Graphics cards DO matter for music production... A LOT.

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by Torrao, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Torrao

    Torrao Producer

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    Hi folks!

    Every time I've researched this topic I get the same results: "Graphics card don't matter", "go with integrated graphics", etc. So, I decided to do my homeworkd and do my own testing. There are two versions of this thread, the short one for you lazy bastards and the long one for the curious minds.

    Short post:
    NVIDIA cards sucks donkey ass for music production.

    Long post:
    I wasn't happy with the performance of my Audient iD22. Sounded lovely, but the latency was kinda crappy. So I began another of my "Audio PC optimization" journeys...

    Take a look at any thread on the internet with people complaining about crackling noises. When running LatencyMon, 99.99% of the cases show the Nvidia driver as the top offender in the drivers list (usually followed by networking drivers). It was even adviced in the Audient optimization video that disabling the GPU card may help with ASIO performance. So I did that. Result? Being able to go from "low latency" setting and 128 buffer (lowest stable setting for tracking) to "minimum latency" with 64 buffer. That's exactly HALF the latency with my interface.

    But mixing with a disabled GPU is not really fun, is it? You need to see things properly, and stuff. So I decided to replace my trusty NVIDIA GTX 770 for a newer GTX 970 that a friend offered to me. Same exact results. Same shitty driver fucking everything up.

    Then decided to get my hands on an AMD card, based on the recommendation of a system builder that claimed they had much better latency figures, and overall better suited for professional work. Got myself a used AMD RX 470, which is a tad weaker than the GTX 970 but also less power hungry. Everybody bashes AMD day in, day out, but didn't hurt to try one.

    Oh my...

    Not only the driver doesn't cause the insane latency that the NVIDIA driver does, but it also doesn't fuck up with the dxkernel.dll and hal.dll driver the way NVIDIA does. This results in much less interrupts and a much more stable latency. I was able to run my system at minimum latency settings with no issues. I can even track with Mercuriall Spark at x8 oversampling in real time at 48Khz/64 buffer (or 96Khz/128). :woot:


    Some shots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now. I can see you guys thinking: "My NVIDIA card works flawlessly, I don't have any issues". Well, that's because your audio interface probably has a decent driver to compensate the disaster. Lackluster ASIO drivers will definetely benefit a lot from not having to fight against a crappy video driver. Plus, why would you have high latency in your system when you could have much lower figures just choosing another card? Losing a few fps in games is a trivial tradeoff for a huge gain in ASIO performance. I'm sure that even if you can go as low as possible with your card, it won't hurt when you have to raise the buffers for heavy projects...

    So there you have it. If you have noises and crap in your audio, take a look at your video card. I've never been happier tracking guitars!! :bow:
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  3. ptpatty

    ptpatty Producer

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    I learned my NVIDIA lesson a few years ago. Latencymon going crazy due to NVIDIA drivers. I'm sure that the no so great Focusrite drivers didn't help. An AMD card definitely solved some problems. Ditching Pro Tools for Reaper solved the rest.
     
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  4. mrpsanter

    mrpsanter Rock Star

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    I never thought of the gpu as a possible bottleneck in audio production. It reminded me of the guys using their rig for bit mining which was something new ten years ago.

    I would always go with the usual suspects: a faster cpu, more memory and a faster drive. And of course the audio driver.
     
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  5. MYCbeats

    MYCbeats Platinum Record

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    Thank you for giving me a second point to something I've been arguing for years about.

    My argument has been that plugins and DAWs are moving away from just layers of bitmap images as the GUI and are using OpenGL to render them instead, all this requires processing, might be minute compared to say a game, but its still a process thats inefficient for your CPU.

    Now you don't need a top of the line or even a mid tier graphics card, just something to offload the CPU.
     
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  6. 11Fletcher

    11Fletcher Ultrasonic

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    I never had any latency issue with my Nvidia, but as you say it's maybe cause I have a good audio interface (and also no wifi/network card). But it's good to know that, as I have this video card just for gaming, but I'm not even play game anymore, so next PC, I will try to put an AMD.

    Thanks for sharing your experience :wink:
     
  7. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    1050ti here and I'm down to 64 samples with both external and internal audio - no issues
     
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  8. KidPix

    KidPix Kapellmeister

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  9. playtime

    playtime Kapellmeister

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    I've had exactly same issues and bought Asus Radeon R9 280 Strix OC Edition. Zero problems since then. And yes, more and more DAW/plugin GUIs do require OpenGL & graphic processing nowadays. Crazy. :crazy:
     
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  10. Torrao

    Torrao Producer

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    Ahem...

    My point is that this thread is not aimed to people that don't have issues. I'm posting empirical facts. And those facts are that Nvidia cards have much worse drivers for audio than their AMD counterparts. Your other components may compensate for that difference, but if they don't (as in my case and many others) it may be a good idea to sell your card and get another, as I did. Much cheaper than getting a new system.

    I could have changed my Audient for an RME instead and would surely be fine with a Nvidia card. But Audient driver is not good, and it makes a really bad combination with the Nvidia driver.

    Most people doesn't know about this difference, because the threads about the matter are filled with "My Nvidia card works fine" replies, that haven't compared to other cards or taken other factors into consideration. That's why I'm creating this thread, to prove people that there IS a better brand for audio performance. If that difference is important to you or not, that's up to the individual. Sure as hell Nvidia graphics are much better for gaming (their core purpose), since they focus just on that and the developers build the game engines around its technologies :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  11. Recoil

    Recoil Guest

    I have a GTX 1060 I have no problems with latency, but it is a computer for everything, the only problem is unnecessary services on windows, and slow HDDs have their 9 and one SSD on the system.
     
  12. audioplg

    audioplg Member

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    just out of curiosity what values do you get on latancymon in main and driver set to highest execution after a 5 min run with your ati card?
    could you post a screen shot of them two.
     
  13. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Yes, that's why I listed both external and internal sound device. Internal, obviously, does not come with any ASIO drivers and still there's no issue at all.

    Maybe I have missed it, but none of your replies contain any number of actual interruptions or HPF caused specifically by nVidia drivers (nv*.sys). Why not share the result of actual measurement in LatencyMon and showing us that nVidia driver is indeed the core of the issue?

    nVidia installer also allows for this level of customization
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  14. Torrao

    Torrao Producer

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    Sure!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Don't have Nvidia screenshots since I got rid of the card. You can see screenshots above with the RX470. You don't have to look too far if you want to see them, though. Just google "nvidia dpc latency" and you'll find plenty of LatencyMon screenshots with red bars :wink:

    I do recall however, Nvidia driver hovering around 0,4 to 0-6 ms (which is 4 to 6 times more than the next driver in line). DXKernel was also much higher than it is now. If you guys have a Nvidia card, you can just compare with the above results :yes:
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  15. Andrew

    Andrew AudioSEX Maestro Staff Member

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    Red bar isn't very helpful in identifying the culprit - even if one successfully identify the problematic driver (nvlddmkm.sys) doesn't mean nVidia is the source of the issue.
    As with your rspLLL64.sys, its high DPC count is caused by usbaudio.sys, itself it's not the source of the issue.
     
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  16. Torrao

    Torrao Producer

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    So the culprit is not Nvidia driver, but some other process that only causes problems with it and not AMD. I can go nuts trying to find it (maybe to find its a critical system driver) or I can just change the card to an AMD one and enjoy its pleasant performance.

    Don't get this the wrong way, but you're being overly defensive. This thread is meant to inform people of something they may not be aware of. If you have something to add that can actually improve latency figures better than choosing a better performing (for audio) card, I'm all ears. A good audio PC is never optimized enough.

    I don't know man, if I can get two different graphics cards at the same price. One of them is better for gaming and the other better for audio, won't it be nice to know which one is which? Not everyone has the appropriate knowledge to track down every offending service. Perhaps people prefer to spend their time making music :)

    But hey, I was just trying to help other people based on my own experience. Guess I should have just said "I have no latency issues with my AMD card", and never break the loop. :dunno:
     
  17. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    I'm using Nvidia VGAs in audio computers that I build when needed, but usually the onboard Intel one is more than good enough for driving plugins. In my experience, disabling all the unnecessary services and auto start background programs does it. Sometimes you have to test different versions of drivers for best performance, too. Intel has very tricky and bloated drivers, too. I simply hate those. :( But hey - you disable this, disable that... you can tame that one, too.

    I agree about Nvidia, but also in general VGA cards saturating the PCIe bus and stealing performance from other devices. In extreme cases, which can happen with a high end VGA card, it's best to put it into a x4 PCIe slot and restrict its bandwidth, or do it from BIOS [make the slot x4 or x8 instead of x16]. Therefore I always recommend low end to mid-range cards for audio workstations. It is harder to tame a gaming PC with a high-end card, but it is possible. :wink:

    Honest thanks for taking your time to test things Torrao! Very interesting. :wink:

    Also, in my experience GigaBit network, USB1-3 and especially Wi-Fi drivers are extremely detrimental to audio performance! It's becoming more and more tricky to optimise PCs for sound audio performance these days. Pun intended, of course. :)

    Cheers!
     
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  18. Recoil

    Recoil Guest

    My latency is not perfect either, but I think after the system optimization will be good.
    You have to give up the internet and anti-virus, and other unnecessary services.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Tabby

    Tabby Kapellmeister

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    :rofl:
     
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  20. EddieXx

    EddieXx Platinum Record

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    "not only the driver doesn't cause the insane latency that the NVIDIA driver does, but it also doesn't fuck up with the dxkernel.dll and hal.dll driver the way NVIDIA does."

    ive seen this in all my systems for as long as i can remember.

    nowadays brute cpu force manages to overcome the most obvious problems but sure there are some pretty nasty conflicts there.
    for some they cause total havoc, some get by, why? its very difficult to give a general answer.

    on the other hand, antivirus, network drivers and all the miles of other "fine-tuning" out there has never meant any dramatic difference in any system ive had, only very marginal effects, i mean practically placebo effects.

    but never thought of amd graphic cards, if i find a cheap one to test ill give it a go
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  21. KidPix

    KidPix Kapellmeister

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    They have an option to not install the telemetry?
     
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