In case you are looking to carve out a career in music production, it is important to understand the complexities of the profession, precisely from a technical standpoint. As a record producer, you need to create and edit relevant acoustic renditions, which validate the reliance on an adequately powered laptop.
However, selecting the best laptop for recording beats and other relevant processes is anything but straightforward, but with a lot of laptop brands offering a variety of models, choosing the right one gets confusing. As a professional, you need to consider several primary factors, followed by a host of secondary aspects, before zeroing in on a suitable machine.
As a rule of thumb, you must always start the search by identifying a powerful processor, precisely with exceptional single-core throughput. While a quad-core processor with a higher single-core turbo clock speed would suffice, you should never say no to hexa-core or octa-core i9 processors, in case you are looking for an all-encompassing machine. Faster cores mean that mixes, effects, and chains can be rendered without any lag.
A laptop, that’s relevant to an audiophile, must feature a sizable chunk of system memory. This feature would allow you to handle WAV files, sound libraries, and diverse forms of virtual studio technologies with precision. Moreover, once you connect external displays for creating bigger workflows, the RAM is expected to get used up, way quicker than you can even fathom.
Besides processor and RAM, you must be mindful of the screen size as modern DAWs are pretty expansive and take up a lot of horizontal space. This, in turn, requires external displays to make a project even more productive. Another factor that you need to stress upon is the availability of a complete connectivity suite, preferably comparable to Thunderbolt 3 ports or better than the 2 USB 3.0 slots.
Storage Type and size are also some of the more pressing attributes to consider. In case you are more of a traveler, a thin and portable machine should be one of your priorities. Furthermore, a backlit keyboard also goes a long way in assisting the audiophile within.
However, regardless of the synths, files, samples, and presets at work, you can always do away with a good, dedicated GPU, in case you would only use the machine for audio production. While a basic GPU works as the interface for connecting external monitors, you can always save money by ditching the top-of-the-line options. It is mostly associated with image rendering and wouldn’t be of much use to an audiophile.
Furthermore, you can always resort to either Mac or Windows-powered machines for music production as a majority of high-end DAWs or recording tools, like Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and FL Studio, are compatible with both the operating platforms. If you are also into podcasting, consider the MacOS-compatible GarageBand. For a more cloud-based usage, the Adobe Audition, synonymous with the Creative Cloud Suite is a handy application to have.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Music Production in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Apple MacBook Pro
- 2. Best Runner Up: Asus ROG Strix G17
- 3. Best for Music Editing: MSI Creator 15M
- 4. Best for Recording Beats: Razer Blade 15
- 5. Best AMD-Powered: Lenovo Legion 5
- 6. Best for Podcasting: Dell XPS 15 9500
- 7. Best 2-in-1 Touch Screen: HP Spectre x360 15t
- 8. Best for Ableton Live: Asus ZenBook 15
- 9. Best Under Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
- 10. Best for Mixing Music: Acer Aspire 7
- 11. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Book 2
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Which OS is better for music production, Windows 10, or the latest macOS Catalina?
- What is the preferred RAM size on laptops dedicated to music production?
- What are the most essential CPU-intensive aspects to look at for productive music production?
- When shall we consider getting a laptop with HDD for music production?
- Why audiophiles are usually sold out on a good port arrangement?
- The Verdict
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
You must understand that the minimum system requirements ensure optimal music processing and audio editing performances. However, you must always look to match at least the recommended set of specifications or even surpass the same if you have other professional commitments to take care of, including video editing, 3D modeling, and even leisure gaming.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||9th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|RAM||8GB||16GB or better|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD or more|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD (1080 x 1920)||15.6-inch FHD / UHD IPS (1080 x 1920)|
|GPU||3GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050||4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or better|
|Battery||Up to 4 hours||Up to 8 hours|
Best Laptops for Music Production in 2021
If you are seriously searching for a reliable music production laptop, we urge you to keep reading on as our experts have enlisted 11 of the most relevant gadgets in the market while keeping the audio-centric preferences in mind. Although an audiophile can select any of the mentioned notebooks, our experts have extensively tested each machine, as per curated user preferences.
Therefore, we have put together a list of highly functional devices that can sustain every music-intensive professional tasks while showcasing a well-defined skill set for some of the more demanding and complex indulgences. What are you waiting for?
1. Best Overall: Apple MacBook Pro
Undoubtedly, the new MacBook Pro 16 is one of the best machines for audiophiles, courtesy of the excellent processing conglomerate, and the futuristic secondary attributes, including the brilliant keyboard, revolutionary speakers, and more.
To start with, you get the Intel Core i7-9750H chipset, best characterized by excellent single-core turbo clock speeds of up to 4.5GHz. This is one of the more sought-after processors, in case you are looking to process intricate music files by combining multiple presets, samples, and synths without having to worry about the sluggish rendering speeds. It also comes equipped with a competent AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GPU with 4GB VRAM that comes in handy only if you plan to take up 3D rendering, video editing, and other professional tasks.
When it comes to system memory, there is a 16GB RAM module to work with. As a music production engineer or a technician, you are expected to work on several projects and tabs at once, which would certainly require a sizable and fast RAM unit, as featured by the new MacBook Pro. As far as storage is concerned, you get hold of a 512GB SSD module with a sequential speed of up to 3.2Gbps. The existing storage unit helps load the latest macOS Catalina, in a heartbeat.
The 16-inch screen real-estate is significant enough when it comes to accommodating every UI component of the leading DAWs like the Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and more. However, the adequately illuminated display also doubles down as a video and graphics editing resource courtesy of the P3 color gamut and the retina display technology.
The Magic, backlit keyboard is everything a music producer could ask for, boasting of a decent key travel and no flimsy WASD accents. Paired along is the force trackpad, featuring the responsive Touch ID in cohesion. The innovative Touch Bar improves accessibility and takes professional productivity to a whole new level.
Other features relevant to music production include a brilliant acoustic setup, featuring 6-speakers and a dual woofer with force-canceling technology at the helm. In case you are invested in occasional audio recording, the three microphone array with studio-grade throughput is an excellent ally.
Apple MacBook Pro 16 persists with a predictable design, innovative thermal layout, and still weighs a respectable 4.3 pounds. Despite packing in a professional viable webcam, the bezels are still on the narrower end of the stick. Besides that, there are no port-centric compromises with Apple flaunting 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports followed by a USB 3.1 Gen 2 slot. In case you want to source audio samples and presets online, the top-notch connectivity standards really come in handy.
The battery packed inside offers an 11-hour backup, qualifying the MacBook Pro 16 as a pretty portable and powerful audio workstation-grade notebook.
- Class-leading 9th gen processor
- Brilliant display
- A sizable chunk of RAM
- Innovative acoustic setup
- Top-of-the-line keyboard
- Upgradeable memory
- Restrictive storage support in case you are using massive DAWs
2. Best Runner Up: Asus ROG Strix G17
The Asus ROG Strix G17 is one of the best gadgets to put your money on, especially if you are into music production, video editing, and other creative professional tasks. Then again, at heart, it is still a high-end gaming laptop that would ensure exceptional game-playing performances as a part of your leisure indulgences.
When it comes to raw processing power, the Intel Core i7-10750H is one of the better options to go with, courtesy of the higher turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz. What stands out is the class-leading single-core performance, ensuring faster audio renders. Then again, the Hexa-Core chipset also supports the Hyper-threading technology, thereby speeding up multi-threaded applications and processes significantly.
A top-of-the-line graphics processing unit persists, with Asus making way for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 and 8GB of built-in VRAM. With so much graphics-intensive power to rely on, including Real-Time Ray Tracing and AI-Enhanced imagery, this notebook is overkill if you are only concerned about music-making.
However, you get 16GB RAM for your diverse multitasking requirements followed by an ultrafast 512GB SSD module. The existing PCIe storage unit is slower as compared to an NVMe module but still loads demanding DAWs, music-centric applications, tools, and the Windows 10 OS, faster than a conventional SATA SSD and normal HDDs.
The 17.3-inch screen looks massive and is more than capable of accommodating every UI element associated with a Digital Audio Workstation. However, the display is exceedingly gaming-friendly, courtesy of a decent refresh rate of 144Hz. The IPS panel is also a good fit for other creative indulgences, including graphic designing and video editing, owing to the overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Asus also makes way for a decent backlit keyboard with a built-in light bar followed by a responsive trackpad, a brilliant set of speakers, and other professionally-relevant attributes. However, it is the ROG intelligent cooling technology and the decisive thermal layout that keeps heat generation to a minimum. We’re able to play high-end games like PUBG, Overwatch, Minecraft, Fortnite, and more without any lags or heating, which indirectly means that this machine won’t lag for your basic audio editing tasks.
At 6.2 pounds, this is a pretty chunky notebook that also comes equipped with a host of functional ports, including USB 3.2 Type-C, Type-A, HDMI 2.0b, and other slots for pairing external displays and data repositories. Furthermore, Asus also ensures top-of-the-line connectivity, courtesy of the Wi-Fi 6, and Gig+ Ethernet support. Also, to make full use of the networking tech, make sure you get one of the best wireless routers.
If you are an audiophile and not a seasoned gamer, the existing battery can easily churn out almost 6 hours, on a single charge. To sum it up, the ASUS ROG Strix G17 is loaded with specs which are often way too overwhelming for an audiophile. However, if you have other professional and gaming-centric preferences, you can consider purchasing the same.
- 10th gen processor
- Decent storage support
- Ultrafast RAM with a processing speed of 3200MHz
- Expansive screen real-estate
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Advanced cooling tech with Liquid Metal
- No NVMe compatibility
- Misses out on Thunderbolt 3
3. Best for Music Editing: MSI Creator 15M
The perfect gadget for creating some outstanding music, MSI Creator 15M is all about innovation, top-of-the-line specs, and seething processing brilliance.
The Intel Core i7-10750Hcomes across is the perfect ally, in case you are looking for exceptional single-core performances. The turbo clock speed of 5GHz ensures quicker track rendering, especially when you carry this along to live performances.
Although a GPU isn’t all that relevant, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 comes across as a potent inclusion if you want to indulge in competitive game-playing. The GPU also supports Ray Tracing, which allows you to expand your creative horizons into the CGI and 3D rendering realms more effectively with the 6GB VRAM at the helm.
With 16GB RAM to work with, this gadget is certainly your best bet for multitasking. More often than not, as a music producer, you need to work on beefed-up projects that involve multiple WAV files, samples, and libraries. This is when the existing chunk of system memory comes in handy. Storage-centric requirements are taken care of by the 1TB Teton glacier SSD that comes with H10 Optane memory technology.
As far as the display is concerned, the 15.6-inch comes with FHD resolution. While the slimmest, 4.9mm bezels help increase the screen real-estate, the 100 percent sRGB color gamut is a virtual asset when video and photo editing are taken into account.
MSI comes equipped with a revolutionary backlit keyboard, silky touchpad, fingerprint scanner, and a decent set of speakers. Not just that, this is also an exceedingly portable notebook, weighing a mere 4.1 pounds. The port arrangement is pretty extensive, with MSI featuring USB Type-A, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and other functional ports for added functionality.
The pre-existing battery offers a steady, 6-hour backup, on a single charge. Overall, the MSI Creator 15M is one of the more advanced notebooks that you can purchase, precisely for creating, editing, and recording music.
- Powerful processor with excellent single-core performances
- A sizable and ultra-fast storage module
- A decent chunk of system memory
- Dependable battery
- Brilliant display with anti-glare support
- RAM clocks at a mere 2400MHz
- Build quality could be better
4. Best for Recording Beats: Razer Blade 15
As an audiophile, you might want to purchase a sleek notebook that is easy to carry around but doesn’t sell itself short when the specs are concerned. This is where the Razer Blade 15 comes in as the perfect option, striking the perfect balance between power and presentation.
At the helm, Razer boasts of the top-notch Intel Core i7-9750H processor, which boasts of excellent processing performances. What stands out is the turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz followed by the intuitive Hyper-threading technology for accommodating highly demanding multithreaded tasks with ease.
Despite being less relevant to audio production, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti deserves a special mention courtesy of the Turing architecture and its ability to support external display interfacing, in case you are interested in setting up extensive workflows. The existing GPU also comes equipped with 6GB RAM and allows you to handle several entry-level and mid-range titles at medium to higher presets, as an extension to your leisure.
It is easier to handle multiple VSTs. Presets, Synths, and piano rolls at once, courtesy of the 16GB RAM. Razer also features a dual-store module, helmed by the 128GB SSD. You also get a 1TB hard disk drive for storing the less dynamic projects, files, and samples. Furthermore, this gadget comes pre-installed with Windows 10 OS, straight out of the box.
The 15.6-inch screen is absolutely enthralling to look at, courtesy of an overall display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and the much-anticipated, 100 percent sRGB color gamut. While the sharper viewing angles are relevant to an audiophile, it is the matte screen with excellent sunlight visibility that is most relevant to the cause. Moreover, the edge-to-edge IPS panel allows Razer to cram in a lot of screen real-estate for a lesser footprint.
The standard keyboard persists albeit with customized RGB backlighting support. In addition to that, you also get hold of a smooth and responsive touchpad followed by advanced security enhancements, in the form of an integrated webcam with IR support, which works well for attending online classes. Razer also makes ample room for advanced speakers and digital microphones, thereby amplifying the acoustic throughput of the device.
The structural elements deserve special mention as this gadget is carved out a single block of industrial-grade aluminum. Not just that, at 4.6 pounds, this is one of the lightest clamshell models you can purchase for your audio production indulgences. When it comes to port arrangement, there are Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.1, Gig Ethernet, and Thunderbolt 3 slots to account for. This notebook is Wi-Fi 6 compatible and comes equipped with a battery that offers a steady, 7-hour backup, on mixed usage.
Overall, the Blade 15 from Razer is probably your best bet in case portable music production and outdoor gigs are your areas of interest.
- Excellent processor
- Complete connectivity suite
- Matte screen with excellent sunlight visibility
- Dependable battery
- Dual storage support
- Shallow keyboard
5. Best AMD-Powered: Lenovo Legion 5
The Lenovo Legion 5 is arguably the best AMD-powered laptop for an audiophile, considering the extensive specs sheet, excellent processing firepower, and a class-leading thermal layout. While the AMD processor might be a deal-breaker for some, considering the heat generation and noisy fans, the optimal hardware configuration efficiently keeps the issues at bay.
Starting off, you get access to the powerful AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU, best known for the octa-core architecture. As record producers and music engineers rely more on single-core performances, the existing chipset with a base clock speed of 2.9GHz and a maximum clock speed of up to 4.2GHz comes across as the best possible choice. While a dedicated graphics card is overkill to mid-level music producers and audiophiles, the GTX 1660 Ti comes in handy for certain aligned processes.
This graphics card, clubbed with 6GB VRAM, helps with workflow rendering, provided you consider pairing external devices for setting up synchronized setups. However, if you are into other processes, including Video and Photo editing, the graphics card can be a resourceful ally for several GPU-accelerated processes.
The 16GB RAM is a good enough resource for managing larger projects, synths, presets, and relevant elements of dedicated Digital Audio Workstations. The existing chunk of system memory processes WAV files, samples, temporary files, and other entities at 3200MHz, making the Legion 5 one of the best bets for recording beats. Storage-wise, the 512GB SSD is a good-enough computing feature for storing piano rolls, completed projects, files, and the Windows 10 Home OS.
While the SSD boots up the operating system faster than ever, the interface looks even better on the 15.6-inch 1080p display. While the color-accurate panel entails creative tasks and wider coverage for viewing diverse UI elements pertaining to Audacity, GarageBand, and other software solutions, audiophiles can benefit from extraordinary viewing angles, relevant to the IPS screen.
As far as professional productivity is concerned, the TrueStrike keyboard with 1.5mm of key travel is a reliable resource, followed by 2-watt Harman Kardon speakers. The acoustic setup allows music engineers to test the records in real-time, especially with the Dolby Atmos enhancement. Lenovo also accommodates a spectacular webcam with an integrated privacy shutter followed by the smoothest possible trackpad.
As you get an AMD chipset on-board, the Legion 5 brings in the utmost thermal tuning levels, courtesy of the Coldfront 2.0 setup. Besides, the thermal design incorporates stealth heat pipes and heat-dissipating vents, which in turn add to the overall chunkiness of the gadget. Despite the heft, the 5.41-pound Legion 5 incorporates a durable chassis and an innovative hinge. Lenovo also incorporates a full-stack connectivity suite, with HDMI, Type-C, USB 3.1, and Wi-Fi 6 standard inclusions.
Regardless of the power resting underneath the chassis, the laptop manages to offer a steady backup of up to 9 hours. This attribute, along with the rest of the specs sheet, readily qualifies the Lenovo Legion 5 as one of the best laptops for music production.
- Octa-core processor with Zen 2 cores
- Reliable acoustic setup
- High-end thermal layout
- Ultrafast RAM
- Sizable storage module
- Long-lasting battery
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
- Heavier than usual
6. Best for Podcasting: Dell XPS 15 9500
Probably the best-looking laptop on our list, the new Dell XPS 15 9500 is a crafty little beast that packs in ample audio production firepower under the hood.
The 10th gen processor is worth mentioning, courtesy of the excellent, single-core turbo clock technology. The Intel Core i7-10750H is reaching a maximum clock speed of up to 5GHz, which is a significant resource for an audiophile. The existing GeForce GTX 1650 Ti with 4GB VRAM is a potent GPU that can suffice each one of your diverse leisure gaming indulgences.
When it comes to productive multitasking, you get 16GB of high-speed RAM to rely on. With processing speeds close to 2933MHz, the existing chunk of system memory renders data faster than some of the other high-end machines on our list. Storing applications, DAWs, and projects are easier with the 1TB NVMe-supported solid-state drive in play. The SSD unit also ensures that the pre-installed Windows 10 OS loads faster than expected.
However, it is the 15.6-inch display that separates the new Dell XPS 15 9500 from the rest of the competition. For starters, Dell flaunts a touch UHD+ panel, with a cumulative display resolution of 3840 x 2400 pixels. The vibrant screen is fittingly complemented by the Edge-to-Edge paneling and the 100 percent aRGB color gamut.
For creatives who are interested in productive video editing and graphics-intensive tasks, the 94 percent DCI-P3 color gamut is path-breaking addition. Most importantly, the display isn’t all bells and whistles and even comes equipped with Corning Gorilla Glass 6 support.
In case you are looking to play a few games or consume media, the DisplayHDR 400 technology followed by the Dolby Vision support plays an important role. To sum up the display-centric perks, Dell features the VESA certified, an anti-reflective screen with exceptional sunlight visibility and anti-glare support.
Other innovative specs associated with this notebook include a decent backlit keyboard followed by a larger touchpad that also accommodates a strengthened palm rest. The laptop manufacturer also brings innovative speakers, featuring the Waves NX audio enhancement. However, it is the innovative thermal layout that steals the show, courtesy of the stealth heat pipes, and strategic placement of vents.
As far as structural innovation is concerned, the diamond cut chassis deserves a special mention. At 4.5 pounds, this is also one of the lightest notebooks for the audiophiles.
The port arrangement is nothing short of exemplary with Dell making way for USB Type-C with charging support, Thunderbolt 3, and other innovative slots. When it comes to connectivity, you get top-of-the-line Wi-Fi 6, Ethernet, and Bluetooth standards. Then again, it is the featured battery that is capable of lasting up to 13 hours, depending on usage patterns.
In short, the new and improved Dell XPS 15 9500 is one of the more powerful gadgets for audio production, best characterized by an out-of-the-world display.
- Brilliant design
- Stellar multi-touch display for diverse creative indulgences
- High-speed RAM
- Powerful 10th processor
- Dependable battery
- Functional port arrangement
- Not meant for high-end gaming
7. Best 2-in-1 Touch Screen: HP Spectre x360 15t
As an audiophile, it is always advisable to opt for a portable convertible that looks great and can be carried around with ease. This is where the HP Spectre x360 15t comes across as the best gadget to invest in, courtesy of its sheer structural brilliance, and zero compromises in the processing department.
For starters, you get a dependable Intel Core i7-9750H processor that boasts of exceptional single and multi-core performances. While the turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz allows you to mix samples and presets seamlessly during live performances, you also get 12MB of cache memory for using piano rolls, synths, and VSTs with minimal access times.
HP also allows you to hone your gaming skills when you aren’t making music. The existing NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, therefore, comes across as a dependable ally, clubbed with 4GB VRAM, allowing you to play almost every game at 1080p while hitting 60 FPS or more, consistently on low to medium settings.
Coming back to professional productivity, you get 16GB, dual-channel RAM in this convertible followed by an ultrafast 1TB SSD module. The existing NVMe module offers a robust storage unit to an audiophile who seeks quicker reading and writing speeds. Moreover, the featured chunk of system memory clocks faster than usual and ensures better multitasking performances. As far as the operating platform is concerned, there is Windows 10 Pro at the helm.
The multi-touch display, associated with this convertible deserves a special mention. HP brings forth a 15.6-inch 4K display, with an equivalent resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. In addition to that, the IPS screen is equipped with Corning Gorilla Glass protection for enhanced durability.
When it comes to productivity, this convertible leaves no stone unturned by packing in a backlit keyboard, a fast and responsive touchpad, stylus support, B&O speakers with Audio Boost, and a highly secure fingerprint scanner. The cooling, however, isn’t top-notch, but HP more than makes up for the same by flaunting a slimmer chassis and a functional HP TrueVision, IR-powered webcam.
This gadget boasts of exceptional structural craftsmanship courtesy of the gem-cut layout. At 4.64 pounds, this isn’t a heavy convertible and can be carried around with ease. The connectivity suite is pretty extensive with HP making way for Thunderbolt 3, HDMI v2.0, USB 3.1, and a host of other legacy units followed by Wi-Fi 6, Gig Ethernet, and Bluetooth 5.0 standards. The battery is better than most and offers a 15-hour backup, on moderate usage.
To sum it up, the Spectre x360 15t from HP is probably the best gadget in the market for audio production, best characterized by a touch-supported screen and a diversified set of ports.
- Powerful processor
- Stellar 4K display
- Innovative design
- Longer battery life
- NVMe-supported SSD
- Exceptional acoustic arrangement
- Cooling isn’t top-notch
- Heavy for single-handed usage
8. Best for Ableton Live: Asus ZenBook 15
Are you a professional music producer who spends huge time using Ableton Live? In that case, this device is highly recommended. At first, we were skeptical about adding it to our list but based on the feedback and inputs from experienced professionals in the music industry; we think that this sub-$1500 laptop deserves mention at this position.
Under the hood, Asus houses the Intel Core i7-8565U processor. Despite being a power-efficient processor, it boasts of a significant single-core turbo clock speed of up to 4.6GHz. The quad-core processor, therefore, is more than adequate for fast and detailed audio mixes. Graphics support is adequately rendered by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q which also features 4GB of VRAM.
Despite clocking at lower speeds as compared to the vanilla GTX 1650, the Max-Q is still quite a handful when FHD gaming experiences are concerned. When it comes to multitasking, it comes with 16GB RAM which lends ample assistance to the CPU.
Storage is handled by the 1TB SSD with NVMe support. The ultra-fast storage unit ensures files, applications, DAWs, and the Windows 10 Pro OS loads in a heartbeat.
The 15.6-inch 1080p display is drool-worthy and flaunts a 92 percent screen-to-chassis ratio. The expansive screen real-estate is perfectly complemented by the wide-angle viewing technology. Other productivity-centric specs include a backlit keyboard that offers an optimal typing experience courtesy of the ErgoLift layout followed by an FHD webcam with IR and Windows Hello support.
When it comes to the touchpad, Asus brings forth the innovative, 5.65-inch touch panel instead, as the ScreenPad 2.0. This interface comes equipped with a dedicated app switcher and even functions as an extension to the main display. From a structural point-of-view, this is one of the lightest clamshell notebooks on our list at 3.7 pounds. Moreover, the heat generation is negligible as the featured thermal layout takes great care of airflow and strategic vent placements.
In terms of the port arrangement, you get USB 3.1 Gen 2, Type-A, Type-C, HDMI, and other legacy slots followed by Gig Ethernet, Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The existing battery is certainly top-of-the-line and capable of lasting up to 14.9 hours, on a single charge.
Overall, the ZenBook 15 from Asus comes across as a great investment if your audio production and editing indulgences are bested by the portability and structural preferences.
- 8th gen processor with excellent single-core throughput
- Dependable battery
- Innovative design
- Intuitive ScreenPad 2.0
- 1TB NVMe-compatible storage unit
- Optimal typing support
- No Thunderbolt 3
- No Wi-Fi 6 support
9. Best Under Budget: Lenovo IdeaPad L340
Portability, power, and performance; the Lenovo IdeaPad L340 is one of few sub-$700 notebooks that strikes the perfect balance between each one of the mentioned traits and ends up achieving more. Despite being tagged as underpowered by certain critics, this is one of the best budget notebooks that an audiophile can rely on.
For starters, you get a more than adequate, Intel Core i5-9300H chipset. The quad-core processor supports turbo boost technology and can amass speeds of up to 4.1GHz. What works for the audio production engineers though is the excellent single-core performance. Lenovo doesn’t let the occasional gamer in you down by offering a mid-range NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU and 4GB of VRAM.
While 8GB of system memory isn’t a lot to start with, it is still a good inception point for mid-range music production, editing, and mix recording. However, the RAM isn’t soldered, and you can consider expanding if and when deemed necessary. The NVMe-compatible, 512GB solid-state drive is a significant addition, capable of storing and rendering demanding dynamic samples, presets, and projects as fast as possible. When it comes to the OS, you get Windows 10 straight out of the box.
Lenovo has added a vibrant and color-corrected Full HD screen that extends end-to-end, up to 15.6 inches. When it comes to the brightness and overall resolution, you get 1920×1080 pixels to be exact. While the display panel is pretty standard on this notebook, it is the ‘Vantage Eye Care’ Mode that stands out, courtesy of its anti-glare properties.
Next in line is the Chiclet-style keyboard with backlighting support followed by a stiff yet responsive touchpad. A majority of DAWs can rely on the built-in system sound card from Intel Cannon Lake and no external pairing is required. Other innovative specs include a basic set of speakers albeit with Dolby Audio enhancement, a basic HD webcam with physical shutter, and serviceable microphones.
The thermals are pretty standard but the gadget allows you the flexibility of choosing the work mode, as per preferences. In case you are mixing and editing audio, it would be advisable to opt for the Noise-Free, ‘Quiet’ mode. The concerned gadget weighs close to 4.6 pounds and flaunts a decent set of ports, including USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, Gig Ethernet, and more. Lenovo makes way for excellent connectivity, courtesy of Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth 4.2.
The existing battery is capable of lasting almost 7 hours at a stretch which is respectable enough for a productivity-focused unit. Overall, if you are restricted by budget, the IdeaPad L340 is the perfect laptop to purchase for your music-centric needs.
- 9th gen processor
- Decent leisure gaming support
- A display with anti-glare properties
- Ultra-fast storage module
- Respectable battery
- Stiff touchpad
- No Thunderbolt 3
10. Best for Mixing Music: Acer Aspire 7
In case you are looking for a budget-centric notebook that allows you to work on DAWs like FL Studio, Ableton Live, and more, the Acer Aspire 7 is one of the best options under $800 to consider. Not just the processing excellence, this notebook cuts out the gaming clutter by only packing a minimalistic GPU.
The processing performances are top-notch, courtesy of the Intel Core i5-9300H processor with a 2.4GHz base clock speed. The chipset boasts excellent single-core performances and an excellent turbo clocking speed that can reach up to 4.1GHz. The featured CPU ensures ample support for VST3, audio units, and quicker mixes during the liver performances.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 clubbed with 4GB of VRAM is more of standard addition, allowing you to work on Adobe After Effects, Audition, and moderately demanding application programs. When leisure gaming is concerned, you can still churn out decent fps for The Division and a few FPS games.
However, the Aspire 7 has its eye glued only to professional productivity with 8GB system memory validating the same. When it comes to storage, you get a 512GB NVMe SSD for booting the Windows 10 OS, faster than a SATA SSD.
Acer reprises the 15.6-inch Full HD display that is bolstered further by the Color Intelligence technology and the 72 percent NTSC color gamut. Apart from the mentioned creative resources, the Aspire 7 also wins it in terms of visual clarity and brightness, courtesy of the 1920 x 1080 pixels, as the overall resolution.
Gadget-centric productivity is best attributed to the backlit keyboard with a numeric keypad, Precision touchpad with an integrated fingerprint scanner, stereo speakers, HD webcam, and voice-purified microphones. The metal-clad chassis weighs a respectable 4.74 pounds and ensures a diverse array of ports and connectivity specs, including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, and more. You also get hold of a long-lasting battery with Acer living up to its promise of 8.5 hours backup.
Despite the underwhelming graphics-intensive conglomerate, Acer ensures brilliant audio-centric performances courtesy of a powerful processor and a sizable chunk of system memory.
- 9th gen processor
- Metal-clad structure
- Vibrant display
- Ultrafast storage module
- USB charging support
- Not fit for high-end gaming
11. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Book 2
If you have eyes on a worthy detachable that isn’t underpowered for an audiophile, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the gadget to consider.
To start with, this masterpiece comes equipped with a class-leading yet power-efficient Intel Core i7-8650U processor. While the chipset has a pretty standard base clock speed limit of 1.9GHz, the excellent turbo clock limit of up to 4.2GHz adds to its single-core credibility. Therefore, this is one of the best CPUs for music production but might let you down if you are also invested in professional gaming.
However, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 takes good care of mid-range gaming and other creative inclinations related to designing and 3D modeling. The existing graphics processing unit is one of the best in the business for sleek notebooks, capable of playing almost every title at medium 1080p presets. Besides that, you also get access to 6GB VRAM for deciphering intricate graphics and gaming textures.
While you do get access to 16GB of system memory, the existing RAM isn’t the fastest one in the market. Therefore, you need to be careful while overburdening the same with select DAW-centric WAVs, presets, and VSTs. The 512GB SSD unit is pretty standard, in terms of capacity. Microsoft also features a bloatware-free version of the Windows 10 Pro OS with a host of business-centric perks, added along.
The 15-inch PixelSense display is adequately bright, courtesy of the cumulative resolution of 3240 x 2160 pixels. Besides exceptional multi-touch support, the exceedingly vibrant screen also makes way for a decent contrast ratio of 1600:1, which is an asset to creative professionals and those who love to watch movies or stream videos.
The magnesium-clad device comes equipped with a detachable keyboard followed by a responsive ClickPad and the stylus support. Microsoft sweetens the pot further for the audiophiles with front-firing speakers featuring Dolby audio support. Other specs include a dual-camera setup and dual microphones.
At 4.20 pounds, this 2-in-1 is on the lighter side and fit to be carried around with minimal hassle. As far as ports and connectivity-centric specs are concerned, you get access to USB Type-A, Type-C, Bluetooth 4.1, and top-of-the-line Wi-Fi standards. The battery, however, deserves every accolade it can garner, courtesy of the 17-hour backup.
In case you are more inclined towards occasionally using the laptop as a tablet for handling mixes, synths, and piano rolls or even running Cricut Design space or Silhouette Studio, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 might just be the ally to depend on.
- Decent processor with excellent single-core performances
- Powerful GPU for other creative indulgences
- Sleek and portable
- Class-leading battery
- Stellar display
- Decent storage support
- Exceptional acoustic arrangement
- Slower RAM
- The CPU isn’t meant for the power user
Frequently Asked Questions
Which OS is better for music production, Windows 10, or the latest macOS Catalina?
While both these operating platforms are equipped enough to handle requirements related to audio production, mixing, and editing, you should prefer the macOS if you have the budget for a MacBook. Although we do not have anything against Windows, Mac scales a bit higher due to the built-in resources, Podcasting support via GarageBand, and better system stability.
What is the preferred RAM size on laptops dedicated to music production?
For mid-level professionals, 8GB is a good ballpark for start proceedings as it would be sufficient for nominally sized projects and available mixes. However, if you are looking to pursue music production and also the aligned aspects including audio recording, slicing, and editing, 16GB is the bare minimum. For high-end commercial tasks where Synths, VSTs, WAVs, and other resources are used for beefier projects, even 32GB might run out quickly.
What are the most essential CPU-intensive aspects to look at for productive music production?
In case you are more into mixing and playing with the presets and samples, a processor with an excellent turbo clock speed limit is necessary. For basic to mid-range requirements the single-core performance or rather the single-core turbo speed is the most important metric. However, if you are invested in more complex tasks including working alongside 30 tracks, multiple audio effects, and sample instruments like Piano roll and synths, additional cores are also necessary.
When shall we consider getting a laptop with HDD for music production?
Storage space is of relevance when music production is concerned as a single, complicated mix can easily take up 1GB of space. While we would always suggest going for an SSD, preferably an NVMe- compatible one, you can always choose a hard disk drive in case the budget is an issue. HDD is still a good place to store archived files and samples that aren’t invoked frequently. However, the best approach is to opt for a dual-storage module with a smaller SSD, just for installing the OS and the primary DAW.
Why audiophiles are usually sold out on a good port arrangement?
Professionals need to connect audio gear, instruments, MIDI pads, and even microphones for a more cohesive workflow. Besides that, some might even look to include mixing boards, audio interface or sound cards, external keyboards, and a mouse for better navigation. The mentioned requirements are taken care of if the laptop comes with a decent port arrangement, preferably a couple of Thunderbolt 3, USB ports, and even support for accommodating a fast USB hub.
Despite having 11 of the best options to consider for your professional requirements, the final selection clearly depends on your skill sets, seniority level, and leisure preferences, if any.
- If we were to recommend, the MacBook Pro 16 would readily feature atop, courtesy of the built-in podcasting and editing resources, followed by 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports for the fastest possible interfacing.
- If you are looking to get a Windows OS machine, we would recommend the 2-in-1 convertible, Spectre x360 15t from HP, courtesy of the balanced specs sheet and discerning aesthetics.
- If you are a wee bit concerned about the budget, consider investing in the sub-$1000 Lenovo Legion 5. While you can find a few $800 machines for your needs, but it’s always advisable to spend a bit more.