Best Laptop for Producing Music – Choosing a laptop capable of running CPU-intensive audio production work can be tricky. Some options focus heavily on battery life. Others major on performance, and favour higher-grade processors (CPUs) to ensure operations run snappily. Add into that differences in screen sizes, aesthetics and any number of other variables and we can easily see how it’s hard to justify buying one model over another.
You’re essentially looking for two major things on the spec-sheet above all others: the CPU and the available RAM. The CPU is what does the real work. So every time you load a new MIDI instrument, fill the piano roll with data, or bounce down audio to new tracks, you’re asking the CPU to translate it into sound.
Adding extra effects or instrument plugins works the CPU. Exporting finished versions of your tracks works the CPU. You get the picture. If it involves processing, the CPU is your best friend so it pays to prioritise a solid model over most other features.
When considering a more costly investment such as a good laptop for audio production, you are going to want to make a well-informed decision before you part with a large amount of cash.
Today’s buyers’ guide has admittedly been on the heavier side to ensure you have all the necessary info presented in an understandable way. Computers are of a complex nature so there is a lot to cover.back to menu ↑
- Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
- Get more done with up to 20 hours of battery life, the longest ever in a Mac
- 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever
- 8-core GPU with up to 5x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games
- 16-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning
- 8GB of unified memory so everything you do is fast and fluid
- Superfast SSD storage launches apps and opens files in an instant
- Active cooling system sustains incredible performance
- 13.3-inch Retina display with 500 nits of brightness for vibrant colors and incredible image detail
- FaceTime HD camera with advanced image signal processor for clearer, sharper video calls
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- 13.3" Touchscreen InfinityEdge Full HD (1920 x 1080) Display, Intel UHD Graphics
- 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U Processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- 2x Thunderbolt 3 with PowerDelivery & Display Port, 1x USB-C 3.1, 1x MicroSD Card Reader
- Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint Reader, Stereo Speakers with MaxxAudio Pro
- Windows 10 Home 64bit
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- Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 2.6GHz
- 17.3" LED-Lit, FHD, anti-glare, IPS display, 1920x1080 resolution
- 16GB RAM, 1TB 5400RPM HDD + 128GB SSD
- Discrete Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB
- Windows 10
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- Processor: 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U (quad-core) with up to 4.20 GHz Max Turbo
- Memory: 8GB RAM 1866Mhz LPDDR3
- Storage: 256GB Solid State Drive. Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 discrete GPU w/2GB GDDR5 graphics memory
- Display: 13.5-inch PixelSense Display, 10-Point Multi-Touch G5 (3000x2000) 267 PPI
- Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
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- 15.6 inch Full HD (1920x1080) 4-way NanoEdge bezel display with a stunning 88% screen-to-body ratio
- Compatible with Google Classroom; run Google Classroom on Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer 11
- Latest 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU (4M Cache, up to 3.4 GHz)
- 8 GB DDR4 RAM and 128 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
- Ergonomic backlit keyboard with fingerprint sensor activated via Windows Hello
- Exclusive Ergolift design for an improved typing position
- Comprehensive connections including USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, USB 2.0, and HDMI; Gigabit Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) (USB Transfer speed may vary. Learn more at ASUS website)
- Windows 10 in S mode exclusively runs apps from the Microsoft Store. To install an app that isn't available in the Microsoft Store, simply switch out of S mode in three easy steps. There's no charge to switch out of S mode
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- Blaze Through Games and Content Creation: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q 4GB VRAM graphics, Quad-Core 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 Processor, and 16GB dual-channel memory.
- Designed for Mobility: Ultra-thin, light and incredibly durable with a CNC unibody aluminum frame and long battery life.
- Full HD Thin Bezel Display — Visually stunning matte Full HD screen with 100% sRGB color saturation for gaming and entertainment.
- Razer Chroma Keyboard and Precision Touchpad: Keyboard featuring single-zone RGB lighting with 16.8 million color options, and a precision glass touchpad.
- Complete Connectivity: Includes Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, USB-A, Wireless AX, Windows Hello infrared camera, and dual-array mics.
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- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
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8.Asus ROG Strix
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 (base: 1395 MHz, Boost: 1560 MHz; TDP: 50W)
- Latest 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750h Hexa-Core processor. 48WHrs, 3S1P, 3-cell Li-ion battery
- 15.6” Full HD 1920x1080 IPS Type Display
- 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM | 1TB PCIe SSD | Windows 10 Home | Gigabit wave 2 Wi-Fi 5 (802.11AC 2x2)
- Rog intelligent cooling Thermal system with dual 12V fans, anti-dust technology, and adjustable fan modes
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- 15 6" FHD (1920*1080) IPS-Level 60Hz 45%NTSC Thin Bezel NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650 [Max-Q] 4G GDDR5
- Core i5-9300H 2 4 - 4 1GHz Intel 9560 Jefferson Peak (2x2 802 11 ac)
- 256GB NVMe SSD 8GB (8G*1)DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets Max Memory 64GB
- USB 3 2 Gen1 Type C *1 USB 3 2 Gen1 *3,720p HD Webcam
- Win 10 Multi-language Speakers 2W*2 3 cell (51Whr) Li-Polymer 150W
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- Brilliant Full HD 15” 1080p TOUCHSCREEN for hands-on control with 360-degree flip-and-fold ROTATING display
- Latest 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U Processor 1.8GHz base up to 4.00 GHz with TURBO BOOST
- 16GB DDR4 memory; 256GB SSD; AMD Radeon 540 graphics card with 2GB dedicated memory
- Built-in S Pen; HD Webcam; 1x USB Type-C; 2x USB 3.0; HDMI; MicroSD, TPM security
- Backlit Keyboard; 802.11ac (2x2) B, A, G, and N supported, Bluetooth v4.1
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Best Laptop for Producing Music – BUYER’S GUIDE
Firstly let us take a glance at some of the recommended specs for 3 of the most popular DAWs
+ 64-bit operating system (which most are these days)
+ Intel or AMD Multicore (i5 or faster recommended)
+ 8GB RAM (the faster the better)
+ 18GB hard drive space (you will need more for additional content)
Logic Pro 10
+ MacOS 10.12 or later (only).
+ 2.3GHz i5 or higher.
+ 4GB of RAM.
+ 6GB install disk space, up to an additional 57GB for the full sound library.
+ Windows 7/MacOS X or better.
+ 64bit Intel or AMD multi-core (i5 or faster recommended).
+ 4GB minimum RAM, although 8GB recommended.
+ 3GB basic installation, 5-76 GB for additional sound content.
As you can see each DAW will have its own individual set of specifications required to run it, but sometimes that doesn’t take into account any add-ons you might need to run or external plugins you may use. VST instruments can become difficult to run if they are heavily layered and this is especially true of orchestral suites.
The samples and loops you use will also need a large amount of space to store and ideally, this should be from a solid state drive as they can open and access much more efficiently.
Generally speaking, you should be looking at around 16-32GB RAM with decent clock speeds, there are some DAWs that work fine and use 8GB RAM as a guideline, and for the majority of hobbyists this will be ample, but for improved performance, you are going to likely want something more.
The majority of popular DAWs will not run on anything less than an i5, 2.3 GHz dual-core processor. So the processor your laptop has really is paramount to its performance for audio production.
The OS choice is sometimes restricted by the DAW itself although there are a number of software solutions, such as virtual machines to emulate other operating systems which could be a workaround if you re tech savvy enough and have no alternative.
The OS you go for is literally down to preference and though there are many who argue Mac is the musical mac-daddy most DAWs will run on the majority of operating systems. There is very little technical difference and to set the record straight and lay some misinformation to rest Macs are just as prone to complete data loss and crashes with hard reset being the only viable option. We also ought to add that MacBooks can overheat after prolonged use and sometimes require adapters for non-Apple compatible devices.
Next, you have to consider the I/O capabilities you won’t have to plug in a mouse or keyboard but you will need to have a long think about what you will want to connect to operate within your chosen DAW. (Some people will prefer an addition of a traditional mouse as they find them easier to use than a mouse pad, in this case, you will already be down one USB connection to start with most DAWs will need an Audio interface to record an audio track line-in from an XLR or TRS, these are typically Bus powered so will require one high powered, high speed connection. Typically USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt is recommended Some MIDI interfaces or Audio interface controllers can be plugged directly into your Audio interface but others require their own separate USB power.
There are a number of suitable models out there and those we have reviewed are each suited to their own level of music production. We have tried to pick those whose audio production capabilities you have inquired about but some outshine the others If you are serious about music production you will likely be looking at around the $1200 + mark.
Obviously, that is a huge chunk of information and we are not a fan of large texts so to summarize the key factors a little more clearly;
- Have a digital audio workstation in mind before you buy to narrow down the OS requirements.
- Pick out a model with an i5 dual-core processor minimum, i7 if possible.
- Make sure it has an abundance of SSD storage on board.
- It is always better to have a little excess RAM than the DAW specifies to keep options open for the future.
- RAM should be above average speed (1600MHz +)
- Ensure it has 2 or 3 up to date USB ports.
Now that you are a little more clued in you may see some of the products you asked us to review simply won’t cut the mustard for more multi-instrumental producers. Of those we have reviewed today the DELL XPS Thin and Light makes for an exceptional choice, it is definitely one of the best music production laptops on the open market. It does have a rather alarming price tag, largely due to its touchscreen nature. If this isn’t of importance to you they do make a high spec LCD screen version which is slightly more modestly priced.
Other top recommendations from today’s article would be the Alienware, the Asus Rog Strix or the Razer blade stealth productsback to menu ↑
Frequently Asked Questionsback to menu ↑
Best Budget Laptop For Music Production?
Unfortunately in the world of audio production the faster the better, so as to avoid crashes and glitches or latency loss in the middle of recordings. The top laptops for audio production we have looked at in this article all make for reasonably priced budget options.
The best value for money in our opinion would be the Alienware or the Razor Blade Stealth, each are gaming laptops with high-end graphics that have good sound processing capability, they have superior CPUs and great clock speeds and fair RAM and storage. They aren’t however exactly cheap.
The cheapest option on our list is the tablet option, the Lenovo yoga book, but it only runs an Android operating system so won’t manage most full DAW. It makes for a good option if cash is of concern, for younger users and those just curiously branching out into songwriting. There are a decent amount of Apps that have great content for basic audio production. If your budget simply won’t stretch to the $1000 dollar mark this might be an ideal starting point for you.back to menu ↑
Which Is Better For Music Production – Laptop or Desktop?
Ultimately a desktop is better for music production especially considering that they can be upgraded and built-on with relative ease. Though much more capable, they have their drawbacks meaning they need to be set up and remain where they are located. They are a worthy investment if you’re serious about setting up a home studio, however, we live in a modern world that is constantly on the move and being able to take your work with you is every bit as valuable.
If you already have a studio set-up a laptop for music production essential tools for taking those hours of endless editing home with you to be done in more comfortable surroundings.
There are some great laptops around which bring with them their smaller footprint and the convenience of being able to set up shop at a moments notice in any situation, however, the truly capable ones with the ideal set of specs can set you back in excess of $2500.
If you are investing in a new laptop that can specifically handle your DAW workloads you will need one with a good number of USB ports (ideally 3.0 or Thunderbolt), a great processor, fast memory speeds, 16+ GB of RAM and a decent amount of SSD storage.back to menu ↑
Working out your needs is the key thing and that can be tough if buying a laptop for music production is uncharted territory. We are looking at a range of portable options each running a range of operating systems. We aren’t here to settle the Mac v’ PC argument and hope to remain as unbiased as we can in our reviews.