What Computer or Laptop Should You Get for Making Music?
A lot of people ask “What computer do I need to make music?“.
The answer is very simple. Any modern computer or laptop made for general use will be good enough, but desktops are more powerful than laptops, generally last longer and are not as prone to overheating. The tremendous upside to laptops are that they’re portable, which comes in handy when inspiration hits you while you’re on vacation, or you want to collab or share ideas with someone, in which case you can just pick up the entire studio and walk out the door. Whether you choose a desktop or a laptop to make your beats, in both, the important things to look for are processor speed, RAM memory, and hard drive storage space. The processor (CPU) speed governs how fast your computer can do whatever it has to do. RAM is the working memory available to programs like your DAW and plugins. The more RAM you have the more things you can have going on at once without the computer slowing down or generally getting weird and choppy on you. Your hard drive space is your physical storage, which is how much data/files/samples/programs/etc you can actually have on your computer.
Below are some recommendations to help you get the most out your system.
CPU Speed and Power
When looking for a computer to make music with, you want a computer with a multi-core processor. A dual core is good , but a quad-core (or better) CPU would be best. Basically, the rule goes the more cores, the more processor power. Just make sure whatever processor you have, your CPU speed is at least 3 GHz. Even a dual-core processor at a 3 GHz would be able to to handle a LOT of work. There are only two major processor developers, Intel and AMD, so this helps to make shopping easy. Intel has the long reputation, so computers with these processors are generally more expensive, but AMD is no slouch and has come a long way from being known as “the other guy”, to having made some CPUs that’ve outperformed their counterparts from Intel, so to keep it simple:
Look for computers that list their CPU as being an i3 (dual – core) or i5/i7 (quad-core). The important thing is to make sure that you’re getting 3 GHz of speed from the processor.
|Ideal For||Single, Dual,
Triple or Quad-Core
|Processor Speeds (Frequency)|
|AMD Athlon™ X4||Amazing for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 3.2 GHz|
|AMD FX 4-Core Black Edition||Amazing for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 3.6 GHz|
|AMD FX 6-Core Black Edition||Amazing for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 3.8 GHz|
|AMD FX 8-Core Black Edition||Amazing for music making.||Eight-Core||Up to 4 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ II X6||Amazing for music making.||Six-Core||Up to 3 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ II X6 Black||Amazing for music making.||Six-Core||Up to 3.2 GHz|
|AMD Athlon™ II X3||Overly Great for music making.||Triple-Core||Up to 3.4 GHz|
|AMD Athlon™ II X4||Good for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 2.3 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ II X4||Great for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 3.2 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ II X3||Great for music making.||Triple-Core||Up to 2.5 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ II X2||Great for music making.||Dual-Core||Up to 3.1 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ X4||Good for music making.||Quad-Core||Up to 2.6 GHz|
|AMD Phenom™ X3||Great for music making.||Triple-Core||Up to 2.4 GHz|
|AMD Athlon™ II X2||Very Decent for music making.||Dual-Core||Up to 3 GHz|
|AMD Athlon™ X2||Decent for music making.||Dual-Core||Up to 2.3 GHz|
|AMD Athlon™||Too outdated for music making.||Single-Core||Up to 2.4 GHz|
|AMD Sempron™||Too outdated for music making.||Single-Core||Up to 2.3 GHz|
I’ve used many different systems to make beats, and I highly recommend using a computer with at least 6 GB of RAM memory. You’d be able to work decently on a system with 4 GB of ram, but remember this universal rule: THE MORE RAM, THE BETTER. The more you have, the more software and processes you can have running without your computer starting to glitch out on you. Luckily, RAM memory isn’t too expensive can easily be increased and upgraded in computers by adding or replacing chips, so you can start out small and work your way up as you see fit. Again, start with at least 4 GB.
HARD DRIVE STORAGE
You might want to try out a bunch of different DAWS and plugins which can take up space. Audio files also can take up a lot of space, and you might want to keep various audio samples, mp3s, drum kits, etc, so a nice spacious HD of at least 500 GB should be good for starters. Always remember that there are a lot of affordable external storage options out there as well, from portable HD units, to common SD cards and Flash Drives, so even if your computer doesn’t have a whole bunch of space, or you’re just running low, there’s plenty of options to keep the show rolling.