How We Choose The Best Laptops For Music Production
So, clearly there is a lot to think about when choosing the best laptop for music production.
It’s easy to see why a good all-round laptop can fetch a premium price tag, but, as with anything from the best samplers and studio monitors to home studio mixers, you get what you pay for, so it’s always wise to get the best you can afford, rather than skimping and regretting your purchase later . Our price comparison software will come in handy here. Next to each product entry on this guide our price widgets will display the best deals online right now to save you shopping around.
In this guide we donât focus on various legacy ins and outs, such as the number of USB sockets, or lack of, for your audio interface, and so on. With so many dongle and docking options available, this shouldnât be a deciding factor in your purchasing journey. In this guide we’re talking sheer horsepower for music-making. For example, can your portable rig cope with large multitrack sessions, running handfuls of plugins and MIDI instruments?
Minimum Laptop/pc Specs For Music Production
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
- Looking to get started in music production and need a new PC/laptop?
- Read this handy guide first to understand what to look for when buying a music production PC/laptop.
Before you dive headfirst into buying a music production PC/laptop, its important to know what to look for. In this article, weve broken down the essential factors to look for before you shell out your hard-earned money.
What Your Desktop Needs To Handle Music Production
Computers can get a little confusing once you get under the hood. Even on the surface, there are a lot of features that you might be wondering if you need or not. But when it comes to technical specifications, many find themselves lost completely. Not to worry. There are three primary things you need to look out for when it comes to selecting hardware for your music production desktop.
Recommended Reading: Where Can I Find Music Cds
Pc Audio Labs Rok Box
Flying under the radar at times due to the lack of heavily marketed brand names, PC Audio Labs brings us computers literally made for the tough processes of music production. We were unfamiliar with what they brought to the table until a few years ago, but after heavy research and asking around with other producers what their thoughts were, many had zero complaints and actually scoffed at the fact that we recommended any other music production computer aside from these guys.
Perhaps labeled as expensive by others , especially compared to dinkier machines, their Rok Box series in particular brings us many solutions in not only the personal computer department but laptops as well. They have quite a few models to choose from depending on budget you can up go to a few thousands to grab a tank, or perhaps just under a thousand for a decent budget-friendly workstation for beginners. They also allow for add-ons for your PCs internal parts, such as RAM, hard drive and more. Praised by many professional musicians around the world, were glad this takes a place relatively early in our best recording and production computer guide. They also have tons and of how-tos and support videos on their website to help you through out your music journey.
Soundcard: What Soundcard Do You Need If You Plan On Using An Audio Interface
In reality, most producers will end up using an audio interface to handle most of their sound processing tasks. I mean, an audio interface is basically a supremely upgraded external soundcard anyway. Theyre specifically designed for recording and playing back audio in a music studio environment.
With that, the onboard soundcard in most computers are subpar in comparison to an audio interface. In summary, dont use the computers internal soundcard for anything more than YouTube videos or Spotify.
For a more in depth look at audio interfaces, check out my guide here!
Don’t Miss: How To Down Music To My Phone
Best Pc For Music Production: Our Top Picks
If youâre making the leap from a laptop to a desktop computer-based music studio, you are fortunate enough to have a lot of choice as to which direction you go in.
If youâve gone down the ready-made route, there are some great options to choose from. The Dell XPS 8940 offers the perfect balance of price, performance and power, without ostentatious gaming trappings like RGB lights or edgy graphics. Itâs a sensible, grown up desktop computer that will happily serve you for many years to come.
For Apple fans, youâre looking at either a Mac Mini or iMac , although there are some caveats to consider. Since transitioning to its own in-house M1 processor, compatibility with major music production applications has been patchy at best. It figures that these apps will catch up eventually, but itâs a question of whether you are prepared to wait for that promised land of supercharged power and performance. If not, stick to one of the more recent Intel-based machines.
Dell has built up a lot of credibility as a result of its Macbook Pro-challenging XPS line-up of performance laptops. It figures, therefore, that its XPS desktop range will offer a solid alternative for anybody who doesnât side with Apple, or isnât up for going down the gaming PC route.
We particularly liked the all-in-one water-cooling feature, which cools the CPU using liquid as well as fans. This reduces the low-level hum produced by the computer considerably, making it good for recording environments.
Screen Size: Why A Bigger Screen Is Always Better For Music Production
No matter if you plan on using a laptop, or a desktop with monitors, youll need a high-resolution screen thats a decent size. The reason being is that most DAWs have intricate user interfaces. There are tons of parameters to see and a lot of information spread around the computer screen. A lot of this stuff is small, and on a smaller screen youd be straining your eyes to see everything.
On top of that, a bigger screen will make everything easier to access. On a smaller screen, youd have to do a lot of scrolling to make adjustments on the timeline, or to jump between tracks and plugins. Overall, music production definitely requires a screen size of 13 or larger whether it be on a laptop or a separate monitor.
If you plan on using a separate computer monitor for your production process, then Id recommend opting for a dual monitor setup. Theres a lot of flexibility you can introduce to your music production workflow with two good-sized monitors. You can also go for an ultra-wide curved monitor, but those tend to be pretty expensive.
Recommended Reading: Is Apple Music Free With Verizon
How Important Are Ram And Ssd For Music Production
While RAM and SSD help for high-quality music production, the vital aspect is the CPU power. With more RAM, you can use more plug-ins and tracks in your project, and SSD can make the process faster. However, without the proper data processing power from the CPU, you can not produce music.
If you want to learn more about CPUs and CPU models that are ideal for music production, you can check out the 7 Best CPUs for Music Production.
A Quick Checklist For A Music Production Computer
Aside from the three primary considerations mentioned above, youll also need to consider a range of other crucial things for your computer too.
For instance, everything from your mouse to your screen size will often affect how comfortable you feel with your new system.
Here are some top tips to get you started on the right track.
Be cautious when youre shopping for the ultimate computer.
Things like Dell Inspiron and XPS models commonly suffer from latency problems, and there are many computers out there that rely heavily on bloatware .
Researching the company and the computer before you purchase is a good idea. Youll get a better insight into how these tools perform.
One important thing to note is that you do get what you pay for in this arena.
The lower the price, the lower the quality of your laptop.
Low costs also often lead to poor customer service. There arent a lot of great deals out there these days.
Stick to a brand that you know and a company thats local if you can. Computers from halfway around the world usually struggle with sub-standard components and terrible customer service.
You need to know you can rely on the company if something goes wrong.
Also Check: How To Transfer Music From Android To Iphone
Dell Inspiron Infinity Touch All In One Desktop
See price @
Speaking of Apple rivals, Dell Inspiron 7000 is a 27 desktop PC with a Full-HD touchscreen and pre-installed Windows 10 Home Edition. It has a fresh and very futuristic design and incredible build quality.
Best features and specs
Its Intel-Core i7 with 2.8 GHz clock speed is complemented by 60 GB of RAM An both 1 TB HDD and 512 GB SSS storage drives. It also offers you a discreet GeForce MX 330 graphic card with 2 GB of RAM.
Users like Dell Inspiron Infinity Touch All in One Desktop for being a really well-built PC that is packed with useful features and performs really well on every occasion.
What we think
Dell Inspiron 7000 stands out the most with its discreet graphics card. Since it reduces the load on the CPU and lets you get more benefit from the hardware accelerated applications.
Dell Inspiron Infinity Touch All in One Desktop is a great choice for someone who is looking for a desktop PC with a decent performance and a futuristic design.
Apple Mac Mini M1 Chip
Apple Mac Mini M1 is the smallest computer that can get you in the Apple M1 environment. The high-quality computer features the revolutionary M1 chip, which gives an excellent performance, 8 or 16 GB Ram, up to 2 TB SSD storage, along with 2 USB-A and USB-C ports.
- Not upgradable
- Limited connection ports
If you want the optimum performance for a relatively low price, Apple Mac Mini M1 is the ideal choice. The compact design is highly powerful and more than enough for any kind of music production project. The computer is sold as just the brain without any accessories or a screen. So, you will have to buy the necessary parts separately later.
There are 2 USB-A and 2 USB-C, HDMI, and Ethernet ports on the back side of the compact computer brain. The connection options might be limited for some, but there are always USB hubs to use if you need more ports.
|256 GB 2 TB SSD|
|Ports||2 USB-A, 2 USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet ports|
Apple Mac Mini M1 is a great compact computer that firmly holds the title of best budget-friendly music production desktop computer.
You May Like: Hotels Near 713 Music Hall Houston
Microsoft Surface Studio 2
If you are serious about music production and looking for one of the strongest desktop computers around, Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is an excellent candidate. It features Intel Core i7-7820HQ 2.9 GHz processor, 16 or 32 GB RAM, 1 or 2 TB SSD storage, 28 touchscreen beautiful display, and 4 USB-A as well as a thunderbolt port.
- Only 1 thunderbolt port
The Surface 2 is one of the best computers when it comes to creative projects like music production, video editing-creation, designing, etc. The strong specs and performance of the device are highly appreciated, while the versatility of the computer is top-notch.
The 28 PixelSense display acts as a touchscreen and can be folded on the keyboard to use the device as a tablet. Using DAWs gets very straightforward when you do not need any mouse or keyboard.
The laptop performs and looks great and is considered the biggest contender of Apple Macs in the Windows world. However, quality and performance come for a price, as this device is quite pricey. Another drawback is the single thunderbolt port, as more than one would have added to the versatility.
|Ports||4 USB-A, 1 USB-C, Ethernet ports, headphone jack|
Overall, Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is a great device for professional video creators, editors, designers, and musicians who are serious about their work. My professional pick, Surface 2, is the closest computer you can have to the famous Apple Macs in the Windows world.
Setting Up Your Hard Drives
If you took my advice and got an SSD, youll install Windows on it. Make sure to verify that your SSD is indeed the C: drive, that Windows will be installed on it and that your other drives wont be used for Windows at all. This is important for when Windows starts playing up, so that it doesnt take out your music data with it.
You could disconnect all other drives before installing Windows, then after its complete, reconnect the other drive. Make sure the SSD is connected to the first SATA port on the motherboard, which will be labelled in very tiny letters and should also be easy to find in your motherboard manuals layout diagram.
After installing Windows and reconnecting remaining drives, youll want to format those drives. Google it. Its easy to do, but just give partitioning some forethought as once its done and your data is on it, its not easy and somewhat dangerous to try to change later. I kept one partition for music production and one for everything else and later, after getting a second internal HDD, one drive for each.
Then, you should connect an external drive for backups. If you work with others and travel to do so, you may want to reverse the usage of the internal and external HDDs, putting your music production on the external drive so that you can take your files with you to work from anywhere. If you can afford it, an SSD would be better for this, since it has no moving parts and is less susceptible to shocks from bumping or dropping.
You May Like: Easiest Musical Instrument To Learn
Music Production Pc Build: Recommended Basic Specs
While most digital audio workstation brands will offer minimum specifications, anybody whos ever used one knows these are loose, at best. In our experience, there are certain areas where you should invest to get higher specs, and certain other areas that wouldnt take the same priority in a music production PC. As with anything, the more money you spend, the better you can expect a component to perform. There is, however, a sweet spot to be found before the laws of diminishing returns start to kick in.
Building a PC for music production is not without its complications. Chief among these is ensuring compatibility between the various parts you choose for your build. Its not a given that every stick of RAM or motherboard will play happily with every CPU or cooling system, so save yourself from major headaches by checking theyll work together before you commit to buying anything. There are some great tools online, like PC Part Picker , that will help you check specifications and compatibility before you buy.
For the processor, look to the top end of the entry-level spectrum as a minimum. Intel and AMD are the names to consider in this space. Intel processors are present in the vast majority of consumer PCs and laptops, and its i5 range should prove sufficient for most producers. AMD, on the other hand, is favoured by many in the gaming community and its range is usually, pound for pound, more affordable than Intels comparable models.
Top Ten Reviews Verdict
The Acer Aspire TC is an effective and affordable option for everyday computing and mainstream workloads, with solid components and a compact, smart design. The older parts mean its not suitable for more challenging tasks, though, and the support options are not too extensive.
Mediocre support and setup options
The Acer Aspire TC desktop PC aims at the living room, the home office, and busy everyday lives, and it tries to get the job done by combining decent components with solid design and low prices.
Several different Acer Aspire TC specifications are available, and the variety of components mean its worth paying attention to the hardware. Some of these rigs are ideal for basic use, others are more powerful and can be used for tougher work tasks, while some can run the latest games. It sits among our best home computer round-up, as one of the more affordable, everyday options.
Its not just about the components. Its worth examining the design because you need to see if itll fit into your lifestyle, and the customer service and support options are essential. Weve covered all of that in this review to see what youre truly getting if you buy an Acer Aspire TC.
Don’t Miss: Does Music Help You Sleep
How Much Ram Do I Need For Music Production
The Professional Music Producer Truth be told, 16GB of RAM, a solid state hard drive, 3.0gHz of processor speed, and several terabytes of storage will be enough for 99% of producers. However, some people will want to go above and beyond. Anything above 16GB of RAM would be overkill for a budding producer.
Oem Lenovo Thinkcentre M720
OEM Lenovo ThinkCentre M720 is one of the most compact desktop computers that can be used for music production. The computer has many different configurations, but all come equipped with Intel Hexa Core i5-9400 2.9 GHz. The versions feature different SSD storage capacities from 250 GB to 1 TB and RAMs from 8 GB to 32 GB.
- Very pricey
Even the base model is capable of professional music production with its AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256 GB SSD storage capacity. However, if you will be working with many plug-ins and tracks, you can go for a higher model. The top model features AMD Ryzen 9 5900 processor, 1 TB SSD, and 32GB RAM.
The graphic card choices of models vary between RTC 3070 and RTX 3080, which are both high-performing latest tech cards. The PC also has a great range of connectivity options with more than 10 USB ports. The PC is very aesthetically pleasing with its futuristic design.
- Cramped interior
The computers specs are more than enough for entry-level music production and creative projects. However, it comes with an integrated graphics card, making the computer less versatile and not as usable for gaming or video editing projects.
- Not the greatest performance specs
- Limited storage capacity
- Can get a bit loud
|256 GB Solid State Drive|
|Ports||Headphone jack, 4 USB Type-A, 1 USB Type-C, Media Card Reader|
You May Like: How To Add Music To Video Editor