Computer Specs for Music Production PC 2021


music production computer specs


What Computer Specs do I need for Music Production PC?

In this post, I’m going to share with you the specifications for a new computer with the vision of buying the best computer for music production. So not the budget or the mid-range category but professional music producer category.

If you want to learn more about the equipment you’ll need for music production then check out this post: 8 Essentials for Setting up a Home Studio

Laptop or desktop for music production?

Computer Specs for Music Production

Laptops are popular among music producers because they give you a lot more freedom to work wherever, even on stage during live shows! If that sounds good to you too then laptops might be worth checking out. But if portability isn’t important for your needs there are also lots of benefits with getting a desktop computer instead.

If we compare desktop computers with laptops, they’re usually faster and cost less per component than laptops. Plus desktop computers tend to have all their components developed first, while laptop computers lag in development due to size constraints on space within that small device.

If you’re working with your laptop while using it on the battery power for example. Your operating system will slow down and when that happens, you won’t get the optimal performance from your computer.

Laptops are limited in how much they can be cooled, which means manufacturers have to slow them down. This makes your laptop more sluggish than it needs to be and you’ll need a fast computer for music production.

Another reason to choose a desktop computer (specifically, a PC) is that it’s more expandable than your standard laptop. You can add components later or replace them if you like!

What are the requirements for a music production computer?

In the early days, we thought that the processor and memory were most important but nowadays it’s all about the SSD and the processor. Yes the memory is still a factor of course-but not as much anymore!

An SSD won’t make you produce your music any faster but it will allow you to work more quickly and efficiently.

The processor

What processor do I need for music production?

Processor

The latest generation A7 series processor with preferably as many cores as possible is the perfect option. Your synth, reverb and analyzers plugins can use up a big chunk of CPU power. So you’re going to need a powerful processor.

If you want great quality music production, it’s important that your CPU has a lot of processing power. The faster the speed and more gigahertz capacity, the quicker calculations can happen without any annoying dropouts or messages from Logic.

By adding more cores you can increase the processing power. A core is another processor in the same shell that works side by side with other processors. So more cores mean faster processing times but with double the cores, you don’t have twice as fast of a computer. 4 cores is a good starting point for music production.

There are two main processor manufacturers Intel and AMD. There are some rumors that AMD has compatibility issues with some plugins and MIDI controllers, but I’m not able to confirm or deny them.

Storage

How much storage do I need for music production?

I would recommend at least 1TB of storage. 500GB of internal storage and a minimum of 500GB external storage. You’re going to find that you’re going to need quite a lot of storage space especially if you are using sample-based plugins.

For example, there is a commonly used sample-based plugin that already takes up 500GB for the full installation. You will need to have some space left for your operating systems of Windows or Mac OS, your daw, projects, and samples.

If you have a choice of HDD or SSD then choose an SSD. SSD stands for Solid State Drive and solid state as opposed to the loose state of a spinning magnetic platter hard drive.

The main advantage of an SSD over traditional hard drives is that they are less likely to crash sudden movements. This can be especially handy for laptops that are being moved around a lot. SSD’s are quicker than an HDD, but an HDD is cheaper per gigabytes.

Memory / RAM

How much RAM do I need for music production?

RAM / Memory

The minimum recommended for music production is 16 GB. But I would say 32Gb or 64gb is better, especially if you’re using a lot of sample-based instruments. You can get memory at different speeds and of course, the faster the better.

If you want to achieve a certain kind of speed. Try to ensure that your memory module and your motherboard supports it.

Screen Size

I would recommend a good quality widescreen 15-inch minimum for a laptop. And preferably a minimum 21-inch screen if you’re using a desktop computer. A big widescreen will enable you to have a better overview of your timeline. The less scrolling you have to do along your timeline the quicker your workflow. Which means that you can produce your music faster.

There are plenty of ultra-wide screens available and those are ideal for music production and video editing. Another option could be to have a second screen. You can then have the tracks on your first screen and the mixer on the second screen.

Graphics Card

What graphics card should I have for music Production?

The graphics card doesn’t actually matter much at all. Unlike in video editing, DAWs don’t use any of the extra computing power.

Don’t get me wrong though you will still need a graphics card in order to use your screen, but an onboard graphics card will do the job just fine.

Soundcard

Do I use the computer’s soundcard for Music Production?

You will probably not be using your computer’s soundcard as you’ll be using an audio interface, which acts as an external soundcard. Therefore you don’t need to be concerned about the spec of the one on your computer as that won’t actually matter.

Mouse

Often in music production, you also need to scroll sideways and it’s really handy to have a mouse that supports horizontal or side-scrolling. Side-scrolling will give you a quicker workflow, which enables you to work faster.

Mac or PC for music production?

It’s an ancient dispute: Mac vs the PC. But to look at this in perspective it’s maybe useful to go back to the beginning of electronic music production.

Mac computers back in the day were more suited for music production. The tools were just better, the software was better, the interface was better and the processors were quicker. This made creativity and workflow much easier to come by on a Mac computer.

PC users, however, were fiddling with their drivers and software and getting the blue screen of death because of a wrong configuration. The music producers on the Apple side were happy fiddling with their melodies already.

That’s why a lot of old-generation music producers still use Mac. But there has been a lot of changes over the last 10-15 years. Apple switched to Intel processors which immediately made the Mac the same speed as PCs. And there were DAWs developed for Windows and Mac, so there were two versions. So some of the reasons why you would buy a Mac are gone. I used to be a pretty big Apple fan but they’ve recently become so greedy and they’re not thinking about what the customer actually wants anymore.

What DAW software will you be using?

Before we can decide on a winner on the Windows vs Mac debate it’s really important to look at what DAW software you want to use.

There are certain DAWs that only work on certain operating systems like Logic for example only works on a Mac and Sonar is a Windows-based software. So you can base your first decision on that, if you want to stay compatible with your old projects. Unless of course, you want to switch to a different DAW.

Another thing to keep in mind is that VST plugins and AAX plugins are available for both Windows and Mac. The AU versions (the Audio Unit plugins) are Mac only. So if you have a plugin that only works with Audio Unit versions. Then you’ll need to find an alternative or buy another license for that plugin. That can be a time consuming or a costly operation.

There are producers out there who claim that certain genres of music sound better on a Mac. I personally don’t see why this would be the case because most DAWs these days are cross-platform and because all DAWs basically do the same thing.

Criteria: Mac vs PC

Unfortunately, choosing between a Mac or PC is not as black-and-white anymore. So what I thought I would do is look at the different criteria for a good music production computer and see which we think is better.

Price:

Price-wise you are better off with a PC for about $1600 you can build a really well-specced PC. On the Apple side, you pay at least $3000 to $5000 for the same specification computer. So definitely you’re better off (money wise) with a PC.

Flexibility:

This looks like another win for PC. PC’s give you the option to buy basic components to start with and then when you have more money you can upgrade or change components.

If you struggle to pay for a proper size SSD you can buy an HDD or use your old platter drive temporarily in the new computer. I would recommend putting a majority of your investment in a proper CPU and a motherboard. Then later, add more memory, add a proper monitor and add a proper size SSD.

You can then have a computer exactly to your specifications. This way you won’t have a computer manufacturer making the decisions about what specs and which components your computer will have. If you’re not sure how to build your own computer you can find a computer store that will have the knowledge to help you.

Connections:

Definitely a PC. For example, if you don’t have enough USB connections on your computer, you can buy an extension card that saves you a bag full of dongles or USB hubs.

Power:

Again the PC. Apple tends to focus more on the smaller size of their products and in this way they make concessions in the amount of power that product can produce. So, thermal throttling, for example, is a big issue on Apple products because they can’t be properly cooled, because of their thinness.

Aesthetics:

This one goes to Apple. Apple products tend to look nicer than their PC counterparts not only hardware but also their software.

Operating system and user interface:

To be honest, this is a personal opinion, but for me the Mac OS is more intuitive and easier to use.

Usability:

When it comes to drivers I have to give that one to the Mac. A lot of equipment you can plug into the Mac and it just works without installing anything. When I plug in my audio interface in the Mac, it just works without having to install any drivers. When I plug it into a Windows PC, however, I have to download the driver.

On the other hand, on Windows, there are more devices supported than on the Mac. If the Mac doesn’t recognize it, most of the time you’re going to have a problem.

Compatibility & reliability:

I have to give this one to the Mac. Apple heavily tests its products and components to make sure they are compatible with each other. With a PC that can be a bit hit and miss. On the other hand, though, Apple has dropped the ball on this a couple of times.

Ease of repair:

Definitely the PC. When a computer breaks after a couple of years (which is the danger zone for a computer) can you fix it?

While with a Mac if it breaks, it tends to have a major break-down, and oftentimes they’re difficult or not possible to repair. With a PC however you’re probably able to switch components if it’s not the critical pair of motherboard or CPU.

As a music producer, if you are on your computer and something breaks it’s really necessary for you to be able to swap components if something breaks. Then you are up and running in no time.

Security:

Well, that definitely is the Mac. Although Apple has dropped the ball multiple times when it comes to security and Microsoft has increased their security tremendously in Windows over the last couple of years there are more malware and viruses out there for Windows than on the Mac.

Conclusion: Mac vs. PC

A well-built PC can be as reliable as a Mac but a PC is only as strong as its weakest link or its weakest component. For the newbie, I think you are better off with a Mac. A Mac has fewer possibilities in the software, but if you want to buy a Mac, there are fewer options to choose from.

If you just want a computer that works choose a Mac. The PC has more options it has more expandability but that can also get more confusing.

Music Production Computer Specs

Here are your basic specs to look for when buying a computer for Music Production:

Here are our recommendations for some of the best computers for music production:

Best Mac Laptop

Best PC Laptop

Best Mac Desktop

Best PC Desktop

If you’re setting up a home or project studio then you might be interested in reading our post about The Best Studio Monitors for Home Studio