Buyer's Guides

Best Computers for Music Production: PC & Mac Desktops

Improving your home recording setup? Here are seven of the best computers for music production in 2024

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 2024.

Geekom Mini IT8

When we said it’s possible to put together one of the best music production desktop computers for less money than the cost of a high-end laptop, we weren’t yanking your chain. And perhaps you’re also worried all the extra tech would require space akin to the interior of the Tardis. Well, Geekom’s Mini IT8 resoundingly ticks both the space and money-saving boxes. It will only set you back around £/$400, which will give you 16GB of RAM, plus solid-state storage that can be expanded up to 1TB. In other words, despite the ‘mini’ in the title, this desktop can handle huge music productions. There could be concerns about it overheating if you throw something very demanding at it, but being cheap as chips, it’s hard to complain. A very impressive budget option.


Acer Aspire

Another strong contender for the best Windows computer for music production. Desktop towers offer excellent specs, also at lower prices than a laptop. And, bearing in mind that most home or project studios are fairly stationary, it is wise to explore the many desktop tower options that are out there. In the market of desktops below £/$1000, the Aspire Desktop range is ideal for music producers who don’t want to overspend. The Acer Aspire Desktop TC-1660 is available with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and the i7 can peak at up to 4.2Ghz with four cores. Memory is available in either 8GB or 16GB RAM, upgradeable to 32GB or 2TB.


Apple Mac Mini M2

If you go for a computer with the lauded name of Apple on it, you might be left sweating at what the price tag will be. But our first entry from the Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak-founded company isn’t too bad at around £/$800. The M2 includes pretty much all you need for music production tasks, including the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and more. Its eight-core CPU is a huge upgrade on speed from the previous generation, while also delivering exceptional graphics. It’s fully optimised to work with Apple’s flagship DAW, Logic. If you want a more affordable bite of the Apple, the Mac Mini M2 could be the best music production desktop for you. Note that after you choose your memory configuration on purchase, it can’t be later upgraded, so choose well!


CLX Scarab

While the CLX Scarab positions and promotes itself as a gaming PC, it just so happens that the best computers for gaming are often also the best music production desktop computers also. Because the more advanced games and DAW sessions both place similar memory and power demands. You can spec the Scarab with a virtually unlimited amount of RAM and SSD memory — the base price already includes 32GB RAM and 500GB SSD, but the sky's the limit if you wish to configure it from there. As you’d expect from a gaming computer, it can accommodate up to the highest quality graphics cards: the Radeon RX 6900 XT or Nvidia RTX 3090 cards.


Dell XPS Desktop

This desktop can be configured with either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, making it absolutely ideal as one of the best music production desktop computers for those whose music will be making big demands of its tech. Also supplied is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER graphics memory, 256 or 512GB SSD and 8/16GB, and DDR4 2666Mhz memory. It’s a total workhorse that will handle virtually any project you throw at it. For projects that are less memory-munching, the base model offers great value for money, and because of the tower design, upgrading the memory or storage space is a breeze.


HP Envy TE02

If you want the reassuring comfort of your music production desktop having a known, trusted name behind it, then Hewlett Packard is certainly that. And the Envy TE02 is a fantastic option for those that don’t want to spend too far north of £/$1000. The basic unit will probably cover the needs of most, but there’s certainly no harm in taking the option to upgrade to 32GB RAM to keep your music production powered up in the long run. You can also add hybrid storage for optimal speed and size. If this is your first venture into getting the best Windows computer for music production, this desktop is a fantastic beginner option.


Apple iMac M3

The manner in which Apple changed the world of computing in the ‘90s when they released the Mac G3 range is the stuff of legend. And with the new iMac M3, Apple has produced a lovely nod to the G3 as the colourful designs make a return. But, nostalgia aside, it’s also very much one of the best music production desktop computers out there, comfortably handling almost every conceivable studio scenario. If you’re planning on using lots of plugins or plugin bundles and other big memory moves, the option of 16GB is certainly worth considering.


Apple Mac Studio

Apple's Mac Studio is undoubtedly a nifty pick in the search for the best music production desktop. It hasn't thrown the veteran Mac Pro completely off stage, but Apple has introduced a more petite, studio-centric powerhouse for the audio, video and design virtuosos out there. While it might be smaller than your average desktop, don't let its size fool you – it can be decked out with some pretty mind-boggling specs. You can go to an outrageous 192GB of RAM. That said, if you love the idea of tweaking your desktop setup over time with upgrades here and there, the Studio is very pre-determined with no room for change, so think those specs through long and hard before purchasing.


Microsoft Surface Studio 2

In the ever-raging war between Microsoft and Apple, the Surface Studio 2 is Microsoft’s take on the super-premium, desktop computer for those who have a budget that’s veering on automobile territory. Is it the best PC for producing music? Well, its 32GB of RAM will well and truly have big music production sessions covered, not to mention 2TB SSD also. However, the main USP here is the huge 28” PixelSense display, which can be tilted to act like a gigantic tablet. The beauty here is that you can edit your DAW sessions by hand and liberate yourself from the keyboard and mouse.


Apple Mac Pro

We could easily reduce this best music production desktop entry to a single sentence by merely stating that the Apple Mac Pro has absolutely no downsides, barring one thing: the cost. Because this is a computer that will meet your every need, and then some. But to weigh that against the price, if you were to buy the Mac Pro from the official Apple website, with all the specs set to the absolute max, you’d be spending $64,000. That’s almost enough money to buy a house in County Durham.

Comforting to know, then, that not only is the Mac Pro beyond the wildest dreams of any music producer, but it is also astonishing for every other conceivable computer task you can throw at it. If you don’t need that kind of money for a property or putting towards ending world hunger, then why not get one? Or stick it on your vision board, in the meantime.


How much RAM do I really need for my music production desktop?

RAM and storage are among the quintessential reasons why one would opt for a desktop for music production over a laptop. It will enormously affect the speed and ease with which you can make music. If you’re knee deep in samples, audio bounces, project files and the rest, having lots of RAM ensures this won’t slow the performance down. Note that many of the above computers can undergo memory upgrades further down the line, with the exception of some of the Macs, which cannot be upgraded after the initial configuration of your choice. As a general rule of thumb, don’t start out with anywhere below 8GB of RAM, ideally going for 16GB if it’s within budget. 

Hopefully after reading this article, you now feel like such a computer expert that you begin wearing black turtleneck jumpers and happily bring up terms like ‘RAM’ and ‘core processor’ in conversations with nonchalance. But, most importantly, you should now feel closer to identifying which is the best music production desktop for you, so Headliner wishes you well as you go out and bless your music space with a stunning computer.