For music production and video editing an ASIO driver can boost your system’s performance. ASIO is usually available for professional studio hardware only, but also for Realtek integrated sound devices aka. Realtek HD Audio.
Since I got my HP ProBook I was pretty happy except for one problem: Multimedia apps such as Premiere Pro, FL Studio, Cubase or Studio One always had serious performance problems (high latency, CPU spikes and dropouts). Whenever I used an USB audio interface with ASIO support, the performance was like 10x better. So it was pretty obvious: The problem was caused by my integrated Realtek HD audio device, which didn’t have a native ASIO driver.
Since it wasn’t really handy to always use an USB audio, I started to try a few things: At first I contacted Realtek and HP if they can provide an official ASIO driver but turned out that support staff did not even understand what an ASIO driver is. 🙂 Then of course I tried generic ASIO drivers such as ASIO4ALL and the FL Studio ASIO driver. None of them really improved the audio performance of my system.
Sidenote: ASIO is a professional audio standard (similar to Apple Core Audio) and enables media software to have direct access to the audio hardware.
After a lot more research I finally found a dedicated ASIO driver for Realtek in a driver pack for DELL laptops. Of course I had some doubts in the first place but turned out the ASIO driver also works like a charm on my HP and on other computers such as ASUS etc. The installed Realtek HD Audio driver is not replaced. The ASIO driver is more or less an “add-on”, which enables direct access for professional audio/video-software to the device.
How to download & install Realtek ASIO drivers:
Attention: Before installing I recommend to make a full backup of your computer system.
Installing 3rd party drivers is experimental and always at your own risk.
- Go to the DELL audio driver for Realtek download (The description should say ‘Added the support for Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) driver protocol’)
- Save the file (Audio_Driver_…exe) on your computer and double-click to run it
- In the first setup step select extract instead of install
- Next you will chose an empty folder to extract the driver
- After extraction in the folder you will find an folder called ASIO
- From this folder run the install.exe and restart your computer
Next time you start up your audio or video app you will find a new ASIO driver in the audio hardware settings.
In case the drivers extraction fails, you can use a tool such as 7-Zip instead to extract the files in the package. 7-Zip can open the file as if it was a ZIP-File and allows you to drag and drop the content to any folder on your computer.
The advantage of using the official Realtek ASIO driver
In my case the official Realtek ASIO driver from the DELL driver pack really boosted my audio performance. I have less latency and CPU load went down to normal. With a proper buffer setting I can now playback complex audio sessions in Cubase Pro and FL Studio with many synths and effect plugins. Before the ASIO drivers I could hardly play or record a few simple audio tracks. The reason is probably that those generic ASIO drivers do not really connect to the hardware, they just create even one more layer in order to simulate an ASIO device which is actually running with a normal windows audio driver.
The only issue I have experienced: When an app is using the ASIO hardware, I cannot plug/unplug headphones. If I plug headphones, the app will continue to use the laptop speaker. When I unplug headphones during ASIO playback, the audio app may even crash. Apart from that everything is working awesome. I can now create songs and beats on my laptop without an external USB audio interface.