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AMD Threadripper or Intel i9?

Paul T McGraw

Senior Member
I am in the process of building a new PC for music. I am considering the new I9 9900k or perhaps the AMD Threadripper 2950? The biggest question in my mind is RAM. I think 64gb is more than enough RAM right now. But will it be enough in 3 or 4 years? I would like this system to last 5 to 8 years, so I like the idea of being able to increase RAM to 128gb if I ever need it.

Also, the Threadripper 2950 has more cores and threads 16 and 32 respectively. Will that be a big help when using a DAW? I don't know.

So, what to do, Intel or AMD?
 

whiskers

Perpetual student
Also: 5 to 8 years? Are you kidding?
that's not at all unreasonable. That being said newer softwares' requirements may dictate a sooner upgrade; it's really hard to predict what will be required of newer software as far as resource needs. But 5-8 years doesn't seem too unreasonable for a CPU. My processor is almost 5 years old and is still going strong. Granted, I'll probably upgrade this or next year, but still.
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
I am in the process of building a new PC for music. I am considering the new I9 9900k or perhaps the AMD Threadripper 2950? The biggest question in my mind is RAM. I think 64gb is more than enough RAM right now. But will it be enough in 3 or 4 years? I would like this system to last 5 to 8 years, so I like the idea of being able to increase RAM to 128gb if I ever need it.

Also, the Threadripper 2950 has more cores and threads 16 and 32 respectively. Will that be a big help when using a DAW? I don't know.

So, what to do, Intel or AMD?
This was brought up on another forum and a DAW builder recommends Intel. AMD would be a better choice if you are a video person. Also using AMD eliminates the possibility of using Thunderbolt. Not all software is capable of using a lot of threads.
 

tack

Damned Dirty Ape
If you're ok with higher ASIO buffers (preferably 256 minimum, ideally 512) the 2950X would make a fine choice. If low latency is important, Intel is still king.

I moved from an 8700k at 4.8GHz to a stock 2950X and the tradeoffs were in line with my expectations.

8700k-vs-2950x.png

To be clear, the 9900k would make a fine choice too. :)

The 2950X would squeeze out more VI voices, but single core constrained tasks like recording and certain synths will still do much better with the 9900k. All depends on what aspects are most important to your work.
 
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Damarus

Active Member
If you're ok with higher ASIO buffers (preferably 256 minimum, ideally 512) the 2950X would make a fine choice. If low latency is important, Intel is still king.

I moved from an 8700k at 4.8GHz to a stock 2950X and the tradeoffs were in line with my expectations.

View attachment 17751

To be clear, the 9900k would make a fine choice too. :)

The 2950X would squeeze out more VI voices, but single core constrained tasks like recording and certain synths will still do much better with the 9900k. All depends on what aspects are most important to your work.
This looks pretty misleading. Most of those tests are irrelevant for real world DAW performance, which historically has shown us that higher clock speeds are better for overall performance (ideally a good mix between multi-core and single core, favoring single core).

If you look at a 2950x and a 9900k or even the 8700k in per-core performance, the 2950x is much further behind. Not to mention the Intel can overclock far better.

The 2950x is made for applications that can utilize as many cores as you can give it (rendering and other modeling applications).
 

tack

Damned Dirty Ape
This looks pretty misleading. Most of those tests are irrelevant for real world DAW performance, which historically has shown us that higher clock speeds are better for overall performance (ideally a good mix between multi-core and single core, favoring single core).
I did those benchmarks for the things that were important for me. For DAW use, look at the Reaper tests only. I assumed this would be obvious to readers here?

If you look at a 2950x and a 9900k or even the 8700k in per-core performance, the 2950x is much further behind. Not to mention the Intel can overclock far better.
Whether this is the most important consideration depends: do you want to maximize VI voice count? Or do you want the lowest possible latency for live recording, or use demanding single-threaded synths?

This is the point, isn't it. You can't generalize, it comes down to specific priorities. The 2950X has lower single core performance, yes, but it's absolutely not further behind when it comes to voice counts on large projects. Whether or not that's important to you is another matter.
 

steveo42

Active Member
Intel, Intel and Intel.... I've been building my own PC since the early 80's where my first IBM PC was assembled on a piece of plywood due to no aftermarket cases being available yet.... I've lived through AMD, Cyrix and so forth and over the years Intel has always been the best overall. The software manufacturers write code for Intel.
For a general purpose computer, yea AMD might be a better value, but for a DAW, I would go near AMD. It's simply not worth the minor cost savings for me.
 

markleake

Recovering sale addict
The traditional pick is Intel, if your ONLY need is music work. Especially because of Intel's better single core performance. But like @tack says, that may not be the most important factor, as even though the AMD single cores are slower, overall the AMD CPU is more powerful at the same price point. AMD is competing better with Intel now, and the larger multi-core chips are becoming the norm (even for Intel), so the software writers will continue to move to better multi-core performance, even if it takes them several years. Looking ahead it's pretty clear that single core performance will continue to become less of a factor.

Besides, AMD just announced their new Zen 2 CPU lineups, and they look fantastic (on paper).

Anyone building a new PC should wait for mid-year when AMD releases these, and then either take advantage of better deals on the now older chips, or get the newly released AMD chips. Single core speed seems as though it will be similar or better (!) compared to Intel with the new chips (again, on paper, real performance comparisons will need to wait).

The important thing to make sure of is your motherboard and CPU both support 128 GB of RAM.
 
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OleJoergensen

Senior Member
4 years ago I bought an Intel i7 5820K Haswell 3.3 Ghz 6 cores 12 threads, 64 GB Ram, 4 SSD (one of them pci). Every time I use it Im amazed how powerful it is. It is only used for sample streaming.

At the moment, a part of a composition, it handels:
7 woodwinds 2 mics (OT)
10 Brass 2 mics (OT)
5 Strings 3 mics (SSS)
4 Strings 4 mics (SSS)
Timpani 2 mics (OT)
3 x perc 3 mics (Hollywood)
and the Cpu doesn’t reach 50 %!

If you use serveral mic positions, 64 GB Ram is fast used.....
 
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