DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

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alec.tron
KVRer
19 posts since 10 Sep, 2017

Post Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:41 pm

Heya,
seeing there's a fair few Thunderbolt enabled laptops coming to the market, which makes them interesting for audio (yet many are meant/branded as 'media' or 'gaming' laptops...), and there's many random tales strewn through the interwebs, I thought I'd start collecting a few links, tools & tales, and look into the state of things as I do need a new laptop, and ideally it would be not too shabby on the DPC Latency front too. But looks like there's still a clusterf* of issues when it comes to DPC Latency on laptops, and laptop manufacturers do not seem to care as we, who are interested in realtime audio performance, are still a niche group.
And since buying a laptop for audio (now that Apple has produced their fair share of f*ckups for audio professionals over the last years as well) still seems to be more akin to playing lotto than having actual factors to go by when making a decision on which laptop to buy, what better way to look at this than here & have others chime in!

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So, first of all - some resources that explain the issue:
https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/ar ... g-latency/
https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/ar ... cy-issues/

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Second, the analytics.
Traditionally there's only been 2 tools that were recommended (if there's others/more now, please sing out!)

Latency Monitor:
http://www.resplendence.com/downloads

DPC Latency Checker
https://www.thesycon.de/eng/latency_check.shtml
Whereas DPC Latency Checker was stated not to work with Windows8. And their own website has not been updated since then, so I asked them for confirmation if it is a reliable analytics tool for Windows 10, 64bit, post Creators Update. No reply yet though, I'll post when I get it.

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Thirdly, the tales.
Unfortunately for us, there's no database where people can report un-fixable DPC latency issues with a given device, nor is there any of the big reviewer websites (afaik) that tests laptops for DPC latency properly. The only one I know is anandtech.com, and there they do check DPC latency, but only on motherboard reviews.

So, one of the few angles we have on this when considering a given laptop is to trawl forums for the anecdotal bits of disgruntled customers who went down that path already actually trying more or less hard to make a given laptop work for realtime audio and reporting back, so I'll post a few I found that were somewhat interesting.

MSI seems to have its' fair share of DPC issues
https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=296229.0
https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=276328.0

So does Asus seemingly, on many of its' ROG gaming line - funnily enough, Asus motherboards for Desktops are one of the best in terms of DPC latency (as anandtech have regularly tested)
https://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.p ... y-Readings

Lenovo Y50 - I had that myself at some point, more for media/3d, but tried it with audio as well and it failed, was borderline usable and did produce a fair few audio dropouts regularly, on top of bad engineering/build quality.
So I would not suggest that device to anyone, and the experience was so bad overall and their customer support, that I will stay away from Lenovo altogether for years and/or decades to come.

Interestingly, DPC Latency issues seem to be hitting high end gaming people now as well:
https://forums.geforce.com/default/topi ... ttering/1/
And since that is a big group of people, spending a lot of money & time on computer gear, chances are companies might take this into account as a factor; as it's pretty shitty if you purchase a high end graphics gtx1080, only to find that you can't play youtube videos anymore without audio dropouts & constant micro-freezes...


Any experiences, suggestions, tools etc you have for this, post it please!

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As for Windows10 laptop options at this point (for where I live), these are fairly recent, seem to be decent laptops all around, and offer a TB3 port - but I still need to check them for DPC Latency out of the box...:

Acer Aspire V15 Nitro BE VN7-593G
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Acer-Aspi ... 344.0.html

Asus UX550VE
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Asus-Zenb ... 108.0.html

Dell XPS-15 9560
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Dell-XPS- ... 668.0.html

Gigabyte Aero 15X
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Gigabyte- ... 594.0.html

If anyone has experience with any of those 4, or notes/tales/suggestions on this, please post!

Churs.
c.

rgemmell
KVRer
15 posts since 22 Dec, 2011

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:56 pm

Old post - but terrific summary of situation. Disappointed no responses...
Thought I'd try reviving this, although my guess is all off the shelf laptops mostly suck for audio and positive anecdotal reports are often folks not pushing their system or testing. Or maybe everyone knows more about shaking down a system for dpc than I do.

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Deep Purple
KVRian
802 posts since 9 Jan, 2015 from NY, NY

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:22 pm

I always associate Thunderbolt with Macs, so perhaps that's why there's not so many results when this has a focus on non-Mac laptops?
Sweet child in time...

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
7725 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:38 pm

Why would you need to "shake down your system for DPC latency" unless you are having a problem (which I never have)? I've used a lot of different laptops with a lot of different USB audio devices over the years and they have all worked exactly as you'd expect them to, both in rehearsal and on stage.
alec.tron wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:41 pm
And since buying a laptop for audio (now that Apple has produced their fair share of f*ckups for audio professionals over the last years as well) still seems to be more akin to playing lotto than having actual factors to go by when making a decision on which laptop to buy, what better way to look at this than here & have others chime in!
That's not been my experience at all. I buy a new laptop pretty much every year, so over the past decade or so I have probably used 6 or 7 different ones on stage (different brands), and I've always had good, reliable performance.

Reading the rest of your post, the one thing I notice is missing is any actual problem you may have had. Just because something exists, doesn't mean it will be a problem. Worry about problems when they occur, don't think you can anticipate them and stop them from happening, that's not how the world works.

Lastly, why do you think you need Thunderbolt? My Analog Keys is capable or processing 8 simultaneous audio streams via USB 2, or 4 at high bit depth/sample rate. Is there some other reason to choose Thunderbolt?
NOVAkILL 3.0 : Acer Switch5 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, Win10), Yamaha AG06, Orion 64 bit, Roli Seaboard Rise 25, Ultranova, Rocket, Pulse 2, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno.

Kaine
KVRAF
1865 posts since 4 Nov, 2004 from Manchester

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:01 am

alec.tron wrote:
Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:41 pm
Interestingly, DPC Latency issues seem to be hitting high end gaming people now as well:
https://forums.geforce.com/default/topi ... ttering/1/
And since that is a big group of people, spending a lot of money & time on computer gear, chances are companies might take this into account as a factor; as it's pretty shitty if you purchase a high end graphics gtx1080, only to find that you can't play youtube videos anymore without audio dropouts & constant micro-freezes...


Any experiences, suggestions, tools etc you have for this, post it please!
For Geforce issues you can delete Nvidia experience and enjoy your day.

Otherwise, don't hold your breath, everything I learnt about DPC handling was off the back of troubleshooing Battlefield 2142 back in the day. They know about it, they simply have no real reason to care as it's as much about the interactions with various other drivers as it is about their own. They meet Microsoft spec so that's enough generally.

rgemmell
KVRer
15 posts since 22 Dec, 2011

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:38 am

BONES wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:38 pm

Reading the rest of your post, the one thing I notice is missing is any actual problem you may have had. Just because something exists, doesn't mean it will be a problem. Worry about problems when they occur, don't think you can anticipate them and stop them from happening, that's not how the world works.

Lastly, why do you think you need Thunderbolt? My Analog Keys is capable or processing 8 simultaneous audio streams via USB 2, or 4 at high bit depth/sample rate. Is there some other reason to choose Thunderbolt?
Terrific, thanks for your thoughts about how the world works. Commonplace issue, it is deterministic with testing, some laptops are total crap especially if you push them.
https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/ar ... cy-issues/

TB exists for a reason: more like internal bus/PCIe, 80x faster connection vs. your USB 2.0, I can keep/load huge libraries on an external drive. I also have a TB sound card, cost effective, practically zero latency, 26 channels expandable to 104 channels.

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
7725 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:55 pm

TB exists to sell more computers to people who don't think about what they really need. Seriously, what difference does it make if TB is 80 times faster when USB 2.0 is already 8 times faster than you need? It's like building a 10 lane freeway when you only need a laneway. My sound library, along with all my working files and projects, lives on a 256GB microSD card, which is plenty fast enough. Why do you need 26 channels? Do you have 13 pieces of stereo hardware you need to input at once?

What your answer tells me is that you have put zero thought into it, otherwise you'd have led with "I need 26 channels because I have a lot of hardware", or something similarly easy for anyone to grasp. Instead you get all defensive and quote throughput rates, which shows why you really want it - because it's fast, not because you've maxed out your USB.

Final thought - it's interesting how few USB 3 audio I/O devices there are. It's been around for many years now, yet most manufacturers continue to release USB 2 devices. That, right there, should tell you how much value there is in more bandwidth than you need.
NOVAkILL 3.0 : Acer Switch5 (Core i5, 8GB RAM, Win10), Yamaha AG06, Orion 64 bit, Roli Seaboard Rise 25, Ultranova, Rocket, Pulse 2, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno.

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EnochLight
KVRian
1132 posts since 21 Mar, 2012 from your mom

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:40 pm

BONES wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:55 pm
Final thought - it's interesting how few USB 3 audio I/O devices there are. It's been around for many years now, yet most manufacturers continue to release USB 2 devices. That, right there, should tell you how much value there is in more bandwidth than you need.
Fair point. Even Presonus' new USB-C line of audio interfaces still all operate at USB 2.0. :party:

https://support.presonus.com/hc/en-us/a ... Interfaces
  • Presonus Studio One 3.5.x | too many VSTi's to name
  • Windows 10 64-bit | Reason 10.2 | RME Babyface Pro | Nektar Tech Panorama P4 | M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro | too many RE's to name

rgemmell
KVRer
15 posts since 22 Dec, 2011

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:42 pm

BONES wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:55 pm
TB exists to sell more computers to people who don't think about what they really need. "I need 26 channels because I have a lot of hardware", or something similarly easy for anyone to grasp. .
Yes need the channels, lots of hw.
The op topic was dpc latency...lol.
Last edited by rgemmell on Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BrokenTrance
KVRist
282 posts since 25 Nov, 2010

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:12 pm

Got not good result from Latencymon with new computer, that i bought second hand hahha. What could be wrong? Ofcourse some driver issue. But what can i do about it? I took the bait and installed new drivers with iobit driverbooster(very risky - on test laptop wifi stopped working with driverbooster and i couldn't revert). But it solved the problem now. I tried this on old computer also, but without result, but i thought it is worth the risk on new computer. If not success i reinstall everything anyway. But it success! :phones:

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fmr
KVRAF
8512 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:18 pm

BrokenTrance wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:12 pm
Got not so good result from Latencymon with new computer, that i bought second hand hahha. What could be wrong? Ofcourse some driver issue. But what can i do about it? I took the bait and installed new drivers with iobit driverbooster(very risky - on test laptop wifi stopped working with driverbooster and i couldn't revert). But it solved the problem now. I tried this on old computer also, but without result, but i thought it is worth the risk on new computer. If not success i reinstall everything anyway. But it success! :phones:
I had a similar (bad) experience with Driver Booster once, and since then never trusted it (or any other of the kind) again.

Just out of curiosity: which diver(s) were replaced that solved your problem?
Fernando (FMR)

BrokenTrance
KVRist
282 posts since 25 Nov, 2010

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:24 pm

fmr wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:18 pm
BrokenTrance wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:12 pm
Got not so good result from Latencymon with new computer, that i bought second hand hahha. What could be wrong? Ofcourse some driver issue. But what can i do about it? I took the bait and installed new drivers with iobit driverbooster(very risky - on test laptop wifi stopped working with driverbooster and i couldn't revert). But it solved the problem now. I tried this on old computer also, but without result, but i thought it is worth the risk on new computer. If not success i reinstall everything anyway. But it success! :phones:
I had a similar (bad) experience with Driver Booster once, and since then never trusted it (or any other of the kind) again.

Just out of curiosity: which diver(s) were replaced that solved your problem?
To be honest - i don't remember, but i think it was network driver that was "ancient" from year 2006 or even 1996(Microsoft standard). Or some other obscure peripheral. Driver booster offers driver from something like 2018.
Another problem with this(Driver booster) i found on my old computer when i tried driverboster was that ambient white noise(best i can describe) was occurring in speakers when i used scrool wheel on mouse after driver booster install of new drivers on old computer. So i say - VERY RISKY THIS. But i very happy with the result on new computer.

Edit: I replaced about 20 obsolete drivers on new computer with Driver booster.

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Tappistry
KVRian
1216 posts since 3 Aug, 2017 from San Diego, CA

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:40 pm

I haven't really gotten into much with windows laptops and realtime audio performance. I can speak to what I've dealth with on my desktops over the years, however.

Make sure your INF drivers and whatever else is appropriate for your motherboard's onboard USB controllers are up to date. That's one of the most easily overlooked items to update. After that, start trying to isolate problematic drivers. NVIDIA drivers have improved substantially IME over the last few years.

Lastly, I just built a new system and was still having some minor latency issues. I had to go into the BIOS and disable the processor c-states. By default, these power-saving features are turned on and they can cause random spikes in DPC latency when the system starts trying to turn off processor cores and move threads around.

generaldiomedes
KVRian
553 posts since 15 Apr, 2017 from Canada

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:09 pm

Somehow RME manages to get their windows USB 2.0 latency levels to near Mac thunderbolt levels with good driver development.

BrokenTrance
KVRist
282 posts since 25 Nov, 2010

Re: DPC Latency, Windows 10 & Laptops (with Thunderbolt) in 2018

Post Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:15 pm

Tappistry wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 4:40 pm
I haven't really gotten into much with windows laptops and realtime audio performance. I can speak to what I've dealth with on my desktops over the years, however.

Make sure your INF drivers and whatever else is appropriate for your motherboard's onboard USB controllers are up to date. That's one of the most easily overlooked items to update. After that, start trying to isolate problematic drivers. NVIDIA drivers have improved substantially IME over the last few years.

Lastly, I just built a new system and was still having some minor latency issues. I had to go into the BIOS and disable the processor c-states. By default, these power-saving features are turned on and they can cause random spikes in DPC latency when the system starts trying to turn off processor cores and move threads around.
I actually think it was the INF drivers that was especially problematic according to LatencyMon.

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