Best Laptop for Audio Production-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.
Many of the laptop we have chosen to review have attributes we haven’t delved into in an effort to keep specification breakdowns relevant to audio production purposes. We have also aimed to surmise in concise terms all of the more vital aspects you will require to get a laptop with optimum performance when running a digital audio workspace.
Whilst many of those we have looked at are capable of installing and running them fairly competently we have chosen to be very honest and clear as music production software can be very demanding of your computer as your production skills and methods evolve.
With technology improving at a steadily increasing rate, the modern market is awash with high-performance laptops so as long as you know which DAW you wish to use and how you intend to use it you should find a suitable laptop to meet its requirements.
To find the best laptop for audio production your primary concerns should be processing power and the correct OS. Once you have narrowed it down then all you need is to find one in your price range, that is as rich in rapid RAM as it is stuffed with sufficient SSD storage for speedy retrieval.
There are many great choices for music production laptops. I would suggest getting the best computer you can for your budget, but try to stay away from “cheap” options – and definitely avoid Chromebooks. You will just run into limitations and issues that take the fun out of your hobby or profession!
If you were tempted to buy an XPS 13 earlier this year following its significant redesign (model 9300) but didn’t pull the trigger, it’s a good thing you waited. Now you can get everything we like about the new laptop with the added bonus of the latest Intel silicon.
The CPU bump is essentially the only change from the 9300 to the current model 9310, but it’s an important one if you plan to keep your machine for five years or more. Dell does churn out new XPS 13 models at a prodigious rate, sometimes multiple times per year. Still, a brand-new processor and a physical redesign that’s not even a year old make the 9310 a safe buy for people who don’t want their expensive investment to be upstaged by something vastly better in a few months.
This configuration is powerful, and it has no issue playing all of today’s most demanding games at high frame rates with its display’s native 1080p resolution (yet ray tracing without hand-holding via Nvidia’s AI-assisted DLSS feature still presents a big challenge, as I’ll get into later). Pricing for the Blade 15 Advanced starts at $2,599, and that price will get you the same processor and 300Hz refresh rate display but with the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
Perhaps just as important for some, this is the first high-end Blade that is easy to recommend for a variety of other use cases. It’s easier to stick in a bag than most other hulking gaming laptops. It has passable battery life and solid port selection with Thunderbolt 3 and a fast SD card reader that could be a boon for photographers and video editors. Its keyboard layout also makes it better for typing than previous models.
3.Asus ROG Strix
The ROG Strix G17 G713 series succeeds last year’s G712 series by bumping off Intel for AMD and upgrading most SKUs to GeForce Ampere graphics. Configurable options are extensive with no less than than 16 (!) individual SKUs all detailed here on Asus’ official product page.
Options are subsequently massive ranging from the Zen 2 Ryzen 7 4800H to the Zen 3 Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and 65 W GeForce GTX 1650 graphics up to the 130 W GeForce RTX 3070. Display options also range wildly from the base 144 Hz FHD panel to 165 Hz QHD or 300 Hz FHD with fuller colors. Even battery capacities, thicknesses, and AC adapters are different depending on the graphics.
4.HP – OMEN
HP’s Omen 15 gaming laptop is back with an all-new minimalist look. This iteration also introduces AMD Ryzen processors to the lineup, with our review unit pairing a colossally powerful Ryzen 7 4800H with a 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti for smooth 1080p gaming frame rates. This HP has everything we expect from a mid-level gamer and then some, including a 144Hz screen, a first-rate keyboard, and close to 10 hours of battery life in our testing.
Though the it commands is a tad pricey for a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti-based laptop—the Acer Predator Helios 300, an Editors’ Choice pick, can be found with a GeForce RTX 2060 for more than less—it’s far less dosh than any eight-core Intel-based gaming rig, and gives gamers who want seamless power for livestreaming, content creation, or doing it all at once a great option without breaking the bank. It earns its own Editors’ Choice Award for its unusual mix of fierce CPU, classy design, and battery endurance among midpriced gaming machines.
Shop the virtual or actual laptop aisles, and you’ll see more specialized laptops available than ever before, filling needs at various sizes, specs, and price points. Plenty of shoppers, though, just want a straightforward 15-inch notebook that can perform the role of an entry-level desktop at home and on the go. Ideally, it doesn’t break the bank, lasts long off the charger, and has the ports they need.
The Asus VivoBook S15 checks those boxes and then some, delivering a nifty, slim design, a good selection of ports, long battery life, and reasonably speedy performance. It does all of this at a low price and without any major downsides, earning it our Editors’ Choice for budget-friendly desktop-replacement laptops.
Best Laptop for Audio Production- BUYER’S GUIDE
CPUs: A fork in the road
Essentially, a faster processor means two things; your computer can handle more tasks being thrown at it, and it can ‘process’ those things a lot quicker. You may see only small differences; perhaps an audio file will render one minute quicker using the faster of two processors, but over time this clearly adds up.
In the CPU world, there are two major players. Intel is the big name, with a huge share of the market. Intel’s range goes from i3 – the least powerful – all the way up to i9. Most common in mid-to-upper tier laptops, however, are the i5 and i7 variants, and within that sphere you have different speed ratings, measured in gigahertz, as well as the option to turbo-boost when you’re placing the computer under major stress. The other name to look out for is AMD, which produces the Ryzen processors. These follow a similar nomenclature to the Intel versions, so R3, R5 and so on, and are popular amongst the gaming crowd.
Where things might change in the coming years is with Apple’s switch to using its own in-house silicon CPU, called the M1. It’s been well-documented about the changes that are on the way, and the resulting boost in power and performance, but for musicians and producers the true benefits to this are likely a way off yet. For a start, the software vendors must ensure compatibility with this new architecture which is by no means guaranteed. So, while it’s worth keeping an eye on developments, it doesn’t necessarily mean holding off on your purchase in the short term.
With RAM, as we mentioned, you can ignore the ‘minimum specs’ listed on the websites of the major DAWs. Anybody who tries to run a multitrack Ableton Live session on a laptop with 4GB of RAM is braver (or more patient) than we are. That’s because RAM is effectively the short-term memory of your machine. With audio applications, particularly those involving lots of recorded audio, a higher amount of RAM means your audio playback is buttery smooth and glitch-free because the computer isn’t having to ‘grab’ the audio from the hard drive each time it wants to play.
If you’re buying now, with the next few years of use in mind, we’d suggest 8GB of DDR4 memory is the absolute minimum you should be looking for. Ideally, you’d want 16GB, as this will handle much larger arrangements, although there is a cost to this extra resource.
It’s also worth investigating whether the laptop you choose can be upgraded with extra RAM in the future. Apple laptop fans won’t have this luxury, due to their sealed chassis, but laptop PC users might.
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Storage memory comes a close second. For audio applications, particularly those involving sample libraries where audio is streamed from disk, you’ll want to use a solid state drive (SSD). The benefit of these drives is the rapid data transfer, meaning files load quicker, although they are slightly more expensive than their hard disk drive (HDD) equivalent. For music production applications, however, the extra expense is totally justified.
It’s not uncommon however to see a combination employed – a HDD for storage of files, photos and videos, and an SSD for tasks where more instantaneous responses are required. The alternative involves using external hard drives; SSDs, particularly those that take advantage of USB-C technology, are more than capable of the types of transfer speeds required for music production.
So, clearly there is a lot to think about when choosing the best laptop for music production.
It’s easy to see why a good all-round laptop can fetch a premium price tag, but, as with anything from the best samplers and studio monitors to home studio mixers, you get what you pay for, so it’s always wise to get the best you can afford, rather than skimping and regretting your purchase later (often quicker than you thought). Our price comparison software will come in handy here. Next to each product entry on this guide our price widgets will display the best deals online right now to save you shopping around.
We won’t be focussing on various legacy ins and outs, such as the number of USB sockets, or lack of, for your audio interface, and so on. With so many dongle and docking options available, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your purchasing journey. In this guide we’re talking sheer horsepower for music-making. For example, can your portable rig cope with large multitrack sessions, running handfuls of plugins and MIDI instruments? Want to take a closer look? Hit the ‘product guide & reviews’ button above.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
There is a good chance you’ll have lots of programs and tabs open at the same time and you will need the ability to add at least 1 extra screen (many people use 2 or 3). These usage requirements use a lot of RAM and graphic power, respectively. I recommend getting at least 16GB RAM if at all possible.
Most important for audio processing is a CPU with fast single-core performance. This will allow you to get your mixes into a single file much quicker and process effects and chains without the CPU needing to wait, among many other benefits. 8th generation Intel i7 processors are the best, followed by Intel i5. 7th generation processors are also excellent.