Creating outstanding, studio-grade music on the best devices that the computing world has to offer is essential to anyone in the music business. But while many used to be confined to a desktop setup, there are now more and more portable options available.
Laptops, in general, have grown in leaps and bounds with respect to RAM, battery power, and processing speeds. Finding the best laptop for music production can be just what you need to not only get the best sounds and quality in your music but to be able to take your music with you wherever you go.
In this article, we will go over what to look for in a laptop for music production, and we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the best laptops on the market.
How to Choose the Best Laptop for Music Production
Operating System – Mac or Windows?
No, we’re not here to debate which operating system is better. Rather, when you’re looking for a great laptop for music production, you first need to decide which operating system you’re going to use.
This decision will usually boil down to which one you’re the most familiar with using, and which DAW you intend to use for producing your music. For instance, Logic Pro X is only available for Mac, while others are available on both platforms.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
As previously mentioned, choosing which DAW you want to use can go a long way into deciding which laptop to buy. The DAWs available have various minimum requirements that need to be met by the laptop. Once you know which DAW you’ll be using (and what operating systems they run on), it’ll be a lot easier to find just the right laptop.
Some of the most popular DAWs on the market are:
- FL Studio (Mac or Windows)
- Ableton Live (Mac or Windows)
- Logic Pro (Mac only)
- Pro Tools from Avid (Mac or Windows)
- Cubase (Mac or Windows)
The DAW you end up working with is going to hog up a lot of memory on its own, not to mention all the instruments and packages you’ll be downloading into your DAW. While some DJs can get away with a RAM of 8GB, the absolute minimum that we recommend you go with is 16GB. This is more than enough to run your music production software along with any other programs you decide to install and run.
Also, check to see if the laptop you’re looking at allows you to upgrade. Some may let you go up as high as 32GB, or even 64GB. Be sure to check the specs before you buy to find out how high that laptop will allow you to upgrade the RAM.
The disk space you end up choosing will most likely be determined by how much music your produce on a regular basis, so there isn’t anything by way of a minimum to offer. Whether or not you go primarily with solid state drives (SSD) for your main storage, or hard drives (HDD) is up to you and your preferences.
Most high-end laptops will have either a 256GB SSD or a 512GB SSD. HDDs offer the user a lot more storage, ranging anywhere between 500GB to 16TB of data storage available. These are good for storing back up files at home while you’re on the road.
You can also put all of your files on the HDDs, while only keeping what you need on your SSD for certain jobs.
Along with the amount of memory (RAM) available on your computer, processors help you handle multiple tasks at once. The more processing power and RAM you have, the more you’re able to do without frying the computer. You want something that’s going to give you at least 2.5 GHz of power, if not more.
The best processors to look for are Intel i5, Intel i7, or AMD A10. And make sure they’re quad-core processors, as dual-cores are not going to give you the power that you need for producing music.
The price is also going to make a huge impact on your decision. Many laptops can be quite expensive, so we suggest only considering those that fit your budget. There are other laptops you can get that are much easier on the budget. It is possible to find a cheap laptop for music production.
1. Huawei Matebook 13
Don’t let the simple design of the Huawei Matebook fool you. It still packs a punch with an Intel Core i7 processor, boosting performance up to 40% over its predecessor. And it comes with the Nvidia GeForce MX150, making this a great laptop for video editing or casual gaming.
8GB of RAM allows for light to moderate music producing, and the precision touch screen makes it easy to navigate any of your programs or apps. Packed in a slim 13” frame and weighing only 2.86lbs, this laptop will be easy to take with you on the road.
- Great performance
- Nvidia graphics card
- Decent price
- 1 year of Office 365 Personal
- Only 8GB of RAM
- Limited connectivity
2. ASUS ROG Strix Scar II
For hardcore music producers and DJs who also need the perfect gaming laptop, look no further. The ROG Strix Scar II brings you superior power and performance, along with the most stylish features you’ll find for a high-end laptop. It has a 144 Hz narrow-bezel display with ultra-fast gray-to-gray response time. It also brings the best in video graphics with the GeForce RTX graphics card.
Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM gives you the right amount of power and speed, and the Hypercool Pro thermal system keeps the hard drive cool and dust free. Do what you want on this laptop without fearing it overheating.
- Top of the line performance
- Gorgeous style and features
- Lots of connectivity available
- Excellent graphics
- One of the pricier options available
- Sometimes fans can get loud
- Poor battery life
3. Dell XPS 9570
The Dell XPS 9570 is probably the most powerful laptop on this list, sporting an Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. This laptop not only matches the MacBook in power and speed but exceeds it. And the Dell XPS 9570 costs about $400 less.
Serious music producers, video or graphics editors, and gamers will love having this powerful piece of hardware to do whatever they want with. This is by far the best Windows laptop for music production.
- Impressive power and performance
- Lots of disk space available
- 32GB of RAM
- Superior video graphics card
- Expensive (though cheaper than the MacBook)
- Short battery life
4. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The Surface Pro easily blows people away with how powerful it is, especially given that the battery life easily sits at 13.5 hours. And that’s even with standard video streaming. You get to choose between the Intel Core i5 or i7 processor; either way, it’ll perform well enough for your music production needs.
Although the RAM sits at 8GB, you won’t be able to tell unless you usually do a lot of heavy work. And at just 1.7lbs, this will hardly add any bulk to your mobile set up.
This is the most affordable laptop on this list and will work well if you’re on a very tight budget.
- Power and performance
- Elegant display and super lightweight
- Long battery life
- Use a laptop or tablet
- Few connectivity options
- Not suited for serious music production
5. HP Spectre x360-13t
The HP Spectre x360-13t is one of the best options available for music production, video editing, or gaming. With a Quad Core Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512 GB of disk space, and an Intel UHD Graphics 620 card, this literally has everything you need for whatever purpose you need it for.
And with all of that power also comes the convenient 2-in-1 convertible feature, meaning that one minute it can be a laptop, and the next a tablet. With a 13.3” screen size, it’ll be super easy to take this one on the road and have all of your files with you as well.
- Small and lightweight
- Convenient 2-in-1 style
- Powerful processor
- 14 hours of battery life
- Loud fans
- Can run hot
6. Acer Predator Helios 300
The first on our list to be below $1,000, the Acer Predator Helios 300 still meets the minimum requirements for producing music. Packing a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor it delivers 4.1 GHz of processing speed. It also comes with 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 1060, making it an excellent choice for gaming as well.
If you’re looking for a cheap laptop that meets all of your needs for producing quality music, you can’t get much better than this one.
- Tons of power
- Quality graphics card
- Slightly less battery life (7 hours)
- Tends to run hot
- Fans are loud
7. Razer Blade Stealth Graphics Model
The Razer Blade Stealth may be small, but don’t underestimate its power based on that. With a quad-core Intel i7 processor it delivers 4.6 GHz in processing speed. Combined with 16GB of RAM, up to 11 hours of battery life, and 256GB of disk space, the possibilities are endless. This computer is an excellent choice for music production or gaming and has the power to do both.
Equally impressive is that all of that power is packed into a super thin, 13.3” frame, making it very portable for the DJ always on the go. You won’t find any other ultrabooks with this much power.
- 11 hours of battery life
- 4.6 GHz in processing speed
- 16GB RAM
- Lightweight (under 3lbs)
- Fan tends to run loud
8. Apple MacBook Pro 15” Retina with Touch Bar
Apple has been well-known for years as a leader in computer technology. The MacBook Pro 15″ with a brilliant 15.4 inches of Retina display and Touch Bar is no exception. This computer is usually the first choice when it comes to producing music.
You get to choose between the Intel Core i7 or i9 processor, either of which will give you more than enough processing speed to do what you need to do. You also have the option of a 256GB SSD or a 512GB SSD. It also comes with 16GB of RAM, upgradable to 32GB.
- 10 hours of battery life
- Retina display
- Logic Pro X is Mac Only
- Can use any other DAW available
- Very expensive
Finding the best laptop for music production can be difficult, especially considering the minimum requirements you may need to efficiently produce quality music. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive one out there. The laptops provided here can give you a head start in your search, and a few of them are well under $1,000.
First decide how much you’re able to spend on a laptop, what operating system you’re comfortable using, and what DAW you plan to get. You also need to make sure that the laptop has enough RAM, disk space, and processing power.
Producing music is easier than ever now that you can take your work with you on the road. This article should help you make a well-informed decision to find the best laptop for your music.