Best Laptops for Music Production
Music production has gone leaps and bounds in innovation over the years. Gone are the days when expensive studio setup was king. Today, almost every average Joe who has a passion for music production can produce any type of music at the comfort of his house using only a laptop. Of course, you will need to have a laptop powerful enough to handle the heavy demands of music production.
That said, you will need to think about a piece of hardware capable of running the different tool/s needed for music production, and consequently, something that will yield to great results. It’s a crucial piece of investment aside from it being the lone tool for a successfully produced music. On top of that, there are other key things you will also need to keep in mind, such as weight, price, space, memory, and so forth. And then, more importantly, which most independent music producers dismiss and/or overlook, is the operating system.
You just don’t jump on the first laptop you see online and/or the computer store that will mesmerize you with over-the-top hardware specifications. Some of these laptops maybe powerful but they’re entirely built for a different purpose: gaming, video, etc. Not that you can’t use these type of laptops, but it would be wiser to make a more learned decision when buying a laptop for music production. When you get down to it, things get a little more confusing and overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost with the technical mumbo-jumbos, that in most cases, you might not understand. Or you might, one way or another, but they don’t really hit the correct points for your main purpose: music production.
Now, let’s take a look at our list of the best laptops for music production. This list is compiled to reflect what’s the best in the year 2019.
Top 5 Laptops for Music Production of 2019
MacBook Pro Retina
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Razer Blade Stealth
Up to 3.5GHz
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Dell XPS 15
Quad Core Processor
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PCAudioLabs (MC Mobile M7S)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
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HP Pavilion Power 15
2.8GHz up to 3.8GHz
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By far, MacBook Pros remain to be the best laptops for music production. The MacBook Pro has consistently been the primary choice for newbie and/or seasoned independent music producers in the world. The most recent laptop released by Apple, the MacBook Pro Retina, provides greater HW specifications than its predecessors plus a stunning display and video graphics capabilities.
The MacBook Pro Retina is a powerful enough laptop for music production that delivers all the needed requirements you’ll need for a successful music production – CPU power, memory (RAM), Core Audio, SSD storage, battery life, and display. All the best components play perfectly to handle even the most demanding music production work there is. And the statement, “it’s from Apple so it must be good…it should work…” is an appropriate statement, plain and simple, for this laptop.
While we can’t argue that personal preference and brand loyalty almost always come into play when making a decision to buy a MacBook Pro laptop for music production purposes, this new iteration of the MacBook Pro simply impresses you with both hardware and software feats.
Let’s break down the pros and cons:
- It’s simply ready instantly out-of-the-box
- Superb quality and solid performance
- Little to no software and/or driver issues with any Mac hardware
- Comes pre-installed with GarageBand
- Unrivaled and best-in-class operating system
- Starting storage offering is a little bit small at 128 GB SSD
- Upgrading to bigger storage will cost a significant amount of money
- Whole unit is expensive compared to Windows-based laptops
- Limited number of ports
- Maximum RAM is 16 GB
- Limited upgrade capability
- Intel i7 CPU offering looks slower than other Windows-based laptops
Ultimately, it’s easier to get dismayed with the limitations and hardware offerings of the MacBook Pro if you compare it to the overkill features and bundles from other Windows-based laptops. But the MacBook Pro works like magic! Thanks to its superb operating system that works perfectly well with the hardware components built into the laptop. Looking at it on a different perspective, the MacBook Pro doesn’t need the biggest/greatest/fastest/newest hardware components in the world to work perfectly, it just needs the right hardware and the right software to work like how a Mac should work.
A newcomer in the laptop industry, the Razer company has built a strong reputation and credibility among the gaming spaces. Razer’s entry into the music production realm is considered a big win for the company, despite the Razer name closely being associated with PC gaming.
The Razer Blade Stealth is a breakthrough in the music production hardware as it challenges competitors with its high-quality and superb performance laptop. It’s a simple way of saying that the Razer Blade Stealth is one of the best laptops for music production and it occupies the upper spots.
Beneath its hardcore yet elegant product design is a massively powerful 8th gen Quad Core i7-8550U processor that can handle your Digital Audio Workstation and any of its plugins with finesse every single day. While the non-upgradable memory of 16 GB may be sound a little bit on the low side, it basically delivers the needs. The Razer Blade Stealth uses a NVidia GeForce GTX 106, which deliver remarkable video plus it complements any other RAM needs for music production, especially in the plugin processing area. Starting storage offering is not bad, at 256 SSD, and this can be upgradable to 512 GB or 1 TB, which will cost you quite a bit of dollars.
Nevertheless, if you need more storage space but you’re not willing to spend more, you can always opt for an external hard drive that you can connect through the laptops USB-C port, which proves to be really fast.
Perhaps the greatest ammunition from this laptop is its touchscreen display, which by leaps and bounds, surpasses any ordinary laptop packed with overkill hardware components specifications. The touchscreen feature enables you to perform all the action, real-time, on the screen, making it easy to do drawing automation and audio plugin tweaks.
Though practically designed for gaming, it’s pretty obvious that music production is a hidden target market behind the eye-candy graphics and design features it offers. Below is a crackdown of the pros and cons of this laptop for music production:
- Extremely high quality and amazing performance
- USB-C port, considered to be the most powerful connection today
- Limited room for upgrades
- Quite a bit expensive
There’s not much flaws with this powerful unit. Though built for gaming, the music production capabilities are too overwhelming. That’s why it is considered to be one of the best laptops for music production today.
3. Dell XPS 15
Dell laptops are known for its versatility. It’s a top choice for office workstations and business use. Dell laptops combine durability, performance, and aesthetics into one. Dell is also known to reign the world of gaming computers with their Alienware series. What you might not know is that one of the most reliable and capable laptops you can use for music production can be a Dell.
The Dell XPS brand may sound too familiar – it’s one of those laptops carried by men in suits. It’s a pretty popular Dell laptop model for outdoor work as well. The sturdy Dell XPS has graced in the TV, such as CNN, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and so forth. Because of their very sturdy build, some of the powerful Dell XPS is used in extreme outdoor adventure and even military activities.
But what about music production? Well, Dell has an answer to that. The Dell XPS 15 is one of the sexiest laptops you can ever get for a music production work. Don’t be deceived by its beauty and sexy appeal, the Dell XPS 15 is premium built and super sturdy. Dell approached the aesthetics of the Dell XPS 15 in a grander fashion – super slim profile, tough deck, and borderless display. It simply is beauty in a laptop.
While the Dell XPS 15 combines beauty and durability, it excels in performance too that is comparable to its competitors in the same area and purpose. It’s true that there are other models that can deliver the same performance, the Dell XPS 15 gives you all 3 into one package. The only thing is that you’ll have to spend a few dollars extra for what you’re getting. It is indeed pricier but you’re definitely getting what you’re due.
If budget isn’t a concern, considre getting the iteration that comes with the i5 7th Gen or the i7. It comes with a 7200 RPM hard drive, which is upgradable to SSD, which has higher drive speeds. Nevertheless, the 7200 RPM hard drive is enough for music production.
The Dell XPS 15 can be upgraded up to 32GB RAM. Connectivity is also very convenient and a non-issue as there are a lot of USB3.0 ports as well as Thunderbolt ports.
Let’s break down the pros and the cons of the Dell XPS 15 below:
- Solid built
- Exquisite design and look
- Superb display
- Powerful graphics
- Storage is limited to only 1 HDD
If you want a laptop that is truly designed and made for music producers, you will need to get it from a manufacturer who is dedicated to build and make laptops for music producers – PC Audio Labs. This company specializes in making unique laptops designed to cater to music producers’ needs and the grand requirements of music production. As a result, PC Audio Labs laptops are not some off the shelf computers. These are laptops that come with specialty software, components, and tools that are tweaked for professional audio.
PC Audio Labs’ MC Mobile M7S is beauty and finesse for a music production laptop. It is powered by Intel Core i7-7700HQ – a CPU brute enough to handle any demanding processing needs in your DAW. That is complemented by an amazing memory that can be upgraded to 64 GB. No wonder why PC Audio Labs laptops are the premier choice for film scoring, commercial recording, and DJ performances. On top of the premium and cutting-edge hardware that they combine in their laptops, they also tweak the Windows systems as well as drivers to work specifically for professional music production. And MC Mobile M7S is one of those that deliver such incredible strength and remarkable processing power.
The MC Mobile M7S offers SSD or HDD as well as M.2/PCIe storage options. Any of the options are upgradable depending on your storage needs.
What comes together with your MC Mobile M7S laptop is an OBEDIA professional audio training – well-known around the world for helping music producers with impressive training as well as solving technicalities. Due to this, PC Audio Labs stands out over its competitors, even Apple, because of their extra offering aside from their hardware and software. On top of that, post-sales support, which includes lifetime email and phone tech support, remains the best and unmatched.
Ultimately, PC Audio Labs’ MC Mobile M7S screams power, credibility, reliability, and most importantly, customizability. It is built and customized to cater to any music production requirements of music producers.
Why buy the MC Mobile M7S? Check below the pros and cons:
- Specifically built for music production
- Super awesome customizability that can cater to both needs, requirements, and budget
- Pro audio training offering from OBEDIA, a world-renowned company
- Lifetime email and phone support by professional audio experts and technicians
- May cost you a little more money than most common laptops
- This is for intermediate as well as professional music producers, and may be a little daunting and intimidating for beginners
HP always has an answer to any demands and/or niches in the laptop market. The HP Pavilion Power 15 is HP’s force into the music production space. It is an impressive laptop that offers large screen size for comfortable DAW workload and edits. It is powered by an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, which is really superb for very large music recordings and arrangements.
The memory offering starts at 4GB RAM, but it can be upgraded to 16GB. Not quite competitive as what is offered by the ones in our list but nonetheless remains capable for music production. HP makes up for it through its impressive battery, which promises to be behind you even if you go on an all-nighter.
What makes the HP Pavilion Power 15 stand out is its dual storage option. What this means is that you are given the capability to install an HDD as well as an SSD in one laptop. As a result, you’ll have more storage space and a clever way to arrange your files. For example, you can save your VSTs on the HDD, which is upgradable to 2TB; on the other hand, you can save your plugins and programs into the SSD.
A quick snapshot of its pros and cons are below:
- 14 hours battery life
- Dual storage option – SSD and HDD with huge storage capacity of up to 2TB
- Plenty of ports, which includes USB-C
- RAM size, which only offers maximum 16GB
- Made of plastic
Laptops for Music Production Buying Guide
It’s a daunting task but nonetheless important and required. As a music producer or anyone who wants to try his or her hands with music production using a laptop, it pays to know the fundamentals.
First, the operating system. This is a decision based on preference, knowledge, skills, and technical requirements. You will have to gather your intentions in order for you to decide which laptop to buy, based on the operating system you prefer and/or you’re most widely familiar of and/or most comfortable to use. On top of that, you will need to know if the piece of software that you are eyeing to use for your music production will be available and/or compatible with the operating system of your choice.
Let’s break that simply into MacOS or Windows. If you are more comfortable, knowledgeable and an expert in using MacOS then the decision is to buy a Mac. But, if you prefer the Windows operating system, then there might be some more decisions to make, considering there are a lot of Windows-based laptop out in the market today that offers really great options, features, hardware, and so forth, designed for a superb music production experience.
Second, the tool/s you are using for music production. Or, simply, the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) you are going to use for producing music. There’s Cubase, Logic Express, Studio One, GarageBand, etc. Your preferred DAW plays a crucial role in the decision-making process.
And there are other things that you can consider, such as the price, the weight of the laptop, especially when you frequent traveling, expandability of the memory and storage, battery life, video display, speakers, and those type of things.
Ultimately, choosing the best laptop for music production can be broken down into three things:
- CPU for the processing power
- Memory, which is required for production; 8GB should be the minimum
- Digital Audio Workstation/s (is it available and/or compatible with the OS)