Music production is an activity that has been around for a while, and is getting more popular all the time, it seems. Despite this, there are still countless people out there purchasing sub-par laptops to do so.
The right laptop should be easily compatible with an array of music production/editing software, as well as commonly used pieces of hardware.
Moreover, it should be fast enough that there are no delays while recording/playing back as well as have enough memory for hefty production software, samples, etc.
Comparing Laptops For Music Production
One USB 3.0 Type-C, one standard USB 2.0
One USB 3.0 Type-C, three standard USB 2.0
Why The Right Laptop for Music Can Make a Big Difference
Music production can be a heavy load on a CPU/processor, which is the kind of “base” of any laptop. If yours isn’t powerful enough, it’s simply not going to be able to play all of your tracks together or record as it should.
Random-Access Memory (RAM) stores programs and data temporarily, and for music production at minimum, 8GB is necessary. Not only that, but it must fit with your lifestyle and the kind of production you’ll be doing.
You need a laptop with enough and the right ports to use external hardware, too. We’ll discuss these further in detail in a moment.
Laptop Specs for Music Production: Buyer’s Guide
Music production can be pretty rough on the CPU or processor of a computer. If I were to pick just one spec to place the most importance on in this case, it would be the CPU. You’ll want to look at 2 different aspects of the processer: the number of cores and the clock speed.
As each core can process data on its own, adding in more will significantly boost processing capabilities. A quad-core processor is your best bet. Clock speed generally goes from 2.4 to 4.2 GHz, with the higher number being more efficient. Each time you’re loading up a new MIDI instrument and plugging data into the piano roll, you’re essentially triggering the CPU to translate this data into sound. This alone is demanding, but then add in 3rd party plugins, extra tracks, bouncing audio, etc. and things can really heat up.
Second only to the CPU, available RAM is the most important spec in terms of laptops for music production. For example, if your laptop meets all of the minimum specs listed on Ableton Live, FL Studio, or any other major DAWs except it has just 4 GB of available RAM, it’s not going to work out well.
Your laptop is going to be freezing with just a few active tracks in the DAW, and good luck making one single track with that. Moreover, less RAM is going to create glitches in your audio as each time your laptop reproduces audio, it basically has to “fetch” it from the hard drive. While 8 GB can sometimes get the job done, depending on what else you have stored on your hard drive and other factors, the ideal would be 16 GB. Pay attention to the base clock speed, too, as your processor cores will run closer to their base frequency. A quad-core processor with a base clock speed of 2 GHz is more than enough for most.
When it comes to storage drives, I highly recommend an SSD (solid-state drive) offering you greater stability and faster operation. It’s also quieter than an HDD, though it’s more expensive.
This means shorter boot times, loading up files, samples, DAWs, plugins, etc. easier so you can spend as much time as possible being productive. It’s not a rarity to find a combination of the 2, with HDD used for storage of files, photos, and videos, while the SSD is used for tasks where instant speed is needed.
The good news is, this is pretty much down to your personal preference. PCs are what many of us grew up on, so you may feel more comfortable with this OS. Moreover, they tend to be more budget-friendly, offer more upgradability options, and have notably powerful components.
Windows notebooks range in price from under a couple hundred dollars to several thousand, along with a wide selection of unique features from touchscreens, fingerprint readers, and more. Some even let you switch between tablet and desktop modes. In contrast, Mac/Apple is known to be the more secure of the 2. They’re famously difficult to hack into and are generally more reliable. Additionally, there are some DAWs that literally only work on macOS.
If you’re using Logic Pro X, for example, you’ll need to get a Mac; macOS offers similar functionality to Windows, though many find it more user-friendly and seamless to operate once you get used to it.
DAW Software Compatible
This point kind of goes hand in hand with the last one. For many, it’s easier to first figure out the DAW you want to use, and then select a laptop that works with it, instead of the other way around.
With that being said, if you’re using Logic, then you’ll obviously need to go with macOS. All other major DAWs work with both operating systems. Also, make sure that the laptop meets or exceeds the minimum specs of the DAW you choose.
Price & Warranty
This will greatly influence which laptop you decide to get. It’s a smart idea to figure out a budget for yourself before you start shopping around, as it’s also pretty easy to spend more than you’d wanted.
A good warranty, however, is often worth shelling out a bit more cash initially, as it’s often more than worth it in the end. A good warranty can save you from having to potentially purchase a whole new computer.
Just make sure that you know which problems your laptop will be protected against. Most will cover hardware issues not caused by you, such as defective keys, monitor issues, and so on. Take a look at how long the warranty is for. 1 year is typical, so if you find that you’re stuck between 2 models and one has a warranty for a longer term than this, then give it extra points towards your decision.
Unless you’re a PC gamer, a graphic designer, or will be doing high-resolution video editing; an integrated graphics chip is going to be just fine. As you may know, there are both high-end and low-end graphics chips, but for music production alone, you don’t need the best.
Music production may be demanding in many things, but high-end graphics isn’t one of them. That means that a super high-resolution display is kind of unnecessary. If you’re running your software on a 4K screen, slider controls and various others are going to become tiny, which is just annoying and makes your workflow more clunky and inefficient.
However, I do recommend going for at least a 15.6″ screen to prevent eye strain and to see your DAW. Many producers even opt for an external display to increase the monitor size, or even go for a dual monitor setup! You’re not limited to just the monitor that comes with your laptop.
While just using a DAW doesn’t require an internet connection, it’s still a good idea to have a notebook with 4G LTE support or Wi-Fi 6 support, which offers a very reliable and stable connection. This makes it easy to download plugins, other tracks, upgrades, etc.
What kind of lifestyle do you live and are you going to be producing music in cafes, on planes, hotels, etc.? If you lead an active lifestyle, then you should start considering portability.
There are few things more bothersome than struggling to shove your laptop with a proper balance of force and delicacy into your bag at airport security, and if it’s big and bulky, it’s going to be even more difficult.
It’s usually much easier to upgrade a specific part of your laptop then go out and buy a whole new one. Not only is it a hassle to move all of your files over, but it’s also going to cost more.
That’s why it’s essential to look into how upgradable your prospective laptop is. In a best-case scenario, you’ll be able to upgrade your RAM and storage drive, which will greatly improve performance, speeding things up, and adding more memory.
If you’re always going to be at home producing, then this isn’t going to be quite as important. However, having a reliable, long-lasting battery is ideal, no matter what the circumstances are.
If you’re always on-the-go, then longer battery life is absolutely necessary. Even though running various plugins and having a ton of tracks open at once is undoubtedly going to drain it compared to “normal” laptop use, there is still quite a bit of variation in this regard.
6 Best Music Production Laptops Reviewed
1. Apple Macbook Pro
Our Top Pick
Regularly considered to be the best laptop for music production, the Apple Macbook 13-inch is a force to be reckoned with. The Mac is quite often the most obvious option when we’re referring to music – whether that be for production or use in live/DJ performances.
Many of the bigger DJs you’ll see today have one for one of the above reasons, which is why so many feel it’s the only solid choice out there.
I will say straight away that if you’re dead set on using Logic Pro X for your DAW, then this should be the one for you as the software cannot be used on anything other than Mac.
With 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, it already comes with relatively good specs. However, you can always expand by purchasing an external SSD later if you find you need additional space. Moreover, the best laptop for gaming, music, and movies also comes with a Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card with 4GB video RAM.
While the screen is just 13 inches, we don’t really need anything bigger, due to the Retina display offering incredible clarity. The 1.4 GHz processor also makes for a fast and almost-instantaneous operation, which is crucial when you’re neck-deep into a project and have a bunch of tracks open.
It does feature 2 USB-C ports, and as these are different from your regular USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, you’ll most likely need to get some adapters or a dock, too. While some other MacBook Pro models come with 4 ports, this one is down to 2 due to the inclusion of the Touch Bar.
However, you can opt-out from having the Touch Bar, save some money, and get the 4 USB-C ports. If you’re planning on plugging in a traditional mouse and using an audio interface (which you will most likely do), then you won’t have any available ports unless you go with the version without the Touch Bar.
I will say that it does integrate nicely with GarageBand and Logic, so once again, if you’re planning on using one program or the other, the Touch Bar does make it a bit more attractive.
If you’ve ever used a Mac in the past 10 years, then you’ll know how comfortable their keyboards are to use. They’re not awkward, and they move very easily.
On top of that, their force touch trackpad makes it even quicker and straightforward to use, like what is necessary for moving clips and things of that nature in a DAW. Lastly, you’ll get up to 10 hours of battery life, which is definitely more than anyone needs in a PC or Mac laptop for music production!
2. Acer Predator Helios 300
Traditionally made with the purpose of gaming, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is also perfect for music production. When you take into consideration the relatively low price with the high specs it includes, it’s actually a no-brainer.
It’s nearly impossible to find one which offers the same while keeping costs similar. So, if you’re asking, “Is a gaming laptop good for music production?” the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”.
Coming with a 15.6″ LED-lit display and full-HD resolution, you’ll have no issue in terms of graphics. You’ll be able to easily see the tiniest details in your productions like envelopes and on/off lights with no problem.
One of the unique features of the Helios 300 is its little button named “Turbo.” Press it once, and it’ll almost instantly power on the system’s dual fans, with a whopping 59 blades to blow a great amount of air through the rear vents.
This feature works to keep your laptop cool, which is particularly useful if you overclock its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics chip. The only complaint anyone seems to have here is that the screen isn’t all that bright.
When talking about construction, it’s also one of the most durable. The well-built casing will keep it performing like new and won’t easily dent. The red keyboard lights are extremely helpful, especially when you’re producing in dark rooms or at night.
Connectivity is no issue here, thanks to the inclusion of a standard USB, a USB-C port, HDMI, and an Ethernet Port. Hooking up MIDI controllers, audio interfaces, and so on will be a breeze!
The processor is incredible on its own, but when you consider just how affordable this laptop is for having one, it’s even more impressive. The 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 is going to blow you away by how powerful and fast it is.
Music production will be so much easier for you, as you’ll probably never have to wait for anything to load, even if your project is track-heavy. If you like using a bunch of extra plugins and instruments, then the 16GB DDR RAM is also nice, giving you plenty of room for everything you need.
While there’s no way anyone could doubt this is one of the best PC laptops for music production, it’s not perfect. The storage capacity is surprisingly small, with just a 256 GB SSD included. If you have a big library of samples, you may want to consider expanding upon that.
3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim
Best Cheap Laptop for Music Production
If you’ve spent a bit more than you’d planned on other studio gear, there’s no need to worry. The Acer Aspire 5 Slim is wonderful if you’re just learning the ropes of music production. It has the specs you’ll need to run your DAW and start producing without any delay. Although it’s not as feature-rich as the previous models, it packs more than enough to get you going.
Weighing just 3.97 pounds and with a thickness of only 0.7 inches, it goes without saying that the Aspire 5 Slim is also a viable option if you’re always on-the-go. It won’t weigh down your bags, nor will it add unnecessary bulk.
The screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and even comes with the brand’s in-plane switching panel to offer pristine viewing angles, which is helpful if you’re taking production classes and your instructor needs a good view of your screen.
For connectivity, the best laptop for music production under 400 dollars comes with one USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and one HDMI port with HDCP support!
Equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, it’s not the most powerful out there. However, with the help of Turbo Boost technology, this can actually increase the speed to 3.9GHz, which is more than fast enough.
The slight downside here is that this best cheap laptop for music production only includes 4GB of RAM. While you will be able to upgrade in the future if you’d like, this isn’t very much memory in the long run.
4. Lenovo – Yoga 730
Best Laptop for Recording Music
One USB 3.0 Type-C, one standard USB 2.0
While the Lenovo Yoga 730 has received a considerable amount of attention due to its unique “2-in-1” design, it’s also perfect for recording music. The 15-inch model maximizes screen real estate by holding back on the bezel, though it’s relatively heavy at over 5 pounds. Not only that, but it’s quite thick, which makes it more ideal for home use rather than travel.
However, the goal here was never to be air-light or paper-thin. Instead, it’s a balance between form and functionality. It’s an excellent alternative to the traditional desktop computer, though it is flexible, as the name alludes to.
The handy hinge mechanism allows the screen to rotate a full 360 degrees so that you can use it in the “stand,” “tent,” or “tablet” positions. This versatility is particularly helpful if you’re recording with another producer, vocalist, or musician, so they can easily view your screen from anywhere in the room.
As far as ports go, this best laptop for live music comes with a single USB and one USB-C port. While this is convenient, what’s not is that they’ve included a bespoke charging port rather than an SD card slot, which does seem a bit odd.
Aside from that minor detail, it’s hard to find flaws in the Yoga 730. You’ll find clear, detailed, and loud JBL speakers built into the body. While most producers aren’t going to use these for music production or at least not on their own, it’s still a nice addition.
No matter if you’re producing, watching movies, or gaming, you’ll fall in love with the 4K Ultra-HD resolution display.
As you already know or will soon find out, details are extremely important in any DAW, and sometimes it can be hard to miss these on lower-resolution displays. This one is so clear that you can even edit full HD videos at pixel-to-pixel scale (if that’s your thing, of course).
Finally, they’ve even thrown in a little fingerprint scanner, which makes logging into the laptop and even relevant payment processes easier than ever before.
5. Razer Blade
Best for Gaming and Music Production
One USB 3.0 Type-C, three standard USB 2.0
As you can probably tell by now, gaming laptops are often the perfect option for music production, too! They usually have an excellent graphics card (this one has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060), potent hardware configurations, and are high-speed. With a hefty Intel Hexa-Core processor with a 4.10GHz clock speed, you can pretty much use as many plugins as you’d like!
The 16GB RAM capacity is also quite nice, allowing you to store large music files without too many issues. It could be better in this regard, but it’s by no means “bad.”
The Razer Blade 15 comes with a black aluminum metal chassis, and the uni-body design makes it look sleek and very durable. In fact, the build quality here is second-to-none, and for that reason, is often compared to Macs. However, don’t expect it to be ultra-lightweight as it’s a bit thicker and weighs 5.4 pounds.
Connectivity options are plentiful. On the right, you’ll find one USB-C connection, a USB 3.1 Type-A, a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, and a Kensington lock slot to keep your computer safe in public areas. On the left side, you’ll get two more traditional USB ports, along with a headphone/mic jack.
As one of the best laptops for making music, a good keyboard is essential. This one has an RGB backlit keyboard, which is really helpful when it comes to production – particularly late at night. The keys themselves are quite bouncy and don’t require much force to engage.
With around 6 hours of battery life, it’s relatively average and notably less durable than many others on this guide. However, when you consider the highly powerful performance it offers, it’s not bad at all.
6. Asus ROG Strix G
Best Asus Laptop for Music Production
The final laptop for making music on our guide, and the last gaming computer we’re going to cover today, is the Asus ROG Strix G. With more than enough processing power for production, you’ll find everything is quite generous here.
Essentially, it ticks all of the relevant boxes when it comes to music production, and I think you’ll like it, too. While various Asus models perform well, this one just stood out among the rest.
With a whole terabyte hard drive along with a 256GB SSD, you won’t have to worry about it lagging on you, even if you have a large sample library. 16GB of RAM is also important for production and using the most common DAWs. Connectivity is one of the best I’ve seen, with three standard USB 2.0 ports and one Type-C.
The 15.6” screen makes it easy to see, which is perfect for longer sessions or in the dark. GeForce graphics overclocked with ROG Boost makes for some of the most impressive performance out there, really locking you in.
You can quickly switch between Turbo, Balanced, and Silent operating modes, depending on what you’re using the computer for! On top of that, anti-dust tunnels and enhanced fans make it easy to keep your laptop clean and cool.
The exterior housing is just as impressive as the rest, offering a streamlined yet incredibly robust design. In fact, they go through thorough vibration, drop, and pressure testing to make sure they last for many years to come. Even the hinges, keyboards, and ports are tested for durability.
The keyboard is made with precision and quickness in mind, with full N-key rollover for excellent accuracy with multi-key inputs, which is necessary for most producers. The customizable RGB lighting facilitates operation even more, making adjustments intuitive and quick.
So, are there any downsides to this good Windows laptop for music production? The battery life can vary quite a bit – from about 2 hours to 9, depending on what you’re using it for. It’s also a bit more expensive than most on this guide, though it’s definitely worth the extra inversion if you can swing it.
Cheap vs. Expensive Models
You may be wondering, “Why should I spend all this money on a laptop when there are so many cheaper alternatives?” Sure, there are a ton of less expensive options. However, they’re not viable ones.
If you’re serious about music production or are even looking to just get started, these simply won’t do. There are various reasons why, so let’s go ahead and discuss the main points.
Essential Music Production, Audio Processing & Recording Software
While choosing the best laptop for music production is challenging on its own, now you have to deal with the software side of things! Which are you going to pick? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need to worry. We’re here to help you out with a few of the best options.
First, consider your budget. DAW prices vary widely, and some have different versions that have different prices, too. Just keep in mind that this is an investment that will be worth it. Next, think about what your honest experience level is.
Ableton Live is quite possibly the most common DAW in use today. Having been around for a little over 2 decades now, it’s only become more popular though it’s always been revered for its usability and relative intuitiveness.
As I mentioned briefly already, there are a ton of YouTube videos and online courses for Ableton, making it more convenient to learn if you don’t have the money to invest in in-person production classes.
The main appealing points of the program is that it offers your standard multi-track recording and cut/paste/splice abilities, though it also has supreme MIDI sequencing software and hardware.
No more having to spend hours trying to map your MIDI controller to your DAW! If you’re starting out, then you’re going to need to start your sound/sample library. As Ableton comes with a whopping 23 different sound libraries, you’ll be able to get going right away.
Oh, and did I mention it’s the preferred program for live music performances? The specs work with a wide array of laptops, too.
FL Studio, formerly known as “Fruity Loops” is perfect if you’re an absolute beginner. It’s also extremely popular, offering standard features with a user-friendly interface. It will take a good few weeks or so to get the swing of things, but there are also ample online videos and tutorials available for free or a small fee.
You can use MIDI controllers with ease, record with instruments/mic, and do your standard editing and mixing. It also works with both PC and Mac and is pretty budget-friendly when you compare it so similar DAWs.
Logic Pro X
If you’re opting for a Mac, then Logic may be the perfect option for you. The software does not work with PCs, however, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’ll be selecting something other than Apple. Logic Pro has an incredible interface, which is very advanced yet somehow straightforward enough for beginners to get the hang of.
The intuitive mixer for plugin control is a standout feature, along with a score editor, which lets you make your own MIDI! There are plenty more amazing features, like the “virtual drummer” which has an interactive drum set and one of the best digital arpeggiators I’ve ever used.
The price is surprisingly very affordable at just $200, considering it also comes with an extensive sound library and loop collection.
Cleaning, Maintenance & Troubleshooting
While you may be extra careful that you don’t bump your laptop around while traveling or spill liquids on it, it takes more than that to maintain it properly. If you want it to last you as long as possible and stay operating as it should, then follow the next tips.
Clean Your Hard Drive
You’ll find out soon enough that it’s scary how easy it is to accumulate excess files on your hard drive. Once a month, I suggest taking a couple of hours to go through it and get rid of those you’re never going to need. I’d also recommend taking this time to back up the files you’d like to keep on an external drive.
Perform a Full Backup
It’s also wise to do this at least once a month. You can do it through the use of either software or hardware, depending on what works best for you.
Update Your Software
Keeping your software programs updated will keep your laptop and data protected as best as possible.
Clean Your Laptop
The LCD screen, keyboard/touchpad, ports, and cooling vents are the parts to pay attention to here. To do so, you’ll need isopropyl alcohol, distilled/purified water, can of compressed air, and a lint-free cloth.
When you’re ready to clean it, make sure the laptop is off, unplugged, and the battery is taken out. Make a 1:1 cleaning solution with the water and alcohol, then dampen the cloth with it. Make sure it’s more on the “dry” side than soaking wet. Also, make sure you never spray any part of your laptop directly.
Use it to wipe down the outside of the laptop, then the LCD screen by using gentle circular motions. When you’re done with that, take the can of compressed air to remove any dirt and grime that may be stuck in your keyboard.
If any of the keys are sticking, simply take off the key in question and wipe underneath it with a cotton swab moistened by the cleaning solution. Next, take the compressed air to the case openings: ports and cooling vents. Make sure you’re spraying at an angle rather than directly into it, as this will blow the debris right back into them.
Overheating is actually quite common, but it can cause system crashes or freeze your laptop, which no one wants. Excessive dust and dirt can clog your air vents, which will prevent it from the ability to stay cool. To prevent this in the first place, use that compressed air regularly to clean out the air vents.
Battery Draining Quickly
This is a frustrating situation, and unfortunately, it usually means that it’s time for a battery replacement.
Other Audio Accessories for Music
Some accessories are necessary, and some are not. Let’s cover the most common.
An audio interface lets you use high-quality mics and studio monitors. While you are almost always going to have a mic input port, it’s not going to provide this level of quality. It’ll also let you connect and monitor instrument inputs for recording. I highly recommend the Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 as it’s more affordable than most, top-notch in performance, and very reliable.
Monitors aren’t actually necessary, as many producers do and prefer to produce in their headphones. However, great monitors can help offer better detail and accuracy.
While many DAWs already offer a keyboard within the software, we can’t escape how much more natural it is to use a physical piece of equipment. That’s where the MIDI controller/keyboard comes in.
These can cost anywhere from $100 to over $1000. However, most of us do more than great with the more affordable models. They also come in different sizes, depending on the available space you have in your studio.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What is the best laptop for music production?
You can’t go wrong with the MacBook Pro 13. It’s very reliable and consistent, coming with a great processor, high clock speed, long-lasting battery, and user-friendliness.
How can I make music on my laptop for free?
If you do decide to go with a MacBook Pro, then you’ll get GarageBand included for free. This is a surprisingly fully-featured piece of software. There are also quite a few quality tutorials you can find online for it if you’re not going to go to production classes.
BandLab, Audacity, and Reaper are also great DAWs that have quite a bit of users and info online. If you’re planning on doing podcasts, I also really like how convenient and straightforward Audacity is.
Is a gaming laptop also good for music production?
While it’s not a rule, generally speaking, yes, they are! Gaming laptops are typically going to be very quick and efficient, while having excellent graphics and sufficient RAM, among other things.
Which is better for music production, laptops, or desktops?
If you’re planning on solely producing at home, desktops can be great options. However, in today’s world, some laptops are just as capable. On top of that, you get added portability and convenience; you just can’t get with desktops. This way, you can produce and learn just about anywhere you’d like!
Now that you’ve learned just about everything you could ever want to about the best laptops for music production, recording, and making tracks, which model is the one for you? If you’re still undecided, allow me to recommend the MacBook Pro 13 once again.
This laptop is extremely reliable, durable, user-friendly, compatible with an array of hardware and software, and is portable. What more could you ask for? Thanks for tuning in and happy producing!
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.