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In the past, when it came to computer music production, it was always a matter of getting the biggest and most powerful machine you could afford. These days it’s more than possible to run an entire studio from a slim and highly portable laptop, but that doesn’t mean the best music production computers are redundant. There’s still room for a dedicated desktop computer in any studio, and in this best computer buyer’s guide, we look at many different models with recommendations for a wide range of music production tasks.
Best Mini Pc For Music Production
Using a laptop is great, don’t get us wrong. They’re handy, easy to transport and don’t take up much space – and for some, a simple £500/$500 laptop will be enough to start making beats and creating basic tunes. However, for many of us who have dedicated studio space, there is no need to carry equipment everywhere. We want our computer to be the nerve center of our studio; our creative center. We don’t need something compact – we need something powerful. This is where desktop computers come into their own with their superior performance and upgradeability. With that in mind, let’s cover some of the best PCs for music production.
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We’ve included some expert shopping tips at the end of this guide. If you want to read more about what to consider when buying, click on the link. If you know what you’re looking for and want to jump straight to the product, keep scrolling.
If you’re making the leap from a laptop to a desktop music studio, you’re lucky to have plenty of options.
If you’re on the go, there are some great options to choose from. The Dell XPS series offers the perfect balance between price, performance and power without flashy games like RGB lighting or crisp graphics. This is a smart, mature line of desktop computers that will serve you happily for many years.
Mini PCs have become more popular recently and could be the perfect laptop-to-desktop transition computer, but their power still lags behind larger PCs. Of these, we recommend the Geekom Mini IT8 because it has decent processing and a cheap price for those starting out in music production.
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If you’re looking to push yourself in terms of high-end computing, then we’re heading into the gaming sector with machines that offer as much power as you could wish for. The CLX Scarab, for example, delivers the performance we once dreamed of and you can customize it yourself, though of course that power will cost you.
For Apple fans, you’re looking at either the Mac Mini or the iMac – both with the M1 processor – although there are some caveats to consider. Since switching to the M1’s own internal processor, compatibility with some mainstream music production applications has been spotty, but is now improving.
Dell has gained a lot of credibility thanks to its line of high-performance Macbook Pro XPS laptops. The XPS desktop series is expected to be a good alternative for those who aren’t Apple fans or aren’t ready to go the gaming PC route.
The Dell XPS 8940, which stands above its Inspiron level among everyday desktop PCs, may look pretty unassuming, but under the hood is a very nicely specced desktop that’s great for making music. We particularly like the large number of connectivity options, with four USB 3 slots on the front of the device, meaning it’s less reliant on dongles and hubs than you might find.
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If you’re looking for a flashy car to show off in your YouTube videos, this isn’t it. But if this is a powerful, reliable beast of a desktop that will devour renders, plug-ins and other processes, then the Dell XPS 8940 is a very safe option indeed.
Apple’s famous all-in-one series has a long history in color: the old iMac G3 line introduced the idea that computers don’t have to be black or beige. With Apple’s latest iMac M1 lineup, that playful vibe is back, only this time there are major changes under the hood. This comes down to the new M1 architecture that Apple uses, which is both good and (potentially) not-so-good news for music production.
The good news is that if you use Logic Pro X; The logic and M1 chip are optimized for royalty, so the user experience is seamless. At a time when we’d normally frown upon trying to create tracks using just 8GB of RAM, the M1 range performs as well as any 16GB+ system we’ve used in the past. The downside is that you’re using DAV, which isn’t fully optimized yet. They’ll still work thanks to the backwards compatibility provided by Apple’s Rosetta software, but you won’t get all the performance benefits. yet. Still, to be future-proof, it’s not like Apple is going to do a U-turn and go back to Intel, so you can bet that compatibility will come at some point.
If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem but want something more static to handle your music production tasks, the Apple Mac Mini is still a safe bet. As with Apple’s 2021 iMac, you now have a choice of Intel-based models, but we’ve opted for the latest M1. Apple doesn’t mess around with their technology, and the latest M1 chips are hugely successful and handle most music production tasks with ease.
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It’s still the same gray square it’s been for a few years, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s small enough to keep out of the way, yet powerful enough to meet the needs of many producers and musicians.
As if to prove that Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on sleek PCs that cost as much as some cars, Microsoft is offering the Surface Studio 2. Now in its second iteration, it’s quite the machine. The centerpiece is the 28-inch PixelSense display, which can be folded up to become a huge, extremely powerful tablet. We can see the benefits for DAV users in that their entire session is actually laid out in front of them, ready for intuitive manual setup, instead of a mouse and keyboard. It’s all pretty futuristic, we think.
However, such an innovation will cost you dearly. That blow is softened when you consider the power of this thing – 32GB of RAM will give you confidence during big multi-track sessions, while a 2TB SSD provides easy access to your sample libraries.
It seems presumptuous to call Apple’s new Mac Pro, this pinnacle of consumer computing, a “cheese grater.” But do you have to admit that there are similarities? However, put that aside and admire this potential spec. It’s honestly crazy. Fun game; visit Apple’s website and make the most of the potential features. We did and got a final price of over $64,000. For computer.
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It’s safe to say that the new Mac Pro will be more than you’ll ever need, and that statement will probably still be true 10 years from now. It’s nice to dream, isn’t it?
We often include gaming computers in these buyer’s guides simply because they are designed to provide the power you might need to make music.
This dedicated gaming PC might be the most powerful PC in this review because you can spec it however you want. The CLX Scarab is currently maxed out with an Intel Core i9-11900K or AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processor. Graphics go up to the latest AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT or Nvidia RTX 3090 cards, while RAM and solid state storage are the limit.
Base configurations start around $1,500, and you can easily drop over $5,000 (and then some) if you want, so these machines aren’t for everyone. But you don’t build the system yourself, so it’s guaranteed to work and provide all the power you need (and afford).
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At the size of five loaves of bread stacked on top of each other, the Geekom Mini IT8 has near-perfect specs for any budget maker. 16GB of RAM means you can handle some pretty heavy sessions, and the 256GB SSD storage (expandable up to 1TB) is good value for money.
We may have reservations about how he will handle himself under intense pressure; the sad fact about computers is that processors under serious pressure produce serious heat and therefore require cooling. But at this price and with this level of portability, it could be the perfect machine for someone starting out on their music production journey.
Although it won’t win any design awards either