Mac Mini M2 or build PC?

I currently run Cubase 13 Artist on my work laptop (M1Pro, 32Gb of RAM - I’m self-employed, mostly running Adobe CC software but this laptop isn’t really meant for music production).

So, I’ve been thinking of buying a separate machine to run Cubase. I was looking at the Mac Mini M2 (not Pro) as this computer is supposedly more than beefy enough for (amateur) music production. The baseline 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 24Gb of RAM (maxed out) and a 1Tb SSD would set me back a good 1600 euro.
I’ve also been considering building a PC (I’ve done it before with no problems) for around the same price, but I’m not sure if I can get a PC for that kind of money that performs as well as the M2 Mini (and is just as quiet).

Also, if I go PC, what components should I go for ? Intel or AMD, amount of memory (memory management on PC and Mac is not the same i.e. 16Gb of RAM on a PC does not equal 16Gb on Mac silicon), etc.

And the eternal question : does Cubase really run better on Windows than on Mac OS?

Recommendations ?

I use MacOS as my daily driver, but use a self-built Windows PC as my main music making desktop computer (and Linux for all of my server needs).

The reasons for my choice are very subjective/personal.

Since my last studio computer and my last MacBook Pro lasted me almost a decade, that’s my planning horizon for the current purchasing cycle. (I’ve built the Win10 desktop music PC earlier this year, but have not yet moved to a new Mac - but may soon).

In my music making I have a higher desire and tolerance for tinkering, customizing etc than in other parts where I prefer “it (mostly) just works” and high integration with my other mobile devices.

Some of the advantages of using Windows over a Mac for music making (for me) include:

  • Better backwards compatibility

    • 32bit apps still work - comes in handy for some vintage MIDI hardware and software)
    • VST2 still works
  • Can spec, upgrade and repair hardware more precisely to my desires (while with a Mac I’d have to pre-purchase from one of the available appliance type machines, to last me pretty much for the entire desired lifetime - and I’d probably want to buy AppleCare insurance for almost the entire lifetime, so I don’t get financially clobbered if a component breaks. So that insurance would add to the lifetime cost of a Mac.

So I created a little blog post describing my current music computer build, including my reasoning for the the various choices. Hopefully it helps a little to come to your own conclusions about your own priorities, and therefore what similar or different choices you may want to make.


I guess it will depend on how much I’m prepared to ‘tinker’ with a PC. Building it is quite fun. I built a gaming PC about 8 years ago running Windows 10 and never really had any problems with it.

I do have a question about sound, though. On a Mac, Core Audio is pretty much worry free, but on Windows, do you need a specific kind of sound card and drivers just to get things running ? Or is it plug and play like on a Mac ?

You also talk about the importance of single core performance. I’ve effectively watched numerous Youtube videos stating the same thing: applications like a DAW don’t take advantage of multicore processors in the way video editing programs or games do.
An interesting thing on the Mac side : I watched a video where 7 different DAWS were being tested on different Apple silicon macs (M1, M2 and the new M3). Out of the seven DAWS tested, only Reaper, Cubase and FL Studio effectively were using all the cores (both performance and efficiency cores), leading to considerably better performance than the other four : Studio One, Ableton Live, Pro Tools and, strangely enough, Apple’s own Logic Pro only made use of the performance cores, basically making the older M1 and M2 better performers than the newer M3 since this one has more efficiency cores than the other two.
Seems similar to the PC side of things where you state that the latest Intel or AMD processors will not give the best performance.

I know nothing about music production on PC, to be honest, but the idea of upgradability appeals to me, even if it’s just adding more memory or bigger SSD’s down the line, or even another graphics card.
But I also want a ‘hassle free’ system, don’t know if a PC can offer that…


If you want to work with low latency (i.e. record a track and hear the signal immediately) or write an automation from a hardware, you need an ASIO driver on Windows. If you buy a dedicated Audio Device (meant to be used for a music/sound production), the vendor provide dedicated ASIO driver.

Or, you can use a generic ASIO4ALL driver, which can work with any Audio Device (even built-in audio cards). But with the ASIO4ALL driver, you cannot get such a small latency, you can get with the dedicated ASIO driver.

Of course a dedicated Audio Device could also give you better sound quality (less noise, pristen sound).

Myself, I would go for Mac, because I don’t want to learn the whole bunch of informations, which component work with other once. If I would go for Windows, I would by one of the dedicated DAW station, designed by the company, which is working in this industry for years. So you don’t have to think, if you should go Intel or AMD (you should go for Intel), etc.


I use both, and the experience on Mac is nicer for me, but it’s subjective, of course.

Why don’t you run Cubase on your M1, is it because you don’t want to use it for cross purposes? They’re a great machine for audio if that’s your concern.


My M1 Macbook Pro really is a work laptop, whereas the music is just a hobby, really. So I’d like to have a separate system for that, no other reason, really…

As for the ASIO drivers : I have a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 interface (3rd gen), which I bought to connect a digital piano with 5-pin MIDI to my computer (the digital piano didn’t have USB).
Would this interface be enough or would I need an additional internal sound card (as opposed to using the sound card on the motherboard) ?

And yes, I love my Mac. In fact, been using Macs on a personal and professional level since 1999 and never looked back (Windows versions before 8.1 gave me nightmares - fond memories of DOS, though :sweat_smile: ).
Still, the fun of building a PC appeals to me, so I might give it a go. Like I said, that gaming PC I built was worry free but I just hope that building a PC for audio will equally as satisfying…


If you are used to using a Mac, I would recommend staying at one platform.

The drivers are not the best on the market, but it does its job (if it doesn’t crash). Yes, it’s enough.

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All of those little snippets would make me think that you’ll be happier on a Mac.

Other than adding external storage, that’s not really in the cards on new Macs.

Not even a Mac is 100% hassle free, but since your recent experience is mainly on a Mac, it would definitely seem to be less hassle for you.

You may try to create a dedicated user on that machine for making music and one for your work stuff. This works for me at least. No distraction from work notifications when making music. And it’s better for the environment :wink:


Are there any statistics if more bugs for Cubase come from Windows or Mac users? I would tend to assume that there are more problems under Windows.

Some say Cubase runs better on Windows, some say it’s better on Mac. It’s the eternal discussion…