Best computer for recording music
Looking to buy the best computer for music production? Here comes a detailed guide on what specs you should be looking for and what components you can ignore!
Best laptop for music production (Mac)
Apple MacBook Pro is a great choice if you are starting with music production. It’s a true workhorse in the home studio and all your producer-specific-tasks will go smoothly. If you want some extra CPU you should go for the 2.0 GHZ Intel Core i5 but you will be just fine with the 1.4 GHZ.
Best PC-laptops for music production
If you are looking for a PC-laptop for music production the ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 17.3” should be a strong candidate. This laptop comes with a 4.0 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and performs exceptionally well in use when performing demanding tasks. It also remains quiet which is ideal if you are recording with microphones.
Best iMac for music production
The 27-inch 5K iMac is a perfect choice for your home studio. The built-in 3.1GHz 6 core Intel Core i5 processor lets you use all the features of pro audio editing. Although the Retina display is not a requirement for music production it’s truly a benefit with sharp visuals.
Best PC desktop for music production
The Dell XPS 8930 is not as flashy as iMacs or Macbooks but don’t let the flat design fool you. This desktop is extremely capable with some heavy specs. The Intel i7 processor can handle every piece of VST you throw at it with ease. This is perhaps the most priceworthy alternative if you are looking for a PC desktop for music production.
I think we can all agree that lag and latency drops can be a true creativity killer. That’s why you want to make sure you have the best computer for music production. The computer is the heart of your home studio and where you keep all your music programs and plugins. Everything should run smoothly on the screen when you edit audio, slice samples, load plugins or virtual instruments.
If you experience any of the disturbing problems above it might be that you run everything from a to slow computer. These producer-specific-tasks require some power so you’ll need to make sure you have some under the hood. Even if your computer for music production is built with some quality-components you’ll have to make sure they ensure maximum compatibility with your audio interface, DAW and other music softwares.
In this post I’m going to give you the ultimate guide on the best computer for music production and what specs you should go for.
Recommended computer specs for music production in 2020
If you are thinking about upgrading your computer you need to make sure that the desktop/laptop at least meet these requirements:
- CPU: i5 or i7 2.4GHz quad-core processor
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Storage: 500GB of internal storage, preferably SSD
- OS: 64-bit operating system
- Screen: 13-inch
Other useful accessories:
These are nice to have but they are not crucial:
- Mouse with side scroll feature
- Dual screens
You probably could produce music even if you don’t meet the preferred requirements above but it would probably be frustrating. If you’re looking for the best computer for music production you’ll need to invest in some more expensive specs.
Desktop or laptop for music production?
This has always been a hot topic in producer-forums and it’s hard to say which computer is best for music production. Both formats have their own advantages and disadvantages and it depends on your current studio equipment and needs. With laptops you’ll get portability which could be ideal if you are using your computer in live-performances. Laptops are also a great choice if you don’t have a dedicated home studio and want to work with your tracks on the go. If you just work from your home studio and don’t need the portability you should go for a desktop.
Desktops are usually faster and you tend to get more power for the same buck. CPU, Memory and other parts are usually first developed on desktops which means that laptops are a little behind in development. It’s also a challenge for laptop developers to fit all the components in a fairly small space which means they have to sacrifice something in terms of performance.
“If you are working with a laptop running on battery it won’t get you optimal performance to save the battery. There is usually a setting on your laptop that allows the laptop to run at full speed even without a charger. Use it for maximum performance!”
Mac vs PC
Which is best for music production?
I get many questions from music producers on whether to choose an Apple Mac or a Windows PC. It’s hard to pick the winner and you could go for either one. You should always buy a good system and there are many great alternatives on both sides. Mac used to run the game back in the 90s but things have changed. More and more producers choose computers running on Windows because it’s the cheaper alternative and you’ll get more value for the money. It’s also easier to upgrade a PC and change different components.
If you are comfortable working in a specific DAW you need to make sure it runs on the platform of your choosing. These DAWs are compatible with PC and MAC:
- Sound Forge
- FL Studio
- Adobe Audition
- Soundtrack Pro
These DAWs can be used on both PC and MAC systems:
- Pro Tools
- Bitwig Studio
- Digital Performer
Luckily most famous DAWs work on both platforms (except Logic). It goes without saying but If you are most comfortable working in Logic you should go for an Apple Mac.
How about virtual instruments, plugins and samplers?
Most softwares works on both systems but to be on the safe side you should always check the compatibility on each company’s website.
You should also check the system requirements for your favorite DAW. You can find the technical specifications on major Digital Audio Workstations here:
Why PC is best for music production
The main advantages of choosing a PC for music production is its flexibility. You can build your own PC by ordering different components from different manufacturers. If you for example need to upgrade your RAM you can buy a better Memory and replace the old one in your PC. When you work on a Mac it’s rarely worth the cost of changing components and you’ll probably be better off buying a new computer instead.
Having a lot of extra space is a great idea and with a PC you can simply add a new harddrive when you need more gigabytes. If you start using large sample libraries such as Symphony Series by Native Instruments or CINEMORPHX by Sample Logic you probably need to upgrade (Symphony Series requires 44 GB of free space).
If you are on a tight budget you should definitely go for a PC. It’s fair to say that you will get more bang for the buck. A powerful PC desktop can become the center of your home studio!
Why Mac is best for music production
Apple has always been a leader in creative industries and many believe that Apple develops the best computers for music production. Their models are well known for their stability, performance and ease of use. For home studio setups I recommend buying an iMac or a Macbook Pro. If you are working in a more professional studio you should go for the Mac Pro for maximum performance! There are also a wide range of dedicated Apple audio interfaces that integrate very well with their computers. Logic Pro X is also one of the best DAWs around which also supports the idea of Mac-models being the best computer for music production.
In the field of music production, Apple has a couple of major drawbacks.
You’ll find far fewer free plugins and softwares for Mac than for PCs. Apple is more expensive than PC and doesn’t offer any low-end products. Their computers however, are built on exclusive components that offer premium performance!
Processors in music production
The processor is one of the most important parts in a computer used for music production. Synthesizers and plugins require a lot of CPU power so it’s crucial to have a powerful processor if you want to avoid disturbing error messages or dropouts. In other words, you don’t want to “cheap put” on processors. You can increase the processing power by adding more cores. More cores means more speed and better performance. Intel and AMD are the two big manufacturers of processors and I would recommend choosing Intel. AMD-processors have had some compatibility issues with some of the best MIDI keyboards!
Storage is also a crucial part in your music production computer, especially if you use large sample libraries. I recommend at least 1TB of storage (500GB internal storage and 500GB external harddrive). You should store your sample libraries, synthesizers and plugins on your external harddrive to ensure that you have space for the operating system, DAW, samples and projects.
There are two main types of storage: HDD and SSD. I recommend you choose SSD (Solid State Drivers). HDDs are usually the cheaper alternative but SSD is way quicker on accessing data and are more durable!
RAM (Random-access memory) is where the computer holds relevant data. To be honest, it’s not that big of a deal for a music production computer. When you are building the best computer for music production you will get better results investing in a top-notch CPU. In terms of RAM, you will do just fine with 16 gigabytes.
Components you don’t have to care about
What kind of graphic card you have is not a big deal but you will obviously need one in order to get a picture on your screen. Standard graphic cards will do just fine and if you are building your own computer for music production you can go with one of the budget models from any of the known manufacturers.
You are going to work with an external soundcard so the built-in won’t matter when you are recording or producing music. Therefore you don’t need to be concerned about the specs on the computer’s internal soundcard.
Now you should have a basic understanding on what computer-specs you will need for music production and music-recording. Choosing between PC or Mac isn’t as black-and-white as it used to be.