Mini PCs, NUCs Update


My understanding is the main difference between i5 and i7 is support for hyperthreading. i7 has it, most i5’s dont. This actually isn’t a bad thing for Cantabile since usually you don’t want to use hyperthreading.

Here’s why:

The idea behind hyper-threading is that since each processor core is highly pipe-lined and has multiple execution units by allowing it to execute multiple threads at the same time each thread can (hopefully) use different parts of the pipeline and get more done.

The problem with real-time stuff is that the biggest bottleneck tends to be floating point math - and I don’t believe any current cpu has multiple floating point units in a single core. So you just end up with multiple threads fighting over the floating point math unit - and it actually makes things worse.

I haven’t actually tested this for quite a while now and things may be better in the latest processors, but at the time, enabling hyper-threading and dialing up the thread count to more than the number of physical cores was a disaster - causing it to run much slower.

This is why Cantabile’s audio engine options recommends running at the number of physical cores - not the number of virtual cores.



I bet Cantabile is hosted primarily on laptops/nuc with mobile processors so it is probably not that easy:,134877,134888,124969,130408,134876,137980,135935,124967

It’s more like “most desktop i5 don’t and most mobile i5 do have hyperthreading”. Even some mobile core i3 do have HT nowadays. Intel means maximum confusion most of the times.


OK, I took the plunge and built a little “live cube” based on the ASRock Deskmini 310 and a Core i5 9600 (6 cores). Runs super-quietly and doesn’t seem to break a sweat on my Cantabile songs. Just did a little simple comparison with my current live laptop - added 10 instances of Valhalla Room (default preset) to an empty Cantabile song. My live laptop (quad-core i7, older generation mobile CPU) runs at about 49% time load, while the little cube runs the same at ca. 29%.

No overclocking involved - plain default config out-of-the box, plus @brad’s glitch-free settings

Pretty promising - and the size of this little marvel is amazing!



New gig laptop...Intel I7 or I9?

Thanks for the feedback.

I’ll order an i5 9600k soon and will use the exact same motherboard, RAM and M.2 as on my other system, which runs an i7 8700k. This should give some interesting results.

I’ll report back.


I’ve been using a Gigabyte BRIX for the last 3 years. i5 7th gen with a MOTU avb for sound and gechic and Lilliput touchscreen monitors.

Setup has been very stable. I generally have Pianoteq, Blue3 and Kontakt running, and this pc also runs 2 pieces of software for our light show. I sometimes also run Reaper at the same time to record our shows using 12 channels. Multiple asio connections to the same ports works very well.

There’s a newer generation available now.


Just another quick update: did the usual DPC latency tests - the little cube raced through them with flying colors - no issues at all. Shows that the desktop CPU and motherboard are less prone to the laptop-specific power management issues - none of the nasty ACPI-interrupts.

Pretty impressed so far…


The only downside: no way to put a nice and friendly Cantabile sticker on it - that would block the fan intake grid :disappointed_relieved:


Hang on, I thought NUCs used laptop CPUs? Does that model you mentioned use a desktop CPU? I’d be pretty interested in that!


Yes, this is not a NUC - it’s an STX form factor mini PC, so it runs standard desktop CPUs.


I am starting to evaluate a new PC.
All NUCs I can find here are with U class CPU and sodimm Memory. Evident traces of a laptop design, so nothing better than a good laptop.
As Torsten reports, to get more beefy processors you need another form factor.
In all my experiences with notebooks, latency problems come from NDIS drivers, why a desktop should be better?

My current Asus notebook is 4 years old but very good performing, if I exclude ethernet driver which can damage latency check (and cause audio drop outs).
Is there a way to keep this issue away?


Another question… I found a nice new Asus laptop with two screens (one on the keybed, nice to think at audio mixer app while C3 is on main screen).
It has a new 10 series i7, u class.
Dealer told me 10 series are only u type currently. True? Fast enough for us?


Unfortunately you can’t buy the mainboard from the deskmini. You have to buy the whole machine…

I think there is only one STX mainboard on the market and that is not able to handle coffee lake CPUs.

I use mini ITX. They are available and support coffee lake.


Hi Torsten,

What fan did you use? Any notes on build etc?



Would this be a good candidate for remote control of C3 running on NUC? I’m looking for a poor man’s Gechic touch screen. I know it’s too small but for $80 I figure it’s a way to get started and I could use it for something else later.

HP Pro Tablet 608 G1 x5-Z8550 1.44 GHz 4 GB 64 GB SSD 7.86" Touchscreen FHD Win10


I’d recommend Noctua NH L9i. Great and quiet CPU cooler.


I used the Noctua NH L9i - agree with @FantomXR’s recommendation. It has the right form factor to fit the Deskmini box and leave enough room for the cabling. Then two 16 GB Crucial SODIMM RAM modules and a 1000GB Crucial NVMe M.2 SSD - that’s it. Oh, and I added the optional wifi module and the additional two USB ports. Nice package.


With the current price of the Deskmini, you could just buy the whole box and discard the case :wink:


I found a new good laptop.
MSI Prestige 15.
Up to 64 giga ram. Two slots for NVM SSD.
Tenth generation i7.
Tests on sites show extremely good results with latency.
It is my candidate for future purchase.
1500 euro with 16 giga ram and 512 gb ssd


I am still evaluating a new laptop.
I cannot prevent my attention to read PC offers online during quarantine and lockdown…
New weapon are new Intel processors: tenth series and version H (the most performing one).
Presented during last days, a good candidate seems this one: Intel Core i7-10750H.
Not the best one (i9), but still quite powerful, up to 5 GHz clock (!), 6 cores, 45 watt.
No solutions today outside gamers notebooks.
These are nice machines, but with a lot of money devoted to graphics (screens and graphic boards).
Cantabile does not get any benefit from crazy graphic, so these devices are not interesting for me.
The MSI Prestige unit I mentioned in older post was with U class processor: more energy saving option.
Now waiting a suitable notebook with the H processor (and virus to go away, of course…).

New gig laptop...Intel I7 or I9?