Computer Streamer optimisation

It can be good or bad. It depends on which is more objectionable: the noise generated by when the CPU staying at top speed or the noise generated when the CPU repeatedly changing frequencies depending on it’s load. I’d guess that most of the time things would be best when the CPU is always loafing at the lowest speed, but disabling Intel speed step, etc. isn’t always trivial… Things are darned complicated in CPUs these days and there’s no single answer that works best for everyone.

My current lap top has 8 cores and is built for serious computing - but one more thing that it does much better than my old laptop is that it can still be loafing while calculating replaygain or decoding DST from SACD ISOs, etc at the same time as it’s playing without generating enough heat to start the fan… Keeping the fan off keeps down one of the worst generators of noise in a laptop (both electrically noise and acoustic noise.)

Oké now I understand, thanks

I quess decreasing the maximum speed of a processor on a dedicated system (so it alsmost never uses more power than for the task is needed), wouldn’t be a problem as long as it has enough reserves. And if I understood you run on a pretty constant speed

It is generally agreed that for audio playback that speed step/turbo boost and such be disabled. Converting on the fly may be a different situation, though and the only way to know is to try with and without. I don’t do any other tasks with this computer so it can be a bit mentally disabled and not be socially objectionable.

I have an ASrock J1900 Mini ITX board that I was using on a project and has since become available for other use. Is this anything in the way of a good starting point for a dedicated music PC? The music itself will be served (as it is now) from my Qnap RAID10 device.

Probably yes. I chose my mobo because it was an Intel and I thought that it would mesh well with the Intel processor. If the BIOS is advanced you will have more options to choose from in terms of tweaking. You would have to look online to see what the BIOS is like for that board. You would need a CPU with an unlocked multiplier if you are going to under clock. On-chip graphics appears to be an advantage, the thought being that adding a separate video card on the PCI bus generates more heat/noise. I’m fond of the Seasonic fanless power supplies because the power factor is near 1. You don’t need a big one for audio, 400W or less will do. IDK if they make MiniITX supplies like this.

Well, if I don’t change the processor, this board is spec’d to max out at around 75 Watts power utilization with two drives attached. Power is fed via a 12V plug from an external brick power supply. I could probably get a decent linear 12V supply that’s rated for 100 Watts or so.

Picking hardware for this is really kind of a crap shoot at this point in time. I don’t want to give the impression that I know my stuff when it comes to this. I looked for recommendations last year on the web and basically found that there are two camps, low “power” and high “power” but that is about all. It’s sort of the wild west otherwise and you tweak what you have. There are several articles in TAS that use a new method to evaluate image quality that point to PC being a better choice than Mac but it is not a study that anyone has repeated to my knowledge so there still is a lot in the realm of speculation. Very unlike the rest of audio, of course.21_gif

Low power CPU have some preverable aspects for SQ. The same goes for faster CPU’s but on other SQ aspects.

With low power you will get a clean signal with more rest and blackness. Faster CPU’s will give you a better realism, more body, probably due to timing and handling (I don’t know).

I have opened a topic with ratings for my streamers. I have a high and a low power rated very close to each other, but they are quite differend and both preverable for certain aspects.

The combination of the two. A fast CPU with lower voltage and reduced frequency speed seems to be the key!

I just ordered a K series CPU for my server so that I can underclock it. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Wijnand, what brand of motherboard is in the PF streamer? I finally installed my K processor only to find that the system multiplier will not go below 100 on the Intel mobo so I’ll have to look for one that has a bios that will allow me to under clock.

EDIT: CPU multi = 35, base clock =1004_gif

…and now, after some futzing, CPUz shows the multiplier at 16 and my freq at 1.6MHz. Quite underclocked for a 3.5MHz base processor!

HW monitor shows power consumption at about 4.6W (ha!), 32 deg C, 1.0v core.

Time to ditch the fan…devil_gif

How all this came about I am not sure yet because the Intel Visual BIOS is opaque to what is going on behind the scenes. I have under clocked by adjusting other parameters somehow. Negative Vdroop settings are not possible (just “high, med and low”), direct multiplier adjustment is not and neither is bclck < 100 available as a setting. Hyperthreading and TurboBoost are off.

I may have been underclocked with the non-K processor as well. I had only looked at Windows Task Manager for frequency and had not bothered with CPUz since I new the processor was locked and that Intel BIOS did not allow me any direct or, so I thought, trick methods of underclocking.

So, to cap off my story, I fired up the under clocked server and right away my wife says, “Oh, that sounds better.” She had no idea that I had done anything at all. Totally unprompted. I love it when a plan comes together! Thanks for bring this up, Wijnand. I’m very glad that I got the new processor and finally did it.laugh

Hi wglenn,

Great to hear you found some great settings! Thanks for sharing your settings. I have to look into my bios to check the brand of my mainboard.

I’m very curious how your processor temperature will react when you disconnect your fan. What will it do with the sound!? There are also fanless cpu coolers.

Couldn’t hear a difference with it unplugged and the CPU temp rose into the sixties. Not terribly hot but I figure that the fan on the cpu heatsink is a good idea, if just for peace of mind.