10 Best Laptops for Music Production 2018 – [The Producer’s Guide]

Best Laptops for making music and music productionLet’s get you producing your best tracks with the best laptops for music production on the market right now.

Quick answer: The top laptops to choose from are the Dell XPS 15 for PC users, and the Apple MacBook Pro 15 for Mac users. But if you’re on a budget, a good cheap option that we recommend is the Acer Aspire E 15.

For more details and specs, as well as to see the full list, take a look at the product overviews below. We also break down all the important criteria and requirements in the buying guide section. That way you’ll have a better and more educated buying choice if you’re in the market for a new music making machine.

We’ll cover laptops from a low budget to a fairly high budget, for ultra portability or for being your portable desktop replacement, with a careful selection of laptops that have the best rating and customer satisfaction right now. 

Let’s take a closer look 🙂


Table of contents

Find other studio gear here:


Music Production Laptop – At A Glance

Music Production Laptops Best Choices Display Capacity Processor Connections
1 Dell XPS 15 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Dell XPS 15 15.6″ Touch 1 TB SSD, 16 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI
2 ASUS ZenBook Pro (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
ASUS ZenBook Pro 15.6″ Touch 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI
3 Apple MacBook Pro 15 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Apple MacBook Pro 15 15″ Retina 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Six-core, 2.6 GHz Bluetooth, Thunderbolt
4 Apple MacBook Pro 13 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 13″ Retina 512 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM Intel Core i5, Quad-core, 2.3 GHz Bluetooth, Thunderbolt
5 Acer Aspire E 15 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Acer Aspire E 15 15.6″ 258 GB SSD, 8 GB Intel Core i5, Quad-core, 1.6 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, 3.0 & 2.0, HDMI
6 Apple MacBook Air (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Apple MacBook Air 13.3″ 128 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 1.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB 3, Thunderbolt
7 Lenovo Yoga 720 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Lenovo Yoga 720 15.6″ Touch 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI
8 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14″ 258 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB 3, Thunderbolt
9 HP Spectre x360 (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
HP Spectre x360 15.6″ Touch 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 1.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI
10 Acer Predator Triton (see price @ Amazon)
(overview)
Acer Predator Triton 15.6″ 512 GB SSD, 32 GB Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 2-3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI


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).


1 - Dell XPS 15Dell XPS 15

Overview

If you’re looking for one of the best windows laptops for music production out there, take a look at the Dell XPS 15. It’s one of the most highly sought after laptop PCs on the market right now, across the board, with plenty of positive reviews from reasonable customers and professional review sites. The laptop itself is quite powerful and fast, thanks to the combination of the latest Intel quad core i7 processor and SSD drive. Plus, it has some very useful features as well that makes it potentially your first choice if you’re looking for a good music production laptop.

Useful features

As far as specs are concerned, the Dell XPS 15 has all that you need to make beats and mix your tracks, professionally and without any encumbrances in your workflow. Important specifications are the large 1,000 GB solid state drive, coupled with plenty of memory (16 GB RAM) that will keep your plugins and files running smoothly. With this you probably won’t have to worry about running out of room for a while. The processor is an Intel Core i7 with four cores and eight threads for massive possessing of your plugins. Running something like XFer’s Serum on this shouldn’t be a problem. It runs Windows 10 Home, which is sufficient for a music production environment. As far as connections go, you’re set. The laptop has a high speed Bluetooth 4.1 connection, high speed USB connection, one which is the type-C 3.1, the other 3.0, perhaps even more importantly, the high speed Thunderbolt 3 port which will make data transfers not a waste of time.

Other useful features are included. The display is 15.6 inches big and touchscreen. The touchscreen feature should be a very useful and exciting addition to your music production workflow. And the screen is also 4k ultra HD and made of gorilla glass. Don’t drop your laptop, but at least you’re covered. The touchpad allows you to pinch, zoom and click with precision, which is important for moving around objects in object oriented DAWs, or at least getting your faders and MIDI notes to snap in correct places. It also has the Accidental Activation Prevention to stop you from making unintentional clicks in your project and documents. So useful. The keypad is also backlit, which is great for working in a dark environment. Your DAW keyboard shortcuts will be completely of use to you. And for security, there’s a fingerprint scanner. The manufacturer also says that the laptop is 90% recycle, which is cool… a laptop you can recycle. Nice.

Bottom-line

This is a good laptop. The Dell XPS 15 is one of the best laptops around on the market right now and will remain future proof for some time to come. If you’re a PC person looking for a solid music production laptop that can do the work and not complain, the Dell XPS 15 will do you good and you’ll be happy with it. Take a look for yourself, and see it it's good for you.

Read the customer reviews @ Amazon

Dell XPS 15 Specifications
  • Display: 15.6" Touchscreen
  • Storage: 1000 GB SSD
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI

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2 - ASUS ZenBook ProASUS ZenBook Pro

Overview

The ASUS ZenBook Pro is another great laptop for music production. It’s slim, beautiful, and has an inspiring design that we think lends itself well to being a great multimedia machine. Like the name suggestions, you will get pro features in this Windows laptop, with lots of high performance components that you should expect from the best music production laptops out there. From its high res display to the solid state drive to the powerful Intel i7 processor, you get everything you need. And it comes wrapped up in ASUS’ iconic spun-metal package. Let’s take a closer look…

Useful features

When it comes to specs, the ZenBook Pro is pretty good. You can produce high quality sound design projects and mix effectively in your home studio, or in live environments, and without any worry of hiccups in your workflow. The most important specifications are the large 500 GB solid state flash drive, with 16 GB of RAM. Not only will you not worry about running out of space, you can expect instantaneous loading of your plugins and samples, very useful when you’re working with a client, or in live production environments. Powering this is the powerful Intel Core i7 processor, which has a standard speed of 2.8 GHz and four cores for effective multi-tasking. The machine is running Windows 10 Home edition. There’s also all the essential ports that you need, to keep your machine future proof for some time to come, including the Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1 and 3.0, and that very, very important Thunderbolt connection. Plug in another monitor for dual screen music production thanks to useful HDMI connector.

The laptop comes with some other useful features. The screen, with it's a high resolution full-HD display, is touchscreen. I like this for moving around objects in a DAW without having to reach for the mouse of trackpad. It also has a wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. That will certainly be useful if you have to monitor your levels from your keyboards or drums stationed at odd angles around your room. The laptop itself is light, weighs just little more than a phone book at 4lbs, so you can easily move it around. And thanks to its fingerprint reader, you can login securely with just one touch via the Windows Hello feature. The battery is also pretty good, the manufacturer promises that you will get up to 10 hours of continuous use with full-HD playback, which means you can use this with your MIDI controller out in a park or on a long flight without worrying about battery life. And it only takes under 50 minutes to charge to 60%. Cool.

Bottom-line

This is a good laptop, with plenty of positive reviews from customers that bought it. The ASUS ZenBook Pro is not a laptop with a lot of complaints. It is voted 'Amazon’s Choice' and there are plenty of customers that give it good reviews. I like it because I looks beautiful and has all the powerful specs to do the difficult work of loading and processing, making music production fun and fluid. Take a look.

Read the customer reviews @ Amazon

ASUS ZenBook Pro Specifications
  • Display: 15.6" Touchscreen
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Processor:  Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI

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3 - Apple MacBook Pro 15Apple MacBook Pro 15

Overview

As you may know, Mac computers are the universal standard for multi-media and music production. So it’s fairly universally exclaimed that the MacBook Pro 15" is one of the best laptop for music production. Of course, it can be debatable as to whether or not this is true ("best laptop") but naturally, this would have to be in the list. If you’re in the market for a music making machine, one of your first considerations should be a MacBook, otherwise, it’s just a matter of if you prefer Windows PCs for one reason or another (jump to the buyer’s guide). Let’s take a deeper look…

Useful features

As you can imagine, the 15” MacBook Pro is not shy on specs. Even though it shares the same name and type of processor with most of the other laptops in this post, its CPU, the Intel Core i7 Six-core, is 2.6 GHz fast, with the ability to be boosted, making it one of the faster models here. And it is powering a 512 GB solid state drive, with 16 GB of RAM memory. Instantaneous loads are no problem. When you purchase the laptop (2018 model) you will get the MacOS X Sierra. Like all other MacBooks, you will get four super-fast Thunderbolt 3 ports. Unlike many of the other laptops on this list, however, this MacBook has decided to go rogue and stripped all the USBs off. That means you’ll need to buy an adapter to plug in your MIDI controllers and external displays into the Thunderbolt port. That would be the only complaint, really, about the MacBook. But more and more devices, like these recommended audio interfaces, are coming out with Thunderbolt connectors for the new MacBooks.

Besides its super slim and light design (and professional profile), this MacBook also sports some good features that you'll find useful. The new Touch Bar at the top replaces the typical function keys which, to be honest, I always thought were out of date. Good move, Apple. Instead, you get something that is far more intuitive and versatile. The Touch Bar changes automatically based on what you’re doing, and only shows you the relevant tools needed. And with Touch ID, you can easily log into your Mac and even make secure purchases online with one touch. The display is not a touchscreen, but you get a super bright and colorful display. The Retina display has a super fine resolution, which will be useful if you have plugins that scale in GUI. The battery is also pretty good, lasting up to 10 hours of editing and music production.

Bottom-line

You can’t argue with the Mac. The 15 inch MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops out there for producing music, because it is super powerful, beautiful, and efficient. It’s also the industry standard, and certainly future proof for some time to come.

Read the customer reviews @ Amazon

Apple MacBook Pro 15 Specifications
  • Display: 15" Retina
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Six-core, 2.6 GHz
  • OS: MacOS Sierra
  • Connections: Bluetooth, Thunderbolt

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4 - Apple MacBook Pro 13Apple MacBook Pro 13

Overview

If you want a Macbook that’s a little more compact, and also cheaper, then take a look at this MacBook Pro 13" for music production. You’ll get the same industry standard performance, albeit with a smaller screen and memory. But both should be sufficient for recording albums, and doing live performances, making this perhaps a better choice, in my opinion, than the 15-inch model when you want to either work on beats on the go, do field recordings, and perform using Live, Bitwig, or a DJ software. Yes, this MacBook was designed for speed and portability, so keep that in mind when looking for your next laptop.

Useful features

The 13” MacBook Pro is, like its bigger brother, not shy on specs. But it does differ from it in a few important ways to make mention of. The processor is a dual-core Intel Core i5, instead of the often more recommended (and sometimes coveted) i7 quad core processors that you will find on this list. Is this sufficient? From my experience, it still is. Not a lot of lag is expected, and by the way, there is a solid state drive (512 GB) plus 8 GB of RAM which will still do a good job of quickly loading up all your DAW plugins and libraries without much hiccup in performance. Like all the Macs, there will be a bunch of Thunderbolt 3 ports (four in total) for you to plug all your controllers and audio interfaces into. It doesn’t come with either DVD/CD drives or USB drives, so you will need to purchase those externally (it’s a trend that’s happening). When you purchase the newest model (2018) you will get loaded onto the computer MacOS’s High Sierra operating system.

Like it’s big brother, it is slim and elegant in design. It’s lighter than the 15” model, naturally, because it is smaller, making it very useful for carrying around with you. The backlit keyboard will make hitting those shortcut keys a cinch when you’re working in a dark studio. It also comes with the Touch Bar and Touch ID features, which are both very useful, in my opinion. The Touch Bar is used to replace the common function keys at the top of the keyboard. Instead you get touch controls that change as you use the laptop, based on what you’re doing. It’s also customizable. Also, the Touch ID gives you the ability to log in to your notebook without having to remember long passwords, even allowing you to securely login to your online sites whenever you need to buy something. Like the bigger brother, the 13” will give you 10 hours of continuous use editing and recording music. Only downside is that the otherwise beautiful retina display is not touchscreen.

Bottom-line

If you want a portable industry standard, with lots of space and power, get this. This would be especially good for students, beatmakers, and singer-songwriters who’re looking for something that they can carry around with them a lot. Otherwise, if you work in music, and know you need to do a lot of traveling, and want a travel solution, this is a very good option for you (the other would be the Air).

Read the customer reviews @ Amazon

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Specifications
  • Display: 13" Retina
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 2.3GHz
  • OS: MacOS High Sierra
  • Connections: Bluetooth, Thunderbolt

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5 - Acer Aspire E 15Acer Aspire E 15

Overview

The Acer Aspire E 15 is one of the best cheap laptops out there for music production, and there are not that many options out there. It’s also the only laptop on this list with its own DVD RW drive (double layer). Despite its price the Aspire really does “aspire” to be a great budget laptop for home studio owners and music producers who’re unable to cash out over a grand for a good laptop. And this is a good laptop. Acer has been steadily dominating the PC market lately, making computers and laptops that are giving the previous budget warriors, like Compaq (remember them?), a run for their money. Personally I’ve never used an Acer, but have seen it around the block in beatmakerdom. Plus, it's currently one of the most popular laptops sold on Amazon,

Useful features

Specwise, the Aspire is not too shabby. It has one of those essential specs that we have come to rely upon nowadays in the music production business: a solid state drive. Of course, it is not a large drive, just 258 GB, meaning that sooner or later you will need to expand your storage with an external hard drive. Until then, try to keep your sample library down to a minimum, and trash any project files you know are just... well, trash. There is decent memory size on this machine as well, with 8 GB working in tandem with a 258 GB SSD drive, startups and loading up of files shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The processor is the latest Intel Core i5 dual-core CPU that can turbo boost up to 3.4 GHz. But there's the option to get the i5 quad core if you want to spend 200 dollars more. It has, as mentioned, a dual layer DVD burner, plus 4 USB ports, one of which is the high speed type-C USB 3.1 port. Unfortunately, no thunderbolt.

Perhaps the biggest selling feature of this laptop is that it has its own DVD drive for reading and writing. That means you not only save money on a machine for music making, you also save money on having to buy an external DVD drive. Two birds; one stone. Of course, you will need to get an external drive for storage expansion, but you would need that anyway. The manufacturer boasts that you will get up to 15 hours of battery life, which is good. Despite the reduced price, there is still a nice large 15.6” display for easy arrangement. Design wise, it is beautiful laptop for the price, in my opinion, with a clean and smooth look without any unnecessary frills.

Bottom-line

This is a good laptop. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, and want to get something to make music now, and worry about expanding on the storage later, this your option. It’s still powerful, and you can do many advanced things with this without much complaint from the machine. Definitely recommended if you’re on the budget.

Read the customer reviews @ Amazon

Acer Aspire E 15 Specifications
  • Display: 15.6"
  • Storage: 258 SSD
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i5, Quad-core, 1.6 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, 3.0 & 2.0, HDMI

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6 - Apple MacBook AirApple MacBook Air

Overview

Remember when there was a little debate over whether or not a MacBook Air can be suitable for music production? The fact that it is small sometimes turn people off, even turned us  away for a time, until we started seeing producers with it more and more, and came across this post some years ago. So, our vote would be, if you’re looking a ultra portable machine for music making a mixing, the MacBook air is really one of the best choices out there. It is cheap (under 1000 dollars “cheap”), has a solid state drive, and the sufficient amount of ram necessary to power anything from multi instances of Omnisphere, Serum, iZotope, without any hiccups in performance. With all that said, let’s take a brief look inside the MacBook Air…

Useful features

In terms of the specs, the Air is definitely the baby brother of the MacBook family. It shares the same screen real estate as the MacBook Pro 13,” and mostly around the same dimensions, but its overall design lends it to being more portable, light, and carry friendly than the other two. This, of course, is very good if you’re an on-the-go musician and producer that need a simple machine you can setup to do field recordings, live performances, DJing, and so on. Then you take it back home, hook it up to your external drives and screens, and get down to some high performance production work. The processor is a 1.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, which isn’t as fantastic as the i7, admittedly, but it’s still good. And there is 8 GB of memory, which is not bad, and a 128 GB solid state drive (as said, you’d need an external hard drive).

Since this is designed as a portable machine, you can expect that the battery time will not be a problem for you. You will get up 12 hours of continuous working time, with 30 days standby time. In terms of connections, this comes with the Thunderbolt 2 connector, but it also comes with two USB 3 ports as well, which is something that the other bigger brothers don’t have. Even though it costs a lot less, there are still some cool features, like the full sized backlit keyboard, a larger-than-the-competition multi-touch trackpad that’s very accurate, and the ambient light sensor that adjusts your screen brightness to your environment automatically. When you purchase the Air (newest version) you will also get MacOS High Sierra.

Bottom-line

Out of the MacBook family this is the perhaps the most accessible to the budget buyer who is intended on getting a MacBook for music production. However, the intent may really be motivated by a need for ultra-portability. So if that is what you need, a Mac that you carry with super-ease, and won’t put too much of a dent in your pocket, then you should check this one out!

Apple MacBook Air Specifications
  • Display: 13.3"
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i5, Dual-core, 1.8GHz
  • OS: MacOS High Sierra
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB 3, Thunderbolt

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7 - Lenovo Yoga 720Lenovo Yoga 720

Overview

Lenovo makes some of the best and most reliable Windows laptops on the market. Even though we’ve used Macs, Lenovo laptops tend to be the personal preference, and been never been a disappoint. One of their best models is the Yoga series, with the Lenovo Yoga 720 15 being the choice if you’re looking for a media savvy machine. Lenovo calls it the “world’s first convertible laptop,” which when combining the Lenovo Active Pen with its super flexible hinges (hence, “Yoga”) you can see that they were targeting the visual media creator market out there. But for the purpose of music production, the laptop more than exceeds all the base requirements you need for a music production laptop. Let’s take a closer look…

Useful features

When it comes to specs, the Yoga 720 15 is pretty good. This particular music production laptop has a 512 GB solid state hard drive paired with 16 GB RAM memory. You can expect instantaneous loading of all your plugins, software, and samples without any problem. Because of the size, you wouldn’t be worrying about space for some time to come. The machine is powered by an i7 Intel Core process, with four cores running at a baseline speed of 2.8 GHz. That is very sufficient. And you get Windows 10 Home edition, which is also sufficient for making music and mixing. Overall, a very good laptop that can handle any sound designing project you can throw at it. Plus, it comes with that all important Thunderbolt connector for massive transfer speeds, a super high speed USB-C 3.1 port, and 2 high speed USB 3.0 ports for all your devices.

The battery life on this machine is also pretty good, you get up to 8 hours of battery use… no word on whether or not it is “continuous use” or intermittent use, but either way, it sufficient if you’re looking for a music production laptop that you primarily want to use at home, but can handle the road when you need it to. Another important specification is the fingerprint reader, which is a very good option for keeping your files secure. The screen is 15.6 inches big and is touchscreen. It works in tandem with the special stylus (sold separately), but you can just use your finger. Speaking of the screen, it has a 360 degree flip-and-fold design, which we're sure you could find useful in some way. Any downsides? It doesn’t have its own DVD/CD tray… but so do most options these days. So there isn’t really any downside to this unit, from what we can find.

Bottom-line

This is a good laptop. It is good for making music, recording music, editing music, and sound designing. It has a beautiful look to it that’s professional and sleek. It has a lot of great reviews on Amazon from reasonable buyers. You most likely cannot go wrong with the Lenovo Yoga 720 15. So it the recommendation as one of the best music production laptops out there. Check it out!

Lenovo Yoga 720 Specifications
  • Display: 15.6" Touchscreen
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 2.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI

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8 - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 CarbonLenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Overview

Another great Lenovo machine with a flexible personality is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The ThinkPad is a designed as a business laptop, and less as a consumer laptop. Expect it to be rugged, compact, and portable, as well as powerful enough to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. Even though one might expect this to be the laptop of choice for "helmets in suits" I’ve personally seen this used as the laptops of choice for touring artists, producers, and DJs. It would make sense, the solid design means it take a little jostling about, getting beverages splashed on it, and withstand the bass vibration for a live performance or production. And if you do field recording of any kind, you can take this to edge of civilization, with a battery life that will follow you there to capture those unique samples you want. With that said, let’s take a closer look…

Useful features

The specification of the ThinkPad is not disappointing. If you plan on running a DAW project with lots of instances of massive CPU intensive plugins, like synthesizers and effects processors, you can do that with confidence, thanks to the Intel Core i7 processor. Like the other i7 processors, you will get four course of multi-tasking processing power, pushing speeds all the way up to 3.4 GHz, which is not bad at all. In terms of space, the ThinkPad is modest. Just 256 GB of solid state hard drive, with 8 GB of RAM. Getting storage expansion will allow you to use this one the road without any worry, and take it back home, plug it up to your studio controllers, and storage expansions, and you’re good to go. Any downsides? This unit doesn’t come with the (ever more essential) Thunderbolt connector, but with high speed USB 3.0 ports. This doesn’t make the ThinkPad entirely future proof, but it is a consideration nonetheless.

Battery life is fantastic. You get up to 11 hours of continuous use, which should prove very handy when you’re on the go doing music production and DJing on the road. When you purchase the machine, you will get the Professional version of Windows 10, which is nice to have. The unit, as a business laptop, is also secure, thanks to its fingerprint scanner keeping your files out of the hands of mischief. And if you plan on using a lot of Bluetooth type controlling, it uses the high speed Bluetooth 4.1vpro. This is also one of the lightest laptops on the list, weighing in at just over 2.6 pounds, like the MacBook Air also recommend. The screen is 14 inches big, packing in 2560 x 1440 pixels into its non-touch anti-glare display.

Bottom-line

A very good laptop. If you know that your life style is fairly rugged, and you need to be on the road a lot, or in environments where there might be some abuse to your machine, you will feel safe with this ThinkPad in your hands. It is super powerful, and with some storage expansion you can do all your high powered tasks without fear.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Specifications
  • Display: 14"
  • Storage: 258 SSD
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Dual-core, 2.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Professional
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI

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9 - HP Spectre x360HP Spectre x360

Overview

The HP Spectre x360 is a beautiful powerful laptop with touchscreen display. It has everything that you need and more to produce music on your laptop, and has some very useful specs that you might find interesting, including a banging built in stereo system that beats the other laptops on this list. For the price, this laptop is very good bargain, and because it’s HP you know it’s from a reputable computer manufacturer. This is a mid to upper mid budget laptop, putting it right the upper middle of a powerful music production workhorse that you can take around. It also has a higher than average rating on Amazon, which is very good for a laptop, considering that this includes even the most unreasonable customer review. So let’s look a little deeply into this laptop, and see why you should be getting it…

Useful features

As far as specification goes, the HP Spectre x360 is similar to the Lenovo Yoga. It falls in the same category of a convertible laptop, meaning you can convert it into a tablet whenever you want. But the most important specs is the power first, then storage, then connections, as we’ve said. The storage is sufficient. With 512 GB you are not going to run out of room for a little while. And it is a solid state drive, which when coupled with the 16 GB of RAM memory, you will be able to load up your files and DAW and other plugin software with ease. The connections are also sufficient; you will get the Thunderbolt 3 port to plug in your external hard drives for massive high speed data transfers. Very good if you plan on hosting your libraries externally. In addition, there are 2 other USB ports to use, both of them type-C 3.1, high speed ports.

The screen is a beautiful 15.6” display with 4K resolution, and touchscreen. This, of course, is very useful for adjusting objects and levels in your DAW by finger, and not by mouse or trackpad. The keyboard itself is backlit, which is good. Perhaps one of the selling points of this particular laptop in this price-range and category, is the Band & Olufsen stereo speakers. This laptop has one of the best speaker systems you can get, which should be useful for playing music on your laptop when you’re not around your studio monitors, or headphones. Perhaps the only potential downside to this laptop is the fairly limited battery life. Even though the manufacturer states there is battery life of 12 hours, a few users have noted that it is good, but not great.

Bottom-line

The Spectre x360 is another great recommend. The buying points would be the touchscreen display, and the banging speak system that it comes with. Besides that, I’m certain that this laptop won’t be a disappointment when it comes to producing music in your home studio, or anywhere else you could take it. Check it out!

HP Spectre x360 Specifications
  • Display: 15.6" Touchscreen
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Quad-core, 1.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI

(13.3" model featured in video)

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10 - Acer Predator TritonAcer Predator Triton

Overview

If you’re looking for the ultimate laptop for music production, take a look at this Acer Predator Triton 700. This laptop is kind of a beast. Built for gaming, it has a large solid state drive storage, a powerful processor, and the largest RAM on this list that you can find on a non-custom laptop. And it all comes housed in a super slim device that you can take around with you. And if you happen to be a gamer as well as music producer, then this would be the best laptop for you on this list. Let’s take a look inside…

Useful features

The specs are very good. The storage is a nice standard 512 GB solid state drive that is split into two 256 GB drives. It is paired by massive amounts of memory, we’re talking 32 GB of RAM, which should be more than what you’d need for producing music. And powering it is the super powerful 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor, with four cores that can be overclocked if you need it to be. The result is a laptop that is entirely future proof against whatever software plugins you want to run for some time to come. And because it is a gaming laptop, it has a dedicated internal heating system. Music production can certainly run up the heat of your machine, this we are familiar with, you can keep your cool knowing that there are two Aeroblade 3D fans built inside designed to provide maximum airflow around the internals of the chassis, with 5 heat pipes to distribute and rid the Triton of any excess heat buildup. It also comes with the sufficient connections that you’d need, a Thunderbolt port, and high speed USB-C and 3.0 ports for all your connections.

Because it is a gaming laptop, you can expect the screen, as well as the graphics, to be very good. Not a touchscreen, though, so if you were hoping for that, sorry. Otherwise the screen is tough, made out of gorilla glass, so you won’t be worried about any unwanted accidents doing any damage to the display. The display, by the way, is a nice 15.6 inches big. There is only one serious downside to this machine, and that would be that the battery life is quite poor. With only 2 to 3 hours of battery use, you can’t really expect this to be a truly portable music production laptop. You’d need to always be within access of an outlet. That means that, in choosing this laptop, you’re planning on using it mostly as your studio workstation, one which you can plug out and carry with you. And as far as that is concerned, it is good, because there is no compromise in performance either way.

Bottom-line

This is a good laptop. It is super powerful, and you can make and mixes anything with it in confidence. No worries over whether there will be glitches in your workflow. Just mind the battery, and you’ll be fine. Check it out!

Acer Predator Triton Specifications
  • Display: 15.6"
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • Memory: 32 GB
  • Processor: Intel Core i7, Dual-core, 2.8 GHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C 3.1, USB 2-3.0, Thunderbolt, HDMI

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Music Production Laptop Buying Guide

Whether you're simply interested in making beats, recording your guitar, keys or vocals, mixing music, or scoring for films or games, a laptop as a music machine will be your essential music making tool. But choosing among the plethora of brands, styles, makes and models swarming the market, can, admittedly, be daunting.

Hence, in this guide we've broken down the principles of choosing a good music production laptop to its bare bone essentials, and determined what laptops are on the market now that you can buy that fit that criteria.


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. But Windows can be just as stable and good. Some people have spent their entire professional lives within the walled garden of the MacIntosh computer framework. Their dedication to the brand is based on familiarity.

  • 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 dual or quad-core series. AMD A10 quad-cores are also sufficient.

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 interface, studio headphones, and a microphone as your bare essentials (read more on what home studio gear to get here).

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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 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.

What type of laptop is good 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.

13 Comments on “10 Best Laptops for Music Production 2018 – [The Producer’s Guide]”

  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. 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).

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

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