Since DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) were first created in the early 1980s, countless musicians have begun to understand their power and switched over to using them.
With the growth of genres that rely on electronic software such as Hip-Hop and EDM, electronic music production has become a dominating force in the music industry.
As laptops and desktops get more powerful and more affordable, it’s become common for a regular person to be able to make high-quality music from their home.
So you’re a producer, or maybe you’re looking to get into music production for the first time. Just as a guitarist or pianist needs the right instrument, so does a music producer – it’s just that your instrument is going to be a computer.
This is where the problem begins – there are so many computers on the market!
What is better for music production? Apple or Microsoft Windows? A Laptop or a Desktop? What about the specifics of a computer – what kind of things do you need in order to make the music you want to make?
The most common kinds of music production software often have specifications that must be met by your computer to run. This can make someone searching for a laptop nervous that they won’t buy the right thing!
If this sounds like you, then don’t panic! We’re here to help you! For all the budding music producers out there, we’ve created a guide to walk you through the best computers to run your DAWs.
We’ll take you through a list of some of the best computers for music production on the market today, as well as outline the best features in an extensive buyers guide and FAQ section.
As a music producer, you will have the be a nerd about software and music, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a genius with computers! So let’s get started.
Desktops computers are a term to describe large, powerful computers that are placed on your desk. Computers of this size are often packed with more hardware (parts) which means they’ll be able to do a lot more for you.
They also require much more power to run and sometimes need extra parts such as monitors and accessories.
It is a commonly held belief by many in the music industry that Apple is the king of computers for music production.
The Apple VS Microsoft Windows is a debate that has raged for many years, and we’ll cover it a little in the buyers’ guide at the end of this article, but for now, let’s just say that Apple has made computers that are suitable for creative pursuits.
Apple Computers are the only systems that can run the famous Logic Pro X production software, which you may need to consider when deciding what it is that you want to be making music on.
Logic is one of the main things that sells Apple computers to music producers and the two go hand in hand. Logic was built for Apple – Apple makes Logic easier to use.
So if you’re looking for an Apple Desktop computer, the iMac 27 is going to be your best choice. This large-screened PC comes with a glass screen, 8GB of memory, a Radeon Pro Graphics Card, SSD storage, a magic mouse, and a keyboard.
‘Magic’ here just means wireless – which is one of the features we’d like to point out for the iMac.
The entire setup – mouse, keyboard, and computer – all fit comfortably on a desk. Whilst the computer is large and wide, there is no separate monitor which means you get exactly what you see without having to connect a pile of wires and internal components.
Apple gives you security and simplicity, which is great if you’re looking to sit down without any fuss to start making music!
The Apple operating system (macOS) has been designed to make creative pursuits and easy, with shortcuts and key-binds which once learned, allow you to quickly cycle through tabs and files without much difficulty.
We found the iMac 27 to be one of the most impressive Apple products we’ve seen, in terms of usability and design.
- Apple Product – Apple Products are known for their reliability and slick design. This allows you to use Logic music software which is amazing if that’s what you’re looking for.
- Wireless Mouse and Keyboard – for easy use, you won’t have to worry about wires.
- Retina 5k Display – incredible visuals, 5000 pixels!
- Customizability – as with all Apple products, there isn’t much opportunity to go inside and change things around or fix things. If you’re a person who never wants to swap parts or build your PC, then this is a good setup for you. But this does mean you rely on Apple for future repairs if anything goes wrong – which can be expensive!
Alienware is a company that has for a long time been dedicated to making incredible gaming PCs. With that said, you may be wondering why we chose to add one to this list.
The truth is that Alienware PCs are not only good for gaming but will offer you a stable, powerful system that can run your music production software without a hitch.
The Alienware Aurora R12 is a little powerhouse of a computer. It has all of the features of more intimidating gaming PCs, except it’s half the size.
It comes with 32GB of RAM, which is incredible for music production, as well as an SSD and 1TB hard drive – two features which boost how many files you’ll be able to store.
If you’re looking for something that will allow you to store an endless amount of samples, beats, and songs, then the Aurora has more than enough memory.
And SSD (solid-state drive) also means that loading times and startup will be almost instantaneous.
It runs on the Windows 10 operating system, which has for a long time now been reliable and consistent, especially for those already accustomed to windows.
It’s simplistic and easy, and possibly the operating system you grew up using.
- Powerful Computer – a high-end gaming PC, so it will always have enough power for any music production software you’re looking for. This PC is likely to last you a long time.
- Customisability – unlike Apple computers, you can open this one up and easily switch parts, which makes future fixes/upgrades easy.
- Liquid Cooling – modern cooling technology means that your computer is unlikely to overheat during long periods of music production.
- Software – locks you out of using Logic, which is an Apple-only program, though you’ll still be able to use Ableton, FL Studio, and others.
- 【Fantastic Gaming Processor】2021 Newest 11th Gen Core i7-11700F Processor, 8 Cores & 16 Thrades, Base Frequency 2.5GHz, Max Turbo Frequency 4.9GHz, 16MB L3 Cache, With powerful single-core and multi-core performance, Significant improvement the multi-tasking and extreme gaming performance, it ensures smooth and stable, and is a great tool for winning games
- 【Upgrade to 32GB 3200 DDR4 Memory】Dual-channel 3200MHz high-frequency gaming memory reduces memory latency and increases memory throughput to maximize processor performance, thereby reducing lag in complex gaming scenarios and improving the gaming experience
- 【2X Performance of RTX 2080】The Newest Gen Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080 Graphics Card, 10GB GDDR6X, 8704 CUDA Cores, Twice the performance of RTX 2080, Up to 2X Throughput, DLSS 2.0, Delivers the ultra performance that gamers crave
- 【Upgraded to 1TB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD】Boot up in seconds, get to files faster, and have room for loads of files with the lightning-quick solid state drive. Speedier load times for all your programs means less time waiting and more time gaming
- 【Liquid Cooling & 1000W Power Supply】Liquid Cooling can keep the processor relatively low temperature under any conditions of use, to ensure that the processor can run at high frequency for a long time, while the 1000w power supply can provide sufficient and stable current for the processor and graphics card, thus ensuring that this gaming computer has a stable and powerful performance
The Apple Mac Mini is on the other end of the spectrum from the iMac 27. We wanted to include this product because it will offer you a tiny desktop without any difficulty.
It’s a lightweight, portable desktop computer that can fit in one hand and allows you a great amount of movement and ease.
If you’re a person who travels a lot, in and out of different musicians’ houses you might be collaborating with – this computer allows you to just plug and unplug into different monitors without much difficulty; all you need is Wi-Fi and a monitor.
Despite its size, the Apple Mac Mini is very powerful and often performs very well on benchmark tests. It has 8GB memory, Gigabit Ethernet, and 512 SSD storage which means you’ll have a lot of room to make music.
If all you’re looking to do is run one main music production program, this is as simplistic as a Mac can get. We recommend this product if you want an Apple computer, but don’t feel the need to get something as colossal as an iMac.
- Size – this is as compact as a desktop PC can get. Apple has created a small desktop to minimize difficulty and fuss.
- Portability – Uniquely portable for a desktop, allows you to move around freely. Simply plug into different monitors and connect to wifi.
- Logic – this can also come with Logic Pro included for an additional price, making it a great choice for new producers who want everything they need to get started.
- Storage – less storage than other larger PCs, meaning you might need to have an external hard drive to store additional tracks.
We wanted to include a section on laptops because as a music producer, it’s the other great option to be able to work and move around at the same time. Since their creation, Laptops have been the easy way to get all the features of a PC without the bulk. Here are two of the best laptops we could find from Apple and Alienware.
The Macbook Air is very thin and very powerful considering. If you’re looking for something truly lightweight, without having to compromise on performance. It is slick, easy to use, and has 18 hours of battery life.
This is great – when you buy a laptop you don’t want to spend most of your time with it plugged into a wall.
There are different choices in terms of capacity for the 2020 version of this product, either 256GB or 512GB.
We found the larger, 512GB to be more suited for a music production environment because of the number of files you’re going to need to store.
We also found the display of this laptop impressive, with a large screen that fills almost its entire surface area, with a sharp picture and vibrant colors. It’s also remarkably quiet and doesn’t overheat easily.
If you’re looking for a laptop that you can boot up and get started on right away, the MacBook Air is an easy choice for you.
- Size – small and compact, easy to pick up and move around with. It lives up to its name of ‘air’ in terms of weight and portability.
- Charge – 18 hours of charge.
- Display – gorgeous display for a laptop.
- Power – not as fast as other PCs, you’ll definitely see performance issues over time when having a lot of different apps and files open.
- All-Day Battery Life – Go longer than ever with up to 18 hours of battery life.
- Powerful Performance – Take on everything from professional-quality editing to action-packed gaming with ease. The Apple M1 chip with an 8-core CPU delivers up to 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation while using way less power.
- Superfast Memory – 8GB of unified memory makes your entire system speedy and responsive. That way it can support tasks like memory-hogging multitab browsing and opening a huge graphic file quickly and easily.
- Stunning Display – With a 13.3” Retina display, images come alive with new levels of realism. Text is sharp and clear, and colors are more vibrant.
- Why Mac – Easy to learn. Easy to set up. Astoundingly powerful. Intuitive. Packed with apps to use right out of the box. Mac is designed to let you work, play, and create like never before.
Another Alienware product, another guarantee of power and performance. This laptop has an impressive graphics card, display, and intel processor built for running games.
This means that it will run all of your music production software without a hitch. It runs on the Windows 10 operating system, which is great for Ableton or FL Studio and is extremely slim despite its power.
Alienware laptops are beginning to revival apple in terms of size vs performance. The sheer power of this laptop despite its thickness is impressive. When buying one of these slim beasts, you can choose between 16GB and 32GB of RAM, which means a lot of onboard memory to run things.
It also comes with 1TB of storage space, which is more than enough for any files you might need.
- Performance – never worry about performance, this laptop will run almost anything you can throw at it.
- Size – for a laptop of its power, it is extremely small and compact.
- Heat – gets hotter than the other laptop on this list, though this makes sense considering how well it can run even difficult software like modern AAA games.
- Free Upgrade to Windows 11 when available (see below).
- 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 360Hz 3ms with ComfortView Plus, NVIDIA G-SYNC and Advanced Optimus
- 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H (24MB Cache, up to X GHz, 8 cores)
- 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 , 1 TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
Now that we’ve gone through some of the best Computers on the market for music production, we realize you might still need some help in understanding what makes them the best.
That’s why we’ve created this extensive buyers guide to help you understand our choices, as well as giving you some extra advice for you to keep in mind when you eventually make your purchase.
Operating System is the software that you see on the computer – for example, Microsoft Windows 10 or macOS. These are software that companies have made which allow you to run applications and programs.
Although the two are the same in terms of basic functionality, they have important differences which will change the way you make music.
First, ask yourself – are you already accustomed to Windows or Apple software?
Say you’ve never used Apple before, it might take you some time to get familiar with it, should you buy an Apple product. Likewise, if you’ve never used windows, you’ll have to spend some time grappling with it.
All of this takes away time that you could be learning to make music.
That said, the main reason to go with an operating system that you’re not used to would so that you can use a specific kind of music software.
As mentioned above, Logic Pro X (the most current version of Logic) is only available on Apple products, so if you choose to go for windows, you’ll want to use something like Ableton or Logic.
Like an operating system, which program is better comes down to personal taste, and great music has been made on either.
When considering an operating system, we suggest you go with what you know above all else. This will make the whole process a lot easier for you.
Laptop or Desktop?
The difference between a laptop and a desktop is one that you need to consider before making your purchase. Laptops give you a unique opportunity to carry your music with you everywhere you go.
Maybe you’d like to work in a cafe or restaurant, or maybe you need to quickly dash to your friends’ house to make music with them.
With a desktop, this isn’t usually possible as there are many more moving parts that can be difficult to transport.
That said, the problem with a laptop is that it just won’t be as powerful as a desktop, nor will it have the same amount of storage.
Choosing between power and portability is the main thing you’ll have to consider when trying to work out which one is better for you.
There’s nothing worse than a noisy computer. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping for a new computer is how loud it will sound. This is usually something you can get an idea of via customer reviews. If something is unusually loud – other users are likely to let you know about it. Generally larger computers are louder but this isn’t always the case.
The last thing to keep in mind is what accessories will come with your computer. Laptops, for example, hardly ever need additional accessories and come with a screen and keyboard attached.
But when it comes to a PC like the Alienware Aurora we listed above – you will need to get additional accessories including a monitor, speakers, headphones, keyboard, and a mouse.
These extra devices can be very expensive, so you need to make sure you factor them in before making a purchase.
We hope that this guide has helped you to pick your perfect computer for music production, or else helped you to understand what makes a computer suitable for creating great music.
Music production is a growing industry that is transforming how artists create, pushing boundaries of what is possible in music.
We wish you the absolute best of luck in your creative endeavors, and hope you find the perfect computer to make masterpieces with!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much RAM is needed for music production?
Generally, for an impressive PC like some of those listed above, DAWs are not difficult to run They use around 3GB to 4GB of ram – but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to settle for something that low.
Generally, we recommend 16GB ram or higher, as this will mean you’ll be able to run your production software, as well as an internet browser with multiple tabs, and any other software you’d need besides it.
What does TB mean?
TB stands for Terabyte, which is equal to 1000 gigabytes, or 1million megabytes. Terabytes are more common in storage now and you’ll find a lot of new systems have this as their storage option.