Less CPU hungry VCV Rack alternatives?

Amen brother! My next system will probably be a desktop Linux system, although I will certainly miss the polish, stability and “just works” of MacOS. I have run Linux for many years before, so it’s not a frightening prospect, but still…


Just now dawned on me that Linux is just as supported by VCV Rack as Mac and Windows. That’s pretty amazing, it represents a significant advancement in terms of what you can do with audio on Linux.


I picked up an HP EliteBook that was one generation newer than my 2011 iMac about a year ago, feeling much the same way about Apple’s recent “design” decisions. I have been hopping Linux distros in search of a good AV fit. I’m using ArchLabs right now, and liking it a whole lot. I have an old MacBook Air as well, and between the two of them, the HP runs much, much cooler under the same conditions. Sure, it has a fan I can hear, but I’m ok with that!

I can also easily upgrade RAM and storage; I still remember the feeling of utter disbelief and dismay when I realized the 4GB RAM was soldered onto the logic board of my still-newish MacBook Air. I hadn’t even thought to check if it was upgradeable before purchasing it, because… who would even consider hardwiring the RAM in??

That was the beginning of the end for me. Done With Apple Now. I need a sticker to slap over the apple on the MBA lid…

One tip: switchng to a different desktop from that running Rack’s GUI reduces CPU usage on the HP by up to 50%. I’ve only built basic patches so far, but that GUI is hungry!


Love this patch. Running CPU @ ~47C and GPU @ 35C on a desktop config.

Single threaded is fine, running with ~ 400mS remaining.

Dexter: 70mS
Trummor: 20 & 17msS
Plateau: 28mS

CPU running at ~108% (out of 800% from 8 cores) (54% minimised)


So that’ll be a desktop whose designer (probably you!) has not chosen to cram its components into the smallest space possible :slight_smile:

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It’s a big ass desktop. Burgler proof too, unless they bring a forklift


Pictures? “Gamer” desktop?

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can see most of it here, nothing special from the outside, just a box.

(gave my nephew access to a labeller, hence the labels. Also have a vult sticker now)
(also, kids think all computers are laptops)


True. I’m glad I don’t set my 2015 iMac on my lap.

Thanks all for the discussion so far. I’d like to bring back to the topic at hand though. I’m not going to get a better desktop just for Rack, after all I never have problems with Ableton at all. My current desktop is only a middling i5 regardless but I’ll try and see how it does. However portability is king for me…

I do have a suspicion it’s a Mac thing, specifically that many macs have a Retina display and that the rendering of Racks graphics at such high res is taxing. I could be wrong though, but it definitely does far better minimised. I’d love to be able to lower the graphical quality…

Does anyone have any specific suggestions? Either for this patch (i.e. where to reduce load) or other software to try

Btw thanks for liking my patch!

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You can force Rack to run in low res with Command-I.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference on the i9 though :frowning:

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I don’t think is the CPU. It is most likely the GPU.

VCV uses OpenlGL and library called NanoVG for rendering. And, in theory, the GPU renders the user interface at 60fps.

The problems are:
Apple has not updated the OpenGL drivers for OSX in years. They don’t care.
NanoVG performance is known to be not so great.
You laptop has only a integrated GPU. It shares memory, and heat!, with your CPU, not good.

You can try to install Windows 10 on the MBP. The OpenGL drivers for Windows should be better. But with a integrated GPU I am not sure it will make a difference. At the end of the day I think you really need a low budget “gaming” GPU to run VCV. If the desktop has one, even a cheap model, you will see an improvement on performance.


I think you are right about the Apple / OpenGL part of it, but having a dedicated GPU doesn’t make a lot of difference.

On that patch with the i9 MBP the dedicated 4MB Vega 20 is running near maximum at 67 degrees.

On that patch with the 2015 iMac the dedicated 4MB 395X is running near maximum at 78 degrees.

Poor thermals certainly has something to do with it, but I think matters would be helped if the GPUs were not forced to run at maximum frame rates.

Maybe that is impossible with that library though ?

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I’m working on adding a button to my rack fork to control max fps. it makes a big difference. building a release for Mac is a pain so I might just drop a zip file.


After a quik test in Windows the patch uses about 35% GPU, 55 degrees, with a nvidia 750. And 50% CPU with a i5, I guess it maxes 1 core.

I think both the 395X and the Vega 20 are vastly superior to a 750. If the patch pushes those cards something is wrong. It would be nice to know how the performance is in Windows with the 395X machine.

In that github link people talk about cap the frame rate.

Anyway to the point. There is this plugin. Thread Booster by Squinky Labs. It made the patch much more estable. But I am not sure it works on OSX.

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That’s fantastic news Jim. I can build stuff so if I can help in any way let me know.

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if you can build me a Mac release of rack, that would be fantastic, I really struggle with that. I’ll let you know when it’s ready

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Yep, no problem !


Ok, release made: https://github.com/Rcomian/Rack/releases/tag/v0.6.2c-experiments2

Nik, a mac build would be a huge help :smiley:


Great! Home in an hour or so and I’ll get straight on it.

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