Best Desktop Computer for Music Production 2020

Best Desktop Computer for Music ProductionLet’s get you producing and mixing with the one of best desktop computers for music production in 2020.

If you’re planning on producing music, or you want to upgrade your current computer to a better computer for your studio or workflow, your next computer may be in this list.

Quick Answer:

We consider the 5 best computers for music production to be:

  1. Apple iMac 27″ Pro
  2. Sweetwater Custom Computing CS100
  3. Sweetwater Custom Computing CS450 4U
  4. Dell Optiplex 5060
  5. Dell G5 Tower 5090

The rest of this post will go into detail on the full list of music production computers, with individual overviews, specs, and a buying guide to help you make the best decision if you’re stuck.

If you’re new to buying a computer for music production, take a look at the buying guide and FAQ sections of this guide. This will give you an understanding of the rationale that went into choosing these options, and how you may select one for yourself.

My suggestion is that you bookmark this page and get a pen and paper, take some notes of what you need, what you can afford, what you can do without, and what you see will be “upgradable” as you go through the products, and begin choosing by process of elimination. This is biggest list you will find on the internet, with over 30 computers, all of which is quite fit more or less for being a music production workstation.

Let’s take a closer look 🙂


Disclaimer: Computer specifications/models may change after the writing of this article. Please check the specifications after clicking the links before ordering. Reference the necessary specs with the buying guide below. We also may earn a commission if you do buy… thanks for your support!


Table of Contents

Find other studio gear here:

Computer Mice, Studio Microphones, Headphones, Monitor Speakers, Audio Interfaces, MIDI Controllers

Looking for a laptop instead? Go here.


Best Desktop Computers for Music Production

Apple iMac 27″ Pro

Apple iMac Pro 27 inchesPros
  1. Has four USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports onboard
  2. Has a Retina 5k display
  3. 32GB RAM onboard
  4. Has an advanced thermal management system with dual blowers, a high-capacity heatsink, and extra vents
Cons
  1. Only comes with a single 1TB SSD drive
  2. Quite pricey
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

The Apple iMac 27” for music production is easily the biggest and baddest iMac around. It has sufficient power for even the most demanding production and mixing tasks, and comes with a host of advanced storage, memory, and I/O features. It also has a spectacular Retina 5K display and comes in a sleek and modernistic all-in-one design. If you are looking for the pinnacle of Mac perfection for your studio, this could well be it.

Basic Specs and useful features

This particular model comes with eight cores, which handles even the most demanding applications like a champ. Turbo Boost lets you crank up the speed to a screaming 4.5GHz, so most users won’t have to worry about maxing out the CPU any time soon.

The iMac 27” also boasts of AVX-512 vector instructions and redesigned cache architecture data is handled more efficiently than ever before. Whether you want to run several CPU-intensive plug-ins or process dozens of tracks in real-time, you will find the iMac 27” more than capable of the job.

Bottom-line

The iMac 27” is available in a few other flavors with fewer features and slightly lower specs if you are on a budget. But if you need all the power and performance that a top-of-the-line iMac can deliver, this is the one you should go for.

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS100

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS100Pros
  1. Bundled with Audacity audio editor software and Studio One Artist
  2. Ultra-compact design fits neatly into a rack
  3. Has four USB 3.0 ports and a Thunderbolt 3 port
  4. Onboard support for two displays
Cons
  1. Only a single Thunderbolt port
Price @ Sweetwater

Sweetwater designed the CS100 to meet the needs of studio musicians and producers for a fast and powerful desktop at a reasonable price. Capable of flawless performance, this compact solution is an excellent choice for those just starting out with production. Even so, it provides room to grow along with your needs, and you could easily keep it around even as you build up the rest of your studio arsenal.

Basic Specs and useful features

The CS100 for music production comes bundled with Audacity and Presonus’ Studio One Artist, so you have everything you need to put together full productions right out of the box. The Intel 7th Gen Core i5-7260U provides a good balance between power, speed, and affordability, so you can get quite a lot done before you even have to think about going for an upgrade.

Unlike many other entry-level units, the CS100 has Thunderbolt 3 port built-in, which gives you a bit of future-proof capability. It even has onboard support for two displays, so it could easily serve as the hub of your production studio.

Bottom-line

The CS100 is an affordably-priced unit that surprisingly has most of the bases covered. A solid and reliable performer, this should find a welcome spot in your project studio.

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS450 4U

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS450 4UPros
  1. Bundled with Audacity and Studio One Artist
  2. Comes with a 500GB SDD and two 2TB HDDs
  3. Rackmountable chassis
Cons
  1. No Thunderbolt ports
Price @ Sweetwater

Sweetwater has made quite a name for itself with its custom builds that deliver excellent value and performance, but the CS450 takes the cake. An absolute screamer of a desktop, it has a fast and reliable processor that can take on even the most CPU-hungry applications. And with pro features such as a rack-mountable chassis and abundant storage space, this could very well be the studio command center you are looking for.

Basic Specs and useful features

At the heart of the CS450 is an Intel 8th Gen Core i7-8700 processor that delivers gobs of power and performance without breaking the bank. Although not the fastest and most powerful CPU on the market, it is certainly capable of most studio tasks and keeps the CS450 at a manageable price point.

We were impressed to find that the CS450 comes with not one, not two, but three drives: a 500GB SSD and a pair of 2TB HDDs. Sweetwater clearly has the needs of modern studio musicians and producers in mind when deciding on this configuration.

But the CS450 is more than just a studio machine. The rugged rack-mountable chassis also makes it capable of handling the rigors of the road, so you could just as easily use this as a stage computer for live performance, recording, or mixing.

Bottom-line

The CS450 for music production is an impressive and well-thought-out machine that will be equally at home in the studio and on stage. We do wish that it had a Thunderbolt port, but even without it, the CS450 is still a winner in our book.

Dell Optiplex 5060

Dell Optiplex 5060Pros
  1. Powerful Intel Core i7-8700 3.2GHz 6-Core processor
  2. Comes with 32GB DDR4 RAM
  3. 10 USB Ports
Cons
  1. No Thunderbolt
Price @ Amazon

Dell’s Optiplex line has been around for many years now, but the 5060 proves that there is plenty of life in the series yet. An imposing tower desktop that packs a wealth of studio-friendly features, it also has an attractive price tag that should make it appeal to budding producers and studio musicians. And with plenty of connectivity options, the 5060 can effectively serve as the central hub of any modern production rig.

Basic Specs and useful features

The Optiplex 5060 for music production boasts of an Intel Core i7-8700 3.2GHz 6-Core processor that provides sufficient power to handle a multitude of recording, mixing, and mastering tasks. It also comes with a whopping 32GB of DDR4 RAM as standard, which will definitely come in handy. With this much RAM onboard, you could load up a couple of multi-gigabyte sample libraries and stream multiple audio tracks without putting undue strain on your hard drive.

Speaking of which, the 5060 comes with a 1TB SSD which is more than enough for your operating system, a couple of DAWs, and plenty of project files. You also get a total of ten USB ports, so you aren’t likely to run out of connectivity options any time soon.

Bottom-line

The Dell Optiplex 5060 is a solid all-arounder that delivers outstanding performance capabilities right out of the box. You will likely want to augment the single SSD with a couple of data drives at some point, but the base configuration provides more than enough capability for most production work.

Dell G5 Tower 5090

Dell G5 Tower 5090Pros
  1. Powerful 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9700 processor
  2. Optimized airflow via 360W PSU fans
  3. Compact design
  4. Tool-less access to internal components for easy upgrade
Cons
  1. More RAM would have been nice for the price
Price @ Amazon

On paper, the Dell G5 Tower 5090 for music production seems to provide everything that a budding producer would need to come up with industry-level productions. A robust form factor, a fast processor, and easy upgradability, this imposing black desktop is a capable entry-level machine that could hang with the big boys after a few judicious upgrades.

Basic Specs and useful features

The most important component of any studio computer is the processor, and you will be glad to know that the 5090 has what it takes to compete with the best machines on that score. Powered by a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9700 CPU, the 5090 will have plenty of years in it before you even need to think about moving up to a faster and more powerful unit.

Somewhat disappointingly, the 5090 only comes with 16GB DDR4 RAM and a single 512GB SSD. At this price point, 32GB of RAM would have been nice, as would a 1TB SSD. Even so, the 5090’s base configuration is by no means unworkable, and you could certainly crank out great-sounding productions even with these ‘limitations’.

Thankfully, the Dell G5’s chassis is designed for easy upgradability. The tool-less side panel can be removed easily if and when you want to add a bigger hard drive or two or kick up the memory to 32GB.

Bottom-line

As it is, the Dell G5 Tower 5090 is a capable and reliable desktop that should be adequate for most studio tasks. However, you will likely want to add a bigger drive at some point and get an additional 16GB of RAM.


PCs

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS250 2U

Sweetwater Custom Computing CS250 2UPros
  1. Comes with a 240GB SDD and a 1TB HDD
  2. Comes in a rugged 2U rackmountable chassis
  3. Has two quiet fans that prevent heat build-up
  4. Acoustically-treated for lower noise
Cons
  1. Comes with only 8GB of RAM
Price @ Sweetwater

The Sweetwater Custom Computing CS250 addresses the needs of musicians and producers for a capable system that delivers excellent value for the money. A 2U rack-mountable unit, it has a pretty decent feature set that makes it a respectable audio production workstation.

Basic Specs and useful features

The CS250’s Intel 8th Generation Core i5 won’t win any awards for performance, with so many blazing-fast processors out on the market. But its 2.8GHz clock speed will definitely get the job done, and you could always kick it up to 4.0GHz via the Turbo Boost feature.

The 8GB of onboard RAM may be a bit disappointing, particularly if you were planning on loading up a huge orchestral sound library. Thankfully, only two of the four RAM slots are occupied, so you can add another pair of memory chips.

Things are more promising on the storage front, with an ultra-fast 240GB SSD paired with a 1TB HDD. The CS250 sports two quiet fans as well, and is acoustically-treated for low noise, making it ideally suited for tracking and mixing duties.

Bottom-line

The Sweetwater Custom Computing CS250 for music production comes with a decent enough processor and a serviceable SSD/HDD combo. With a RAM upgrade, this could be quite a capable audio production system.

Waves Axis One

Waves Axis OnePros
  1. Optimized for Waves applications
  2. Plenty of USB ports
  3. Has two HDMI ports and a display port
Cons
  1. Intel i5 processor isn’t exactly the most powerful
  2. Comes with only a single 256GB SSD
Price @ Sweetwater

Waves Axis One for music production is designed specifically to run Waves applications, which makes it seem a bit of a niche product in the audio production world. Nevertheless, it proves worthy of handling a variety of audio-related tasks with its decent feature set. And because it comes in a rugged 2U half-rack chassis, it is also well suited to the rigors of the road.

Basic Specs and useful features

Axis One is the product of meticulous component selection and thorough testing. Unsurprisingly, it is a lot more stable and reliable than most every off-the-shelf ‘studio computer’. Granted, the Axis One’s isn’t the highest spec machine on the market. Its Intel i5 processor and 16GB of DDR4 RAM won’t exactly impress jaded studio hounds. But stability and reliability are ultimately what counts in a real-world studio scenario, and the Axis One definitely delivers on those points.

For the money, you do get eight USB2/USB3 ports and a USB-C port. The Axis One also comes with two HDMI ports and a display port, so you could readily set up a dual–or even triple–monitor system.

Bottom-line

The beauty of Waves Axis One is that it just works right out of the box. If you use Waves software for studio production, recording, or live mixing, the Axis One is a no-brainer.

HP 460 Desktop Computer

HP 460 Desktop ComputerPros
  1. Powered by a 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700T CPU
  2. Comes with 32GB DDR4 RAM as standard
  3. Comes with a 1TB 7200RPM SATA HDD and a 1TB SSD
Cons
  1. Only four USB ports
  2. No Thunderbolt port
Price @ Amazon

Even with so many state-of-the-art music production computers on the market today, we can’t help but be impressed by the HP 460 Desktop Computer. From its speedy processor to its dual drives, almost everything about the 460 points to its capability to deliver the performance needed for modern music projects.

Basic Specs and useful features

At the heart of the HP 460 is a 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700T processor with a base frequency of 2.9 GHz. Able to go up to 3.8 GHz via Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, the four-core processor has an 8MB cache that ensures responsiveness and speedy performance.

The 460 is a well-appointed unit, with 32GB of DDR4 RAM right out of the box. It also comes with 1TB SSD and a 1TB SDD that spins at 7200RPM. Not only does this give you plenty of space for your project files, sound libraries, and completed songs, but it also ensures that multiple tracks stream flawlessly without a hiccup.

Bottom-line

The HP 460 for music production is by no means perfect. It only has four USB ports for one thing and it doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port. But it is a pretty sweet machine for the price and could easily serve as the brain of your project studio.

MSI Trident 3 9SH-444US

MSI Trident 3 9SH-444USPros
  1. Very slim form factor
  2. Powerful and silent cooling with optimized airflow
  3. Has a total of eight USB ports
Cons
  1. Only 8GB RAM
  2. Comes with only a single 512GB SDD
Price @ Amazon

Going by looks alone, the MSI Trident 3 9SH-444US doesn’t exactly give off a studio-computer vibe. It has a slim and ultra-modern form factor that makes it seem more of a gaming rig than a tool for music production. But a closer look at its specs reveals a surprisingly capable machine that could just serve as the center of a modern production studio.

Basic Specs and useful features

The MSI Trident 3 for music production is powered by an Intel Core i5-9400F processor that should be adequate for most recording and mixing work. Of course, you might struggle a bit if you load up more than a couple of modern softsynths, but for general recording, production, and mixdown, the Trident 3’s processor should be fine.

You will definitely want to add more RAM to the 8GB DDR4 that comes with the Trident 3. You will also likely come to the limits of the single 512GB SSD soon enough, so plan on adding on another drive or two.

To its credit, the Trident 3 does have an excellent cooling system. This is particularly important given the unit’s extremely slim form factor. You also get a total of eight USB ports, although the Trident 3 does not have a Thunderbolt port.

Bottom-line

The MSI Trident 3 9SH-444US isn’t terribly exciting, but it is a serviceable machine that will get the job done. Spend a bit more on RAM and a secondary hard drive and you will get a lot more satisfaction out of it.

MSI Trident X Plus

MSI Trident X PlusPros
  1. Powerful Intel Core i9-9900KF processor
  2. Comes with 32GB DDR4 RAM
  3. Has a 512GB SSD and a 2TB HDD
  4. Silent Storm cooling system
Cons
  1. Pricey!
  2. HDD runs at only 5400 RPM
Price @ Amazon

If MSI’s Trident 3 intrigues you but you want a machine with a little bit more ‘oomph’, the Trident X Plus should be right up your alley. Sharing the same slim and futuristic form factor as the Trident 3, the X Plus ups the ante with a more robust processor, more memory, and more disk space.

Basic Specs and useful features

The Trident X Plus for music production is better than Trident 3 in almost every way. The 3’s somewhat dated processor has been replaced with a much more impressive Intel Core i9-9900KF with eight cores and you now have 32GB of RAM onboard.

The Trident X Plus comes with a 512GB SSD and a 2TB HDD. Keep in mind however that the 2TB drive–which you will probably want to use for your data and project files–spins at only 5400 RPM. Because of this, you might struggle to get several long audio tracks to stream smoothly on occasion.

Bottom-line

The Trident X Plus is obviously priced higher than the Trident 3. Whether or not the higher cost is worth it depends on the demands you will place on your computer. If you can afford it, however, the X Plus will make a nice addition to your studio and possibly even serve as its main brain.

Dell XPS 8930

Dell XPS 8930Pros
  1. Powerful 8th Gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-8700 processor
  2. 32GB DDR4 RAM onboard
  3. Has a 1TB SDD and a 2TB 7200RPM HDD
  4. Has 11 USB ports
Cons
  1. No Thunderbolt ports
Price @ Amazon

The Dell XPS 8930 has pretty much everything that studio musicians and producers need to come up with quality tracks. A speedy processor, plenty of RAM, and abundant hard drive space, the XPS 8930 delivers all of this and more at a price that won’t break the bank.

Basic specs and useful features

The XPS 8930 is powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 processor with six cores. Although not the most powerful CPU on the market, this will certainly be capable of handling several virtual instrument tracks, audio tracks, and effects plug-ins.

The XPS 8930 also has 32GB of DDR4 RAM onboard, which takes some of the load off the hard drives. Speaking of which, the Dell comes with a 1TB SSD and a 2TB HDD spinning at 7200RPM. With this setup, you could stream multiple tracks of stereo audio and several virtual instrument libraries without stutters or glitches.

Rounding out the XPS 8930’s impressive feature set is an onboard Intel HD Graphics processor, an integrated 5.1 audio interface with WAVE MAXX Audio Pro, and no less than 11 USB ports.

Bottom-line

The Dell XPS 8930 for music production offers a whole lot of computing power for not a whole lot of money. If you are looking for a studio machine to handle the bulk of your productions, the XPS 8930 is definitely worth a closer look.

Envy 795qd Premium Desktop Workstation PC

Envy 795qdPros
  1. Many configuration options available
  2. 32GB DDR4 RAM onboard
  3. Has a 1TB SDD and a 3TB HDD
  4. Nice brushed aluminum case
Cons
  1. No Thunderbolt ports
  2. A bit pricey
Price @ Amazon

The Envy series is one of the flagship lines of HP, and it’s easy to see why. Boasting of premium components, excellent build quality, and reliable performance, Envy computers are well-equipped to fill the needs of industry professionals. With the HP Envy 795qd Premium Desktop Workstation PC, musicians and producers can expect more of the same qualities that have made the series so popular.

Basic specs and useful features

One of the best things about the Envy 795qd is that there are so many different configurations available. If you are the type who likes to specify every little thing about your work machine down to the last component, this series is for you.

There certainly isn’t anything wrong with the standard configuration. With an Intel 8th Generation Coffee Lake core i7-8700 processor, the Envy 795qd has more than enough horsepower to handle the most demanding studio projects. It also has 32GB of DDR4 memory, a 1TB SDD, and a huge 3TB HDD that you can use as your data drive. All of this comes in a handsome brushed silver aluminum case that will look awesome in any studio.

Bottom-line

The Envy 795qd for music production is admittedly pretty pricey, but you do get a whole lot of computer for the money. If you do take the plunge, you can expect your investment to pay off for a long time to come.

HP Envy 34 Curved Desktop

HP Envy 34 Curved DesktopPros
  1. Has a powerful Intel Core i7-8700T that goes up to 4.00GHz
  2. Comes with a 2 TB SSD Drive
  3. Has a 34” curved 3440 x 1440 display
  4. Has a Thunderbolt port
Cons
  1. Expensive
Price @ Amazon

HP’s Envy line is well-known among graphics and video professionals, as well as anyone who needs a powerful computer that gets the job done without a lot of fuss. For studio professionals, the HP Envy 34 Curved Desktop has an impressive feature set that might just make it one of the most worthy computers for music production.

Basic specs and useful features

The Envy 34’s basic specs are certainly impressive: Intel Core i7-8700T processor, 32 GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, and a 2TB SSD. All these are certainly useful for any music producer or studio musician, and make the Envy 34 a good buy on those points alone.

But what will likely sway the dedicated studio professional is the 34” curved display, which is a WQHD WLED-backlit model with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. Even if you are accustomed to a dual-monitor setup, having this much screen real estate is a definite luxury. Imagine being able to lay out your DAW’s arrange page and console on the same screen, and you may never want to go back to your old way of working again.

Bottom-line

As expected the HP Envy 34 Curved Desktop for music production is quite expensive, but it’s pretty easy to see why. If you can justify the cost, you may have just found your studio centerpiece for the next several years.

Lenovo M920Q Tiny Desktop Computer

Pros
  1. 96% smaller than a standard desktop computer
  2. Conforms to military-specifications and subject to 200 rigorous tests
  3. Has an efficient 90W power supply
Cons
  1. No Thunderbolt ports
Price @ Amazon

One of the most compact desktop computers you will ever come across, the M920Q for music production isn’t a lightweight by any means. Packing a respectable amount of power, it is worth a closer look if you want a machine with a tiny footprint that doesn’t compromise on performance.

Basic specs and useful features

The M920Q’s processor is certainly no slouch. An 8th Generation Intel 6-Core i7-8700T, it compares favorably to the processors you will find in many bigger and pricier desktops. And with 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, the M920Q is definitely ready for prime time. Connectivity options include six USB ports, a standard display port, and an HDMI port.

Bottom-line

Form factor aside, what really impressed us about the M920Q’s is its rugged build and durability. We have no doubt as to its ability to handle the demands of everyday use and its small footprint is a definite bonus.

ASUS Zen ZN242GD

ASUS Zen ZN242GDPros
  1. Fast and powerful Intel Core i7-8750H processor
  2. 23.8” NanoEdge Touchscreen display
  3. 2TB SSD and 2TB HDD onboard
Cons
  1. A bit expensive
Price @ Amazon

Looking for a touchscreen computer that has enough power for the most demanding studio applications? The ASUS Zen ZN242GD for music production could very well be it, and its impressive feature set and proven durability make it a serious choice for those searching for a new studio workhorse.

Basic specs and useful features

Pop the hood of the ASUS Zen ZN242GD–or simply read through the spec sheet!–and it reveals itself as a pretty respectable machine. An Intel EXTREME-power Core i7 processor, 32 GB of RAM, and an SDD/HDD combo…if you had any doubts about the Zen’s ability to handle modern production work, these components should lay them to rest.

But the touchscreen display is undoubtedly the biggest selling point. With a generously-sized 23.8” widescreen with a frameless NanoEdge design, the Zen is just as attractive as it is functional. Ten-finger multi-touch capability raises the bar for interactivity, making it possible to perform actions and gestures that will speed up workflow and enhance the user experience.

The ASUS Zen ZN242GD also comes with the Sonic Master audio system, which is pretty impressive in itself. Although you will likely use a professional audio interface for your production work, having the Sonic Master system on board is a welcome bonus.

Bottom-line

About the only thing we could fault the ASUS Zen ZN242GD for is the price tag. Even so, the cost is definitely worth it considering the power and performance that you get in return.

HP Pavilion 590

HP Pavilion 590Pros
  1. Fast 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 3.20 GHz Processor
    32GB DDR4 Memory onboard
  2. Has nine USB drives
Cons
  1. Only has a single 512GB SSD
Price @ Amazon

The HP Pavilion 590 for music production is one of those machines that just work smoothly and reliably out of the box. Part of HP’s venerable Pavilion line, the 590 delivers excellent performance at a fairly reasonable price.

Basic specs and useful features

Driving the Pavilion 590 is an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 processor that runs at 3.20 GHz. Switching on Turbo Boost kicks the clock speed up to 4.60 GHz, although most producers and home recording engineers probably won’t need the extra grunt.

The base unit also comes with a generous 32GB of DDR4 memory, so you can load up a pretty good-sized orchestral library without choking up your hard drive.

Somewhat disappointingly, the Pavilion 590 only comes with a single 512GB solid-state drive. If you do go for this unit, we suggest adding a 1TB to 2TB HDD as your first aftermarket upgrade.

The Pavilion 590 also has a total of nine USB drives, which is nice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a Thunderbolt drive. But then again, not many computers do at this price point.

Bottom-line

The HP Pavilion 590 is a solid all-around machine that is capable of pretty speedy performance. At this price, there are few other units that could provide similar capabilities.

HP Omen Obelisk Gaming PC

HP Omen Obelisk Gaming PCPros
  1. Speedy processor (8th Generation Intel 6-Core i7-8700)
  2. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card ensures quality images
  3. Has a 512GB SSD and a 2TB HDD
  4. Eight USB ports
Cons
  1. None
Price @ Amazon

The HP Omen Obelisk for music production is designed for gaming rather than music production, but that doesn’t mean that studio musicians and producers can’t make use of it. In fact, a quick look at the specs shows that the Obelisk has features that make it ideally suited for modern studio production.

Basic specs and useful features

The processor definitely isn’t the weak link in the chain. Running an 8th Generation Intel 6-Core i7-8700 processor that can be Turbo Boosted to 4.6GHz, the Obelisk is more than enough to handle a small army of virtual instruments.

An NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 handles your graphics requirements, which are really more of an issue when playing games than when working with DAWs. You do get an abundant amount of storage space between the 512GB SSD and the 2TB HDD.

The Obelisk has a fairly modest 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which you will probably want to augment with another 16GB. You also get no less than eight USB ports, giving you plenty of options to connect to a host of legacy and current devices.

Bottom-line

The HP Omen Obelisk is an impressive-looking machine with fairly decent specs. Some of the gaming capabilities are a bit overkill for studio work, but it’s nice to have the power available when you need it.


Macs

Apple Mac mini 3.2GHz 6-core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

Apple Mac miniPros
  1. Fast 3.2GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 processor
  2. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports!
Cons
  1. Only has 16GB of RAM onboard
  2. Only has a single 512GB SSD
Price @ Sweetwater

Apple Mac minis for music production strike the perfect balance between cost and the trademark performance and reliability of a Mac. With the 3.2GHz 6-core i7 version, studio musicians and producers can get in on the action with one of the most affordable Macs yet.

Basic specs and useful features

Right off the bat, the Mac mini impresses with its 6-core i7 processor running at 3.2GHz. Sure there are many more powerful processors out there, but this particular configuration strikes a good balance between power and affordability.

Slightly less impressive are the modest 16GB of RAM and the solitary 512GB SSD. The good news is that the Mac mini supports up to 64GB of memory, so a couple of upgrades are all that is standing between you and unbridled production capability.

One thing we did appreciate is the availability of no less than four Thunderbolt ports onboard. Considering that many other computers don’t even have a single Thunderbolt port, the availability of these connectivity options ensures a degree of future-proofing that makes the Mac mini a good choice for a music production computer.

Bottom-line

The Apple Mac mini isn’t the fastest computer around, but its stability and reliability are pretty much a given. And with four Thunderbolt ports onboard, it is worth considering as a future proof studio option.

Apple iMac – 27″ Retina 5K Display, 3.7GHz 6-Core i5

Apple iMac - 27Pros
  1. Gorgeous Retina 5K display
  2. Has two Thunderbolt 3 ports  and four USB 3 ports
  3. Simple and stylish enclosure
Cons
  1. Only 8GB of RAM onboard
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

Apple iMacs are known primarily for their simple and elegant design and their solid reliability. The 27” 3.7GHz i5 version is no different, providing the power and performance that professional studio musicians have come to expect from a state-of-the-art Mac.

Basic specs and useful features

Everything about the 27” 3.7GHz i5 has been designed to produce a fast, efficient, and powerful machine. For producers and studio musicians, the 3.7GHz 6-core processor translates into smoothness and responsiveness when handling resource-intensive processes and CPU hungry apps.

This particular configuration comes with only 8GB of DDR4 memory, which might be insufficient when working with large sample libraries. Thankfully, the memory on this particular unit can be upgraded to as much as 64GB.

The 3.7GHz i5 comes with a 2TB Fusion Drive, which provides plenty of space for apps and data files. We would have preferred to have a smaller SDD for the operating system and applications and a larger HDD for song files and sample libraries.

The most impressive feature of the 3.7GHz i5 is undoubtedly the Retina 5K display, which makes working on projects an absolute joy. On-screen elements are razor-sharp and project windows and UIs are rich and detailed.

Bottom-line

Like all Macs, the iMac 27” 3.7GHz is quite pricy. That being said, you do get impressive performance for the money, and the elegance and straightforward reliability that has become an Apple trademark.

Apple iMac – 27″ Retina 5K Display, 3.0GHz 6-Core i5

Apple iMac - 27Pros
  1. Great-looking 5K display
  2. Has two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  3. One of the more reasonably-priced iMacs
Cons
  1. Only 8GB RAM onboard
  2. RAM is upgradeable only to 32GB
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

If you want the power and performance of an iMac but you don’t necessarily want to shell out for the biggest and baddest model, the iMac 27” 3.0GHz might be right up your alley. Running a 6-core i5, the 3.0GHz provides a good balance between power and affordability, giving you pretty much the same experience as a higher-end model at a slightly lower cost.

Basic specs and useful features

Like the other 27” iMacs in this series, the 3.0GHz features a stunning Retina 5K display that is absolutely captivating to stare at. If you regularly work on projects for hours and hours at a time, your eyes will thank you for investing in such a great-looking display.

The rest of the specs are pretty decent, if not exactly earthshattering. The 3.0GHz 6-core i5 processor is more than sufficient for most studio tasks, although you will probably want to beef up the 8GB of RAM at some point. Keep in mind that this particular model takes only a maximum of 32GB, so there is a ceiling to how much memory you can add.

Bottom-line

The Apple iMac 27” 3.0GHz 6-Core i5 isn’t exactly cheap, but it is priced pretty reasonably for everything that you get. If you absolutely must have an iMac in your studio but don’t have the cash for the higher spec’d model, this could be the one for you.

Apple Mac mini 3.0GHz 6-core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Apple Mac miniPros
  1. Powerful Intel Core i5 processor can be Turbo Boosted up to 4.1GHz
  2. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  3. Supports up to three displays
Cons
  1. Only 8GB of RAM onboard
  2. Only has a single 256GB SSD
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

The Mac mini has become something of a mainstay over the past few years, and for good reason. With a winning blend of power, portability, and affordability, it offers a handful of useful features for studio musicians and producers looking for a stable and reliable music production machine.

Basic specs and useful features

This particular model comes with a 6-core i5 processor clocked at 3.0GHz. Not the most powerful processors on the market by any means, but you would be surprised at how many plug-ins you can load up before running out of processing power.

Onboard is a meager 8GB of RAM, which you should probably bump up to 32GB if you want to work with large orchestral libraries and the like. The Mac mini 3.0GHz also comes with a 256GB SSD, which you will definitely want to augment with a 1TB or 2TB HDD.

To its credit, the Mac mini 3.0GHz does have four USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports, which covers you for future upgrades and add-ons. As more and more Thunderbolt devices are introduced to the music production market, the Mac mini 3.0GHz will continue to be a viable studio machine long after other computers have become obsolete.

Bottom-line

The Mac mini 3.0GHz is quite a capable unit with a good degree of future-proofing built-in. Bump up the RAM and spend a bit more on a large HDD, and you could get a lot of use out of this model for years to come.

Apple iMac – 21.5″, 2.3GHz Dual-Core i5

Pros
  1. Sleek and stylish design
  2. Thunderbolt 3 port
Cons
  1. Only 8GB of RAM onboard
  2. Only has a single 1TB 5400 RPM HDD
  3. Dual core is pretty much a no-no for any kind of intensive music production
Price @ Sweetwater

Looking for a stable and reliable iMac for your studio but don’t want to take out a second mortgage to pay for it? The Apple iMac 21.5” might be the perfect option for you. With a decent feature set and a price that won’t wipe out your budget, this model provides excellent value combined with the stability and reliability that you have come to expect from Apple computers.

Basic specs and useful features

This particular model sports a 2.3GHz Dual-Core i5 processor, which won’t exactly break any speed records. Even so, it is speedy enough for basic studio work and is smooth and responsive as far as CPUs go.

The iMac 21.5” 2.3GHz comes with only 8GB of RAM, which is enough for basic projects. If you want to work with large orchestral libraries or stream multiple tracks of audio, however, you will want to upgrade this to at least 32GB as soon as possible.

For the price, you also get a 1TB HDD, which is adequate for your operating system, music apps, and data files. It would have been nice to have a separate drive for applications and data files, but you could always add a secondary drive when funds allow.

Bottom-line

The iMac 21.5” 2.3GHz is pretty reasonably priced as far as iMacs go. If you absolutely must have an iMac in your studio but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for it, this is the one to get.

Apple Mac mini 3.2GHz 6-core i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Apple Mac miniPros
  1. 3.2GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7 processor
  2. 16GB of RAM onboard
  3. Four USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports
Cons
  1. Only has a single 256GB SSD
Price @ Sweetwater

If you thought that Mac minis were underpowered machines for hipsters with more money than sense, the 3.2GHz i7 model might just give you a reason to reconsider. Boasting of a pretty powerful processor, a decent amount of RAM, and future-proof connectivity options, it could be the perfect studio computer for you.

Basic specs and useful features

This particular Mac mini is powered by a 6-core i7 processor running at a clock speed of 3.2GHz. The CPU can be Turbo Boosted to 4.6GHz if you need a little more push, but the default clock speed should be sufficient for most studio applications.

Also on board is 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which again should be able to handle more modest requirements. Unless you are planning on working with several tracks of sample libraries or mixing down full-length stereo tracks, you could get quite a lot done with 16GB of RAM.

You will definitely have to augment the 256GB SSD at some point, preferably with a 2TB HDD. This way, you could keep your operating system and applications on the SDD and store your song and data files and sample libraries on the larger drive.

Bottom-line

The Mac mini 3.2GHz could very well serve as the hub of your studio, handling the bulk of your composition, recording, and mixing needs. Upgrade the RAM and add another drive as soon as you can, and you could have a very capable studio machine on your hands.

Apple iMac – 27″ Retina 5K Display, 3.1GHz 6-Core i5

Apple iMac - 27Pros
  1. Stunning Retina 5K Display
  2. Reasonably powerful 3.1GHz 6‑core Intel Core i5 processor
  3. 2 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2) ports plus four Type A 3.0 USB ports
Cons
  1. Only comes with 8GB of memory
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

Thinking of upgrading to an iMac? The 3.1GHz 6-Core i5 offers a more affordable alternative to the costlier models, and you get most of the features and capabilities that you are looking for in a dedicated studio machine. Best of all, you can have a stable and reliable music production computer at a lower cost than you would spend on a high-end unit.

Basic specs and useful features

The main selling point of the new iMacs is the Retina 5K display, which is truly wonderful to behold. If you routinely work for long hours in front of the computer, you will enjoy having such a great-looking display to stare at.

Processing is handled by a 3.1GHz 6‑core Intel Core i5 CPU, which isn’t the most powerful on the market. Nevertheless, it provides enough horsepower for most studio tasks, from writing and recording to cranking out full mixes.

You also get 8GB of DDR4 memory on board, which is pretty modest for serious studio use. You do get a 1TB Fusion Drive and two Thunderbolt ports, so upgrading the RAM is probably the first thing you have to think about.

Bottom-line

The iMac 27” 3.1GHz is a great machine with an excellent display. With a few strategic upgrades, it could easily serve as the main computer of a modern production studio.

Apple iMac – 21.5″ Retina 4K Display, 3.0GHz 6-Core i5

Pros
  1. 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 processor
  2. Radeon Pro 560X graphics card
  3. Two USB-C (Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2, DisplayPort) ports
Cons
  1. Only 8GB of RAM onboard
  2. A bit pricy considering the specs
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

The iMac 21.5” is a mid-priced iMac that ticks all the boxes when it comes to a reliable and stable studio computer. With a decent feature set and a modest but capable selection of components, this could be the studio centerpiece that you are looking for.

Basic specs and useful features

The iMac 21.5” boasts of a 6-core i5 CPU running at 3.0GHz. Turbo Boosting takes it up to 4.1GHz, but you probably won’t need to do that for typical studio work.

The graphics card is a Radeon Pro 560X, which has a pretty respectable 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Paired with the Retina 4K display, images are crisp and clear, with no hint of blurriness and jaggedness.

The iMac 21.5” comes with only 8GB of RAM, which is a bit disappointing. You can add more RAM of course, but this particular model supports only a maximum of 32GB. While this should be enough for more modest productions, you should probably look into other options if you regularly work on epic orchestral scores.

Bottom-line

The iMac 21.5” 3.0GHz is a decently spec’d machine that should suffice for most studio production and mixdown work. For the price, this model provides pretty good value for the money.

Apple Mac mini 3.0GHz 6-core i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Apple iMac - 27Pros
  1. Reasonably fast 3.0GHz 6‑core Intel Core i5 processor
  2. 16GB of memory onboard
  3. Has four USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports
Cons
  1. Only has a single 256GB SSD
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

Mac minis provide some of the best value in computers today, and the 3.0GHz model is no different. With a modest but serviceable set of components, it is an affordably-priced computer that could be a useful addition to your studio rig.

Basic specs and useful features

The Mac mini 3.0GHz is a 6‑core Intel Core i5 machine that can be Turbo Boosted to a clock speed of 4.1GHz. It has a 9MB shared L3 cache as well, which helps ensure responsiveness and smooth performance even when pushed.

Onboard is a total of 16GB DDR4 RAM, which is adequate for medium-sized productions. If you keep your track count to a reasonable number and stick to more modestly-sized libraries, the 16GB of RAM should hold you over for a few projects before you have to upgrade.

For storage, the Mac mini 3.0GHz comes with a single 256GB SSD. Although sufficient for your operating system, DAW and a handful of software instruments, you will definitely need to add a secondary HDD for your data and project files at some point.

Bottom-line

The Mac ini 3.0GHz is a reasonably priced unit that could be an ideal first machine for a project studio. Even if you decide to move up to a better system in the future, the Mac mini 3.0GHz will be worth having around as a backup computer.

Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz 16-Core Xeon W, 96GB RAM, 4TB SSD

Apple Mac ProPros
  1. Very powerful 3.2GHz 16-core Intel Xeon W processor
  2. Has a whopping 96GB of RAM onboard
  3. Powerful Radeon Pro 580X GPU
  4. 4TB of SSD storage
Cons
  1. Price
Price @ Sweetwater

If you are really intent on getting a serious music system together, the Apple Mac Pro 3.2GHz is what you need at the heart of it. One of the most robust and technologically-capable computers on the market, it has most everything you need to put together world-class productions in your studio.

Basic specs and useful features

The Mac Pro 3.2GHz sports a screaming fast Intel Xeon W processor running 16-cores. Needless to say, this is one of the most powerful processors available in a consumer machine, and you will be absolutely amazed at how fast you can zip through processes that you’ve previously struggled with.

The Mac Pro 3.2GHz also has a whopping 96GB of memory, which lets you load even a couple of instances of multi-gigabyte sound libraries without your system grinding to a halt. You can smoothly stream several audio tracks as well, so you are pretty much covered even for large mixing projects. And for storing your song files and completed projects, the Mac Pro 3.2GHz comes with a 4TB SSD.

Bottom-line

As you might expect, the Mac Pro 3.2GHz is pretty expensive. Not all home studio owners and budding producers will be able to justify the cost. But if you are one of the few that can, the Mac Pro 3.2GHz is an impressive piece of computer technology that you will definitely enjoy.

Apple Mac Pro 3.5GHz 8-Core Xeon W, 32GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Apple Mac ProPros
  1. Powerful 3.5GHz Intel Xeon W processor
  2. 32GB of RAM onboard
  3. Supports six 4K displays, two 5K displays, or two Pro Display XDRs
Cons
  1. Only has a 256GB SSD
Price @ Sweetwater

If you don’t quite need 16 cores but still need gobs of computing power, the Mac Pro 3.5GHz is a feasible alternative. Packing enough power for even the most demanding applications, it is worthy of serious consideration as the center of your production studio.

Basic specs and useful features

Taking a look at the Mac Pro 3.5GHz gives you a lot to be impressed about. The processor is a very respectable Intel Xeon W running eight cores and 16 threads. It has a huge 24.5MB cache and can be Turbo Boosted to 4.0GHz for that extra bit of push.

Memory requirements are handled by 32GB of DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough to handle huge sound libraries and stream multiple tracks of stereo audio.

The single 256GB SSD is a bit of a letdown, but it is a fairly simple matter to add a second hard drive for storing data and project files and sample content.

If you like working with multiple monitors, you will be glad to know that the Mac Pro 3.5GHz supports up to six 4K displays, two 5K displays, or even two Pro Display XDRs.

Bottom-line

The Mac Pro 3.5GHz sells for about half the price of the 16-core model. Although still too expensive for many beginner studios and budding producers, it does offer a whole lot of power and performance for the price.

Apple Mac mini 3.6GHz Quad-core i3, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD

Apple Mac miniPros
  1. Trademark Mac mini performance at a budget price
  2. Support for up to three displays
  3. Comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Cons
  1. i3 processor won’t cut it for certain applications
Price @ Sweetwater

The Apple Mac mini Quad-core i3 is a bit of a relic in the computing world, particularly as it relates to music production. On the one hand, the i3 is still plenty powerful for most basic recording and production work. On the other, it really is getting to be quite long in the tooth considering the many powerful processors available in off-the-shelf units today.

In any case, the Mac mini Quad-core i3 does come at a very reasonable price, so those pining for a Mac for their studio may finally have their chance with this model.

Basic specs and useful features

At the heart of the unit is a quad-core Intel Core i3 processor running at 3.6GHz. Once a pretty impressive processor, it has since been superseded by many other faster and more powerful processors. But if your needs are fairly modest, the Mac mini’s Quad-core i3 will still get the job done.

For the price, you also get 8GB of RAM and a 256 SSDPros. Pretty modest as far as memory and storage are concerned, but again, these should serve you well until you have the funds to upgrade.

Bottom-line

At the price the Mac mini Quad-core i3 is going for, it is still worth considering as a starter unit. Even with its modest capabilities, the Mac mini Quad-core i3 can be of some use in a modern production setting.

Apple iMac – 21.5″ Retina 4K Display, 3.6GHz Quad-Core i3

Pros
  1. Stunning Retina 4K Display
  2. Has two USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) ports
Cons
  1. i3 processor is woefully outdated at this point
Price @ Amazon or Sweetwater

If you are in the market for an iMac but can’t quite scrape together the cash for a late model with a bleeding-edge processor, this iMac 21.5” might interest you. Packing a Quad-Core i3 processor, this is by no means the best and the fastest of the lot. Nevertheless, it is still a serviceable and capable machine that will make a useful addition to a budget recording studio or production facility.

Basic specs and useful features

The Quad-Core i3 processor in question runs at a clock speed of 3.6GHz, which is pretty impressive as far as i3s go. It wasn’t that long ago that this much processing power was unheard of in the music production scene, and it can still be put to good use today.

Somewhat more impressive is the Radeon Pro 555X graphics processor, which paired with the Retina 4K display provides a very satisfying visual experience. If you’ve never had the privilege of using a Retina display before, you will appreciate how much more enjoyable it will make your tracking and mixing sessions.

Memory and storage are handled by 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB HDD respectively. Upgrading these two components is in order if you plan to do any serious work. The good news is that you can probably afford the cost of upgrades given the iMac’s reasonable price tag.

Bottom-line

For the price that the iMac 21.5” is going for, you can probably pick up something with a faster and more modern processor. But if you absolutely must have a Retina display and are willing to put up with an i3, this is a cost-effective way to get it.


Music Production Desktop Computer Buying Guide

As you already know, a computer is essential if you want to do any production work. Particularly when it comes to music. Any music that you hear has, at some point, passed through someone’s DAW on their computer. There are different kinds of computers though, and many of these computers have different kinds of specifications, some which won’t be ideal for making music.

So in order to choose among the list of computers, we need to look into how to choose the best computer for music production.

How to choose

When it comes to computers, you actually have two choices. There is Mac, and then there is Windows.

The fact is, you can go with either Mac or Windows. Both systems are reliable enough to produce, mix, and master any kind of music. But not all Macs, nor not all PCs will be fit to do the job. They both will require a base set of specifications to make them an ideal or essential part of your production process, especially if your looking for a music production computer for professional use.

Mac Vs PC

PC or MacThe reason why you’d choose a Mac, is because it is the industry standard for media production. This is slowly changing, though, but for now, that is the case. So if you plan on working a professional industry studio, and know that you have to exchange a lot of files with their system, you’d most likely need a Mac. Also, some DAWs (like Logic and Pro Tools) were created to work on a Macintosh system (Pro Tools recently enabled Windows support, but Mac still works best for them).

When it comes to Windows, you’d want a Windows computer for a few reasons. Either you want a cheap computer, you want a computer for gaming, you want a computer where you can easily update its internal components, or you are familiar with Windows, and you know that working on a Windows will not impede your professional opportunities in the industry some way or another.

For example. If you plan on going to college to study sound engineering and music production, get a Mac. If you plan on taking some online courses and get into business for yourself, you can use a Windows.

Form Factor

Form factor refers to the shape and design of the physical system itself. There are a few form factors that you can choose from.

For the purposes of this guide, we’ll look at 3 PC form factors: Tower PC, desktop PC, and all-in-one PC. Each has its own benefits and disadvantages. You can assess which is right for you based on the the pros and cons for each.

#1 – The Tower PC

Tower cases are built with a vertical chassis. They generally take up a small floor space, so they can fit in a tighter spot on your studio floor or desk. Also they a more spacious inside, making them easier to get into if you want to upgrade their internal components.

The main disadvantage of a tower case computer, is that they don’t come with their own display unit. Also, you’d be giving up vertical space for the relatively narrow floor room they can fit in.

#2 – The Desktop PC

Like the name suggests, a desktop case is designed to be placed on your desk. Desktop computers are designed, then, with a horizontal chassis.

Just like a tower case, you’d find them beneficial for changing out internal components. Another great benefit of a desktop is the ability for it to be fit on your studio equipment rack.

The main disadvantage of a desktop is the amount of space they take up on a desk, as well as the lack of display unit.

#3 – The All-In-One PC

An all-in-one computer has everything built into one unit, which is designed around a monitor. The main advantage is that you get a monitor with your purchase. As a purchase, all-in-ones are the fastest and easiest to set up and get going right out of the box.

The main disadvantage is that an all-in-one computer makes changing internal components  difficult, as well as, if you have to change or upgrade something, you’d have to either ship the entire thing back to the manufacturer, leaving you without a computer, or get a brand new computer instead. This is because since everything is built into one unite. Hard drive, CPU, and monitor especially.

Basic requirements

In music production, there are some basic performance requirements needed to get the best out of your production experience. You’re working with plugins and software that are going to require some amount of power to manage. So having the right processor and RAM will prevent you from having too many glitches that will just ruin your ability to produce high quality music.

Also, you want enough storage space to organise and store all your sound files, system files, and libraries. I can tell you right now, that you are going to need quite a bit of space if you plan on working on songs, especially high quality song files. Space runs out fast on a 500GB hard drive.

The basic specs that you want are:

Processor

A processor with a speed 2.5 GHz and up. Ideally 3 GHz. Having duo, quad, or octa core is best, since the processor will be able to handle more multitasking (especially if you have your sound files stored on the same disk as your OS and plugins).

Intel Core i5 or an AMD equivalent are you base options.

Storage

A hard drive with at least 500 GB is acceptable if you plan on only mixing and mastering. You have enough space to save all your music, and you don’t have a large sample library to deal with if all you’re doing is mixing and mastering fully produced songs.

However, my suggestion is 1 TB. This is especially if you do beat-making, composing for film or game, songwriting, or any similar production work. Your library will grow more and more over time. So you’ll find that even 1 TB is not going to be enough. Telling you this from experience

You can also choose between a solid state drive and a hard drive disk. If you can, go for solid state drive (SSD). They are essentially flash drives with no moving parts. Meaning instantaneous loading of all your software and files.

Finally, in terms of storage, you have two options. You can have one hard drive for installing all your systems files plus music production content — the same drive that your OS and other programs are installed. Or, you can have two seperate drives: one drive for system files, and another drive for your sound libraries, samples, and instruments.

Some of the computers on this list come with two hard drives with this arrangement. The benefit is that you get a fast load time or your software, since your computer doesn’t have to do double duty searching for files on the hard drive to run the software, as well as load up samples and sound libraries from the same hard drive. This means a more streamlined PC performance.

Memory

A computer uses memory to quickly store and cache files so that it doesn’t have to keep referring to the main hard drive. This is called random-access memory (or RAM). Think of this as “instant recall.” The larger the memory, the better, especially when dealing with large libraries and sound files.

8 GB is your base requirement.

Ports & Drives

Since you’re getting a computer to produce and mix music, it’s pretty much essential your choice is one that has a DVD R/W drive.

A few options, unfortunately, won’t give you that. Namely, the Macintosh computer. This means you’d need to get an external DVD drive.

In addition to the drives, are the connections and ports you’ll need to have. Since you’re plugging in MIDI devices into your computer, it goes without saying that having a good amount of USB ports will do you some good. Aim to at least 6 USB ports.

Computer noise

You may not realize this, but your computer makes a sound. The fan and hard drive produces sounds that can be loud or soft, or give subtle hum. If you are recording anything, and you have a simple studio set up with your microphone on your desk, you need an ultra quiet system.

Even when mixing music, the sound of your computer can interfere with what you’re hearing.

All the computers in this list are considered either extremely quiet, or relatively quiet.

Budget

The final consideration is how much you are willing to spend. In the area of computers, you can be a little bit more flexible than with your other studio gear. A lot of computers can surprisingly handle the workload, even some basic consumer PCs. More professional PCs will cost you in the thousands of dollars, while you can get some budget machines for under 500.

The benefit of an advanced computer is simply storage and power. Instant loading of programs, files, and seamless production, with the ability to render high quality audio without a taxing your system.

A lower budget computer will struggle a little bit with loading softwares and plugins. And they may hang a little longer when you try to load a VST plugin into your DAW. If you know you work on a timely basis (such as with clients), this may eat a little into your studio time while waiting on patches to load. But if you’re simply getting started and doing your own productions on your own time, the budget PC is the way to go.


 


FAQs

How to optimize your computer for music production?

  • Optimize your computer for music production with these simple steps:-
  • Change the power option to high performance
  • Disable the system sounds; you don’t want any computer sounds interfering with the recordings
  • Change the processor scheduling to background service
  • Disable updates
  • Turn off animated windows
  • Disable Anti-Virus apps and Firewall apps
  • Update network adapter driver

How to set up my computer for music production?

Setting up your computer for music production is actually quite simple. Following are the basic essentials required for the setup:-

  • Headphones and Speakers – Invest in some high-quality speakers and headphones. Studio monitors (powered speakers) deliver a neutral sound to perfectly mix and accurately detect the quality of recording.
  • Stands and Cable – You’ll need a cable to connect the microphone to the audio interface along with some auxiliary cables to connect the audio interface to the speakers. A mic stand for microphone is a must for easy recording experience.
  • Audio Interface – One of the most important hardware items required as it’s the central unit that acts as an interface between the computer, the microphone and the speakers. You can purchase an audio interface depending on your recording requirements and budget. Find the right ones here.
  • Microphone – There are basically two options to connect the microphone with your computer. You can purchase a USB microphone, or record through an audio interface.
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) / Recording Software – The type of software depends on the kind of recording you are planning to do. If it’s an undemanding record and edit, the Audacity Recording Software (free software) will do. An alternate software could be the Reaper (60 day free trial), which is the complete package when looking for a DAW. You can take a look at some of the other best options I recommend.
  • MIDI Keyboard Controller – If you make music straight through a mic, then the need for a MIDI Keyboard Controller doesn’t arise. However, if you wish to create your own music sheet and work with virtual instruments, then the controller is a must.  You can simply connect it to your computer via a USB cable. Take a look at the top choices.

How to upgrade your computer for music production?

Outdated hardware and software affects the performance of the desktop. Below are some tips to upgrade your computer by tweaking the software and hardware respectively

  • Opt for a Solid State Hard Drive
  • Get more RAM space
  • Get a 64-bit software (if you’re currently using a 32-bit)
  • Clear the clutter on a regular basis (games, movies, apps, etc.)
  • Upgrade the CPU (Hard drive and RAM)

Is a desktop or laptop better for music production?

Desktops – These are generally the popular choice among people who are producing music at home. This is because it offers a more reliable performance and value for money. Additionally, desktops are comparatively easy to upgrade, which is an important point to remember for future proofing your home studio.

Laptops – If you travel frequently for gigs, then a laptop is the ideal option for you. Some would say a laptop may not be able to match the performance levels of a desktop when it comes to music production. But many newer models are able to handle even the most strenuous music production tasks. Take a look at some of the ones recommended here.

Is a gaming computer good for music production?

PC’s that are specially built for intense gaming can actually be quite effective for music production. It is better to go for an i7 instead of an i5 processor because unlike gaming that mainly depends on the graphic card for a high end performance, all the major elements of a music production like plugins, VST instruments, libraries, etc. rely on the CPU for effective functioning.

What is the best computer processor for music production?

The processor for music production should be able to reduce spikes and protect the DAW from crashing. One of the best processors in the market today for music production is the Intel Core i7 5960x (scoring a notable 15991 on the cpubenchmark.net test). This processor offers a super smooth production experience with its 8 hyper-threaded cores along with a core speed of 3.0 GHz featuring 3.5 GHz turbo boost.

How to connect a studio microphone to a computer?

Typically all computers come with a microphone port that can connect a dynamic microphone using an appropriate jack. However, this method doesn’t deliver the sound quality that professional music recorders look for. For that high-quality professional recording experience, here are two effective ways to connect the studio microphone to your computer:-

USB Microphones: It is a high-quality microphone that directly plugs into the USB port, making it a simple and ideal option. Simply plug the USB cable of the microphone to the USB port on your desktop or laptop and the device is ready to use.

USB Audio Interface: If you require more than one microphone unit, you can opt for a USB Audio interface that is designed to connect multiple microphones along with other instruments. The audio interface comes equipped with the necessary softwares and preamps to offer a high-quality recording experience.

How do you connect studio monitors to computer?

One of the easiest ways to connect studio monitors to a computer is through an audio interface. However, it is important to note that you have the right cables; so look at the back of your studio monitor and the audio interface to match up the right cable. Here are three easy steps to connect your studio monitor to the computer via audio interface.

Take a look at this video for more info:

How to record studio-quality vocals on your computer?

To record studio-quality vocals on your computer, you need the following three basic equipments:-

  • An audio Interface that connects a microphone to the PC via USB, and powers it thorough 48v ‘phantom power’
  • A microphone, preferably a large diaphragm condenser mic
  • Music software or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

The next step is to ensure that all these elements are connected to your PC in a proper manner with correct wiring. Your system should be able to recognize your audio interface and you can tag your microphone from the “Audio Input” option in the “Preferences” menu. All that’s left to do is hit the “Record” button, and if everything is connected properly, you’ll able to see the software recording the sound going into the microphone. If there’s no sound, make sure that the phantom power is turned on and the gain volume is turned up. Lastly, check your program settings or preferences, and make sure the audio input is set to audio interface.

How to connect synthesizer to computer FL studio?

The best way to connect a synthesizer to a computer FL studio is via an audio interface. It is simple and effectively syncs your synthesizer with your desktop. Here’s how you can go about it:-

  • Connect the audio interface to the computer via USB cable
  • Again, connect the synthesizer and audio interface using a standard USB cable
  • Plug in one end of the TSR cable into the ‘line input’ of the synthesizer and the other end into the input of audio interface.
  • Now, go to FL studio, click on “Live”, and then select “Preference” and click on “Audio”.
  • In the Audio section, click on the “Audio Input Device” and select your audio interface.
  • Further click on the “Audio Output Device” below and again select your audio interface.
  • All your devices are now synced and ready to create music.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you would’ve found the best one for your studio 🙂

By the end of this guide, you not only would have found the perfect computer, you also would’ve learned how to choose the right computer. You may not have realized the several form factors that exist (even though I’m certain you were aware of them). But more importantly, you now learned how each form factor should influence your buying decision.

Not only that, you got an understanding of the basic requirements of a good music production computer. And because there are so many computers on the market, you now have a list of only ten to choose from.

How do you choose?

You simply figured out how much money you wanted to spend, if it was a Mac or PC, and what form factor was important for your setup. That’s simply it!

What say you? What do you think is the best computer for music production? Do you have any suggestions? Or what computer do you use?

Leave a comment below for your thoughts, recommendations, and questions if you need more clarification.

Otherwise, please share this with your friends, or anyone you think would find this post useful.

And remember to check out my home studio equipment guide for more of the best gear to buy.


How we came to these resultsHow did I come to these results

This is the result of hours and days of searching through Amazon and other computer stores on the internet to find the computers on the market now that fit the above requirements. Our sources were mainly Amazon, other pro audio outlets, as well as forums such as Gearslutz.com to assess what producers consider the best requirements for a computer.

The choices for this list were factored based on specifications, design, brand reliability, and user reviews on Amazon. Also, being a producer myself, I utilized my own experience with computers over the years to make the choices I would make when I buy a new computer for music production, in whatever price bracket.

9 Comments on “Best Desktop Computer for Music Production 2020”

  1. This is an awesome article that really gets down to the nitty gritty which I love. I also enjoy the fact that while being factual, it’s easy enough to understand that anyone could comprehend it. I use to make music back in college but I stopped (partially so I could pass lmao) But you’ve kind of inspired me to startup again. Do you think a super powerful computer is needed to do just that, or would it be possible on a more standard one?

  2. Hi, Jasmere,

    Thanks for asking. Any computer that fits the basic requirements that I listed at the top of the guide should do. At the bottom of the list are a couple of great choices I found for under 500 dollars that I think would be excellent if that’s all you want to do. This guide is broadly for professionals and enthusiasts that truthfully want the ideal and the best and are not shy of spending the cash, as well as for hobbyist, beginners, and those on a budget that want a great computer for starting a home studio or getting into music production that can actually get the job done.

    I plan on doing a guide for people on a budget, though, but from my product research, the Dell and the Aspire I mentioned the way to go for budget buyers… with my recommendation being the Aspire for the greatest value that you can get for you money. They are both covered in this guide.

    Cheers

  3. Great article!!

    In regards to the Sweetwater Custom Computing CS250 2u, the article states that “It has 8 GB or RAM, which seems surprisingly low for a music production computer. But recall that it already has a dedicated system drive of 480 GB, which is itself, a flash drive. So 8 GB should be more than sufficient for fast loading and transfer rates.”

    I can find no reference to a 480GB system drive on the Sweetwater website. Only a 240 GB SSD and the 1 TB hard drive. Could you please clarify?

    Thank you

  4. Hello there!
    Thanks for spotting that. It was a typo… I corrected it. I had actually stated just a few lines above the original typo “The system storage is a 240 GB SSD. The computer uses this for fast start up and loading of the OS and any software you install on the system.”
    Thanks again for feedback. Take care!

  5. Thanks for the article.

    I’m currently trying to decide between the 27-inch i-Mac and the Mac Pro or i-Mac Pro. I’m curious as to how the 4.2GHz quad i-7 core, compares to the 3.5 GHz 6-core. The regular i-Mac seems to fulfil all my other requirements (64gb RAM and 1tb SSD) its just the i-7 that I’m not sure about as I know many other composers have 6 or more cores. I should mention that I’m and film composer and music producer, and often work with large sample libraries and/or lots of audio often reaching over 100 tracks. So is it worth spending the extra cash for 6-core, or is the i-7 quad enough?

    Thanks

  6. Hi there Jayden,

    The iMac Pro is a professional grade computer. I would go for that one. The 27 iMac is also suitable in my opinion, but it’s not as flexible to necessary changes you may need to make since it’s an all in one desktop. Plus the faster core is not the only thing you get with the iMac Pro, you get more Thunderbolt connections which is important.
    It’s overall a better computer. My reason for setting the 27 inch as a top choice was because it’s a great home studio computer for users both non-professionals and professionals.

    Hope that helps
    Best

  7. I just purchased the Dell Inspiron 27” largely because of this article. While I’m very happy with the PC, I feel I should clear something up. There’s no Thunderbolt connection on this PC. There’s a USB C, but it isn’t Thunderbolt. I ordered a UAD Apollo I’ll be returning because of this. Hopefully I can save someone else the trouble of buying all the extra stuff I did. It’s my fault for not researching more, but it was disappointing.

  8. Hi Donny,

    Very sorry to hear about your disappointment. The tricky thing about these computer reviews is that the specs on the machines can change over time. It’s difficult to keep up with that, so the post is largely a guideline.

    Because of your comment, I will need to add a disclaimer that the specs after the links must be checked before purchasing for this reason.

    Again, I’m very sorry. And thanks for the feedback.

    Best,
    MPN Team

  9. Very useful information, the moment I started reading, I was glued to the article to the end, very well researched, thank you, I now have a better understanding of what I need.

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