What are the best laptops for DJing? It is a fact that, for years now, the choice of laptops by the DJs as well as other professionals engaged in creative works has been dominated by Apple.
This is because, from the studio to the DJ booth, Apple MacBook has been synonymous with professional audio applications.
However, with the passage of time and the advent of technology, the Windows operated laptops have also been gaining in popularity among professional DJs. This has resulted in a confusion as to which laptop to choose for DJing.
DJing is not only about having a great set of headphones. In fact, choosing the right laptop for your DJing and music production is a very important aspect to ensure that you as well as your laptop perform at a high level.
In order to make the right choice, there are a lot of features, specs, and price options to consider before buying a laptop for DJing and it can be a really overwhelming decision.
Ideally, when you choose a laptop you must make sure that it is portable, compact and customizable. When you use a laptop, you will find that it is more convenient to prepare your DJ sets and listening.
There are lots of choices when it comes to laptops for DJing, if money is not an issue for you.
A compact laptop will provide you with a lot more space for your DJing equipment. This will also make your DJ workflow much smoother and easier.
In addition to that, you can take a laptop anywhere and even organize your tune collections on the go.
While choosing your laptop for DJing, keep in mind that it should have enough USB ports, preferably three. This will allow you to plug in everything that you need into it.
Therefore, while buying your laptop for DJing, you must remember a few things such as the screen size, the power supplies, upgradability, the operating system, the CPU, GPU, RAM and storage.
If it seems a difficult task for you, simply follow this article and the top recommendations of laptops for DJing to make the right choice.
Also follow the buying guide and the factors to look for in your laptop so that you do not overspend, or end up buying a laptop with features that will not be necessary for DJing.
Laptops for DJing – Price
Importance of laptop and Tips for DJing
The role of your laptop for DJing is immense. It will be your most effective tool for music and master control.
This will be the source where all your tracks, created or downloaded, are stored. This will also be the tool where all of your DJing software resides.
With a simple use of a mouse or a few shortcuts of the keyboard, the laptop will allow you to take control of the different DJ equipment and software most effectively and successfully.
With the use of a laptop and all necessary and related hardware, you will have all the necessary controls and virtual buttons at your fingertips.
This will not only ensure a better control on the hardware but will also help you a lot in playing different tracks, syncing beats, applying effects and browsing for more and better music.
However, when you want to DJ right with your laptop, there are a few things that you should keep in mind, even if you do not want to use any extra hardware.
First, you should ensure that your workload is light. This means that you should restrict your work to simple use of a few chosen keyboard shortcuts, your trackpad or mouse, a few virtual buttons, dials, and faders.
You do not need to be super accurate at it but make sure that you are reasonably good at operating these controls.
The best way to achieve this is by not over complicating your setup, not using a lot of effects or crossfader controls.
You should also get some free DJ loops that will ensure more accuracy when you are using more hands.
This will enable you to use your left hand to hold a click and your right hand to slide the fader up or down. This will make your work and life much easier.
You must also make sure that all those controls that you use seldom are hidden from the screen.
If you use proper DJ software, it will allow you to customize the view so that you can hide the controls and effects as well as remove the decks for loops. When you hide the additional filters and buttons it will prevent hitting them accidentally.
Use minimal controls for DJing if you want to improve your accuracy while using the mouse or trackpad. You will be better off if you put the playlist you want to DJ handy before you start.
If you have the playlist in perfect order, you will always be ready to go. You can even pick and choose from the virtual record box for that matter which will also keep things as simple as possible.
In this way, all you have to do is load each track as and when you need it. This simple method will ensure that you will not need to browse the internet for just a few tracks.
In a way it also means that the chances of clicking on the wrong tracks are eliminated. It will also save a lot of your time.
Finally, make sure that the display resolution is reduced as that will make your control bigger and better.
Ideally, the resolution of your screen should be as low as 800 × 600 pixels. To change this, you will need to go to the operating system of your laptop and change this in the system preferences.
This, along with the fact that you have all those unnecessary controls hidden, will ensure that you can play around with the screen resolution so that you can make the system controls really nice and big.
This means that your DJing efforts will be more refined and accurate to produce the best results.
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for DJing
If you need to do a little more than the basic DJing job on a laptop, luckily you will not need a heavy set of system specs. You may get away with an Intel Core i5 or an equivalent AMD processor with an AMD or Nvidia graphics card as the case may be, 4 GB of RAM to run and store most of the big DJ applications and at least 200 MB of free disk space in a 128 GB of SSD.
In order to have a much better performance, and also to create your own music files, you will however need a system that comes with a higher set of specs.
In that case, it will be much better for you if you go with the recommended system requirements as specified below. This will ensure that you have a much better user experience from a laptop that is future ready.
Minimum system requirements: Dual Core Intel M Broadwell or Intel Celeron N3060 processor | 8 GB of RAM | 64 GB eMMC or a higher SSD storage | Integrated Intel HD graphics | 12 inches screen or larger | 1280 x 720 pixels screen resolution
Recommended system requirements: 6th generation Intel Quad Core i7 6700 HQ or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 256 GB SSD or larger | Dedicated Nvidia GTX 960 M or higher | 14 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution
5 Best Laptops for DJing 2021:
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 – Best Overall
Bottom Line: It is the 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 processor that allows this laptop to offer the best performance overall while using it for DJing. It is light in weight, it has a PixelSense touchscreen display, a long battery life, and an omnidirectional sound output will enhance the performance even further.
- Screen: 13.5 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Integrated
- The battery life is very long at 14.5 hours.
- The laptop is very light in weight and extremely portable.
- The resolution of the touch screen is very good.
- There is no dedicated numeric keypad in the keyboard design.
- The system does not come with USB Type C or Thunderbolt 3 ports.
- The performance of the system is slow especially while playing movies.
This laptop looks clean due to its elegant design. It is thin and light to fit in your bag and quite reliable in performance as well.
With an improved speed you can do anything you want with this laptop and the latest 8th generation Intel Core processor will meet all your computing needs most comprehensively.
The battery seems to last all day with its 14.5-hour life allowing you to playback videos, watch movies or DJing.
The screen delivers more vibrant images at 2256 x 1504 pixels. This PixelSense display comes with an interactive touchscreen feature that adds to the comfort in navigation.
The unique aspect of the design of this laptop is the invisible omni-sonic speakers. These speakers are hidden carefully under the keyboard and produces, clear, vibrant, distinct, and omnidirectional sound.
The keyboard design as well the palm rest ensures a better typing experience and comfort as well.
The Windows 10 Home operating system allows using all its useful features for better and faster computing.
The Bluetooth wireless 4.1 technology along with its support for different wireless type communication and networking such as 802.11a/b/g/n and AC standard makes this laptop more reliable for DJing. Check out Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 Review.
2. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW – Runner Up
Bottom Line: The fact that this laptop comes with an Intel Core i7 processor belonging to the 6th generation, makes this Runner up laptop a tad lower in performance in spite of its double amount of RAM and storage in comparison to the above laptop. However, this CPU is good enough to support DJing on it.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Skylake Quad Core i7 6700HQ
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Dedicated Nvidia GTX 960M
- The 4K screen of the system delivers clear and vivid pictures at high resolution.
- The battery life of the system is pretty good to support all-day work.
- The inclusion of the Thunderbolt 3 port in the system design makes it futureproof.
- The system does not have a RJ45 Ethernet port to support wired internet connection.
- The location and build of the trackpad are poorly thought out with the palm landing on it directly while typing.
- Nothing is upgradable in the system as the case is sealed shut allowing no access to the internal components.
This touchscreen laptop comes with everything that will support DJing and other complex computing jobs.
It comes with Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB NVMe SSD, and Nvidia GTX 960M graphics card, all of which guarantees a high performance of the laptop at a consistent level.
The Windows 10 Home operating system adds to the convenience in using this laptop for your DJing needs.
The images are displayed on the 4K screen with IPS technology at a high resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels making the images clearer and more vivid with all the minute details in it.
The Intel Skylake processor is powerful enough and operates at a base clock frequency of 2.6 GHz and at a high Turbo speed of 3.5 GHz to make the best use of its four cores.
The SSD storage is superfast with a transfer speed of 1400 MB/s which enhances the performance and speed of processing by the laptop.
The system also comes with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity that not only increases the options to plug in several external devices but also makes the system futureproof for DJing.
In addition to that, the laptop also comes with several other connectivity options such as one Gen 2 USB 3.1 Type C port, three USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port as well as SDXC reader along with Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac wi-fi connectivity options.
3. Apple MacBook – Small Yet Good Retina Display
Bottom Line: This Apple MacBook has got everything in it that an expert DJ would like to have for a better and higher DJing experience. The best part of it is the small yet good Retina display. With a screen resolution of 2304 x 1440 pixels, this LED backlit display delivers clearer, sharper and more vivid images.
- Screen: 12 inches
- Storage: 256 GB PCIe SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Dual Core Intel M Broadwell
- OS: Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
- GPU: Intel HD integrated graphics
- The system is light and portable.
- The laptop comes with a Retina display that ensures better viewing pleasure.
- The force touch trackpad is responsive and good.
- There is no dedicated number pad in the keyboard design.
- There is no optical drive in the system.
- The screen size is too small.
The dual core Intel Core M Broadwell processor of this system works at 1.1 GHz with a Turbo Boost speed up to 2.4 GHz.
This processor comes with 4 MB shared L3 cache which even betters its performance and yours while DJing.
The LPDDR3 SDRAM memory of this system runs at 1600 MHz and the 256 GB PCIe based onboard flash storage ensures a better and faster performance.
The Intel HD graphics card ensures faster production and processing of images at 2304 x 1440 pixels on the Retina display that also comes with LED backlit feature to ensure power efficiency.
The Mac OS X v10.10 Yosemite operating system only adds to the performance level of this laptop.
When it comes to the connectivity options, you will get one USB Type C port as well as one 3.5 mm headphone audio jack which will be enough to meet with your DJing needs.
The Force Touch trackpad of the system is highly responsive in this thinner, lighter, yet more functional laptop.
The simple design of the laptop is deceptive about its performance, which does not fall below the desired level at any point of time.
There is everything to love about this Mac which comes in its purest form, with a reimagined keyboard of full size, and with all useful underlying mechanisms that provides this laptop with a distinctive and new typeface.
Thanks to the butterfly mechanism of the keyboard instead of the scissor mechanism. Check out Apple MacBook Review.
4. Dell XPS 9550 – Better Functionality and Portability
Bottom Line: This specific laptop model from Dell comes with better functionality and more portability – the two most major attributes needed in a laptop for DJing. The sleek chassis houses a fast enough Intel Core i7 processor and all other useful parts without letting its weight cross even four pounds.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Quad Core i7 6700HQ
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX
- The laptop is sleek in design, fast and functional.
- It is light in weight and portable.
- The system design allows upgrading the RAM up to 32 GB.
- There is no number pad on the right.
- There may be power issues with the system.
- There is no optical drive in the system.
The Dell XPS 15 does not need much explanation and promotion because it has proved its caliber by the virtue of its hardware components, its features, and functionality.
Look at the 15.6-inch full HD display which delivers images at higher resolution with more clarity and sharpness.
It comes with Intel Core i7 6700HQ processor which is pretty powerful with its four cores.
Adding to its performance is the 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM and the solid-state drive which is fast enough to expedite the processing power of the system.
The Windows 10 Home operating system is a common feature in the laptops of today and needs no further explanation.
This excellent laptop is a good device for gaming for people who want good taste, and for professional DJs who want better performance. It is fast and functional and will meet with all your computing needs.
Therefore, if you have high hopes and expectations, this laptop will not disappoint you for sure while DJing. Check out Dell XPS 9550 Review.
5. HP Stream 14 Inch – Value for Money
Bottom Line: Professional DJs who want a higher value for money and a better performance from a laptop while using it for DJing will find both in this device, in spite of a low amount of RAM and storage. It is for the fast enough processor, the decent screen, the long enough battery life, and adequate ports.
- Screen: 14 inches
- Storage: 64 GB eMMC
- RAM: 4 GB SODIMM RAM
- Processor: Intel Celeron N3060
- OS: Windows 10
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics
- The system comes with a long enough battery life of 10 hours.
- The system is light in weight and very portable.
- The screen is full HD and quite good.
- The RAM of the laptop is low.
- The low storage makes the system slow in performance.
- There are issues with the cursor which jumps frequently.
This 14-inch laptop delivers images at 1920 X 1080 pixels on its full HD WLED backlit screen.
The darker blacks and vivid colors make the images pop up and look good making this machine a perfect one for playing back videos, gaming, watching movies and photos, and of course DJing.
The Intel Celeron N3060 processor is powerful and faster enough to process data and info and deliver amazing visuals and support faster data transfer rates.
The long enough battery life will allow you to use the system all day on a single charge.
The DDR3L memory of the laptop supports faster processing and the 64 GB eMMC storage will allow you to save and access a significant number of digital photos, full HD videos, music, and quite a lot of DVD-quality movies.
You will get stunning visual effects due to the integrated Intel HD graphics card of the laptop.
You will also have enough connectivity options with Bluetooth 4.2 technology and wi-fi communication and Miracast enabled wireless networking standards of 802.11ac. 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.
There are also an adequate number of ports and slots in this laptop in the form of USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, and one HDMI 1.4 port as well as a headphone output and microphone input combo.
The 64-bit architecture of the Windows 10 operating system and the inclusion of Office 365 Personal, though for only one year, makes this laptop a worthy one to invest your money and trust on for DJing. Check out HP Stream 14 Inch Laptop Review.
Things to Look for Before Buying a Laptop for DJing
Most of the set-ups for DJing nowadays are digital and a laptop is an important part of it.
Therefore, it is quite natural that you will be confused to decide which is the best laptop and what are the specific specs required in it to meet your needs.
The good news here is that most of the DJing software in particular are not that demanding.
This means that most of the laptops nowadays will come with good enough specs and configuration to support the DJs, provided you do not want to overlock it extensively and turn it into a powerhouse for custom sampling, production and broadcasting.
However, in reality, this does not mean that all laptops available today will be equally able for DJing.
This is because DJing is a particular function that is performed in an extreme environment. It needs using specific types of equipment plugged into the laptop.
Of course, compromise is the key here. This is because you will not get everything in a laptop that will do everything 100%.
You may not have a big screen and an ultra-lightweight laptop together or you cannot have a cheap laptop with 1 TB SSD, and so on and so forth.
Choosing the right laptop for DJing will largely depend on your needs, the importance of each option and what you want to do with your laptop. Ideally, there is no one-size-fits-all laptop for DJing.
Therefore, there are a few specific considerations to make apart from the recommended 4 GB or more memory, 256 GB or more solid-state or hard drive size, or an i3 or i5 processor.
Here are those few things that you should look for in a laptop for DJing while buying one.
The primary function of the laptop for DJing is to relay important info to you. If you cannot see it clearly and properly on the screen, your work will be affected negatively.
If the size of the screen of your laptop is too small you will not be comfortable while DJing.
On the other hand, if the screen is too big it will have a larger footprint and will not be comfortable for you to lug it around from one venue to another.
Ideally, a 15-inch screen is better than a 13-inch screen, and a 17-inch screen will be perfect for DJs wearing glasses or with less-than-perfect eyes.
More important than the screen size is actually the screen resolution. If you go for a 13-inch laptop, mostly the resolution of the screen will be 1280 x 800 pixels.
This is good enough for running specific software like Serato and Virtual DJ but is actually not good for Traktor as it will not be able to make good use of the real estate of the screen.
Moving on to a 15-inch screen, you will get resolutions of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is good for glasses wearers, and 1440 x 900 pixels, which will provide you more space to play with.
Of course, everything will get smaller. To resolve that, you can always set a larger screen to display images at a much lower resolution if you want.
Brightness of the screen is also a very important aspect to look for because DJs usually play both daytime as well as night time gigs.
Sunshine or dimly lit dance floors, both do not mix well and it may be very difficult for you to see what is on the screen if the brightness is not adequate.
Anything that comes with more than the average brightness nits of 250 to 275 is recommended.
Ideally, a MacBook will have nice and bright screens as compared to most of the other laptops but that does not mean you will not shop around and check those Windows laptops.
Number of USBs
It is not rare in a DJ set up to have a pad controller, an external sound card, and a DJ controller.
This means that you will need at least three USBs in your laptop. If the laptop you choose has fewer ports, you will need to use a USB hub.
There, you must first know how many DJ equipment you want to plug into your laptop and then look for the number of sockets.
SSD or HDD
The choice between an SSD or an HDD storage is also crucial. Irrespective of the quality, the truth is that a hard drive is more likely to fail than an SSD.
This is because a hard drive will have moving components inside and will also become hot quite easily.
All modern solid-state drives are more reliable than traditional hard drives but these drives cost much more and are available in lower capacities.
However, it is the reliability and speed of performance that makes an SSD storage more suitable for your DJing needs, if you can afford, that is.
A longer battery life of more than 8 to 10 hours is preferable for a laptop for DJing. This is an important factor to consider because of two specific reasons.
Firstly, it will allow you to use your laptop for hours away from an electrical outlet and even plug in a few battery speakers while DJing. It will allow you to DJ anytime and anywhere and even cue point, sort, and analyze your music.
Secondly, if you forget to carry your power lead or cannot plug in, with a fair enough battery life in a laptop, it will not stop you or the event from being cancelled.
Size and weight
If you consider the weight of the laptop only, it may not sound or feel too much as most of the laptops weigh 3 to 5 pounds on an average, with a few weighing more or less than that.
However, if you add the weight of the other DJ gears such as the DJ controller, the power pack, headphones, and some cables, your bag will become really heavy.
It will be an issue if you travel in a plane where there is a weight limit for hand baggage.
Therefore, consider buying a laptop with average weight and size so that you can thank yourself later for not having to carry your equipment in the cargo.
Do not overlook the build quality of your laptop for DJing completely. A laptop with a cheap plastic case and poor hinges will not last long.
Unless you have lots of money to spare and have a couple of standby laptops to use, go for a laptop with solid aluminum casing. It will prevent it from being damaged due to drops, shocks and spills.
Rely on your instinct here. If you feel something looks very flimsy and you are pretty scared to open and close it, you should probably look for something else.
Hardware to buy
If you are not on a budget, there is some additional hardware to buy to plug into your laptop for DJing.
A USB midi controller will provide you with some physical buttons and dials in the DJing software that will help in cueing, playing, changing faders and effect dials, jumping to cue points, filter kill switches and more to get more creative.
Also choose one of the best DJ mixers based on your budget, need, skill, and working environment. Choose one with a good build quality and a built-in sound card and make sure it is small and portable. This will allow you to have a better tactile control of all the DJ gears which your laptop alone cannot provide you with.
What operating system does professional DJs use in their laptops?
All professional DJs either use a Windows operating system or a Mac operating system. The versions may vary but mostly they have the best and latest versions of operating systems in their laptops. This is because the latest versions of operating systems come with the latest features. The processor is also good enough to render and load music quickly.
How much RAM and storage does my laptop for DJing should have?
Apart from a good screen and an audio out port, your laptop should also have at least 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage for better performance and faster rendering of music. However, this is just good enough if you use a single software. Professional DJs however use 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage to make their device future proof and save their created music locally for faster access.
Can I use a MacBook laptop for DJing?
Most of the software used for DJing such as Virtual DJ and Pro DJ can be used for both Windows and macOS. This means that you can use a MacBook or a Windows laptop for DJing alike. However, Mac laptops are preferred by the professional DJs because they offer good battery life, good sound output, and crash less often as compared to Windows laptops.