First off, I am an audio engineer and a professional music producer (over 10 years under my belt!). So much of that boring introduction….😂 😂.
In this post, I’ll dig into the best laptops (both Macs & PC) for music production, DJs and performing musicians. Definitely, I don’t want you to take an under- or over-kill for laptop hardware, Sound cards, & Digital audio workstation.
Therefore: At a minimum, get a laptop with an 512GB SSD storage, 8GB RAM (but 16GB is better for newer synthesizers like Diva or Serum), Core i5 CPU and be lightweight (for on-the-go production).
Model Display Connections Processor Capacity
MacBook Pro 15" (@ Amazon) 15.4″ Retina Bluetooth 4.0
HDMI & USB 3 ports
Intel Core i7, 2.2GHz, Quad-core 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
Dell XPS 15 (@ Amazon) 15.6″ Touch Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI Intel Core i7, 2.8 GHz, Quad-core 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD
Aspire E 15 (@Amazon) 15.6″ Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, 3.0 & 2.0, HDMI Intel Core i5, 1.6 GHz, Quad-core 8 GB, 258 GB SSD
Also, get a laptop with backlight keyboard for typing in poor lighting & an external connector (HDMI). For multi-sampled libraries like the Kontakt, get an SSD and best SD cards for Raspberry Pi 3. Here’re features of a music-making laptop.
Reviews: Best 10 Laptops For Music Production in 2018
Despite Apple having new Mac releases, MacBook Pro Retina takes our top spot for music production. Here’s why: Its base model has Core Audio support, silent keyboard (forget butterfly key), pre-installed packages (Garageband), SD Card slot, HDMI, full-sized USB (2- USB 2.0 Ports & 2 – USB 3.0 Ports).
Garageband DAW is optimized for Mac OS (great for beginners). But, you can install Mac exclusive Logic DAW here to balances power and performance while maximizing ease of use. Maybe you’re fond of the all-powerful youtube cameras, but thus Mac also has FaceTime HD camera for going live.
It has a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery with a long life (they quote 9 hours of full charge) and thus you can produce any music on the go with no charger. Also, it’ll work with most of your DAWs, MIDI controllers, & audio interfaces.
But, why did I leave out the MacBook Pro 2016?
According to Factmag, the faster speeds for the processor and SSD (read & write) in MacBook Pro 2016 has no substantial performance improvement for music production. Also, with fewer USB ports, you need a dongle or USB-C hubs to connect devices like audio interfaces & midi controllers with USB3 connection. MagSafe is also no more! Its butterfly keys are noisier for a quiet studio. Also, Controlling DAW physically with hardware controllers (not Touch Bar) works better and triggers greater musical inspiration.
So, without a doubt, MacBook Pro Retina will easily handle your music-making applications, store high-quality music files, and load tracks faster on DAW – Logic Pro X.
Dell XPS 15 is also the best windows laptop for making music. It has InfinityEdge technology, it’s lightweight (for travel with in-ear headphones), powerful and durable – to make economic sense.
To multitask and handle music apps, it has a 16GB RAM and an 8th Gen processor (Intel Core i7). This will easily run XFer’s Serum. Its Windows 10 Home is an excellent music production environment. Further, it uses the PCIe versions of SSD drive (512GB) that is faster. Therefore, your laptop will write and read data for your music editing applications and allow faster rendering.
You’ll love the laptop’s touchscreen as you can quickly make music changes or through the various music timelines with much ease – and you can easily add tracks to your music production workflow. Dell XPS 15 has an Ultra HD InfinityEdge (15.6-inch 4K) display which is highly vivid and bright while still having thin bezels to lighten it up.
Dell XPS 15 also has the Type-C port (Thunderbolt USB) in addition to the standard USB 3.0 ports and a normal HDMI to allow easier connection of the different music peripherals and audio gear. Further, with the supper Nvidia graphics card (GTX 1050 Ti), you can easily use this laptop for video editing and gaming.
Verdict: Dell XPS 15 should stand next to your best MacBook Pro to aid your music production activities. Finally, this laptop has a 15-inch display, weighs only 3.9 pounds, and has a carbon fiber chassis.
Do not let your ambitions in music production be limited by your low budget. For seamless music production and gaming, this Acer Aspire E 15 is great – it has a 2GB VRAM for GeForce MX150-dedicated GPU (Nvidia). With its pre-installed dual layer DVD burner – you’ll save on an external DVD drive. But no thunderbolt.
You’ll get a mechanical hard drive (1TB), 6GB RAM, and Core i3 -8130U CPU (8th generation). With the UHD Graphics 620 Coprocessor (Intel), you can easily process quality graphics. For top streaming tasks, this laptop allows an Intel Turbo 2.0 Boost. It’s as 3.0 USB ports will charge your devices and peripherals even in shut-down.
The TrueHarmony audio technology will give you better sound quality – but with slightly muffled speaker output. Further, its backlit keyboard will allow you to work at night. The 15.6-inch HD display becomes dark and bright for appropriately working in different light environments. If you’ll be producing music on the go, Aspire E15 will give you about 15 hours of battery life on full charge.
The Aspire comes with the reliable solid state drive – despite being only 258 GB – that is great for making music. Most probably, you might soon need an external hard drive as the storage could run out fast – but you may need to trash the unnecessary project files for now. The Acer Aspire E 15 is a decent laptop. If you’re on a low budget but won’t mind expanding the laptop storage later – then the Acer Aspire E 15 will be great.
7. Dell XPS 13 9370 – Sleeker & near-borderless display
8. HP Spectre 13 (8th Gen Core)
I am a 36-year-old trained audio engineer, music producer, and Guitar player; passionate about all things music.
I can track bass, guitars, keyboards, and drums and can also program drums. I mix and master with high-end plugins such as Waves, Audiority, Blue Cat, HOFA, etc