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:
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.
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.
Top Computers for Music Production
Computers for Music Production – Reviews
Apple iMac (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 1TB Storage) Previous Model
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
RAM: 8GB default, can be upgraded up to 128GB
CPU: Intel i9-9900K
Single-Core Speed Score: 1 138
Full specs available here.
- 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.
- We’re not sure of any cons for this iMac!
- 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 $500, this computer represents great value for money.
- Like other a couple of other computers in the list, this model was made for gaming. This is usually a sign that the makers included really fast CPU and GPU.
- That certainly is the case for the pavilion, which contains the i7-9700F processor, which is ranked at a respectable 21st place in Geekbench’s single processor ranking.
- It comes with 2 USB ports, 1 Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 headphone jack, and an SD card slot.
- We’re not sure of any cons for this Product!
Best Music Production Laptops (and Recording Music)
Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Laptop
Best Laptop for Music Production
Going for a laptop rather than a desktop is a wise choice for the travelling musician.
Being on tour no longer means that you cannot produce music, and Skrillex is the perfect example of this – he famously uses only his laptop to produce most of his songs. If you want a mic to record rap vocals, this applies also.
With that in mind, here are the very best laptops for music production:
Razer Blade Best computer for music production
CPU: Intel i7-8550H
Single-Core Speed Score: 991
Full specs available here.
- Despite being marketed as a gaming laptop, the razer blade is also a great laptop for music production. And as far as online gaming goes, we’ve reviewed the best gaming mics too.
- This is one of the coolest looking laptops in our list and it would blend in nicely to most home studios.
- On the downside, its single-core speed performance is one of the lowest in our list. It should still be more than enough for most music production projects, but for heavier projects, you might want to consider a faster computer.
- The battery life also isn’t great, lasting about 5 to 6 hours per charge
- Starting at around 1500$, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Best Laptop for Music Production: Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro Retina with Touch Bar (15-inch 2020)- Best Overall choice
best computer for music production
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.
- 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.
- We’re not sure of any cons for this Product!
Frequently Asked Questions
What computer do I need for music production?
For music production, a computer must have some minimum required specifications. You can’t work with a budget or mid-range computer if you are looking to produce professional music. The 27″ Apple iMac can do it all.
A processor affects the whole performance and speed, and you can’t afford to cut corners with this one. A computer for music production needs at least a quad-core processor, i5 or i7, and a speed of 2.4Ghz.
The RAM is the memory the computer uses to store information about real-time processes. You also have the option to increase the RAM. So even if you start with 8 GB RAM, you can upgrade to 16 or 32 GB whenever you want.
Music production needs sample libraries and several virtual instruments, and that takes a lot of space. Having at least 500 GB of HDD or SSD is required.
You can work with a 13″ screen for basic music production, but it is preferable to opt for a 15″ screen for viewing DAWs and VSTs all at once.
Are MACs better than PCs for music production?
Choosing between a MAC or a PC depends on factors like the digital audio workstation (DAW) you are using, your budget, and your personal choice.
There was a time when MACs were considered better for music production with a better interface and faster computing. But now, PCs have caught up with the new Windows 10 update, which is stable and secure than its previous versions.
Several audio interfaces and music-making software are dedicated to a Mac, making it an obvious choice. However, there are a lot less free music software and VSTs for Macs as compared to PCs. With PCs, you can set up a music production system with a low budget.
Is RAM or CPU more important for music production?
While both RAM and CPU are essential components for music production, CPUs are more important for music production than RAM because you can upgrade the RAM in the future.
With budget constraints, you can go for better processing power and compromise on the RAM. You can not upgrade the CPU without replacing it completely, and that will cost you more while upgrading RAM doesn’t cost that much.
Is i7 better than i5 for music production?
More than the i5 or i7, the number of cores of a processor is more important for music production. A processor can be dual-core or quad-core. Choosing a quad-core processor offers more processing power. Since i7 is the new generation of processors, it is much better than i5. But you can also work with an i5 if you have a quad-core processor.
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!
Best Studio Mics was started by a husband and wife team who love the sound and the technicals behind recording it. Both are professional theatre artists, one with a stage management background and one more on stage. One also has experience in film and television work and the different audio requirements of that arena.