WGL: that machine is fine. Save your money. I use what I call “service boxes” which are my worker drones to my big machines as well as my beta machines. Most of them are old Dell Inspiron’s with i3 processors and 4 gig of ram. I can record in sonar using 64 buffers in real time on those boxes, and a few of them have quite a few running processes. I’ll get to that later…
3 things come to mind for me about your issues.
First, M Audio and Sonar sometimes do not play well together. I’ve worked on the Sonar beta crew for years. You and I can private message if you want and I can share some settings that may help. But if we fail, I’d suggest a different interface. Maybe a Presonus or something that still has good options and good converters.
Second, the running processes can be an issue but it depends upon 2 things. One, the processes they actually are. If they are resource hogs, we may be able to handle them and all your issues go away. Two, it depends on how many there are.
I’ve found that most windows machines start to struggle a bit with DAW software when you get into the 70’s with running processes. It depends on what they are though as well as how strong your CPU is…which it appears to be strong enough to handle things. My rule of thumb for any windows recording box is to never hit 50. My service boxes are at 58 and work flawlessly and are less powerful than yours. My real recording boxes have 40 or less running processes and are impeccable.
What makes me think your interface? I have several sound interfaces that I use for different reasons, both pro, middle of the road and garbage. The middle of the road to garbage sometimes struggle at lower latency buffers. Better interfaces handle things better. Example, I have an old Layla 24/96 from 1997 that never has an issue with 64 buffers. On that same machine, I have a client who came over and insisted we use this Behringer mixer interface because he started his project using it and wanted to use all stuff he was familiar with. It made no sense, but hey, whatever worked for him. What we found out immediately was, that interface via USB struggled at 64 buffers and was barely useable at 128 for synths played in real time. My recording boxes are 6 and 8 core monsters that idle at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. So they can handle anything. We tried a few different interfaces via USB that I have and didn’t have the same problem.
So, here’s my advice to you. Find out what’s running on your machine, see if you can kill them and get things as close to 40 running processes as possible. I never allow anything that isn’t an important windows or driver file to auto load. Any programs that auto load that aren’t needed for your system to run, kill them.
Next, we can try a few sonar tweaks but as long as you are using any soft synth as an instrument track where it’s built into the track, you should be able to press the FX button on the control bar in sonar and it will free up everything but the synth and give you more CPU power. After your done tracking, press the FX button to turn things back on. It’s a big button that will change colors when you press it.
If that fails, we can try a dummy test with your onboard sound card (usually a Realtek which may be disabled in bios) using asio4all drivers. I can use them without fault on my Dell machines I told you about. I don’t have good interfaces in them because I don’t use them for recording. But I can and they will not fail me. My last beta test for the new sonar by band lab ran 57 tracks with soft synths etc using one of those crap machines. So let’s look a little deeper into things before you spring for a machine. If we can make your stock interface work with no issues, we know you need to unload the m-audio. I had problems.with one of those and sonar years ago.
Sonar is my DAW of choice and has been since it came out on floppy disks. That said, on certain systems using certain soundcards/interfaces, it may take a little setting up. Try some of the above as well as what some of the others have told you and let me know how you make out. If I have to help you troubleshoot, we can do that too, OK?