Whether you’re a music student, a professional or even hobbyist musician, you’ve probably found it difficult to find a laptop that meets your needs. This is because there aren’t many laptops designed specifically for music production.
What you need to do is look for a laptop that meets certain requirements. It should have a good processor and plenty of RAM so that it can handle numerous production programs. It should also have either a fast SSD or big hard drive, or both since you’ll be dealing with large file sizes. To make your work easy, I’ve narrowed down your options to the 10 best laptops for music production.
Top 10 Best Laptops for Music Production
1. Apple 13-inch, Intel Core i5 MacBook Pro – Best Mac Laptop
For the Mac die-hard fans, the MacBook Pro 13-inch offers excellent value for a reasonable investment. Though this entry-level model doesn’t have the prominent Touch Bar feature, it is an impressive machine.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that it has a classic, yet contemporary look. Apple used aluminum for the case, making it compact and also sturdy. In fact, it’s13% thinner than last year’s model.
If you examine it closely, you’ll also see tiny speaker perforations located on either side of the keyboard. These marks give the laptop a unique symmetrical look. Another distinct feature is the curved lip that makes opening this machine a breeze.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro measures 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 inches, and it weighs about 3.02 pounds. Thus, it’s light enough to carry for long periods or distances.
This device also boasts superior connectivity options. On the left, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports and on the right, there’s a headphone jack. The inclusion of a Thunderbolt 3 port is the real icing on the cake as it facilitates super fast transfer speeds reaching up to 40Gbps.
MacBook Pro 13-inch is also fitted with advanced stereo speakers for better sound quality. Apple refined the structure of the speakers. The current model now produce three times the peak power and two times the dynamic range they used to produce. As a result, you’re able to hear sounds clearly with minimal distortion.
While high-end Windows laptops now use the more recent Kaby Lake processor, Apple has kept it simple with the MacBook Pro. Thus, this laptop has the usual dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. It also equipped with Turbo Boost technology, which improves its speed to 3.6GHz.
Things I like
- Compact with a reasonable weight
- Bright and colorful display
- Redesigned stereo speakers
- Long battery life (up to 10 hours)
2. Lenovo ThinkPad E580 15.6″ Inch Laptop- Best Windows LaptopIf you prefer a Windows laptop, the Lenovo Thinkpad E580 is the perfect alternative. Like the MacBook, it has a medium price and dozens of features that will ease your music production tasks.
Tipping the scales at 4.7 lbs., the E580 is certainly not the lightest. It’s also not the most compact as it measures 14.5 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches.
However, it’s not too heavy that it will get your muscles sore in case you have to carry it from one music studio to another. Besides, this is a laptop that can withstand years of use.
As you might have guessed from the title, the ThinkPad boasts a 15.6-inch display. This is an anti-glare screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Though this resolution can be improved, it’s more than enough for a productive music-recording session. The anti-glare is a nice addition as it prevents eye strain in case you end up working for too long.
Additionally, it has a reasonable amount of brightness. When tested with a colorimeter, it generates about 80% of the sRGB color gamut. This is close to the laptop category average of 110% premium.
Another feature that makes this laptop ideal for music production is the sound quality. It produces clear, rich and distinct sounds, enabling you to hear every bit of your tracks. More importantly, it uses Itel’s i7-8550U quad-core processor that was introduced in mid-2017. For the price, this is a high-performance processor.
When it comes to the battery, the E580 will provide enough juice to last a typical 8-hour work day. But if you want to record and produce music for longer, you might want to bring your charger along.
ThinkPad E580 comes with the majority of ports you’d need for your work. The only one missing is the Thunderbolt 3 connector that can be found in pricier models. The Ethernet port, USB 2.0 port and microSD card slot are found on the right section. On the left, you’ll find two more USB 3.1 Type-A connectors, a Type-C port and an audio jack.
This laptop is backed by a 1-year warranty, whereby the manufacturer covers any shipping costs to and fro. You also have the option of extending the warranty to 5 years by paying an extra cost.
Things I like
- Solid, durable build
- Comes with 1-year warranty
- Allows upgrading of memory
3. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch 6-Core Intel Core i9 – Best High-end
If you don’t mind splurging on the best laptop for music production, the Core i9 MacBook Pro by Apple is an excellent option. For the high price tag, you’ll get every feature you’d expect for a high-end model.
Starting with the design, this laptop looks very identical to other MacBook Pros. In fact, the most recent upgrade on this model was back in 2016 when Apple incorporated a touch bar. These are pleasant news for users who’ve always liked its sleek appearance.
The dimensions of this particular laptop are 13.7 x 9.48 x 0.61 inches, and you can choose from space gray or silver colors. Now, even though it’s not light, the 4.02 pound weight is not surprising, given all the features included under the hood.
For instance, it houses one of the most powerful processors: the Intel Core i9 processor. This coupled with 16GB memory (which can easily be upgraded to 32 GB) makes it lightning fast.
The performance of this MacBook Pro is further aided by graphics software. It uses AMD Radeon Pro 555x or 560x GPU to give you that extra punch of power when you need to record long music videos.
Another area where this laptop really shines is in the display sector. The Retina display with 2880 x 1800 resolution looks stunning. Even better is the fact that it’s compatible with DCI-P3 color space, which comes in handy when you’re editing your music clips.
If you worry about your albums getting leaked, the MacBook Pro has an added safety feature. Right next to the touch bar, there’s a fingerprint scanner to prevent unauthorized access. It’s very easy to configure and detects your fingerprint without a fuss.
As you can expect from a highly-priced laptop, the 15-inch Pro has an outstanding battery life. According to Apple, the laptop provides up to 10 hours of internet browsing. This is much longer than other laptops that only work for about 7 hours on a single charge. If you turn off the features you’re not using, it will last even last longer.
Things I like
- Powerful thanks to the 8th generation Intel core i9 processor
- Long battery life
- High-resolution screen display
- Supports 555x and 560x graphics programs
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 – Lightest
For music producers who are always on the go, getting a lightweight laptop is of utmost importance.
You don’t want to keep hauling a 4-pound heavy machine, especially if you have other music-production equipment that you carry. For such instances, you need a laptop like the Microsoft Surface 2, which weighs a measly 2.76 pounds.
Weight aside, there are a couple of other things you’ll love about this laptop. For instance, it has a high-quality keyboard making it perfect for music producers who do a lot of typing. The keyboard is quite big, giving you ample room to stretch your fingers.
What’s more, it doesn’t have the shallow key depth associated with most MacBooks. This translates to a comfy, convenient and quiet typing experience. The only aspect that you’re probably not like is the positioning of the power button on the function row. With such placement, you might find yourself shutting down the machine unintentionally.
To make up for this, the Surface 2 incorporates some of Microsoft’s greatest inventions like Windows Hello and Windows Ink.
The Windows Hello is a safety mechanism that allows you to restrict access to your laptop. It’s based on facial recognition and finger-printing technology. This way, you’re guaranteed that no one will steal any of your music videos. On the other hand, Windows Ink is a program that allows you to draw directly on your device.
When it comes to performance, this laptop isn’t too slow nor too fast. It’s powered by 1.3GHz Intel Core i7 with a choice between 4GB and 8GB of RAM. For music production, you’ll want to go for 8GB RAM so that you’re able to work with large music file sizes with ease.
One area where the Surface Laptop 2 falls short is in sound. The speakers are mounted beneath the keyboard, which to some extent, affects the quality and volume. However, you can always plug in external speakers.
Things I like
- Lightweight and sleek design for portability
- Nicely-spaced keys for hassle-free typing
- Excellent display
- Available in a variety of colors including platinum, black, burgundy and cobalt
5. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop – For Music Students
If you’re still learning the ropes of music production, you should go for an affordable laptop but one that still has a decent amount of features. The Acer Aspire 5 fits this bill perfectly. It has a lightweight design, and yet it packs more than enough power to help you get you started in this field.
Surprisingly, this laptop weighs 3.97 pounds. But with a thickness of just 0.7 inches, it manages to keep its weight low, especially given that it has 14.3 by 9.9-inch footprint. This comes in handy for music students who have to carry the laptop every day to their music production classes.
If your work involves editing tons of music videos, you’ll appreciate the high screen resolution of 1920 x 1080. Better yet, it boasts Aspire’s in-plane switching panel, which provides superb viewing angles. This feature is useful as it gives both you and your instructor/another producer a good view of the content displayed on the screen.
Another feature that makes this laptop ideal for music production is the incorporation of Acer’s TrueHarmony technology. Thanks to this element, the stereo speakers deliver deeper bass, higher volume and more authentic audio, helping you create the best tracks.
Most lightweight laptops keep their weight at a minimum by compromising in the ports-sector. However, the Acer Aspire 5 proves that you can have it both ways. It has a large selection of new and legacy alternatives.
On the left, the manufacturer has added a Gigabit ethernet port to facilitate the old-school wired connections to routers. There are also several USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port and HDMI port. On the right, you’ll see a USB 2.0 Type-A port and a combo audio jack.
Equipped with an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, this laptop is not the most powerful. Fortunately, the processor’s 1.6GHz is supported by Turbo Boost technology, which increases its speed to 3.9GHz. At this rate, you’ll be able to edit 4K music videos with incredible ease.
Things I like
- Fair pricing
- High-quality sounds
- A variety of ports
- Includes Turbo Boost technology for improved performance
6. Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition – Best Resolution
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is an excellent option for music composers, whose work mainly entails recording and editing videos. With its high-quality display, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a laptop with similar cinematic features.
At first glance, the X Pro actually resembles Apple’s MacBooks. Like the MacBooks, it has a slim profile and it can be opened with one hand. The only difference with its design is the lustrous beveled edge, which you would not find in a MacBook.
Another noteworthy feature about its design is the weight. The X Pro is 0.6 inches thick and weighs only 2.9 pounds. As such, it’s suitable for music producers who want a portable model.
This laptop offers a great selection of ports. On the left, it has a headphone jack, USB Type C port and Thunderbolt 3 port. On the right, there’s a USB 3.0 Type A port to facilitate connections to newer devices.
However, the key highlight of the X Pro is its high resolution display. More specifically, it has a 3000 x 2000-pixel display, showcasing every single detail in an incredible amount of brightness. This means that you’ll have one of the best viewing experiences, watching how your music videos are coming along.
The audio capability of the Huawei X Pro is also superb. It’s able to generate enough sound that will fill a medium-sized room. It’s even integrated with a music setting, which provides a good balance for all types of media. Whether you’re listening to your favorite tunes or trailers, you’ll notice how crisp the sound is.
A notable upgrade in this year’s Huawei X Pro is “My Phone” element or Huawei Share. This enables you to connect and transfer your music files to select Huawei and Honor smartphones that are using the most recent 9.0 or 9.1 version of EMUI interface.
Things I like
- Exquisite 14-inch display
- Fast performance
- Backed by 1-year warranty
7. Acer Predator Helios 300 GTX 1060 Laptop – Best Under $1000
For music producers who don’t want to spend more than $1000 on a laptop, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a solid choice. It’s mid-range pricing, good image quality and excellent performance, make it worth considering.
Unlike the HP 2019 14-inch, this one has a classier look. A significant portion of this laptop is finished using matte black plastic while the rest consists of anodized aluminum.
On the lid, the manufacturer has added the Predator logo. This combination of colors and patterns gives it a chic, sleek design.
The quality of construction is also durable. Even though it doesn’t have the all-aluminum build found in the MacBook, it’s still very sturdy. Unfortunately, the sturdiness comes at a cost of weight.
The Helios 300 tips the scales at 5.51 lbs. This is because it has wider bezels all-round the screen, which constitute a footprint of 390 x 266 mm.
On the plus side, the chunkier build provides more room for features. For instance, the keyboard includes a numeric pad. Plus, the interior section has enough space to accommodate a 2.5-inch drive.
The laptop comes with a 256GB hard disk and 16GB RAM. However, it is upgradable up to 1TB hard drive.
On the bottom of this laptop, you’ll find several ventilation grilles. These provide maximum air circulation to boost its performance. Port-wise, the Helios 300 offers a number of connectivity options. These include a Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0, Type-C USB 3.1, HDMI as well as an SD card reader.
Things I like
- Good quality screen
- Reasonable value for the price
- Upgradable capabilities
- Multiple ventilation grilles for maximum ventilation
8. HP 2019 14″ Laptop – Best Under $500
Not all budget laptops are a total disappointment. It’s possible to find a quality model – like HP 2019 Laptop – without breaking the bank. For the small investment, this machine offers an 8th generation core i3 processor and a decent resolution.
Granted, the low price tag does has some disadvantages like the basic design. Painted in the common silver color, the plastic casing has no fancy features except for the shiny HP logo that’s stamped in the middle. In fact, if it didn’t have the logo, it would be very difficult to differentiate it from rival machines.
However, the interior has some elegance to it. The silver-colored hinge blends nicely with the black aluminum deck. Plus, the manufacturer has used a backlit keyboard, making it possible to work even if you’re in a poorly lit area.
What the HP Laptop lacks in appearance, it makes up for in features and performance. For instance, it has multiple ports all around it. These include a USB Type C port, SC card slot and security lock slot on the left. On the right, you’ll find a power jack, HDMI port, 2 USB 3.1 ports, an RJ45 Ethernet port and a headphone jack.
The HP 2019 is powered by an Intel Core i3-8130U processor and 8GB RAM. Even though this is not the fastest processor, it can handle light-duty music production software without lagging. Plus, it comes with 1TB of hard drive, providing you ample space to store as many files as you want.
Things I like
- Comes with a backlit keyboard
- Massive hard drive space
- A range of ports
- Equipped with Windows 10 Operating system
9. 2019 XIDU PhilBook Max Touch-Screen – Best Convertible
If you need a laptop that can easily be transformed to the more compact tablet gadget, the 2019 XIDU PhilBook is your best bet.
As a matter of fact, this laptop gives you 4 modes to choose from: normal/laptop, stand, tablet and tent.
My favorite setup is the tent as it really comes in handy when I only have a narrow space to work with like in a train or aircraft. This configuration is further enhanced by the touch-screen setting that allows me to navigate different functions without a mouse or keyboard.
Weighing 3.31 pounds, this laptop measures 12.79 x 8.66 x 0.65 inches. Thus, it’s very easy to carry in your school backpack or a briefcase.
The CPU incorporated in the PhilBook is among the least powerful. However, it’s still suitable for lighter music production software. This CPU is an Intel Apollo Lake J3355, which consists of a dual-core processor unit with frequency ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 GHz. It’s backed by a 6GB LPDDR3 RAM and 128GB SSD storage.
Things I like
- Different setup options: laptop, tablet, stand and tent modes
- High screen resolution 1920 * 1080
- Comes with 1-year warranty
- Numerous ports for versatile connection
10. ROG Zephyrus S GX701 Laptop- Highest Storage Capacity
If you don’t want to purchase a new laptop every time you get a music production software that requires more RAM, the ROG Zephyrus GX701 is the ultimate solution. The reason for this is that it comes already fitted with 32GB RAM, which is the highest memory capacity in our review.
Apart from its RAM, there are other features that make this device ideal for music producers (here are some of the richest musicians in the world). For instance, it’s incredibly thin measuring 0.74 inches. Its total footprint is 15.7 x 10.71 inches.
What’s really unique about this laptop is that it has a large 17-inch display, and yet it weighs just 5.73 pounds. Compared to other 17-inch machines, the GX701 is lighter and way more compact; making it ideal for on-the-go production tasks.
You’re probably wondering how ASUS has managed to fit a bigger screen into such a small laptop size. Well, they’ve achieved this by adding narrow bezels on the top and sides. This provides an 81% screen-to-frame ratio, which means that only a tiny amount of space gets wasted. Another factor that has aided this feature is the removal of the webcam feature.
For a music producer, this means that you’ll be able to view all your content on a big screen. Thus, it will be easier to identify even the tiniest details of your music videos that need correcting or editing.
If you’re running very heavy music production programs, you’ll like ASUS proprietary Active Aerodynamic System (AAS) added on the rear section. The purpose of this is to ensure all the components cool effectively despite the gadget’s thin profile.
When it comes to ports, the GX701 has a good range. On the left you’ll find the HDMI 2.0b port, USB 3.1 Type C port with DsiplayPort 1.4 as well as a power delivery and audio jack. On the right, you’ll see the 2 USB 3.1 ports and USB 3.1 Type C port.
Armed with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, this laptop delivers a superior performance. But given all these features- improved fan control, ports selection, increased memory and better processor- you should not be surprised to learn that it has a hefty price tag attached.
Things I like
- Clear volume
- Solid build- compact with a large display
- Ultra-fast and quiet keyboard
- Higher memory capacity
What Features Should You Consider When Choosing a Music Production Laptop?
Digital Audio Workstation
Usually abbreviated as DAW, the Digital Audio Workstation is the first thing you should take into account. This is because some platforms are designed to work with only Macs or Windows systems.
For instance, Logic is only compatible with Mac while FL Studio only works with Windows. Conversely, DAWs like Pro Tools, Bitwig and Ableton Live are compatible with both operating systems.
After narrowing down your options to those that are compatible with your DAW, you can move on to the processor.
Initially, machines that could handle music production and recording were very few. But thanks to technological progress, there are now dozens of powerful processors being incorporated in laptops.
Thus, the rule of thumb here is to go for the fastest CPU while staying within your budget. The faster the processor, the more tracks you can record and tweak without experiencing a CPU overload.
But with complex terms like ‘quad-core’, ‘i3’ and ‘i5’, it can be difficult to identify the most suitable processor for your needs. So here’s a primer on processors.
The computer processing unit can be described as the computer’s central nervous system. As the computer’s brain, it’s responsible for a slew of functions ranging from computations to executing commands and running music software. As such, it’s important to choose the CPU wisely.
The very first type of processor was a single core. What this means is that it could only tackle a small number of tasks at a time. If you tried running complex audio programs or multiple software simultaneously on such a machine, the likely outcome was computer lagging.
This is why dual-core, and even quad-core processors were invented. A dual core consists of two processors while a quad core has four of them.
The ideal laptop for producing music should have a dual+ core processor. This way, it will be able to handle more tasks simultaneously. You could be composing a song and editing a video at the same time.
Apart from the type of processor, you also need to think about its speed. This metric is measured in gigahertz or GHz.
When we only had single-core laptops, the frequency is the aspect that was used to distinguish performance of different processors. But even with more processors, this is still a vital factor to consider.
As with processors, the higher the frequency value, the better. In fact, there are instances where high-frequency dual-core laptops perform better than their low-frequency quad-core models.
That said, I recommend choosing a laptop with 2.2GHz frequency or higher for music production applications.
What is the difference between i3,i5, i7 and i9?
All these terms refer to the series of processors manufactured by Intel Company.
The higher up you go, the more refined the processor is. For instance, a Core i9 laptop outperforms a Core i7 machine. Similarly, the i7 is superior to the i5 and i3. But keep in mind that the more capable the processor, the pricier it’s going to be.
Most music production programs require plenty of RAM to operate efficiently on your laptop. And if you have dozens of plug-ins, you’ll need even more RAM to ensure everything is running smoothly.
For optimal performance, choose a laptop with no less than 8GB of RAM. The higher the RAM size you can get for the money, the better.
If you’ve already started producing music, you’ve probably learned that a single track can take up a significant amount of storage space. If you haven’t, you’ll want to keep this in mind. While images and documents consume a couple of megabytes, songs take up space in terms of gigabytes.
Therefore, you should look for a bigger hard drive or SSD. But what is the minimum storage space you should settle for? I would recommend choosing at least 256 GB of internal storage. If it has less storage space, then it should have a provision for increasing this capacity.
With this aspect, you’ll have to make a trade-off between screen size and ease of carrying. If you want a portable model, most likely, you’ll have to choose a smaller screen size- such as a 13 or 14-inch.
Conversely, if you won’t be moving around too often, you can pick a large screen size like the 17-inch display. The recommended screen size for music production work is 15 inches.
Still, there are a few exceptions that don’t stick to this rule. For instance, the ROG Zephyrus GX701 laptop has a 17-inch display, yet it weighs 5.73 pounds- the same weight you’ll find in models with 15-inch displays.
Another factor that is often neglected is the USB connection. If you’re always on the go, it’s wise to have USB connectivity without having to buy an additional USB hub. Ideally, the laptop should have at least three in-built ports for connecting a range of devices such as dongles, tvs and more.
Graphics Processing Units
The one feature you’re allowed to skimp on is the GPU. While a few programs will come with their own graphics user interfaces, producing music doesn’t necessarily require this feature unless you’ll be editing a lot of videos.
Not that having a dedicated graphics card is a problem, but if you have to pay extra, you can forego it.
Good news is that if you’re buying any of the laptops with Intel Core Processors, these usually come high-quality audio applications that are sufficient. Thus, there’s no need for a graphics interface.
If you’re looking to buy a laptop for music production, there are a few factors you should keep in mind. For one, it should be compatible with your current Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Two, it should have adequate internal storage space, a fast processor and a good selection of ports.
Based on these factors, the MacBook Pro 13-inch is a pretty good option. Powered by Intel Core i5 processor, the laptop can handle multiple programs at once. It also has 128GB storage space with the option to increase it to 256GB.
However, if you don’t want to spend that much or are using a DAW that only supports Windows operating system, choose the cheaper Lenovo ThinkPad E580. Though this one lacks the Thunderbolt 3 found in the MacBook Pro, it has a variety of other ports; hence versatile when it comes to connectivity. Plus, it’s powered using Itel’s i5-7200u processor, which also offers a good performance.
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