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CPU Options - Single Thread Performance Most Important?
Old 20th February 2018
  #1
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CPU Options - Single Thread Performance Most Important?

I have read a few articles suggesting that single core performance is the most important CPU factor for music production. That would place the Intel Core i7-8700K at the top of the tree as the worlds fastest single core performance processor.

I am currently putting together a spec for a new custom build, primarily for music production (running Cubase); is single core performance the most important factor to consider when reviewing CPU options? What would you consider to be the best CPU for music production today? Any better suggestions that the i7-8700K?
Old 20th February 2018
  #2
That term is used in a misleading way.
What single core performance DOES mean is: the speed it reaches and the performance it shows when only one core is active. Due to Intel's Turbo, this is more effective as when the single core speed is measured/benched when other cores are active as well, as the CPU will balance speed over all cores, the so called "all core turbo". This all core Turbo is what EVERY DAW uses, as in a DAW, typically all cores are being used. All DAWs support at least 16 logical cores by now, most of them 32 or unlimited.

Now the issue: some people refer to "single thread performance" as the actual core speed, i.e. how a CPU is clocked. This can refer to base clock, all core Turbo (if known, as this is not marketed by Intel) or single core Turbo. The latter value would be wrong as DAWs don't use that speed.

So, when referring to single core performance, rather look at the base clock, preferably in perspective to the Turbo speed, so you know whereabout it will work.

The 8700K is a top notch price/performance unit, if you want more power, the 7820X is your thing.
Old 20th February 2018
  #3
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Ideally I am looking for a processor that will deliver consistent low latency performance, through my RME UCX in Cubase, at high track counts and under substantial VST load. If I'm understanding you correctly then the i7-8700K isn't really what I'm after. I am upgrading from a i7-3930K (6 core) so want to be sure I will see a large performance increase. Would the i9-7900X be the best possible upgrade for DAW performance?
Old 21st February 2018
  #4
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Updated Daw components Cubase October 10, 2017 DAW Components – Steinberg Support

Processors with faster cores are preferable to a higher core count for real-time audio performance.
The more cores are available, the more thread synchronization is required. This can lead to a reduced processing power and slow down the system after all.
A higher core count might require a different RAM configuration (dual channel, quad channel) for optimal performance.
A higher amount of CPU cache (L2, L3) can have a positive impact on the real-time processing.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #5
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Yknow I'm in I.T. and this hurts my head. From what I can tell and have read, you can't simply say i7 is better than i5 which beats i3 by X amount, even as a ballpark, per se because there are like 800 diff "models" of each and each has various things to its advantage that the other doesn't (the 3 and 5 anyway)....thank God I'm not trying to do a ton of tracks with a zillion VSTs going that it matters or I think I'd go crazy w/this.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackURbody View Post
I have read a few articles suggesting that single core performance is the most important CPU factor for music production. That would place the Intel Core i7-8700K at the top of the tree as the worlds fastest single core performance processor.

I am currently putting together a spec for a new custom build, primarily for music production (running Cubase); is single core performance the most important factor to consider when reviewing CPU options? What would you consider to be the best CPU for music production today? Any better suggestions that the i7-8700K?
PassMark - Intel Core i7-8700K @ 3.70GHz - Price performance comparison

8700k is great. Nothing more to say. I have a 6700k and it takes whatever I throw at it with a smile.

For a layman's 'explain it to me like I'm five': Intel good - best single core performance. AMD slower but cheaper (can explain but it'll make your eyes glaze over - trust me). To the fanboys about to jump on me with AMD performance - the IPC is worse than Intel's and it's a documented fact.

Single core performance is indeed important but there are a number of factors that determine how and why this is so - it's not simply a matter of chip line and clock speed.

Googling benchmark results and reviews is probably your best bet to compare performance/price/etc.
Old 22nd February 2018
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I have priced up two quotes, one for a i7-8700K system and one for a i9-7900X system. There is about a £1200 difference between the two and I'm a little concerned on the heat issues I've read on the i9-7900X. I am really struggling to make a decision, the money isnt so important as I know the PC will be good for 5-6 years, I just want to be sure I'm getting a real good upgrade from my 3rd gen i7-3930K system. What would you guys go for i7-8700K or i9-7900X? (Running Cubase 9.5, Windows 10, RME UCX). Your feedback is appreciated.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #8
Pete from Scan (here on GS) has benched both, basically the 8700 has a much better price/performance ration over the 7900X. The next step after the 8700 is the 7920X if you need that much performance.

Note that Pete (like all of us DAW builders) uses DAWbench for benchmarks, not synthetic benches as
a) they show realtime performance related to audio buffers
b) show more realistic thread balancing relevant to music production (even if not fully real world)
c) does not involve RAM & drive speed like most benchmarks do, as these have no influence on music production.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #9
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Would I be correct in thinking if Intel released an i9 based on 8th gen tech then the CPU could likely be swapped out with the i7-8700 and use same MB etc?
Old 22nd February 2018
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundebler View Post
Updated Daw components Cubase October 10, 2017 DAW Components – Steinberg Support

Processors with faster cores are preferable to a higher core count for real-time audio performance.
Please read this as: rather less cores with high core speed than many cores with low core speed.
Quote:
The more cores are available, the more thread synchronization is required. This can lead to a reduced processing power and slow down the system after all.
Read this as: can relatively slow down, in such a way that a 12 core 3.5GHz system is not as fast as double the performance of a 6 core 3.5GHz system, due to overhead processing. It will not slow down the system, it will always ADD performance, but that added performance comes with diminished returns. These are my words btw, not Steinberg's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackURbody View Post
Would I be correct in thinking if Intel released an i9 based on 8th gen tech then the CPU could likely be swapped out with the i7-8700 and use same MB etc?
There is no such plan as i9 is the enthousiast CPU for the X299 platform. 8700 is already competing with the more expensive 7800X.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Please read this as: rather less cores with high core speed than many cores with low core speed.
Read this as: can relatively slow down, in such a way that a 12 core 3.5GHz system is not as fast as double the performance of a 6 core 3.5GHz system, due to overhead processing. It will not slow down the system, it will always ADD performance, but that added performance comes with diminished returns. These are my words btw, not Steinberg's.

There is no such plan as i9 is the enthousiast CPU for the X299 platform. 8700 is already competing with the more expensive 7800X.
So, if you were me, what would you go for?
Old 22nd February 2018
  #12
That depends on track count, amount and kind of VSTs used, VSTi's amount and kind, sample rate, and whether low latency is a topic.
But as I haven't tested either CPU (we only test Xeons), I cannot really comment on it, tbh.
Old 22nd February 2018
  #13
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soundebler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAW PLUS View Post
Please read this as: rather less cores with high core speed than many cores with low core speed.
Read this as: can relatively slow down, in such a way that a 12 core 3.5GHz system is not as fast as double the performance of a 6 core 3.5GHz system, due to overhead processing. It will not slow down the system, it will always ADD performance, but that added performance comes with diminished returns. These are my words btw, not Steinberg's.

.


Still using old XP with older Cubase that is not representative for modern software . The easy thing with the old software is the basic dual core support with 1 core midi and 1 core audio . Do not use heavy load but very light with no plug-ins but like to have a fast system .

Think Intel and AMD let us down by not delivering a 6/7 GHZ CPU , now we got such amounts of cores needed
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