Best Laptop for Producing Music

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.

ROUND UP

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.

1.Apple MacBook

Coming into this review, I had a catalog of potential pitfalls that Apple could have fallen into when switching from an Intel chip to its own processor. Chip transitions are devilishly hard and don’t usually go smoothly. This MacBook Air not only avoids almost all of those pitfalls, but it gleefully leaps over them.

Not everything is perfect, of course. Apple’s insistence on using dumpy webcams continues to be a bummer, and running iPad apps is a mess. But as I used the MacBook Air, I often found myself so impressed that I had a hard time believing it.

2.Dell XPS7390

The latest update to the Dell XPS 13 brings Intel’s cutting-edge 10th Generation processors to this venerable ultraportable laptop. (It’s in the form of the chips dubbed “Comet Lake,” distinct from the 10th Gen “Ice Lake” processors in the also-new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.)

The rest of the machine, from its exterior styling to its crisp 4K display, is so good that Dell decided to leave it mostly untouched from its previous incarnations. In fact, its predecessor achieved a rare five-star rating when we reviewed it in January. This one, which starts at  and is  as tested (fitted out with a six-core Comet Lake chip), now co-stars with the Razer Blade Stealth 13 as one of the two best ultraportable laptops you can buy.

3.Lenovo ideaPad

Lenovo’s IdeaPad brand is a competitor to Dell’s Inspiron and HP’s Pavilion lineups. All three of these laptop families offer models with multiple screen sizes and form factors. You can find 2-in-1 convertible IdeaPad 5 laptops priced above  in kitted-out configs.

Or, you can start from the bottom with the IdeaPad 1, if you’re looking for a bare-bones computing experience that will still let you answer emails and browse the web in comfort.

4.Microsoft Surface

But in typical Surface fashion, there’s something different going on when you look closer. Though you can use the Laptop Studio just like a standard laptop, you can also pull the screen forward to bring it closer to you for touch interaction, or lay it flat to write on it like a tablet. Microsoft is not the first manufacturer to deploy such a design, but the Surface Laptop Studio is certainly the sleekest laptop yet with it.

The company envisions digital artists using the screen in its various positions to draw on it, or lay it flat when docked to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard for digital note taking. It’s an evolution of what Microsoft did with the Surface Book line, but without that computer’s compromises in performance and portability. The Laptop Studio works just as well as a standard laptop as it does as a device for making digital art.

5.ASUS F512JA

Between a range of component options, supply shortages, and pricing wars, the budget laptop game is fierce in 2021. For weary shoppers seeking a super-affordable machine, the Asus VivoBook 15 ( in model F512JA-AS34 we tested) is a low-frills but reasonably priced option. It’s slightly quicker than most of its like-priced competitors and features an above-average selection of ports and decent battery life.

The biggest concessions are a display with subpar brightness balancing and sharpness, and a tight (but not unusual in this price range) 128GB SSD for storage. It may not be too exciting, but for the money, it’s a fully functional 15-inch Windows laptop that can get through easier tasks and last through the day. Its larger sibling, the Asus VivoBook 17 M712, is one of our top budget picks.

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

Steinberg Cubase

+ 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.

Ableton Live

+ 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 products

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.

WRAP UP

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.

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