Top 10 Best Laptops For Music Production
Choosing a good laptop for music production shouldn’t be too hard. But it is a critical decision to make.
What you want is a laptop powerful enough for recording and music production. And on top of that, will last you many years to come, eventually making sense of your investment.
You possibly travel a lot as well and want a laptop to produce music, that isn’t bulky or heavy.
I totally understand. In fact, in my years of producing music, I owned over 5 laptops, Macs & PCs in the past 10 years of producing music.
How To Choose A Good Laptop for Music Production
First of all, you need to think about the OS you’d like to produce music on. Will you primarily make music on a Mac or PC?
I’ve covered this topic about choosing a computer for music production previously, but just to add, choosing an OS to make music on usually depends on the DAW software you want to use.
Personally, I started my music production journey in 2006 with Logic Express. Since then, I have switched between multiple DAWs such as Cubase, Studio One, and even switch between using Mac & PC a few times only to finally finding myself buying a Macbook Pro Retina to use Logic X almost 10 years later in 2016.
Choosing a good laptop for music production boils down to three main factors:
- Main DAW software you’ll use
- Processing power – You’ll want the fastest processor you can afford.
- RAM – You need more RAM for VST intensive production. I recommend a minimum of 8GB.
Of course, things such as battery life for making music on the go, available storage space to store your samples or available ports are important as well. But there’s often workarounds for those.
Let’s get started.
Best 10 Laptops For Music Production
Here are the best 10 laptops that you can consider buying in 2017 for music production. I’ll also briefly explain the pros and cons of each.
1 – Macbook Pro Retina 2015
One of the best laptops to go for when it comes to music production is the Macbook Pro.
Why? Because it simply works. I’m not going to discuss the war between PC or Macs for music production, but having used both & while it really boils down to personal preference, I still prefer using a Macbook Pro over any Windows laptop to produce music.
With a Macbook Pro (the Retina 2015 model), you get everything you need to make music immediately. Fast SSD drive, Core Audio, RAM, battery life & CPU power to take on most music production demands.
To be honest, the Macbook Pro 2016 model with touch model isn’t bad. The reason I didn’t feature it here is because you’ll need more ports on a laptop for music production. The 2016 model does not have enough ports without using a dongle.
Most MIDI controllers & audio interfaces all work with on a USB3 connection. And to be honest, the touch bar on the new MacBook Pros doesn’t actually help your production workflow.
One more thing. If you’re planning to buy the Macbook Pro & need to add more RAM, don’t buy the 13″ model & upgrade the RAM. Instead, it makes more monetary sense to buy the 15″ base model as it comes with 16GB RAM installed, together with an i7 processor.
- Ready to use out-of-the-box.
- Solid performance & quality.
- Little driver or software issues with a Mac system.
- Comes with Garageband (which is great for beginners)
- Small SSD space. Not enough for keeping large samples.
- May lack enough ports.
- Not very upgradable.
- RAM only up to 16GB.
- Slower processor compared to many other Windows laptop.
2 – Dell Inspiron 15 7000
An affordable gaming laptop that looks just twice as expensive, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is a workhorse that should be considered. With models that start from only $799, the Inspiron 15 7000 comes with the latest Kaby Lake Intel Core i5 processor and a Nvidia 1050 Ti GPU.
It packs a lot of power for the intermediate music producer.
While the laptop comes with a big 15″ display, giving you plenty of real estate for working in your DAW, the display is somewhat not as vibrant as compared to many other laptops.
This will be slightly discouraging if you plan on making videos with it as well as the colors are not exactly accurate. However, if music is your main focus and nothing else, then Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is worth a consideration – without spending too much!
- Long battery life – up to 11 hours
- Decen performance at its price
- Great build, looks professional and solid
- Dull & inaccurate display
- Bottom of the laptop can get pretty hot with lot of processing.
3 – Asus ROG Strix GL553VD
One of the main reason the Asus ROG Gl553VD attracted me was that it has two storage drives built in. The operating software runs on the 512GB SSD & the 7200RPM 1TB HDD is used for storage. This makes it perfect for music producers, where you run your main software off the SSD to get blazing performance and then store samples inside the HDD.
It also comes with the latest Kaby Lake i7 processor and the RAM is upgradable to 32GB, making it very snappy for demanding music projects with lots of tracks & effects. The more RAM you have on your laptop means there more VST instruments & samples you can load, so the 32GB RAM capability on the Asus ROG GL553VD is welcomed.
It’s also has a Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU built in which you can take advantage of, by allowing your DAW to use GPU processing. Additionally, there is also a CD drive on the laptop which could be useful for burning CD mixes – if you’re still using CDs these days.
Where it falls short is the limited battery life and pretty lousy touchpad, which makes it less ideal for producing music when traveling. Don’t bother using the trackpad to click in your MIDI notes. It just isn’t as responsive or smooth as trackpads on Macbooks.
- RAM upgradable up to 32GB
- Latest 7th gen i7 processor. Robust and will last you awhile
- Great price, given all the performance power
- Heavier & bulkier compared to many laptops. Not so ideal for traveling
- Weak battery life
- Lousy trackpad. You’ll need a mouse.
4 – Acer Aspire VX 15
A budget gaming laptop with a price tag that starts from only $800, the Acer Aspire VX 15 seems more suited for a gamer, but it’ll serve well as a music production or video editing laptop as well.
The Acer Aspire VX 15 has a few models, with the lowest that has an i5 processor built in. You can pay for the higher performance model that comes with an i7 processor, but whichever you go for, the Aspire VX 15 gives you a solid performance for the price you’re paying for.
At this price, the sacrifice comes in the quality of the display and internal storage. The starting model only has 256GB SSD built in. This means you’ll have to rely on external storage drives for storing and streaming your samples & instruments.
This said, if you bought the model that comes with only one SSD drive, you have an option to add a 2nd 2.5inch HDD drive into the laptop. It’ll require some assembly, though.
- Affordable & ideal for the beginner
- Upgradable & you can opt for the more expensive models
- Battery life is decent
- Only up to 16GB RAM
- Small disk space
5 – Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS series is a laptop series that has been around for some time. The Dell XPS 15 is also one of the sexiest 15-inch laptop you can buy for music production.
Unlike many other Chinese-made laptops which can be quite flimsy with its build, you’ll appreciate the strong & premium build of the XPS 15, its nice borderless display, the touch deck & how slim-profiled the laptop is. It’s seriously a beauty of a laptop.
Performance wise, there are few models you can choose from, depending on your budget. But be informed that the Dell XPS is pricier than other laptops with the same performance, due to the build and component quality.
The entry model starts at $999 with the 7th gen i3 processor. I’d advise you to bump your budget up and get the $1249 model that comes with the 7th gen i5 processor at a bare minimum. Or better yet, get the model with the i7 processor to future proof your laptop purchase.
The entry model sports a 7200RPM hard disk drive which would be fine for music production, but if you’re afraid of hitting into bottlenecks with the storage drive speed, get the higher end models that come with SSD.
The RAM on every model is upgradable to 32GB, making it ideal for music production. There’s also plenty of ports from USB3.0 to Thunderbolt, so connectivity in the studio shouldn’t be an issue.
- Beautifully designed & solid
- Very nice display
- Powerful. Expensive models come with Nvidia graphic card.
- No option to have 2 storage drives.
- Pricier option. You pay for the build quality & brand
6 – HP Spectre x360 (2017)
Another well made laptop, the Spectre X360 allows you to use it like a normal laptop or as a tablet. Although a little small, it’s very well built. Also expect great battery life on the Spectre X360. It is capable of running up to 8 hours with continuous online browsing.
Sporting the latest 7th gen Intel Core i7, you’ll have all the power to record & produce music. The Spectre also comes with a 512GB SSD, so streaming your tracks with it should be fairly fast.
Where it falls short is the RAM, which is only upgradable to 16GB max. This may sound like a bummer, but if you’re not doing too intensive music work such as film scoring, you should be a good with 16GB of RAM.
The other bummer would be the available ports on the laptop. There’s only single USB3.0 port that you could use for your audio interface or MIDI controller. On the right side of the laptop, there’s another USB type-C port which is meant for charging and a thunderbolt 3 port. Using the HP Spectre X360 for music production means investing in some USB-hubs, unfortunately.
If you find yourself traveling a lot & like a thin laptop that you can produce music on, then consider it. However stay away if you’re a gearhead geek who likes lots of audio devices connected to your computer.
The graphic card that comes with the Spectre X360 is not as powerful as the other gaming laptops I mentioned earlier, but for some light photoshopping or video editing, it should do fine. Just don’t expect to play games at high graphic intensity on it – which I’ll doubt since you’ll be more busy making music.
- Great battery life for traveling & producing
- Very nice 4K display
- Powerful processor despite very thin build
- Very few ports. Need to get USB hub.
- Heats up pretty quick due to its thin build
- RAM upgradable to 16GB only.
- Decent graphic card.
7 – Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop
The latest line-up from Lenovo’s Ideapad series, the Legion Y520 is an impressive gaming laptop that would be perfect for any music production work you throw at it. With the price starting at $919, it almost makes the Lenovo Legion Y520 a winner as a music production laptop for budget conscious producers.
Packed with the latest i7 processor, it’s a pity that the RAM is only upgradable up to 16GB. Battery life on the Y520 is also just about decent which wouldn’t matter if you’re going to be working in the recording studio most of the time.
Performance is great on the laptop, especially when it’s one laptop boasting on gaming performance. There’s also a NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti graphic card fitted in, so it should be pretty snappy to do some video editing or photoshopping on the side.
Also as I’ve mentioned earlier, most DAWs can make use of GPU processing, so having a dedicated graphic card in your laptop is a good thing, even for music production.
You get to choose from a 256GB SSD, 2TB HDD or hybrid storage, depending on the model you’re going for. However, note that the HDD is not a 7200RPM type, so I’d suggest you for the model that comes with an SSD & then use an external drive to store your instrument VSTs & samples.
- Powerful performance at an affordable price
- Great cooling system onboard.
- Fast performance with the SSD model
- Plenty of ports for music production gear
- RAM only upgradable up to 16GB
- Slow HDD drive. (Best to go for SSD)
- Build is a little plasticy. You get what you pay for
8 – ASUS FX502VM-AS73
A real powerhouse for any production task you throw at it, be it music or video production. Comes with plenty of ports, with a total of 3 USB3.0 ports, USB-C, HDMI & even mini display port, you’ll have no issues hooking it up to multiple screens in your studio. Fitted with the latest 7th gen i7 core processor & upgradable RAM up to 32GB, the Asus FX502VM is truly a machine that was built to work.
The IPS display screen on the laptop is pretty accurate, making it really pleasant especially if you’re going to be staring at your DAW for long hours. Needless to say, the nice display screen combined with a Nvidia GTX 960M graphic card with 4GB GDDR5 memory, makes this laptop excel even with editing 4K videos. It’ll be smooth even with running a video track along with your music arrangement especially if you’re working on music projects such as film score.
On top of that, the laptop comes with an exceptional, impressive cooling system that keeps the keyboard cool even when you’re working on the heaviest music arrangements or recording.
If you’re considering the Asus FX502VM, make sure to go for the top end model that comes with two storage drive – an SSD & a traditional spinning hard disk drive. The use the SSD to install your programs and the large space HDD to store samples & project files. The SSD is upgradable to 2TB, using an M.2 SATA SSD.
However as always with a performance laptop, battery life suffers, and the Asus FX502VM also falls victim to substantial battery life. However, if you’re going to plugged in all the time when producing music, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Super powerful performance
- Extensive connectivity options
- Fast m.2 Sata SSD drive
- 32GB RAM
- Great graphics
- Price is right
- Average battery life
- Plastic casing. Not as premium-ly built as a MacBook Pro.
9 – Samsung Notebook 9
Want a laptop that is thin & light, but doesn’t sacrifice on performance? The Samsung Notebook 9 is a great 15″ laptop that is powerful, given that it comes with an i7 processor, 256GB SSD drive & 16GB RAM.
The Samsung Notebook 9 is thinner than a Macbook Air and despite that slim built, it also comes with a dedicated Nvidia 940MX GPU built in. While the M.2 SSD 256GB SSD might seem small, it can be upgraded up to 1TB.
Design for the traveler in mind, there’s also a USB-C port on the Samsung Notebook 9 that you can use to charge the laptop with a standard phone charger. Samsung claims that a 20-min charge would give enough battery juice for the laptop to last for 2.1 hours.
For us as music producers, there are also plenty of connectivity with USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and strangely a microSD port instead of a standard sized SD port on the laptop.
- Extremely portable and ideal for the traveling music producer
- Nice display and screen real estate
- Upgradable SSD to 1TB a win!
- RAM only upgradable up to 16GB. Won’t be able to handle samples which are too huge.
- Weird to have a microSD slot instead of a full standard sized SD card.
10 – Eluktronics P650RP6 Gaming Laptop
I saved the best for the last.
Never thought I’d recommend this beast of a machine here but upon studying it, this is a must-have on this list.
The Eluktronics P650RP6 is a beast for a laptop, created by the Eluktronics, a US company who feels that 5400RPM hard drives shouldn’t be placed inside modern laptops anymore. They pride themselves to use the best components and parts in the laptops they build.
And of the many models offered, the Eluktronics P650RP6 is one that shows promise in performance and also serving as a laptop for music production. With the top models, you can beef up the laptop, powered with a powerful i7 processor, 1TB SSD, 7200RPM HDD secondary drive & RAM upgradable to a whopping 64GB.
With all this packed into a laptop, it makes the Eluktronics P650RP6 possibly one of the most powerful and best laptop for music production. Packed with a truckload of connectivity options for all your audio devices, it’s also a no-brainer if you use a lot of MIDI controllers or
Packed with a truckload of connectivity options for all your audio devices, it’s also a no-brainer if you use a lot of MIDI controllers or if you’re planning to hook up multiple displays in the studio. Battery life on the laptop is also decent with approximately 4-5 hours of non-intensive usage.
In my opinion, the Eluktronics laptop falls short with its noisy fan noise under heavy computing load. This might not be so much of a big deal if you work in a two-room recording studio setting. But if you record & mix in the same room, the noisy fans might be a nuisance when doing recording. Other than that, the Eleuktronics P650RP6 is a true beast of a laptop for music production at the right cost.
- Pricer but price is right for the performance & power
- RAM up to 64GB. Run all the samples you need!
- Laptop with most connectivity at its class
- Noisy fans under heavy load
- Bulky and not very sexy
There are so many laptops you can choose to produce music on. However what matters at the end of the day is that you put your craft into practice and actually make music.
Many amateur music producers lust too much over new gear but don’t spend time to record, compose & produce.
I hope you’re not one & despite the laptop, you decide to get, make sure you produce music. And if you do, feel free to post them over on Audio Mentor’s Facebook page so that the community can take a listen.
Lastly, what do you think of this list? What laptop are you using currently to record and produce music? Comment below.