So you want to make music, but you’re not sure what you need first. You put new strings on your guitar, and you even got a nice new pair of headphones. Now what? You want to use Logic Pro X for your recording software, but first you need something to put it on! Or maybe you’re planning to upgrade your current setup for Logic Pro X.
In either case, you need a Mac, and we’re here to help. We’ll walk you through different Mac configurations and models and show you how to choose the best Mac to use with Logic Pro X.
Logic Pro X System Requirements
If you’re not sure where to start, the Apple website has a detailed page for Logic Pro X system requirements. It’s a great reference point for basic software and hardware specifications, as well as providing a list of supported control surfaces and a rundown of Logic Pro X features.
In general, you need to have at least 6GB of available storage space for Logic’s minimum installation, or 72GB of available storage space if you’re installing the full Sound Library. For the latest version of Logic Pro X, which is 10.7, you should be running macOS 11.5 or later. It’s also recommended to have at least 8GB of RAM for the best performance.
Desktop or Laptop?
With a desktop iMac or Mac Pro computer, you tend to get a little more bang for your buck, depending on its specifications. However, some people prefer the portability of a MacBook, especially if they use Logic Pro X in a live setting. Each type of Mac has its drawbacks and advantages. Here are some things to consider.
You might want a desktop if:
- You only work with Logic Pro X at home or in the studio
- You have more than one monitor or a lot of peripherals to connect, as some desktop Macs have more ports
- You’re on a tighter budget and want the most storage, RAM, and processing power for your money
You might want a laptop if:
- You use Logic Pro X at shows or rehearsals outside your home or in other recording studio environments
- You travel a lot and want something portable
- Your home recording setup is pretty simple and you don’t have a lot of equipment to plug in
- You live or work in a small space and don’t plan on using an external monitor
Here’s a closer look at each Mac model, so you can see which one will suit your needs.
If budget is not an issue, especially if you’re planning to run a lot of big sessions involving post-production sound with video footage or film scoring, or if you own a professional recording studio, the Mac Pro is a solid choice. Memory starts with 32GB for the base model and can be configured up to a whopping 1.5TB. Storage can be configured from 512GB to 8TB.
Similarly, the Mac Studio series is well-suited for creatives who need storage space, RAM, and the processing power of the M1 chip, but don’t necessarily need to go all out with the Mac Pro. The RAM and storage options are similar to the Mac Pro depending on if you choose the Studio Max or Studio Ultra. Additionally, the Mac Studio series has four Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A ports, and an HDMI port, giving you lots of expansion options for additional accessories, drives, or displays.
If you have several MIDI instruments or outboard audio gear that connects via USB, you’ll want something with a lot of ports. If you don’t quite have the budget for the Mac Pro, but you still want a really robust desktop machine, the Mac Studio series is worth a look.
If you have a home studio and want to keep your budget under $2,000, the Mac mini has also been upgraded with the M1 chip and supports two displays. You might also like the latest iMac if you don’t have an external display and don’t want the added expense. You can max it out to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage. These specifications, plus the 8-core M1 chip, make it powerful enough for Logic Pro X sessions.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro has three Thunderbolt 4 ports and can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM and 8TB of storage, making it a versatile machine for shows and rehearsals as well as in the studio. If you need your DAW to fit in a backpack while holding its own for large sessions, this is the one.
If you don’t have the budget for the MacBook Pro but still want a laptop, make sure you don’t overlook the MacBook Air. The Air series has been a featherweight favorite of Apple enthusiasts for a decade, and with good reason. As light and thin as it is, the latest models pack a lot of punch for their size, with the M1 chip and the capacity for 16GB of RAM, as well as 2TB of storage. If you travel a lot or carry other music gear with you to rehearsals or studio sessions, the MacBook Air is a great choice.
Regardless of which Mac you choose, it’s important to consider your priorities when running Logic Pro X sessions and if you’ll need lots of storage, lots of RAM, a fast processor, or some combination of the three. Here’s a breakdown of Mac specifications and how they will benefit you when using Logic Pro X.
Logic Pro X requires at least 6GB of extra disk space for the minimum installation, which does not include the 72GB Sound Library. You can put the Sound Library on an external drive, but depending on the speed of the external drive, you might find that it slows down your workflow. You should also consider the size of your Logic Pro X sessions and how often you transfer completed sessions to external drives or to the cloud.
Within this range of storage space, there is no right or wrong; it just comes down to personal preference and whatever works best for you. It’s generally best practice to get more storage and RAM than you think you’ll need, but we understand this is not always financially viable. Just remember that once you’ve chosen these specifications when configuring your new Mac, they can’t be upgraded later.
While there is no set requirement for the amount of RAM you need, it’s recommended to have at least 8GB, with 4GB being the absolute minimum. If you’re using Logic Pro X to edit audio for film and television or if you know you’ll be using a lot of plug-ins at once, you might want 16GB of RAM or more.
More RAM simply allows your computer to complete more tasks at once, which is particularly useful if you’re running a lot of plugins and virtual instruments at the same time.
Most of the new Mac models include the M1 chip, which is powerful enough to run Logic Pro X with no playback or latency issues during recording (such as tracks skipping, freezing, or distorting).
The M1 Apple silicon chip is known as a “system on a chip” or SOC, similar to the chips in iPhones and iPads. They’re designed specifically for audio and video processing, making them ideal for creative Mac users. The M1 Ultra, which is the latest M1 design, is especially suited for professionals who handle large files and large amounts of footage in a fast-paced environment where they need to be able to work quickly.
If you’re buying an older Mac, you should get at least a 4-core processor that’s 2.0GHz or faster. The difference between i5 and i7 is not quite as critical, as it’s the speed and the number of cores that count more towards performance capabilities.
Peripherals and Accessories
When choosing the best Mac for Logic Pro X, don’t forget about the peripherals you’re using and how you’ll plug them in. You’ll need an available USB-C port for your audio interface and might want a second USB-C port for a MIDI controller keyboard. You might also be working with an external drive for Sound Library storage or session backups.
If you don’t have enough ports on your Mac, you can get a USB-C hub or a Thunderbolt 4 hub to expand your options. You could also go with a wireless keyboard, mouse, and speakers, so you have less to plug in.
Lastly, remember that audio interfaces come with a built-in headphone jack. This frees up your computer headphone jack for your speakers, if you prefer wired speakers.
Now You’re Ready to Go
As you get into a comfortable workflow with Logic Pro X, you’ll get a better idea of what works for you and what doesn’t. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point, especially if you’re new to recording music or you’re planning to work in a bigger recording studio someday. Any Mac you choose will give you the flexibility and versatility to get creative with your setup, and will allow you to grow as a music maker.