I have been fighting with my VST-devoted PC lately. It is not a monster PC, but it is powerful enough to deal with VSTs and Cubase easily… Except for a thing which has had me scratching my head for some weeks, When you load a big sample-based VST, the internal SATA 6G SSDs, from time to time, begin reading extremely slow (from 30-150MB/s to barely 500kB/s, for example), while they show 100% disk use. I have tried tons of things (and my system was already tweaked before regarding no energy-saving, disabling Sysmain, disabling search, removing virus checking on those folders and such), but nothing completely prevents that.
So I thought of a silly thing: what would happen if I use a SSD, and not a last generation one, but a 128GB Kingston, connected by USB, as a sample holder?. In theory, it should be slower and generate still more cracks and sound interruptions… So I copied the files for the VSL Bösendorfer Upright on it (as they were the only ones which fitted in just 128GB), changed the path on the VSL player, and tried with just one mic. Perfect!. I was monitoring with the Task Manager Performance monitors and the SSD was well within limits for operation and NEVER got into the dreaded 100% use, as internal drives did. So I upped it to 2, 3, 4, 5 mics. And, with a reasonable playing (i.e. what I am able to do), and even playing up and down the keybed with sustain applied, there were not cracks at all until it was a massive sound mess. So, for real use it was perfectly fine!. I checked for hours on two sepparate days playing sessions. Perfect!
Then I went further: what about using a USB memory?. I have several SanDisk Ultra Flair model, from 64GB to 256GB. I took the 256GB one and placed there the VSL Bösendorfer Imperial files (I have just the Standard version). To my surprise, it was playable with 2-3 mics. And even more if the playing was not too fast and/or sustained.
So… There is something in the SATA interface on my mainboard, an ASUS B85G-M (I also tried SATA 3G ports with same result AND even a PCI-Express card of SATA 6G ports) which makes them unsuitable for that use, BUT the USB 3.0 ports are able to deal with it perfectly.
I was close to trashing my PC and buying a newer one, but was reluctant because CPU was not even close to 100% (it uses to be at 30% maximum with stand alone VSTs), the 16GB RAM seemed enough and, overall, the experience with it was mostly satisfactory.
Now I have bought a 2TB Samsung T7 Portable SSD and plan to install on it all VSL libraries I own (not so many so they will fit) and perhaps other large ones. I have exhausted all the tricks to make the internal SSDs perform better. In fact, CrystalDisk show them as fast enough units. And the internal VSL player test also shows good readings. There should be something in the way the VSTs deal with the SATA interface which is not well supported. I read about buffers problems, being SATA initially thought for slower HDDs. Maybe there is some truth on it.
Well, I hope these ramblings help other people struggling with VSTs on apparently good enough PCs!
Please, share with us your experiences. I doubt I am the only one with such kind of problems.