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Threadripper 3970x build notes and Cubase benchmarks

funnybear

Active Member
A few months ago, I built my new AMD Threadripper 3970x PC to run Cubase.

Here are some build notes and Cubase benchmarks some of you might find useful.

You might remember that Pete Kaine from Scan ran some DAW benchmarks recently where he excluded the latest Threadrippers as he was running into problems with the CPUs. So there have been some questions floating around whether this CPU is a good match for DAW use and Cubase specifically.

In summary: the build has been rock-solid running Cubase 10.5.20 with no glitches, drop-outs, BSOD or other gremlins whatsoever. Performance with Cubase is great with these build specs and BIOS configs. Benchmarks below.


Build details:

CPU:AMD Threadripper 3970x
RAM: G.Skill 64GB 3600 Quad-KIT F4-3600C16Q-64Gtznc
Motherboard: MSI Creator TRX40
GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 2070 TRI FROZR
OS SSD: Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB NVMe
Data SSDs: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB NVMe, Samsung 860 EVO 2TB SATA, Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SATA, 2 x Crucial MX500 2TB SATA
PSU: Seasonic PRIME TX 1000 Watt 80+ Titanium
Case: Fractal Design R6
CPU cooling: Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 (single fan)
Thermal paste: Grizzly Kryonaut
Case fans: Noctua NF-A14 PWM 2 x front + 1 x back
USB card: Sonnet USB3-4PM-E Allegro PCI-e
Audio interface: RME Babyface Pro
OS: Windows 10 64 bit version 2004 clean install


Cubase benchmark results:

Following are some Cubase benchmark tests. You can download the project files here. Obviously, performance will depend on your actual workflow, project signal paths / FX chains used. But useful to compare to other CPUs.

All tests are with:
  • Cubase 10.5.20
  • ASIO buffer size tested at 256, 64 and 48 samples
  • ASIO-guard "on" and set to "high"
  • no armed tracks
  • 44.1kHz sample rate
  • 24 bit rate
  • CPU hyperthreading turned off (see build notes below), no CPU overclocking, RAM at 3600Mhz

Omnisphere 2:
  • "Agape Warmth" preset
  • 5 stock insert effects on each track (StudioEQ, Tremolo, Limiter, Compressor, RoomWorks)
  • Max instances at 256 / 64 / 48 ASIO buffer size: 430 / 410 / 400

Kontakt 6:
  • Metropolis Ark 1 "Strings High Spiccato Unison" with the default 2 mic positions with all layers (mf + f + fff) turned on. This produces about 50 voices of polyphony played per track.
  • Max instances at 256 / 64 / 48 ASIO buffer size: 285 / 270 / 260 (corresponds to voice polyphony of ca.: 14,250, 13,500 and 13,000)

Padshop:
  • "Airy Bell" preset
  • Max instances at 256 / 64 / 48 ASIO buffer size: 1120, 1050, 1040

U-He Diva:
  • "HS Albert Hall Mini" preset
  • multicore "on", "divine" accuracy
  • Max instances at 256 / 64 / 48 ASIO buffer size: 125, 110, 120 (yes, more instances at 48 buffer compared to 64 buffer !?!)


Build and config notes:
  • Switch off hyperthreading: Out of the box, with hyperthreading on, Cubase's ASIO-guard does not function properly. Turning off ASIO-guard improves performance. However, once hyperthreading is disabled in the BIOS, ASIO-guard can be turned back on and performance increases to a totally different ballgame allowing to reach CPU saturation of almost 100% without drop-outs (all 32 cores are fully loaded). The only downside is that when hyperthreading is disabled, AMD Zen chips no longer support S3 sleep state which means you cannot put your PC to sleep any more.

  • USB audio interface: Because RME recommends using FL1100 chipset based USB3 controllers, I am using a Sonnet card which only has my RME Babyface Pro connected to it. An advantage of this card is that it uses MSI (message signalled interrupts) which has advantages under high IRQ load. I also tested connecting the Babyface to one of the motherboard USB ports and performance seemed fine (did not test a great deal though as I prefer to keep my interface isolated).

  • RAM speed: I am running my RAM at 3600Mhz which allows the CPU's IF/FCLK frequency to run at 1800mhz. This gives a significant performance boost in Cubase. Although the 3d generation AMD Zen chips have much better RAM support you must use RAM that is officially supported by your motherboard. I am waiting for a 256GB 3600Mhz kit down the road.

  • Noise: The choice of case and fans make for a very silent machine. I am sitting right next to the PC and I can hardly hear it. I have set the fan profiles in the BIOS so that they stay at inaudible RPM levels during normal operation. When the machine is under full load it is still very silent considering 32 cores are churning away. The GPU fans remain off until GPU temperature rises above 60 degrees which happens only when I run some GPU accelerated encoding or data science job. The motherboard has a chipset fan that is inaudible, and I assume it is off most of the time. There is no active cooling on this motherboard for the VRM.

  • CPU overclocking: I did manage to overclock the CPU to an all-core 4.2Ghz while keeping CPU temperatures below 90 degrees under full load. This gives extra headroom but given the monstrous performance of the CPU at stock speeds it is not worth it for me and I prefer a more silent machine.

  • Motherboard choice: MSI and Asus motherboards have the best DCP latency performance (Asus is slightly better). However, the power stages on the MSI are better compared to the mid-level Asus board (although Asus is about to release new versions with improved power stages such as the updated PRIME TRX40-PRO S). I also chose MSI as it allows to deactivate internal audio and WIFI at BIOS level and has a 10GBit Ethernet port.

  • Graphics card: Because I use this machine also for some data science stuff, I chose Nvidia over AMD for the GPU even though AMD is often said to offer lower DPC latency. But now that Nvidia offers Studio Drivers that can be installed without any of the driver bloat, GPU related DCP latency has not been an issue for me. But you need to correctly de-install the default Nvidia drivers that install when first installing the OS and then correctly install the Studio Drivers. I had no need for any other GPU driver tweaks.

  • Other BIOS settings: I deactivated the internal audio card, Wi-Fi (Bluetooth deactivated in Windows) to remove IRQs that might impact DCP latency.

  • OS power plan: Cubase performance did not change whether using Steinberg, Ryzen or Microsoft power plans. I actually use the "Power saver" plan in day to day use and only switch to a higher performance power plan when I really need to push the machine.
 

Manaberry

Senior Member
Great feedback, thanks for sharing with us ;)
I was very curious about your CPU, glad you are bringing some results to the table.
I'm going to try your ARK 1 project file to see how my 10980XE behaves compare to your 32 cores.


EDIT:
10980XE @ 4.4 all cores (HT on), 8x16 LPX CL16 @ 3200, W10 1909 (and custom optimizations) with an Apollo x6, 44.1 / 24 bit.

There is a huge gap between 32 and 64, but I'm amazed to see how far my CPU can go at 64

32 / 64 / 256 (buffer size) - 15000 / 30900 / 33900 (voices)
 
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Cat

Active Member
Wow! So the 18 cores Intel CPU absolutely smokes the 32 cores AMD at 256 buffer size.

EDIT: I suspect that with a RME Audio interface the result could get even better....
 
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funnybear

funnybear

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Yes, great results especially since Scan's DAWBench puts the 10980XE Kontakt polyphony at only 4540 voices at 256 buffer.

Maybe the OC at 4.4 all-core explains it?
 

Manaberry

Senior Member
That's the OC yes. The CPU runs at 3.0 all cores using factory settings. 1.4 GHz is a HUGE performance boost.
Also, I've noticed that around 550 instances, the CPU was at 100% usage but wasn't that much hot. I got like 15% of the ASIO meter left. So I tried with more instances, and it worked... Around 650, the temperature was much higher as I reached the ASIO limit before drops out and audio glitches.

It seems like Windows showed me 100% usage but in reality, I got like 10/15% of headroom @ 256. I was quite surprised, to be honest.


EDIT: I suspect that with a RME Audio interface the result could get even better....


I cannot try, but it would be interesting!
 
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funnybear

funnybear

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@funnybear Is your CPU too huge for HT with Cubase? I tried with HT off, and it was clearly a downgrade.

Cubase seems to have a thread scheduling issue at the moment on my Threadrunner with hyperthreading turned on. Performance with HT on is much worse compared to switching it off.

Did you try to run the Diva test project? Would be interested to see how they compare as Diva is known to be a real CPU hog.
 

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
Thank you for doing this. I’m still stressing my brain as to go Threadripper, Ryzen or Intel. It’s actually exhausting doing so much research.
 

Manaberry

Senior Member
@funnybear

256 / 114 instances
64 / 110 instances
32 / 110 instances

I can't go higher. One more instance and it cracks like hell haha. 110 seems to be the limit of Diva instances for my CPU.
I don't have Omnisphere, and Padshop is not installed. I can try with SINE player if needed using ARK 1? It would be nice to see how SINE handles the voices compare to Kontakt.
 
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funnybear

funnybear

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That's very interesting. I think overall it confirms my suspicion that the 10980XE is still the better choice as the top DAW platform especially if you can overclock it and keep it in a server room.

I use my machine also for other things besides music and made my choice based on that dual use case.

But the power is insane these days on these top CPU platforms. If only my creativity would scale equally!
 

Manaberry

Senior Member
Your TR must be amazing with some 3D software or any renderer. Have you tried CineBench R20?

(I'm curious about Windows 2004, updating right now)
 

jononotbono

Luke Johnson
That's very interesting. I think overall it confirms my suspicion that the 10980XE is still the better choice as the top DAW platform especially if you can overclock it and keep it in a server room.

I use my machine also for other things besides music and made my choice based on that dual use case.

But the power is insane these days on these top CPU platforms. If only my creativity would scale equally!

Yeah I’m now thinking about the 10980XE again instead of Threadripper. It’s a minefield choosing this stuff!
 

novaburst

Senior Member
CPU overclocking: I did manage to overclock the CPU to an all-core 4.2Ghz while keeping CPU temperatures below 90 degrees under full load. This gives extra headroom but given the monstrous performance of the CPU at stock speeds it is not worth it for me and I prefer a more silent machine.

I think anything over 60 degrees is pretty dangerous and will help degradation of the AMD, so anything that can bring the heat under 50 I think will be welcome, and that would also be in hot atmosphere,

Point being the machine at most is on form morning to the next morning near everyday,
 
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