Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Gadgets

Best PCs for music production 2023


The remarkable advancements in audio interfaces and digital audio workstations have empowered passionate musicians to craft, produce, and release their music from the comfort of their own homes like never before. An important part of this process is the computer, the workhorse of the whole project. Like the best gaming PCs, a PC for music production needs to be powerful, have plenty of storage, enough ports and plenty of RAM to handle big projects.


There are a lot of options out there, but that’s where we come in. We have selected the best PCs for music production catering to a wide range of different budgets. Whether you’re looking to splash some cash or are on a shoestring budget, there will be a PC on our list to suit your situation.

We’ve gone a step further by encompassing both Microsoft and iOS operating systems, as well as offering a variety of PC configurations. Our selection includes all-in-ones, powerful towers, and compact mini PCs. With music enthusiasts’ diverse needs in mind, we’ve strived to provide choices that mirror the broad spectrum of applications.

The best music production PCs currently on the market

Apple Mac Studio M2 Best PC for Music Production

Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple Mac Studio (2023)

1. Best overall PC for music production

Compact and powerful, the Mac Studio M2 takes our top spot thanks to its performance and versatility and we can see it being a fantastic option for bedroom studios around the world.

Pros

  • Lots of power under the hood
  • Small and compact
  • Plenty of ports

Our best overall PC for music production goes to the Apple Mac Studio M2. Firstly, its performance is fantastic. Whilst looking under the hood, the M2 Max chip offers a base configuration of a 12-core CPU and a 30-core GPU. For those seeking even more power, there’s a customizable option to upgrade to a 24-core CPU and a 38-core GPU. Furthermore, if you feel like splashing the cash, you can upgrade to the M2 Ultra chip for unprecedented power and speed.

In terms of memory, you have a choice between 32GB and 64GB of unified memory. The minimum RAM suitable for music production is usually 16GB, so the Apple Mac Studio M2 excels in that department, no matter what option you choose. Additionally, storage options vary from a 512GB SSD to a capacious 8TB. This is more than enough power to handle even the most stem-heavy track. We’d usually recommend going for at least 1TB of memory if you can since music files and plug-ins can take up a lot of room. Unlike some PCs, the Mac Studio M2 is compact, and we found that its sleek design takes up very little space which is ideal if you’re in a small space.

Mac Studio - 2

You have access to Logic Pro, perhaps the most popular DAW. If Logic isn’t your thing, you can still access any other workstation, IOS allows you to download and operate them all. However, where Apple doesn’t excel is in upgrades available for their products. Unlike other PCs, you won’t be able to upgrade the computer’s components if you so require.

HP Envy Desktop Best Windows PC For Music Production

HP / Pocket-lint

HP Envy Desktop (2023)

2. Best Windows PC for Music Production

Claiming the crown of best Windows PC for music production, the HP Envy Desktop has plenty of professional power, has a huge memory and is encased in an attractive, sleek chassis.

Pros

  • Professional power
  • Huge memory
  • Attractive casing
Cons

  • USB slot positioning may bug some

Taking the crown for best Windows PC for music production is the 12th generation HP Envy Desktop. With a colossal 128GB of RAM, this PC guarantees ultra-performance, handling complex audio processing and all the plug-ins you throw at it with ease. Plus, it’s equipped with a lightning-fast 2TB SSD and a staggering 20TB hard drive, ensuring your music projects run seamlessly while providing ample storage for your creations. This may be overkill for some, but for those serious about creating music, accept no substitutes. Believe us, the speed at which this thing will render your projects will be worth it.

This HP Envy desktop has taken the form of a traditional tower, which will take up a bit more room than some of our compact options, so if space is a premium this may not be the choice for you. However, it does have a very sleek natural silver casing, which feels very elegant.

Another factor worth considering is the top-mounted USB slots, which may bug some people and might be a nuisance depending on where your audio interface sits in relation to the tower. However, if you can get over this minor factor, the HP Envy desktop will be more than you ever need for music production.

Dell XPS 8940 Best Windows PC for Music Production Runner Up

Dell / Pocket-lint

Dell XPS 8940

3. Runner-up best Windows PC for music production

A commendable second place for the best Windows PC for music production, the Dell XPS 8940 may not be the most glamorous, but it is a reliable machine that houses more than enough tech to run your digital audio workstation seamlessly.

Pros

  • Powerful enough for DAWs
  • A good amount of ports
  • Heaps of memory
Cons

  • Some may prefer a more attractive PC

Although the Dell XPS 8940 isn’t the flashiest PC out there, it does claim a well-deserved second place as the best Windows PC for music production. Under its humble chassis, it boasts an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11700 Processor clocked at 2.90GHz (up to 4.80 GHz) and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, making this PC a formidable force in the studio. On top of that, it is also slightly less expensive than the HP Envy, ideal if you’re keeping an eye on your bank balance.

The XPS 8940 combines a lightning-fast 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive with a 2TB HDD, ensuring super speedy performance and ample storage space for your music projects. While there are larger options available in the range, such as a 64GB RAM version, from our experience we’ve found 32GB more than suffices for running musical projects. There is nothing that kills creativity more than waiting on your computer to load up your preferred virtual instrument or plug-in. With the Dell XPS 8940, you can trust that your creative flow won’t be interrupted by frustrating buffering or even worse, unexpected crashes on unsaved music projects.

Lastly, the XPS 8940 has plenty of USB inputs, with four USB 3 slots on the front of the machine, giving plenty of options for midi controllers and audio interfaces. So, if you don’t mind the unassuming aesthetic of the Dell XPS 8940, give it a go, we’re sure it’ll make a fine addition to your studio.

Best Budget PC For Music Production

Geekom / Pocket-lint

Geekom Mini IT12

4. Best budget PC for music production

Although diminutive, the Geekom Mini IT12 packs a hefty punch. This fantastic little PC is made even more attractive when you find out its affordable price tag making it ideal for those who are just starting their music production journey.

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • Brilliant performance for the price
  • Extremely portable
Cons

  • You may find problems with overheating

It doesn’t get more cute and dinky than the Geekom Mini IT12, but don’t let its charming small size fool you, this thing holds plenty of power. The 32GB Dual-channel 3200MHz DDR4-SODIMM RAM is astounding and this will run beefy recording sessions pretty smoothly. The storage is also very impressive for a small guy, measuring in at 1TB (expandable up to 2TB) ensuring all of your projects find a safe haven to be stored without any worries.

Having all this power for less than $700 is fantastic value for money. Of course, you’ll have to get a monitor, keyboard and mouse alongside it but for music production, these things don’t have to be overwhelmingly fancy. For its size, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’d lack in ports, but you’d be wrong – the Geekom Mini IT12 has six different USB ports in total. This should be more than enough for any equipment you are planning on using.

However, with all of this power, there comes some trepidation about overheating. If you’re running big music projects the Geekom’s small cooling fan may struggle, so bear this in mind.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Microsoft / Pocket-lint

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 Plus

5. Best all-in-one for music production

With an incredibly diverse 28in touchscreen, the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 has more than enough power to manage even the most dense recording session.

Pros

  • Super fast processing speed
  • Designed with creatives in mind
  • Touch screen
Cons

  • Some may prefer a bigger screen

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2+ has been designed with creatives in mind. Although marketed for artists, this formidable all-in-one PC is also a fantastic option for those looking for the best PC for music production. The main feature of the Surface Studio 2+ is its screen. Measuring in at 28in, the PixelSense display can tilt to 20 degrees down and is fully touchscreen. If you’ve been looking for a more enjoyable way to insert those MIDI drum patterns, this could be it.

However, the Surface Studio 2+ isn’t just a pretty screen, with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage, it will render, load plug-ins and safely save your masterpiece with ease. There is always the 2TB storage option if your musical output is extra voluminous, which may not be a bad idea as this all-in-one isn’t the easiest to upgrade.

A benefit of an all-in-one is that you don’t have to purchase an additional monitor but that can also be a detractor as some producers prefer working on a larger screen than a 28in. If you find yourself in that category then perhaps check out a different PC on our list.

Best Music Production PC For Professionals

Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple Mac Pro

6. Best music production PC for professionals

For those with plenty of money to spend, the Apple Mac Pro is more powerful than you’ll ever need and would be at home in any professional studio. 

 

Pros

  • All the power you’ll ever need
  • Rack mountable option
  • Tons of storage

If you find yourself with plenty of money to spare or if you want to invest in equipment to launch a professional career, then accept no substitute than the Apple Mac Pro. It’s Pro by name and Pro by nature and thanks to Apple M2 silicon there have been huge app performance updates for more seamless functionality. Logic Pro, Ableton Live and Avid Pro Tools are three upgrades that will appeal to music producers, meaning your DAW will run smoother than ever.

There’s also a rack-mounted Mac Pro option available, meaning this can slot into a professional studio among your rack-mounted compressors and reverb units in an ultra-convenient setup. The power on offer here is unparalleled, if you have all the money in the world, the maxed-out specifications on a Mac Pro will cost more than $14,600/£12,000, so this isn’t for the faint of heart or casual hobbyists.

And therein lies one of its largest detractor, the price of an Apple Mac Pro will put it out of reach of most people. If you can afford it, it will do everything you need it to and much, much more.

The bottom line: What is the best PC for music production?

With its sleek and compact design, formidable processing capabilities, minimum 32GB unified memory, and spacious 1TB SSD storage, the Apple Mac Studio M2 emerges as the top choice for music production. This PC doesn’t confine you to a specific digital audio workstation (DAW), ensuring that no matter your preferred program, it seamlessly accommodates your creative needs.

Apple Mac Studio M2 Best PC for Music Production

Apple / Pocket-lint

Apple Mac Studio (2023)

Editor’s Choice

The Geekom Mini IT12 is still a fantastic option for those looking to dip their toes into music production for the first time or just looking to save on a home set-up. And of course, if premium is your bag – the professional level production within the Apple Mac Pro setup is second to none, if it’s in your price range.

How did we choose the best PC for music production?

There was a mixed research approach when choosing the best PC for music production. First-hand experience is always preferred when choosing a list of the best PCs and where a member of the Pocket-Lint team had reviewed a product hands on and liked it, I included it. When looking for other products on the market that would be suitable, a minimum rating of four out of five was adhered to make sure that the products were widely supported in the music production community. I have experience in music production, particularly at home, and have spent the last 10 years advising fellow music lovers of suitable equipment to help achieve their goals, both professionally and personally.

What makes a good PC for music production?

PCs are perhaps the best computer for music production. Although laptops are much more portable, a PC is often less expensive, can be more easily upgraded and, if constructed correctly, can be much more powerful. So what makes a PC good for music production? What do I need to pay attention to? Well, keeping things basic, it’s important to keep an eye on three components; the processor, RAM, and storage.

What processor (CPU) do I need for music production?

For those who aren’t considering an Apple device, then aim for at least Intel I5 or AMD Ryzen 5 as the bare minimum. If your budget can stretch, aim for a more powerful processor. If you decide to go for a less powerful processor then your workflow will slow down considerably. You will spend a lot of time waiting for plug-ins to load and tracks to render, and you will encounter a lot more freezing. On Apple devices, at the very minimum, we would recommend the M1 chip and above. If you go for a chip less powerful, you will soon run into buffering issues rather quickly.

What RAM do I need for music production?

RAM is the next most crucial component for music production. We strongly recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM, although 8GB may suffice for lighter recording sessions. In music production, RAM plays a vital role in processing real-time audio and MIDI data, loading samples, and handling effects and plug-ins. The more RAM you have, the smoother these functions will run.

How much storage do I need for music production?

Quite simply, the more memory the better. Audio files take up lots of memory, so the more memory you can spare, the more music you can produce. Something you will have to decide on is between HDDs (hard disk drives) or SSDs (solid-state drives). HDDs offer humongous amounts of memory but are slightly slower than SSDs, which will load in samples a lot quicker but tend to be a little more expensive.



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