Best computer for music production 2017
Best computer for music production 2017
Buying a computer for music production can be a daunting task.
What to look for?
In the next couple of minutes, I’ll update you on everything you need to know to buy a new computer especially for music production.
This is a updated video of the one I did in 2017 about choosing a computer for music production.
At the end of the video I will give a brief overview and advice on the computer to choose.
I made 2 versions of this video: a short one and an extended one. You are watching the extended one, i will link the short version in a card above
My background is in computer programming and worked 10 years in a computer shop, so I know a little about the subject.
In the next 10 minutes I will be your computer seller and tell you everything you need to know to buy a computer for music production
First of all it is important to know if you want to work with Windows or Mac.
If you are on a tight budget and want to have more value for you money, choose a pc with windows.
If you want to have something that looks cool and something that is twice as expensive, choose a mac.
I myself prefer the MacOS operating system over windows, because the workflow is somewhat nicer and (what i said) it just looks cool.
Some things like printing and making backups is works just better on a mac
And professionals want to be taken seriously and therefore choose a mac (and then some install windows on it).
[martin garrix windows mac]
If you want to work with Logic, you don’t have a choice, you need a mac.
And if you want to work with Fruity Loops you need a PC.
But software like Ableton Live and Presonus Studio One have PC and Mac versions.
A notebook or a desktop computer?
You have to bare in mind that components are always made first for a desktop computer.
So, a laptop is always somewhat behind in development.
Also do laptop makers consessions in speed to fit those components in your laptop.
Also desktop pc’s are also more expandable than notebooks (not with macs).
So the best computer is a desktop computer.
What is important?
The holy pair of speed in the early days was processor and memory.
Nowadays it is CPU and SSD.
The amount of memory is not THAT important anymore and especially for music production.
1) processor, Intel Core i7 with much cores
As you may know, with music production, plugins like synthesizers, reverbs and analysis plugin are a pretty hefty task for the processor.
Complicated mathematical formula`s need to be calculated to get your sound.
To produce a simple square wave, with just ONE oscillator with additive synthesis, THIS complicated formula needs to be calculated a few times a second.
You can imagine what it does to your processor with 2 oscillators, let alone with multiple voices (which are in fact extra oscillators).
[SCREEN: FORMULA fourier square wave]
Responsible for those calculations is the processor, or CPU.
The quicker the CPU, the more calculations it can do in a second without having any dropouts and that annoying message in Logic.
[SCREEN: DROPOUT LOGIC]
With CPU’s the number of GHZ is important , rule of the thumb: the higher the better, but a slower cpu can deliver more power than a faster one.
Yes you heard it right: a faster CPU with more GHZ can be slower than a slower CPU with less GHZ.
CAN, I don`t say that it IS, because it is depending on a lot of factors.
Because we have limitations in the number of GHZ a processor can produce, we increase processing power by adding more cores.
A core is affectively another processor in the same shell, that is working side by side by the other processors.
So, more cores is more speed.
But with double amount of cores, you don`t have double speed.
You have more speed, but not double speed.
AND your software has to explicitly direct the various tasks to different cores to share the processing power. Not every DAW does that.
With 4 cores you have a good basis for music production.
Intel has roughly 5 types of CPU`s.
In order of processing power in the same generation, the lowest being celeron and pentium, then i3, i5 and the top models i recommend for music production are i7 or Xeon and i9.
You see i7 and XEON on the same level, but what is the difference?
Lets compare the 2
The i7 vs Xeon same generation
first of all you have to realise that the architecture of both processors is the same.
The i7 is meant for home usage and the Xeon for server tasks
Most Xeon processors have more cache memory, wich makes them a bit faster.
What cache memory is, I will go over that in a minute.
Xeon and i7 processors with the same cache memory will perform the same.
You can add more processors later with a Xeon, wich you cant do with a i7.
If you want you can overclock the i7 to increase speed (and probably also instability), you cant do that with a Xeon
The Xeon supports ECC or Error checking memory, that is more secure memory meant for servers. Regular memory for home usage is fine.
Bare in mind that both processors need specialised motherboards
Is the price difference worth the money for the extra speed? No, hardly.
So my advice: choose a i7 in stead of a Xeon, but if you have the money, go crazy.
architecture - same - same
use - home - server
cache - std - more -- what cache is, i will go over that in a minute
speed - same - same (if cache same)
add cpus later - no - yes
overclock - yes - no
Ecc memory - no - yes
motherboad - i7 - Xeon
What is cache memory.
Cache memory is also important for speed
Cache memory of a processor is the fastest memory there is.
If a processor can find repeated tasks in the cache memory, it doesn`t have to go to the slower RAM memory.
In other words: The bigger the cache of a processor, the quicker the CPU.
But if you can choose between more cores or more cache, choose more cores.
I said: With as-much-cores and as-much-cache-memory as possible.
But with more cores and more cache, the price increase is very steep, 2 or 3 times for the more powerful processors.
But the performance will not increase 2 or 3 times, it is less than that. Say, maybe 20% speed increase.
For example: the price difference between 2 cores and 4, is 50 euro’s.
4 to 6 cores, 100 euro’s.
6 to 8 cores, 500 euro`s
So you need to make a decision if the performance increase is worth the money
Intel has also the "K" and "X" versions of various processors.
Those K versions are 40 to 50 euro`s more expensive than their regular counterparts, but they are a tad quicker.
And the X is even quicker than the K version
So if the price level is to steep to get more cores, choose a "K" or "X" version.
What about Ryzen by Intels competitor AMD.
Well, it will work for music production, but my personal taste and preference is working with Intel processors.
2) SSD drive, connected via PCIe or M2
SSD means, Solid State Drive.
Solid State opposed to old harddrives with a magnetic spinning platter.
[SHOW HARD DRIVE]
choose at least 1 tb of disk space. Native Instruments Komplete plugin already takes up 500 gb of disk space.
You want to have some room left for your documents, porn, installation of your daw and your images
You want to have a PCIe or M2 connection on your SSD, because THAN the drive is directly inserted to the spine of your computer which makes it quicker.
The other connection is old school SATA connection, which was made for those old spinning magnetic platter harddrives.
An SSD with SATA is still faster than a ‘loose’ state harddrive, but if you have the choice, choose PCIe or M2
PCIe or M2 is 6 times faster in reading stuff and 3 times faster writing stuff than SATA.
A SSD drive has an extra advantage above the traditional hard drive.
They are not likely to crash when bumping, or when sudden movements occur.
That is especially handy for notebooks, which have a portable character.
The difference between PCIe and M2 is the connection in the computer.
The only difference being that M2 is meant for your SSD and PCIe is for various extensions like soundcards and graphics cards.
If you have an M2 connection on your motherboard, choose M2, because you have more free slots for other hardware.
3) the busspeed of your motherboard and memory. Rather faster (more megahertz) than slower.
The current standard is the DDR4 memory type. But DDR5 coming soon.
The more mhz, the faster it is.
a 2133 mhz bus speed is pretty standard nowadays.
But there are motherboards that support 2400 mhz, 3000mhz and even 3200 mhz.
4) The amount of memory can also be of influence on the speed of you computer. With 8gb of memory you are solid. Do you want to be more future proof, choose 16 gb.
5) thunderbolt connection for an external soundcard.
6) usb connections for midi keyboard, usb memory drives for Rekordbox and USB dongle for your DAW or plugin.
That may seem logic, but the current Mac Book pro`s dont have a normal usb connection anymore.
You need a converter cable for that, and that is just the one accessoire you forget to pack when you are grabbing your notebook.
7) good quality, big wide screen
To SEE more at once, you need a big screen, at least 21 inch,or 27 inch, but preferably bigger than that.
and preferably a wide screen, so you can see more of your timeline.
Consider buying a separate second screen, so you can have more room for your tracks on the main screen, and plugins like EQ or your mixer on the second screen.
[CAMERA10] - WEG
Surprisingly a graphics card doesn’t matter that much.
And that is were the DAW software makers are a behind of the rest of the software world.
[VO 8] - WEG
Graphics cards nowadays have incredibly powerful processors on board.
And much software with CPU intensive tasks like BitCoin renderers, video editing software, 3D modeling software and gaming, use the main CPU and the CPU of the graphics card side by side.
In the music world is CPU power incredibly important.
But with the making of this video, no DAW software maker is using this feature (at least that I know of).
So a graphics card is not import, YET.
8) A side scrolling mouse, trackball or trackpad.
[SCREEN: scroll side]
Often you need to scroll not only up and down but also sideways.
Horizontal or side scrolling is essential for a quick workflow.
[SCREEN logitech/ apple magic mouse]
Different Logitech mouses can do that and the Apple Magic Mouse can do That
To buy a PC, you know enough now, just go to your local computer specialist
I will put the entire list of the things you need to keep in mind in the description below
[FOTO computershop arnhem]
[FOTO media markt, buzzer and red cross]
Not a mass retailer, because if there is something wrong with it, they dont know the answere and have to send it back to the factory and you are missing your working computer for 4 weeks.
The local computer specialist has more knowledge and probably can it in a couple of days, or maybe the same day.
You are a professional, so you want professionals to look at your equipment right?
For Mac, you have a couple of options.
You can go for the cheaper macbooks, but they havent got enough screen size and not enough processing power to do heavy lifting.
The more professional apple notebooks, the macbook PRO lack connections, and you need extra powered hubs and converter cables to carry along with your macbook.
And THATS not why you bought a beautiful looking macbook, did you?
[VLOG LAIDBACK LUKE: "Touring gets rough" 6:15min]
When you want to stay portable you can think of a mac mini. But make sure that you choose one with a big processor and an SSD.
You can pack the mac mini in your bag when you go to an external studio.
A downside to a Mac mini is that since Apple ditched the cinema screens, you need to connect an ugly ass screen, to a beautifully designed mac.
On the other side, you can invest in a expensive screen that lasts 2 or 3 generations mac mini’s.
Another downside is that the hardware of the current mac mini`s is quite old.
You are buying a computer with a processor that is 2 or 3 generations older than the current ones, which are 20% per generation quicker than their ancestor.
So wait a while for Apple to renew their Mac mini line before buying a mac mini if you want to have more value for your money.
You can go for the standard desktop iMac with build in screen. They are somewhat up-to-date an look good.
Keep in mind, that they are not portable at all... man those things are heavy!
There is also the Apple Trashcan (apple calls it the Mac Pro). These machines are more expensive than Mac mini’s or Mac pro`s.
The XEON processor in the Trashcan is meant for server tasks, not for multimedia like video editing, music production or photoshop.
A i7 or i9 processor in a iMac Pro or Macbook pro is probably more powerful for our music.
The hardware of the Trashcan is also at least 3 years old, so you pay at least 4 times what it’s actually worth.
And for 3000 or 5000 euro`s that is a lot of money thrown in the ... uhh trashcan.
Again, wait a while until Apple updates the hardware for these machines.
Apple announced that it is currently in the designing proces for a whole new line of Mac Pro’s, which can take 1 or 2 years.
When you buy a mac, take into account that you can`t add memory later on with most macs.
Earlier i said that 8 gb is enough. That is true, but if you want to buy future proof, you may consider putting 16 gb of ram in you mac
Will it work?
Will it work on an old computer? probably!
will it work with 8 gb of ram an old i5 processor? yes!
Is it the optimum configuration? no!
So, what is my advice?
If you choose for an Apple computer, go for a desktop model iMac or iMac Pro if you have the budget
go for the 27 inch model with
16 gb of RAM
1 TB SSD, not a fusion hard drive
If you choose a PC with windows, you can be more flexible and have more value for your money
Go for a model with :
Core i7 processor in the 8th generation with at least 4 cores (preferably more)
-16 GB of RAM
-SSD of at least 1 TB (Native instuments Komplete needs already 500 GB)
-1 or 2 extra spinning hard disk(s) for extra data storage, preferably 2 disks in mirrored raid to prevent data loss
-a good quality monitor of at least 27" , rather 2 monitors, both preferably with more width than height.
-side scrolling mouse wireless
[OUTRO : CAMERA15]
Do you have any questions, leave them in the description below
Thats it for this video.
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- music production