New i7-5820k based DAW decreased audio performance - C9 Pro


I’ve been using a DAW with a Gigabyte Z68 motherboard for more then 5 years using an i7-2600k which I overclocked to 4,4Ghz. The audio performance of this system with the build in TI 1394a FW port seemed to be better compared to my new DAW based on a i7-5820k. Both have 16gb memory (new DDR4, old DDR3). The new motherboard (ASRock X99 Extreme 4/3.1) hasnt been overclocked yet because the current cooler doesn’t allow that. I will try that when I received a new cooler.

I’ve been trying to optimize lots of settings/services etc in Windows 10 with the new DAW and used latencymon to reduce the amount of issues. Latencymon mentions that the DAW is capable of handling audio without dropouts BTW. The new DAW uses a PCIe FW card with a XI022i3BZAY chip. I currently use the 1394a port with my trusty RME FF400.

As I’ve been already tuning BIOS and W10 settings I would to know what main factors influence the audio performance of the FF400?

  • Is the 1394a FW of the older Gigabyte Z68 motherboard better than the PCIe card? The drivers being used are the 2006 version of the Microsoft TI OHCI compliant host controller on both systems;

  • Would using the 1394b (FW800) port of the PCIe card instead of the 1394a port improve performance?

  • In Cubase 9 Pro the average load and real-time peak are both high when using memory and CPU intense VST plugins (Keyscape, Omnisphere, Toontrack Superior etc.). When reducing the buffers of the FF400 this can be reduced of course. Asio guard also helps but increases latency.
    The previous DAW was performing better with the same project then the newer one.

  • There are no interruptions on the W10 system anymore from background processes. I eliminated those with latencymon. Would increasing memory from 16 to 32Gb help?

  • How can I see if W10 is low on memory?

  • How can I monitor W10 to check which areas can be improved?

  • Would moving to a USB based audio device improve performance?

Thanks for your help!

Turn off hyper threading then clock to 4.4 before you compare systems.
I have only empirical experience but high clock speed and no more that 8 threads is where its at with Cubase in my experience.
Too many cores and coordination ruins near real time performance, as does slow clock speed, so going to 12 threads at a lower speed is a down step in my book as indeed you seem to have found out for your self.


You should give this vid a try:

The guy explains step by step why a more powerfull system doesn’t mean a better realtime performance necessarily and why. A quick shortcut to the long video is to suggest that a decrease in performance means that the CPU is getting locked up by one ore more processes or a device somewhere in your system. He also shows you the way how to analyse the problem and how to track it down. Such an issue is most of the times system specific, so it’s hard to say this or that when you do not have the system in front of you. It might even be something that is completely unrelated to cubase or the audio card, f.e. something in a usb port like an external drive. It might f.e. even be the type of port used for a ssd.
Try to follow the vid focussed, since with all the drawings it looks a bit odd, but in fact he goes all the way and very fast to the core of the topic. If you have few patience, the examples given start at minute 17.00.

kind regards,

Thanks for your help!

Personally I’d even go as far as to recommend using i5 (non-HT) over i7 provided there’s an equivalent with the same number of physical cores at the same clock speed; you’d save money and electricity!

On the subject of Firewire, you should be fine with the X99 chipset and a PCIe XIO2213B card. There’s a thread over here that discusses various gotchas involving the newer Z170 but there’s also one user who had issues with overclocking using Firewire – you can probably tell I’m not a fan of overclocking DAWs.

The FF400 is 1394a only so it shouldn’t matter which port it’s plugged into. If your card has a 1394a port, it’s probably only the physical connector, for convenience - it’s the same as using a 1394b port with an adapter.

The FW card I have uses a XI02213B TI chip so that should be fine.
The i7-2600k has worked well for years on 4,4Ghz and without overclocking this system would’ve been far less useable. :wink:

You’ve gone to a similar architecture CPU but at a slower clockspeed - clockspeed is the biggest single factor when it comes to satisfactory Cubase performance.

Yes absolutely overclock it to the same clock if you want to compare.
And don’t turn off hyperthread, that was a solution years ago for some issues that where specific to certain motherboard and CPU combinations.
Can’t remember how many threads Cubase can handle but it’s something like 32 or 48, you are nowhere near that limit.
One thing you could try is to look at what irq the TI FireWire card is assigned to, and if it shares that irq with any onboard resources like an USB controller. If it does move the PCIe card to a different slot and look again. You want it to operate on its own irq, not sharing interrupts with anything other.

Try with and without hyper thread is my advice, what have you got to loose?
Remember you may well get a better overclock with hyperthread turned off and the gain from that could be better than a slower clock speed with more threads in your way of working.


Based on your experience what’s the best cooler for a
i7-5820k? I’m currently looking at the Noctua NH-D15 or
Cryorig R1 Ultimate if they fit in my case. Thanks!

On the previous system I had hyperthreading off but mainly
because I used it from 2011 or so when Cubase had issues with HT. :wink:

BTW, I use 16Gb of RAM which is sufficient I guess?
The previous system also used 16Gb with plugins like Superior Drummer 2, EZD and all Spectrasonics VSTs. Keyscape, Trilian and Omni with superior drummer can use quite an amount of memory but I don’t think I ever touched more then 10Gb.

I don’t know if it’s the “best” but I’m very happy with the Noctua NH-D15 cooler, very quiet, no problems with heat whatsoever.
Just blow out the crap from the cooling fins every few months.

Agreed. You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying. In my experience, with hyper-threading off you may experience a worse general performance but also, at the same time, a much improved stability at very low latencies (less clicks when playing virtual instruments). It’s a trade off.

When I moved from Win 8.1 to Win 10, the installer replaced my legacy 1394 driver (kernel mode) with the current one from Win 10 (user mode). It reduced my performance considerably. I did not notice any difference for a while. There were no dropouts or pops/clicks. I ran latency monitor when I noticed my buffer had to be larger and saw that the new 1394 driver was taking maybe 4-5 times longer than the legacy driver. MS released a signed legacy driver in 2014 for win 8.1 IIRC which is what I am using now. I have a Syba card with TI chipset…not sure of the chip number. Running water cooled 5820K on an ASUS X99A MB. Not that different from your rig. I would give it a try,

More info and where to get the legacy driver can be found here.

Thanks for the link and the insight. I will check this with my system by installing the signed 1394 driver.
Which audio device do you use?

Tried the legacy driver but didn’t notice any improvement.
The default W10 driver probably works without problems on my PC.

The default Windows 10 driver works fine for me and it’s version 10.0.14393.0 (rs1_release.160715-1616) as seen via Device Manager -> Driver File Details.