Nowadays without a beginners computer for music production, and unless you’re going for an old-school all-hardware type of setup, we really can’t call what we have a ‘studio’ at all. With how digital-based gear and software are nowadays, the new norm involves having at least some type of computer at your finger tips to get going on your sounds. Apple’s iMac and Macbook have for years dominated the music production industry. Although we do recommend a Mac typically for those just starting out, Windows devices are all over the market nowadays and there many beautiful solutions for beginners if you’re into PC (we are ourselves).
It is important to note that times are quickly changing and technological trends are increasingly growing in prominence. The rise of gaming computers and ultra-books has seen Apple relinquish its stronghold as the conglomerate in today’s age, trading blows with other computing heavyweight brands including Acer, Lenovo, Asus, Dell, and HP to name a few when it comes to computer powerhouses (that are perfect for music production and recording, not just gaming. Plus, many of us game as well).
This competition favors music makers since it has led to the creation of affordable computers with enhanced production capabilities. The Digital Audio Workstation (DAW — beginners music software) has immensely evolved with each of these different solutions offering varying capabilities, while many are cross platform and it really doesn’t matter what DAW you use with what computer nowadays (aside from Logic X Pro being Mac only).
In general when finding beginners music equipment, it’s important to keep in mind a balance of both capability and affordability. Especially with computers for music production here, we want it to last us maybe even a decade if we can. For us, we’ve had the same rig for quite a while, and have just been upgrading RAM periodically to keep up with the software demands of computers, FX and VST’s. You can also just add extra hard drive space by adding some external memory quite easily (we have a whole 4 TB drive just for VST’s!).
Of course, you can always build your own music computer, but that takes a bit more knowledge in regards to the many different parts of computers, and some more time. It’s totally up to you, but below we have pre-built picks for those who want a starter music production computer ready to use out of the box. A majority of our pics here are PC, so if you want the alternative, look into our beginners music laptops guide instead.
With that being said and before giving you our picks, let’s look at our checklist of ‘musts’ for shopping for a music computer for beginners (yes, for both desktops as well as laptops):
- An SSD hard drive (please, this is a game changer and make or break for a computer nowadays)
- At least 16 GB of RAM (honestly, 32 GB if you can)
- At least 1 TB of storage space (can always grab some external hard drives later)
- i5 processor (or AMD equivalent)
- Windows 7 / Mac OS X 10 or higher
The best beginners music computers
With years of excellence in terms of an all-inclusive design, easy to use technology and a highly aesthetic build, Apple’s iMac is by far the best beginners music computer and list first just because it’s the safest bet to give readers that include a wide audience. As we said before, feel free to keep scrolling if you’re into Windows (we’re more of PC people for music, but again, it doesn’t matter ultimately — the Mac vs. PC in music debate will always be around). This elegant machine is now equipped with Intel Core processors, either ninth or eighth generation, for enhanced performance. This allows you to operate an extensively wide array of musical production software, thus, offering you the ideal experience. Space is another unique aspect of the iMac as it offers music enthusiasts up to 2 TB SSD, which is more than enough to store all your mixes, sounds and tunes.
What’s more, with the Apple iMac, you get to experience all these at 4K or 5K resolution with monitors ranging from 21.5 to 27 inch. This allows for great CPU performance of up to 2.4X and up to 80% faster graphics. The Apple iMac also includes 6- and 8-core processors which facilitate a processing speed of up to 5 GHz, allowing users to operate processor-intensive music production applications with the utmost ease. On the flip side, you will have to cough up a considerably large amount of money to enjoy this level of brilliance and power. They do however have some choices in the lower budget range — just make sure you have the minimal requirements we previously listed.
Acer Aspire XC
Let’s get into some PC machines that are pre-built and we’re fans of in regards to a combination of effectiveness, covering our requirements, and not being too steep on our wallets. We’ll list the series and allow you to choose which model you can grab which is pretty dependent on your overall budget. What makes Acer’s Aspire XC one of the best beginners music computer options? It is its solid quality processing abilities which provides music engineers with the power to simultaneously run multiple tasks.
Depending on the model, Aspire XC desktops run on 5th generation onward Intel Core i5/i7 processors that unleash the machine’s full potential. The storage capacity is also quite good with a myriad of SSD and HDD options of up to 1 TB space allowing you to store all your favorite music and production programs. What’s more, this is one of the few computing brands with a completely wireless setup. With zero wires, it is much easier for users to use the Acer Aspire XC as the centerpiece in their studios. A great option to kick off our PC picks to be the best beginners music production computers in the market today.
In the past, HP has released several iterations of the Pavilion brand which features a robust line-up of mid-range computers, with each surpassing the previous version. These computers offer a number of features that make them one of the best starter music production computer brands currently available in the market. Of all their features, storage options stand out the most as one is allowed to choose from a variety of configurations. Some are equipped with a single hard drive, others with multiple hard drives, while others include a PCle SSD. Majority of the recent models include either a 2 TB or 1 TB memory capacity, which is enough to store all you favorite music production software.
To boot, some models include Intel Optane storage of up to 16 GB dedicated to storage acceleration. Also, HP Pavilion includes fast DDR4 memory of up to 64 GB. On the whole, this range of HP Pavilion computers is packed with power to allow for enhanced beginners music production computer capabilities.
Asus released the ROG (Republic of Gamers) machines with the ultimate gaming experience in mind. However, its high-end features allow this range of computers to double up as the best production computers for starters. They come fully equipped with 7th or 8th generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors, over-lockable memory, and SLI 2-way 1080p graphics. Their processors especially have been ranked as the fastest in the current market with recent statistics showing that they are approximately 14% faster than any other model. The GeForce GTX 1080 architecture, on the other hand, provides you with resolute imaging while maintain high energy efficiency.
Definitely isn’t a must for music production and is more geared towards gaming, but with the power overall, I don’t mind a higher-end video card to have (in case you game as well or perhaps watch shows or movies on your computer, too). This implies that you can easily view or edit high quality music videos without necessarily consuming high amounts of energy. What’s more, visual tearing and perceived stutter are a thing of the past with Asus ROG. Also, for those that prefer streaming their music, the ROG delivers up to 3.2 GB/s access speeds. The fan has also been enhanced to provide up to 31% cooler systems, while they also include a Hi-Fi amplifier jack for boosted audio. Overall this is a beautiful beginner computer for music recording and production.
“All-you-need, all-in-one”; this is an accurate description of Lenovo’s Ideacentre line of desktops. We really aren’t for recommending “all-in-one” PC’s (technically the MacBook is…), and actually have never done so until now. The reason being is their specs just didn’t cut it, and we disliked the lack of connectivity options (such as USB ports). However, Lenovo’s Ideacentre has started to up the ante is a good solution for beginners due to the power it can handle. These machines are sleek, space-saving, and highly capable. With a memory capacity range of between 4 GB and 32 GB, Core i5/i3/i7 processors, 256 GB to 2 TB hard drive space, and a standard Windows 10 operating system, Lenovo’s Ideacentre offers just what we need for music production for the price.
More specifically, the A10 series is the best starter music production computer due to its rather compact design which allows music engineers to easily set up their production studio, or even a great solution for those who record or produce on the go. For a reasonable price, this line of Lenovo Ideacentre computers offers you a lot of power and a sufficient screen size ranging from 19.5 to 7 inches. However, the ports are located at the back which makes it cumbersome for users to access and may be limited.
Although we do have the separate laptops for beginners article, let’s recommend a few of our favorites in the middle of this guide. Computing heavyweight Apple makes a second appearance in the list with the MacBook. Understandably so — Apple has managed to squeeze in highly optimized computing features into one of the most portable computers out there. Despite its small size, the MacBook offers turbo speeds of up to 3.6 GHz which is made possible by its unique processing technology which includes 14 nanometers. Over and above that, these computers are equipped with 7th generation Intel Core m3/i5/i7 processors.
Another standout feature that explains why the Apple MacBook is among the best music computers for beginners is its fan-less architecture which includes a 5 watts processor and an anisotropic graphite sheet on which heat is dispersed. At the end of the day, this machine is practically silent when in operation. Lastly, with both LPDDR3 on-board memory and SSD storage of up to 512 GB, the MacBook offers a relatively stable performance that rivals even some desktop computers in the world.
Lenovo ThinkPad P-Series
Here comes our favorite PC laptop, and one that we use ourselves for music production if we’re in the mood for a mobile track. The ThinkPad P Series mobile workstations are arguably the best beginners music computers for those needing a PC laptop. They have the global ISV certification which implies that this line of computers is free to run all major applications, including those for music production. Its cutting edge technology includes 8th generation Intel Core processors ranging from i3 to i7.
Storage options range from 1 TB to 6 TB while memory capacity ranges from 3 GB to 128 GB. Security features are some of the most advanced with an Optimal ThinkShutter webcam, encryption, or biometric security options. Therefore, sound engineers are able to store all their music in a secured manner. The Lenovo ThinkPad P-Series is solid for starters needing a rugged and reliable music laptop.
As we near the end of our guide, we’ll list just a few more PC desktops to keep in mind in case the previous picks haven’t caught your eye. We all know Dell as one of the highly rated computer brands in today’s market and is obviously recognizable. This was one of our favorite desktops in their lines of computers we felt was best in regards to balancing cost with some nice specs. The Inspiron line especially is affordable and a reliable alternative for music makers.
These computers are designed to provide continuous productivity with specs such as AMD or Intel processors (Core i5/i7/i3, Pentium, Ryzen), RAM memory of between 4 GB and 24 GB with an optional 16 GB Intel Optane, and storage drive range of between 256 GB and 2TB. The battery life is rather decent, relatively stable performance, and good portability despite a number of ergonomic issues. As the whole, Dell Inspiron line is among the popular models today, and not too expensive at that.
Geared with state of the art software, enhanced cooling capabilities, and easily able to upgrade (tool-less design), HP’s Omen desktops are simply unstoppable. As is the case with Asus’ ROG, this line of computers is categorized majorly as a gaming PC, but its features allow it to easily double as one of the best starter music production computer alternatives in the market. Among its standout features is its high preconfigured power support that ranges from 300W to 1300W. This way, you are rest assured of sufficient power supply to support its high performance. Additionally, the Omen desktop comes fully equipped with two USB 3.1 ports, a microphone, jack and audio combo jack, all strategically positioned at the front end of the PC.
Using these connections, one can create their ideal studio station. With regards to technical features, Omen desktops run on a pre-installed Windows 10, Intel Core i5/i7 processors (5th generation onwards), and 4 GB to 8 GB DDR3 memory. All in all, according to most reviews, HP Omen desktops sometimes fall short when it comes to their fans as they tend to get irritatingly noise especially when at peak performance, but you can always purchase a new one if this occurs. You don’t want it getting in the middle of your recording tracks.
Lenovo ThinkCentre M-Series
Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M Series towers have been designed for forward users. They offer optimal expandability, energy efficiency and reliable security options. They come fully equipped with built-in hardware and data security to ensure that all you files are safe. They utilize either 7th or 8th generation core i5 processors and run on a pre-installed version of windows 10. With regards to memory, these computers have a DDR4 capacity of up to 64 GB.
The m720 tower in specific has an Intel Optane of 16 GB for enhanced performance which allows you to run processor-heavy music production software with utmost ease. On the whole, these computers are productive, fast, and powerful, making the Lenovo ThinkCentre M-Series our last recommendation as the best music production and recording computers for beginners. We hope one of these pre-built computers have stood out to you.