Let’s get you producing and mixing your greatest tracks with the best laptops for music production on the market right now.
Check the rest of the products if you’re budget (and brand allegiance) is somewhere in between.
If you’re new to buying laptops for music production, take a look at the and sections which should help to clarify some things for you on both how we came to these choices, and what you need to be looking for if you’re looking at a different make and model.
Otherwise let’s take a closer look 🙂
: Laptop specifications/models may change after the writing of this article. Please check the specifications after clicking the links before ordering. Reference the necessary specs with the below.
How to Choose the Best Laptops for Music Production
When it comes to the computer world, there are two types of people… well, actually three types of people. Are you a Mac or PC person, or are you a Linux person? However, this post is not going to cover Linux users (I once used Linux myself, Ubuntu, to be specific, and found it a highly capable platform for music making and production). However, if you do want to purchase a PC, you can onto your system.
How do you determine that? It’s simple. Forget, for a second, which is really the best to use. Our experience is that this is mostly subjective. A Mac is good for you if you fit at least two of these criteria:
If the above choices don’t apply to you, then your choice should be a PC. That’s about it. It sounds over-simplistic, but that’s all there is to it. There isn’t any “better” or “worse”. It’s mostly aesthetics at this point, and brand commitment, because a lot of producers and musicians are using the Windows platform to make music. Mac is still very much the because it’s built a reputation as a stable and reliable machine for creative and media professionals. Also, there is the general specifications of these machines that make them move seamlessly from unboxing to producing. But Windows can be just as stable and good.
We spent an extra long time on this because it’s a topic that often comes up. Many of us have been there there. Now that we’ve covered that, we come to the topic of the form factor choice in buying a computer for music production. Particularly, a laptop computer.
Even if you are, or plan on being, a producer
with a home recording studio
running a dedicated music production desktop, a laptop is
going to be an essential tool for you.
A laptop, to a music producer or a musician, is his portable studio. You can record, mix, and compose anywhere. You can go to remote locations, capture recordings, ideas, and use it as your DJ laptop for events. If you’re always on the move, you’re not tied down to one location by a desktop computer.
Music Production Laptop Requirements
Here are are the main criteria you should look out for when choosing the best laptop for music production.
Now let’s go over what are the criteria needed to fulfill each requirement.
It is our opinion that you have a hard drive of at least 256 GB. 500 GB is suitable, and 1 TB is ideal. But realistically, shoot for 512 GB SSD (). An SSD is has advantages in music production for more than one reason. Since SSDs are essentially flash memory, you won’t have a lot of waiting time when loading up your sample libraries and (a process that can take even minutes on typical hard drives). But also importantly, if you plan on using your laptop in live production, the bass vibration would prove disadvantageous to the mechanism of your hard drive.
The reason why we insist on a large hard drive is that, in the realm of recording audio or using samples in your productions and compositions, file sizes can become an issue. We’d rather not limit you on this. This is one area where it is good to start bigger than smaller. However, if you do go with a smaller hard drive, it may be because you want an ultra portable laptop, with a powerful processor, that you can take around with you, and hook it up at home to your external storage when necessary. I’ve included these options for you in the .
This allows data to be stored and accessed quickly. If you’re in a creative flow, you don’t want to hear a lot of pops and glitches in your music. A decent amount of RAM will help you with that. Our suggestion is 8 GB. 6 GB is OK. A lot of sources say 4 GB is recommended, but in our opinion and experience, that is base level and really unacceptable.
Processors are what allows your computer to handle multiple tasks at the same time. If you’re doing simple home recording, a typical low price laptop should be able to handle that. But if you’re recording several tracks for a basic mix, while having a few plug-ins running, you’ll need a slightly more powerful processor.
Our suggestion for processors is the Intel i5 or i7 quad-core series. AMD A10 quad-cores are also sufficient. Try to stay away from dual core processors. In music production, your laptop will need to be handling multiple tasks at once, often times each task is demanding in and of themselves. Eg., a mixing plugin is compressing your drums buss while your drums VST plugin is triggering samples stored on your drive. Both these tasks are demanding in and of themselves, so getting as many cores as possible is the ideal solution.
The recommendation here it to get 2 or more USB ports, an HDMI port, and a Thunderbolt port. ,, control surfaces, and external HDs all use USBs and Thunderbolt ports, so the more you have the better.
: Thunderbolt is making the USB ports on laptops more and more obsolete. This is especially so where it comes to music production laptops. So getting a laptop that has Thunderbolt connectivity, and , should be your priority.
Another port for hooking up a second monitor is a good option. For instance, you may need to score for a video game, a film/YouTube video, or a TV ad. Having an extra monitor allows you to see the video while tracking your music. These are either your VGA or HDMI ports.
This is related mostly to RAM and processor types. It’s the reason why we recommend 8 GB RAM and a more powerful processor. Softwares are always advancing and becoming better, you want to make sure that your laptop will be able to handle newer version of OSs, DAWs, drivers, plugins, etc., as the time comes. But another thing that will make your laptop “future proof” is the ever important Thunderbolt connection. More and more music production gear and coming with the super high speed connectors built in. It is becoming a standard now (kind of like FireWire was the standard not too long ago). So getting a laptop with Thunderbolt ports is definitely important.
You want one of the latest versions of the OS available, at the very least, the option to upgrade. Softwares for music making are updating to match the specifications of OSes in later to newest versions, this offers an overall better experience if you’re not on an outdated machine.
Having a DVD/CD RW drive built into a laptop is becoming more and more antiquated these days. And there is good reason for that. Laptops with their own optical drives are not as good as dedicated optical drives. They can be prone to more errors and skips. But if it is important to you to have a laptop with its own optical drive, then that is something to keep in mind.
This is naturally one of your biggest considerations. You do not need to spend a ton of money on a laptop if you are planning on being a producer. It is quite possible to buy a laptop on the lower end of the 500-1000 dollar range and use it to produce excellent music, DJ, or record. However, some readers will find that a higher budget laptop is preferable. And, it is, if you can afford it. But your plan is to find out how much you can budget for a laptop, considering the fact that you need , an , , and a as your bare essentials (read more on what ).
Best Laptops for Music Production Laptop – Product Overview
Here are the descriptions and our take on each of these laptops, with some opinions as to why they would be good for you. If you need more help making a decision, jump to the below, which goes into the details on how we chose these laptops, and how you can choose the one from this list best suited for you. (Looking for a desktop computer instead? Go ).
Apple MacBook Pro 15
Get @ or
As you may know, Mac computers are the universal standard for multi-media and music production. So it’s fairly universally exclaimed that the ” is one of the best laptop for music production. Of course, it can be debatable as to whether or not this is true (“best laptop”) but naturally, this would have to be in the list. In fact, at the top of the list. And though we have decided to feature the newest version for this year, you’d be greatly served by some of the previous versions that are on sale.
So if you’re in the market for a music making machine, one of your first considerations should be a MacBook, otherwise, it’s just a matter of if you prefer Windows PCs for one reason or another (jump to the ).
As you can imagine, the 15” MacBook Pro is not shy on specs. Even though it shares the same name and type of processor with most of the other laptops in this post, its CPU, the Intel Core i9 8-core, is blisteringly fast, making it one of the faster models here. And it is powering a 1 TB solid state drive (though you can get it in 512 GB), with 16 GB of RAM memory. Instantaneous loads are no problem. Not only that, you can increase the RAM to 64 GB, and storage to 8 TB. When you purchase the laptop (2020 model) you will get the MacOS X. Like all other MacBooks, you will get four super-fast Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Unlike many of the other laptops on this list, however, this MacBook has decided to go rogue and stripped all the USBs off. That means you’ll need to buy an adapter to plug in your and external displays into the Thunderbolt port. That would be the only complaint, really, about the MacBook. But more and more devices, like these , are coming out with Thunderbolt connectors for the new MacBooks. Besides its super slim and light design (and professional profile), this MacBook also sports some good features that you’ll find useful.
The new Touch Bar at the top replaces the typical function keys which, to be honest, I always thought were out of date. Good move, Apple. Instead, you get something that is far more intuitive and versatile. The Touch Bar changes automatically based on what you’re doing, and only shows you the relevant tools needed. And with Touch ID, you can easily log into your Mac and even make secure purchases online with one touch. The display is not a touchscreen, but you get a super bright and colorful display. The Retina display has a super fine resolution, which will be useful if you have plugins that scale in GUI. The battery is also pretty good, lasting up to 10 hours of editing and music production.
What others are saying
Users of the MacBook Pro 15 are especially thrilled about being able to utilize the full power of the 8-core 9th generation Intel processors. The DDR4 memory and SSD drives provide even more speed benefits, making this one of the fastest MacBooks available. Other users appreciate having so much power available in a compact laptop. The screen also wins points for clarity and vividness, which makes the long hours spent staring at DAW projects seem tolerable, if not almost enjoyable. Some users did complain about the finicky behavior of the touch bar, which has a tendency to open up applications randomly.
You can’t argue with the Mac. The 15 inch MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops out there for producing music, because it is super powerful, beautiful, and efficient. It’s also the industry standard, and certainly future proof for some time to come.
Lenovo ThinkPad P52
The for music production is the latest in the ThinkPad line of mobile workstations. At first glance, it seems little more than a rebadging of the company’s P51, with a revised keyboard, relocated ports, and a few other cosmetic modifications. Upon closer inspection however, it becomes apparent that the P52 upholds the ThinkPad tradition admirably, with a screaming fast processor, a good amount of RAM, and a decently-sized SSD hard drive. Designed for processor-intensive graphics editing and rendering tasks, it has more than enough power to handle large DAW projects, even with a good number of soft synths, effects, and audio tracks.
The P52 does have a number of cosmetic changes over the P51. As mentioned, the keyboard is slightly different, some ports have been added and some switched around, and the docking port has been nixed. But what’s more important are the changes under the hood. The P52 now comes with a six-core Xeon 2176M, with an option to go for a Core i7-8750H or Core i7-8850H. Although higher end CPUs such as the Xeon 2186M and the i9 aren’t supported, the available options give you more than enough power to handle the most demanding music applications. Out of the box, the P52 comes with 16GB DDR4 of RAM. With four memory slots available, you could have a maximum of 64GB of ECC memory. When the 32GB non-ECC memory modules become available, you could have a whopping 128GB of memory onboard. The P52 also comes with a 512GB SSD hard drive which gives you a good amount of space to install your apps and to load them up quickly.
You will probably want to add a for the recorded audio and project files you will inevitably amass, as well as your sample libraries. In any case, having 512GB of SSD storage right out of the box is definitely a good thing. The other features that make the P52 suitable for graphics-intensive tasks might be overkill for audio recording and music production. Nevertheless, the fact that the P52 can handle the demands of graphics editing and rendering means that there is more than enough power on tap for music production.
What others are saying
The ThinkPad P52 is a popular choice among users that are music producers, with all the power and smooth performance it has. Although most dedicated music producers rarely make full use of the graphics-focused features, film scorers and multimedia producers definitely appreciate the P52’s graphics capabilities. One user on Reddit offered a on the machine, which he got for music production among other tasks. Many users have noted consistently fast performance with a variety of applications. Even when multitasking, the P52 chugs along without a hitch, enhancing efficiency and speeding up workflow in the studio. Like all high-powered machines, the P52 does have a tendency to run hot. In some cases, the cooling system doesn’t start up quickly enough to cool down the CPU when processor-intensive tasks are initiated. After the fans kick in however, temperatures usually go down to more acceptable levels.
The Lenovo ThinkPad P52 is an unbridled powerhouse that is capable of impressive speed and performance. Strictly speaking, it is a bit overpowered if you work exclusively with audio and midi. Furthermore, you do have to pay a premium for this kind of performance. Nevertheless, if you crave power and performance, planning on doing some graphic work as well, then this is the laptop for you.
ASUS G731GW ROG Strix III
ASUS ROG Strix III
was designed specifically for one thing: to be a streamlined gaming machine. But–as with most high-end gaming machines–that usually means that it has the power to handle a variety of demanding tasks, including video and music production. For studio musicians and producers, ROG Strix III does seem to have what it takes to serve as the core of a modern production rig. The speedy processor and generously-sized display will make it an excellent choice for those that rely heavily on computers for music production. Even with the base configuration, you get ample RAM and hard drive space for most projects. Let’s see what else the ROG Strix III has to offer.
The ROG Strix III boasts of a lean, mean, and streamlined design, with a look and feel of a serious piece of computer technology. Under the hood is a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which can handle the biggest and most resource-intensive DAWs and virtual instruments and effects with ease. And with 16GB of DDR4 memory on board, you can get a lot of mileage out of the ROG Strix III before you have to think about adding more RAM. Your operating system and DAW should fit comfortably on the 512GB SSD, with room to spare. There is also a 1TB FireCuda SSHD where your project files, rendered audio, and sample libraries can reside. Having two drives right out of the box is a good thing for music producers, enabling them to run the operating system and DAW from the faster drive while using the larger data drive for user-created files. The ROG Strix III also has a well spec’d Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, which is probably a bit overkill for most music production tasks. Nevertheless, having such a powerful video card could come in handy for the occasional video editing project. Producers and studio musicians will almost definitely appreciate the display, which is a 17.3” IPS capable of full HD at 1920 x 1080. Although you will probably want to hook up an external monitor for complex production work, the onboard display is more than adequate for less visually intensive tasks. Other features such as USB 3.0/3.1/Type-C ports and the intelligent cooling Thermal system make the ROG Strix III a serious machine with serious studio potential.
What others are saying
Users find the ROG Strix III to be an absolute beast, running the most demanding applications without a hiccup. Even loading up a handful of demanding softsynths hardly registers a blip on the CPU meter, and even the most determined power users never came close to maxing out its capabilities. The battery life averages around 3.5 hours, so most users prefer keeping it plugged into a power outlet. But most find this a small price to pay for the powerful performance and gorgeous display, which makes using an external monitor unnecessary in most cases.
Like most high powered gaming-oriented units, the ASUS G731GW ROG Strix III comes with a correspondingly high price tag. But the cost is more than justified considering the performance that you can get out of it. If you need a studio workhorse that can handle the most rigorous demands, the ROG Strix III deserves a close look.
MSI GT76 Titan
On paper, the looks every bit the ideal music production laptop: screaming-fast processor, gobs of RAM, vast expanses of hard drive space, and a huge IPS monitor. But, as most studio professionals know, specs only paint part of the picture. As impressive as the numbers are, a laptop really only proves itself after it’s been put through its paces a few times. The good news is that the GT76 Titan more than meets all expectations. In fact, it could well be one of the most capable laptops ever made.
Right off the bat, the GT76 Titan makes a good impression with its ultra-powerful 9th Gen Coffee Lake i9 processor running no less than eight cores. Clocking a very respectable range of 3.6GHz to 5GHz, it also has a very generous 16MB Intel Smart Cache–powerful stuff. The Titan further impressed us with its 64GB DDR4 memory, which comes in two 32GB chips. That’s a lot more than most bog-standard laptops provide, so we had no doubt that this machine could handle multiple tracks of audio and humongous sample libraries like a champ. That’s not all. The GT76 Titan also comes with–not one–but two 1TB SSDs, giving you more than enough room for your DAW, a full audio editing suite, a grocery list of software instruments, and a handful of multi-gigabyte sound libraries. You’ll even have space for all those songs that you start but never get around to finishing!
The Titan does come with a gorgeous 17.3” 4K IPS display. This will probably make you want to turn your laptop on more often, so you will be more likely to get those songs done. Images are crisp and vivid, which is always a plus when you have to stare at the screen for hours. Connectivity requirements are adequately handled by an array of Type-A USB ports, a Type-C port, and a Thunderbolt port. You also get an HDMI and a Mini DisplayPort, which lets you hook up an external monitor for those times when you need to have your DAW’s arrange page and console on separate displays.
What others are saying
Not surprisingly, the GT76 Titan is favored by orchestral composers and film scorers who routinely stream multiple audio tracks and several channels of sampled instruments. The Titan handles resource-intensive that would make even the most robust laptops buckle, with consistently smooth and reliable performance. Many find the display a joy to use as well. And although most users hook it up to a professional audio interface and monitor speakers, the onboard speakers are good enough for auditioning audio and even quick editing jobs and on-the-go production.
The MSI GT76 Titan is by no means a mid-priced machine. Its steep price might just have you questioning whether you really need all the power and features that it provides. For many producers, composers, and musicians, the Titan is more than a bit of overkill. But if you regularly run CPU-intensive soft synths, dozens of audio tracks, and several channels of sample library instruments, the Titan might just be the only machine that can reliably get the job done
Acer Aspire E 15
The updated for music production is one of the best cheap laptops out there, and there are not that many options out there. Despite its price the Aspire really does “aspire” to be a great budget laptop for home studio owners and music producers who’re unable to cash out over a grand for a good laptop. And this is a good laptop. Acer has been steadily dominating the PC market lately, making computers and laptops that are giving the previous budget warriors, like Compaq (remember them?), a run for their money. Personally I’ve never used an Acer, but have seen it around the block in beatmakerdom. Plus, it’s currently one of the most popular laptops sold on Amazon,
Specwise, the Aspire is not too shabby. It has one of those that we have come to rely upon nowadays in the music production business: a solid state drive. Of course, it is a large enough drive 512 GB, meaning that you’d be able to use pretty comfortably until you may need an . There is decent memory size on this machine as well, with 12 GB working in tandem with a 512 GB SSD drive, startups and loading up of files shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The processor is the 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U CPU that can turbo boost up to 4.6GHz. Unlike the last version, it lacks the dual layer DVD burner. You can consider that a nice trade-off for the added power in this version. Unfortunately, there are no Thunderbolt connectors to this unit, but it does come with the high-speed 3.1 USD port, plus a few others. You may need to get some expansions for that. The manufacturer boasts that you will get up to 9.5 hours of battery life, which is good. Despite the reduced price, there is still a nice large 15.6” display for easy arrangement. Design wise, it is beautiful laptop for the price, in my opinion, with a clean and smooth look without any unnecessary frills.
What others are saying
The Acer Aspire E 15 seems to impress users with its reliable and efficient performance, especially considering its price. One particular user found that it provided him with features that he couldn’t get in any laptop at a similar price. From the backlit keyboard to the 1080p display, the incredible battery life to the flawless performance, this laptop suited that particular user in every way. The E 15 also proved to be quite capable of handling multiple apps at the same time. Some users did find it a bit too heavy for their liking. Others found the laptop generally quiet, except when used for more processor-intensive tasks.
This is a good laptop. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, and want to get something to make music now, and worry about expanding on the storage later, this your option. It’s still powerful, and you can do many advanced things with this without much complaint from the machine. Definitely recommended if you’re on a budget.
Razer Blade 15
If your need for power coincides with your portability demands, the for music production might be the ideal laptop for you. The manufacturer claims that it is “one of the smallest 15.6” gaming laptops” around, and it certainly boasts of impressive power in a very portable and handy design. Even if you don’t have a need for the gaming specific features, the Razer Blade 15 has the goods to make it a serious studio and live workhorse. Six cores of i7 processing power give you enough grunt to handle even the largest projects with ease. Pile on a slew of softsynths that would make most CPUs fall to their knees, and the Razer Blade 15 just keeps on going without a hitch.
It is a well-known fact that music production apps are some of the most resource-intensive around. Today’s breed of fully-featured DAWs and virtual instruments demand a lot from computer hardware, and few consumer laptops are able to measure up. The Razer Blade 15 definitely measures up, and probably provides more power than is required for most music production and recording tasks. With its six-core i7-8750H processor, you could easily load up several mega softsynths, slather the biggest mixes with effects, and stream several tracks of audio, all without pushing your CPU meter into the red. 16 MB of memory is included as standard, and you can choose between 256 GB and 512 GB of SSD storage. The Razer Blade 15 supports drives of up to 1 TB.
It would probably be best to spring for the, as you will likely fill up the 512 GB fairly quickly with your various projects, sound libraries, and audio files. The 15.6” HD edge-to-edge display strikes a good balance between portability and screen real estate. Although it does detract a bit from the portability of the unit, having such a large screen enables you to carry out most tasks without having to hook up an external monitor. Despite its larger display, the Razer Blade 15 is fairly easy to lug around. The thin body and compact design makes for a surprisingly lightweight machine. The aluminum body is also quite durable, making this a laptop that could easily handle the rigors of the road.
What others are saying
The Razer Blade 15 seems to attract users that want a high-powered machine without the gimmicky design and features of a dedicated gaming laptop (Alienware, anyone?). For users that value performance over superfluous features, the Razer Blade 15 is the obvious choice. Users especially seem to appreciate the system’s speed and responsiveness, even with processor-intensive tasks. One user even reported being able to handle multiple applications without a hiccup, so it could theoretically handle the processor demands of a typical DAW quite easily. Like all high-powered laptops, the Razer Blade 15 does have a tendency to run hot. A few users have recommended using it with a laptop cooling solution, and to keep tabs on the temperature.
The Razer Blade 15 is a pretty pricy laptop that nevertheless delivers outstanding performance. For the price, you get a solidly reliable machine that can handle most any music production task you throw at it. The build quality is also exceptional, and you could reasonably expect this to stand up to external conditions that would make most other laptops buckle.
Apple MacBook Pro 13
If you want a Macbook that’s a little more compact, and also cheaper, then take a look at this for music production. You’ll get the same industry standard performance, albeit with a smaller screen, ,memory, and less CPU power. But these specs should be sufficient for the singer/songwriter, beatmaker, DJ, whose primary intention is recording albums, and doing live performances, making this perhaps a better choice, in my opinion, than the 15-inch model.
The 13” MacBook Pro is, like its bigger brother, not shy on specs. But it does differ from it in a few important ways to make mention of. The processor is a quad-core Intel Core i5, instead of the often more recommended (and sometimes coveted) i9 octa-core processors that you will find on this list. Is this sufficient? From my experience, it still is. Not a lot of lag is expected, and by the way, there is a solid state drive (512 GB) plus 8 GB of RAM which will still do a good job of quickly loading up all your DAW plugins and libraries without much hiccup in performance. Like all the Macs, there will be a bunch of Thunderbolt 3 ports for you to plug all your controllers and audio interfaces into. It doesn’t come with either DVD/CD drives or USB drives, so you will need to purchase those externally (it’s a trend that’s happening). When you purchase the newest model (2020) you will get loaded onto the computer MacOS’s latest operating system.
Like it’s big brother, it is slim and elegant in design. It’s lighter than the 15” model, naturally, because it is smaller, making it very useful for carrying around with you. The backlit keyboard will make hitting those shortcut keys a cinch when you’re working in a dark studio. It also comes with the Touch Bar and Touch ID features, which are both very useful, in my opinion. The Touch Bar is used to replace the common function keys at the top of the keyboard. Instead you get touch controls that change as you use the laptop, based on what you’re doing. It’s also customizable. Also, the Touch ID gives you the ability to log in to your notebook without having to remember long passwords, even allowing you to securely login to your online sites whenever you need to buy something. Like the bigger brother, the 13” will give you 10 hours of continuous use editing and recording music. Only downside is that the otherwise beautiful retina display is not touchscreen.
What others are saying
The MacBook Pro 13 generally appeals to users that want the performance benefits and features of a MacBook Pro without the weight and size. For many users, the MacBook Pro 13 offers an excellent compromise, giving them power and portability in a reliable package. Apart from the build quality, users also appreciate the unique features of the laptop. The Touch Bar is especially popular among users, due to its ability to tailor its behavior to whatever app is being used. Some users did report shorter battery life as compared to other MacBooks. The Touch Bar also took some getting used to for some users.
If you want a portable industry standard, with lots of space and power, get this. This would be especially good for students, beatmakers, and singer-songwriters who’re looking for something that they can carry around with them a lot. Otherwise, if you work in music, and know you need to do a lot of traveling, and want a travel solution, this is a very good option for you (the other would be the Air).
Microsoft Surface Book 2
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The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is ideally suited for producers, musicians, and studio professionals that need ultimate power and performance. The most impressive of Microsoft’s popular and well-respected Surface line, it delivers superb performance in a compact laptop-tablet form. Despite the Surface Book 2’s modest weight, it is surprisingly robust and durable due to the premium materials used in its construction. It also offers a battery life of up to 17 hours, making it an attractive portable studio solution for producers and musicians on-the-go. Other features such as type 15” touchscreen and backlit keyboard make this a serious tool for production and composition.
The Surface Book boasts of enough power under the hood to let you handle a multitude of studio and live performance, recording, or mixing tasks. This latest version is in fact four times more powerful than the previous Surface Book 1. The 2 is powered by an 8th generation Intel i7 quad-core processor clocked at 1.90GHz, giving you enough grunt to deal with the most resource-intensive software instruments and effects.
What does this mean in a real-world studio scenario? With this system, you could theoretically load up two or three CPU-hungry soft synths or samplers, and still have enough power left for other less demanding instruments. You could also process many more tracks that you would be able to with a lesser spec’d machine, with more complex DSP chains. The 16GB of RAM that comes with the base configuration is more than enough to get you through most projects. Of course, bumping it up to 32GB will give you a lot more room to maneuver, especially if you regularly work with several tracks of audio or large multi-gigabyte sample libraries. But even with the stock 16GB of RAM, the Surface Book 2 should be more than sufficient to meet the needs of most producers and studio musicians.
The 15” PixelSense display touchscreen isn’t the largest you will find in a powerhouse laptop, but it strikes a good balance between viewability and energy savings. It is also very responsive, making you less reliant on a mouse for production work. In a nod to modern connectivity, the Surface Book 2 comes with USB-C and USB 3.0 ports. You, therefore, have a range of upgrade and connectivity options, and a reassuring degree of future-proofing.
What other are saying
The Surface Book 2 meets the needs of professional producers and musicians that need a powerful machine to serve as the centerpiece of their studio. Most users find it to be remarkably fast and responsive, handling everything from composing and arranging to mixing and post-production smoothly. It even runs at cooler temperatures than most other laptops with similar specs, even when pushed to the limit of its capabilities. It easily takes the place of a desktop for many users, and the availability of USB 3.0 and USB-C ports make it an attractive option for studio professionals looking for a future proof machine.
The Surface Book 2 handles most every music and production task extremely well, and it could easily serve as the center of your studio set up. It is admittedly a bit pricey, but if you want reliable performance and a good degree of future-proofing, the Surface Book 2 is one of the best options available on the market.
Lenovo Yoga 720
Lenovo makes some of the best and most reliable Windows laptops on the market. Even though we’ve used Macs, Lenovo laptops tend to be the personal preference, and been never been a disappoint. One of their best models is the Yoga series, with the for music production being the choice if you’re looking for a media savvy machine. Lenovo calls it the “world’s first convertible laptop,” which when combining the Lenovo Active Pen with its super flexible hinges (hence, “Yoga”) you can see that they were targeting the visual media creator market out there. But for the purpose of music production, the laptop more than exceeds all the base requirements you need for a music production laptop. Let’s take a closer look…
When it comes to specs, the Yoga 720 15 is pretty good. This particular music production laptop has a 512 GB solid state hard drive paired with 16 GB RAM memory. You can expect instantaneous loading of all your plugins, software, and samples without any problem. Because of the size, you wouldn’t be worrying about space for some time to come. The machine is powered by an i7 Intel Core process, with four cores running at a baseline speed of 2.8 GHz. That is very sufficient. And you get Windows 10 Home edition, which is also sufficient for making music and mixing. Overall, a very good laptop that can handle any sound designing project you can throw at it. Plus, it comes with that all important Thunderbolt connector for massive transfer speeds, a super high speed USB-C 3.1 port, and 2 high speed USB 3.0 ports for all your devices.
The battery life on this machine is also pretty good, you get up to 8 hours of battery use… no word on whether or not it is “continuous use” or intermittent use, but either way, it sufficient if you’re looking for a music production laptop that you primarily want to use at home, but can handle the road when you need it to. Another important specification is the fingerprint reader, which is a very good option for keeping your files secure. The screen is 15.6 inches big and is touchscreen. It works in tandem with the special stylus (sold separately), but you can just use your finger. Speaking of the screen, it has a 360 degree flip-and-fold design, which we’re sure you could find useful in some way. Any downsides? It doesn’t have its own DVD/CD tray… but so do most options these days. So there isn’t really any downside to this unit, from what we can find.
What others are saying
Lenovo’s Yoga 720 manages to score points with most users with its combination of power, durability, and good looks. Appearance admittedly counts for little in a music production context, but the screen makes even the drabbest DAWs look pretty impressive. Users also like having an SSD as standard, although their capacity leaves a little to be desired. Nevertheless, having such a fast, efficient, and quiet hard drive is a boon for recording and mixing, and many simply found ways to deal with the lower capacity. The fan is quite a bit more problematic. Some users report it running loudly for long periods, making the Yoga 720 less suitable for serious recording.
This is a good laptop. It is good for making music, recording music, editing music, and sound designing. It has a beautiful look to it that’s professional and sleek. It has a lot of great reviews on Amazon from reasonable buyers. You most likely cannot go wrong with the Lenovo Yoga 720 15. So it the recommendation as one of the best music production laptops out there. Check it out!
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 1st Gen
Lenovo’s might not fit the definition of “studio powerhouse” to a tee. Its processor and onboard RAM are certainly serviceable, but not exactly what you would think of when shopping for a bleeding-edge studio laptop. Even so, the X1 Extreme has enough power and features to handle most production and mixing tasks reliably. Depending on what you are looking for in a studio machine, this could very well be a worthy addition to your home recording and music production setup. And for what it’s worth, the X1 Extreme does carry on Lenovo’s respected ThinkPad heritage admirably in more ways than one.
A quick look at the spec sheet shows that the X1 Extreme packs a decent amount of power and capability in a reasonably-priced package. The 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor won’t win any awards for blinding speed and performance, especially with so many other impressive CPUs out on the market today. It does come with a 9MB cache and runs at 2.2 GHz, which is pretty respectable, if not terribly exciting. The base unit comes with 16GB of memory–again, not much to write home about, but certainly capable of handling a couple of sizable sample libraries and a few dozen audio tracks.
You also get a 512GB SSD, which is somewhat modest as hard drives go. But with a rotational speed of 7200 RPM, you can expect it to stream a good number of audio files without choking. Rounding out the feature set is a 15.6” LED backlight, which is capable of full HD at 1920 x 1080 resolution. An IPS display would have been preferable, of course, but the X1 Extreme’s display looks great for the most part and undoubtedly contributes toward keeping the cost down. In any case, the X1 supports multi-monitors, so you could always hook it up to your monitor of choice if you need more screen real estate.
What others are saying
The ThinkPad X1 appeals to users that need a decent amount of power and performance in a reasonably priced machine. Its i7 processor has proven to be sufficient for putting together tracks with a modest number of virtual instruments, and it even handles a couple of mid-sized sample libraries without stuttering. That being said, sheer power isn’t what draws most users to the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Its modest specs keep battery drain on the low side, and many users are in awe of its ability to run for hours before having to be plugged in. It also charges fully in just a little over an hour, which makes it a good choice for producers and composers on-the-go.
Despite Lenovo’s claims of “extreme power”, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme falls a bit short of being a music production powerhouse. With so many machines sporting latest-generation i9 processors, 1TB SSDs, and loads of RAM, the X1 Extreme’s feature set seems just a bit lacking. Nevertheless, you can get a reasonable amount of work done with this laptop, and it should be more than adequate if your needs are modest. If you don’t want to spend too much on your first ‘serious’ studio laptop, definitely take a look at the X1 Extreme.
HP Spectre x360
The for music production is a beautiful powerful laptop with touchscreen display. It has everything that you need and more to produce music on your laptop, and has some very useful specs that you might find interesting, including a banging built in stereo system that beats the other laptops on this list. For the price, this laptop is very good bargain, and because it’s HP you know it’s from a reputable computer manufacturer. This is a mid to upper mid budget laptop, putting it right the upper middle of a powerful music production workhorse that you can take around. It also has a higher than average rating on Amazon, which is very good for a laptop, considering that this includes even the most unreasonable customer review. So let’s look a little deeply into this laptop, and see why you should be getting it…
As far as specification goes, the HP Spectre x360 is similar to the Lenovo Yoga. It falls in the same category of a convertible laptop, meaning you can convert it into a tablet whenever you want. But the most important specs is the power first, then storage, then connections, as we’ve said. The storage is sufficient. With 512 GB you are not going to run out of room for a little while. And it is a solid state drive, which when coupled with the 16 GB of RAM memory, you will be able to load up your files and DAW and other plugin software with ease. The connections are also sufficient; you will get the Thunderbolt 3 port to plug in your external hard drives for massive high speed data transfers. Very good if you plan on hosting your libraries externally. In addition, there are 2 other USB ports to use, both of them type-C 3.1, high speed ports. The screen is a beautiful 15.6” display with 4K resolution, and touchscreen. This, of course, is very useful for adjusting objects and levels in your DAW by finger, and not by mouse or trackpad.
The keyboard itself is backlit, which is good. Perhaps one of the selling points of this particular laptop in this price-range and category, is the Band & Olufsen stereo speakers. This laptop has one of the best speaker systems you can get, which should be useful for playing music on your laptop when you’re not around your studio monitors, or headphones. Perhaps the only potential downside to this laptop is the fairly limited battery life. Even though the manufacturer states there is battery life of 12 hours, a few users have noted that it is good, but not great.
What others are saying
The Spectre x360 seems to attract a wide variety of users, which is a testament to its power and versatility. Music producers that routinely work with video especially appreciate the graphics capabilities, which elevate the Spectre x360 beyond the level of the typical music studio workhorse. The keyboard has been praised by quite a few users, some of who have compared it favorably to Dell XPS keyboards. User opinions seem to be divided with regard to the touchpad however, with some finding it excessively wide. Many users have reported a tendency for the Spectre x360 to get hot. For many, this was a frequent issue that necessitated the purchase of a laptop cooler.
The Spectre x360 is another great recommend. The buying points would be the touchscreen display, and the banging speak system that it comes with. Besides that, I’m certain that this laptop won’t be a disappointment when it comes to producing music in your home studio, or anywhere else you could take it. Check it out!
Acer Predator Triton
If you’re looking for another ultimate laptop, take a look at this for music production. This laptop is kind of a beast. Built for gaming, it has a large solid state drive storage, a powerful processor, and the largest RAM on this list that you can find on a non-custom laptop. And it all comes housed in a super slim device that you can take around with you. And if you happen to be a gamer as well as music producer, then this would be the best laptop for you on this list. Let’s take a look inside…
The specs are very good. The storage is a nice standard 512 GB solid state drive that is split into two 256 GB drives. It is paired by massive amounts of memory, we’re talking 32 GB of RAM, which should be more than what you’d need for producing music. And powering it is the super powerful 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor, with four cores that can be overclocked if you need it to be.
The result is a laptop that is entirely future proof against whatever software plugins you want to run for some time to come. And because it is a gaming laptop, it has a dedicated internal heating system. Music production can certainly run up the heat of your machine, this we are familiar with, you can keep your cool knowing that there are two Aeroblade 3D fans built inside designed to provide maximum airflow around the internals of the chassis, with 5 heat pipes to distribute and rid the Triton of any excess heat buildup. It also comes with the sufficient connections that you’d need, a Thunderbolt port, and high speed USB-C and 3.0 ports for all your connections. Because it is a gaming laptop, you can expect the screen, as well as the graphics, to be very good.
Not a touchscreen, though, so if you were hoping for that, sorry. Otherwise the screen is tough, made out of gorilla glass, so you won’t be worried about any unwanted accidents doing any damage to the display. The display, by the way, is a nice 15.6 inches big. There is only one serious downside to this machine, and that would be that the battery life is quite poor. With only 2 to 3 hours of battery use, you can’t really expect this to be a truly portable music production laptop. You’d need to always be within access of an outlet. That means that, in choosing this laptop, you’re planning on using it mostly as your studio workstation, one which you can plug out and carry with you. And as far as that is concerned, it is good, because there is no compromise in performance either way.
This is a good laptop. It is super powerful, and you can make and mixes anything with it in confidence. No worries over whether there will be glitches in your workflow. Just mind the battery, and you’ll be fine. Check it out!
How to setup laptop for music production?
Here are some general tips to take when setting up your laptop for music production.
How to optimize your laptop for music production?
Luckily for Mac users, there is very little to be done in the way of computer optimization. However, see this post on for music production.
How to upgrade laptop for music production?
Here are some good suggestions on how to upgrade your laptop:
How much RAM do you need to produce music?
The short answer to this question is “How much can you afford?” Experienced music producers will always tell you to get as much RAM as you can afford. Most decent sample libraries these days come with gigabyte upon gigabyte of data, and you will want the ability to load as much of it into memory as possible.
Many software synths and samplers do offer “stream from disk” options, which may offset some of the disadvantages of insufficient memory. But there is a tradeoff to this workaround, and you may experience lags, dropouts, stuttering, and other anomalies as a result.
Having at least 8GB of RAM is highly recommended. You will likely want to bump that up to 16GB, especially if you work with large orchestral libraries and the like.
In any case, you should definitely look into aftermarket memory options. In some cases, this could be a more cost-effective option than having your base unit fitted with additional memory upon purchase.
How to connect studio monitors to laptop?
To connect studio monitors to a laptop, you need an . This will connect to your laptop via USB or Thunderbolt, providing high-resolution audio and an output designed for .
How to set up home recording studio with laptop?
It is possible to setup a home studio with a laptop. All you need is an , a (with option pop filter and reflection filter) a pair of and/or, and some soft acoustic foam, starting with bass traps.
How to record vocals on your laptop?
Similar to how to connect studio monitors to a laptop, you will need a and an . Alternatively, you can use a USB mic to capture vocals directly to your computer without using an interface.
Is a gaming laptop good for music production?
Gaming laptops often have specs that meet and even surpass that of the basic laptop for music production. So a gaming laptop is certainly good for producing music on.
Is a laptop or desktop better for music production?
Technically, a desktop is better for music production because you can get higher specs for the price, and the components are normally easier to upgrade in the future. Read this guide for . However, many people are turning to laptops because you can still get professional studio results (many top modern hits are produced, even mixed and mastered, on laptops). Laptops offer also the benefit of portability that desktops don’t have. So it is up to you to decide which is better for you.
Can you make music on any laptop?
Again, there is a short answer to this question and a long one. Computer technology has advanced to such a degree that most consumer laptops are quite capable of performing most any task…even processor-intensive music production and recording. So yes, you could theoretically make music on any laptop. That being said, a machine with a fast and modern processor, plenty of RAM, and a couple of fast hard drives will give you better performance than an off-the-shelf model you could pick up at Best Buy. With a decently spec’d machine, you will be able to load up more synths, load up bigger sample libraries, pile on more effects, and so on. In general, a powerful machine will enhance your efficiency and make recording and music production more rewarding. You may have to pay more at the outset, but the speed and performance benefits will ultimately make it worth the cost.
What kind of laptop is best for music production?
The main types of laptops are: Netbooks, Everyday Laptops, Desktop Replacement, Business laptops, and Entertainment laptops. All things being equal, the best laptops for music production are desktop replacements. These normally have screens between 15 in to 17 inches, with powerful components. After that, entertainment laptops offer a great storage capacity to hold all your media and audio files, and business laptops will have powerful processors to manage all the apps and office suites they were designed to run, which, consequently is of benefit to the music producer’s software. Everyday Laptops are generally great budget alternatives that don’t have any special specs. Netbooks are generally not the best options, since they will lack in virtually all the necessary specs needed to produce music satisfactorily.
This guide will be updated regularly to ensure that whatever decision you make will be the correct one. Hopefully, by utilizing the information and products on this post, you would’ve found the best music machine for your music production and home studio. Following the criteria listed near the beginning of this post, you should be able to guide your way to acquiring your perfect music machine. Any of the items listed on this list will be a suitable choice, handpicked to follow the same criteria we use when choosing a laptop. If you have any difficulties, questions, or comments, please feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, share this post with your friends or with someone you think will find this information valuable.
Writing this guide was the result of many hours and over a week of researching online what are really the best music production laptops out there. Our source was mainly the laptops available on Amazon, personal experiences, as well as feedback from readers on this site. The products were compiled of the best rated and most popular laptops, and used some personal experience where applicable. We also read through a compilation of user reviews, product reviews, and organized and categorized the best laptops for music production based on their price point to specifications ratio. The result is a list of awesome laptops for music production, across the budget, for advanced users to beginners.
Thanks for this honest and unbiased article. It is rare to find someone who combines PC’s and Mac’s in one review, but it is really helpful for me. I like to make travel videos and edit them with music. I really want to start writing my own music rather than use royalty free stuff. I currently use a MacBook Pro but it is 5 years old and needs a replacement battery. I was 100% sure I was going to buy a MacBook Air 8GB but now am looking seriously at the Lenevo Thinkpad with its 12GB RAM. Plus it would save me money. What are your thoughts on this?
From your post I see that you want something that’s more cost friendly but still powerful enough. That’s why you’re looking to get a new MacBook Air instead of a Pro?
Normally I’d say to just go and get a MacBook because that seems to be the platform you’re familiar with. But if you want more power for your buck, then a Windows Laptop should be enough.
A MacBook Air should still be able to produce music. But my personal reasons for not using it is that it’s screen is smaller, and they have smaller hard drives. Because you’re making videos PLUS music, you’d need a decent size hard drive, as music files alone would add up over time. Also, the fact that you’re editing videos tell me you need a decent size screen.
The ThinkPad you mentioned has 500 GB HD and 12 GB of Ram, plus 15 inch screen. If you really want a good deal the Asus P-Series (just put the link in there, didn’t realize it was missing) has 1 TB HD and 8 GB of RAM for 500 dollars!
Another thing is that they have CD/DVD drives and more ports than the Air.
In all, I think that if you’re on a budget, and you’re too “tied in” to Apples umbrella, a Windows PC is friendlier. With an Air, you’d probably need to get extensions for more ports, a burner, and extra storage.
Wow, this is such a throughout post, I love it! As a tech enthusiast, I’m always interested in the best devices and it seems your list of the best laptop for making music is just what I’m looking for. I’m glad to find the MacBook in your list. Although there has been a lot of complains as to their later models which removes all ports for lightning ports. I’m thinking, is it a better choice to just go for an older version of the Mac, a 2015 edition, for example?
I would definitely NOT get an older version of a laptop, you want the one that is asfuture proof as possible, like the ones I listed here (and I keep up to date).
It is true that MacBook is killing off the connections that we’ve come to love and get used to, but that’s actually the progression of technology.
The fact is that Apple has always been ahead of the curve, maybe a little far ahead. But I’ve noticed, and I think you’ve noticed too as tech enthusiast yourself, that pretty often when an Apple product starts removing a feature it’s normally because that feature is becoming obsolete in the industry, and Apple is not afraid to ditch it to move forward, even with the complaints coming from others.
Here’s the thing too. Whenever you’re doing any work with lots of data transfers, like in music and video production, you’re going to be transfer GIGABYTES of data from your laptop to another device. That can take up a lot of time (from my experience) on the regular ports that we use. So having a lightning port is a good option.
That said, if you want to get a new MacBook that doesn’t have the other ports, you should get this USB-C port expansion as well, which I mentioned at the bottom of the review. I consider it to be essential, anyways. It’s just under 60 dollars on Amazon so it’s affordable and a good investment for a MacBook.
Thanks for you comment. If you have any more question feel free to ask.
I just wanted to thank you for making this site and helping beginners to the music production process. Its really a blessing finding your site and the information you provide is priceless. The Daw article, this one were EXTREMELY helpful and I have yet to read the others. Thank you once again and keep it up. I’ll definitely be purchasing the pieces of equipment you suggested on your site. I want to help you just as you helped me. Keep this up man this is really a great website
Hi Eli thank you so much for your comment, I’m very happy you find my website useful, it means a lot. God bless!
Bad list. No Dell XPS (which may be the best laptop on the market right now) and no ASUS ZenBook Pro mention which is also an amazing laptop. These are the 2 that I’m most considering buying. Half of the items on your list have regular Hard Drives (and you NEED an SSD drive, the live bass vibrations will kill your laptop and SSD is waaaay faster) and most (except the Mac’s) don’t even have Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, which is practically necessary for a current purchase if you can afford it because it’s future proofing yourself hardcore cause that equipment will become the norm eventually with pro’s cause you can daisy chain it (so useful).
Hi Ryan, thanks for your feedback. The laptop guide is now updated for this year, taking the choices your recommend into consideration. I believe you made some very good choices there, so thanks for the suggestion. Cheers!
Where would you rate the Lenovo Yoga 920? I’d have thought it would get a look in above the 720?
Agreed that the Lenovo Yoga 920 has some marginally better specs over the 720 if you could spend more. Primarily, the processor is a hair faster. But the 720 has a larger display, and, you could save on getting the 720 with its larger display + external drive. I think the 720 offers more value for money than the 920. But the marginally quicker processor on the 920 could be a deciding factor. In my personal opinion, it’s not enough to pay the extra hundreds of dollars if I were watching my costs. Your thoughts? Thanks for checking in.
Thanks a lot for sharing the helpful post regarding the music laptops I am using Acer Predator and its the best in my thoughts all are working well for me.
Why didn’t you add the Razer Blade 15′ to your list? I read everywhere that this is a great laptop for music production. It has the newest i7 processor and the design is great. Also is it not that expensive.
Thanks for your comment. We’ll be doing a total update to this post for the new year… which is just around the corner. Hang tight!
why is the xps in this list. There are a lot of users who experience audio distortion and latency issues. Both the xps and inspiron line up.
Hi, thanks for the tip. Will be looking into this and addressing it shortly. Cheers!
Do you have any content on whether antivirus is worth using on laptop. I’m planning on getting laptop soon not sure which probably not a Mac though. I will be sampling from machine mk3. As well as running a separate daw.
Can’t give you an official suggestion, but I can tell you that I simply rely on Windows Defender. However, the best antivirus is yourself, though. To prevent infections, only download files from trusted sites, and inspect any emails that tell you that you need to download its attachment. If file types end with an executable such as .BAT .COM, .EXE, or .BIN, unless you know for certain who it is coming from, and for what reason it is sent, do not open it. And I would steer clear of privated material, since they put you at a risk for infection.