Best Computer for Music Production in 2020

When it comes to music production gear, your computer is the backbone of your setup.

It will influence your productivity, workflow, and most importantly, your mental health.

There’s nothing worse than trying to make music with a slow or noisy computer when you’re feeling inspired, so today, we’ll be ranking the very best computers for music production, looking at the 3 most important factors to consider:

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CPU Single Core Speed

Music production takes a huge toll on your computer’s CPU. This is because unlike video production or gaming, it cannot process in parallel with the aid of graphics cards.

Music is processed sequentially and therefore, the main metric you’ll want to look at is single-core speed, rather than the number of cores or total performance of the cores.

To measure this spec, we’ll be using geekbench’s single-core score.

RAM

Unlike the CPU, RAM does not vary that much. It usually comes in two flavors: 8GB or 16GB. We recommend going for 16GB.

RAM is the memory capacity for temporary data, which is highly important in music production as you’ll have need loads of temporary space for your samples, snippets, VST plugins, settings, etc.

Hard Drive Space

With the advent of cheap cloud storage, this spec has lost some of its importance. It’s still good to have a large hard drive as music files can take up a lot of space, but it’s not a deal-breaker. In fact, we recommend going for some extra cloud storage space regardless.

We’ll also consider other factors such as price, durability, battery life, design, ports available, and our own experience as users.

Finally, we have one little tip for your computer purchase decision, which we’ll share at the end of the article.

In a hurry? This is our winner!

Our rating:
New Apple iMac (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 1TB Storage)
  • 27-Inch (diagonal) 5120-by-2880 Retina 5K display
  • Stunning 5-mm-thin design
  • 6-Core 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 Processor
  • Radeon Pro 570x, 575x, or 580x Graphics processor
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

Best Computer for Music Production – Comparison Table

Best Computer for Music Production – Reviews

Our Pick
New Apple iMac (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 1TB Storage)
Our rating:

Best Desktop Computer for Music Production

Opting for a desktop computer for music production is the way to go for fixed location studios.

It will give you the best bang for the buck in terms of performance, won’t heat up as much and will allow you to have bigger screens and more ports.

The only disadvantage is that it will take up some space and won’t be portable.

Apple iMac 27’ inch 5K (2020)

best computer for music production 3

Specs:

RAM: 8GB default, can be upgraded up to 128GB

CPU: Intel i9-9900K

Single-Core Speed Score: 1 138

Full specs available here.

Pros
  • One of the main advantages of the iMac is that it has 4 slots for RAM, which means that it can be upgraded to a maximum of 128GB of RAM, more than any computer in this list.
  • Additionally, one of the other standout features of the iMac is undoubtedly its 5K retina screen, which makes it particularly appropriate for movie soundtrack producers and audio-visual projects.
  • In terms of CPU, the iMac is an industry leader. It features the i9-9900K processor, which ranks fifth in Geekbench’s single processor ranking.
  • It also features 4 USB ports, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, headphone port, and 1 SD card slot, making it the computer with most ports available- a huge plus.
Cons
  • We’re not sure of any cons for this iMac!

Overall, this is the best desktop computer for music production.

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Computer, AMD Ryzen 3 2200G, AMD Radeon RX 550, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive, Windows 10 (690-0010, Black)
Our rating:

HP Pavillion Gaming Desktop

Specs:

RAM: 8GB default, can be upgraded to 32GB

CPU: Intel Core i7-9700F

Single-Core Speed Score: 1 163

Full specs available here.

Pros
  • If you’re looking for a budget option, the HP Pavilion gaming desktop is the way to go.
  • With the most basic version retailing at just over $500, this computer represents great value for money.
  • Like other a couple of other computers in the list, this model was made for gaming. This is usually a sign that the makers included really fast CPU and GPU.
  • That certainly is the case for the pavilion, which contains the i7-9700F processor, which is ranked at a respectable 21st place in Geekbench’s single processor ranking.
  • It comes with 2 USB ports, 1 Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 headphone jack, and an SD card slot.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Laptop: Intel Core i7-8565U 4-Core, NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 13.3' FHD 1080p, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3, Black
Our rating:

Best Laptop for Music Production

Going for a laptop rather than a desktop is a wise choice for the travelling musician.

Being on tour no longer means that you cannot produce music, and Skrillex is the perfect example of this – he famously uses only his laptop to produce most of his songs. If you want a mic to record rap vocals, this applies also.

With that in mind, these are the very best laptops for music production:

Razer Blade

best computer for music production 1

Specs:

RAM: 16GB

CPU: Intel i7-8550H

Single-Core Speed Score: 991

Full specs available here.

Pros
  • Despite being marketed as a gaming laptop, the razer blade is also a great laptop for music production. And as far as online gaming goes, we’ve reviewed the best gaming mics too.
  • This is one of the coolest looking laptops in our list and it would blend in nicely to most home studios.
Cons
  • On the downside, its single-core speed performance is one of the lowest in our list. It should still be more than enough for most music production projects, but for heavier projects, you might want to consider a faster computer.
  • The battery life also isn’t great, lasting about 5 to 6 hours per charge.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd Gen 15.6' FHD (1920x1080) HDR 400 Display - Intel Core i5-9300H Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe-NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Our rating:

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme

Specs:

RAM: 16GB

CPU: Intel Core i7-8850H

Single-Core Speed Score: 4769

Full specs available here.

Pros
  • Starting at around 1500$, The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is one of the priciest computers on the list. However, when compared to the MacBook Pro, which retails at a similar price, it represents good value for money.
  • Weighing in at about 4 pounds, it is as light as the MacBook pro. It greatly outperforms the mac in terms of single-core speed and comes with an impressive 4K UHD touch screen, whilst the MacBook pro comes has only a touch bar.
  • With a battery life of around 6 hours, it is on the lower end of our list, but this is understandable, given its power-intensive 4K UHD touch screen.
Cons
  • The only major downside we can think of is its overall user experience. The keyboard, in particular, has been the subject of criticism for being too heavy.

HP Spectre x360 15T 9th Gen Gemcut Series Laptop (1TB SSD)
Our rating:

HP Spectre x360

best computer for music production

Specs:

RAM: 16GB

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7

Single-Core Speed Score: 1109

Full performance scores available here.

Pros
  • If you’re looking for a computer in the under 1000$ budget range, the HP Spectre x360 is the laptop for you.
  • It performs well, looks good, and has one of the longest battery lives of all laptops in this list- what more can you ask for?
  • Like most laptops in this list, the Spectre looks pretty slick and light. It also folds down to a tablet, which can be useful if you’re not using the keyboard much in your production.
  • In terms of the ports available, it comes with only 1 USB port, 2 Thunderbolt ports, and a headphone jack.
  • Its standout feature is the battery life, which according to laptop mag, lasts up to 12 hours and 7 minutes running at a medium brightness (150 nits). This is a seriously impressive number.
Cons
  • We would prefer at least one extra USB port, but we do understand that this makes the laptop lighter and that you can always add USB hubs.

New Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage) - Space Gray
Our rating:

Apple MacBook Pro Retina with Touch Bar (15-inch 2020)- Best Overall choice

best computer for music production 4

Specs:

RAM: 16GB

CPU: Intel i9-9980HK

Single-Core Speed Score: 1 139

Why re-invent the wheel?

There’s a reason why the MacBook Pro is ubiquitous amongst top producers and sound engineers.

Pros
  • It’s fast, intuitive to use, has a silky-smooth keyboard, and just looks really sexy.
  • On top of all that, it is compatible with pretty much all DAWS, including Logic Pro X, one of the most popular music production software ever made.
  • For these reasons, this is, in our opinion, the best music production laptop.

Best Computer / Laptop for Music Production – Final Thoughts

We hope that our list has helped you press the trigger on a new music production laptop.

As promised, here is one final tip to help you choose a music production computer:

One of the biggest pitfalls of music production computers is the noise produced by the fan. Unfortunately, with great processing power comes great fan noise and some of the computers in this list might become noisy with time.

There are two ways to solve this issue: Buy a passive cooling computer such as the MacBook Pro or make your pc quieter by removing fans, changing the settings, and checking mountings and attachments.

Regardless of your decision, remember that action is always better than inaction, so don’t overthink it and focus on creating music!

Click here to learn more about the best USB mics to attach to your new music production computer!