In need of a mobile or stationary laptop with the power to produce music? The best music-making gear from companies like Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Razer, and more is collected here.
Apple has consistently delivered top-tier laptops in the field of music production for quite some time. When it comes to making music, the name “MacBook Pro” is practically synonymous, as it is the only portable platform that supports Logic Pro X. Those of us who prefer PCs, on the other hand, have been traditionally bound to the desktop format, though this has changed significantly in recent years. Competitors like Dell, Microsoft, Razer, Lenovo, and others are stepping up to give Apple a run for its money. Some of these companies even have legitimate sway in the music industry.
This is fantastic for listeners because it expands our range of options for how our favorite songs are made.
There are a few things to keep in mind regardless of whether you go with an Apple or Windows computer. Pay close attention to the processor and memory capacities of the laptop you’re considering purchasing for use in your home recording studio, as these will play a crucial role in the quality of your final recordings. While a multi-core processor, about 4GB of RAM, and a few gigabytes of storage are typical system requirements for most DAWs, this is far from adequate for practical use.
Getting a laptop for making music with only the’minimum recommended’ specs will lead to frustration and the desire to upgrade before it’s necessary. You need a laptop that can handle the newest programs and ever-increasing file sizes, with plenty of reserve power to take on whatever else you may need in the future.
Weight and portability are likely to be important considerations for any DJs or touring musicians reading this guide. The heaviest laptops have some of the highest specifications and the most powerful hardware, but carrying them around can be tiring.
Because of this, the best laptop for music production should be robust yet portable, with a sizable battery for use when you’re not near an outlet. Visit our shopping tips page for additional assistance. Keep reading for some suggestions we have compiled for you. …
Best laptops for music production
Apple M1 MacBook Pro 14″
If you’re familiar with Apple’s MacBook Pro models, you know that they’re incredibly powerful and desirable laptops for creating music thanks to their sleek industrial design, high-resolution Retina displays, and optimized combination of proprietary hardware and software. So, when you take a look at the 2022 Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro, you might feel a little underwhelmed, as we did. There isn’t a sleek new look to it or a super-improved display. Yet what has taken place unseen, within the machine’s chassis, has been vastly improved.
The latest M1 Pro or M1 Max chips give the 14″ model more than enough processing power and cutting-edge performance to satisfy even the most demanding creative professionals. This is unlike any other laptop on the market when it comes to music production thanks to its configurable features, such as up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage. Yes, it is pricey — using the Apple website’s configurator to its fullest extent reveals that the most expensive model could cost around £/$6,000 — but if you can afford it, there is literally no other machine capable of doing what this laptop can do. In the review that follows, you’ll find the complete findings of our testing.
Apple MacBook Air M2
The latest M2 MacBook Air from Apple feels like a fresh start with Apple, and it will take your laptop music making to the next level. The MacBook Air M2 is Apple’s lightest computer, weighing in at only 1.24 kilograms, and is also its thinnest, measuring in at only 11.3 millimeters in thickness. The brand new color options are fantastic as well (we went with the pale gold Starlight, but the Midnight shade was very enticing).
The four speakers in the Air (which also support Spatial Audio) produce sound that is far superior to what a device of its size should be able to produce. True, you won’t be using it for fine-tuned mastering, but it mixes nearly as well as professional gear and sounds great for casual listening. The Air’s battery life is satisfactory, with a quoted 18 hours of use, but it falls short of the 20 hours you get from a brand new M2 13-inch MacBook Pro. Furthermore, the MacBook Air only has two Thunderbolt USB 4 ports, so you’ll need to think (very) creatively if you want to connect anything besides a monitor and an interface.
In comparison to the most recent MacBook Pro, some have said that the lack of a fan to keep it cool is a significant drawback of this MacBook Air. To some extent, we would disagree as music producers, as the lack of a fan would be an enormous benefit in terms of noise. Do temperatures rise in the new Air? Using the benchmark projects available on logicprohelp.com(opens in new tab) and music-prod.com(opens in new tab), we were able to determine that the M2 Air chip provided an improvement in performance of 8% in both Logic and Ableton Live when compared to the M1 Mac Mini. The Air did heat up a bit during the tests, but nothing too extreme.
The M2 MacBook Air is a stunningly designed, powerful, and nearly silent laptop that is ideal for use in the studio. Finally, it has been noted that the base model Air M2 (with a 256GB drive) should be avoided because it has the same speed issue as the M2 MacBook Pro 256GB (due to its chip configuration), so you should consider upgrading to at least 512GB. Otherwise, we can confidently say that the Air M2 is the music production laptop we’ve been waiting for, after using laptops to create music for over 20 years.
Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
When you think of a gaming laptop, you probably picture bright colors, RGB lights, and enough processing power to power an entire city. The Razer Blade 15 Studio, on the other hand, is a monstrously powerful laptop that may have its roots in the gaming world, but it is designed with creativity in mind. The RGB backlighting on the keys is a nice touch, but otherwise this is a powerful, sleek studio beast that demands your attention.
Samsung Galaxy Book Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro, as the ‘flagship’ of the Samsung line, is a fairly pricey laptop. The 16GB RAM/512GB hard drive model is in stock, but if you want to save money, you can always halve those numbers. You get a thin and light laptop with excellent battery life and decent performance, so the cost is understandable.
You can connect a wide variety of audio interfaces, both old and new, thanks to the many ports designed specifically for musicians, including an HDMI port, two USB-C ports, an audio jack, and a USB-A port on the left and right, respectively.
In use, the laptop is highly capable, easily switching between applications on the fly while maintaining a crisp and clear display. It works well with other Samsung devices, such as smartphones, and the company clearly aspires to make device integration as simple as Apple’s.
The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro is a powerful and portable laptop that provides most of the features necessary to enjoy your favorite musical works. Though costly, it’s a fantastic choice for those who already own Samsung gadgets. This laptop is worth the asking price due to its reliability, portability, and long battery life.
Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 (2022)
The Strix Scar 15 from Asus’s Republic of Games is a high-end gaming laptop with excellent processing capabilities that can also serve as a laptop for music production. It has an Intel i9 processor and a minimum of 16GB of RAM, making it ideal for producers, but its flashy design may turn off those looking for a more understated machine.
When we tested out the gadget, it blew our minds. The battery lasted for 10 hours of continuous video playback, and the laptop’s light weight made it easy to carry around while working on content. Two USB-C ports (one Thunderbolt 4), two USB-A ports, HDMI, ethernet, and a headphone jack provide ample connectivity options. Hudson Mohawke, a Scottish electronic music producer, is a fan.
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX582L
The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX582L is a fantastic high-end laptop that may be ideal for music production. It has a unique design that incorporates a second screen above the keyboard in addition to some extremely potent components like a choice of Core i7 or i9 Intel processors.
In the context of music production software, this touchscreen can be used to access supplemental controls, such as sliders for adjusting the volume of individual tracks. This feature makes the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX582L more adaptable than competing laptops. Because they are OLED, both displays are equally stunning.
The Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX582L is the most expensive laptop on this list due to its innovative design, which may put off some consumers. Because of the drain on the battery, you’ll need to bring the power adapter with you whenever you use the device away from home.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Alan Walker Special Edition
The exterior design of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Alan Walker Special Edition is equally as impressive as the internal components. All the great features of the standard G14 are present here, plus a new chassis color and multiple keyboard color options. This project in tandem with the YouTube DJ is more than just a fresh coat of paint, though.
The included box can function as a mixer’s controller or a synth pad when linked to a compatible app via USB-C. The G14 Alan Walker Special Edition includes two USB-C and two USB-A ports, so you can use it with your existing set of dedicated controllers if you prefer. Plus, it has enough processing speed for use in most studio recordings.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
For those who wanted an iPad-like experience on a Windows device, the Surface Pro 7 was still one of the best laptops, but the newest iteration of the award-winning Microsoft Surface Pro line is a significant upgrade over that model.
The Surface Pro 8 improves upon its predecessor in this regard by providing users with a choice between a faster Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, longer battery life thanks to Intel Evo certification, and more memory to work with as their songs grow in length and complexity.
However, the Surface Pro 8 no longer has USB-A support, so if you use any USB-A peripherals (such as a microphone), you may need to purchase an adapter.
Surface Laptop Studio
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio is a great example of the company’s technological advancements in the laptop market. This high-end gadget is packed with features, including a gorgeous touchscreen and robust internals. If you need to record or edit while on the go, the long battery life will come in handy.
Being a Microsoft creation, it serves as an advertisement for Microsoft’s other software, most notably Windows 11. The built-in speakers are great for a device of this size, and the laptop itself can handle any music production software you throw at it. Although it could benefit from a few extra ports, this sleek laptop is an excellent choice for making music. If you want the full story, check out our review of the Surface Laptop Studio.
Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021)
It’s true that the Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021) is a sight to behold, but it’s also a formidable machine. It has more than enough CPU and RAM for your music production needs, and if you’re willing to shell out for an additional hard drive, you can keep all your files in one convenient location.
It even has a reasonably robust GPU, though it can’t compete with the most powerful laptops designed specifically for gaming. While the battery life could be improved, this is a highly portable machine that is perfect for taking on the go.
The Dell XPS 15 comes with a number of different ports, including a USB-C 3.2 port, a full-sized SD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a wedge-shaped lock slot.
How much RAM does your music making laptop need?
It’s true that the “minimum specs” listed on the websites of the most popular DAWs aren’t binding when it comes to RAM. No one should be more courageous (or patient) than us in trying to run a multitrack Ableton Live session on a laptop with less than 8GB of RAM. That’s because random access memory (RAM) serves as the computer’s temporary storage space. More RAM means your audio playback is smooth and jerk-free in audio applications, especially those with a lot of recorded audio. This is because the computer doesn’t have to “grab” the audio from the hard drive every time it wants to play.
It is recommended that 8GB of DDR4 memory be the bare minimum for any new purchase with a long-term lifespan in mind. A better choice would be 16GB, as this can accommodate much larger setups; however, there is a price to pay for all that extra space.
You should also check if the laptop’s RAM can be upgraded in the future. Laptop PC users may have this luxury, but Apple fans will not.
Is Windows or Mac better for music production?
Mac is the best option for producers if money is no object, which is why MacBooks are ranked first and second in our guide. Hardware-wise, Macs are light-years ahead of Windows, and both the audio-production capabilities of MacBooks and the preinstalled software are excellent.
That said, Windows laptops are typically much more affordable than MacBooks, so there is a cost. Budget-wise shoppers should carefully consider their hardware requirements, investigate audio optimization options, and then settle in with one of the Windows models we’ve recommended above.
Furthermore, Windows has one major advantage over other operating systems: it allows you to upgrade your machine, which means you can add more memory and better hardware to keep up with your production demands.
Which laptop is best for music making?
Which laptop is ideal for music production hinges on which steps of the process you plan to use it for. A powerful computer like the MacBook Pro 16-inch is all you need to go from recording your first audio track to mixing and publishing it.
However, the most recent Dell XPS laptops will serve you well if you need a portable option for on-the-go recording and light editing, and their battery life is sufficient to see them through a sizable recording session.
Sometimes it’s hard to find a laptop with enough processing power to run music production software.
You won’t need anything more than what’s listed above if you buy a laptop.
Have a wonderful time buying things!