Monitoring Live’s CPU usage on your computer

Activity Monitor (macOS) or Task Manager (Windows) can be used to monitor CPU usage on your computer while using Ableton Live. The percentage of CPU distributed to each application is allocated by your operating system. 

Freeing up CPU
Live’s CPU Meter
Activity Monitor (macOS)
Live and CPU Usage on Apple Silicon
Task Manager (Windows)

Freeing up CPU

If you notice audio dropouts or CPU spikes in Live on macOS or Windows, you can use Activity Monitor (macOS) or Task Manager (Windows) to see which other programs are using a significant percentage of your CPU and quit those applications to free up processing power. 

Note: An elevated % CPU in Activity Monitor on maOS relative to previous versions of Live does not necessarily indicate a performance issue. To learn more about how your computer handles processing on multiple cores, which may affect this value, visit Reducing the CPU load on Mac and Multi-core CPU handling FAQ.

Live’s CPU Meter

The CPU Meter in Live tracks the audio processing load within Live. This value does not directly correspond to the percentage of your computer's CPU used by Live relative to other programs. Therefore, the reading on Live's CPU Meter is different from what’s shown in Activity Monitor (macOS) or Task Manager (Windows). To learn more, visit Live's CPU Meter.

Activity Monitor (macOS) 

Activity Monitor (Finder > Go > Utilities > Activity Monitor) displays resources currently in use on your computer, including processes, disk activity and memory usage. In the column % CPU, you can see how much of your computer’s available processing capacity is being used by each open application, including Ableton Live. This percentage is a different measurement than Live’s internal CPU Meter.

The number of cores on your Mac determines the total possible % CPU in Activity Monitor, with 100% indicating full usage on a single core. So, for example, a total of 200% CPU load on a quad-core machine means half of the computer's processing power is being used. To learn more about Activity Monitor in macOS, refer to the Apple Support article Activity Monitor User Guide.

Live and CPU Usage on Apple Silicon

If you compare the idle performance of Live 12.0 or 11.3.25 with earlier versions on an Apple Silicon computer, you might observe a higher overall CPU load. This is because while Silicon Macs offer both performance cores and efficiency cores, Live is optimized for consistent and predictable performance, and attempts to schedule all audio threads on performance cores. This may result in a higher percentage of the relevant cores being used, and thus a higher value listed in % CPU. For more about performance and efficiency cores, visit this external article: How does macOS manage virtual cores on Apple silicon?

Task Manager (Windows)

On Windows, percentage is calculated based on the total number of cores. For example, if one core out of four is fully utilized in Task Manager, it will display 25% usage. If two out of the four cores are fully utilized, Task Manager will show 50% usage. To learn more about Task Manager in Windows, visit Microsoft's guide to Task Manager.

Ableton offers these in-depth help and learning resources: