How much does extra CPU cores/cache matter?


New Member
When looking at high-end laptops (like the thinkpad x1e or XPS 15), they all pack 6 or now even 8 core CPUs. Obviously they throttle and every review out there says that you can improve it marginally with a repaste/undervolting. (FYI I know the XPS has serious DPC latency issues and unless conclusive proof comes out that Dell fixed that I'm not buying it, just using it as an example).

My question is does it make sense to still get the top-notch i9 CPU in any of these laptops given the extra cache and cores, even if those cores aren't running at max clock speed? Everyone always talks about clock speeds but after taking an operating systems class last semester has left me with the opinion that increasing the cache and decreasing context-switching (more cores = more concurrent processes/threads = less switching) are important.

Any wisdom to help aid in my decision is greatly appreciated!


Collapsing the Wavefunction
It doesn't really matter these days. Any i7 with 6+ cores will be fine unless you have some really wacky project with 500 compressors or something like that.

It used to be the case that high-core-count CPUs required a huge sacrifice in speed (2+ GHz) but that penalty is a lot smaller these days (unless you're looking at Xeons, which you shouldn't be because they're not necessary for DAW use).

So a lot of cores don't really hurt that much for DAW use these days. But they don't really help either. Granted, your project will run at lower CPU usage with more cores. But it'll run just fine on just about any i7 with 6 or more cores, so unless your goal is to run a CPU meter as low as possible then I don't know why it matters. I think 8 cores w/ 64 GB RAM is the sweet spot these days.

Regarding DPC latency, I've been using those tools for a long time and they're not very instructive any more. I just bought a Dell laptop (Precision 7530) and it shows some DPC latency spikes in LatencyMon but I've used it for a few weeks now and it runs just fine with everything stock. I can run at 20 ms latency using the onboard audio for EDM-type tracks with a bunch of synths and effects. I haven't done any orchestral stuff yet but I don't anticipate any issues based on what I've seen so far. No crackles/pops/stutters even though LatencyMon says I have an issue. DPCLatencyChecker was a much better indicator of DAW performance, IMHO, but it doesn't run in Windows 10.

So you really just need to buy one and try it out.



New Member
Wow, the top 3 hardware wizards all responding, I'm honored!

Thanks for the thoughts on the DPC latency tools, those were scaring me away from some models.

Would the extra cache be worth getting an 8-core over a 6-core or not really?


Star Of Stage & Screen
I like less core’s because less watts less heat.
I absolutely love more cache because I’ve been able to load more Reverbs that I’ll never use.
It’s a test I’ve always liked because dynamic plug ins are static, and you need to load dozens as a test. Good test no doubt, but I use to add Reverbs until a PCI Overflow Message came up, which differed from motherboard to motherboard, but that’s on my DSP Interface.
Still seems like a good test for CPU.

I still never use plug ins on my rig though, just streaming samples, and burning up IPC with softsynths.
Nothing but hardware FX, and the Dynamics FX are all DSP based.

I know I’m weird but I like that out of the box sound mixed with in the box audio.

I’d check out AMD Ryzen 3000 G versions.
Look at guys like Getac if your wealthy or ADK Pro in Kentucky.
I’ll buy a Getac someday but I want faster CPUs w/ TBolt 3 and Express 34 PCI Connector Slots.

Makes for a thick notebook but they’re waterproof and tested in artillery ranges for shock/G resistance.

Cache/cash is king in my book.


KSP Wizard
Except usually the more cores the slower they are. So everyone is just choosing what they're most willing to sacrifice/optimize for. :)
True, then you pick the best intersection between the two. Which at the moment is 9900K, probably. :)


Composer | Programmer
Who will solve the math problem faster? A mathematician or 200 taxi drivers? It all depends on what is the problem and specifications of taxi drivers.


Star Of Stage & Screen
The new 10nm Laptops might have Iris Plus GFX w/ 64 MBs of cache.

The old i7 5775C I have has the 1st Iris GFX w/ 128 MBs of L4 Cache.
It operated a 1.82GHz and really helped w/ audio if you disabled the GFX.
The cache then worked in tandem with the CPU.
Not very optimized but my i7 4790k and i7 5775C @ 3.3GHz we’re equal in power even though it was 700 MHz slower.

Couldn’t really overclock it because the RingBus/cache choked after 2.2GHz and got hotter than whore house on dollar day.

The 10nm Iris Plus is what was suppose to go on Xeons but never happened.
It’s been redesigned to really work with the CPU because they received such praise for the 5700 CPUs.

Sure seems like the new CPUs will be awesome.
But not fast enough @ 28 watts.

If they crank out some Quad and Hexa Core CPUs with Iris Plus with a base clock of even 3.6GHz these could be killer audio CPUs.
They’d probably be 45-65 watts too.

Keep yours eyes peeled for these in a desktop version.



Active Member
AMD looks to be taking the crown from Intel. Some teething pains right now and I, personally, would hesitate to get an AMD system as of writing this unless I had extra time and money and didn't depend on it for income. But after some more optimizations on their and the boardmakers part (and maybe more boards without fans for the chipset that don't cost $700)?

Long ago, I swore I'd never get an AMD system again after being burned by issue after issue after issue, but... never say never! I'll be in the market soonish. Maybe too soon, thanks to tariffs (I'm resisting saying what I really think to keep this clean), in order to save some money, and avoid scarcity from others doing panic buying, from prices on parts that'll inevitably rise 10% - 25% by the time that goes into effect.

I tend to throw on anywhere from 1 - 10 effects per track in my DAW when creating (and try to combine/scale back when I get to the mixing stage). So a combo of cores + speed is key, since the tracks can be distributed across cores, but not so much the effects on individual tracks. Or so I understand it. For me, that means buying high end desktop parts. Right now, for me, that'd be the 9900K. In a few months, if I can't set aside the $$ yet, then that may very well mean the 3950X or - after that - the next "Threadripper". I see Intel as being in a bit of a bind of their own making. They have the name recognition and industry deals inertia, but that's gonna take a hit big time.
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