Computer Or Laptop Specifications For Music Production

In this article, let us look at the specifications/configuration for Music Production laptops and computers. I am sharing four different computer configurations and setups that you can work with according to your budget and requirements. Will also discuss Different Computer Components And Their Purpose In Music Production. So make sure to read till the end.

You are as fast as your slowest team member ~ Anonymus

The same stands true for your laptops or Computers used for Music Production. Your Pc or laptop will be as fast as its slowest member(the bottleneck).

If you are building a computer/desktop, start with any build that meets your immediate requirements and budget.

If you are opting for a laptop, make sure you buy with specs that will stay good for at least the next 2-3 years. Laptops come with onboard integrated components that cannot be upgraded. Opt for laptops that offer upgradable RAM and storage.

Recommended Computer/Laptop Specifications For Music Production

Components Specification
Processor Core i7, AMD Ryzen 7 or higher with 2.3Ghz or above, 64 Bit
Ram 16 GB DDR3 or higher protocol Ram with 2133Mhz or more speed
Storage 1 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive +
Storage 2 1 TB HDD 7200RPM
External Storage(optional) 500Gb External Harddisk USB3.0 or above
Graphics Card(optional) Integrated Graphics or Any Graphics Card with 2 GB VRAM or Higher
Cache 8MB L3 Cache or More
Power Supply For Desktops 550 W or Higher
Cooler For Desktops 120 mm or more Silent/Liquid Cooler
Additional Monitors(optional) Dual Screen Setup, 21 Inches Or Wider
Operating System Windows 10 Or Higher

 

recommended computer laptop specifications for music production - infographic

Minimum or Starter Computer Specifications For Music Production

Components Specification
Processor Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 or similar processors with 1.8Ghz or above, 64 Bit
Ram 8 GB DDR3 or DDR4 Ram with 2133Mhz or more speed
Storage 1 128 GB Solid State Drive
External Storage 500Gb External Harddisk USB3.0 or above
Graphics Card Integrated Graphics or Minimum Specs Graphic Card
Cache 8MB L3 Cache
Power Supply For Desktops 400 W or Higher
Cooler For Desktops Integrated
Monitors For Desktops Single Screen, 21 Inches Or Wider

 

minimum computer laptop specifications for music production - infographic

Powerful Music Production Computer Configuration

Components Specification
Processor Core i9 or AMD Threadripper Pro or AMD Ryzen 9 5000 Series or similar processors with 3.0 GHz or above, 64 Bit
Ram 64 GB DDR4 Ram with 2400Mhz, or more speed
Storage 1 1 TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
Storage 2 2 TB HDD 7200RPM
External Storage 2 x 2 TB External Harddisk USB3.1 or above
Graphics Card 4GB DDR6 or More
Cache 32MB L3 Cache or More
Power Supply For Desktops 750 W or Higher
Cooler For Desktops 360mm Silent Liquid Cooler
Additional Monitors Dual Screen Setup, 24 Inches Or Wider
Operating System Windows 10 Or Higher

 

powerful computer laptop specifications for music production - infographic

Best Budget Music Production Computer Or Laptop Specifications

Components Specification
Processor Core i5, AMD Ryzen 5 or higher with 2.3Ghz or above, 64 Bit
Ram 16 GB DDR3 or DDR4 Ram with 2133Mhz or more speed
Storage 1 256 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive +
Storage 2 1 TB HDD 7200RPM
External Storage(optional) 1 TB External Hard Disk USB3.0 or above
Graphics Card(optional) Integrated Graphics or Any Graphics Card with 1 GB VRAM
Cache 8MB L3 Cache or More
Power Supply For Desktops 450 W or Higher
Cooler For Desktops Case with Integrated Silent Cooler
Additional Monitors(optional) Dual Screen Setup, 21 Inches Or Wider
Operating System Windows 10 Or Higher

 

budget computer laptop specifications for music production - infographic

Remember, these are just reference builds. When buying laptops, look for laptops with similar specs. If you are building a desktop, sticking with the same specs, will work great. If you plan to alter anything, feel free. You can alter each build according to your needs and requirements.

Now let's understand different computer components and their purpose in Music Production build.

Different Computer Component Specifications And Their Purpose In Music Production

CPU

The CPU is the core component of a music production PC. If your PC doesn’t have a powerful processor, it’s going to be slow, regardless of anything else. The processor’s core count and speed will determine how quickly you can accomplish various tasks in your DAW.

Modern DAWs will take advantage of the CPU with multiple cores and threading ability. Investing in a good CPU is crucial when building a PC or buying a laptop for audio and music production.

Specifications of processors/CPU to look for in Music Production computers:-

  1. Clock Speed — Anything above 2.3GHz is a decent start/ Anything above 3.0Ghz will be good built. If on a tight budget, 1.8GHz will be the bare minimum. Anything below 1.8Ghz is pretty useless.
  2. Cores - DAWs(Digital Audio Workstation) utilize multiple cores to parallel process different tasks. The more the core, the better. 6-core CPU is a good starting point. On a budget, 4 cores will also cut it, but your performance will be affected. You will often run out of CPU power. 8-cores or more will make it a powerful music production machine.
  3. Cache - CPU Cache is the temporary memory that lets you access some information more quickly than if you access it from your computer's main hard drive. Cache memory plays a crucial role in the music production computer build. The more the cache, the faster the operations. Anything above 16MB is recommended cache size and 8MB is the minimum cache size.
  4. Integrated Graphics: - Integrated Graphics is essentially a built-in GPU onto the CPU. If your CPU doesn't have integrated graphics, you will need an additional Graphic card.

RAM

Having enough RAM is critical when looking for good all-around computer performance. For music production and audio engineering, having 16GB is a recommended RAM. 8 GB RAM is the minimum to ensure headroom for all relevant applications. As you go up in the performance of your CPU, you can jump up to 32GB or 64GB of RAM for a top-end system.

Specifications of RAM to look for in Music Production computers:-

  1. RAM Speed: - RAM speed is measured in MHz. A useful alternative to just adding more RAM is spending a bit more on faster RAM. Any Ideal system configuration with have a CPU and RAM with same clock speed i.e. if CPU speed is 2300MHz, RAM should also have 2300MHz. This prevents RAM to become the bottle neck. But in real world, RAMs with a lower clock speed are also acceptable.
    With faster RAM and an overclocked CPU, you can get very noticeable performance improvements from 3000MHz (or higher) RAM over the standard 2133MHz. If you are not going to be running a lot of programs(multitaksing) at once, then this is a good alternative to simply doubling your RAM. The faster the speed of your RAM (in MHz), the more functional it will be.
    However, the size of RAM makes a difference, too. More RAM will almost always be better than faster ram. For example, if you have 32GB of RAM at 2400 MHz, it will, in most cases, work better than 16GB of RAM at 3600 MHz.
  2. RAM Protocols: - DDR stands for Double Data Rate. DDR protocols have evolved. Newer protocols offer more bandwidth and consume less power. Most modern computers are built to use DDR4 RAM, and they’re not backwards-compatible. Having the right protocol according to your motherboard is a must.

Storage (SSD, HDD, External)

Having faster performing storage is the key to getting better performance. You can have the fastest system in the world, but if the CPU cannot simply read the data from the Hard disk fast enough, all the performance is wasted.

The general rule of thumb is that you want a dedicated drive to store the files you are editing, and then the main storage drive once you are done with them.

This is why all example builds come with 2 drives as standard, a smaller-capacity (faster, more expensive) NVMe SSD or SATA SSD and a larger-capacity (slower, cheaper) SATA HDD or SATA SSD.

If you wish to take it a step further, you can get even more elaborate by having one drive for your operating system and key programs, one for project files in use, and a third as a short-term cache drive.

Using external harddisks is also common among Music Producers. External Harddisks can be used to store audio files. External Hard drives enable you to easily carry your audio files/samples with you to different studios and gigs.

Specifications of Storage Drives to look for in Music Production computers:-

  1. Read/Write Speed: - You need to use storage with a faster read-write speed for music production. The higher the better. M.2 SSD is the fastest, SATA HDD is slow. A lot of the newer NVMe M.2 SSDs have super-high sustained read/write speeds to and from the drive. So, although they are more expensive, you are paying for pure performance. Even if you are on a budget, spending on an NVMe M.2 SSD will make your machine perform a lot better. When getting the second storage, make sure you get an HDD with 7200RPM.
  2. Age: - All storage drives have a certain age. All SSD and HDD tend to get slower with use. Installing new storage to the old build will make a noticeable difference in performance.

Motherboard

For laptops, you do not have much choice but if you are building a computer, motherboard choice will be crucial.

For a music production computer, the motherboard choice usually comes down to a very simple question of, “how many things can I plug into this build?”

The more the peripherals and ports in the motherboard, the more connection possibility. For that reason, I would usually recommend full-size ATX boards, so that you are not losing a PCIe slot on the board. Losing a PCIe slot may seriously limit your capabilities.

Specifications of Motherboards to look for in Music Production computers:-

  1. Form Factor and Motherboard Size - Motherboards come in 3 popular sizes - ATX, micro-ATX (mATX), and mini-ITX (ITX). The main difference between the three form factors is their sizes and the number of interfaces (like RAM slots, PCIe slots, SATA ports, USB slots) available on them to connect various other hardware components.
  2. CPU Socket: - The CPU socket and chipset are the most important thing that you should consider when choosing your motherboard. The socket determines what CPU you can install onto the motherboard.
    Different processors from different vendors require different sockets. So you need an intel compatible socket for intel processors and an AMD socket for AMD processors.
  3. RAM Slots: - RAM Slots (also known as DIMM slots) will determine the type and capacity of RAM your motherboard supports. Motherboards usually support only a specific version of DIMM like DDR3 or DDR4 and then is a maximum upper limit to the amount of RAM that can be installed. make sure you consider your RAM needs and buy the motherboard accordingly.
  4. Peripherals and Ports; - Consider the number of USB ports, HDMI ports, VGA Ports, DP ports, Ethernet ports etc.
  5. Onboard Wi-FI Support: - Most motherboards will have onboard Wi-Fi, but if yours does not have one you will need to get external Wi-Fi.
  6. Onboard Soundcard: - Other considerations when selecting a motherboard are likely to include exactly what the onboard sound is capable of handling in terms of bitrates. most likely this will be replaced by an audio interface or external soundcard but it is good to consider the performance.

Power Supply (PSU)

The last thing you want is for your PC to instantly power down through lack of power, or even to short out the entire board from an overload. A bad power supply can ruin it all.

It is important to not only get a power supply that will handle what you throw at it, but also one which has good power safety features in the unfortunate case of a power surge.

I strongly recommend getting a power supply only from a well-known and reputable manufacturer such as SeaSonic, Corsair, Silverstone, Cooler Master etc.

Specifications of Power Supply to look for in a Music Production computers:-

  1. Wattage: - Having enough wattage according to your maximum system needs is a must. if your system runs out of power, it will turn down. It is always good practice to have enough headroom.
  2. Power Rating: - All power supplies come with a power rating. Opt for an 80+ rating of Bronze or better—which will also ensure your PC uses electricity efficiently and runs cooler and quieter.
  3. Noise Rating: - You want silent power supplies in your studio. Spending a little extra on silent power supplies can help you a lot during recordings.

Graphics Card

Even though Graphic cards are optional, adding a good graphic card to your build will make your Pc usable for other aspects like video editing, gaming.

If you are using your computer/workstation for more than audio production, then you are going to need to make sure that you do have a balanced system. But just by itself, the GPU is not utilized when it comes to audio work. For most music production and general DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) builds, 1 GB of graphics will give you plenty of power.

But if you plan to use the PC for video editing, gaming you will need more. All of us need to edit videos. So invest in a good graphic card if you have the budget and unlock the complete potential of your build. 2Gb is a decent graphic card and anything over 4GB is good for video editing. For 3D rendering and other stuff, make sure to research accordingly. I am not experienced enough to guide GPUs.

I hope this article helps you build the right computer for your music production needs. If you have any questions, comments or queries - do post them.

In the next lesson learn Should You Buy A Laptop Or Desktop For Music Production.


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Written By

Udeeksh Sood on

Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer and Co-Founder of learnmusicproduction.in. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.