Update: If you’d like a list of the best laptop for producing music, follow this link
Best Laptop for Producing Music
In this post, I will guide you through the things you need to consider when searching for what is the best laptop for producing music.
When I just started producing music professionally, it was on a renovated Gateway NV series that I got from my father when he wasn’t using it anymore. I had it running Ubuntu and then Studio One 2.6, and with it, I produced an entire album of 12 tracks for a musical commissioned. All in the space of 6 months.
It was stressful. But at the time I learned a few things.
- You can make music using a budget laptop.
- But life is easier if you have a general idea of what you’re supposed to have.
I’ve come a good way since then. But it made me realize how possible is was to make music once you had a decent computer or laptop. You don’t need any fancy equipment, to begin with. Chances are that you will need them as you invest in yourself and your craft, thus earning more money to have the more powerful equipment and tools. But if you just beginning, chances are the computer or laptop that you’re using to read this post is good enough to make music now.
All that requires is some software, and some gear, like headphones, an audio interface, and a midi controller (if you’ll be playing anything).
If you are here, it’s most likely that you are a beginner or a late beginner. Or an amateur wanting to go pro. So there are a few basic things you need to consider when searching to buy a music production laptop computer.
The first thing is processor power. Most budget laptops will be powerful enough for you to run the full version of the best music software. But you will also at some point be running other plug-ins that will be using up your processor’s juices. The recommended processor will be at least an Intel Core i5. AMD equivalents are good as well, such as the A10 with 4 cores. It’s nothing to overthink, however.
The next thing to consider is your hard drive. It is ideal to have a larger hard drive than not. You will begin to notice that your DAW will begin creating more and more audio files and that will quickly eat up space if you’re not monitoring it. Not just that, you will develop a sample library that will go into the 10s if not 100s of GB. This is especially so if you’re working scoring elements or live samples. I would suggest on getting a laptop computer with no less than 500 GB, and ideally 1 TB.
Another word on HDs is the option to go solid state. These are more expensive, but they are faster. The speed of your HD will be an issue when it comes to your samples. Your computer will be searching for samples to trigger whenever you write or play MIDI notes in your music (synthesizers only take up processing power). A solid state drive does have to not physically locate its data. Eventually, you will find that things like the load time of a plugin that uses samples, and how often a sample will drop out when you’re playing notes in. If you can go solid state, then I’d recommend it.
The best laptop to get is probably an Apple Macbook, if even a refurbished one. Unless, of course, you plan on running Windows only DAWs such as Cakewalk SONAR. But if you’re searching for a budget laptop, there are several options available for Windows. I will be covering this in another post.
You want 8 GB of RAM. 6 may be sufficient, but because we’re working with high-quality sound files, you want don’t want to hear a lot of stuttering when you’re trying to make or record music.
Because you will be working with an Audio Interface, you need to have at least 2 USB ports on your laptop. You want at least one of your USB ports to be version 3.0 for high-speed transfers. The more there are, the better, because you may want to plug in a thumb drive to save or load a file, an external HD to trigger samples for a VSTi, plus run an audio interface at the same time. Of course, you can always get a USB hub to cover all your USB requirements. But since we are narrowing down options, it is always a good idea to get more than 1, ideally 3 or 4, USB ports.
CD trays are starting to get out of style. But I still think that they serve an important purpose. We still listen to music on CDs, and can use CDs and DVDs as reliable backups for song and files. If you have a client that you’re working with locally, you would like to give them the option of creating a physical copy of the music you’re working on. Some people will ask, and it is always easier when you already have it.
That about covers it for your laptop requirements for producing music. In the next post, I will be discussing the laptops you can buy right now to start making music.
If you have any thoughts or your own tips, let me know in the comments.
Have a good one! Make awesome music!