Buyer's Guides

Best Computers For Music Production in 2023

Improving your home recording setup? Here are seven of the best computers for music production in 2023

When assembling one’s home recording setup or project studio, it’s prudent to run through a checklist of the key pieces of kit you’ll need to get yourself up and running. Studio monitors? Check. Audio interface? Check. Bundle of plugins? Check. Headphones? Check. All essential items, but equally vital is the computer you’ll actually be working on.

This is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of putting together a quality setup. You may already be using a computer that is ideal for your day-to-day use, but isn’t necessarily the best fit for music production. And for those on a budget, a new computer on top of your other studio expenses could add an unwanted layer of stress to proceedings.

To help you work out which option is the best for your home recording needs, Headliner has rounded up some of the best computers for music production on the market in 2022.

MacBook Pro

Brand new from Apple is the completely reimagined MacBook Pro, powered by the M1 Pro and M1 Max – the first pro chips designed for the Mac. Available in 14- and 16-inch models, this marks a huge step forward in the transition to Apple silicon on Mac.

These are two serious machines: when compared to the previous-generation 13-inch model, the all-new 14-inch MacBook Pro is a lot more powerful, while the new 16-inch MacBook Pro delivers massive gains in performance for the most complex workflows.

Designed with music producers in mind, MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1 Max applies a system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture to pro systems for the first time, featuring fast unified memory and increased memory bandwidth.

It may be pricey, but it’ll deliver everything music-makers want, and then some. M1 Pro delivers up to 70 percent faster CPU performance than M1, and up to two times faster GPU performance. Not to mention M1 Pro also delivers up to 200GB/s of memory bandwidth — nearly three times the bandwidth of M1 — and supports up to 32GB of fast unified memory.

M1 Max features the same 10-core CPU as M1 Pro, and doubles the GPU with up to 32 cores for up to four times faster GPU performance than M1. It also boasts up to 400GB/s of memory bandwidth — two times that of M1 Pro and nearly six times that of M1 — and up to 64GB of fast unified memory.

And the updates don't stop there – Logic Pro now comes with a complete set of tools for spatial audio music — allowing anyone to mix and export their songs in Dolby Atmos for Apple Music. Plus, musicians can use up to three times as many plugins for recording on the all-new MacBook Pro with M1 Max.


Acer Aspire

Desktop towers offer superb specs, often at lower prices than a laptop, and since most home or project studios are fairly stationary, it makes sense to explore the many desktop tower options available.

In the sub £1000/$1000 market, the Aspire Desktop range is ideal for music producers on a budget. The Acer Aspire Desktop TC-1660 is available with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, the latter of which can hit up to 4.2Ghz with four cores.

Memory and storage capabilities come in the form of 8 or 16GB of RAM, with a maximum upgrade capability of up to 32GB and a 2TB HDD. It may not pack the same punch as certain models at the top end of the market, but for most applications, it’ll get the job done.


Mac Mini M1

It’s unbelievable what this cheap little desktop computer can do. The M1 packs pretty much all you need for comprehensive music production tasks into a single chip, including the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and more. The eight-core CPU is up to three times faster than the previous generation, while the eight-core GPU delivers exceptional graphics, which are up to six times better than before.

Meanwhile, the Neural Engine is equipped to keep everything running smoothly.

If you’re running Apple’s Logic DAW, then you can rest easy in knowing Logic is fully optimised for use with the M1 architecture, but users of other DAWs or third-party plugins are advised to check for compatibility.

You can achieve backward compatibility thanks to Apple’s Rosetta software, but you won’t get the full benefit. Still, the M1 chip isn’t going anyway and so it’s only a matter of time before software developers catch up.


ASUS ROG Strix G15 G513

When seeking a powerful computer or laptop, it's worth looking at the gaming market. Gaming and rendering require a high-spec, and while the graphics capability of many gaming machines is likely more than you'll ever need for music production, many home or project-studio producers are multi-talented creatives these days, and could benefit from the additional graphics power for YouTube content creation.

Depending on your budget, you can configure the machine with an AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 processor, and up to a massive 32GB of memory.
All models come with a fast SSD hard drive. The more affordable models are stocked with 512GB, while the top-end machine is equipped with a healthy 1TB drive.


Dell XPS Desktop

This desktop is configurable with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, which is absolutely ideal for those in search of a computer that can handle the demands of creative projects, from music production to photo or video editing.

It also comes with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER graphics memory, 256 or 512GB SSD and 8/16GB, DDR4 2666Mhz memory. In essence, it’s a great workhorse that will handle virtually anything you can throw at it. The spec you choose will depend greatly on your budget and the kind of music production you’re working on.

For lighter projects, the base model offers superb value for money, and because of the desktop tower design, you can easily upgrade the memory or storage pace should you feel the need.


HP Envy Notebook

The HP Envy Notebook is an excellent all-rounder when it comes to music production. Easily portable and with a longer battery life than most of its rivals it offers maximum convenience, while its 11th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and a 13.3” full HD touch display make for an excellent user experience across the board.

Its full-sized backlit keyboard and touchscreen also offer music creators a variety of ways to work.


Apple iMac M1

Apple changed the world of computing in the late 90s when they released the bold and colourful iMac G3 range. Out went the dull beige computers of old, and in came bright and inspiring designs befitting of a creative customer base.

With the new iMac M1, Apple pays homage to the G3 as colourful designs make a return. Bolstered by the new M1 chip, this all-in-one desktop packs a punch and is more than capable of handling the vast majority of home-studio needs.

Those wishing to run a larger amount of plugins, or premium plugin bundles, may want to consider configuring their system with 16GB of memory, but considering the efficiency of Apple’s new M1 chip, you’d be surprised how much this machine can handle.


What Computer is Best for Music Production?

A great music production PC or Mac requires the processing power and storage demanded by modern DAW (digital audio workstations) and additional plugins.

The larger your projects get, and the more tracks and plugins you open, the greater the demand for CPU (processing power) and RAM (memory).

Additionally, while audio files take up less storage space than video files, sample libraries will quickly eat up precious space on your computer's hard drive.

We recommend starting with a CPU no lower than the Intel i5 range (or the equivalent AMD Ryzen 5), but you will undoubtedly see the benefit when moving up to the Intel i7 or the new Apple M1.

Regarding the RAM, you'll have an easier time running larger projects with at least 16GB of memory. Your computer uses RAM as short-term memory storage for the data it's currently working on, making it easily accessible. The more RAM your computer has, the more data it can juggle at any given moment. Plugins, samples, and multi-track recordings can quickly stack up, so the more memory you can afford, the better your machine will handle the demands of your music production.

Your sample libraries and larger projects will quickly eat up hard disk space. Regular hard drives provide a lot of storage at a lower price, but modern SSD (solid-state drives) deliver much quicker speed. All of the machines we've recommended feature SSD storage as the main drive.

When all is said and done, the computer for music production is the one you can afford with the best possible spec. All of the machines listed will run modern production software, but as your productions become more advanced or complex, you'll undoubtedly benefit for the higher-spec machines, or an upgrade on your existing rig.