A tip for Surface Pro 3/4/2017/6 users

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antic604
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Location: Warsaw, Poland

Post 21 Dec 2018

So the problem with running Reason on Surface Pros is high-res screen with a low footprint, which either means that things can get sharp but big (at 200% Windows scaling), or smaller but blurry (anything less than 200%).

It turns out, that changing the display's resolution yields much better results than changing the scaling factor - probably, because the former is done by the hardware (embedded GPU), while the latter is a software solution. Another benefit is that with smaller resolution Reason consumes less CPU, because there's no GPU accelerated GUI rendering (yet), so Reason has less things to "draw". The only problem was that the resolutions offered by Windows settings are not 3:2 aspect ratio, so you either end up with big black margins on the sides or top & bottom, which is wasteful and annoying.

Fortunately, there's a very simple app called CRU (Custom Resolution Utility) that lets you add & edit custom resolutions to Windows' list:
https://www.monitortests.com/forum/Thre ... tility-CRU

Just run it, click "Add", set it up - just the width & height, the rest is done automatically - reset the Surface and choose your new resolution from the settings!

From my experience - on a Surface Pro 4 - those work great:
- 1368 x 912 - which is exactly a half (or quarter, more precisely) of SP4's native resolution
- 1440 x 960 - gives a bit more screen real-estate and is probably optimal for *me*
- 1620 x 1080 - even more spacious and somehow very sharp, but things get pretty small
- 1920 x 1280 - a "classic" 1080p expanded for the 3/2 aspect ratio, but you need to have a good eyesight :)

The downside is that everything - desktop, browsers, other programs - will now be displayed at lower resolution, but 1) you can quickly accommodate to it because it's still sharp, 2) if you're using many DAWs it's actually a benefit, because currently there's huge mess with how VSTs and DAWs support high-DPI screens, so for example certain plugins wouldn't work in certain DAWs (like NI, Arturia, Soundtoys in Studio One 4) or required changing the settings when switching between DAWs.
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - "Psytrance in Bitwig Studio" tutorial

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fotizimo
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Post 21 Dec 2018

Dude, this is awesome! It didn't even occur to me to think of the screen resolution would have a significant factor in performance on the SP4 platform. If even anecdotally, would you have a guess on how much performance you can squeeze out of the computer by changing to the various resolutions you show? I am at work at present, but will be trying these out tonight.
Fotizimo @ Instagram
:reason: on Surface Pro 4
Nektar Impact 25
Novation Launchkey Mini
Arturia SparkLE Spark Codec for Reason

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antic604
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Location: Warsaw, Poland

Post 21 Dec 2018

fotizimo wrote:
21 Dec 2018
Dude, this is awesome! It didn't even occur to me to think of the screen resolution would have a significant factor in performance on the SP4 platform. If even anecdotally, would you have a guess on how much performance you can squeeze out of the computer by changing to the various resolutions you show? I am at work at present, but will be trying these out tonight.
I don't think it's a lot, but often I was noticing the DSP meter jumping 1 bar when scrolling the rack or mixer and now it does this a bit less. So even if it's just few percent, it might be enough to let you work comfortably and finish a busy project :)
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - "Psytrance in Bitwig Studio" tutorial

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fotizimo
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Location: Canada

Post 21 Dec 2018

antic604 wrote:
21 Dec 2018
fotizimo wrote:
21 Dec 2018
Dude, this is awesome! It didn't even occur to me to think of the screen resolution would have a significant factor in performance on the SP4 platform. If even anecdotally, would you have a guess on how much performance you can squeeze out of the computer by changing to the various resolutions you show? I am at work at present, but will be trying these out tonight.
I don't think it's a lot, but often I was noticing the DSP meter jumping 1 bar when scrolling the rack or mixer and now it does this a bit less. So even if it's just few percent, it might be enough to let you work comfortably and finish a busy project :)
Well that is exactly the point, as I can honestly say I have seen my SP4 cause audio jitter when using iTunes or MusicBee and scrolling through Firefox. I kept asking myself how the scrolling in my web browser could possibly affect my audio app, but maybe it is because of this same issue. Even at low CPU requirements, and with nothing other than MusicBee and firefox running, I have seen this behaviour, and it has driven me crazy. Now I am starting to wonder if it isn't something along the lines of the CPU and the GPU momentarily having issues playing audio while re-drawing the browser movements.

There are so many great things about the SP4, but the OS is one of the worst elements. I wish I could run OSX on it but don't feel like getting caught up in the Hackintosh stuff that I did for years.
Fotizimo @ Instagram
:reason: on Surface Pro 4
Nektar Impact 25
Novation Launchkey Mini
Arturia SparkLE Spark Codec for Reason

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antic604
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Post 21 Dec 2018

fotizimo wrote:
21 Dec 2018
Well that is exactly the point, as I can honestly say I have seen my SP4 cause audio jitter when using iTunes or MusicBee and scrolling through Firefox. I kept asking myself how the scrolling in my web browser could possibly affect my audio app, but maybe it is because of this same issue. Even at low CPU requirements, and with nothing other than MusicBee and firefox running, I have seen this behaviour, and it has driven me crazy. Now I am starting to wonder if it isn't something along the lines of the CPU and the GPU momentarily having issues playing audio while re-drawing the browser movements.

There are so many great things about the SP4, but the OS is one of the worst elements. I wish I could run OSX on it but don't feel like getting caught up in the Hackintosh stuff that I did for years.
Well it's simple - Reason doesn't render the GUI with GPU, so every app that's running on you computer competes with audio engine for the same CPU resources. So lower res should help with that, but won't get rid of the problem until Props port over the rendering to the GPU, which I hope happens at the same time as high-res GUI, because without it that would be a disaster.

On the other hand, you're asking yourself for problems running Firefox & other stuff along with a DAW (any DAW, really). I turn everything off, including WiFi, to reduce the possible number of CPU interruptions to minimum :)
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - "Psytrance in Bitwig Studio" tutorial

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EnochLight
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Post 21 Dec 2018

antic604 wrote:
21 Dec 2018
So lower res should help with that, but won't get rid of the problem until Props port over the rendering to the GPU, which I hope happens at the same time as high-res GUI, because without it that would be a disaster.
I've seen you discuss this a few times before. And while you know I'm on your side with high-res/dpi support in Reason, I don't know if rendering to the GPU is the solution. Would this mean that computers with integrated graphics or graphics provided by the CPU would lose even more of their CPU's power having to render said hypothetical high res display? That might kinda' suck.

Anyway, cool approach for the Surface Pro - thanks for sharing!
Windows 10 64-bit | Reason 10 |  Studio One 4 | Asus Sabertooth Z77 | Intel i7 3770k Quad-Core @ 4.5 Ghz | 16 GB RAM | Mushkin Reactor 1TB SSD | RME babyface Pro| Nektar Panorama P-4 | M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro

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antic604
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Location: Warsaw, Poland

Post 23 Dec 2018

EnochLight wrote:
21 Dec 2018
antic604 wrote:
21 Dec 2018
So lower res should help with that, but won't get rid of the problem until Props port over the rendering to the GPU, which I hope happens at the same time as high-res GUI, because without it that would be a disaster.
I've seen you discuss this a few times before. And while you know I'm on your side with high-res/dpi support in Reason, I don't know if rendering to the GPU is the solution. Would this mean that computers with integrated graphics or graphics provided by the CPU would lose even more of their CPU's power having to render said hypothetical high res display? That might kinda' suck.

Anyway, cool approach for the Surface Pro - thanks for sharing!
GPU rendering is definitely a solution, because ...that's what they were designed for. Currently the CPU has to calculate positions & state of all the graphics elements AND then draw them to a bitmap buffer - literally calculate color, opacity, shading, etc. of every pixel - that's then sent to the screen. With GPU rendering only the 1st part would still be with the CPU (and possibly in reduced capacity too), so it would have much more time left for audio processing. Even if people would start using higher resolutions (which is unlikely on small screens), then the CPU freed from drawing would be more than enough to cover that.

Also, to give you a perspective: the CPU in my i7 SP4 has around 0.035 TFlops of processing power, while the embedded GPU is 0.23TFlops (and that's at a base clock), so roughly 7-8x more. In my experience scrolling the rack or mixer typically increases the DSP meter by 1 bar, so - being conservative - let's say the rendering is 0.5 of a bar, which would be around 10-15% of the CPU power. So especially on underpowered systems it's crucial to offload it, even if that would be 1/5 or 2/3 of the load, I could still gain maybe 10% more CPU, which meanst few more tracks and/or VSTs.
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - "Psytrance in Bitwig Studio" tutorial

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antic604
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Joined: 23 Oct 2017
Location: Warsaw, Poland

Post 23 Dec 2018

BTW, I found that 1500x1000 is THE ideal res for me - a perfect compromise between size of elements on the screen (Reason and otherwise) and sharpness.

I'm so happy with this little discovery :D
Bitwig 2 // Reason 10 // Cubase Pro 10 @ Surface Pro 4
my music - https://soundcloud.com/antic604
other stuff - "Psytrance in Bitwig Studio" tutorial

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