When it comes to buying laptops, nobody likes to go cheap. But this isn’t an ideal world and equipment can be pretty expensive. In this case, you might have to look around for more affordable laptops under $500 (or around that price range) for the time being before you can get your hands on the pricey and super high-end stuff.
Speaking of which, I’ll be honest with you, there are not many great computers that you can buy on a limited budget and that too for music production. But trust me, it’s not the end of the world. And that’s exactly why I’m compiling this list of the best laptops for music production under $500 (or around that price mark).
If you’re in a rush, this is my favourite and safest recommendation: Acer Aspire E 15 on Amazon. It’s affordable (around $500) and it does the job!
These might not be the best models for professionals but if you’re a newbie or a college professional looking to make a mark in the world of music, I’ve got you covered. Here are a couple of laptops that you should get your hands on:
As far as laptops are concerned, some brands are more notable than others. Take HP, for example, people love it and are confident about buying their products. Over the years, HP has introduced a number of budget-friendly laptops, and this one is definitely one of my favorites. I’ve used the HP Jaguar on and off while working on some tracks. Its overall performance is quite satisfactory and the 1TB HDD and 8 GB RAM makes speedy music file transfer for the ultimate music recording and production experience.
It comes with Windows 10 OS Home Edition that provides just the right kind of support for mixing tracks. All in all, I loved all this laptop looks. It has a stunning 15-inch display that makes it more pleasant to use. It has a powerful i5 Intel Core processor that makes performance a breeze. It has quite a number of features despite its low price tag which is definitely a plus. It offers a range of different connectors to make data transfer easy and fast.
The only minor issue is that after a while, speed became a problem with this gadget. But once I got an SSD card for it, I didn’t have any complaints. This definitely is a good budget-friendly device that you will find much use of.
You can easily use it editing, recording and rendering your favorite tracks. The lighting fast processor makings the process much easier. You can upgrade the RAM on this device to suit your needs and the LED-backlit display is also worth raving about. Thanks to the graphics card, you can also use it for some casual gaming if you’re into that too. It has a 5-hour battery life which is decent enough for getting most of your work done. It comes with Windows 10 Home and two 1.5W speakers along with Dolby Audio processing. It also comes with a stylus so that you can really enjoy the tablet mode and get some work done when you’re working on the couch or lazy in bed.
If you buy the product from Amazon, you’ll get a 1-year manufacturer which I would say is not bad for the price.Click here to check out its current price on Amazon. Well, I certainly hope not because then you would be missing out on a lot. This is easily considered as among the best budget-friendly laptops for music production. Despite its relatively low price tag, the Acer Aspire E 15 offers numerous features that you would typically have to spend a fortune to get your hands on.
Powered by 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core processor, you can expect nothing but the fastest speed from this device. As far as memory goes, it includes 8 GB RAM which does a decent job combined with the whopping 256GB of SSD storage. With the ample amount of storage you have to your disposal, you can edit, render and mix tracks without a worry. Aside from music production, you can also use the laptop for playing games which is another bonus.
I’m also a huge fan of the 15.6-inch display, I’ve used this laptop in all kinds of lighting and I think it works great in all kinds of conditions. Plus, it also comes with a backlit keyboard that makes light-night music production possible (I don’t know about you, but I’ve produced some awesome music working at late hours, I’m sure a lot of creative enthusiasts would agree). And what’s really impressive is that the device comes with an amazing battery life so that you can enjoy about roughly 15 hours of work on a single charge.
Now diving further into what this laptop can do for you in terms of music production, it comes with a killer TrueHarmony audio technology. Thanks to this, you can enjoy great sound with amazing audio coverage. The only minor downside is that you might find the speaker output rather low compared to other devices. However, it relatively does a better job compared to other laptops on this list, plus the sound is entirely distortion free. You can also use headphones to improve the sound and aid concentration.
And to ease all your worries, the device comes with all the necessary ports and slots that you would need to connect all your gear. It also includes a CD/DVD which makes it possible for you to burn tracks as you go.
As far as the performance is concerned, you get the best according to your limited budget. The 8th Gen i5-8250U Intel Core processor does a spectacular job in managing speed. It has what it takes to deal with some of the most high-end music software minus any complications. The 8GB RAM will further help you on your pursuit to achieve excellent sound with optimal performance.
It comes with 1 TB HDD storage capacity that you can also upgrade to suit your needs. It offers plenty of storage space so that you can store some of your best work. In addition to how great the laptop performs for audiophiles, it also works great for graphics. I personally loved the anti-glare screen display – it certainly makes working on your DAW interface much easier.
You also don’t have to worry much as far as connectivity is concerned. The ASUS VivoBook F510UA offers numerous ports that you can use to connect all your gear. The robust device also offers lightning-fast connection that makes it possible to get the job done. As far as the downsides are concerned, I was a bit bummed that it doesn’t come with a backlit keyboard. This ultimately means that you might not be able to work in the dark when inspiration suddenly hits you at 4 AM. (In this case, you might want to use closed back headphones!)
You can choose to upgrade RAM according to your needs. For this particular model, you can customize the memory to 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB. I also liked how the touch screen is backlit which allows you to work in numerous settings.
I love working on a laptop that not only performs well but also looks great and in that case, I was quite surprised by how well this model did. The storage and RAM are just enough to get the job done nicely which means you won’t be facing any problems soon.
The audio on this laptop may not be the best but you can’t really complain much when you’re on a limited budget. If you’re only a newbie, this laptop could prove to be great for some low-key editing and making music. But if you’re serious about home recording, keep in mind that you’ll have to invest in a ‘meatier’ product some day or the other if you want to achieve the right sound.
This model also comes with 3 USB ports so that you can connect multiple devices at the same time. You also get a 1-year warranty which isn’t a bad deal if you consider the incredibly reasonable price of this product.
I’ll be honest, this Dell Inspiron is not a grand choice when it comes to music production but it’ll get the job done decently. The screen size is 15.6 inches which is quite decent. It features a Core i5 processor with a 1.6 GHz frequency along with 8 GB RAM. As far as the hard drive is concerned, it is 1 TB HDD and you will get a limited one year warranty. While the computing power is nothing special, the laptop will perform decently. As far as the operating system is concerned, it features good old Windows 10.
And now for what really matters. This model features MaxxAudio Pro Audio Processing coupled with stereo speakers that are designed to help you get the most out editing and recording session. The sound output is not bad, you can also plug in studio headphones to increase concentration and get the most out of your working session.
What I really liked is that the laptop comes with a backlit keyboard which makes it possible for you to complete work in poorly environments. As far as the price is concerned, it’s pretty apparent that you get what you pay for. The Dell Inspiron makes a great laptop for daily use with occasional music production. However, if you’re a professional or are simply hoping to make some money out of your new venture, I’m sure you’ll be better off with something more high-end but if you’re a beginner and can’t afford to upgrade your budget, this one should work just as well.
I’ve put them all in table that makes it easy to compare:
|HP Jaguar 15-bs070wm, 15.6" Natural Silver Touch Screen||Buy Now|
|Lenovo 2019 IdeaPad 330 15.6" HD||X||Buy Now|
|Acer Aspire E 15 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD||Buy Now|
|ASUS VivoBook F510UA 15.6”||Buy Now|
|HP 2019 Premium Pavilion 15.6 Inch Touchscreen||X||Buy Now|
|2018 Dell Inspiron 15 5000 15.6 inch Full HD||Buy Now|
Factors to Consider
More often than not, buying electronics can feel like a gamble. The last thing you’d want to do is invest in something that won’t last for the better part of your life. Here are a few factors you should definitely keep in mind while you’re a laptop for music production:
I know this is basic and you’re probably wondering why it even matters (not like you’re a graphic designer or need something for illustration). So yea, despite of any doubts that you might have, the screen will determine how portable your device really is. For me, I’m mostly fine with a 15 to 15.6-inch screen as it does the job done nicely without adding extra size. This size is also comfortable choice even if you’re working with several DAW.
Understand that a 17-inch screen may be too big for you if you’re recording. I also strictly advise you not to go for anything that’s less than 15-inches as it will make it impossible for you to work on a DAW.
You’ve probably heard terms such as dual core and quad core before. Well, if you have no idea what this actually means, it’s actually a way of describing the processing unit of the device. Unlike desktops, laptops don’t feature bulky CPUs but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get the job done. Anyway, back to cores. In this case, you’re better off with quad-core processors. I do not advise you to go with anything lesser than dual core as it would be impossible to run a complex DAW with that kind of power.
It might cost you a little extra, but don’t ever compromise on processing power as it will directly influence the kind of music that you make. More cores will allow you to multitask and get more done at the same time.
When it comes to the processor, you’ll definitely have to take the frequency into account. This is basically the speed of the device and is measured in GHz (gigahertz).
Needless to say, the higher the frequency, the better use you’ll be able to get out of your product. In fact in some cases, a processor with a lower core and higher frequency may be able to outperform something with a higher core and lower frequency.
In any case, I strictly advise you get a processor that offers nothing less than 2.2GHz. But this isn’t necessarily what you should aspire to have. Stretch your budget and try to invest in the best of the best.
Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7
I’m assuming you’ve probably heard about these different models before. Basically, i3, i5, and i7 are all different kinds of processors, with i7 being the best here. It will give you some extra leverage on cache, allowing you to perform tasks more quickly.
Keeping in mind that you’ll mostly be using this laptop for music production, consider all the files and tracks that you’ll constantly be sending, editing, transferring and so on. This is why I strongly recommend you buy a model that offers nothing less than 1TB of storage. At least, this will keep you on the safe side, ensuring that you won’t be in need of space for a long time.
At the very minimum, I would not advise you to go with anything beyond 500GB. And remember, as far as the hard disk space is concerned, you need not worry too much as you’ll be able to upgrade storage and get the best out of your external hard drive. Buying storage isn’t as expensive so you can always get an upgrade if you feel like you’re in need of more.
Essentially, you can choose from two different kinds of hard drives pertaining to your budget and personal preferences. This includes HDD and SSD – I’d discuss the details further but honestly, it will not make much of a difference in the world of music production unless of course, your music software is incredibly hardcore. In that case, you would be better off with SSD as it will manage to pull information out much quickly from the drive.
We can beat around the bush but this factor will impact your purchase to a large extent. At present, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t have a whopping budget to invest in the best equipment and that’s OK. In fact, it’s smart to start off with reasonably inexpensive gear until you’ve gained a couple of months or even years of experience. When it comes to making music, don’t let not having the right equipment stop you from chasing your dreams.
Make the best use out of the resources that you already have and work towards building a better goal for yourself. If you really are hell-bent on buying the best stuff, shop around second-hand stores or get in touch with your fellow music producers to see if anybody’s selling their old equipment. This will help you save a couple bucks. Also, check out our list on MIDI keyboards for beginners.
Wrapping it Up
It’s safe to say that buying the best laptops for music production isn’t easy! But it definitely isn’t impossible.
Are there any models that you’d like to suggest yourself? Hit me up or let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you, until next time!
PS: here is my in-depth review of the best laptops for music production if you’d like to spend a bit more on your equipment.