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 products for the time being before you can get your hands on the good 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.
These might not be the best gadgets 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 (you can also check out this list of affordable studio headphones). Here are a couple of laptops that you should get your hands on:
HP Jaguar 15-bs070wm Touchscreen Laptop
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.
Major specs include:
- Intel Core i5-7200U
- 8 GB RAM
- SD media card reader
- Multiple connectors
- Backlit touchscreen
Lenovo 2019 IdeaPad 330 15.6″
This Lenovo Ideapad is another high-performance laptop that you will be lucky to get your hands on. It’s one of the fastest and most powerful devices I’ve used on this budget. For a model that’s clearly brand new in the market, I’d say there are many things that I love about this device. My buddy Mike owns it, but I’ve used it a couple of times for mixing and music production. It has all the baseline requirements that you would look for in a good laptop plus, the IdeaPad series is known for its robust devices.
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.
Some major specs include:
- 15.6 inches display screen
- 4 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD 5400 rpm
- Windows 10 operating system
- Integrated graphics card
Acer Aspire E 15
OK, so I’ll be honest, this costs a little over $500 but are you seriously going to let an extra $100 keep you from investing in a product so great? 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.
Some features that are worth highlighting:
- Acer TrueHarmony that helps bring out the best of your music
- 8th generation Intel core i5 processor
- 8 GB RAM
- 15.6-inch display
ASUS VivoBook F510UA 15.6” Full HD Nanoedge Laptop
When it comes to affordable laptops, ASUS truly is one of the leading brands that you ought to keep an eye on. Keeping this in mind, my friends and I have personally used ASUS from time to time. It definitely isn’t Macbook Pro level but it gets the job done so hey, who’s complaining? This might come as a surprise but the VivoBook surprisingly has all the features that you would need for some kickass music production. Best of all, the device is quite portable which means that you can carry it around practically anywhere you go. The manufacturers have also done a pretty decent job with the screen as it features 0.3-inch NanoEdge bezel.
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!)
- Operates on either Windows 10 Pro OS
- 8 GB RAM, 8th Gen i5-8250U Intel Core processor
- 1 TB HDD storage capacity
- 15.6 inches screen size
- Offers four display modes
HP 2019 Premium Pavilion 15.6 Inch Touchscreen
Let me give you major tip for buying electronics: new is pretty much always better. Now, some of you may disagree to that but trust me, I have my reasons. And this stunning model should definitely do the trick to prove why. It has a stunning 15.6-inch display, nothing short of what you would expect from any great laptop.
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.
Some specs that are worth highlighting:
- 15.6 inches screen
- 2 TB HDD hard drive
- 8GB RAM, 1.1 GHz processor
- Windows 10 operating system
2018 Dell Inspiron 15 5000 15.6 inch
The Dell Inspiron series has brought forward some pretty great budget-friendly laptops. I’ve had the coincidence of having multiple friends who have tried several Dell laptops and I haven’t heard many complaints so far. Sure, it’s not as great as the Surface Pro but we are strictly discussing affordable laptops that can be purchased under $500.
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.
Here are some important specs:
- 15.6-inch screen
- Backlit keyboard that makes it possible to work in the dark
- 8 GB RAM and 1 TB HDD
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 under 500 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!