Best Computer for Music Production and FL Studio

Best Computer for Music Production and FL Studio

After having my last computer for just over 5 years, it was time to upgrade.

This time, I specifically focused on a silent computer, and I did a lot of research to find out what is the best computer for music production while using FL Studio.

And it’s crazy how fast computers change if you’re not up-to-date on the trends.

My goals that I wanted out of my custom pc for music production were:

  • Building the best desktop for music production which will last for many years
  • Choosing specific parts for a quiet computer for recording audio (tutorials and songs)
  • Buying an affordable computer for making beats by saving in areas I didn’t need to spend

We go into finer details like what’s the best cpu for FL Studio, what graphics card should I buy for FL Studio, and how to get a quiet computer that performs well.

I was also unsure if I should buy an Intel or AMD system for making music, since the new Ryzen CPU’s offer way more cores for the price.

However, I went with what I knew, and chose Intel for this build.

In this article, I explain what all goes into building a computer specifically for making beats and songs.

I describe why I chose a certain piece of gear, the benefits of them towards FL Studio, and how to make sure all the computer parts support each other!

Note:

Computer parts date quickly, but hopefully this will be a reference for years to come.

If you prefer reading and seeing the parts I used, then keep scrolling below!

Here’s a go-over video on the best computer parts for music production.

It’s broken down into two parts – the computer parts, and how to put them together:

Here’s a click-through list in the order I described the computer parts below:

Also, here’s a reference list of the actual products.

(Just comment below if you have questions on a specific computer part!)

The Best CPU for Music Production

The processor I bought for this build is the Intel I7-7700K.

From my research, the best cpu for music production is one with a very fast single core speed.

If you bought a quad-core CPU, this means there are 4 cores. The more cores you have, the more tasks you can easily handle at once.

But since music production is so demanding, we want to specifically look at the single core speed to determine if it will be able to handle the demands of heavy music production sessions.

As of current, Image-Line recommends the Intel I7-7700K. (The K means unlocked, so you can overclock the CPU for more performance, but it will increase heat + power consumption.)

When choosing a CPU, you must take note of its socket size. In case of the Intel I7-7700K, its socket size is LGA1151. When we get into choosing a motherboard and heat sink, this socket size is very important.


Cooling the CPU with a Heat Sink

Silence was a main goal of mine, so I purchased the be quiet! PURE ROCK heat sink.

CPU’s get extremely hot with all their number crunching, so we have to cool the CPU otherwise it will overheat!

I believe there are two main ways of cooling. Those are with a heat sink and fan, or liquid cooling.

I went with the heat sink for ease of mind by not worrying about dripping issues from liquid cooling!

Now here’s a few things to keep in mind when picking out a heat sink:

  • What socket size does the heat sink support? – You can’t just choose any heat sink. You have to make sure it matches your CPU’s socket size (LGA1151 in my case!). Many times heat sinks come with multiple brackets so they can be used on multiple socket sizes.
  • How much wattage can it handle? (Max TDP) – Different heat sinks allow you to cool a CPU only up to a certain wattage. You will have to cross reference your CPU’s TDP (wattage) by a simple Google search. You then compare your CPU’s TDP to the max TDP the heat sink can handle!
  • Does silence matter to you? – If you choose a small heat sink, there will not be tons of surface area for the heat to dissipate. This will likely make your CPU’s fan run faster, causing more noise! So, if you pay a little bit more for a heat sink with a higher max TDP, you’ll probably be getting a quieter unit. Also, make sure to check the dB rating of the fan that comes included with the heat sink – this will be provided in the specs! From what I’ve read, anything over 30dB is starting to get loud!
  • Will it fit in your computer’s case? – These heat sinks can get HUGE! So huge that I’d be nervous if I had to move my computer! The heat sink I purchased was actually the bottom of the line from the be quiet! series, and this thing is still a monster in size! (But very quiet, and I’m very happy with that.)

When buying computer parts, there’s a lot of cross-referencing you’ll have to do. Like I mentioned about knowing the CPU’s wattage so that your heat sink is big enough to handle that heat!


Choosing the Right RAM for Storing those Samples

I purchased 16GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM for this build.

There’s a phenomenon right now to purchase 32GB of RAM.

Even though I’m wanting to build the best desktop computer for music production, I still don’t want to waste my money on unnecessary buys.

My music production is not extremely heavy, but I do have my share of plugins and samples loaded in pretty much every project. And I am nowhere near maxing out at even 16GB of RAM.

So with that said, at this time of our lives, I believe you can get away with 16GB of RAM and save your self that $200. (You can always upgrade to more RAM later if you really need it!)

Now, what do you look out for when choosing RAM for your system?

  • DDR # vs Motherboard support – Nowadays, most new motherboards support DDR4 RAM. So before you pick out your RAM, you have to cross reference your motherboard to see what type of RAM it will take. (DDR2, DDR3? – Probably DDR4 like I said!). Also, when it comes to the speed of your RAM (2133MHz, 2400MHz, etc.) – you should check to see what your CPU can handle. Even though your motherboard says it can support up to a way larger number, your CPU dictates the real number to use. This is where you get into overclocking etc.
  • Height clearance of Heat Sink to RAM – You’ll read about this a lot through your research; the heat sink hits your RAM, and it won’t fit! You’ll have to do some Google research to see if your certain RAM will fit with your heat sink.
  • Brand names – When it comes to brands, I’m not up-to-date on this, but I’ve always gone with Corsair for my RAM, and my computers have performed great and lasted a long time. I’m not biased, it’s just what I’ve always used. (Stick with what you know, ya know?!)

Sorry, I don’t fully understand RAM when it comes to the timings, voltages, and why to choose one brand over another.

Just stick with looking off what you’re motherboard supports, as well as the recommended speed for your CPU of choice.


Choosing a Motherboard for Music Production

I purchased the Asus PRIME Z270-A motherboard for this build.

I have always gone with Asus for my motherboards, and they have never failed me!

When I was looking for motherboards, I instantly looked at Asus’ lineup, and in all honesty, all their tiers and how they label them were very confusing to me.

I didn’t need a super high-end motherboard, but one that supported my CPU’s socket size, and had lots of connectivity with USB 3.0 (this one also has a USB Type-C port so I can at least have one port for the future.)

I really don’t know what makes a motherboard great from just an okay one, so I didn’t buy bottom of the line, but I also didn’t buy the most expensive, as I feel once you are paying $250-300 for a motherboard, you’re into the bells and whistles.

The most important thing when buying your motherboard is:

  • Its form factor + CPU Case – You must compare the motherboard to the case you are installing it in. As computer parts start to get smaller, there are other form factors coming out which are smaller in size. For example, my motherboard and case were the ATX form factor. But there’s microATX and miniATX now, too! You’ll see ATX in the description of your motherboard and computer case. So just make sure of ATX and you should be good!
  • Socket size – Again, you can’t just pick ANY motherboard. You must make sure the socket size will fit your CPU. Mine is LGA1151. It should say this in the product’s title as you are buying it. If not, look at the product’s specs!

How to Choose the Proper Power Supply for your Computer

I chose the EVGA SuperNova 550W 80 PLUS Gold G2 power supply on this build.

I read some mixed opinions about buying power supplies in terms of how much wattage you should be buying.

Some people said if you buy a big power supply and you don’t need it, your fan will be quieter.

Others said you will be getting more efficiency out of your power supply if you buy closer to what is needed for your system.

So how do you choose the proper wattage? How do you know how much your computer will draw?

Well, it’s pretty simple! You can just Google “Computer Power Supply Calculator”.

It will ask you a bunch of questions like what CPU are you using, what video card, how many fans will you have etc.

It will then spit out a wattage number to you like 450W for example. This was actually what was suggested to me by multiple calculators I tried online, but I went with my gut instinct and bumped it up a bit higher to 550W.

Now a few things when choosing a power supply:

  • What wattage of PSU? – Again, just use a power supply calculator to give you a general idea.
  • 80 Plus rating? – The 80 Plus rating was introduced awhile back and tells us how efficient the power supply is. With motors, they are never 100% efficient. What this means is if you put 1000W into something, you may only get 900W out, but you’re paying for 1000W! Let’s say 80 PLUS Gold is 90% efficient, but the 80 PLUS White is 80% efficient, that means gold is giving you 900W, whereas white is giving you 800W! – It probably isn’t that big of a difference in numbers, but just to give you an idea.
  • Modular power supplies – Nowadays, a lot of power supplies are modular, which means you only plug in the cables you need rather than have a bunch of spaghetti all around your computer case. This not only gives you way better airflow in your case, but looks a lot neater for those minimalists out there!
  • NOISE! – Make sure you pick a power supply with a quiet fan. On my last build, it was my power supply’s fan which was noisy! And the thing is, there’s not really much you can do about it because it’s built-in to the PSU itself! Nowadays, a lot of PSU’s will not even turn on unless they need to, which again reduces fan noise! I would not skimp out here, if it’s $20 to get a well-reviewed silent PSU, I do recommend this.

Does FL Studio Need a Video Card?

I bought the AMD Radeon RX560 for this build.

A big goal behind my build was for silence. This was an issue with my last custom build I put together.

Here’s what I discovered – FL Studio doesn’t really use a video card. If anything, it could be third-party plugins taking advantage of your video card to offset some of the load for their visual effects.

Also, the more fans you have on a video card, the quieter it tends to be.

With that said, depending on what you do with your computer, you can get away with not buying a video card at all as most motherboards have integrated graphics. Or, if you do want a video card but prefer some silence, you can get a passive video card where it just uses a heat sink rather than a fan.

For myself, because I do edit videos for my vlogs + tutorials, I decided to get a video card. By no means is it amazing, but it is quiet because it has two fans, and does the job just fine for what I need!


What SSD for Music Production?

I purchased the Samsung 960 EVO – NVMe M.2 SSD for this build.

An SSD is a must for a super fast computer. But it kind of sucks we still have to do this whole SSD for the main boot drive and HDD for storage.. but that’s just the way it is right now!

But if you’re not up to date, SSDs have changed in recent years.

There is a new form factor out called M.2. It looks very similar to a bubble gum stick – I was amazed at how small it is!

But you have to be careful because M.2 is a form factor – that means the size of it. M.2 drives come in SATA versions and NVMe versions.

SATA is the bottleneck – it’s holding back the true potential speed of an SSD! That’s where NVMe comes in.

NVMe takes advantage of the PCI interface on your motherboard, allowing you to really harness the true speeds of an SSD.

After looking at some reviews, I figured the Samsung 960 EVO Series – 250GB NVMe – M.2 was my best bang for buck.

So again, yes get an SSD, and if you are getting one of these new M.2 bubble gum stick SSDs, make sure to get NVMe. On new motherboards, they actually have a slot specifically for the M.2 SSD!


A Silent Computer Case for Music Production

I purchased the Fractal Design Define R5 (White) for this build.

Again, my goal was a very quiet computer. Nowadays, they make computer cases with sound dampening material in them!

I was between this Fractal Define R5 and a be quiet! computer case.

You just need to make sure the computer case is the same form factor as your motherboard (ATX in my case), as well as making sure your heat sink will fit inside the actual computer case itself!

You can see the dimensions of the case and heat sink on their product specs, as well as look up with some reviews just to confirm.

I’m really happy with this Fractal Design Define R5 (White). It’s quiet and looks really nice!


Backing Up a Music Production Computer

For backing up, I make sure to use a USB hard drive that is bigger in size than my other drives to make sure the backup will fit! (Also, it’s nice to be able to store 2-3 backups in case you realize something went wrong, you have more chances of catching it at an earlier date.)

For convenience sake, I suggest USB hard drives where you do not have to plug in an additional power source – if they are USB powered, this is what you want!

And for backup software, I’ve been using Acronis True Image for many years now.

I use the incremental backup feature which makes backups quick and less of a performance hit when it does a backup.

Building a Computer for Music Production

So there you have it.

You should now have a beast to make that fire.. ???

I hope this article provides enough information to get a silent computer, while still competes with the best computers for music production.

Here’s an article by Image-Line them self which really helped me understand what I needed to build a pc for making music at home.

Honestly, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. I put probably 15-20 hours of research into looking up the best computer parts you can buy for a music production computer.

About The Author

GratuiTous

GratuiTous is a Christian music producer striving to perfect his skills as a beatmaker, mixer, and mastering engineer. His articles strive to keep things simple, yet touch on the topic complex enough to have a decent understanding. He also releases FL Studio email series!

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6 Comments

  1. Cameron

    I’m looking to do a PC build myself and this looks exactly like what I’m after. Thank you, and I’ll be in touch to let you know how I go, and also if I require any advice!

    Reply
    • GratuiTous

      Perfect! – Exactly why I created this video/write-up!

      Hope the best with it 😉

      Reply
  2. Edward

    I think I will try this build for my dp9′

    Reply
    • GratuiTous

      Nice man! – Let me know how it turns out!

      Reply
  3. Xavier P.

    Awesome videos Riley! I learned alot, very informative. I want to build my own computer eventually so this was helpful, seems like a fun lil project putting it all together.

    Happy holidays 🙂

    Reply
    • GratuiTous

      Right on! – Thanks so much Xavier!

      Hope you have been well! 😀

      Reply

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