Guide to determing CPU needs

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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PFN78
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Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by PFN78 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:06 am

I currently use a Acer netbook running a single core at 1.66 GHz. For the most part it's held up when I compose music in Ableton but desperately needs to be replaced with a faster machine. It can sort of handle my most intensive productions to date (one song with eight tracks, two reverbs and one delay, and another with three tracks, the Synth1 VST, and a reverb) but will tend to lag and freeze regularly when I perform these pieces at home.

I'm looking to upgrade the laptop and have a max budget of about $500. This would likely get me a 2.6 GHz dual-core i5. I'd see a quad-core i7 at the same clock speed as ideal, but they would cost way too much at this point (although if things work out financially I could consider moving upmarket...but there are no guarantees I will be able to).

My future workflow would likely consist of at most three MIDI tracks (one running Impulse, one running Synth1, and maybe a third running a piano VST) and three audio tracks (one for the bassline, one for melody, and one for anything else, each receiving signals from the two VST MIDI tracks). At most I foresee myself running two reverbs and one delay.


Given my financial constraints, I need an honest assessment on the i5's ability to handle such a task. I know the i7 is ideal (and many will highly recommend it) but I can't guarantee that I would be able to afford it, so I need to prepare for the possibility of buying something less-than-ideal.

What are your thoughts?

Zygi
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by Zygi » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:01 am

C2D would handle these leaving plenty of CPU power, so don't worry and get the one you can afford.

tecgen
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by tecgen » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:38 pm

An i5@2.6Ghz should be more than enough for the workflow you described.

Last year I made a song consisting 55 stereo tracks on a Thinkpad x201 (i5@2.53Ghz, SSD) with Live 8.
(https://soundcloud.com/tecgen/sweet-orchestra-club-mix)

eddiex
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by eddiex » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:47 pm

i have a 2.4 GHz dual core i5 (macbook) it would easily handle your ableton set.
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Vios
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by Vios » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:53 pm

I think a dual core will work well for you. Also take the time to learn CPU reduction tricks like using all of your reverbs in effects sends so you don't need more than a few, freezing tracks, routing audio so you can freeze tracks with sidechain compression, etc. I used to produce in Ableton Live with a Athlon 2.0GHz. I found I could get around my CPU needs by freezing tracks and using little tricks to keep my CPU use low. However when it started to affect my workflow, I upgraded.

H20nly
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by H20nly » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:12 pm

tecgen wrote:An i5@2.6Ghz should be more than enough for the workflow you described.
agreed.


be sure to max out your RAM if you're upgrading.

PFN78
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by PFN78 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:43 pm

H20nly wrote:
tecgen wrote:An i5@2.6Ghz should be more than enough for the workflow you described.
agreed.


be sure to max out your RAM if you're upgrading.
If I'm not mistaken, isn't Ableton capable of using no more than four cores?

H20nly
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by H20nly » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:26 am

:? i don't understand your question in response to my comment.

did you mean to ask if Ableton is only able to use 4 Gigs of RAM? if so, then the answer is yes... if you are using a 32 bit version of Live.

i don't believe that there is a core limit. even if there is, you would still be fine with the i5.

PFN78
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by PFN78 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:56 am

H20nly wrote::? i don't understand your question in response to my comment.

did you mean to ask if Ableton is only able to use 4 Gigs of RAM? if so, then the answer is yes... if you are using a 32 bit version of Live.

i don't believe that there is a core limit. even if there is, you would still be fine with the i5.
You're correct, I was actually referring to RAM. This is also why humans need adequate sleep every night.

H20nly
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by H20nly » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:50 am

:lol: Yeah 4 gigs on a 32 bit OS.
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antarktika
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by antarktika » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:01 am

I thought maybe he was maybe talking about hyperthreading, which ableton does not support, I guess not though!

darkenedsoul
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Re: Guide to determing CPU needs

Post by darkenedsoul » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:54 pm

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olstemplate ... 01-01&gf=y

15-16" priced $400-499. They have 2 HP 17.3" for $499 or $479 w/AMD A6 CPU. I picked up one for my girlfriend for $429 last year and it had Windows 7 on it I believe. These appear to come with Windows 8. But you have a lot to choose from at Best Buy for the money you want to spend. Just some options, also check NewEgg for pricing/size of screen on laptops, may find a beefier one same pricing.

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