12 Best Laptops for Music Production

Best Laptops for Music Production & Home Studio

Let’s get you producing and mixing your greatest tracks with the best laptops for music production on the market right now.

Quick answer: For Windows users, our top recommendation is Acer Swift X Creator Laptop, giving you the best bang for your buck. If you’re looking for an absolute beast of a machine, then look to the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15. Our cheapest recommendation (as of this writing) that is still up to task will be Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop. Apple users will continue to enjoy the newer Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro for pro performance, or the Apple 13 inch MacBook Pro if you’re on a budget.

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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 buying guide and FAQ 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.


Best Laptops
Features
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro for music productionApple 16-inch MacBook Pro OS: macOS; Display: 16” retina; Storage: 1TB SSD; Memory: 32GB RAM; Processor: M1 Max 10-core CPU 32-core GPU; Ports: 3x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)
Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro for music productionApple 13-inch MacBook Pro OS: macOS; Display: 13″ retina; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: M1 Max 8-core CPU 8-core GPU; Ports: 2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4)
Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop for music productionAcer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop OS: Windows 10 Home; Display: 14″; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16 GB RAM; Processor: Ryzen 7 5800u ; Ports: 3x USB 3.0
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OS: Windows 10 Pro; Display: 15.6″; Storage: 1TB SSD; Memory: 16 GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-10870H; Ports: 3x USB 3.0
ASUS ZenBook Flip 13ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 OS: Windows 11 Home; Display: 13.3″; Storage: 1TB SSD; Memory: 16 GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7; Ports: 1x USB 3.0
Lenovo Flex 5 LaptopLenovo Flex 5 Laptop OS: Windows 11 Home; Display: 14.0″; Storage: 256GB SSD; Memory: 16 GB RAM; Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U; Ports: 2x USB 3.0
HP Pavilion 15 LaptopHP Pavilion 15 Laptop OS: Windows 11 Pro; Display: 15.6″; Storage: 512 TB SSD; Memory: 16 GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7; Ports: 3x USB 3.0
Acer Predator Helios 300Acer Predator Helios 300 OS: Windows 11 Home; Display: 15.6″; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-11800H; Ports: 4x USB 3.0
Dell XPS 13 9310Dell XPS 13 9310 OS: Windows 11 Pro; Display: 13.4″; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-1195G7
Dell Inspiron 13Dell Inspiron 13 OS: Windows 10 Home; Display: 13.3″; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-11370H; Ports: 2x USB 3.0
Acer Nitro 5Acer Nitro 5 OS: Windows 11; Display: 17.3″; Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-11800H; Ports: 4x USB 3.0
MSI Stealth 15MMSI Stealth 15M OS: Windows 10 Home; Display: 15.6″; Storage: 512GB SSD; Memory: 16GB RAM; Processor: Intel Core i7-11375H; Ports: 2x USB 3.0

Table of Contents


How to Choose the Best Laptops for Music Production

Mac or PCIs Windows or PC best for making music

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 easily load Linux onto your system. Getting back to our topic…

Are you a Mac or a PC person?

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:

  1. You’re already familiar with its interface
  2. You want to increase the chances of being employable in the music industry as a studio engineer or producer
  3. Want to use Logic Pro X
  4. Have the budget for it

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 industry standard 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.

  • If you are familiar with PCs, get a PC.
  • If you’re familiar with Macs, and it’s within your budget to purchase one, get a Mac.
  • If you’re a Mac user and want to adopt PC for some reason, such as to use a PC only DAW like Cakewalk SONAR, get a PC.
  • If you’re a PC person and want to switch to a Mac, because you want to use Logic Pro X or Pro Tools, because Logic Pro X is an Apple product made for Apple, and Pro Tools was originally made for Apple, then get a Mac.

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.

Why choose a laptop?

Even if you are, or plan on being, a producer with a home recording studio running a dedicated music production desktop, a laptop is still 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.

  • Storage capacity
  • Memory size
  • Processing power
  • Ports
  • Future proof
  • OS version
  • DVD RW drive
  • Budget

Now let’s go over what are the criteria needed to fulfill each requirement. Music Production Laptop Criteria

Storage capacity

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 (Solid State Drive). 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 pro audio plugins (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 overview.

Memory size

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.

Processing power

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. Some AMD multi 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.

Ports

The recommendation here it to get 2 or more USB ports, an HDMI port, and a Thunderbolt port. Audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, control surfaces, and external HDs all use USBs and Thunderbolt ports, so the more you have the better. Note: 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 an audio interface that can support it, 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.

Future proof

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.

OS version

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.

DVD RW drive

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.

Budget and Cost

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 a digital audio workstation, an audio interfacestudio headphones, and a microphone as your bare essentials (read more on what home studio gear to get here).


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 buyer’s guide 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 here).


Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

Pros
  • Exceptional battery life
  • SDXC card reader and HDMI output
  • High-quality display
  • 1 TB of SSD storage
  • 3 Thunderbolt 4 ports
Cons
  • Isn’t exactly portable
  • A bit pricey
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 10-core Apple M1 Max chip, powerful 32-core GPU, and 16-core Neutral Engine. It features a 16.2″ Liquid Retina XDR display with a maximum resolution of 3456 x 2234.

Best features and specs

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro is the latest eye candy designed by a very recognizable brand known for producing top-shelf electronic products that can run a lot of apps simultaneously and have an outstanding lifespan. This laptop includes 1TB SSD, 3 Thunderbolts 4 ports, SDXC card slot, HDMI port, and 3-mic array.

User impressions

Users say that Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro really is one of the best laptops for music production because it’s an absolutely powerful beast. It has just the right amount of muscle that FL Studio and Logic Pro would work on absolutely great. But if you use other programs for music production, then you should probably look for another option.

What we think

Despite being the absolute best so far, the Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro has a few downsides that might discourage you, and it might not be as portable as previous models and even a bit bulky. Also, the price tag might scare some and force them to look for something less powerful but more affordable.

Bottomline

Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro is a great choice for someone who is looking for a powerful, sturdy, and brand-new machine from a trusted manufacturer. This laptop has enough power to withstand juice-consuming tasks and a potentially long lifespan. But if you’re on a tight budget, you should look for another entry on this list.


Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro

Pros
  • Huge battery life
  • Great performance with Apple M1 chip
  • Light and portable
Cons
  • Lack of ports
  • A bit outdated design
  • Only 512 GB SSD
See price @ Amazon / @ Sweetwater

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro has an 8-core Apple M1 chip and 16-core Neutral Engine. It features a 13″ LED-backlit with IPS display with a maximum of 2560 x 1600 native resolution.

Best features and specs

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro has Apple’s new silicon architecture, which makes this laptop more mighty and still portable. The new M1 chip extends the battery’s lifespan and makes everything run fast and smooth.

User impressions

Users like Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro for being a powerful, lightweight, and compact laptop that can efficiently perform CPU-hungry tasks. Some users note that they had certain issues with iLok and renders in Pro Tools. Users advised looking for another laptop if Pro Tools is the only program that music is being produced in.

What we think

What the majority of touring musicians and music producers value is versatility and compact form factor. Luckily, the Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro offers exactly that with a nice touch of extended battery life that is said to last the whole workday. Though, you should keep in mind that in order to connect a lot of peripherals to this laptop, you should take a USB hub with you at all times.

Bottomline

Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro is a great choice for someone who is looking for a lightweight, powerful, and versatile laptop that comes from a well-known manufacturer. Note that if Pro Tools is your go-to DAW,  you should probably choose another entry on this list, as you might experience issues regarding iLok.


Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop

Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop

Pros
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Matte screen
  • Fairly priced
  • 1x USB-C and 2x USB-A ports
  • HDMI port
  • 3.5mm headphones jack
Cons
  • Lack of USB-C ports
  • No SD card reader
See price @ Amazon

Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 has 1.9 GHz AMD Ryzen 7 and 16 GB of LPDDR4 memory. It features a 14″ display with ‎NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti and a maximum 1920 x 1080 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 is a compact, lightweight, and powerful laptop. It has a good selection of ports such as one USB-C and two USB-A that can be used for charging as well as a dedicated charging port. Additionally, it has an HDMI port and a 3.5 mm microphone jack.

User impressions

Users say that Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 is a good choice for beginners as well as picky professionals who value functionality above everything else. Users like its compact form factor, long battery life, and packed features.

What we think

Sitting all day in front of a computer can be quite challenging, especially when you have a project with a massive number of tracks. That’s why we, audio engineers, are so picky when it comes to choosing the machine that will help with a workload. That being said, if you plan on producing particularly large music projects, you should look for another option.

Bottomline

Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a compact, lightweight, yet powerful laptop that is able to conquer lots of tasks and has outstanding building quality.


ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15

Pros
  • 1 TB SSD
  • 15.6-inch OLED display
  • Core i7 CPU
  • 3 USB Type-C ports
Cons
  • Not exactly budget-friendly
  • No SD card slot
  • Inconvenient position of the second screen
  • Small-sized keyboard buttons
  • Poor battery life
See price @ Amazon

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 has ‎5 GHz Core i7 and ‎16 GB of high-speed DDR4 memory. It features a 15.6″ display with a maximum of 3840 x 2160 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 is a really portable and compact laptop that has a 15.6″ 4K main monitor with a maximum of 3840 x 2160 resolution OLED and ScreenPad Plus is a 14″ IPS touch panel with a maximum of 3840 x 1100 resolution.

User impressions

Users like ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 for designed specifically for people who work in the creative field. Users like the fact that this laptop has two screens gives more room for experimenting and conveniently arranging all things needed.

What we think

It’s no secret that two screens are always better than one, especially when we’re talking about such a creative process as composing music. It greatly affects the overall productivity and makes the process easier and more satisfying.

Bottomline

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a powerful and capable laptop with dual monitors that will greatly improve your workflow.


ASUS ZenBook Flip 13

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13

Pros
  • 13.3″ OLED display
  • Lightweight
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 2 Thunderbolt 4
  • Windows OS
  • Intel Evo Platform
  • HDMI port
  • ASUS AI Noise-Canceling Technology
Cons
  • No microSD clot
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Idle mode is power consuming
See price @ Amazon

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 has 11th Gen Intel Core i7 with Intel Iris Xe graphics and 16 GB LPDDR4. It features a 13.3″ OLED Full HD 4-way NanoEdge display with a maximum of 1920 x 1080 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 is a really flexible, lightweight, and compact laptop that has 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 USB-A 3.2 and 1 HDMI. And it comes with a few useful accessories such as a stylus pen, sleeve, USB-C to audio jack adapter, Ethernet adapter.

User impressions

Users agree that ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 is versatile, portable, powerful, and has a user appealing design. The screen that rotates a full 360 degrees is very convenient, as some users say.

What we think

These days, good looks matter no less than high functionality and versatility. ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 has all of these characteristics and is exceptionally lightweight and well-built.

Bottomline

ASUS ZenBook Flip 13 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a versatile, powerful, and well-built laptop. Its screen can rotate 360 degrees.


Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop

Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • 2 USB-A ports and 1 USB-C
  • HDMI
  • SD card reader
  • 3.5mm microphone jack
  • Touchscreen display
Cons
  • Only 256 GB SSD
  • Poorly calibrated display
See price @ Amazon

Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop has AMD Ryzen 5 5500U with AMD Radeon™ Graphics and 16GB DDR4 RAM. It features a 14″ display with a maximum 1920 x 1080 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop is lightweight and compact with a good selection of ports for connecting external monitors and other peripherals. Its screen can rotate 360 degrees so that it can be used as a tablet.

User impressions

Users say that Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop wouldn’t be their ideal choice as a workstation for music production despite having pretty good technical characteristics. This laptop is good for multitasking, but if you need to constantly produce a lot of time-sensitive projects, it would be better to look for another option.

What we think

It’s not a secret that Ryzen processors are known for being capable of withstanding a massive workload and still running smoothly. Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop is a good choice if you aren’t involved in a lot of time-sensitive composing. Otherwise, it would be wise to look for a more powerful machine.

Bottomline

Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop is a great choice for someone who is looking for an affordable, versatile, and compact laptop that is capable of multitasking. Note that it has only a 256 GB SSD.


HP Pavilion 15 Laptop

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop

Pros
  • HP Quickdrop
  • HP dual speakers and audio boost
  • Good build quality
  • Sleek looks
  • 2 USB-A ports
  • HDMI port
  • Ethernet port
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • Poorly calibrated display
See price @ Amazon

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop has a very responsive 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16 GB RAM. It features a 15.6″ Full-HD micro-edged screen with a maximum ‎1920 x 1080 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop is a compact, very lightweight, and stylish laptop that has a good choice of ports such as 2 USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

User impressions

Users say that HP Pavilion 15 Laptop is rather an ordinary machine and it’s not exactly suitable for being a trustworthy workstation as other competitors in the same category are. Also, users aren’t particularly fond of the battery life, as it, in fact, lasts no more than 6,5 hours and even less if you need to do some serious music production.

What we think

Generally speaking, there are not that many non-power-consuming options for music production. That being said, HP Pavilion 15 Laptop might not be your first choice if you are a serious audio engineer, but it still can be a good starting point for the beginner in the field.

Bottomline

HP Pavilion 15 Laptop is a good choice for someone who is looking for a capable, well-built laptop that will easily perform a lot of non-power-consuming tasks.


Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300

Pros
  • Well-built
  • Versatile
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • Ethernet jack
  • Audio combo jack
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • Loud fans
See price @ Amazon

Acer Predator Helios 300 has 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H and 16 GB RAM. It features a 15.6″ Full HD IPS LED-backlit display with a maximum 1920 x 1080 screen resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio and an incredibly fast 144Hz refresh rate.

Best features and specs

Acer Predator Helios 300 is a fast, powerful, and extremely capable laptop that has USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A and USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C, Ethernet jack, and an audio combo jack.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Acer Predator Helios 300 as it’s a quite powerful gaming laptop that also is capable of performing other tasks on the highest level. Some users said that they were rather disappointed by the battery’s lifespan and added that the noise that fans were producing was rather annoying.

What we think

It’s not a coincidence that a laptop that was specifically designed for gaming would do an outstanding job of managing all the tasks of music production. Acer Predator Helios 300 is truly a beast that guarantees that whatever task you need to carry out, the result will be no less than excellent.

Bottomline

Acer Predator Helios 300 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a versatile and extremely powerful laptop that is capable of performing really well in multitasking mode. Note that the battery has a rather short lifespan, so it would be better to keep it as a home-studio machine.


Dell XPS 13 9310

Dell XPS 13 9310

Pros
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Great performance
  • Bright touch screen
  • 2 Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
  • microSD card slot
  • 3.5mm microphone jack
Cons
  • Limited port selection
  • Pricey configuration
See price @ Amazon

Dell XPS 13 9310 has an 11th Gen InteI Core with ‎Intel Iris Xe Graphics and 16 GB RAM. It features a 13.4″ FHD+ 500-nit touchscreen display with a maximum 1920 x 1200 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

Dell XPS 13 9310 is definitely eye-catching and has a sleek modern design. It features Intel Iris Plus graphics that ensure that you get more detailed and smooth picture.

User impressions

Users say that Dell XPS 13 9310 is indeed a powerful laptop that is capable of handling a lot of power and graphically-demanding tasks at a slightly slower pace. Also, this laptop is compact and lightweight, which makes it a good choice for gigging musicians.

What we think

Dell XPS 13 9310 is pretty much capable of performing power-consuming multimedia and music production tasks, but you won’t get the desired result right away. If you’re capable enough to wait and you don’t usually work on time-sensitive projects, this laptop might be just for you.

Bottomline

Dell XPS 13 9310 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a lightweight and portable laptop that is capable of performing a lot of power-hungry tasks steadily and slowly.


Dell Inspiron 13

Dell Inspiron 13

Pros
  • Fingerprint reader
  • ExpresCharge technology
  • Affordable
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 2 USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4
  • HDMI
  • 2-year Dell Onsite service
  • Dell Migrate
Cons
  • Battery drains pretty fast
See price @ Amazon

Dell Inspiron 13 has 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H and 16 GB RAM. It features a 13.3″ display with a native resolution of full HD 2560 x 1600.

Best features and specs

Dell Inspiron 13 is a well-built, ultraportable, and lightweight laptop that has a good choice of connectivity options, including 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, and a 3.5mm microphone jack.

User impressions

Users like Dell Inspiron 13 for being a compact yet powerful beast that is absolutely capable of smoothly running any task except for video games. Some users experienced power supply getting hot and severe battery drainage.

What we think

It’s easy to understand that it’s nearly impossible to have an ideal machine that unites in itself a lot of factors, such as being lightweight, powerful, and affordable. But astonishingly enough, Dell Inspiron 13 offers you exactly that.

Bottomline

Dell Inspiron 13 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a sturdy-built, lightweight, and mighty little beast that is capable of performing well in multitasking mode. Note that when overloaded, the battery drains faster than it’s desirable.


Acer Nitro 5

Acer Nitro 5

Pros
  • 1TB SSD
  • Powerful
  • Versatile
  • Full HD display with 144 Hz refresh rate
  • Wide range of connectivity options
Cons
  • Battery drains fast
  • No SD card reader
See price @ Amazon

Acer Nitro 5 has Intel Core i7-11800H and 16 GB RAM. It features a 17.3″ widescreen LED-backlit IPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and 16:9 aspect ratio.

Best features and specs

When you think about an ultra-top performance, the only thing that comes to mind is the Acer Nitro 5. It’s true that this laptop was made specifically for the gaming industry, but the music production field has a lot of nuances that a mighty machine like this one will definitely help to resolve.

User impressions

Users agree that Acer Nitro 5 is indeed the very best thing that comes to mind when they are looking for a decent machine. It has everything that recording and composing demands and offers upgradability options. Though, some might not like it’s made entirely from plastic.

What we think

Acer Nitro 5 offers various features that make the composing experience pleasant enough. Although, when being overloaded with tasks in hand, the fans that are responsible for cooling are clearly audible.

Bottomline

Acer Nitro 5 is a great choice for someone who is looking for a decent and affordable laptop that comes with a 17.3″ screen and a great opportunity for upgradability options.


MSI Stealth 15M

MSI Stealth 15M

Pros
  • 2 USB-A 3.2
  • Thunderbolt 4
  • HDMI
  • UHS-III micro SD
  • 1 TB SSD
Cons
  • A bit outdated design
  • Poor heat management
  • Battery drains fast
  • Annoyingly loud fans
See price @ Amazon

MSI Stealth 15M has The 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor that takes on any number of applications with ease and 16 GB RAM. It features a 15.6” 144hz display with a high refresh rate and a maximum of 1920 x 1080 screen resolution.

Best features and specs

Being a gaming laptop sets some boundaries over any machine, but if we consider MSI Stealth 15M in terms of music production, it’s pretty clear that it is capable enough to master any number of tasks. And, it offers a lot of good connectivity options.

User impressions

Users agree that MSI Stealth 15M is indeed feature-packed, lightweight and a joy to work on. But there are a few downsides that can spoil the first good impression, such as very loud fans when the laptop is overloaded, fast battery drainage, and poor heat management.

What we think

The gaming field is indeed competitive enough and a lot of different manufacturers conquer the place under the sun. But, despite some more or less serious downsides, we still prefer MSI Stealth 15M for composing.

Bottomline

MSI Stealth 15M is a great choice for someone who is looking for a powerful and capable laptop that offers lots of good connectivity options.


FAQs

How to setup laptop for music production?

Here are some general tips to take when setting up your laptop for music production.

  • Turn off automatic updates: As you can image, an automatic update going on while you’re in the middle of a recording session can tremendously affect the quality of your work. Since updates take up precious CPU resources. But more importantly, drivers and important background processes relevant to running your DAW and might be interrupted. It’s best to have manual control of the updates yourself.
  • Turn off Bluetooth and internet: Wireless connections like Bluetooth and internet can impede the performance of your system. Many sources say it’s a good idea to turn this off. I say use your discretion. In my case, it never did much in getting in the way. But if you feel it is an issue, turn them off while you’re working on your music.
  • Turn off all system sound: This should probably be the first item on the list. Naturally, system sounds can interfere with your music. Better have them off.
  • Don’t allow your main storage drive to go to sleep: If left inactive, your storage drive (HDD) can go to sleep. This is naturally to save power. But in doing so you lose valuable resources during long recording sessions.
  • Don’t allow your screen to go to sleep: This is actually optional. If you do a lot of long recording sessions away from your laptop, you will need your screen always on.
  • Schedule your updates for efficiency: pick ideal times for backups to happen, perhaps during hours you know you’re not going to produce any music.
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 how to optimize you Windows computer for music production.

How to upgrade laptop for music production?

Here are some good suggestions on how to upgrade your laptop:

  1. Update your drivers. Makes sure all your drivers are up to date and functioning properly. Drivers are those mysterious bits of software that allow your computer to communicate with the hardware components it comes with. This is primarily important on Windows. Especially, take a look at the display drivers and USB/Thunderbolt drivers to make sure they are running well.
  2. Switch your laptop’s Hard Drive Disk to Solid State Drive. Solid state drives don’t have any load time, compared to disks, as they have no mechanical parts. This will speed up your laptop if you’re suffering from slow load times. It also prevents the mechanism of your laptop’s hard drive from being damaged from heavy bass vibrations when you’re doing live performances.
  3. Install additional RAM. This gives your laptop more ability to store temporary files for quick access and faster loads.
  4. Install a 64-bit OS and software. Since you have more RAM and storage, you can upgrade to 64-bit. This has become the standard now, as 64-bit software can handle more RAM and is generally faster and more efficient than 32-bit software.
  5. If your laptop allows it, get a faster CPU. This is the engine, the heart, of your laptop’s entire operation. Getting a new, faster CPU will certainly help make things move more smoothly.
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 audio interface. This will connect to your laptop via USB or Thunderbolt, providing high-resolution audio and an output designed for studio monitors.

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 audio interface, a microphone (with option pop filter and reflection filter) a pair of headphones and/or studio monitors, 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 vocal mic and an audio interface. 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 music production desktops. 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.


Final Thoughts

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.


How we came to these resultsHow did I come to these results

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.

19 Comments on “12 Best Laptops for Music Production”

  1. 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?

  2. Thanks Flavia for your comment!

    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.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers!

  3. Hey there,

    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?

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Anh

  4. Hi there,

    I would definitely NOT get an older version of a laptop, you want the one that is as future 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.

    Hope that helps

    Thanks for you comment. If you have any more question feel free to ask.

    Cheers

  5. 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

  6. Hi Eli thank you so much for your comment, I’m very happy you find my website useful, it means a lot. God bless!

  7. 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).

  8. 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!

  9. Where would you rate the Lenovo Yoga 920? I’d have thought it would get a look in above the 720?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Hey,

    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.

    cheers! thanks for this.

  13. Hi there!

    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!

    Best!
    MPN

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Hi Aaron,

    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.

    Doctor’s orders!

    Best
    MPN.

  17. Thanks for the informative article. Actually, I was looking for my brother to send them a laptop as a gift on his birthday.
    Going to buy (HP Spectre x360) from your given list. Thanks Dude!

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