What are the 5 best laptops for music production? In the previous years, Apple has been dominating the music production industry just as it has dominated other creative production arenas.
This was because it was the only portable platform available and usable for Logic Pro X, an essential music production software.
Back then, you could find an Apple in every professional music recording studio, with any music making band on the road, and even in those small DJ booths.
On the other hand, people who used other PCs for music production typically had to resort to the desktop format.
Over the years and until recently, things have started to change dramatically with several major computer brands coming up with laptops that can be used successfully and effectively for music production.
With these brands giving Apple a run for its money and making an impact in the music production industry, it is really difficult to choose one for your music production needs, if you do not have proper knowledge of the specs and features to look for.
To choose the best laptop for music production, you must be very particular about the memory and power specifications of the laptop along with other features.
However, in real world applications, these are not the only considerations to make while choosing a laptop for music production.
Your laptop will need a lot of power as well to handle the growing file sizes as you go ahead with your creation and the latest software and tools.
Weight is an important aspect to consider in your laptop for music production if you travel quite a lot, so does the screen size and resolution.
If even the best of the laptops with the highest specs weigh a ton, you will get tired quickly while lugging it around and therefore losing focus on your job.
It should also come with a good battery life since you will be away from the mains to recharge your laptop often.
Apart from your budget, you should also focus on various other legacy ins and outs of the system while choosing. This includes the ports, the audio interface, the peripherals to use and lots more.
With so many considerations to make, you may be naturally confused, which is why this article comes up with the five best laptops you can choose from for your music production work.
Follow this and also take a look at the buying guide to make things much easier for you.
Laptops for Music Production Price List
What are the Basic Needs for Music Production?
Start with knowing the basic needs for music production. This will not only make the choosing process easy but will also help you to buy only those things that are needed for recording and music creation and prevent you from overspending.
You will need an audio interface in addition to the microphone input port that your laptop will come with.
This will ensure a high level of sound quality and a better control over the audio signals.
It will also allow you to use better quality microphones, studio monitors, and headphones.
Good quality microphones are also needed for recording live instruments and vocals.
Be very precise about your mic choices and make sure it is versatile. Ideally, any type of inexpensive condenser mic that comes with a cardioid pickup pattern will work.
Studio monitors is another requirement which you should not confuse with the monitor of your laptop, or desktop, that typically displays pictures.
Studio monitors, on the other hand, are speakers that represent the recorded sound as accurately and cleanly as possible with every minute detail produced.
You will also need a MIDI keyboard or controller especially if you use virtual instruments.
These cheap tools in your arrangements will not only help you to play them with the basic controls but will also help you to manipulate the instruments, a common requirement in electronic music.
Though optional, it is also required to have a MIDI interface. Some keyboards will come with orthodox MIDI ports that may not allow connecting a separate device. A MIDI interface will make your job much easier.
You will also need a few specific types of cables to connect the hardware.
You will need a few USB cables to connect the USB based hardware and an XLR cable to connect the microphones and studio monitors.
You may also need 1/4″ TRS cables to connect other necessary devices, however, this will depend largely on the audio interface.
Digital Audio Workstation or DAW software is also essential for recording. Choose one that will work both on Windows and Mac laptops. There are several such software options to choose from.
You will also need some virtual instruments for recording but make sure that it supports the DAW software that you choose to use in your laptop for music production.
This is necessary because most of the DAWs come with low-quality virtual instruments that you may not use often for your recordings.
When you are through with this pretty long shopping list, it is time to choose your best laptop for music production, which is what this article is all about.
5 Best Laptops for Music Production 2020:
1. Apple MacBook Pro
With a long battery life, this lightweight and portable laptop will offer you with everything that you want for music production.
The IPS Retina display produces images at 2560 x 1600 resolution making the best use of the Intel Iris Graphics 6100.
The system also comes with an integrated 720p FaceTime HD webcam.
The connectivity options of this system include Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac wi-fi, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 2 ports, an SDXC card slot, and an audio in/out port.
The system comes with a backlit keyboard and a Force Touch trackpad that is haptic capable.
In short, this is one of the best laptops to buy for music production. Check out Apple MacBook Pro Review.
- Screen: 13.3 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Dual Core i5 5257U
- OS: Mac OS X
- GPU: Intel Iris Graphics 6100
- The system comes with a solid build and promises a high performance.
- The backlit keyboard and trackpad provide better user experience.
- The display is quite nice and does not strain the eyes.
- It does not have an internal optical drive.
- The SSD space is not enough to store a number of large files.
- The processor is slower than many other Windows laptops.
2. Razer Blade Stealth
This is one of the most durable laptops that you will get for music production. Meant for gaming, this laptop has everything that will make your job much easier.
This piece is CNC-milled from a solitary block of aluminum used to make aircrafts. The design of this laptop gives it a sleek and beautiful form.
The screen shows images with remarkable color saturation.
The 7th generation processor operating at 2.7 GHz provides the device with lots of power to handle all the requirements of DAW software and music production.
It can also operate at a Turbo Boost speed of up to 3.9 GHz.
The keyboard makes typing on it much easier with its anti-ghosting features that registers real-time key presses with utmost precision.
This provides a comfortable and quick typing experience with high level of accuracy.
The precision touchpad of the system also ensures high accuracy with its gesture support. This allows you to have total control of your experience.
- Screen: 13.3 inches
- Storage: 256 GB PCIe SSD
- RAM: 16 GB
- Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 4 Core
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
- This is the most durable laptop made from a single aluminum block.
- The system comes with touch enabled display.
- The precision trackpad provides gesture support and ensures high accuracy.
- The fans can be quite loud randomly at times.
- The battery life could have been far better.
- The keys are shallow and needs time to adjust for better and faster typing.
3. Dell XPS 9550
This is one of the most beautiful 15-inch laptops that you can buy for your music production needs.
The build is strong and not flimsy, the display is apparently borderless providing more real estate, it is slim and light in weight making it extremely portable.
If you consider the performance of this laptop, the quad core processor will ensure that you have all the power to work with all those software and apps for music production.
However, the component quality and its build make it a bit pricier option but if you want more value in the long run, then this is the laptop you should go for.
The SSD and RAM is good enough though 256 GB may hit bottlenecks at times.
Otherwise, this is an ideal device for music production that comes with a lot of ports including USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt.
This means that you will not have any issues with connectivity in the studio.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Quad Core i7 6700HQ
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: GeForce GTX
- The design is beautiful and the build is solid on this laptop.
- The display is very nice showing clearer and sharper images.
- The processor promises a powerful performance.
- The battery quality is bad as it swells and makes the touchpad unusable.
- There may be some power issues with the laptop.
- It is a pricier option as compared to other alternatives.
4. HP Pavilion Power
If you want more screen space and additional features such as a built-in webcam, digital media card reader, backlit keyboard, Image Pad with gesture capabilities, and an additional 10-key numeric keypad, then this is the laptop you should take a look into.
It will allow music production jobs and handle those software and tools to make your DAW edits successfully.
The processor, the RAM, and the storage will allow faster performance and booting up of the system and apps.
The system will allow you to make large music arrangements or to make your recordings.
The battery life will also support working out of your studio and the dual storage option of this laptop will allow you to store lots of larger audio and video files.
You can put all the programs on the SSD and all the VSTs and plugins on the HDD.
The NVIDIA GeForce 1050 graphics will not only help you with your music files and videos but will also allow working on some light film score and video editing.
All in all, this laptop will provide you with all the power and capabilities for music production whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or a pro, along with allowing you to do some other works. Check out HP Pavilion Power Review.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 1 TB Serial ATA hard drive plus 128 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 7th generation Intel Quad Core i7 7700HQ
- OS: Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- The backlit keyboard comes with comfortable keys and a useful trackpad.
- The battery life is reasonably long and recharges very quickly.
- The system is responsive, pretty fast and allows multitasking.
- The laptop may get very hot due to intense and heavy workload.
- The built-in speakers are of average quality.
- The firmware is locked into the operating system and disabling ME allows direct access.
5. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
This is also a good enough laptop for music production that comes with a clean and elegant design. It is slim and light in weight, weighing just 2.76 pounds, making it ultra-portable.
The processor and all other components of this laptop promises both speed and high performance. You can do whatever you want and use all the music production software with ease on this laptop.
The all-day battery life will allow you to work on it outdoors and the large enough PixelSense display comes with an interactive touchscreen feature and shows razor sharp images in high resolution.
The system will provide you with more power to follow your passions allowing you an easy navigation, faster processing power, to be more creative, and do a lot more.
It is also a safe and secure laptop to use. It comes with features like password-free Windows Hello sign-in, Cortana intelligent assistant, Office 365 and more.
The discrete omni-sonic speakers located below the keyboard deliver good quality, radiant and omnidirectional sound.
The signature Alcantara material covered keyboard with palm rest will allow you to type in comfort, much faster and in a much better way.
- Screen: 13.5 inches
- Storage: 128 GB
- RAM: 8 GB DDR DRAM
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics
- The aesthetic appeal of this powerful and extremely portable laptop is good.
- The graphics card is good and produces better images on the perfectly working touchscreen.
- The keyboard comes with a nice feel, key travel and feedback.
- There could have been more ports in this system such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C.
- The Windows 10 Pro operating system could have been more useful.
- The laptop comes with a very low storage capacity.
Things to Know before Buying a Laptop for Music Production
While you are looking for the best laptop for music production, you may either choose a Mac or a Windows laptop.
If you are a Mac fan then your choices will be pretty clear and limited but if you want a Windows laptop, there are a plethora of options to choose from.
Therefore, you must know what to look for in a laptop for music production to make your choice.
Ideally, it will depend on two specific things such as how much you are willing to spend on your laptop and what are the specific needs that you have.
If you want to do some basic jobs in music production then a basic computer with basic features and specs such as a 13-inch screen, 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage will be good enough to handle the software and apps.
However, if you are into some advanced jobs in music production you will need to pay some dollars more and buy a laptop that comes with a faster and more powerful processor of i7 or i9 family, 16 GB of RAM and higher SSD.
If you want to buy an Apple product, it is recommended that you look for the gaming laptops because these come with lots of power and very quick processors.
As for the other laptops that you want to choose for the CPU intensive music production work, you will have to look for other different aspects as well.
This includes battery life, performance, high-grade processors, screen size, aesthetics and several other variables.
This can be tricky and needs to be simplified. To make it quick and keep things simple, you should ideally look for a few major things – the CPU, the audio, the storage and the RAM.
The CPU is the main component in the laptop for music production that will do the real hard work.
Every time you put in any data it is the CPU that has to translate it into sound.
In addition to that, the CPU is put to work when you add any extra plugins, export finished versions of any track, or bounce audio signals, because all these things need a lot of processing.
The CPU is in fact your best aide in music production. Therefore, it is best to prioritize this specific specification over other features if you want to choose a laptop for music production that will promise a solid performance.
When it comes to choosing one, there are primarily two major players to consider.
The first one is Intel. This brand has a huge share of the market and they offer a huge range as well.
While the least powerful one is i3, the highest one is an i9.
You will also get a host of mid-range and upper tier of laptops that comprises i5 and i7 variants. You can expect a varied speed rating within this sphere, measured in Gigahertz and expressed as GHz.
The second major one is AMD that produces the Ryzen processors. They also name their processors following the same nomenclature to the Intel versions such as R3, R5 and so on.
Their processors are very popular among the gaming crowd and you probably do not know that a gaming laptop is quite good for music production jobs.
Ideally, when you get a faster processor in the laptop, it means two things.
First, your laptop will be able to handle any type of tasks that you want it to do, and two, it can process those things at a much quicker rate.
Though in reality you may not notice any significant difference but down the road it will clearly and surely add up.
The memory of the laptop for music production is the next important thing to focus on when you choose a device for you.
When it comes to choosing it, forget about the minimum RAM specs recommended on the websites of some of the major DAWs.
Remember, using a system with 4 GB of RAM to run a multitrack Ableton Live needs both courage and patience, and still it may not be effective or produce the best results.
RAM is actually the short-term memory of the laptop. Therefore, you will need a lot of it for running those audio applications that particularly involves a lot of recorded audio.
This will ensure that the playback is smooth and is free from any glitches.
This is because, every time you want to play them, the system will not have to fetch for the audio from the hard drive. It will make the operation much faster.
If you want to use the system today and also for the next few years down the road without any issues, it is recommended that you go for a system that comes with at least 8 GB of DDR4 memory.
However, you would want a 16 GB ideally because this will provide you with more power to deal with much larger arrangements.
Of course, consider whether the cost of this additional resource is affordable by you.
Also, make sure that you choose a laptop that allows upgrading of the RAM for your future needs.
However, if you are an Apple fan, you will not have this luxury due to its sealed chassis.
Audio and storage
This is something that you cannot ignore at any cost. A laptop for music production needs to have the best audio interface.
There are several laptops that come with a finely tuned six-speaker audio system that produces clear and loud sound.
There are different audio technologies that will further enhance the performance of the speakers.
Research well and then make your final choice to get the best bang!
Storage memory is another important aspect to look for in a laptop for music production.
This is especially required for audio applications that involve sample libraries where audio is streamed from the disk.
It is better to choose a laptop with a solid-state drive. The benefit of the SSD drives is that it supports data transfer at a rapid speed.
This means that the files will be loaded in a short time.
However, be informed that these SSD drives are much more expensive than the conventional HDDs or hard Disk Drives. Therefore, your budget will once again influence your final decision.
Alternatively, you can also choose a laptop that comes with a combination of SSD and HDD storage.
This will prove to be doubly effective because the HDD will store the files, photos and videos, while the SSD will deal with the tasks that need more instantaneous response.
You may also use an external hard drive with the SSD of the laptop, preferably those that take full advantage of the USB C technology.
It will be good and easy enough to deal with such types of file transfer at the speed necessary for music production.
There are also a few other things to consider while choosing a laptop for music production. These factors will also play a significant role in the performance of the system.
The choice of the operating system is one important factor to consider for your laptop.
However, there is literally very little technical specs and difference to choose an operating system for a laptop for music production.
Actually, both Mac and Windows are good for music production as long as the specs suit your purpose.
The operating system of the laptop will ideally depend on the type of laptop you choose.
A Max computer will run on Mac OS, a Chromebook will run on Chrome OS and a Windows laptop will run on different versions of Windows operating systems though the most popular one used today is the Windows 10 Home operating system.
This operating system will ensure that all of those popular music production software such as the Ableton Live, Cubase, Pro Tools, FL Studio, and Logic Pro runs effectively on your laptop.
The choice of the operating system, especially for the laptops to be used for music production, will also depend on the DAW itself.
Therefore, have a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation in your mind before you start shopping. This will narrow down your search making the process simpler, much faster, and more productive.
The next major thing to consider is the I/O capabilities of the laptop.
It is these ports that will not only allow you to plug in a keyboard or mouse but also all those other devices that you will need for the particular DAW you want to use.
Most of the DAWs will need one specific audio interface for recording an audio track line-in from a TRS or an XLR. Since these are all typically Bus powered, it will need a dedicated high speed and high-powered connection.
Usually, a USB 3.0 or a Thunderbolt is recommended that will allow connecting an audio interface or a MIDI interface controller directly to the interface as opposed to others that need a separate and dedicated USB power of their own.
Is a desktop better than a laptop for music production?
If you consider upgradability and ease of use aspects, a desktop computer will be much better than a laptop. However, in spite of its high capability, desktops come with their own drawbacks in terms of mobility and setting it up. These are good investments if you are setting up a home studio, otherwise a laptop will be a more useful investment for music production jobs.
Is Mac better than Windows laptop for music production?
Both these types of devices come with their own specs. This means that some specific Windows laptops may have a better configuration than a Mac computer and vice versa. This, ideally, is more of a personal choice than the capabilities of the systems. Few users may be fond of using Apple computers while others may like using a Windows laptop.
Can I use gaming laptops for music production?
Of course, you can. In fact, it is much better to use a gaming laptop because these devices come with higher specs and are much better equipped to handle plugins, DAWs, and storing project files. All the software applications used for editing, producing, and recording music will run much efficiently in a gaming laptop.