10 Best PCs for Music Production in 2021

Dave Mostert
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The best PCs for music production in 2021 will deliver the highest sound quality while ensuring an efficient work flow.

Hardware requirements for music production have drastically changed since the days of Propellerhead’s Reason. Serato’s first version of DJing software Scratch was also released in 2000, so it’s safe to say that by now we’re more used to the sort of accessory requirements hardware/software companies used to sell music producers with.

As of 2016 the big thing in music production is working with virtual instruments, and it’s time to get in on that with all the new features that come with it.

The companies behind the best music production software have invested in making it easier to produce music faster and easier for the musician.

NameCategoryProduct
Apple MacBook AirBest OverallApple MacBook Air
ASUS Chromebook C202 LaptopBudget PickASUS Chromebook C202 Laptop
New Apple MacBook ProUpgrade PickNew Apple MacBook Pro

1. Apple MacBook Air

Our rating: 9 / 10

Apple MacBook Air

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Pros:

  • USB-C ports on both sides
  • Holds the charge for a long time
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Surprisingly powerful for basic office productivity
  • Fast Thunderbolt 3 ports (for connection to external devices)
  • Latest and greatest big-screen trackpad and keyboard
  • Plenty of ports and expandable storage
  • Records high-quality HD video and screen
  • Good value and long-lasting

Cons:

  • Ugly (improved on the macOS Sierra)
  • Produces excessive heat/buzzing sound when processing video or synthesizing loud sounds
  • Older model still used in new laptops can have issues
  • No facility for DVD or CD burning
  • Gets too hot

Here are our recommendations for the Apple Macbooks. There are models for different sizes and price ranges. Find the Macbook that fits your budget.

The MacBook, or MacBook Pro 13-inch, offer more power and features than the Air.

2. New Apple MacBook Pro

Our rating: 9 / 10

New Apple MacBook Pro

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Pros:

  • Attractive design and lightweight, slim body
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Impressive display
  • Latest Intel processor and 512GB storage

Cons:

  • Expensive option
  • Wobbly, flimsy display cover
  • Only 4 USB ports
  • Sluggish performance under heavy loads

If you want a laptop that’s suitable for both work and play, then the latest MacBook Pro might be for you. The design is now more subtle and refined, so it’s a good option if you want a laptop you’ll be comfortable taking to work. However, if you have graphic design or video editing requirements, you’d be better off with a PC.

With new Intel Core i7 processors on board, the 2019 MacBook Pro is capable of handling everyday tasks without any sweat. It’ll cope easily with tasks like word processing, video editing, web browsing and email, but you should think carefully before relying on it for intensive photo editing or video rendering.

3. Apple 13" MacBook Air Core i5 CPU

Our rating: 9 / 10

Apple 13" MacBook Air Core i5 CPU

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Pros:

  • Apple MacBook Air – great performance for a low price
  • Up to 12 hours battery life keeping you productive throughout the day
  • Excellent build quality as expected of Apple devices
  • Small, compact size that’s great for every user
  • Quick start-up with the SSD

Cons:

  • Not all core specs are up to par
  • Don't expect to do heavy-duty multi-channel mixing

If you are on a tight budget but still want to get a great device for music production organically, then the Apple MacBook Air will probably be your best bet.

This lightweight ultraportable laptop from Apple gives great value for every dollar you are spending. It is powered by the newest 7th Generation 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost Technology increasing the speed up to 3.2 GHz, and current HD Graphics 6000 card. This ensures a great performance whether you are a student or a professional in music production.

4. Apple iMac

Our rating: 8 / 10

Apple iMac

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Pros:

  • Solid, beautiful design
  • Thin, sleek, elegant
  • Crisp and vivid Cinema display
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Includes a nice set of accessories

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Display has average viewing angels
  • No thunderbolt ports
  • No optical drive
  • Underpowered processor for media editing

Apple has dominated the music production industry since the early 2000s, and the iMac is one of its best products that remains one step ahead of the curve. You’ll have to pay a little more to get one of these babies, but the features meet the mark for an excellent computer that will serve you well.

The iMac 21.5in. is a little underpowered for media editing, but a little extra cash will get you a 27in. model. The 27in. model comes with a third party G-Force 980 graphics card that will power most media editing tasks with ease. They both come with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD and can be upgraded to a beefy sounding 32GB of RAM and a whopping 3TB hard drive. Looking at their specifications, it’s no surprise they both fall on the expensive side.

In all, the iMac is a great option for those who want a powerhouse desktop computer in addition to this sleek and powerful iMac.

5. ASUS Chromebook C202 Laptop

Our rating: 8 / 10

ASUS Chromebook C202 Laptop

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Pros:

  • 5000+ hours battery life
  • Classic, rugged design
  • Tough, durable construction
  • Ideal for programming, web surfing, media streaming or gaming

Cons:

  • Only 4 GB of onboard memory
  • Keyboard is not spill-proof

This ruggedized and spill-resistant Chromebook C202 from ASUS is built for those who are constantly out there, who need to multitask a lot. It’s a Chromebook made for the regular traveler, for those who stay out of the norm at times.

It has a battery life that can last you up to 10 hours, 16GB of eMMC storage, a 180 degree hinge, an all-metal body, and a keyboard that’s spill-resistant. It comes with the Google Chrome OS and is suitable for most web surfing, programming, media streaming, and gaming needs.

6. HP 15.6" HD 2019 New Touch-Screen Laptop Notebook Computer

Our rating: 7 / 10

HP 15.6" HD 2019 New Touch-Screen Laptop Notebook Computer

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Pros:

  • Lightweight, very portable
  • Speaker is crisp and clear, with a surprising amount of bass for a laptop
  • Keyboard is well-sized, and allows for quick typing
  • Touchpad is responsive, and offers adequate amounts of space for multi-gesture features
  • Complementary software helps you get started with producing music fast
  • The touch-screen features well and is responsive, even when using it with your fingertips
  • The device comes with a pre-installed version of Adobe Photoshop, making it easy to create mixed media projects
  • It has a lot of configuration room, allowing you to add additional memory to make it even more powerful
  • Excellent battery life
  • The noise levels are low

Cons:

  • This laptop can get loud when used for demanding music production tasks
  • While the screen is very bright, it does lean a little towards the cool side, with a blue-tint that can distort images
  • The keyboard is responsive, but feels just a little flimsy and made of cheap materials

7. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 2-In-1 Laptop

Our rating: 7 / 10

ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 2-In-1 Laptop

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Advantages:

  • Includes USB type C connection
  • Corning Gorilla Glass protective cover
  • Solid state drive
  • Lightweight, portable, and stylish
  • Very easy to use and convenient
  • The keyboard is smooth to use
  • It has a great video camera and a great display screen
  • The fun factor on the Chromebook is high because it is much more than just a notebook computer
  • The Chrome Book comes with a one-year limited warranty
  • The processor is incredibly fast in comparison to others
  • It has a lot of great features which include a backlit keyboard, fast charge, and dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi

The ASUS Chromebook Flip is the best bang for your buck Chromebook you are going to find when it comes to your business needs. It very simple and it is built for your everyday use. With the 360-degree hinge design you can enjoy tablet mode so you can draw or sketch as well as enjoy your favorite media. The ASUS Chromebook Flip is on the border between a budget friendly laptop that still performs well. If you are buying one of these laptops for yourself or for a child you will find that it is so much better to spend the money on this rather than an iPad.

8. Acer Aspire E 15

Our rating: 7 / 10

Acer Aspire E 15

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Pros:

  • Great looks
  • Affordable price
  • Runs well even on low settings

Cons:

  • Battery life is not the best
  • No dedicated GPU available; you have to buy it separately

This is one of the best cheap gaming laptops we’re planning to suggest for musicians in 2020. It’s a great choice for people who are looking for a portable system which can play games without hiccups.

As far as size is concerned, it’s small and convenient, yet the 15.6‘ H display is impressive for its size. In our testing the display was able to handle games, movies and regular day-to-day applications. While the display is quite good, it’s not IPS. The viewing angles might also be a slight issue, as mentioned by some customers.

The 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor is more than enough to handle most musical tasks. This compact laptop has a turbo boost of up to 3.8GHz to give you more power while you’re performing tasks like recording, mixing and editing.

9. Apple MacBook Pro

Our rating: 6 / 10

Apple MacBook Pro

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Pros:

  • Best for music production studio use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Fast and high powered
  • Higher resolution screen
  • Takes two lightning cables to charge
  • No sounds when typing

Cons:

  • Expensive for a laptop
  • No microwave or fan

The MacBook Pro is the slightly more expensive option in the Apple laptop range, but we recommend the MacBook Pro for music production as it comes equipped with the faster quad-core Intel Core i7 processor. It also includes the AMD Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB or AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of memory.

This really isn’t about an overly expensive piece of kit but the functionality of the device. The MacBook Pro will make the music production process much easier and efficient with its excellent array of specification. It’s compatible with the full host of software and plugins that you would need to complete a project.

The most user advised option is the 15-inch model with 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB RAM. This will allow you to manage multiple plugin instances simultaneously. The MacBook Pros also come with a touchscreen which can be utilized to work with different software like the Omnisphere DAW and other production plugins and workflows.

10. High Performance HP 15.6" Laptop PC AMD A6-7310 Quad-Core Processor 4GB RAM 500GB HDD AMD Radeon R4 Graphics DVD-RW HDMI WIFI HDMI Webcam DTS Audio Windows 10-Black

Our rating: 6 / 10

High Performance HP 15.6" Laptop PC AMD A6-7310 Quad-Core Processor 4GB RAM 500GB HDD AMD Radeon R4 Graphics DVD-RW HDMI WIFI HDMI Webcam DTS Audio Windows 10-Black

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Pros:

  • It’s backlit
  • It’s lightweight
  • It has a dedicated number pad

Cons:

  • Windows 10 is a bit obtrusive and distracting
  • The operating system is a bit difficult to navigate, but this is probably because it is new and re-learning is difficult
  • Not the most powerful laptop

The HP 15.6” Laptop PC is an extremely high-performing laptop that offers excellent value for money. It’s an affordable laptop that’s a good option for beginners who are looking for a basic setup that comes at an affordable price, essentially giving you everything you need right out of the box.

The HP 15.6 ” Laptop PC” is definitely worth its price. In fact it is one of the cheapest laptops that you can get for making music, but it still offers a decent laptop for the money. It’s a great choice for beginners, but it’s also a great option for more advanced users.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best computer for music production?

If you plan to record and mix music on your computer, there are a few system requirements to be aware of. You'll need a powerful PC, lots of memory, and specialized software to process the audio and MIDI files.

If you don't have a powerful PC, it can be difficult to record audio, mix, and produce music, especially if multiple tracks and audio effects are used. Your computer may also struggle to render the music, which takes a long time and will frustrate you during your creative process.

The memory is also a critical component in the music-making process, especially if your project is large. If your computer crashes or becomes unresponsive in the middle of recording, or loading up new samples for your track, your progress will be lost. There are other backup methods, but they are often inconvenient, slow, and time-consuming.

How much RAM do I need for 2021 music production?

Before we dive deep into which computer we think is best for music production in 2021, let's first check off the obvious category requirements.

Because there is not a perfect way, or even a good way of recording music, the software you use makes a huge difference. The same can be said for the computer equipment you use. As a musician/producer, it's important to have a suitable computer and equipment to work with. Because the music industry has changed and continues to change, the way it's recorded and heard has changed as well.

We recommend having 16-32GB of RAM, with an Intel i5 processor or higher.

How many Ghz is good for music production?

I hope you listened to the podcast episode on which this book is based. If you did, then you already know that I am not a huge fan of PC's for song making. My main reason is the replacement cycle of PCs. (This is a topic that I thoroughly explained in that podcast episode.)

As technology surges forward, you must, unfortunately, replace your PC every 3-5 years or so. If you really love making music on a PC and have the money to buy one, the best alternative is to build yourself a new one every 3-4 years. This allows you to get the most out of your PC.

Is Windows 10 good for music production?

The short answer is yes. As a computer operating system, Windows 10 is a solid option for digital music production. It is compatible with hardware producers and is seemingly less prone to crashing or slowdowns, by comparison to other operating systems.

That said, there are still some system requirements that must be met by your computer hardware. Windows 10 is a 64-bit operating system, meaning it will run on a 64-bit system. Windows 7 and various windows XP implementations have a 32-bit system, which can be problematic. For this reason, if you are running a 32-bit operating system, then you will need to upgrade to at least Windows 7, if not Windows 10, to be able to run music production software to your satisfaction.

If you are running a 64-bit system, however, then Windows 10 should run very smoothly and allow you to input, record, and mix and master tracks with an ease that suits your work style and needs.

Conclusion

If you have your heart set on getting one of the best computers for music production, you might want to check out a few models before whittling your options down to the one or two that best fit your budget and needs. This is our top 10 list of all the best computers for music production in 2021.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Apple MacBook AirBest OverallApple MacBook Air
ASUS Chromebook C202 LaptopBudget PickASUS Chromebook C202 Laptop
New Apple MacBook ProUpgrade PickNew Apple MacBook Pro