fbpx

Best Laptop for Music Production

Last Updated

Selecting the best laptop for music production can feel like a daunting task. There are countless laptops available for purchase, all with differing specs and features, so how do you know which one is right for you? We’re here to help answer that question with a list of the best laptops for music production, including both Mac and PC options! So let’s dive right into our top 3 laptops for music producers, and then break down some honorable mentions, and then we’ll dive deep into our music production laptop buyers guide if you still need some help making your final selection!

So let’s kick off with a breakdown of our top picks for music production laptops!

Top 3 Laptops for Music Production

Apple M2 MacBook Pro
9.7/10

Apple's MacBook Pro laptops are the most commonly used laptops for music production, due to their computing power and their ability to run almost all music software. Logic Pro and GarageBand are Mac exclusive, and both are popular DAWs (digital audio workstations) that music producers around the world use.

Apple laptops are also convenient to use for music production due to their plug and play nature. You can connect almost any interface and it will work with your MacBook right out of the box; no drivers needed. The plug and play nature of these computers makes them a great choice for producers who are constantly on the go and collaborating with others.

The new M2 processor is efficient and fast, and the lack of fan noise is a huge plus for anyone looking to record with a laptop. These new processors have really upped the game when it comes to processing power in a portable computer. Thanks to the new M-series chips, the future of music production laptops is bright. For the present, you really can't go wrong with a MacBook Pro!

Dell XPS 15
9.5/10

The Dell XPS 15 is a great music production laptop, with 32 GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The 14 core Intel processor will keep your sessions operating smoothly, and the two Thunderbolt 4 ports mean you can connect your Dell with lots of popular interfaces, such as Universal Audio's Apollo line. The Dell XPS 15 is basically the MacBook alternative for producers who prefer to stick with PC.

This high performance laptop is a great centerpiece for any portable studio rig, and the build quality is exceptional as well. Dell really cut no corners when it comes to features and performance on this laptop, so if you're looking to upgrade your PC laptop for music production, the Dell XPS 15 is the way to go.

The main downside to the Dell XPS is the inability to natively run Logic Pro and GarageBand, plus you may miss a few Apple features like AirDrop. However, the high performance and solid build quality still make it a great choice for your music production laptop. If you're someone who prefers PC to Mac, the Dell XPS 15 is our number one laptop for music production!

2019 Apple MacBook Pro (Renewed)
9.1/10

If you want to save some coin while purchasing a seriously strong music production laptop, don't overlook renewed models. The 2019 Apple MacBook Pro is a great music production laptop, with its i9 processor and 32 GB of RAM. The main downside is that it doesn't have the new M1/M2 chip, meaning some fan noise may pop up when running big sessions.

While some may prefer to purchase brand new, buying a renewed laptop is more convenient than ever, and you can get huge savings on a powerful computer that may have previously been out of your budget. The 2019 MacBook Pro is highly adaptable with its Thunderbolt ports, will run your DAW smoothly with its high performance specs, and includes all of the convenient features Mac is known for. It seems like manufacturers are in it for the long haul with Thunderbolt, so future-proofing won't be an issue.

Don't sleep on this "vintage" MacBook as the core of your studio. I personally am still rocking a 2018 MacBook Pro as my main music production laptop, so the newer 2019 will serve you well for years to come!

Let’s take a deeper dive into our top picks to see what makes them great music production computers!

#1 Music Production Laptop: M2 MacBook Pro

The new M2 chip is a revelation when it comes to music production, mostly because of its fan-less build. Yes, the performance is great, but the totally silent operation is a huge plus. That means you can record vocals with your most sensitive microphones in close proximity to the computer with no concern for background noise.

MacBooks are a convenient choice for producers as well. The easy plug and play nature of Macs means you won’t be spending all day installing drivers every time you add a new piece of gear to your collection. AirDrop is a super convenient way to send files to and from other Mac computers and iPhones, and Apple exclusive software like Logic Pro and GarageBand are nice to have as well. Music producers can receive files from just about any DAW and expect them to be Mac compatible.

If you’re looking for the best laptop for music production, you can’t go wrong with the M2 MacBook.

Apple M2 MacBook Pro
  • Next-generation 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU
  • Up to 24GB of RAM
  • Amazing battery life and performance in a compact package

Best PC Laptop for Music Production: Dell XPS 15

Our top pick for the best PC laptop for music producers is the Dell XPS 15. This high performance PC is stacked with features that make it suitable for producing: a high performance processor, lots of RAM, great battery life, and connectivity that honestly surpasses the MacBook options.

The included USB ports and HDMI output mean you can connect to all of your home studio accessories without a dock, and that you can use USB 2 or 3 interfaces without any adapters. This is a nice plus, and saves you some money on docks and adapters.

Dell didn’t cut any corners when constructing the XPS 15, so if you prefer PC to Mac, this is the way to go.

Dell XPS 15
  • 32GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD, Intel Core i7-13700H Evo Processor
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 40Gbps, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (with DisplayPort and Power Delivery)

Best Budget Music Production Laptop: 2019 MacBook Pro Renewed

Buying a renewed computer like the 2019 MacBook Pro is a fantastic way to save some cash on a computer with amazing specs. For the price, it’s hard to beat the RAM and processing power of a previous model year’s top of the line offering, and this is no exception.

This computer has all of the convenience and connectivity of the newer options; the only real difference is the processor. The included Intel Core i9 is not an M2 chip, but it’s still a high performance processor that will be able to handle just about any audio task you throw at it. If you’re building a whole studio from scratch, costs can add up, so saving several hundred dollars on your computer is a great way to stretch your budget! If that’s your goal, we recommend the 2019 MacBook Pro as your best option!

2019 Apple MacBook Pro (Renewed)
  • 32GB RAM | 512GB SSD
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630 graphics processor
  • LED-backlit 15.4" widescreen 2880x1800
  • Core i9 2.3GHz


Honorable Mentions: Laptops for Music Production

ASUS Vivobook 15 Music Production Laptop

Any laptop touting 32 GB of RAM for under $700 has my attention, so this more affordable choice from ASUS had to make the list. It features one USB C port, one USB 3.2, and two USB 2.0, plus an HDMI port, so connectivity won’t be an issue, and a 1TB Solid State Drive means you’ll have plenty of room to store your sessions and samples. The ASUS Vivobook has some serious specs for the price, so don’t hesitate to grab one if you’re looking for that perfect balance of budget and performance.

ASUS VIvobook 15
  • 36GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.2 Type-C, 1 x HDMI 1.4 Ports

MacBook Air M1: Music Production Laptop

If you choose the MacBook Air with only 8GB of RAM, you will need to take some measures to save RAM, like committing or freezing tracks every so often, but this laptop will certainly get the job done. Another downside is the lack of ports, with just 2 USB 3 ports, meaning you’ll need to use a dock or adapter to charge, use an interface, and an external hard drive at the same time. That said, I use a dock with charging capabilities, an HDMI port, and USB ports, so it’s entirely possible to run your whole studio with just these two ports.

If you don’t mind committing tracks here and there, and storing your samples on an external hard drive, the MacBook Air is a solid and dependable option for new music producers!

MacBook Air M1
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Apple's newer M1 chip
  • Long battery life and quiet performance


Final Thoughts on Music Production Laptops

Whether your prefer Mac or PC, there are great options for music production laptops at many price points! Any of the choices from this list of laptops for music producers will serve you well for years to come, so pick one that’s within your budget and performance needs, and you’ll be on your way to making great music in no time!

Apple M2 MacBook Pro
9.7/10

Apple's MacBook Pro laptops are the most commonly used laptops for music production, due to their computing power and their ability to run almost all music software. Logic Pro and GarageBand are Mac exclusive, and both are popular DAWs (digital audio workstations) that music producers around the world use.

Apple laptops are also convenient to use for music production due to their plug and play nature. You can connect almost any interface and it will work with your MacBook right out of the box; no drivers needed. The plug and play nature of these computers makes them a great choice for producers who are constantly on the go and collaborating with others.

The new M2 processor is efficient and fast, and the lack of fan noise is a huge plus for anyone looking to record with a laptop. These new processors have really upped the game when it comes to processing power in a portable computer. Thanks to the new M-series chips, the future of music production laptops is bright. For the present, you really can't go wrong with a MacBook Pro!

Dell XPS 15
9.5/10

The Dell XPS 15 is a great music production laptop, with 32 GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The 14 core Intel processor will keep your sessions operating smoothly, and the two Thunderbolt 4 ports mean you can connect your Dell with lots of popular interfaces, such as Universal Audio's Apollo line. The Dell XPS 15 is basically the MacBook alternative for producers who prefer to stick with PC.

This high performance laptop is a great centerpiece for any portable studio rig, and the build quality is exceptional as well. Dell really cut no corners when it comes to features and performance on this laptop, so if you're looking to upgrade your PC laptop for music production, the Dell XPS 15 is the way to go.

The main downside to the Dell XPS is the inability to natively run Logic Pro and GarageBand, plus you may miss a few Apple features like AirDrop. However, the high performance and solid build quality still make it a great choice for your music production laptop. If you're someone who prefers PC to Mac, the Dell XPS 15 is our number one laptop for music production!

2019 Apple MacBook Pro (Renewed)
9.1/10

If you want to save some coin while purchasing a seriously strong music production laptop, don't overlook renewed models. The 2019 Apple MacBook Pro is a great music production laptop, with its i9 processor and 32 GB of RAM. The main downside is that it doesn't have the new M1/M2 chip, meaning some fan noise may pop up when running big sessions.

While some may prefer to purchase brand new, buying a renewed laptop is more convenient than ever, and you can get huge savings on a powerful computer that may have previously been out of your budget. The 2019 MacBook Pro is highly adaptable with its Thunderbolt ports, will run your DAW smoothly with its high performance specs, and includes all of the convenient features Mac is known for. It seems like manufacturers are in it for the long haul with Thunderbolt, so future-proofing won't be an issue.

Don't sleep on this "vintage" MacBook as the core of your studio. I personally am still rocking a 2018 MacBook Pro as my main music production laptop, so the newer 2019 will serve you well for years to come!

Check out our buyers guide for music production laptops below to learn more about what makes a great music production computer, and make sure to like our Facebook Page if you want more music news and reviews right on your feed!


Music Production Laptop Buyers Guide

When shopping for a music production laptop, understanding the technical specifications of a computer is key to ensuring a smooth and efficient creative process. Here’s a straightforward breakdown of the essential components – processing power, memory capacity, storage space, and connectivity options – along with minimum specs to consider for your music production laptop.

Music Production Laptop Specifications

Processing Power (CPU): Processing power is the engine that drives your laptop’s performance. A faster and more capable CPU can handle complex tasks like running multiple virtual instruments, processing effects, and handling real-time recording without hiccups. Look for laptops with a minimum of an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor. For more demanding projects, consider stepping up to an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7.

Memory Capacity (RAM): Memory, often referred to as RAM, is like your laptop’s short-term memory. It stores data that your laptop is actively using, so having enough RAM is crucial for smooth multitasking and loading large projects. Aim for a minimum of 8GB of RAM, but for optimal performance, consider 16GB or more, especially if you plan to work with larger samples and complex projects.

Storage Space (SSD): Storage space determines how much data you can store on your laptop, including your operating system, software, and project files. Solid State Drives (SSDs) are recommended over traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) for faster performance. Aim for a minimum of 256GB SSD, but larger capacities (512GB or 1TB) provide ample room for your music projects and software libraries.

Connectivity Options: Connectivity ensures you can link your laptop to various audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, and other external devices. Look for laptops with a variety of ports, or with adapters available to connect to common audio interfaces. You will want to double check that your laptop and audio interface are compatible before making any purchases.

Minimum Specs:

  1. Processor: Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processors will run most DAWs smoothly with a handful of tracks and plugins
  2. Memory: 8GB RAM (or higher), however some DAWs require more. For example, Logic Pro’s minimum specifications are 6GB of RAM, but Pro Tools requires 16GB.
  3. Storage: 256GB SSD is the minimum amount of storage we suggest for a music production laptop, but you can get by with just about any amount using external hard drives.
  4. Connectivity: USB 2.0 ports will work with a wide range of audio interfaces, so you can usually get by without the newer Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 ports.

Suggested Specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 (or higher) processors will give you more processing power for larger sessions
  • Memory: 16GB or 32GB RAM is enough to handle most music production tasks. I have a 16GB RAM computer and only my most grueling sessions give it trouble.
  • Storage: 512GB or 1TB SSD is enough to work off of the built in drive without needing to carry external drives with you everywhere.
  • Connectivity: Multiple USB 3.0 ports, Thunderbolt 3, audio interfaces

By considering these basic technical specifications, you’ll be well-equipped to choose a music production laptop that matches your creative needs and ensures a seamless and inspiring music-making experience. Keep in mind that these specs are general guidelines, and your specific requirements may vary based on the complexity of your projects and personal preferences.

Budget Considerations for Music Production Laptops

When selecting a computer for music production, budget will be an important factor. Since you’ll likely be plugging your computer into external speakers, and even at times an external monitor, it’s smart to focus on performance above all else. If a 13″ laptop is $200 cheaper than a 16″ laptop with the same performance specs, but has less impressive speakers, lower screen resolution, or fewer extra features like touch screen capability, you may as well save your $200, since those features won’t help you with music production.

Mac vs. PC for Music Producers: A Comprehensive Comparison

When it comes to choosing a laptop for music production, the age-old debate between Mac and PC continues to resonate among artists, producers, and sound engineers. Both platforms offer unique advantages and considerations that can significantly impact your music-making journey. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison of Mac and PC for music producers, highlighting their respective pros and cons.

Mac:

Pros: Mac laptops are renowned for their sleek design, premium build quality, and intuitive user experience. Their compatibility with professional-grade audio software like Logic Pro X makes them an appealing choice for many music producers. The seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem allows for easy data sharing and collaboration among different Apple devices. The Unix-based operating system provides stability and security, reducing the likelihood of crashes during critical production moments.

Cons: One of the main drawbacks of Mac laptops is their higher price point compared to PC counterparts with similar specifications. While Macs are known for their reliability, repairs and upgrades can be more expensive and limited due to Apple’s closed hardware architecture. Additionally, software compatibility can be a concern, as some music production software may have Windows-centric versions or plugins that are not optimized for Mac.

PC:

Pros: PC laptops running Windows offer a wide range of options that cater to different budgets. This flexibility allows you to customize your hardware to match your production needs, from choosing the processor and RAM to selecting a variety of peripherals and audio interfaces. The vast software library available for Windows includes numerous music production applications, ensuring compatibility with a wide array of tools. For those seeking cost-effectiveness, PC laptops often provide a more affordable entry point into music production.

Cons: While the versatility of PC laptops is undeniable, the diversity of hardware components and manufacturers can lead to potential compatibility issues and driver conflicts. The Windows operating system, while powerful, may require more manual management to maintain optimal performance over time. Some users also cite a steeper learning curve for those new to music production due to the varied software landscape.

In the Mac vs. PC debate, your choice will depend on your individual preferences, budget constraints, and the software you intend to use. If a cohesive ecosystem, user-friendly interface, and dedicated audio software are paramount, Mac might be the way to go. Alternatively, if customization, cost-effectiveness, and access to a broad software library are key considerations, a PC laptop could better suit your needs.

In the end, both Mac and PC offer viable solutions for music producers, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. By carefully evaluating your priorities and weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision that sets the stage for a productive and fulfilling music production journey.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

About the Author: Adam Sliger

Photo of author
I'm the founder of makethatlouder.com, and a producer, musician, and songwriter based out of Orlando, FL. I have 10 years experience producing and owning a commercial recording studio. I write and produce music for artists, TV, and for my solo project, Night Winds. When I'm not writing and recording, I'm into food, coffee, and riding rollercoasters!

Read our latest entries: