Top 10 Best Laptops For Music Production
[Updated: 14 April 2018] – We’ve curated the best laptops for music production this year. Go forth and make music!
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. On top of that, it 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.
Don’t make the mistake I did, by jumping into buying a laptop that didn’t quite like for music production. I bought the Asus GL552VW on impulse. Good affordable laptop but not without some annoyance.
See the review video:
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 are often workarounds for those.
Let’s get started.
Best 10 Laptops For Music Production in 2018
Here are the best 10 laptops that you can consider buying in 2018 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.
Hey, what about the latest Macbook Pro? To be honest, the current MacBook Pro model with the touch bar isn’t bad. The reason I didn’t feature it here is that of the need for more ports on a laptop for music production. The current model does not have enough ports without using a dongle.
Most MIDI controllers & audio interfaces all work 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 – Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″
If you’ve been around the internet looking for a high-quality laptop, you may have heard about the Razer Blade Stealth. This laptop is great in many ways for music production and here are some reasons why.
It has the 8th generation Quad Core i7-8550U that will deal with all your DAW & plugins processing. It comes with 16GB of RAM which sadly isn’t upgradable but should definitely do the trick for a travelling producer. In addition, it also has an NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 106, which will be an extra help for your RAM usage when producing music, as it’ll help with some plugin processing.
A nice feature is the touchscreen display, so you could in fact, use the touchscreen to tweak your audio plugins & draw automation. The standard SSD storage that comes with it, is a 256GB SSD, but you can upgrade it to 512GB. The 1TB version will cost you quite a bit more, and I foresee most music producers using an external hard disk with the Razer Blade.
However, a quick workaround is to use the USB-C port, where you can use an external SSD or HDD to load any of your projects, plugins or virtual instruments with ease. While the USB-C is pretty fast, make sure you get an external drive, preferably an SSD that is fast enough to load & save samples.
Though the Razer Blade Stealth is marketed for gaming, where you’ll be putting down money for design & the graphics card, the laptop will perform great for any music production usage.
- Solid performance and quality.
- Has USB-C. One of the most powerful USB connections to date.
- Little option for upgrades.
- There are cheaper alternatives if you’re in a pinch.
3 – 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 graphics card.
- No option to have 2 storage drives.
- Pricier option. You pay for the build quality & brand
4. PCAudioLabs (MC Mobile M7S)
PC Audio Labs makes laptops and computers for music producers. What you get is not off the shelf basic PCs, but specialized Windows systems, tweaked specifically for professional audio. Compared to many off-the-shelf laptops, where drivers are built by Windows, PC AudioLabs take it further by tweaking the drivers specifically for music production.
The MC Mobile M7s comes packed with an Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ, it has the power to handle all of your processing in your DAW. In fact, the systems built by PCAudioLabs (including the MC Mobile M7s), has been used to score films, power DJ performances and becoming the heart of many commercial recording studios. Why you could upgrade the RAM to 64GB if you want!
Storage wise, you have an M.2/PCIe or an option for an SSD or an HDD. All of the storage can be upgradable to your needs.
In addition to the purchase of this laptop (other PC AudioLabs’ products/custom PC included), PC AudioLabs also comes with pro audio training from OBEDIA, a well-known company which profession is in helping music producers with training and solving technicalities. This largely separates them apart even from big companies like Apple. They also come with free lifetime phone and email tech support even when your warranty has already come to an end.
In summary, this laptop just shouts customisability and if you’d like the idea of having a laptop built specifically for music production, this one is a go.
- Made for music production.
- Lifetime phone & email support by pro audio hardware & software techs.
- Extremely customizable towards your needs & budget.
- Comes with pro audio training from OBEDIA.
- It’ll come with a cost.
- Favors intermediate & pro producers who know what they want. As a beginner, you might do OK on normal laptops.
5 – HP Pavilion Power 15
The HP Pavilion Power 15 is a nice laptop with enough screen size for busy DAW edits. Packed with an Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ, you’ll have enough processing power for large music arrangements and recordings. On the contrary, it only packs 4GB of RAM in which can be upgraded to 16GB only (max). The battery is a plus on the Pavilion if you like to do a bit of writing out of the studio.
The big thing to shout about with this machine is the fact that it has a dual storage option. With the capability of having an SSD and an HDD, you can put your programs on your SSD and dump all of your plugins and VSTs on your HDD which can be upgraded up to 2TB.
Video editing or some light film score on this laptop will work too, with an NVIDIA GeForce 1050. The Pavilion Power 15 makes a great laptop for the beginner or intermediate music producer who enjoys making music and doing other tasks. Just make sure you get the specs you want right from the factory, to save troublesome upgrades later on.
- Huge storage w/ dual storage option.
- Good amount of ports including USB-C.
- Long battery life – up to 14 hours.
- RAM upgradable to 16GB only.
6 – 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 8th generation Core i5-8250U processor.
It packs a lot of power for the intermediate music producer.
There are also dual drives built into the laptop, with an SSD as its main drive, so DAW will feel snappy on this laptop. 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 producing 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.
- Decent performance at its price.
- Great build, looks professional and solid.
- Dull & inaccurate display
- Bottom of the laptop can get pretty hot with more need for processing.
7 – HP Spectre x360 (2018)
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.
Now sporting the latest 8th gen Intel Core i7, you’ll have all the power to record & produce music. You could upgrade the Spectre’s storage to a whopping 1TB SSD, so streaming your tracks with it should be fairly fast while having all the space you need.
Where it used to fall short, now the RAM can be upgraded to a max of 32GB. This means the Spectre x360 while being a touch-screen laptop is capable of processing intensive music work such as film scoring.
The 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 two 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 travelling a lot & like a thin laptop that you can produce music on, then consider it. However, at the tech specs, you’re getting, the Spectre costs considerably more than other laptops in its range – mostly due to the build quality and slim profile.
The graphics 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 with high graphics intensity on it – which I’ll doubt since you’ll be more busy making music.
- Great battery life for travelling & producing.
- Very nice 4K display.
- Can be upgraded with the latest processor, large SSD and RAM.
- A silent laptop.
- Very few ports. Need to get USB hub.
- Heats up pretty quick due to its thin build
- Decent graphics card.
- Gets expensive with all the upgrades.
8 – Asus GL503 15.6″
The Asus GL503, (refresh from the FX503) is a gaming laptop that works well for music production. Why? It’s pretty damn powerful for its size and weight. You get the latest Intel Core™ i7-8750H processor that would take on any recording and plugin processing without a hiccup.
As with most gaming laptops, the GL503 comes with a very powerful graphics card, an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM – which essentially is an overkill for any music production work, but very much welcomed if you’re doing some video editing and film scoring as well. You could upgrade the RAM to 32GB, should you be a heavy plugin and effects user.
As for storage space, I’d recommend you go for the 256GB SSD to install all your softwares and upgrade to the 7200rpm HDD (not the 5400rpm), to store and load your samples quickly. The build of the laptop isn’t the best one out there, but if you can live with gaming-looking laptops, with lots of led lights and mostly a plastic build, you’ll do fine.
While the GL503 does boast about its cooling proficiency, it does get a little warm when you’re doing lots of processing on it. As with most gaming laptops, the battery isn’t that great when the laptop starts putting lots of load on the processor. But if you’re going to be plugged in when making music, the Asus GL503 will perform like a charm.
- Very powerful for its size & weight.
- Enough ports for most music production needs
- Customizable & upgradable to the power you need.
- Battery life isn’t as good.
- Gets hot with lots of processing.
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 travelling 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 – Asus Zenbook Pro
Prefer a thinner ultrabook, not as chunky as most gaming laptops, but is slick, slim and gets the job done? The Asus Zenbook Pro is an amazing laptop for music production with its powerful Intel i7 processor. Once again like most HP laptops, the RAM is only upgradable up to 16GB only.
This laptop has many ports and if you’re a MIDI controller person, you’ll be happy to know there’s enough. Storage on this guy is not that great but you’ll be relieved to know that they are PCIe SSD storage. This means you’ll have fast transfers speeds despite the low storage count.
In all seriousness, I think this laptop may be a little underrated but it seriously does its job as a slim, slick, powerful ultrabook.
- Great performance & build quality.
- Excellent display.
- Decent amount of ports including Thunderbolt.
- RAM upgradable to 16GB only.
- Low storage capacity.
Bonus #11 – Eluktronics P650RP6 Gaming Laptop
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.
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 by 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 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 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 in 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 the 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.
Best Laptops For Music Production From 2017
We’ve kept some of the best laptops from yesteryears here below. Remember, choosing a computer for professional audio is different from choosing one to play games. The key is to know what you need in a system before getting one.
Feel free to reference them from the list below!
1. Acer Aspire VX 15
The Acer Aspire VX 15 is an affordable gaming laptop with a starting price from only $800. Although catered more towards gamers, it serves well as a music production and video editing laptop too. The entry model has an Intel i5 processor while the higher end models have an i7 but no matter the model, solid performance is not lost.
RAM can only be upgraded up to 16GB. The starting model only has a 256GB SSD built in hence, you’ll need to rely on external storage devices. A 2.5inch HDD drive can also be added with some assembly required.
2. ASUS FX502VM-AS73
The is a powerhouse of a laptop with plenty of ports from USB 3 ports, USB-C, HDMI & even a mini display port. It is fitted with the latest 7th gen i7 core processor & upgradable RAM up to 32GB. This laptop performs well as a video editing laptop too as it is equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 960M graphics card.
The laptop comes with an exceptional, impressive cooling system that keeps everything at bay even with the heaviest CPU/GPU workload. It is recommended to get the top end model because it comes with an SSD that is upgradable to 512GB and an HDD of 1TB so, you can install your programs on one and larger files on the other. The downside of this laptop is the battery life.
3. Asus ROG Strix GL553VD
The main attraction for the Asus ROG Gl553VD is the two storage drives. An SSD of 512GB and an HDD of 1TB at 7200RPM. Running with the latest Kaby Lake Intel i7 processor with the RAM upgradable to 32GB, there is no sacrifice in performance.
Equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 1050, your DAW will be able to take advantage of the GPU processing. There is a CD drive on the laptop too if you still need it.
This laptop falls short in which the battery life is limited and the touchpad is pretty lousy hence, it doesn’t really make it ideal for producing music when travelling.
4. Lenovo Legion Y520 Laptop
The [easyazon_link identifier="B06XWFCKYX" locale="US" tag="audiowebazon-20"] is a laptop that shouts performance at a price that won’t disappoint. Packed with the latest i7 processor, it is a pity that the RAM is only upgradeable up to 16GB. Fitted with an NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, it should be pretty snappy to do some video editing or photoshopping on the side.
If you use a lot of MIDI gear, you’ll be happy to know that there are enough USB ports for them. You get to choose from a 256GB SSD, a 2TB HDD or a hybrid storage. Do take note that the HDD is not a 7200RPM type, so I’d suggest getting the model with an SSD and use an external drive to store your data.
5 – HP Envy 13
Unlike the Spectre X360, the [easyazon_link identifier="B06XKW9M56" locale="US" tag="audiowebazon-20"]HP Envy 13 is yet another slim laptop that packs a punch. You could go for the 15″ model if you like a bigger real-estate for making music, however, for the added screen space we personally felt the 15-inch variant wasn’t priced for value. Again, it could make sense to go with the 13″ variant. It’s small, lightweight, slim and powerful.
Please stop with this rumour, that a “mac simply works”. Nowadays this is not true. I own a MacBook Pro privately and I have a Lenovo T with Windows 10 at work. Following issues I have with the Mac:
– It hangs, so only option is a hardreset.
– Complete data loss, when USB-device is removed without checking it out. For example I used the Mac with a USB drive in the train. Someone in the opposite place at the table pulled accidentally the cable of the USB drive. As result the Mac stopped working and all data were gone. With Windows this never has happened past 20 years. Maybe ther might be faulty data on the USB device, but it never led to a complete data loss on the laptop
– it does not recognice the magic mouse. I have to reboot the mac, turning the mouse on and of several times and wait a long time – then it maybe works for a while
– lack of performance, sometimes just the ball symbol comes and the mac is working and working, but nothing happens
– hot surface: the surface of the macbook might get hot, that it is not really fun working with it, I am always afraid it might burn when I put it in the pocket
– no reasonable office and business software abailable, performance issues with MS office. MS Office is standard in business.
– usability: Mac OS-X is not up to date, many usability features are missing. furthermore it does not fit to any standars, for example the keyboard. on a mac the @-symbol is always on a wrong place. and the icons for window handling are on the wrong side. the @ belongs on the Q and the buttons for window handling belong on the right side. And many functions are missing for a reasonable file handling, for example creating a new file by right click.
– general performance issues of max os-x: when I installed windows 10 on a mac it runned with high performance, mat mac os-x on the same device was always running with low performance
– missing ports: USB, SD-Card Slot, Ehternet-Port and so on all is missing on a Macbook. When you work in a professional enveronment, you need often an ethernet port. I make many photos and would like to put my SD-card straight into my notebook. In a professional environment you have to make presentations via a beamer. A Lenovo has a port which works with every beamer I have seen. With a Mac you always have to carry a bag full of adapters with you, when you have a suitable adapter it does not work well, so in the end you have to send your presentation to someone who has a Lenovo and use his device
– missing docking station. My Lenovo came with a docking station. In my office I have two monitors and other devices like a headset, storage, audio interface and so on which is connected to the docking station. I simply need to snap in the Lenovo and it works. For the Mac I had to buy some kind of USB replicator from a third party, because apple doesn’t offer a dockingstation like lenovo does.
My advise is: a Macbook is only for people who use it in spare time without any professional background. It is more a luxury toy than a device for reliable professional work. Where I came, all music pros swithed to windows 10, mostly on Lenovo, HP or Dell Workstations.
And one more point: Software is developed originally for Windows, because it is the most spread platform. Then for Macs they port the software afterwards, this always means, that the Mac port of Windows software is buggy and with performance issues. So it is better to use the plattform, most of the software is originally made for.
And still one more point: Do you have friends, whith who you exchange files, give support and help each other or with who you share software. Then it is always good, to use the same platform most of your friends have. And if you work somewhere, what platform does your employer prefer? Be sure to choose the same, because you are already familar with it.
Thanks for the list. I’m curious how the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 handles vocal track recording with a single combo jack for both mic and headset.
Hey Sharon, nice idea, but I wouldn’t recommend recording a track using the combo jack for mic. It will work, but your audio quality will be sub-par.
Rather, I suggest to buy a professional audio interface to get this done, or at very least, get a USB condenser microphone – to record those fat sounding vocals!
The Real Mike Wilson
I’ve been producing on a Dell Inspirion Notebook for almost 6 years. It’s am i5 with 8 gb ram. Needless to say, I can’t run a lot of samples on it, but I’ve managed. Does anyone think it’s best to shoot for 32gb ram or is 16gb ram enough.l? I’m asking because I am looking to do more professional work in the audio/production field. And since I use PC, anybody has a prefered pc they can recommend?
depends on how many samples and vst’s you plan on running….you might check to see if you can just upgrade the ram instead of looking for a complete new PC
Hello Reuben, thanks for the information. I am a starter but, I also intend to hire experienced producers. Kindly advice me on which laptop to buy. Thanks.