For ages, the best music production laptop was a Macbook Pro. But finding a computer has become more complicated if you are an aspiring or current music producer. You’ll find that the classic Apple laptop has been dethroned from its top position.
Laptops are ideal for the mobile musician, as they are easier to carry around than an entire desktop computer. So if this sounds like you, your favorite laptop will likely differ from the next musician.
Below, you’ll learn about the five best laptops for audio production and some tips you can use when shopping for your own computer.
5 Best Music Production Laptops in 2023
1. Dell 2023 XPS 17
- [ Latest And Greatest ] Released in 2022 The XPS 9720 Laptop is Dell’s latest release in the 17″ XPS family. It includes a 1 year warranty with on-site Service and comes with all the latest technology including DDR5 Memory clocked at a whopping 4800MHz anda 12th generation Intel 14-core Processor. The Fourteen cores on the Core i7-12700H processor allows for exceptional multitasking. To save power and prolong battery life the processor will run @ 3.5Ghz under low use but will boost to 4.7GHz u
- [ Display & Graphics ] This XPS 9720 Laptop comes with a 17″ Touch Screen with 4K (3840×2400) resolution for stunningly clear visuals and a dedicated GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card with 4GB of Dedicated Graphics Ram great for gaming or photo and video editing
- [ High Speed RAM And Enormous Space ] The 32GB DDR5 RAM Running @ 4800MHz will let you smoothly run multiple applications and browser tabs all at once and a 1TB (1000GB) PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive will provide fast startup, data transfers, and large file storage!
- [ Operating System ] Windows 11 is Microsoft’s latest Operating System released in 2022 and if you want to downgrade to the older windows 10, you can downgrade with an easy download from Microsoft’s website.The Home Edition will come with everything you need but you can also upgrade to windows pro from the windows store for $100.
- [ Extra Details ] A Wecbam comes integrated. Wifi and Bluetooth come integrated.
The Dell XPS 17 is a high-performance laptop with a premium design, making it a strong music production contender.
This laptop features powerful 11th Gen Intel Core processors (up to i9), coupled with up to 64GB RAM, making it highly efficient for running demanding DAWs and multiple plugins simultaneously. It also offers up to 4TB of SSD storage, providing vast space for your projects and ensuring faster loading times.
Another key highlight of the XPS 17 is its impressive 17-inch 4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) display. The added screen real estate and the ultra-high resolution can be beneficial when working with complex DAW interfaces.
As for the sound, the XPS 17 is equipped with a four-speaker design and Waves Nx 3D audio for speakers tuned by multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, Jack Joseph Puig. Though no laptop speakers can replace studio monitors, the quality on offer here is a notch above the average laptop.
- High-performance processors and RAM for efficient multitasking.
- Huge SSD storage options.
- Large 4K UHD+ display for detailed viewing.
- Exceptional audio quality for a laptop.
- Premium pricing may be out of reach for some.
- Heavier and larger than most laptops, reducing its portability.
2. Acer Nitro 5 AN515-57-79TD Gaming Laptop
- Dominate the Game: With the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H processor, your Nitro 5 is packed with incredible power for all your games.Voltage:4.8 volts
- RTX, It’s On: The latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (4GB dedicated GDDR6 VRAM) is powered by award-winning architecture with new Ray Tracing Cores, Tensor Cores, and streaming multiprocessors support DirectX 12 Ultimate for the ultimate gaming performance
- Visual Intensity: Explore game worlds in Full HD detail on the 15.6″ widescreen LED-backlit IPS display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz refresh rate and 80% screen-to-body, 16:9 aspect ratio
- Internal Specifications: 8GB DDR4 3200MHz Memory (2 DDR4 Slots Total, Maximum 32GB); 512GB NVMe SSD (2 x PCIe M.2 Slots, 1 x 2.5″ Hard Drive Bay Available)
- Prioritize Your Gameplay: Killer DoubleShot Pro with Ethernet E2600 and Killer Wi-Fi 6 1650 lets you use Wi-Fi and Ethernet at the same time, and have total control over priority traffic to maximize speed, throughput, and control
The Acer Nitro 5 AN515-57-79TD Gaming Laptop is a value-packed machine that delivers performance capable of handling music production tasks without breaking the bank.
The laptop is powered by an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and has 16GB of RAM, enough to handle most music production workloads. The 512GB SSD might be limited if you have vast sample libraries, but it provides quick loading times.
While it’s primarily designed for gaming, the Acer Nitro 5 has some tricks that benefit music producers. Its cooling technology ensures the laptop stays cool even under a heavy workload, and the NitroSense Key lets you monitor and manage your system performance and cooling.
The 15.6″ Full HD IPS display provides clear visuals, and though its speakers won’t replace a professional audio setup, they deliver decent sound for casual listening.
- High-performance processor and graphics.
- Ample RAM and storage.
- High-quality display and speakers.
- The graphics card makes this workable for (music) video editing
- Gaming aesthetics may not suit everyone.
- Cost is driven up by unnecessary features
- It has a glaring backlit keyboard
- The sound quality could be better
3. Apple Macbook Pro
- SUPERCHARGED BY M2 PRO OR M2 MAX — Take on demanding projects with the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. M2 Pro has 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores, and up to 32GB unified memory. M2 Max has 12 CPU cores, up to 38 GPU cores, and up to 96GB unified memory.
- UP TO 22 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFE — Go all day thanks to the power-efficient design of the M2 Pro or M2 Max chip. And the MacBook Pro laptop delivers exceptional performance whether it’s running on battery or plugged in.
- FULLY COMPATIBLE — All your pro apps run lightning fast — including Adobe Creative Cloud, Xcode, Affinity Designer, Microsoft 365, and many of your favorite iPhone and iPad apps.
- BEAUTIFUL PRO DISPLAY — The 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display features Extreme Dynamic Range, over 1000 nits of brightness for stunning HDR content, and pro reference modes for doing your best work on the go.
- ADVANCED CAMERA AND AUDIO — Look sharp and sound great with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a studio-quality three-mic array, and a six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio.
As the older brother of the Apple Macbook Air, the MacBook Pro is a staple in the music production industry. With its powerful Intel or Apple M1 chips, incredible build quality, and seamless integration with music production software like Logic Pro X, it’s no wonder many professionals choose MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro offers high-speed processors, up to 64GB of RAM, and up to 8TB of SSD storage, accommodating even the most extensive and demanding projects. The Retina Display offers an immersive, high-resolution visual experience, which is great for working on intricate DAWs.
Another significant advantage of the MacBook Pro is its superior sound system. With high-fidelity sound and wide stereo sound, it provides an impressive audio experience for a laptop.Pros
- High-performance processors.
- Top-notch display and speakers.
- Excellent build quality and customer support.
- Limited ports.
4. Microsoft Surface Pro 9
- Built on the Intel Evo platform with 12th Gen Intel Core processors..Control method:touch.connectivity Technology : Bluetooth 5.1
- Up to 15.5hours of battery life.
- Adjust the angle with built-in Kickstand.
- Virtually edge-to-edge 13” PixelSense touchscreen designed for pen and Windows 11.
- Surface Slim Pen 2 storage and charging built right into Surface Pro Signature Keyboard.[1,5]
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a versatile 2-in-1 laptop that delivers a strong performance while offering the convenience of portability. It’s a good fit for music producers who are often on the move. Note: be sure to stick with the pro form of this Windows Laptop, as the basic forms might lack the power you need.
This Microsoft Surface laptop offers a variety of configurations, with up to an Intel i7 processor, 32GB RAM, and 1TB SSD, making it competent to handle most music production tasks.
Its compact design and detachable keyboard make it highly portable. The 13-inch PixelSense touchscreen provides a sharp and vibrant display for your DAW.
Its sound system features dual far-field Studio Mics and Dolby Atmos, offering decent audio for a portable device.Pros
- Portable and versatile 2-in-1 design.
- Good performance specs.
- High-resolution display.
- Not as sturdy as traditional laptops.
- Smaller screen size.
5. HP Pavilion 15 Laptop
- INSTANT GRATIFICATION – Experience a laptop with premium performance, so you can spend less time getting more done; it’s like a small PC that’s compact enough to go where you go with a long-lasting battery to power you through your day
- EPIC ENTERTAINMENT – With audio by B&O, a larger screen-to-body ratio, and a 15.6-inch Full HD micro-edged screen to maximize your view, entertainment on your laptop feels like bringing the theater home (1)
- IMPRESSIVE GRAPHICS – The Intel Iris Xe Graphics gives you a new level of graphics performance with crisp, stunning visuals, plus the convenience of a thin and light laptop (2)
- UNSTOPPABLE PERFORMANCE – Get things done fast with the 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, which delivers instant responsiveness and best-in-class connectivity (3)
- MEMORY AND STORAGE – Enjoy up to 15x faster performance than a traditional hard drive with 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage (4) and experience improved multitasking with higher bandwidth thanks to 16 GB of RAM
The HP Pavilion 15 laptop is a mid-range machine packed with impressive features that make it a suitable choice for music production.
With an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor (depending on the specific model), the Pavilion 15 doesn’t disappoint. This becomes particularly important when using resource-intensive DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and plugins.
Another significant factor for music production is storage space. With up to 1TB of HDD or 512GB of SSD storage, the HP Pavilion 15 provides ample room for your projects and facilitates faster software loading.
The HP Pavilion 15 also has an impressive sound system for a laptop in its range. The B&O speakers deliver a clear and fairly detailed sound, beneficial when mixing and mastering.
But it’s not all about the internal features. The Pavilion 15 also has various ports, including USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, SD card reader, and a headphone/microphone combo jack. You can connect multiple external devices like MIDI keyboards, audio interfaces, and external monitors without additional adapters.
The laptop’s battery life is also decent, offering around 8 hours of moderate use, making it a good option for producing music on the go.
Finally, let’s touch on the laptop’s display. It features a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution, providing a crisp, clear view of your projects. This is a great advantage when working with DAWs that have intricate interfaces.
- Robust processor for efficient multitasking.
- Ample storage for music files.
- Good quality sound system for a mid-range laptop.
- Variety of ports for connecting external devices.
- It may not be as powerful as high-end laptops designed for music production.
- The in-built sound system, while decent, won’t replace a good pair of studio monitors or headphones.
- Battery life could drain quickly under heavy load.
How To Pick the Best Laptop for Music Production
Ultimately, you want to find a great laptop for your production needs. Whether money is no object or you want the best budget laptop that still works well for music, some standards will help you choose the best laptop.
Below, you’ll learn a bit more about what you should expect.
How Much RAM for Music Production?
RAM, or Random Access Memory, is stored data the computer needs to retrieve quickly. When people look for a fast, multitasking laptop, they often want one with a bit more RAM. Our recommendation: shoot for 16 GB of RAM.
When choosing a laptop, you should look for RAM that meets the recommended requirements of your DAW (digital audio workstation). Ignore the “minimum” requirements (usually around 8 GB), as going with those might risk your computer chugging.
Many computers include upgrade slots for RAM, so keep that in mind if you find a good processor with weak RAM. If there are no upgrade slots, you are stuck with what you got.
How Much Processing Power for Producing Music?
The processor (or CPU) is the powerhouse for the computer, or how much it can “lift” over time. When shopping for CPUs, you’ll find one of two companies: Intel and AMD.
A Good Intel Core processor for music production should be an i7 in most cases. But, there are some cases where new i5 processors will outperform older i7s. You can also get an i9 if you’re willing to pay for maximum production performance (though it’s unnecessary).
AMD Ryzen processors are typically the alternative. In this case, pay attention to the first two digits of the CPU’s model number, which will reveal the age. The latest model numbers start with “7xxx.”
Check out the CPU Benchmarks site to know which processor is truly better. But from an overall perspective, Intel Core CPUs usually have more stability, while AMD processors are inexpensive (not low quality).
How Much Hard Drive Space Do You Need?
Typically, you don’t need much hard drive space for your music production needs. Between 50 and 128 GB is often enough to meet most needs.
This might change depending on the complexity of your software. It’s best to exceed the space required by your music production software by several GBs. This should give you room to save your audio tracks.
When Do You Need a Large, High-Quality Screen for Making Music?
You don’t need a huge screen to indicate a powerful laptop. Instead, it’s a matter of your preference and the complexity of your chosen DAW. Because of this, laptops on this list can range from 10 to 18 inches.
More complex music production applications can also benefit from higher-quality screens. But unless you are also into video editing, you won’t need a 4k display. Even the most serious music producer can get away with a solid laptop at 1080p.
How Weight Impacts Your Look for a Laptop
The weight impacts how easy your laptop is to carry around. Heavier laptops typically have a larger battery and more ports that you can use. You might also find a bigger, more powerful CPU in these heftier laptops.
Just because it’s light doesn’t mean it isn’t a great laptop for music production. For example, the Surface Pro we mentioned earlier is incredibly lightweight, doubles as a table, and has surprisingly much power in a small device.
Smaller laptops are also easier to carry around, so make sure your laptop is something that won’t weigh you down.
Do You Need Touchscreen Features?
You’ll find many options if you want a laptop with touchscreen features. But ultimately, having a touchscreen laptop is a convenience feature you don’t need.
If you want to worry about getting a high-quality display for music production, get a higher-quality screen. Touchscreens take away from the laptop’s power and make it incredibly expensive to replace the screen if it breaks.
That being said, a laptop that comes with touchscreen features can improve your productivity a bit. Many of the laptops on this list have these as an option.
What’s a Good Battery Life for Making Music?
Many music products can tether themselves to a cord, limiting the need for long battery life. But those who don’t have an outlet handy need a laptop that has a minimum of six hours (ideally eight).
Software for music production takes a lot of power. Many producers also need laptops for other important duties, like video or photo editing.
Laptops are all great for different things, and not all focus on battery life. For example, gaming computers will often assume you are near an outlet.
Remember your proximity to an outlet when choosing your music production setup.
SSD vs HDD: What’s the Best Option for Music Production?
Hands down, the best place for music producers to store their files is on an SSD hard drive. SSDs, or solid-state drives, are far faster than HDDs (hard disk drives).
All modern laptops rely on SSDs and those that don’t are much slower. Whether you want to watch YouTube or make music, you don’t want to wait an extra five minutes for your operating system to load.
Best Operating System or Computer for Music Production [Mac, Windows, or Linux]
The are three general choices when comparing operating systems for your computer: Windows, macOS, and Linux (Ubuntu, Mint, etc.). Here’s a comparison of the three operating systems for your knowledge:
Windows is the quintessential operating system for almost everything. Beyond intensive music production, many Windows PCs are used in almost everything. As a result of being in that “jack of all trades” category, they take more setup than their Mac-based alternatives.
First, no Windows system comes pre-loaded with a DAW, so you must find one. So many DAWs are available that it feels a bit overwhelming for some.
In addition, Windows users are the only ones who need to worry about most of the other stuff we’ve discussed in this area. Windows PCs are heavily customizable and come in a wide variety of flavors.
Still, if you want an affordable laptop with tons of flexibility, Windows has options. It’s also less painful than other operating systems.
People search for Apple laptops for music production on Google because Apple has an established brand. But if you want an affordable laptop, you don’t want an Apple laptop.
People are willing to pay a lot for the convenience of Apple. When you buy an Apple, you don’t have to worry about processing power or RAM as much. Instead, your only question is, “What’s the latest Apple thing.”
You also don’t have to shop around as much for DAWs, as it comes with a beginner’s DAW: Garage Band. If you want the professional version of this, you can upgrade to Logic Pro X.
Also, if your Apple laptop breaks, you better hope it’s under warranty. If you own an older Mac, Apple is very anti-consumer regarding repairs. So, if you want some more convenience, be prepared to feel constant pressure to get the latest thing.
Linux comes in a wide range of flavors, which we won’t list here because it would turn this article into a small book. But, if you want to look for laptops to choose from, Linux works on all the same laptops Windows will work on.
Linux is also free, which is why it’s appealing (especially for repurposing old machines). But is there any potential for Linux when it comes to music production? Short answer: yes. Long answer: it’s going to take a bit of work.
Linux requires some technical skills to install. If you don’t have that skill, you’ll run into various compatibility issues, struggling with drivers, and wasting time getting used to the new system.
Some Linux systems require you to learn their version of Command Prompt. Others (like Mint) are far simpler but less compatible with the latest DAWs.
Here’s a list of potential Linux distros you might consider.