If you’re looking to buy a PC for making music, there are plenty of affordable options with more than enough power to run tons of plug-ins. Whether you’re using Ableton Live, FL Studio, Pro Tools, or Cubase, all of these PCs bring the right specs and set of features to produce music as seamlessly as possible.
Some factors to consider when buying a PC for music production include the power of the processor, the RAM, and the type of hard disk. In general, one wants a processor that is at least decent. That said, audio requires much less processing power than video. In general, one can get away with a processor that only has a Passmark score of around 4,000 and above. This will allow many tracks and many plug-ins in most digital audio workstations. Still, if you are a power user or like to do a lot of processing, then it may be better for your overall workflow to opt for something more powerful. The next important spec is RAM. Having lots of RAM can further aid in quick loading of samples. For example, Ableton Live users can enable “RAM preview” which means that samples load as fast as possible. The biggest factor, however, is using an SSD. If you’re a user who likes to load lots of samples, having an SSD makes for a much faster sample browsing experience.
Those factors out of the way, here’s the 10 best computers for music production from lowest to highest price.
1. Acer Swift 3
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-7200U / 4700 | RAM 8GB DDR4 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 3.31lbs | Display 14″, 1080P |
This PC brings with it a few simple features that make it great for producing music. For one, it has a processor that’s good enough to handle a lot of plug-ins. Sure, it won’t be powerful enough to have an enormous number, but that’s what freezing is for. Beyond this, this PC has a 256GB SSD, which is enough room for lots of samples (about 150GB worth, keep in mind the OS eats up some space). Plus, since it’s a solid state disk drive, you know that the samples will load quickly. It’s also low weight with a solid quality display. One simply does not need to spend more on a production PC unless you need massive amounts of space or storage. That said, for other applications, this PC will struggle.
It lacks a video card and while the processor is good enough for audio, for video it will definitely slow things down considerably. It’s not the most well-rounded PC, but strictly for producing music it’s got enough power to do the job well.
- Superb performance and price for a workstation PC; great for students or office applications
- Fast processor, solid RAM, and SSD
- Lightweight, decent price
- Comparable to Macbook in weight, better specs
- 10 hours of battery life
- Screen can be parallel of keyboard
- Fan turns on a lot, which can be noisy
- Power button is a normal button on the keyboard which can be obnoxious
2. ASUS Zenbook UX330
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-7200U / 4686 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 256GB SSD | Weight 2.6lbs | Display 13.3″, 1080P | Extras Built-in fingerprint reader |
While it’s not quite the deal the Swift is, this Zenbook bring plenty to the table including a sleek exterior. For students and others hauling their laptop about town, this model is lighter. Plus, it boasts an unquestionably more stylish exterior.
Full disclosure: Asus sent me a Zenbook to try it out. It’s a great device, but a few things about it annoyed me including its frequent fan use (seriously, I’m just typing in a Google Doc!) and low battery life (only about three hours). Still, for those who want something lighter and sleeker than a Swift at a slightly higher price, it’s a great deal. It’s $100 cheaper, but it looks much more expensive.
- Keyboard has a backlight for those late night work sessions
- SD card slot is built-in (can be useful for bringing in recorded audio)
- Lightweight and small
- Good specs
- Speaker quality is decent (not monitor quality obviously, but can be a nice way to get a different listen on a track)
- Solid build quality
- No video card
- Screen is small
- Not great for any other applications like video editing or gaming
3. HP Elite 8300 (Certified Refurbished)
Processor / Passmark Speed i7 3.4ghz / 9308 | RAM 16GB | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 512GB SSD | Weight 26lbs |
If you’re willing to get a desktop for your music production, this HP Elite 8300 has truly got it all for those working solely in the audio world. It has a blazing fast i7 processor (check out that Passmark score) so you can run as many plug-ins as you can dream of.
With 16GB of RAM, it also won’t struggle when it comes to virtually any workstation applications. Another awesome perk of this PC, is its 512GB SSD. Normally, on a certified refurbished device, the hard drive is the riskiest aspect, but SSDs are reliable well beyond the lifespan of your average hard disk. Still, it never hurts to back things up (personally, I recommend Backblaze; it’s $5 a month to back up your whole system and any external drives).
While this PC doesn’t offer a video card, for the strictly audio producer, it’s got it all and at a great price.
- 2 year warranty from the manufacturer is included
- Tons of USB ports for plugging in peripherals and the like
- Processor is very powerful
- Lots of RAM
- Fast SSD
- Great value, no compromises for an audio workstation
- No GFX (video) card means this PC is really only for audio processing not gaming or editing video
- Boots to Windows 7, but one can always install Windows 10
4. Dell XPS 9350
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-6200U / 4006 | RAM 8GB DDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 128GB SSD | Weight 2.8lbs | Display 13.3″, 1080P, InfinityEdge |
If you want a mean little laptop with a great display, this Dell model offers a few minor trade-offs for a stunning IPS display that’s crisp and bright. Unfortunately, its other specs aren’t quite comparable to the other models on our list that are cheaper, but Dell does offer name brand quality and great customer service. Again, the display is the real all-star here.
This PC has enough RAM and a decently fast processor, but its small SSD is the real trade-off. With an OS, 128GB goes super fast. It’s not perfect for people who like to have lots of samples stored locally. Otherwise, this is a really nice laptop in every other regard. It’s just not the best choice in terms of raw value.
- Light weight
- Attractive laptop with sleek design
- Solid Macbook alternative
- Good performance for student or office apps
- Display has almost no bezzle
- Trackpad can be a bit wonky
- Only 128GB SSD means storage is limited
- Not great price for performance though display is nicer
5. Dell XPS 8920 (Certified Refurbished)
Processor / Passmark Speed i7-7700 / 10810 | RAM 24GB DDR4 | Graphics Card AMD Radeon RX 480 | Hard Drive 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Weight 28.2lbs |
This refurbished desktop is great for the audio or music producer who wants to take their whole rig to the next level. This PC has a notably high amount of RAM at 24GB, a fast graphics card for exporting video and playing games, and most notably, a dual hard drive set up. 256GB is comfortable for most sample libraries, and adding in an extra terabyte definitely keeps things comfy. On a refurbished PC, however, we always strongly advise one backs up their data. I recommend Backblaze.com ($5 a month). This PC brings everything to the table for the music producer who also may want to dabble with editing music videos and the like.
- Near top of the line processor is blazing fast
- Can burn DVDs, read CDs
- Graphics card is powerful enough to play modern games at medium to high settings
- Tons of RAM for quickly loading samples and the like
- Graphics card and fast processor all add up to a formidable multimedia machine
- Overpowered for users just looking to do audio-related work
- Noisy fans can be annoying when mixing or trying to do precise editing
6. Acer Aspire Gaming, Editing, and Design PC
Processor / Passmark Speed i5-7300HQ / 6826 | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Graphics Card GTX 1050 Ti – 3GB | Hard Drive 256gb SSD | Weight 5.51lbs | Display 15.6″, 1920 x 1080 |
The Acer VX is a great gaming laptop that will more than cut it for music producers. It has tons of RAM for ripping through samples, a decently fast processor, and a GTX 1050Ti for playing games. This is a great option for users who want to play video games because the 1050Ti allows one to run modern games at medium to high settings.
The processor isn’t the best in the world, but it should be more than fast enough for most audio work. That said, if you want a top of the line processor, it may be wise to spend a few hundred more upfront and get the MSi model below or the Helios 300 (better graphics card and processor, but display is a bit dimmer), though each has their own set of tradeoffs relative to this model.
All in all, this is a solid choice for those who want a multifaceted PC.
- Good for editing video or playing modern games at medium to high settings
- RAM can be upgraded for even better multitasking performance
- Speakers are decent for a laptop
- Construction quality is solid
- Can run Overwatch, League of Legends, and other contemporary games at good settings
- Multifaceted PC that’s great for editing audio and related tasks
- No disk reader
- Trackpad can be a bit spotty; mouse is preferred
- Includes some bloatware
7. MSI GP72X Leopard
Processor / Passmark Speed i7-7700HQ / 8948 | RAM 16GB | Graphics Card GTX 1050 4GB / 5720 | Hard Drive 128GB SSD + 1TB | Weight 5.95lbs | Display 120hz, 17.3″, 1080P |
This gaming PC brings a great mix of features with no real tradeoffs. It has a fast video card, plenty of RAM for using multiple applications at once, and boasts the top of the line mobile processor, the i7-7700HQ. The hard drive set-up here could be better slightly, but 128GB offers plenty of space for running the OS off of it (guaranteeing snappy performance) and a small amount of room for samples. Of course, it’s not ideal, but if you want a machine that can do it all, this is a small price to pay. There truly is nothing this PC can’t do. Plus with its 120HZ screen, everything looks smooth as butter from applications to FPS games.
- Silky smooth 120hz screen is great for FPS and other games
- Top of the line mobile processor is blazing fast
- Plenty of RAM for multitasking
- SSD for OS with large data drive
- Solid price to performance
- Great for those who want an awesome gaming PC and an audio workstation
- May be a bit much for those just looking to do audio stuff
- SSD is too small to hold much audio
8. Eluktroniks 15.6″ 1080P Laptop
Processor / Passmark Speed i7-7700HQ / 8943 | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Graphics Card GTX 1060 – 6GB | Hard Drive 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Weight 5.9lbs | Display 15.6″ FHD IPS 1080P |
This Eluktroniks laptop is similar to the above model except it’s a bit smaller at 15.6″. It does offer a better hard drive set-up for audio and music producers, with its 256GB SSD. Another very tangible benefit here is its GTX 1060, which enables playing modern games at high and even ultra settings. This is a great PC if you want to be able to do it all and don’t mind hauling around a fair amount of weight. It’s a great desktop replacement as well.
- No compromises laptop with 1080P screen
- Good size SSD with big data drive
- Great for any kind of video editing or gaming
- Brand is praised for their deals and high quality PCs
- Excellent as a desktop replacement
- Battery cannot be removed
- Runs hot
- Almost six pounds
9. Asus Zenbook 3 i7
Processor / Passmark Speed i7-7500U / 5220 | RAM 16GB LPDDR3 | Graphics Card Integrated | Hard Drive 512GB pcie m.2SSD | Weight 2.4lbs | Display 14″, Bezel-less 1080P, Glossy |
Full disclosure: Asus sent me the Zenbook and for audio producers who want a sleek lightweight laptop with no extras, this is a great model to go with. It doesn’t have the fastest processor in the world, but with a Passmark score like that, one will be hard-pressed to run up against its limits. Plus, the 512GB SSD is really nice for storing tons of samples. Thie best thing about the Zenbook is its small profile and portability. The worse thing about it is that the fan kicks on often, and the battery life is only about three hours. That’s still very doable for a production or DJ setting, even without the ability to plug it in. While this is a luxury PC, for some, light weight is a necessity and that’s where this model really shines.
- Plenty of storage that’s all on an SSD for quick sample loading
- Feels like a Mac, but cheaper and faster
- Fast i7 processor
- Nice IPS display with responsive trackpad
- Keyboard has a short pull; takes adjusting but fast once you’re used to it
- Thin, light with a small charger (USB-C)
- Battery life is only two to three hours
- Fingerprint reader is on trackpad
10. XPS 9560
Processor / Passmark Speed i7-7700HQ / 8943 | RAM 16GB DDR4 | Graphics Card GTX 1050 | Hard Drive 512GB SSD | Weight ~4lbs | Display 4K, 15.6″ |
If nothing popped out at you before, this Dell model brings the best quality display to the table and a large SSD. Plus, it has a GTX 1050 so it can play modern games at medium to high settings. This is a great model to go with if you want a nice, pixel dense screen, plenty of fast storage, and the flexibility to play games. At four pounds, it’s pretty light for a gaming computer that’s so formidable. Needless to say, the 16GB of RAM are also a nice touch for those who want to use it as a workstation. This laptop is a great all arounder, and with its 4K screen, you’ll be having your Mac friends jealous as well.
- Thin bezel means screen is very attractive; IPS is bright (some say too bright)
- Pseudo-4K screen is nicer to look at than 1080P
- Can play modern games at medium to high-ish settings
- Can edit photos, videos, and play games well
- Solid as a desktop replacement
- Dell is a great brand
- Webcam is in a weird spot that makes angle awkward
- Drivers need to be updated
- Can be smudgy due to exterior material
- Some found display to be too bright
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