We all know we can’t function without a brain, that is the same with computers their “brain” is the CPU and its the most important hardware component when it comes to music production.
A good CPU will prevent your DAW from crashing and reduce CPU spikes. It will also allow for a smoother experience in almost all CPU intensive software and it’s definitely the most important part of every workstation.
What to look for in a CPU
We could get into the nitty gritty of things and tell you everything about the CPU world and explain every minor detail. We won’t do that because we know most of you want to produce music instead of majoring in electrical engineering.
For that reason, we will tell you our personal shortcut when choosing a CPU for our workstations.
We use cpubenchmark.net CPU benchmark gives almost all CPUs on the market a score the score reflects the CPU’s overall power and efficiency.
Our general rule of thumb is you should buy a CPU that has a score of at least 7000 on the CPU benchmark test. From our experience 7000+ CPUs are sufficient for almost all music production tasks. In fact image line ( the company behind FL Studio) has stated that you should purchase a CPU with a score of at least 6000+ on the cpubenchmark test.
They have also stated that they consider anything above 9000 as powerful (see image line’s statement here).
Laptops vs Desktops
Most techies will tell you that desktops are the way to go due to their power and reliability. We generally share that opinion and agree that desktops are the way to go if you don’t travel a lot.
However, we personally own quite a few laptops and think they are a must have for the traveling DJ/producer. Laptops are obviously more portable and are a must have for gigging and producing on the go. We were surprised by how much weaker our laptops were in comparison to their desktop counterparts.
The reason for that is most laptops use smaller versions of the same CPU found in a desktop. These laptop-version CPUs are generally weaker and you won’t get the same performance you get on a desktop
We have produced on laptops ranging from 350$ all the way to 4000$ and we think the sweet spot is somewhere around 1250-1750$. If you are interested in a music production laptop don’t hesitate to check out our list of the top 10 best laptops in the world for music producers 🙂
3 Best CPUs for music production
Intel core i7 5960x
Our winner is the mega powerful I7 5960x, Scoring a whopping 15991 on the cpubenchmark.net test the I7 5960x is definitely an overkill for most producers and we personally worked on a workstation featuring the i7 5960x only when producing in professional studios.
We know we promised we will stay away from the technical stuff but we do have to tell you a little about the I7 5960x’s specs regardless. 🙂 The 5960x features 8 hyper-threaded cores and its core speed is 3.0 Ghz with a turbo boost of 3.5GHz.
These specs probably don’t mean a lot to you but we promise you, they are good!
If you can afford it and are looking for one of the smoothest production experiences the 5960x (lowest price) is definitely the right CPU for you.
Intel i7 6700K
Probably the most popular CPU among gamers, the I7 6700K is our go to choice when looking for an all around great CPU. The I7 6700k scored an impressive score of 11109 on the cpubenchmark.net test and it will run games and DAW with ease.
The 6700K is a 4GHz, 4 core CPU and it can run multiple VSTs without crashing or spiking.
The 6700K (see lowest price) is on our list because its one of the few affordable CPUs that offer that much power without sacrificing reliability.
The I7 7700K (see lowest price) is another popular gamers CPU and it scored a very impressive 12109 on the cpubenchmark.net test. The I7 7700K is also a 4 core CPU and its clock speed is 4.2 GHz with a turbo speed of 4.5GHz
From our experience, the I7 7700K runs very smoothly and it rarely crashes. Even though the 7700K is slightly more powerful than the 6700K, we crowned the 6700K as our winner because of its extreme reliability and great price.
But, the I7 7700K is still a great option for those of you who are looking for slightly more power for roughly the same price.
All of the CPUs on this list are top notch and are well above the recommended 6000-7000 score. You can’t go wrong with either one of them and we hope you enjoy your new smooth production experience 🙂
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