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Speeding up CPU performance - Hardware Upgrades

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Speeding up CPU performance - Hardware Upgrades

Postby NeonRocketXIX » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:15 pm

Hello, I'm new to the SOS forum so please forgive any faux pas I might unknowingly commit. I am looking to potentially upgrade my PC's hardware as I run Studio One 4 on my PC:
Intel Core i7-8700 CPU @ 3.20 GHz
12 GB RAM (I think upgrade-able to 16GB but might be more)
Studio One 4 (Artist w/ 3rd party VST support) with a Presonus Studio 68C interface.

The reason I'm interested in doing this is that I recently opened a project using a synth VST I hadn't used before and apparently discovered the hard way (read crackles and pops) that one of them is an absolute CPU hog. Granted, I was using low drop-out protection and had some programs opened I probably should have closed but I was still surprised to be seeing the spikes in my CPU. Admittedly I have basic knowledge only of PC stats and the like but I do know you can have more RAM than what a processor can handle but also can have less RAM than what a processor can handle. I know 12 GB of RAM isn't exactly lightning quick by today's standards; this is what I was considering upgrading but I also don't know if it may be ultimately worthwhile to just have a faster computer/processor/more memory.

Of course I am aware that a faster PC would be better but I am wondering if I will notice a difference should I upgrade my RAM. This is a relatively cheap option but I also don't know if my processor is decent enough to have the RAM make a difference in my DAW's CPU usage. I am definitely not planning to record movie scores or have projects with dozens upon dozens of tracks but I'd prefer to not see a CPU spike running just one CPU-hog VST in my projects (If anyone is wondering, the hog is Korg's Arp Odyssey VST).

I guess I am asking to see if someone who knows a thing or two about PC specs can give me some pointers based on my PC's stats, about what kind of differences I can make either upgrading (ideally just RAM) or maybe using a program for getting rid of useless background programs to minimize CPU usage. I really don't use my PC for much else other than recording but do have some remote-work programs on there I can easily kill as well as AVIRA which I also disable when recording. Other than that, I haven't added piles of programs or anything outside of stuff I use for recording; the primary intended use of the PC is to record. I'm working with a home studio budget also. I don't really know if I have much bloatware as I do have seemingly a lot of background processes taking place but I couldn't tell you what is necessary or not.

Lastly, yes I have shut down all other programs that are not needed, I have made sure my buffering, sample size and the like are not set to super high settings. The PC is relatively new to me and I thought I had upgraded but now I hear that ideally, a MINIMUM of 16 GB of RAM is ideal for recording in a home studio. Your thoughts or ideas on this are very appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!
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Re: Speeding up CPU performance - Hardware Upgrades

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:28 pm

As with anything that has to do with performance, in any field, you’re always as good as the weakest link. You’ve gotta find what’s your bottleneck, and then see if you can do something about it.. and thus moving on to the next bottleneck, until you reach the performance ceiling or the cost of doing something becomes excessive for you.

Finding bottlenecks in PCs has gotten more complicated and it’s hard to diagnose them remotely. The usual things are obvious (more ram, faster ram, faster cpu, faster disk, smaller ASIO buffers, better interface with more optimized hardware and drivers) but the “weakest link” problem makes it a mix of art and science.

Keep in mind there’s a chance that the weakest link in the situation you experienced was just a badly coded synth. These days almost everyone can learn how to put some code together but optimization still is one of the skills that separates men from boys (or women from girls, to avoid bias). And you can’t see the difference from the packaging, unfortunately.

Try other synths and see if they do better. If the problem persists, you need to learn, investigate and experiment.. can take 20 minutes, can take 20 month.

Some thing like Microsoft xperf tool can give you data.

Best of luck !
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Re: Speeding up CPU performance - Hardware Upgrades

Postby NeonRocketXIX » Fri Oct 16, 2020 1:57 pm

This is definitely true. Based on monitoring CPU usage the previously mentioned VST seems to be roughly 3-6x more of a CPU hog than my other synths so I do think I found the primary issue (or bottleneck), at least with the particular project I had referenced.

To put it more simply I suppose, would I notice a difference in my recording CPU usage if I spent a little extra cash on upgrading my RAM? I am thinking that if I avoid the problem VST I could likely still be fine on CPU usage but again, the project I am referencing didn't have all that many tracks when the dropouts started occurring. I'm not concerned with lightning CPU speed but rather just being able to comfortably work on complete song projects without pushing my PC to the edge in doing so.
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