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Best audio PC in 2021: Digital Audio Workstations and audiophile machines

Best audio PC
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best audio PCs boast more than sheer power to run Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. As essential tools for music producers and musicians, these computers can be rather demanding when it comes to specs. So it’s true that every audio PCs has to have enough power to run DAW software like Image-Line FL Studio, PreSonus Studio One and Cubase without a hitch - no matter how many tracks you're working on.

Still, the best audio PCs and laptops need to have more than just cutting edge components. They should also be able to allow you to plug in multiple musical instruments, have a large enough hard drive to store your projects and uncompressed audio files, and have top-notch onboard audio quality – not to mention the ability to plug into external speakers and monitors.

If you're looking for the best audio PCs, then you've come to the right place. We've listed the top machines that are ideal for music production, taking everything above into consideration. It’s quite a demanding checklist so many of these PCs are expensive. Just know that they are well worth the money. Plus, included is our built-in price comparison tool, which scours the internet to bring you the best prices for these devices.

iMac (24-inch, 2021)

(Image credit: Apple)

1. iMac 24-inch (M1, 2021)

The best audio PC overall

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 24-inch 4.5K Retina display
Storage: up to 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Excellent screen+Striking new design+Fantastic webcam
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of ports-Mac mini may offer better value for some

The new iMacs are not just an improvement over their 21.5-inch predecessor externally, touting a fresh new face that comes in several different colors. They also come with fresh new specs, rocking Apple’s new M1 chip that makes it much more powerful than the previous Intel iMacs. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that the new iMac (24-inch, 2021) is the best and most efficient all-in-one PC we’ve ever tested, making it the best audio PC right now. It’s not the most affordable, but you’ll be happy to know that you are getting great value here, as you’re getting the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse included – in matching colors, we might add.

Read our full iMac (24-inch, 2021) review.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

2. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Huge battery life+Great performance+Can run iOS apps
Reasons to avoid
-Still lacks ports

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos – let alone music production. If you’re looking for a powerful yet portable PC for making music, this is the best audio PC money can buy.

Read our full MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review

Mac mini (m1, 2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Mac mini (m1, 2020)

Small, but with big ambitions

Specifications
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 64GB unified memory
Screen: N/A
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Same lovely design+Very good performance+New M1 hardware has potential
Reasons to avoid
-Can't use eGPUs

One of Apple’s biggest surprises of the year is the update to its smallest Mac. The brand-new Mac mini now touts Apple’s M1 chip, while keeping things the same in its much-loved design. It’s more powerful than ever – with performance powerful enough for music production and even 8K video editing, thanks to this new chip. That’s while still keeping its title as the cheapest Mac ever – terrific news for budget-minded musicians and music producers. 

Read our full Mac mini (M1, 2020) review.

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

(Image credit: Razer)

4. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

Powerful laptop for music production

Specifications
CPU:: 10th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Up to Quadro RTX 5000
RAM: up to 64GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,400) OLED touch
Storage: 1TB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful+Premium design+Excellent display
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive laptop

Not that you need one of the most powerful laptops in existence for making music, but if you do want it, the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition will no doubt take your breath away thanks to its sheer power and stunning display. This is a mobile workstation that can compete with even the most powerful desktop PCs and is worthy of the most complex tasks like 3D animation and video editing, let alone music production. The steep price is just as breathtaking, however, so only invest if you really want that much firepower and can afford it.

Read our full Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) review.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Microsoft Surface Studio 2

A great alternative to the iMac

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-7820HQ
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 – 1070
RAM: 16GB or 32GB
Screen: 28.125-inch, (4,500 x 3,000) PixelSense Display
Storage: 1TB or 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Bright and clear display+PCIe SSDs
Reasons to avoid
-May be more expensive than required

The Surface Studio 2 is a great alternative to Apple's iMacs, and if you'd rather use Windows 10 over macOS, then this all-in-one from Microsoft is an excellent choice. Sleek, stylish and capable of handling DAW software with ease, along with a bright and vibrant built-in display, this is an excellent audio PC that would look great in anyone's studio.

It's not quite as powerful as the latest iMac, however, so if you want pure power, go for Apple's all-in-one. Still, this is an excellent performer, that's ideal for creatives.

Read our full Surface Studio 2 review.

Acer ConceptD 7

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer ConceptD 7

A mobile workstation for creatives

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS
Storage: 1TB
Reasons to buy
+Very powerful+Cheaper than MacBook Pro+Good selection of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Not as thin and light as MacBook Pro

The formidable Acer ConceptD 7 is capable of handling complex and demanding tasks such as audio production. Clearly designed specifically with creative professionals in mind, it boasts that sheer power you’ll only find in workstations and gaming laptops. 

Beyond that excellent performance it delivers, it also offers decent port selection, a minimalist solid white design and that stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display. Obviously, it’s still pretty pricey, but no professional’s tool comes cheap. If you’re looking for a Windows-powered MacBook alternative for audio production, this is a fantastic choice.

Read our full Acer ConceptD 7 review. 

Lenovo Yoga A940

(Image credit: Future)

7. Lenovo Yoga A940

An iMac alternative

Specifications
CPU: 9th-gen Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560
RAM: 32GB
Screen: 27" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Multi-touch
Storage: 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Good price+Stylus included
Reasons to avoid
-Older components-Screen not great in direct light

Lenovo’s latest all-in-one offering isn’t as powerful as Apple’s premium AIO, the iMac Pro, or even the recently updated iMac, which now offers a 9th-generation Intel Core configuration. After all, the 8th-generation chips and Radeon RX 560 graphics are aging at this point. 

However, it is still plenty powerful to meet the needs of creative professionals out there who are not entirely impressed by Apple’s pricey machines. On top of that, the Lenovo Yoga A940 has a few aces up its sleeves, including 100% Adobe RGB support and Dolby Vision, a set of Dolby Atmos speakers, a port offering that’s more generous than Apple’s all-in-one, and a stylus included in the box.

Read our full Lenovo Yoga A940 review.

iMac Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

8. iMac Pro

Raw power

Specifications
CPU: 8 to 18-core Intel Xeon W
Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 - Radeon Pro Vega 64
RAM: 32GB – 256GB DDR4 ECC
Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color)
Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Most powerful Mac you can buy +Gorgeous, color-accurate display 
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive 

Professionals and creatives need something that can handle any workload they can possibly throw at it. If you’re one such user, the iMac Pro isn’t just one of the best Macs for you; it’s the only Mac to consider. 

Not only does it have a vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, but it also boasts some of the most powerful hardware Apple could get its hands on. It’s extremely expensive though, so it’s really only meant for folks who have deep pockets and need that unbridled power to get through their daily workloads. 

Read our full iMac Pro review

Matt Hanson

Senior Computing editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's Senior Computing editor. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice with your PC or Mac, drop him a line on Twitter.