by Claudio

Sep 01, 2019

In this article you can find all the specs, parts and descriptions of the components you need to use in order to put together the best computer for Audio and Music Production in 2019

How do you get the most value from your hard-earned money when buying a PC centered around music production in 2019?

Most think it’s just about spending as much money as possible, but that just isn’t true. Because of the “serial” nature of audio processing there are ways you can optimise your hardware to suit your needs. You definitely want to avoid throwing money at components that aren’t going to make a difference to your production workflow. The component choices featured in this article were made at the time of concept and we understand that there may be newer hardware at the time of reading.

Processor / CPU

Let’s start with the CPU, this component is going to be the beating heart of your music production machine! The goal of your CPU is to keep your latency down and your machine running smoothly by handling all the requests you throw at it during your production sessions.

The CPU chosen for this build is the Intel Core i9 9900K. It has 8 cores & 16 threads, a base clock of 3.6GHz & a turbo clock of 5.0GHz. At the time of this build the 9900K was the best bang for the buck. AMD have recently launched a few chips that are debatably better, but for this article we are going to focus on the i9 9900K. Why the 9900K was chosen will be the most difficult part of this process to discuss, it can totally depend on a users workflow and plugin usage.

The 9900K featured the best I.P.C (instruction per clock) scores within its price range. I.P.C is important for music production as there is more work done in a single clock cycle. This produces better real-time audio processing results due to more things being completed within the ASIO buffer cycle. ASIO buffers are a slice of time, if all the data is processed inside that time there will be no problem. But if it isn’t processed within the time there will be unwanted audio crackles and drop outs. Each time the ASIO buffer calls your sequencer for data it will start racking up the channels to be processed.
Channel 1 and effects = CPU thread 1
Channel 2 and effects = CPU thread 2
Channel 3 and effects = CPU thread 3
Then as each thread finishes it requests another channel to deal with and they keep doing this until it either runs out of work to do, or the ASIO buffer resets and throws anything remaining in the bin.

One of the reasons Xeon workstation chips are not recommended for music production is they tend to favour more cores for parallel workloads, over high IPC. This means that for example you might pay £500 for an i9 with 8 cores at 3.6GHz with 4.9GHz turbo and compare it to a £1500 Xeon chip with 14 cores at 2.4GHz with 3.3GHz turbo. The i9 will likely win on heavy processing workloads, at least for real-time audio processing. The reason would be IPC and overhead for the processing chains. Each audio channel has to process it’s entire chain on the same thread, you can’t just go off-loading your reverb onto another thread, or pass your delay to another thread as it’s simply too slow a process to be effective.

So, you could get a CPU with more cores and threads than the 9900K but the money that would need to be spent wouldn’t necessarily reflect higher processing power when it comes to working with audio. Currently the 9900K will not only be able to handle almost everything you could throw at it but it’s also future proof and will keep your workflow smooth for years to come.


Memory / RAM

Next you want to make sure that your memory has a large enough volume to be able to store all the necessary data for you to smoothly use all the features of your DAW, even with more complex sessions. If for example your projects use lots of virtual instruments you’re going to want 32 GB or more. If your projects are smaller or less complicated you can get away with less.

In our case we’ve chosen four sticks of 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz DDR4 for a total of 64GB. This amount of memory will come in handy for anyone who does sound engineering and mastering at a professional level. Some workload examples include orchestral compositions, large sample library use, multiple instruments recording, heavy plugin use, multiple large session use, and heavy composition template use.

Some things to keep in mind when purchasing your memory is whether the system can handle the memory you require. For example 32bit Windows 10 can only handle 4GB, whereas the 64bit version can handle 124GB in the Home Edition and 512GB in the Pro Edition. The CPU can also bottleneck the memory, the memory controller of the CPU needs to be rated for the same clock speed as your memory. The CPU also needs to be able to utilise the correct version of the memory E.g. DDR3 or DDR4. Finally, you want to make sure the motherboard you are looking at has the correct number of slots to make use of the amount of memory you wish to install.



Let’s talk a bit more about the motherboard. You want to make sure the chosen board has the correct CPU socket, for example this build features the i9 9900K CPU so we need a board that has the Intel 1151 CPU socket. Because the i9 9900K is a DDR4 compatible CPU we can rest assured that the motherboard will also be DDR4 compatible.

The motherboard chosen for this build is the ASUS PRIME Z390-A. It features all the correct sockets to connect our CPU and memory as well as some other really useful features. Most notably multiple video outputs. We can couple this with the integrated graphics chip in the 9900K and run two monitors simultaneously. In the past solely using integrated CPU graphics was not enough, but due to advances in hardware we can now completely remove the need for a dedicated graphics card in PCs that are optimised for music production. This is where a big chunk of your budget can be saved and put into more important areas such as the CPU.


Storage / M.2 

Moving on you have your storage solution. One thing that can make your user experience smooth and fast is having lightning fast storage. Fast storage means fast loading times and it makes flicking through your presets and libraries a breeze. If you want to keep your production workflow constantly moving with no waiting around this is definitely an important factor.   

The storage solutions chosen for this build feature a 1TB Samsung M.2 NVMe drive for the operating system drive. These drives are extremely well regarded. They are fast, with a superb reliability record that makes them an easy choice for the drive that contains your OS install. The build also features the cheaper but larger 2TB Intel M.2 NVMe for mass storage. Whilst slower than the Samsung OS drive it is still three times faster than an SSD while offering far better value than the more costly Samsung. Once you start looking at the larger capacity drive sizes the Intel is the bang for the buck choice.



You can’t produce music on a computer without having something to view your projects on, you’re going to want a screen with a high resolution to see all of those fine details when working in your DAW. This build features the Acer EB321HQU 31.5” WQHD IPS monitor. This monitor has a great combination of having a crystal clear resolution at 1440p while keeping the cost down by having a refresh rate of 60 frames per second. For music production a high refresh rate is not necessary, 60 is plenty. These qualities make this high quality monitor the best bang for the buck, not to mention the colours and manufacturing of the product look beautiful.

Other Essentials

You can now move on to some of your finishing touches. First off the CPU fan, optimally it should be quiet for when you’re listening to your production or mastering and also great at cooling down your machine when it’s at full load. This build features the Be Quiet! Dark Rock PRO 4 and it works excellently. Next you may need a Thunderbolt card, they’re still widely used for audio equipment and should definitely be considered if you’re going to be connecting a lot different hardware. The card in this build is the Asus Thunderbolt EX 3. It hosts 1x Thunderbolt 3 port, 1x USB 3.1 Port, and 1x 9 pin TB header. Another card implemented into this build is a wireless internet card. It’s still handy to have a fast WIFI connection and that’s exactly what the Asus PCE-AC56 brings. Another thing that is still very useful to have while mastering is a CD/DVD drive, this build has a LITEON External Slim USB DVD-RW. The good thing about this DVD-RW is that because it’s external it is not limited to just one PC.

Finally you want something to put all your components in and a keyboard and mouse to control your PC. The case featured in this build is the Be Quiet! SILENT BASE 601 Orange Midi Case. It has superb noise dampening which is great for when you don’t want any distractions from your music, and it can easily fit all our components and cooling solutions. Not to mention that sleek orange finish that will light up your studio. The keyboard and mouse are both by Corsair, they are the K68 IP32 RBG Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the M55 RGB PRO Gaming Mouse. Both of these pieces are visually stunning, feel great with excellent performance, and are built to last.



To summarise, just buying expensive parts won’t reflect in a proportional increase in performance. You want to focus on what’s going to really assist in your music production workflow. You want to spend less money where it doesn’t count and more where it does!

We asked (3XS Custom Series department) to put together a PC for us that would not only be optimised for music production, but that would also be the best bang for the buck.

You can get the computer already assembled here:


Here’s the complete list of specs, click on the product number to go to the respected page at





31.5 Acer EB321HQU WQHD Monitor IPS 2560×1440 60Hz 4ms 100M:1 300cd/m² VESA HDMI/DP/DVI


HD 1




1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 (2280) PCIe 3.0 (x4) NVMe SSD MLC V-NAND 3500MB/s Read 3300MB/s Write 600k/550k IOPS


HD 2




2TB Intel SSD 660p Series M.2 (2280) PCIe 3.0 (x4) NVMe SSD QLC 3D NAND 1800MB/s Read 1800MB/s Write 220k/220k






64GB (4x16GB) Corsair DDR4 Vengeance LPX Black PC4-21300 (2666) Non-ECC Unbuffered CAS 16-18-18-35 XMP 2.0 1.2V






650W be quiet! Straight Power 11 Full Modular 80 PLUS Gold SLI/CrossFire Quad Rail 54.1A 135mm Fan ATX PSU






ASUS PCE-AC56 802.11ac Dual-band Wireless-AC1300 PCI-E Adapter






ASUS PRIME Z390-A Intel Z390 S 1151 DDR4 SATA3 Dual M.2 2-Way SLi/3-Way CrossFire GbE USB 3.1 Gen2 A+C ATX






ASUS ThunderboltEX 3 Card integrates Thunderbolt3 reversible USB 3.1 Type-C and Display Port 1.2 PCI Express 3.0 x4






be quiet! Dark Rock PRO 4 Dual Tower CPU Cooler 7 Heatpipes 120mm+135mm Silent Wings PWM Fans Al/Cu 250W TDP






be quiet! SILENT BASE 601 Chassis Orange 2x 140mm Fans Radiator Support E-ATX/ATX/MicroATX/MiniITX






Intel Core i9 9900K S 1151 Coffee Lake Refresh 8 Core 16 Thread 3.6GHz 5.0GHz Turbo 16MB 1200MHz GPU 95W Box






140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 7 Blade PWM Inaudible Airflow Fan 1000rpm 59.5CFM 15.5dB Fluid Dynamic 4-pin






Corsair M55






LITEON External Slim USB DVD-RW Burner 8X






CORSAIR K68 IP32 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard






Windows 10 Home Advanced DPK KUK-00001