, what do I suggest?

The biggest bang for the buck is memory, for you. When the computer runs out of RAM it uses virtual memory (hard disk space) instead of dedicated memory (physical memory DDR).

That is what normally chugs the playback. My latest project is almost 28GB of RAM. If you were to load that up in your computer it will use all of your 16GB and then use HD space for the additional GBs, playback will be choppy.

Indeed, 32Go won’t do any harm. Even more if I want my old computer to stay in the race.
I’ve noticed that Kontakt takes more time to load than others, specially with Orchestral stuff like 8Dio percussion and the like

Yes, I will check again but I think that it was taking 100%

Indeed I easily go for insert FX rather than send. With the use of several instances of Kontakt loaded with heavy libraries, it certainly has an impact.

“When the computer runs out of RAM it uses virtual memory (hard disk space) instead of dedicated memory (physical memory DDR)”
So, would a not so young Samsung 850 EVO SSD also reduces the performances ?

I have found pretty much the same RAM that I already had, the only difference is that it is DDR3 instead of DDR3L which if now hard to find and for a fair price. As I understood, DDR3L save more energy as the run on lower voltage but I am wondering if the difference is really noticeable in energy consumption?

Note that a SATA SSD has a transfer speed of 500 MB/s (0.5 GB/s).
DDR3 @ 1600 MHz has a transfer speed of 12.8 GB/s, which is 25 times faster than the SSD.

Even when using top notch NVMe SSD that can reach 7 GB/s it will always be much slower than RAM because of the added access time.
RAM on the other hand communicates directly with the CPU and there’s nothing else that slows it down.

Any disk is slower than memory, it doesn’t matter what kind of SSD you have.

If you are really concerned about memory you should clearly increase the amount to the maximum of supported ram in your mainboard, which is 32 GB.

Indeed, the fastest consumer M2 drive has 7000 GB/s, still no match against RAM.

Okay, I think then that I will definitly go for 32Go

Thanks guys for your feedback