Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
papawise
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 pm

Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by papawise » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:11 pm

Hello guys,
I will try to be short. The intention of this thread is pretty clear.
Let's discuss computer DAW's experiences and thoughts about the best configurations for audio processing and music production.

In my case after owning, troubleshooting and testing two options, the socket 1155 and 1151, iGPU and dedicated GPU, PCIe audio interface and Firewire, different speeds of RAM, HDD and SSD storage and different MOBO, I can surely say that for editing audio, is not first priority the speed or the power, but the coding (OS + Software + Plugins, etc) and configuration/customization.
Of course if you got many cores, SSD storage and a good quality RAM, you will improve considerably the performance of the system, but I mean (at least in my experience) that you can get the same or better performance in a modest but well installed system, than in one with the best technology available, but in a bad or not optimum enviroment/compatibility.

I will start with my example. SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE!

I was using since 2014 until last week, the 1155 socket with an Intel i7 3770 3.4Ghz (4 cores, 8 threads) with a premium MOBO, the Asus Maximus V Extreme (excellent one) using the iGPU Intel HD4000 and 32GB of RAM DDR3 Corsair Vengeace Pro 1600Mhz, lastly an SSD OCZ Vertex 4 for the OS (Windows 7 x64 Ultimate -original- but fully optimized with little touches in the windows registry) and a PCIe audio interface (RME RayDat). The system worked like a breeze. Really fluid, with at least 20 channels full of plugins (around 3 each channel, total 60 between Waves EQ's, Compressors and various FX's) in Ableton 9.7.5 (x64) and without a single drop out, click or pop.
Sadly, I had to update the rig due to a little freeze that started to occur each time more often. A clean install of Windows didn't solve it, so, time to update after 4 years of intense usage.

The best option seemed the new Intel i7 8700 -1151 socket- (6 cores, 12 threads), but this time paired with a more modest but solid MOBO. the Asus Prime Z370-A with only 16GB of RAM but DDR4 this time at 3000Mhz and with the gorgeous SSD NVMe M.2 Samsung 960 Evo for the OS and 3 SATA SSD's for the libraries, samples, etc. Same interface (RME PCIe) and a dedicated GPU (EVGA GTX 1050 2GB), paired with Windows 10 Pro and Ableton 10.

In theory everyone could say that the new setup would kill the first one, but it didn't happen at first (and I don't even know if does it now).
I tried everything, but the Resplendence Latency Monitorwas showing really bad numbers in this new rig with Windows 10 (tried many versions, original, LTSB, Original version deployed with MSMG Toolkit, LTSB custom, etc!!!) but I wasn't able to handle the known issues with the nvlddmkm.sys and dxgkrnl.sys drivers, also tried the performance with the iGPU UHD 630 but not big difference either.

Now, after 2 weeks trying a ton of different OS versions between Win7 and Win10, I downgraded to Windows 7, even when they recommend not to, and missing some drivers for the Z370 chipset, but with a great performance with exception of the hard page faults that are massive unlike Windows 10 that has 0 hard page faults but massive DPC and ISR routine execution times with my configuration.

I have a quite deep customization of the system, with 0 resources applied to the aesthetics and with many services and components of Windows removed or disabled. This is the only way that I've found to replicate the functionality of my previous rig, that's not neccesary to say that was much more old and less powerful than this one, although not in practice.

To end up, this is not the ideal situation, since I would prefer to use the Windows 10 OS for this hardware, with much better looking but specially with better administration of cores and memory, but seems to be that there is still much work to do in the coding arena, because Windows 10 works great but at least not with this configuration that is pretty popular.

CONCLUSION: The hardware is equally important as the OS that you plan to use until find the correct configuration. In my experience 32GB of RAM it's simply too much. I use Kontakt, Trillian, Omnisphere and all this kind of heavy libraries and I hardly occupy more than 12GB of physical memory, so it's better to have a good quality and fast memory than more quantity. I have a lot more thoughts, but I dont't want to make this post larger than it actually is.


DETAIL:
SETUP 1:
CPU: Intel i7 3770 (3.4Ghz)
iGPU: Intel HD4000
MOBO: ASUS Maximus V Extreme
RAM: Corsair Vengeance Pro 32GB (4x8) 1600Mhz
Audio Interface: RME HDSPe RayDat (PCIe)
Storage: SSD OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)
PSU: Corsair CX650
EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE WITH WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE + ABLETON 9.7.5

SETUP 2:
CPU: Intel i7 8700 (3.2Ghz - 4.3Ghz in Turbo)
GPU: EVGA GTX 1050 2GB
MOBO: ASUS Prime Z370-A
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8) 3000Mhz
Audio Interface: RME HDSPe RayDat (PCIe)
Storage: SSD Samsung 960 Evo (250GB) + SSD Crucial MX300 750GB (x2) + WD Green 250GB (x2) + HDD Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM
PSU: Corsair CX650
EVEN BETTER PERFORMANCE WITH WINDOWS 7 ULTIMATE (but with some errors) + ABLETON 10 now I can add much more plugins, and of course the system is more powerful but after a couple of headaches and missing some functionality due to the ended development of drivers for Windows 7 >:-( on the Z370 chipset that is intended to be used with Windows 10 or later.


Again, SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE and your experiences with different combinations of Hardware + Software, then maybe we can find the best combinations for audio and future updates. ;)

Best.

Nokatus
Posts: 1064
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:06 am

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by Nokatus » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:08 pm

Thanks for posting this. Hah, your former setup (setup 1) is almost identical to mine, an Asus + i7 3770 + RME build. It has been so powerful and dependable, I've been getting progressively worried about the day I have to upgrade. So thanks again for sharing the experiences, it's very useful, albeit disheartening that you couldn't match the performance without going down from Win10. Hoping that someone can chime in with tried and tested builds that work this well with Windows 10.

I disagree on the bit about RAM, though; the "in my experience 32GB of RAM it's simply too much. I use Kontakt, Trillian, Omnisphere and all this kind of heavy libraries and I hardly occupy more than 12GB of physical memory" part. This completely depends on what one does with the system. Obviously 32 GB isn't too much if you need it to get your work done ;)

H20nly
Posts: 15836
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by H20nly » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:42 pm

i'm surprised you couldn't get better performance out of the LTSB version of Windows 10. it definitely is a way to cut out the bloat. maybe some HKLM edits or some Local Group Policy changes could help a little.

regarding the nvlddmkm.sys and dxgkrnl.sys driver errors... those are both video related errors.
using onboard video or an ATI based card should resolve nvlddmkm.sys errors
in both GPU driver cases, i wonder about using a video card like this on a DAW... ASUS onboard video should be more than enough for making music - unless there is some video editing requirement you have.

i am of the belief that NVidia just can't get their heads out of their ass as it pertains to their drivers botching up OS and/or DAW functions. i don't recall ever reading a (Windows) video driver related issue that wasn't caused by NVidia on this forum.

papawise
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by papawise » Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:25 pm

Nokatus wrote:Thanks for posting this...

I disagree on the bit about RAM, though; the "in my experience 32GB of RAM it's simply too much. I use Kontakt, Trillian, Omnisphere and all this kind of heavy libraries and I hardly occupy more than 12GB of physical memory" part. This completely depends on what one does with the system. Obviously 32 GB isn't too much if you need it to get your work done ;)
You're welcome mate.
About the RAM, of course you can have a different experience, I thought like you when I bought the 32GB for the previous rig, maybe I'm missing something here. I would like to hear in which cases of the audio process you use more than 16GB. As I said, in my case, using around 20-30 channels of plugins, including compressors, EQ's, reverbs, romplers like the Spectrasonics packs, Kontakt libraries and heavy sampled instruments, I never got over 16GB physically, (there is usage of the virtual memory too). I had a RAM monitor ON and it always had at least 4GB of RAM available and of course all this without clicks or pops. If you think about it strictly from the logical view, this scenario is not so weird.

For example:

Just to do it imprecisely:
If you got around 25 channels of plugins and libraries, let's say: 3 channels with Kontakt of 2GB each per patch (6GB), another 3 channels with Trillian, Omnisphere and Keyscape (1.5GB each / another 4.5GB), let's say 10 channels more with intermedium plugins like Serum, Massive, Diva (those are not heavy on RAM, more in CPU work I believe) I estimate 100MB each (and that's a lot to say) we sum 1GB more and lastly 10 channels more of simple audio samples, drums, loops, etc using 100MB each channel, we end up having1GB more.

The total is 26 channels using 12.5GB and that's exagerating, because I don't really see an scenario with all that heavy stuff running together, maybe if you do orchestral stuff or similar, but even in that cases you occasionally print some channels to audio. Of course here we are not calculating the usage of Ableton and the rest of the plugins like EQ's and Compressors, and other processes too, but those shouldn't add much in the RAM side and we are not counting the virtual memory available either.

SO...
that's my analysis and the way I manage my system nowadays and I had not a single issue with a lack of RAM .

Let me see your experiences ;)
Last edited by papawise on Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

miyaru
Posts: 690
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:08 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by miyaru » Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:41 pm

I use a specialized PC rig, build in a 19inch casing. It has an i7-7700 and 16GB ram, and never had short of ram I have to say....

Maybe 32 GB is better, but I never used it all in my projects......
Greetings from Miyaru.

Prodaw i7-7700, 16Gb Ram, Focusrite Saffire Pro40, Live Suit 10, Push2, Presonus Eris E8, Lexicon MPX1,
Korg N1, Korg R3, NI Massive, Air Hybrid 3, Rob Papen's Predator 2, Sonarworks Reference 4 and Scaler.

papawise
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by papawise » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:12 pm

H20nly wrote:i'm surprised you couldn't get better performance out of the LTSB version of Windows 10. it definitely is a way to cut out the bloat. maybe some HKLM edits or some Local Group Policy changes could help a little.

regarding the nvlddmkm.sys and dxgkrnl.sys driver errors... those are both video related errors.
using onboard video or an ATI based card should resolve nvlddmkm.sys errors
in both GPU driver cases, i wonder about using a video card like this on a DAW... ASUS onboard video should be more than enough for making music - unless there is some video editing requirement you have.

i am of the belief that NVidia just can't get their heads out of their ass as it pertains to their drivers botching up OS and/or DAW functions. i don't recall ever reading a (Windows) video driver related issue that wasn't caused by NVidia on this forum.
I agree with what you said...
About the LTSB version not only I've tried that version, but the LTSB deployed with MSMG Toolkit myself to make it even lighter and yes, the performance was better than the original version but not enough. At least in numbers, because I didn't try installing EVERYTHING in Win10 to check if the Latency Monitor was giving a true positive or a false one. I was so frustrated so I didn't want to install all my plugins and configurations once again (like 10 times) just to test if LatencyMon was telling the true, because I choose to assume that it's an issue there anyway I hope LatencyMon doesn't let me down.

In addition, I also thought in replacing the GTX 1050 for a RX 560, I actually bought one (Asus), but I cancelled the shipping since I was affraid to have the same problem, due that I tried the UHD630 iGPU and the numbers were still bad, so if the iGPU performed bad, I don't know why I should get better numbers with another GPU when the problem was with the dxgkrnl.sys that is a kernel of Windows anyways.

papawise
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by papawise » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:32 pm

miyaru wrote:I use a specialized PC rig, build in a 19inch casing. It has an i7-7700 and 16GB ram, and never had short of ram I have to say....
Maybe 32 GB is better, but I never used it all in my projects......
Exactly, you confirm the same that I experience.
We are taught that more is always better just in case... but it's a myth. Probably the 80% of the music producers are covered with 16GB and just special cases needs more, but the statement about need of 32GB or more is probably a good pose for the hardware developers and not the real world and your pocket.

I refer to the tests.

H20nly
Posts: 15836
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: The Wild West

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by H20nly » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:49 pm

papawise wrote:In addition, I also thought in replacing the GTX 1050 for a RX 560, I actually bought one (Asus), but I cancelled the shipping since I was affraid to have the same problem, due that I tried the UHD630 iGPU and the numbers were still bad, so if the iGPU performed bad, I don't know why I should get better numbers with another GPU when the problem was with the dxgkrnl.sys that is a kernel of Windows anyways.
does the motherboard have onboard video? if so, have you tried that instead?
do you *need* a GPU?


it sounds like you were pretty thorough, but here's some good stuff on that NVIDIA driver https://www.drivereasy.com/knowledge/nv ... indows-10/

also... this might be worth having a noodle over. none of it helped, in his case... but there's a lot of good info regarding both of those drivers
https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/win ... dc01862a6e... too bad

tldr; the NVidia driver calls the Windows driver.

it's definitely worth trying some kind of other solution for video. it's the only way to rule out the 1050

miyaru
Posts: 690
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:08 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by miyaru » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:32 pm

papawise wrote: Exactly, you confirm the same that I experience.
We are taught that more is always better just in case... but it's a myth. Probably the 80% of the music producers are covered with 16GB and just special cases needs more, but the statement about need of 32GB or more is probably a good pose for the hardware developers and not the real world and your pocket.

I refer to the tests.
I have to say, that I'm not a pro, but run like 20 to 30 tracks on a song if needed, and sometimes more if I work with a lot of vocals.....
Greetings from Miyaru.

Prodaw i7-7700, 16Gb Ram, Focusrite Saffire Pro40, Live Suit 10, Push2, Presonus Eris E8, Lexicon MPX1,
Korg N1, Korg R3, NI Massive, Air Hybrid 3, Rob Papen's Predator 2, Sonarworks Reference 4 and Scaler.

Nokatus
Posts: 1064
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:06 am

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by Nokatus » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:47 pm

papawise wrote:I thought like you when I bought the 32GB for the previous rig, maybe I'm missing something here.

Let me see your experiences ;)
papawise wrote:We are taught that more is always better just in case... but it's a myth. Probably the 80% of the music producers are covered with 16GB and just special cases needs more, but the statement about need of 32GB or more is probably a good pose for the hardware developers and not the real world and your pocket.

I refer to the tests.
Sigh. I was kind of wary of there maybe being this attitude :D haha. It gets pretty old when you happen to need more RAM than 16 GB and you bump into people who insist it's not "really" necessary, and just a "myth." It's just as off the mark as someone telling you that you absolutely need more than 16 GB when you know you don't.

The statement about the need of 32 GB is just a neutral one at that: pointing out that it completely depends on what you actually do.

If your estimate is 80% of music producers being covered with 16 GB and 20% needing more, then okay, that would be one in five. I would have expected there to be less, but anyway. I repeat, there is just as little use telling those people they "don't need it", as there is use in telling those other ones that they "do need it" (when they don't).

RAM is just a part of a tool to get a job done. If you run your own large Kontakt templates, maybe with both licensed and custom made instruments, and perhaps you are for example... working or aspiring to work in games/tv/movies. It's a sector that gets a lot of interest these days. Going over 16 GB is completely realistic in those contexts. It's really not that much RAM for this, when you can have a four piece solo string ensemble with each piece going well in the GB range alone, for example. Presumably one's template contains more than solo strings ;), too.

And it's really not an issue, RAM isn't that expensive these days. Anyway, this thread isn't about this, and more about the actual computer builds, so let's just leave it at that and not derail further.

AAdel
Posts: 198
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:54 pm
Location: Middle East
Contact:

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by AAdel » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:37 am

I prefer a setup with following specifications:
1- New ASUS workstation MB with two XEON CPUs
2- 4*8 8GBs DDR 4 RAM ECC-Registered
3- 2 256GB M.2 Storages in Raid 1 Array for OS and Applications
4- 4 2TB SATA3/SAS HDDs in Raid 10 Array for banks, data and projects
5- One nVidia GTX 1060 GPU (2 in SLI if you do rendering and post production too)
6- A many watts pfc power :D
7- EATX case with silent fluid cooling

BTW that's a lot of money :|
Adel Al Agha ???? ?? ???
Singer, Music Producer & Trainer
https://radionama.com
Image

papawise
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 03, 2010 10:09 pm

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by papawise » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:28 pm

H20nly wrote:does the motherboard have onboard video? if so, have you tried that instead?
do you *need* a GPU?...
Thanks for your contribution with the links mate. I've already readed dozens of threads, and now checking yours I don't find any step that I didn't already do.
As I said about the GPU I also tried the integrated GPU Intel UH630 included with the CPU Intel 8700 and nothing changed, but I don't want to make this thread very personal, but share specific content for everyone.

I didn't heard about motherboards with integrated GPU, that's in the CPU side.

I have to say that in the AIDA64 (paid benchmarking software) you can find numbers of other users benchmarking different configurations and I'm surprised with the scores that users with CPU's like 3770 and 4770 got, even with memories DDR3 1600Mhz, so going back to the beginning of my post, I believe that the key is in the coding side. WINDOWS, DRIVERS, SERVICES, ABLETON, etc.

I don't really really need a dedicated GPU, but I think that helps to free up a bit the CPU and also to enhance the graphics of some plugins like iZotope Insight, frequency analyzers, etc.

miyaru wrote:I have to say, that I'm not a pro, but run like 20 to 30 tracks on a song if needed, and sometimes more if I work with a lot of vocals.....
Same here.
Nokatus wrote:Sigh. I was kind of wary of there maybe being this attitude :D haha. It gets pretty old when you happen to need more RAM than 16 GB and you bump into people who insist it's not "really" necessary, and just a "myth." It's just as off the mark as someone telling you that you absolutely need more than 16 GB when you know you don't...
I agree in part, but I dare to say in general that you don't need it because I think that many users are looking to improve their system adding more RAM and that's (many times) of cero help. As I said, there are people that of course may need it, but I'm pretty sure that the most of us don't, and since it's true that RAM is each month cheaper, I prefer and recommend to spend those $100 or $200 in a better CPU, cooling solution, better SSD's or GPU's than memory.

AAdel wrote:I prefer a setup with following specifications:
1- New ASUS workstation MB with two XEON CPUs
2- 4*8 8GBs DDR 4 RAM ECC-Registered
3- 2 256GB M.2 Storages in Raid 1 Array for OS and Applications
4- 4 2TB SATA3/SAS HDDs in Raid 10 Array for banks, data and projects
5- One nVidia GTX 1060 GPU (2 in SLI if you do rendering and post production too)
6- A many watts pfc power :D
7- EATX case with silent fluid cooling

BTW that's a lot of money :|
That's a monster that I don't feel neccesary if we are talking about sound, more chips, more features, more chances to fail, of course a nice system to have, but I would even go first with a single CPU for the new x299 chipset if you want a powerful enthusiast setup for audio, anyways none of those are developed for DAW and audio tasks in mind.

If you got the money to spend ($2.000-$3.000) go for the 2011-v3 socket route.
If you want to adjust the system to your audio needs, the 1151 route is cool, even the 1155 it is.

That's my advice.

Nokatus
Posts: 1064
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:06 am

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by Nokatus » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:36 pm

papawise wrote:I agree in part, but I dare to say in general that you don't need it because I think that many users are looking to improve their system adding more RAM and that's (many times) of cero help.
Yes. Like with anything, you need it if you need it, and you don't if you don't :D. Basically, your message is: before you go and buy it, make sure you actually need it. That's good advice with anything, not just RAM, and I agree.

So, it just depends on what you're doing.

(Talking strictly about audio/music here thus far, as that's what is relevant in the thread, but of course there are also people who will want to use Photoshop and so on, on the same system. The same goes with that, it's perfectly realistic your projects need 32 GB or even more, and IF that is the case, surely you'll just buy it and be done with it.)

Yep, good advice: know what you need :)
Last edited by Nokatus on Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nokatus
Posts: 1064
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 7:06 am

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by Nokatus » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:47 pm

I think, as per tradition, there will soon be a Live 10 Performance Test set (Stromkraft mentioned posting one in the near future), so there will also be more Live specific data on system suitability for v10 soon. Awaiting with great interest.

McAnix
Posts: 415
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:42 pm

Re: Best custom PC for Audio & Music in Ableton 10 today (2018)

Post by McAnix » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:16 pm

Some great info in all of this, thanks!

Post Reply