Music producers often squabble about which is better for music production, Apple Macs or Microsoft PC.
Fortunately, Ableton Live can run on both; however, we can still ask is Ableton better on Mac or PC?
In this article, I compare the two.
MACs Are Better at Using Ableton Live For Live Performance.
Suppose you are on the market shopping for a new computer to kickstart or progress your music production career.
In that case, you will be faced with opinions aplenty about whether you should opt for a Mac computer or a Microsoft PC.
The fact is, each has its pros and cons.
The first pro worth mentioning is that Mac users in a live setting generally use Ableton Live.
The reason is that Mac laptops have better-inbuilt soundcards (and, in some cases, processors) than most Microsoft computers. Therefore they tend to crash less.
If you pay attention, you will notice that most producers and DJs use a MacBook in their live setup.
MACs are Expensive
Macs are expensive – like, really expensive.
If you are just getting started in production, the investment may seem unnecessary when you can get a Microsoft laptop or PC built for far less money.
That said, you can still opt for a second-hand MacBook, or even a Mac Mini, which will cost you less.
Furthermore, there may be payment plans available.
PCs are More Affordable
On the topic of affordability, Microsoft PCs and laptops win hands-down in the affordability department.
I had it built for less than $1400 a couple of years back.
If I had invested in having those specs on a Mac laptop, I would have looked more around the $2000 range!
Those are significant differences if you plan on investing in other essential items like headphones, monitors, and controllers.
PCs May Be More Likely to Crash
Mac users tend to have fewer issues with DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) crashes while using Ableton Live. Many have said that the opposite is true for using Ableton Live on PC.
In the past, PC users frequently reported cases of Ableton crashing on them. The reasons for this are, admittedly, a bit above my pay grade.
Personally, I have experienced the dreaded DAW crash a few times on my Microsoft laptop. However, I would say that I could count the number of crashes, on the one hand, over two years of running it on this laptop.
Admittedly, I experienced far more crashes using FL Studio on my older laptop than I ever have with Ableton.
Furthermore, newer editions of Ableton Live have an automatic save function which can be an absolute life-saver!
MACs Tend to be Quicker and Handle Multiple Processes More Efficiently
This seems to be the main point most Mac users put across. Namely, Mac’s inbuilt processors handle Ableton Live’s intensive engines very well. This allows users to run more VSTs and tracks in their Live sets.
That said, I feel like the differences in running power between Mac and PC are less than they used to be.
Even still, some are not prepared to take the risks of lag, glitches, and crashes.
For this purpose (similar to the first point), Macs are preferred by some music producers.
MACs Have Less VST Compatibility
Depending on how much you rely on third-party VST plugins (such as a virtual instrument) in your Live sets, you may want to consider that many VST plugins are not available on Mac.
Obviously, many of the bigger-name plugins are available on both platforms. However, if you start to experiment with more indie VST plugins, you may be surprised by how many of them are not available on Mac.
PCs are Compatible With Most, If Not All, VST Plugins
If you are a plugin junkie, you may wish to consider getting a PC.
All of the VST plugins that I know of are available on PCs.
Therefore, you have a much better bet at finding an instrument or effect to suit your production needs using a Microsoft computer.
PCs Are Not Always Reliable
You may be noticing a running theme here: Macs tend to be more reliable than PCs.
This seems to hold true because not all Microsoft computers are made equal, whereas Mac computers are.
Depending on the brand that you go with, you may end up with a flop. As such, it pays to do your research about different brands and builds if you opt to go with a Windows Machine.
FAQ – Is Ableton Better on MAC or PC
Does Ableton work better on MAC or Windows?
Historically speaking, Ableton tends to work better on a Mac. However, opinions seem to be changing about this. Many people online state that there is either no difference or that the difference is negligible.
Why does Ableton run better on a MacBook with worse specs?
MacBooks generally have better-inbuilt soundcards than Microsoft laptops (sometimes without the need of an external audio interface), which can help with lag, audio recording, and the running of Ableton Live in general. Their inbuilt CPU processors also seem to be optimized for audio production, whereas Microsoft users need to research the components necessary to optimize their computers for audio production.
Is 16GB RAM enough for Ableton?
Is 8GB RAM enough for Ableton Live?
In my opinion, for most audio production purposes, 8GB of ram should be enough. Obviously, if you are recording tons of tracks or using tons of VST plugins (or just multiple instances of the virtual instrument Serum), you may wish to opt for more ram.
Is 4GB RAM enough for music production?
In my experience, yes, it can be, but it’s not ideal. I spent years producing music on a laptop with 4GB of RAM. However, I was using different music software at the time.
Will Ableton Live run on a laptop with 2Gb RAM?
Possibly. However, if you plan on running anything more involved than Ableton Live Lite, you may wish to opt for more ram.
Is RAM or CPU more important for music production?
Both are important, but the CPU processor is more important.
Ableton is an amazing DAW and offers the best of both worlds for different producers.
Mac users have a more stable and user-friendly environment than PC users, with most Macs running the software smoothly.
PC users are less dependant on external hardware to achieve their desired music production goals, have more plugin options, and are cheaper.
Ultimately, it boils down to what you are more comfortable using.
For me, it’s using a PC, as that is what I’m accustomed to using over the years.
Mac = Reliable but expensive, with less plugin compatibility.
PC = Cheaper, possibly less reliable, but has better plugin compatibility.
about the author
Hi, I’m Casey, a musician, and writer from the Australian surf coast.
I make midtempo bass music under the name ‘Cavedweller,’ which was inspired by the past and Plato’s cave sages. Originally from a musical background in heavy metal, I also play guitar and drums for the band Mountaris – signed to US record label Transcending Records.