The future of music

10 Best Laptops for Music Production

December 29, 2023
best laptops for music production

Every great musician needs great tech.

The times are a-changing.

Having a guitar, a camper van, and a dream is no longer sufficient for most musicians.

They require a hard-working laptop where they can store, edit, and fine-tune their work.

Whether you’re an acoustic purist or a synth-made new waver, you’ll want to put your money where your music is.

We totally empathize with how daunting it can be to find the right laptop for your music production needs.

And it doesn’t help when you look at the price tags involved.

One thing we can say for certain, however, is that when it comes to a laptop, you are going to want to invest in the model you can afford.

These prices are not arbitrary and reflect the leading-edge processing power and heavy-duty specs that these machines offer.

Today we’ll examine the best laptops for music production.  

1. Apple M1 MacBook Pro – Overall Best Laptop for Music Production

Apple M1 MacBook Pro, overall best laptop for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: M1 
  • ProGraphics: M1 
  • ProRAM: 16GB – 32GB
  • Screen: 14” Liquid Retina
  • Storage: 512GB – 8TB

Not really a surprise, is it?

The MacBook Pro has been a trendsetter and a generation-definer since it came out of the gates eons ago.

Whether you’re into music production, graphic design, or web development, the Pro was designed with creators and innovators in mind.

With the cutting-edge M1 Pro and M1 Mac chips, the 14-inch model has high-voltage processing power and performance, perfect for those looking for a laptop with staying power.

You can mix, dub, record, and edit without lag and without slow processing times, considering the 64 GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage.

This animal is incomparable, and with its $6,000 price tag, it is in a professional league of its own.

You can configure it to a vast variety of specifications, making it a positive dream for techy music lovers who don’t settle for second best. 

2. Dell XPS 13 OLED

Dell XPS 13 OLED, one of the best laptops for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: 12th Generation Intel Core i5-1230U
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 8GB – 32GBScreen: 13.4 (1900 x 1200) 500-Nit
  • Storage: 256GB to 1TB PCIe NVMe

For all the Windows lovers in the room, Dell’s XPS 13 is a sturdy, buzzy choice that throws punches with the best of them.

It has a gorgeous, high-contrast OLED screen, a lush interface, and a sleek InfinityEdge Anti-Glare display.

It is mind-bending thin and is one of the top choices to tote around on the go.  

With its 12th-generation Intel Core i5-1230U, you can expect speed and reliability and with its 256 GB solid-state drive, you can trust it to store all of your tracks, edits, and music video cuts, without needing backup hard drives. 

Depending on the specs and add-ons you choose, you are generally looking at a $1,500 USD price tag, which is compellingly approachable given the quality, performance, and speed.

Don’t take our word for it.

It was voted as one of the top models in PC Mag’s Best of the Year list in 2021.

3. Apple MacBook Air M2

Apple MacBook Air M2 laptop for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: Apple M2
  • Graphics: Apple M2
  • RAM: 8GB – 24GBScreen: 13.6” 
  • Liquid Retina (2560 x1664)
  • Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

For those of us always on the go, the MacBook Air is the lightweight, agile tech companion you’ll want around for the ride.

At 1.24 kg light and 11.3mm thin, it offers the peak experience for the busy and mobile. 

The Air features four speakers, which support Spatial Audio, and has a reliable 18 hours of battery life for your musical flow-states and intensive production sessions.

It has speedy graphics and data processing, so you can run multiple programs at once without compromising on display and reaction time.

The Air does not possess a fan, which gamers and tech-heads may find off-putting, but music producers might consider a benefit, being a near-silent machine to operate and mix on.

Most computer lovers suggest starting with the 512 GB version for speed and reliability.

Clocking in at under 2 grand, it is certainly a more budget-friendly option for its quality, particularly when you compare it to the higher four-figure gaming computers we look at below.

4. Microsoft Surface Pro 9

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 laptop for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1255U
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Screen: 13”
  • Storage: 256GB

A stunning blend of portable and high-powered, the Surface is Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Air.

It is a tablet/laptop hybrid with compelling processing power, storage, and dynamic capabilities.

With its ten-point multi-touch screen, you can rest assured that it is responsive and multifaceted.

The screen has a 120 Hz refresh rate, which means that the display is hyper-detailed for all the tech illiterates out there (no shame).

It can run production, mixing, and mastering software like a mini recording studio on the go, and works seamlessly running demanding ProTools projects.

It has a polished and professional design, making it the kind of device you are proud to tote around in public.

With lightning-speed graphics processing and speedy data loading times, it rivals any other upmarket tablet in its class.

While you can opt for a basic model to save some coin, we do recommend looking into the features and customizations, particularly if you are using this device for daily production, editing, and graphics needs.

The price tag can range wildly, depending on your add-ons. We are talking anywhere from $1,500 to over $2,500 USD.

5. MSI GF63 Laptop

MSI GF63 Laptop for producing music.

Specifications

  • CPU: Up to 9th Gen. Intel Core i7
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB (max 64 GB)
  • Screen: 15.6” Full HD display/120 
  • HzStorage: 256 GB SSD

A brand that only the most dedicated tech heads among us are familiar with, MSI is well-respected and reliable.

This offering is stylish, sturdy, and hardy enough for mixing and editing marathons.

With a 2.4 GHz Intel i5 processor, it can outlast the competition.

It also offers beautiful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics (a mouthful, we know!), which means you are getting a top-performing display – ideal for music video and promotional image editing.

Because it was designed for gaming, it is hyper-efficient at cooling itself, making it ideal for heavy-duty recording and mastering software.

With customizable specs (which will set you back some extra $$$) you can get up to 64 GB of DDr4 RAAM.

One of the best features of this gaming gem? It is radically well-priced, particularly when compared to the competition. 

6. Asus Rog Strix Scar 16 Laptop

Asus Rog Strix Scar 16 laptop for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: 13th-Gen Intel i9
  • Graphics: Up to NVIDIA RTX 4090
  • RAM: 16 GB (base)
  • Screen: 16” QHD+ Mini LED
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

Production obsessives unite.

This upmarket Asus model is ideal for demanding recording and production sessions and works like a mini, portable studio.

With a well-reputed Intel i9 processor and a lightweight body, it is the perfect blend of style and substance.

Sure, it is a bit flashy, with the kind of gimmicky design that gamers love, but if you’re not much of a shrinking violet yourself, the Asus beckons.

Because of its gaming heritage, it offers a stunning LED 240Hz display and impressive graphics processing.

This makes it ideal for your music video editing and demanding mastering and mixing software.

Backing it up is a state-of-the-art Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, which won’t let you down regardless of what heavy-duty demands you place on it.

One of the drawbacks is the 720p webcam, which is a bit underwhelming given the outstanding specs the rest of the device offers.

But unless you are planning on using it for top-notch live streams, this is not much of a drawback at all.

Priced at nearly $3,000 USD, it is certainly an investment, but all things considered, it is well-priced for a gaming and production laptop of its quality.

7. Samsung Galaxy Book Pro

Samsung Galaxy Book Pro laptop for producing music.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • RAM: 16GB (min 8GB)
  • Screen: 13.3” to 15.6″
  • Storage: 512GB (min 256GB)

One of the more luxe Samsung offerings, you can rest assured that the reliable reputation of the brand is thrown entirely behind the Galaxy Book Pro.

It has solid, foolproof battery life and is relatively lightweight, perfect for production sessions on the go.

The display is stunning and the device integrates with a full range of Samsung products and phones. 

You can customize your RAM specifications depending on your budget, but even the lower end of the storage spectrum will get you a high-performing musical companion.

There are multiple ports (an HDMI port, two USB-C ports, an audio jack, and a USB-A port) so you can multitask without throwing off your flow.

You know you are getting quality with an Intel processor, as well, and you can rely on the Galaxy for complex and energy-intensive production software.  

Best of all?

It is Intel Evo-certified, meaning it can wake up from sleep in under a second, offers lightning-fast data transfer speeds, and offers 9+ hours of battery life.

Long story short: It is a top performer in every way, shape, and form.

Given the sturdy Samsung reputation, this offering is approachable priced, rounding out at under $2,000 USD.

8. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga laptop for producing music.

Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
  • RAM: 16GBScreen: 14”
  • Storage: 512GB

Namaste, right?

Lenovo is one of those endlessly well-reputed brands that is eclipsed by the buzzy Apple range but performs just as sleekly and reliably.

It is certainly going to put you back a pretty penny, but when it comes to investing in a laptop for music production, you are absolutely not going to want to cut corners.

The Lenovo Yoga moonlights as a tablet and its touchscreen design makes it a futuristic, user-friendly tech go-to.

Not to mention the gorgeous, detailed display.

It runs the ever-trustworthy Windows operating system and has Intel’s Tiger Lake processors, which are the best in their class.

It offers two USB A-ports, two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, and an HDMI 2.0 so you can get all linked up, without having to plug things in and out.

You can customize the RAM specifications depending on your budget.

We always recommend saving an extra couple of hundred for higher RAM  so you can get the most comprehensive experience possible out of your (already steep) investment.  

9. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition laptop for music production.

Specifications

  • CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7
  • Graphics: Up to Quadra RTX 5000
  • RAM: 32GB to 64GBScreen: 15.6” OLED 4K Touch
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

An unabashed name and an original, creative design make this a stand-out product for the innovators among us.

Yes, it has the gamer-core design features, but is a surprisingly agile option for creators and producers, as well.

It has a trendy and visually appealing design and a robust range of technical capacities that make it an ideal contender for long-lasting recording and production sessions. 

We don’t like secrets around here, so it is worth mentioning that for the Razer Blade, you are certainly going to be shelling out your hard-earned cash for what you get – we are talking over $4,000 USD.

The upside of this is that you are getting value for every dollar spent, and you can rely on the machine to give you unparalleled processing speed and uncompromising power for demanding and complex production sessions.

It is a veritable mobile workstation, and a portable studio, making it an ideal choice for more committed producers and musicians.

For newbies, this might be a bit of a daunting investment, and we recommend keeping it in mind as a future upgrade for when your needs become more expansive.

10. Apple MacBook Pro M2 13”

Apple MacBook Pro M2 13” laptop for producing music.

Specifications

  • CPU: Apple M2
  • Graphics: Apple M2
  • RAM: 8-246GB
  • Screen: 13.3” Retina display (2560 x 1600p)
  • Storage: 256GB – 2TB

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro also features the state-of-the-art M2 processor and is a speedy menace of a machine.

It has long-lasting battery life and won’t let you down during lengthy production sessions.

Yes, the design is not the absolute trendiest that Apple offers but for those who are less aesthetically-minded, this won’t be a drawback at all.

If you’re impatient, you’ll love the speed and loading time, and you’ll appreciate how quickly your music software loads and runs.

We should also mention the sheer silence of the machine, which will reduce distractions and allow you to get the crispest, purest sound quality possible. 

One of the drawbacks of this model is that it only has two Thunderbolt ports, which can be limiting if you require same-time compatibility with multiple devices to do your best work. 

That being said, it is one of the more affordable options, and it blends the OG Apple design with the enhanced function of the M2 chip.

Is a Windows or a Mac Better for Music Production?

If you have the cash to burn, we recommend a Mac for producers and creatives, because they are optimized for audio production, and the exclusive software for Macs’ is unrivaled.

Macs’ also have a well-deserved reputation as a trendy and reliable choice for innovators and iconoclasts of all stripes.

That being said, Windows is sturdy and consistent, and easy and affordable to upgrade. That means you can buy a more affordable option and then save up for software and RAM upgrades over time.

Windows devices are also compatible with a huge range of programs and applications, so if flexibility is paramount to you, a Windows will be your best bet for a lower price tag. 

Which CPU is Best for Music Production – Intel, AMD or Apple?

A fast processing system is vital. When you have a low-functioning CPU, it will be like watching paint dry trying to load applications and render images. Luckily, all of the laptops listed here are speedy as can be, and have reliable and responsive CPUs.

Intel is probably the biggest name in the CP-Universe. Their range begins at the least powerful i3, all the way up to the lightning-fast i9. Most mid-tier laptops feature the i5 and i7 variants. You also have the option to turbo-boost when running multiple demanding programs.

AMD is a well-known name for computer junkies. They produce the Ryzen processors, which are popular among gamers for their reliability and sturdiness.

Apple’s stunning new M2 chips are mind-blowing in their efficiency, dynamism, and power. Even the older M1 models will get you stellar results. The Apple chips combine many of the internal components into one chip, streamlining processes and increasing speed.

If you can afford one of the newest Apple models with an M2 chip, we’d point you in that direction.

How Much RAM Do You Need for Music Production?

We recommend no less than 16 GB of RAM storage for serious producers, but beginners or hobbyists can definitely get away with 8 GB. Ideally, you should pay for as much RAM as you can afford.

Keep in mind that you can generally upgrade your RAM, so that might be a future investment worth making.

How to Choose the Best Laptop for Music Production

We’ve given you the goods, now we are going to give you the guidance. We’ve walked you through ten killer contenders, but…now what?

How do you differentiate between them and choose your perfect fit? Here are some considerations to keep in mind while you whittle down the options.

Use Case

This one goes hand in hand with budget but encompasses something broader and more subjective. What are your goals with your laptop? Is music production a hobby, a side passion, or an all-consuming career?

Do you aspire to perform live and carve out a musical niche for yourself? Are you content to perform with friends or jam at house parties? Are you mixing and mastering your own work and the work of others?

If you are something of a hobbyist, it might not make sense to drop 4 big ones on a new laptop. But if you plan to spend hours per day on your craft, the investment will feel much more appropriate.

Budget

No surprises here. Budget is probably the key variable that will sway you in one direction or the other. The best way to think of this purchase is as a long-term investment.

If you are using it every day, you can divide the cost of the laptop by 365 to get a “per day” cost. When you consider that this laptop will be with you for several years, this brings the per-use cost way down and makes the purchase that much more palatable.

We recommend trying to invest in the highest specs possible for your needs. If you are already investing $2,000, it makes sense to spend a couple of hundred extra for higher RAM, for instance. You want to get the best of each device that you can.

Decide on Your Key Specifications

We can’t always have it all, and when it comes to laptops, we don’t necessarily need it all, either. If you don’t need a DSLR-quality webcam, nix it. Touch screen not your thing? Sayonara.

Zero in on your needs so you don’t end up paying for extra features that don’t serve you in your music production journey. 

That being said, there are some across-the-board non-negotiables like speedy performance, a reliable CPU, RAM, and high-quality sound systems. That’s why you want to focus less on the aesthetics and more on the chip and processing hardware.

Anything with an Intel Corei5 chip is a blessing, but all of the laptops featured today are high-powered workhorses you can count on. If you don’t need reams of RAM, you can save money on the final price, but ensure you are not going below 8-16 GB. 

Software and Application Needs

Software is the backbone of all music production. You’re going to be loading up your laptop with software, programs, and applications to create and produce. That’s why a hardy CPU is so vital to your process.

You need to trust your laptop to run multiple applications at once reliably and quickly. Imagine the frustration of lagging, stalling, and freezing programs when you’re in a flow state.

Apple, for instance, is best with Logic Pro X, which is designed to only work with Apple’s operating systems. On Windows-powered laptops, you will get the best performance out of Ableton Live, AVID’s Pro Tools, and Cubase software.

Focus on Practicalities

Think about how you’re going to use your laptop. Battery life is an important feature, particularly if you are producing and editing on the go. If you want ultimate freedom, it is worth it to look at devices with 15+ hours of battery life. 

It is also fundamental to look to the future. You want your bundle of joy to go the distance and be customizable with new upgrades, versions, and components. Windows, for instance, makes it easy and affordable to upgrade RAM, storage, and software editions.

Plug-ins and Add-ons

Does your laptop play well with others? 

Think about how you can sync and align your other gear with your laptop. Think keyboards, groove boxes, audio interfaces, and speakers.

You’ll want to ensure you can link up your USB cords and hard drives and insert memory cards. How does the laptop work with microphones, audio inputs, and instruments? How does it work with studio monitors, feedback systems, and headphones?

Driver compatibility is another consideration. Most audio equipment operates using ASIO drivers, and you’ll want a computer that can offer near-instant feedback and purity of sound.

Apple is generally pretty seamless with drivers, while Windows can require a bit more tech know-how and detective work.

You’ll want a laptop that can serve as the heart and soul of your musical needs. It needs to play nice with your existing gear so that you can produce, edit, record, and mix in the most intuitive, manageable way possible.

Best Laptops for Music Production – Final Thoughts

Time to cut out the coffees and brunches, right? Wrong.

But we do highly recommend investing in your musical career and creative future by putting aside some coin for a laptop that’s up for the task and won’t let you down during your production marathons.

If you choose one of our selections here, you can expect killer battery life, lightning-fast processing times, and reliable performance for many fruitful years to come. 

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Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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