New Cantabile System

I’ve started planning for a new build based around an Intel chip set. The motherboard/case that I plan to use can either support a graphics card with it’s own memory. However, this would limit the processor selection to 65 watts. Optionally, that space could be used to put in water cooling system which would support 125w processors but be forced to used the GPU on the processor and shared memory.

Any thoughts either way with regards to system performance, stability, etc.?


My 2 cents,having built a lot of systems (although mostly mid-scale enterprise). My Cantabile system is a dedicated computer with CPU built in video. A dedicated video card is only useful for heavy duty gaming or perhaps professional video editing or production, it buys you nothing for audio. In fact, a search will find that many people have problems, especially with NVidia cards on audio systems (although they are excellent for gaming).

Spend your money of a faster CPU, more RAM, fast SSD, etc.

-short rant- This new trend to so-called “performance” and “economy” cores is marketing BS. (as is “hyper-threading”, IMO). It certainly does you no good for audio processing. Only real “performance” cores count. There are already many power saving features in both the CPU and the OS. Even there, most of us have had to thrash with acpi at some time or another.

It is always fun to create a new setup, have fun!



Thanks for the response! I guess my main concern was how much system memory is involved and “shared” when using the CPU built in video.

Another perspective,
Having been a system builder myself in the past for a job, my advice, personally would be to avoid any integrated hardware as much as possible. reason being when the graphics dies, the motherboard is toast and will require replacing the guts of the whole PC, effectively forcing you into building yet another PC.
Having separate dedicated graphics offloads that job from the CPU, regardless of what the PC is being used for.

Separate components means easier serviceability and longer life over all. Should the graphics fail
you only need to replace the graphics card. if integrated graphics fail you replace the motherboard, then the CPU you have wont be compatible same with the ram, so your forced into replacing the whole lot because one thing failed

Would you buy a new car because you ran out of petrol? same idea :wink:
If you have an adequate PSU you can run any CPU you want,
minimum 550w these days (depending on what else you have in the PC, If you want to be sure use a 650w. WIth system specs go with more than you need with what you can afford. Don’t let sales people talk you into extra BS.

I’m running an old i7 quadcore K series chugging away at 95w average, with and nvidia 1gb card and air-cooling with a copper aluminum heatsink artic ice thermal paste and 92mm fan, at idle sits around 30-35 degrees C. Never needed water cooling even on CG rendering. front and rear fans with hard drives mounted behind the front fan (i use old school cases for that reason, they don’t have sideways mounted hard drive bays like modern cases)

The amount of system ram used by integrated graphics will depend on the resolution you want to use.
The higher the resolution the more system ram will be used for that.

1 Like

Just to add my $.02. I recently built a PC in a rack which included the following:

Gigabyte Z790 UD AC ATX LGA1700 Motherboard
Intel Core i7-13700K 3.4 GHz 16-Core Processor, 125W
Noctua NH-D9L 46.44 CFM CPU Cooler
G.Skill Trident Z5 RGB 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR5-6400 CL32 Memory
Samsung 990 Pro 2 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 4.0 X4 NVME SSD
EVGA SuperNOVA 650 P2 650 W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply

i had a few other parts like a case, DVD drive, second SSD that I repurposed from another build.

My priorities were a fast processor, a MB with fast bus speed, fast memory, and a fast SSD. This is my 3rd music computer build and all have used the integrated graphics with no degradation of video whatsever. I have always assumed that if the on-board graphics failed, I could put in a graphics card.

The processor has 16 cores (8 perf and 8 other). I agree with @john about the marketing hype, but it is what it is. I created a song with 32 instances of Diva and the CPU usage was about 25% with core temps maxing at about 145 degrees F. With the case being a 3U rack mount I had to use a lower profile air cooler; the Noctua worked perfectly. Almost all the cores were engaged to some degree all the time in a fairly balanced fashion.
Timeload was running about 55-85% with no drops or noise at a freq of 48K with 128K buffer.

This build is overkill right now, but in 4 or 5 years it won’t be. I got 64G of RAM because it was on sale (I was planning on 32G of Corsair Vengence). I got the 6400 RAM speed because I like to run the bus at something less than the top speed (top speed was like 7200 as I recall). Total price was $1100 purchased in July.

I also use ProcessLasso and set everything up using Brad’s Glitch-Free instructions. I have used this live for a couple months without a hitch…

Hope this helps.

Whilst certainly theoretically correct regarding serviceability, I wouldn’t fully agree for today’s integrated graphics. With the current set of i5/i7/i9 processors, integrated graphics isn’t a motherboard feature, but integrated with the processor CPU directly.

I’ve yet to see such an onboard graphics solution fail; but in that case it would be the entire CPU failing. Not necessary to replace the motherboard in that case, but you would need to replace the CPU. But again, I haven’t yet come across this scenario…

For audio workloads, a separate discrete graphics card doesn’t really have a performance benefit - the on-chip graphics perform well for 2D graphics. And they don’t create a hit on the “compute” capacity of the CPU - these are separate parts of the chip, so there would be no “offloading” of anything from the CPU by using a separate graphics card.

Instead of spending money on a separate graphics card, I would rather use the money on RAM (32 GB should be good enough for most Cantabile setups, unless you use massive sample libraries) and fast SSDs.

My current Cantabile live system is a small (2 liters) ASRock DeskMini with an i5-9600K CPU (on-chip graphics) and 32 GB of RAM. The DeskMini is limited to 65 W TDP - works with this setup.

My current live set contains 170 plugins pre-loaded, with a working set menory of rougly 9 GB. It runs all of my songs (some of them very complex setups of up to 50 loaded racks) without breaking much of a sweat at 128 samples / 44.1 kHz, single-buffered.

Of course, I have optimized my live setup quite a bit over the years, throwing out the CPU- and memory-hogs in favor of leaner plugins - “good enough is good enough” for live use…

I spent around 800 EUR on the hardware for this “live cube” - no need to invest massive amounts of money in a Cantabile system if you are smart about picking the right plugins and avoid using too many massive sample-libraries - and stay away from Omnisphere/Keyscape et al (unless this is the one and only plugin you are using…)




Thank you Laura, sgarman and Torsten for the insights!!

@Torsten: It’s funny you mention the DeskMini as I’m trying to base this build around it’s big brother the DeskMeet 660 and what appears to be the biggest challenge is trying to balance the thermals. Hence the question of foregoing the GPU support in favor of better cooling.

@sgarman: I’ve done rack builds in the past, but now days unless it would fit in a shallow-depth case I’m not really interested. My back is too old.