Old 02-03-2020, 01:53 PM   #1
Axon
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Default Choice of CPU for new computer

I'm going to be replacing a ten year old Mac Pro and I'm looking for advice on what proc to get. I'm switching to PC as the new Mac offering doesn't look great for me. I'm not going to build it myself but instead going through a local shop. They offer the following i9 CPUs:

Core i9 10900X 10 cores @ 3.70GHz (max turbo @ 4.50GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.30GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10920X 12 cores @ 3.50GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.30GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10940X 14 cores @ 3.30GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.10GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10980XE 18 cores @ 3.00GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 3.80GHz), 24.75MB cache

Which version should I get? Is it worth splurging for the 18 cores at expense of some speed? I can't find any DAWBench stats for the new line of i9s. Looking at DAWBench stats for the 99xx series, it looks like the more cores you get, the more VIs you can run even if you take a hit on core speed.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 02-03-2020, 04:45 PM   #2
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Not sure what the price difference is between an i9 and an i7, but, depending on what your requirements are, an i7 would probably be plenty and you could take that extra money and use it on something that will give you a bigger bang for your buck, like a better interface, perhaps a second internal drive for data files, stuff like that. CPU is important, but it's just one small piece of the overall puzzle.

I'm a big fan of using expansion cards for video, audio, NIC, things line that instead of the motherboard controllers. The embedded MB controllers tend to add CPU overhead.

Maybe post what your requirements are, number of tracks, plugins, live recording etc. I'm sure there are lots of people here with similar requirements and they can let you know what they're using.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:36 AM   #3
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I'm looking to build a new PC as well and use CPU hungry fx's and vi's. From what I've seen, a high core count is great if you run a crazy amount of tracks. However, let's say you run a heavy vi and you put some fx on that, if you route this track to a bus with more fx and that goes to the master with again more fx, the single core performance can quickly become the bottleneck. You might be able to get around this by rethinking how you arrange your projects and maybe DAW's and fx will make better use of high core counts as they become more main stream, but for now a i9 9900k overclocked to 5ghz might be the best option for the majority of users. Personally I'm probably still going for Ryzen or even Treadripper, but I use my PC for 3d rendering as well.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:33 AM   #4
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The thing with cores and Reaper though is just because you have 10 to 18 cores in your CPU, doesn't mean Reaper is going to use all of them.

There have been a lot of posts on this subject, and those who know a lot more about this stuff than I do seem to agree that Reaper only uses a limited number of cores to begin with. Don't hold me to that, but that's the overall impression I've gotten from all the past posts on this subject. Search the forum for CPU cores, see what others have said.

I'm still running an i5 but for me, a large project is about 12 to 15 tracks. However, there are people here doing commercial grade work on i7's.

If you have tons of cash to spend, then by all means, have a blast and load that box up. The thing is though, at least with recording, there's other areas where you can spend your money that is going to give you better quality recordings than just computer hardware.

FWIW, I spent my career in IT and computers. The one common mistake I found people making over the years is focusing on tech stuff instead of what they are actually trying to do.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:01 AM   #5
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I believe the max CPU upgrade for the Mac Pro 4,1/5,1 is the Xeon X5690 3.46 GHz - 3.73 GHz 6 core. 2x CPUs on these machines for total 12 core. I thought there was a 4.something option out there but that may have been misinformation. You need to match the CPU board. Also mind the CPU lids and heat sink spacing!

I still have the stock 2.93 GHz - 3.33 GHz CPUs in mine (8 core total). I'll have 300 track mixes with just as many plugins with 96k audio and a 5.1 mix. Or run live sound with 36 channels of input with low latency settings while recording the multitrack. Unless I start batch converting audio files or rendering video while also mixing, the most I see is 50% CPU use.

That new Mac Pro has some wild parallel bus architecture going on that you don't see anywhere else right now. Great specs but clearly aimed at pro video houses. You can't hardly even max out the last Mac Pro with audio. The new one would be an absurd over purchase for anything audio IMHO.

I'd like to see something new in the high end category from Apple too. (Not just the bleeding edge aimed at Hollywood category.) It's a leap and number of years between the last model and the new one. But then the 5,1 easily has another 10 years in it. And I'm not hitting any wall even with silly large audio projects as well as live work.

And of course I'm also not down with the security chip business they implemented that prevents all 3rd party modding and repair! It may be another genuinely well built 25 year machine but that's just not acceptable!
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:00 PM   #6
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3950x.

Better performance for less money.

If using mostly for DAW work, I'd wouldn't sacrifice too much single-core speed for extra cores which probably won't be fully utilized.
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:20 PM   #7
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Thank you all for your replies. The REAPER forums have always been so wonderful to work with.

So far, my workflow is:
- electronic/industrial music
- some light tracking (mostly single instruments/vocal tracks recorded individually) where the audio is then processed. I don't typically have a need to play live with low latency as I sequence my outboard gear and track them one at a time.
- mostly VIs (Drum Racks, Kontakt libraries such as Output and Heavyocity, ZebraHz, Diva, and a couple others) processed individually using plugins from FabFilter, NI, iZotope, the usual suspects
- each "type" of track (bass, synth, vocals, drums) is grouped with maybe some processing on the group such as "glue" compressor
- each of these groups is sent to an analog summing Dbox which is then recorded as stems.
- I typically send these stems for final mixing and mastering


Quote:
Originally Posted by toleolu View Post
If you have tons of cash to spend, then by all means, have a blast and load that box up. The thing is though, at least with recording, there's other areas where you can spend your money that is going to give you better quality recordings than just computer hardware.

FWIW, I spent my career in IT and computers. The one common mistake I found people making over the years is focusing on tech stuff instead of what they are actually trying to do.
I'm also in computers for a living (though I'm a dev). I wouldn't say I'm too focused on the tech stuff. I have the money right now to buy whatever studio computer I want so I will try to build something that will last another 10+ years. I'm not going to buy the 10980XE unless it's actually going to suit my above workflow. I agree that the computer is just a part of the whole. But the rest of the studio is in good shape (great DAW, synths, and mics, pretty solid cables, and I think I'm decently talented) so I'm hoping to update this one aging piece.
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:23 PM   #8
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I still have the stock 2.93 GHz - 3.33 GHz CPUs in mine (8 core total). I'll have 300 track mixes with just as many plugins with 96k audio and a 5.1 mix. Or run live sound with 36 channels of input with low latency settings while recording the multitrack. Unless I start batch converting audio files or rendering video while also mixing, the most I see is 50% CPU use.
Really? Wow. I put one FabFilter plugin on one track and I'm at 25%. Maybe something else is going on.
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:32 AM   #9
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Really? Wow. I put one FabFilter plugin on one track and I'm at 25%. Maybe something else is going on.
Sure sounds like it! What plugin?

You have a SSD installed in that machine right?
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Old 02-05-2020, 02:57 PM   #10
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Either a ProQ3 or ProR. But the track version of iZotope's Neutron will do it too. Why would an SSD matter for CPU spiking of, say, Zebra with an EQ plugin? I understand the speed difference for multiple audio file playback and sample libraries but even then it shouldn't be *that* crazy.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:30 PM   #11
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If you don't have an SSD, that's a big bottleneck. It can be *that* crazy.

Could be some other factors too. Setup parameters matter. Low latency vs high latency and all that.

Are you performing live through the machines with instrument plugins or running live sound? Or are you recording tracks and mixing?

Apologies if you have gone through everything thoroughly already. I'm sure it's possible to stack up enough CPU hungry virtual instruments to need something cutting edge. Worth taking inventory first though.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:44 PM   #12
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Either a ProQ3 or ProR.
Definitely something very wrong. Pro-R is around 1.5% cpu on my i7-6500u laptop. Are you measuring with the task manager or Reaper's performance meter? do you have "anticipative fx processing" enabled? It should be.

Also, I don't see how it could be HD related in this case.
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:10 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axon View Post
I'm going to be replacing a ten year old Mac Pro and I'm looking for advice on what proc to get. I'm switching to PC as the new Mac offering doesn't look great for me. I'm not going to build it myself but instead going through a local shop. They offer the following i9 CPUs:

Core i9 10900X 10 cores @ 3.70GHz (max turbo @ 4.50GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.30GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10920X 12 cores @ 3.50GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.30GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10940X 14 cores @ 3.30GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 4.10GHz), 19.25MB cache
Core i9 10980XE 18 cores @ 3.00GHz (max turbo @ 4.60GHz, all-core turbo @ 3.80GHz), 24.75MB cache

Which version should I get? Is it worth splurging for the 18 cores at expense of some speed? I can't find any DAWBench stats for the new line of i9s. Looking at DAWBench stats for the 99xx series, it looks like the more cores you get, the more VIs you can run even if you take a hit on core speed.

Any help would be appreciated.
I would go with this range of CPUs, the X299 platform. I have a 9900X overclocked to 4,5GHz locked on all cores and its a beast.

AMD is nice and powerful and all that. But the X299 platform is very mature and you'll get massive horsepower AND low latencies.

Which one of them just depends on your workflow. 12 or 14 cores might be the sweetspot combination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by toleolu View Post
The thing with cores and Reaper though is just because you have 10 to 18 cores in your CPU, doesn't mean Reaper is going to use all of them.

There have been a lot of posts on this subject, and those who know a lot more about this stuff than I do seem to agree that Reaper only uses a limited number of cores to begin with. Don't hold me to that, but that's the overall impression I've gotten from all the past posts on this subject. Search the forum for CPU cores, see what others have said.
Reaper scales very good to multiple cores. It is more dependent on your type of useage and type of projects you run.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:46 AM   #14
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Reaper scales very good to multiple cores. It is more dependent on your type of useage and type of projects you run.
What kind of tasks/projects benefit from more cores and which ones don't?.. Just curious.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:38 AM   #15
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I would go with this range of CPUs, the X299 platform. I have a 9900X overclocked to 4,5GHz locked on all cores and its a beast.

AMD is nice and powerful and all that. But the X299 platform is very mature and you'll get massive horsepower AND low latencies.

Which one of them just depends on your workflow. 12 or 14 cores might be the sweetspot combination.



Reaper scales very good to multiple cores. It is more dependent on your type of useage and type of projects you run.

I’ve always built live rigs, lowest latency, fastest clocks, etc.
Then use one as Master with 2 x VEPro quads.
Works really well but will build an X299 this summer for bigger projects using 128GB’s of RAM.
New live rig will be whichever CPU works the best from a Intel or AMD.
i7 4790k’s have served me well so it won’t be more than 6/8 core’s.

X299’s are really great choices because of speed, maturity and stability.
ASRockRack and SuperMicro have Rackmounted motherboards that will last for a decade.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:54 AM   #16
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What kind of tasks/projects benefit from more cores and which ones don't?.. Just curious.
Big mix projects with loads of tracks and plugins for example. Or composers that need hundreds of tracks with ready to go VIs.
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Old 02-06-2020, 10:27 AM   #17
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Big mix projects with loads of tracks and plugins for example. Or composers that need hundreds of tracks with ready to go VIs.
Nice, sounds like a 3900x was the right choice for me after all.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:01 AM   #18
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Definitely something very wrong. Pro-R is around 1.5% cpu on my i7-6500u laptop. Are you measuring with the task manager or Reaper's performance meter? do you have "anticipative fx processing" enabled? It should be.

Also, I don't see how it could be HD related in this case.
Not directly spec related with this isolated example.
But if the machine has an aging HDD that's starting to show signs of failure, it would explain lags and crashes while only doing mundane tasks.

This doesn't sound like someone finally pushing their workflow beyond this machine (which is not trivial in this case). Sounds more like a maintenance issue like a hard drive.

Or setup issues. No details were provided about the interface(s) being used or if this was low latency live work or relaxed post work and that kind of thing. Can only speculate that no mistakes are being made. It could turn out to be operator error and then you'll discover this current machine is still overpowered for the work at hand.
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:47 PM   #19
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Ok, first off, my sincere apologies, I was confusing upgrading this system's HDs with another system that I upgraded. The system we're talking about has upgraded HDs from the original but still not SSDs. So that'll be something I look into before getting a whole new rig. Appreciated, serr, for keeping me honest and forcing me to look at the easy before I look at the hard.

That said, I don't think the HDs are too aged or failing. I've seen HD failures before and I don't have any of those symptoms. Also, I do maintenance checks on my HDs from time to time and Apple's First Aid has yet to complain about any sectors needing rerouting. I understand that a 7200rpm drive can't push as much data as an SSD. BUT I don't do a lot of audio files. As said earlier, it's mostly VIs. As also stated, I don't need super low-latency as it's all sequenced and then mixed. I mean, I will play along while I write but so far 128-256 buffer has been fine for that. Also, my audio interface is a MOTU 828mk2.

ErBird: I do have "anticipative fx processing" enabled. And I'm measuring using Activity Monitor (Apple's version of Task Manager).

I will say that at some point, a 10 year old proc will be an issue. Mine are Xeon E5520 2.26GHz. For one thing, instruction sets have been added since these came out and I can name 2 VIs off the top of my head that my system just can't play. One of them, Massive X, I don't care very much about. The other, Straylight, is right up my alley though I can come close with granular synths I already have. But I imagine there will be more of this sort of thing. Modern plugins do more than they used to. Another thing is chips and chipsets have other limitations like memory addressing limits and such. I have NOT hit that limit yet, but I am pointing out that it's a thing. Finally, cpu benchmark of the E5520 vs i9-10980XE is *almost* an order of magnitude off. So at some point it will be a thing even if I may not have hit the limit yet.

Anyhoo, I will probably do some stress testing similar to what DAWBench does and see what the limit is and see if there's something I can replace without trashing the whole system. Thanks everyone for the tips and suggestions!
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