So you’re looking at a PC or Mac for music production and are already overwhelmed by the different choices available. Any type of production on a PC requires performing multiple processes simultaneously.
For effective multitasking, your PC requires sufficient RAM. Therefore, the obvious first question is, “How much RAM is needed for music production?” Will 8GB be enough, or will boosting up to 16GB provide a noticeable advantage in productivity?
Well, that depends on what level of production you want to achieve. That’s why I decided to put together this guide to what type of PC will best suit each level of music production workload so that you’ll know if 8GB or 16GB RAM for Music Production is the best option for you.
A Guide to RAM Requirements
At the bare minimum, you will require 8GB of RAM for basic music production. This would be sufficient for most beginners. Furthermore, this will allow for 5 to 25 music tracks with multiple virtual instruments and plugins.
This would also accommodate effects such as equalization, reverb, delay, compression, etc. With 8GB of RAM, your system should handle these basic operations at a moderate speed without any major performance issues.
The next level…
Doubling your RAM to 16GB doesn’t mean doubling your capabilities. While the number of tracks and complexity of effects will be slightly increased, the main area you would notice is performance. Processes will be completed faster and more smoothly.
For anyone looking for something high-performance for professional applications, you can even boost the RAM up to 32GB, 64GB, or even 128GB if your PC can handle it. But RAM can’t do it alone; you will also need to take the CPU (Central Processing Unit) into consideration.
Matching RAM and CPU
In a PC, your RAM is like the memory section, with the CPU performing like the brain. There is no point in having a larger memory capacity if the brain cannot perform enough calculations to fill up that memory. Ensuring you have the correct CPU for music production is therefore important.
At the minimum, your PC should have an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor for music production applications. This would be suitable for both 8GB and 16GB of RAM. However, an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 would be preferable for working with 16GB.
Entry-Level and Beginner Music Production
When first learning about music production, making the correct PC choice is very important. There is a balance that needs to be achieved. You don’t want to invest too much money. At the same time, if performance is lacking, it will harm your experience.
For a Windows-based PC, I would recommend a system with 8GB of RAM, either an Intel Core i5 processor and a PCMe SSD storage drive. If you prefer Apple products, the MacBook Air with M1 Chip has 8GB of RAM and a choice of SSD storage drive sizes.
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro – Best Beginner Music Production Windows PC
With a screen size of 13.3-inches, being incredibly thin, and weighing only 2.31-pounds (1-kilo), the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is ultra-portable. Available in Mystic Blue or Mystic Silver and with a choice of 256GB or 512GB SSD storage drive.
The latest EVO Intel Core i5 11th generation processor is onboard along with 8GB of RAM. Entry-level music production will be a breeze with this attractive laptop filled with all the latest in technology components.
Apple MacBook Air M1 – Beginner Music Production macOS PC
Enjoy one of the most reliable and simple-to-use operating systems available on the Apple MacBook Air M1. It is lightweight and compact with a 13.3-inch screen and weighs only 2.8-pounds (1.27-kilos), so you can work from anywhere.
The latest M1 chip offers powerful and highly efficient CPU performance and comes with 8GB of RAM. Up to 15 hours of battery life means you can continue to work on your latest project anywhere and at any time.
Experienced Music Production
At the next level of music production, like bands, musicians, composers, sound engineers, etc., you will need something with a bit more power. These machines would be capable of producing around 30 to 60 audio tracks.
Mixing, mastering, multiple instrument layering, orchestral compositions, and moderate plugin use is all possible. For a Windows PC, an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 CPU is recommended paired with 16GB of RAM. For an Apple PC, look at the MacBook Pro.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Experienced Music Production Windows PC
Slightly larger but still portable with a 15-inch screen and weighing 3.4-pounds (1.54-kilos) is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. Available in Matte Black or Platinum colors, it offers the latest in connectivity options perfect for music production.
The CPU inside is an AMD Ryzen 7 that has been specifically designed for the Surface Laptop 3. Paired with 16GB of RAM, it can handle complex tasks quickly and efficiently with up to 11.5 hours of battery life.
Apple MacBook Pro – Experienced Music Production macOS PC
For those who prefer or are already a part of the Apple ecosystem, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is slightly heavier at 4.3-pounds (1.95-kilos). That is still impressive, considering that you essentially have an entire portable studio.
Apple uses an Intel Core i7 CPU paired with 16GB of RAM. It provides a fast and reliable computer for music production. An ultra-fast 512GB SSD storage drive will allow you to save and access files in an instant.
Advanced Music Production
If you are serious about music production, the debate of 8GB or 16GB RAM for music production is moot. You need the best that’s available, and 8GB or 16GB is not enough. You will also require a much more capable CPU paired with that larger RAM for completing complex tasks.
These types of systems can produce 100 or more audio tracks. This would be useful for large orchestral compositions, multiple instrument recordings with heavy plugin use, and large sample libraries.
A desktop PC is needed in this situation. For a Windows PC, a custom build would suit you best. Consider an Intel Core i9 or even an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU at minimum. Both can handle between 32GB and 256GB of RAM. In the Apple ecosystem, at minimum, an iMac Pro.
Velztorm Gladio – Advanced Music Production Desktop Windows PC
This attractive desktop Windows PC from Velzstorm is a custom build called the Velztorm. It features the latest 5th generation AMD Ryzen 9 CPU that offers 12 cores and 24 threads and up to 4.8GHz of power. This is paired with 128GB of DDR4 RAM.
The greatest advantage of selecting a custom Windows desktop PC is the ability to perform upgrades in the future. As technology advances, you can easily upgrade each component instead of having to replace an entire system.
Apple iMac Pro – Advanced Music Production Desktop macOS PC
This top-of-the-line, all-in-one desktop from Apple, the iMac Pro, can handle all your music production needs. Up to 18 cores of 4.5GHz processing power is possible thanks to the Xeon CPU chip. Additionally, it comes with up to 256GB of RAM for advanced multitasking.
Create enormous and sophisticated projects and let your creativity run wild. You won’t be restricted by your PC’s capabilities making the impossible possible. Of course, all the latest and fastest connectivity options are available too.
Looking to Produce Your Own Music?
If so, you will need more than just a computer. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Audio Interface, the Best Portable Audio Recorders, the Best iPad Audio Interfaces, and the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Drum Mic Kits, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Kick Drum Mic, the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, the Best Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Microphone Preamps For Home Recording, and the Best Audio Mixers currently on the market.
8GB or 16GB RAM for Music Production – Conclusion
A PC with 8GB of RAM is sufficient for performing most music production tasks. If possible, choose a machine that you can upgrade. Therefore, you can make changes as your skill level and requirements progress.
Generally speaking, it is much easier to upgrade your PC’s RAM than it is to upgrade the CPU. So when making a choice, always ensure that the CPU performance is given preference over RAM capabilities.
The biggest limit these days isn’t the level of technology available, but how far we can all push our creativity and imaginations.
Have fun creating music!