DAW Software, IF-FW/DM & Secondary Video Cards


Staff member
Oct 2, 2012
Queens, New York
Gear owned
2 x DM3200, DA-3000
The following is a new scenario I experienced that I thought I would share. Maybe other's would benefit or maybe could offer suggestions. It all started about 5 months ago when I added a Nvidia GeForce 8400 PCIe video card to accommodate a 4 monitor setup. Around the same time frame I also upgraded Cubase from 7.0 to 7.5 and started to notice that my Mix Console screen would freeze on its own dedicated monitor. The meters would stop and all functionality would cease but it didn't lock Cubase and I didn't have to shut down Cubase or reboot. I would simply just have to minimize/maximize the Cubase project screen to get the Mix Console working again....Yeah I know...weird....but weird seems to follow me often! I opened tickets with Steinberg that lingered for months until yesterday when the technician asked to see my IRQ mappings. It turned out the secondary card (Nvidia) was sharing the same IRQ as the IF-FW/DM card and Steinberg believed this was the problem. After much testing, here was my last message to Steinberg. Thoughts?

"Hello Jeff. I was able to decouple the Nvidia card's IRQ from my firewire's IRQ by putting it in a different PCI slot. After doing that, the firewire card got forced to share the IRQ of one my UAD-2 cards. I tested for a few hours with a bunch of UAD plugins and had no issues with Cubase. However, I did notice using DPC Checker that the Nvidia card/drives are almost doubling the latency response. I can disable and enable the video card from the Windows Device Manager and actually see it increase/decrease. I then went online and read that secondary video cards can cause latency issues with DAW environments and that Nvidia drivers in particular are notorious for that. I then checked to see what other Nvidia drivers were installed and noticed several 3D drivers and an HDMI audio driver. I uninstalled everything except the primary Nvidia video driver and DPC Checker showed that performance was better but frequent spikes in the 550-700us range were still occurring when I was enjoying a steady 150-200us prior to installing the card. When I added this card I never thought to check to see if it was going to have an adverse affect to my system. So after much thought, I decided to sacrifice my 4 monitor setup in favor of stability. I still want to use Cubase for a few 8 hour sessions before saying that the Mix console freeze issue has been resolved. Any parting thoughts that could allow me having 4 monitors without additional latency? I know this is outside the scope of Cubase support but maybe you could suggest a secondary video card, brand, model that is Cubase/DAW friendly?"

Incidentally when I was testing drivers, including all of the beta IF-FW/DM drivers, I AGAIN came to the conclusion that for my setup the 156663 F1 drivers still performs the best out of all of them. You may want to test yourself as this version gave me the lowest numbers with DPC checker with zero dropouts. RedBus, why does the early BETA give me better results?

One of many links to Nvidia drivers being the source of DPC latency:

Just for kicks I am going to try a low end fanless ATI card as suggested in the link above and let you know the results.
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