It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner to music production or a professional producer who shoots for high-tier media productions and filmmaking schools. If you’re in looking for a good quality laptop that can run Pro Tools, then you’ve come to the right place.
Pro Tools by Avid Technology is one of the most commonly used DAW software units around the globe. Being an Industry standard, it’s quite popular among both beginners and professionals working on big projects.
Whether it’s music editing, mixing, recording beats, or making, this audio editing suite can do it all. Although, the MIDI in it isn’t as good as other digital audio workstation software, but its scalability with the hardware makes it an ideal DAW, especially for movie mixing and stage scoring.
One thing that stops a lot of people from getting the most out of Pro Tools is the high resource consumption. Although you can get away installing it on a low-budget laptop, consider going for the laptops from this list if you don’t want it to lag or feel sluggish while working.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Pro Tools DAW in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: ASUS ROG Strix G15
- 2. Best MSI: MSI Creator 15M
- 3. Best from Acer: Acer Predator Helios 300
- 4. Best Mac For Pro Tools: Apple MacBook Pro
- 5. Best Value for Money: ASUS ZenBook 15
- 6. Best from Dell: Dell XPS 15 7590
- 7. Best Under Budget: ASUS TUF FX505DT
- 8. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Acer Spin 3
- 9. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Book 2
- 10. Huawei MateBook X Pro
- Frequently Asked Questions
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
We already told you that Pro Tools is a resource-hungry piece of software. So, the minimum & recommended specifications would be higher than your normal laptop specs.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||9th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)|
|GPU||2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX250||4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650|
|Battery||Up to 4 hours||Up to 8 hours|
As you can see, running a DAW shall take a considerable amount of system resources, although dedicated graphics is optional, it can be helpful to have them on your laptop. One thing to be noted here is that the system requirements vary according to the Pro Tools product and your OS.
For instance, 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor shall be enough for running Pro Tools First (free version), while you’ll need 16GB or 32GB of RAM for Pro Tools or Pro Tools Ultimate. That said, let us begin with the list!
Best Laptops for Pro Tools DAW in 2021
|ASUS ROG Strix G15|
|MSI Creator 15M|
|Acer Predator Helios 300|
|Apple MacBook Pro|
|ASUS ZenBook 15|
|Dell XPS 15 7590|
|ASUS TUF FX505DT|
|Acer Spin 3|
|Microsoft Surface Book 2|
|Huawei MateBook X Pro|
Now, finding these specs on an iMac or a fully-rigged Windows PC would be a piece of cake. But, here, the problem is of portability and price. Not everyone can afford expensive laptops, especially students or entrepreneurs. So, we have compiled the best laptops from both the premium and budget-friendly laptop brands out there. You can find the likes of Apple MacBooks and not-so-good-looking rugged laptops in this list below.
1. Best Overall: ASUS ROG Strix G15
The gaming notebook from Asus, the ROG Strix G15 is a worthy consideration when you are looking for sleek design and performance with Windows and not macOS. This laptop is an exemplary combination of performance-focused hardware and ergonomic design. At the core of the beast is an Intel Core i7-10750H processor with a clock speed of 2.6GHz.
As we go inside, we see the trusty combination of 16GB of DDR4 standard RAM and 512GB of Full SSD-based storage. Not just that, you can also upgrade the RAM up to 32GB. We should also note that the laptop comes with an excellent cooling system. This system does an amazing job without making too much noise.
To provide you with the best visual experience while handling multiple tracks, the bright and crisp 15.6-inch Full HD screen will be enough. Although the whopping 240Hz refresh rate screen of ROG Strix G15 is made for high-end gaming, you would be able to enjoy a snappy editing experience elsewhere.
Furthermore, there is no scarcity for graphics as the NVIDIA RTX 2070 comes with 8GB of VRAM. So, even if you are playing a game, you can render it with ease!
Versatile is not a proper adjective to use with the ROG Strix G15 connectivity sector. There are enough ports, including USB Type C, full-sized HDMI and Ethernet, that you don’t even have to think of buying adaptors.
The RGB customizable keys with good travel actually contribute to productivity in the long run. The laptop has a reasonable weight of 5.28 lbs but the company has not specified the battery backup. Still, we can expect the device to run for a few good hours.
- High-performance CPU + GPU
- 240Hz screen refresh rate
- Customizable controls
- Ample ports for connectivity
- Battery life
- No Thunderbolt 3
2. Best MSI: MSI Creator 15M
As an audiophile or a professional audio engineer, you are better off purchasing a laptop as powerful as the MSI Creator 15M, for managing work even when on the move. At the first glance, this notebook looks more like a structural marvel but the specs sheet is also worth mentioning.
For starters, you get hold of the Intel Core i7-10750H processor, which is more than capable of handling every digital audio workstation and associated processes. However, if you are more invested in the Pro Tools, the featured CPU, courtesy of the exceptional turbo boost frequency of 5GHz, is good enough for the MIDI, synths, presets, audio mixing, and even editing. Not just that, the hexa-core processor can also manage hardware scalability like a pro, sans lags, or stutters.
While audio creators, editors, and real-time mixers hardly require a graphics card as powerful as the RTX 2060, the same can still be a handful for 4K video editing, viewport rendering, and high-end gaming. The existing graphics card comes loaded with 6GB VRAM, which is more than adequate for demanding titles like PUBG, Fortnite, WOW, Civilization 6, and more.
However, it is the 16GB RAM allotment that makes the most sense to the professionals. This attribute allows you to manage synths in real-time, making the Creator 15M the perfect laptop for live audio mixing. Coming to the storage, you can reap the benefits of the fast and sizable, 1TB solid-state drive. Most importantly, the SSD facilitates faster boot-ups, when Windows 10 OS is concerned.
As far as the display is concerned, MSI brings forth a conventional 15.6-inch real-estate, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. However, there is an interesting lineup of productivity-centric specs, which includes the brilliant stereo speakers with HD audio enhancement, a nifty fingerprint scanner, and a serviceable webcam.
The backlit keyboard and the smooth trackpad are also potent inclusions followed by a pretty standard connectivity suite, including the Type-A, Type-C, HDMI, Wi-Fi AC, and Bluetooth 5.1. Despite exhibiting such a competent specs sheet, the new MSI Creator 15M is one of the portable gadgets in the market, weighing close to 4.1 pounds. Moreover, the portability-quotient gets a significant boost with a decent, 6-hour battery backup, to show for.
Therefore, if you are a music professional who is more involved with the Avid Pro Tools or any other Digital Audio workstation like FL Studio, Audacity, or more, the MSI Creator is a good investment to make.
- Hexa-core processor
- Class-leading speakers
- High-bandwidth, 16GB RAM
- Massive storage space
- Light and portable
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3
3. Best from Acer: Acer Predator Helios 300
Here is another gaming laptop that becomes the perfect companion for your Pro Tools needs. Compared to the previously mentioned laptops, the Predator Helios 300 is a heavy machine and qualifies as a desktop replacement laptop.
The Intel Core i7 that is clocked at 2.6GHz is more than enough for your basic Pro Tools tasks to begin with. Keeping up with the trend, the Predator Helios 300 has included 16GB of DDR4 RAM in the package. It provides a smooth multitasking experience among other things. Also, the 512GB of SSD storage is up to par.
On the design side, the laptop does not do any magic, to be exact. The price tag does not allow it to have fancy looks. Moving forward, you are getting a 15.6-inch Full HD display panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. However, as opposed to our expectations, we spotted a huge-enough NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 in the pack, and it comes with 6GB of VRAM.
The connectivity desk of the Predator Helios 300 is pretty standard, to begin with. In addition to both USB 3 and 2.0 ports, the device packs a Type C port with charging capacity as well. Other ports are full HDMI and an RJ45 ethernet port. If you work off of the network at your office, the connectivity is great.
Now, despite all the hardware bonanza, the laptop manages to offer a battery backup of up to 6 hours, which is bonkers when we consider the weight of just 5.07 pounds.
- Extended connectivity
- Reasonable weight
- Sufficient graphics
- Not the best performer
4. Best Mac For Pro Tools: Apple MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro lineup from Apple has been the creators’ favorite for quite a few years. That is mainly because these laptops have unbelievable performance without compromising a sleek design and MacBook Pro 16 is no exception.
Powering the laptop’s performance is an Intel Core i7 9th Gen H-series processor with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz but can reach up to 4.5GHz. On the first look, 16GB RAM may sound insufficient, but we should consider that Apple does an amazing RAM management job. Therefore, when combined with 512GB of SSD storage, the MacBook Pro 16 can be magical, to say the least. However note that you cannot upgrade the RAM on this one.
It should be noted that Apple has improved the screen size without making the overall footprint bigger. The resolution of the Full HD Retina screen is 3072 x 1920. Like icing on the cake, the laptop also has a dedicated graphics card — AMD Radeon Pro 5300M, which comes with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM.
As it stands, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is the most connectivity-friendly laptop from Apple. The device is coming with four USB Type C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support. You have to use these ports (with adaptors, sure) to connect various devices, including but not limited to data, power and MIDI input.
Some additional options on the laptop include Touch Bar, which is supported by Pro Tools. This 4.3 lbs laptop offers a whopping battery life of up to 11 hours for web browsing, but the backup would be lowered if you render things.
- Sleek and elegant design
- Excellent RAM management
- Long battery life
- Touch ID and Touch Bar support
- Universal connectivity
- Thunderbolt 3 support
5. Best Value for Money: ASUS ZenBook 15
We know many people look for a laptop that is incredibly thin and light. While that was a dream a few years back, Asus has made it possible. The, ZenBook 15 is exactly such a package, adding so much performance into the smaller footprint.
Powering all these performance-hungry arrangements is an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU with a clock speed of 1.8GHz and can reach up to 4.9GHz on Turbo speed.
The 16GB of DDR4 RAM is available onboard the device, taking care of most of the tasks. To provide a faster boot-up speed and data transfer speeds, ASUS has included a 512GB SSD storage. Despite the simple and lightweight design, the laptop does an amazing job of performance management. This is all thanks to an effective cooling system used by ASUS.
The ASUS ZenBook 15 can provide you with an immersive audio workstation experience even without connecting a secondary display. This is due to the 15.6-inch UHD panel, which comes with a top resolution of 3840 x 2160 and narrowed bezels. We are talking about a 92% screen-to-body ratio. When we bring in the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max Q with 4GB VRAM, the laptop is ready for stable performance.
The connectivity aspect of the ASUS ZenBook 15 is so unlike the typical lightweight laptops. The device has USB Type C, Type A and HDMI ports and a dedicated media card reader. It does not have Thunderbolt 3 support, though. Some other features we loved in the package are the backlit full-sized keyboard with numeric keypad and its Ergo-Lift design.
Lastly, despite having a minimum weight of 3.6 lbs, the laptop claims to offer a battery life of up to 10 hours. It’s much of a stretch when you are editing audio, but you can expect something standard though.
- Lightweight design
- Immersive 4K display
- Good CPU + GPU combo
- Touch-supported trackpad
- Good battery life
- Enriched connectivity
- No Thunderbolt port
6. Best from Dell: Dell XPS 15 7590
Dell is known for making some of the finest flagship laptops out there. In particular, the XPS 15 series has an impressive reputation as well. Following that trend, we believe that this Dell XPS 15 is a worthy consideration for your Pro Tools needs.
First things first, the laptop has an Intel Core i7-9750H processor with a top clock speed of 4.5GHz on Turbo Boost. This offers an amazing place to begin your audio editing experience.
One of the areas where the Dell XPS 15 let us down is the RAM. The device comes with 8GB of RAM. Unless you are planning to run Pro Tools First, this is insufficient, and you will have to think about upgrading it. On the bright side, however, Dell was gracious enough to include 512GB of SSD storage. If you know the deal with thin laptops, you know this is the sweet spot.
Even before bezel-less displays became the trend, Dell was excellent at it. So, we weren’t surprised to find a super-immersive 15.6-inch Full HD display on this device. This display panel, coming with a top resolution of 1920 x 1080, offers the standard sharpness and details. We see a trusty pick on the graphics side, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB GDDR5.
The complete laptop package that Dell XPS 15 is won’t be complete without connectivity. Though not as rich as other laptops on the list, you get a good number of USB ports and HDMI ports. It has an external battery indicator as well. As always, the laptop is coming with good sound tech and a keyboard from Dell. Despite reviews praising good battery life, Dell does not specify how much battery life it can offer. The device has a convenient weight of 4 lbs as well.
- Sleek design
- Minimal-bezel design
- Good connectivity front
- Sufficient graphics
- Reasonable weight
- Not-so-great battery
- Insufficient memory
7. Best Under Budget: ASUS TUF FX505DT
As you may have guessed from the name, ASUS TUF FX505DT is a gaming laptop, but a really affordable one to be exact. So, if you plan to spend less than $700 on a laptop for Pro Tools, you should consider what this laptop has to offer. First things first, this ASUS laptop is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 3550H CPU clocked at 2.1GHz.
Once again, we see some compromises that are made to save some money. For instance, the 8GB of DDR4 is barely enough to run Pro Tools or Ultimate version. It should be enough for Pro Tools First, though. Similarly, it would have been nice if ASUS had included some extra storage instead of the 256GB SSD. Making things worse, it’s not easy to upgrade the laptop either.
The display aspect of the ASUS TUF is up to the standards, though. The 15.6-inch full HD screen is big enough to accommodate Pro Tools modules, and the resolution of 1920 x 1080 provides a superb amount of details. When combined with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM, the laptop’s visual real estate is up to the mark.
Connectivity is a confusing part of the ASUS TUF FX505DT. The first thing we notice is that the laptop does not have many USB Type C ports. At the same time, if you have legacy devices, you would love what the normal-sized USB ports and HDMI port have to offer. There is also an Ethernet port for enhanced speeds. The device makes use of an anti-dust cooling system as well.
- Good performance
- Excellent display
- Legacy connectivity
- Dedicated graphics
- Military-grade build quality
- Restrictive storage space
8. Best 2-in-1 Convertible: Acer Spin 3
You won’t expect the most 2-in-1s to be able to run Pro Tools, but Acer Spin 3 is an exception by all means. This affordable convertible laptop packs enough hardware to smoothly run any DAW software.
For all these, we need a powerful processor and the 1.1GHz Intel Core i5-1035G4 does this job wonderfully. With the help of Turbo Boost, you can retain the best clock speeds and overall speeds while multitasking.
We were happy to see the trusty combination in a laptop of this footprint. The package contains 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which is standard for the given price. 512GB of SSD storage also seems to be a great choice for those who value transfer speeds. Now, truth be told, convertible laptops often employ some extra techniques to manage RAM usage.
There is much to talk about on the screen in the Acer Spin 3. You are looking at a 14-inch Full HD screen that is coming with touch screen support. Acer has included a rechargeable stylus that turns useful when you’re using the laptop in the flipped mode. Unlike all the laptops above, this one does not have dedicated graphics and that’s a good move to reduce the price tag.
Among the many features the Acer Spin 3 offers, we loved its design the most. As we said earlier, you would be able to use the laptop from different angles — with and without the touchscreen or stylus. On the fronts of connectivity, the laptop comes with enough USB ports and a full-sized HDMI port.
So, even when the laptop is flipped, you can connect a secondary display if necessary. Last but not least, this 3.31lbs laptop is offering a whopping battery life of up to 12 hours, which is quite impressive.
- Sleek design
- Convertible display
- Touchscreen and stylus support
- Extended battery life
- Lightweight performance
- No dedicated GPU
9. Best Battery Life: Microsoft Surface Book 2
You should consider this laptop if you are looking for standard performance with comfort. The processor used in the laptop is an Intel Core i5, clocked at 1.9GHz — a figure that is enough for Pro Tools First.
We believe that you’d be using such a laptop for on-the-go editing, that too using a low-end version. In light of that understanding, the combination of 8GB DDR3 RAM and 128GB of SSD storage is just amazing. Well, you cannot run seventy tabs on Chrome and still expect Pro Tools to run smoothly. But, with the right set of discretion, you will be good to go with this device.
The display of the Surface Book 2 could be one of the most underrated things. The device comes with a touch-based display that is 13.5 inches. More importantly, the panel has a top resolution of 3000 x 2000, meaning that the aspect ratio is 3:2. At the end of the day, we are talking about the sharpness of details and this has been done without using a dedicated graphics card.
While talking about connectivity, we have to cover multiple aspects. First, you can connect a wide variety of Surface accessories like the Dial and Surface Pen for extended productivity. Second, the standard ports of the device are available when you are in Laptop mode.
If you are using the studio mode, you cannot even think of connecting a MIDI system. Now, moving to the better sides, the laptop offers a superb battery life of up to 17 hours. And, of course, 4.2 lbs of weight definitely puts it in the Lightweight category.
- Elegant, sleek design
- Standard performance
- Touchscreen support
- Flexible design
- Versatile connectivity
- Low storage/RAM
Before you ask any questions, Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition looks like one of the products from Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup for sure. However, Huawei has done a commendable job in creating a reliable yet snappy laptop for executive users.
So, if you are looking for a sleek laptop that can run Pro Tools, its Intel Core i5-8250U processor at 1.6GHz would be more than satisfactory.
However, there are some compromises that are intended to lower the overall price tag. For instance, the company has opted to choose 8GB of LPDDR3, which may be a limitation for some users. Also, we think the 256GB SSD storage is something lower than what people expect from a device that is supposed to run Pro Tools or other DAW tools, but is more than enough for storing a lot of files.
Yet, there are areas where the Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition excels, and the display is one of them. Crafted in a 3:2 aspect ratio, the 13.9-inch 3K display is a beauty to say the least. The display does a good job in rendering details and the touchscreen support makes things easier. The single device can transform itself into a powerful mini-workstation and a portable pick without much hassle.
Because it’s an ultra-thin laptop, connectivity is a concern indeed. However, Huawei has decided to include some extra adaptors and dongles in the package. So, you won’t have trouble in connecting your accessories or HDMI cables. Quad speakers and microphones are some features we are sure you will love as well.
Now, let’s talk about the best parts: battery. The device has a minimum weight of 2.93 lbs, but that does not seem to stop Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition from offering a backup of up to 12 hours.
- Ultrabook design
- Excellent display
- Top-class speakers and mic
- Touchscreen support
- Long battery life
- Limited performance
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I spend on a laptop for Pro Tools?
As you have seen above, many laptops can run Pro Tools, but the final decision depends on your requirements. For instance, if you are a professional who deals with a lot of content, we’d say you must have a budget of around $1500. If you’re a mid-level professional or a beginner, the sub-$1000 laptops should do the job!
Why are Pro Tools laptops expensive?
This is mainly because of the hardware used in the products. As you may know, Pro Tools is a software that requires a lot of resources, especially processing power. Now, including an i7 processor in the package costs a considerable amount of money.
Can I play games on these laptops?
In most cases, you can. See, the prerequisites for running games and Pro Tools are almost the same in most cases. The only addition in the case of gaming laptops is dedicated graphics. Then again, many laptops made for Pro Tools come with a dedicated graphics card.
What are some must-have features in a laptop for music production?
Once again, the answer may depend on the use-case scenario. One thing we can say for sure is connectivity. Because you will be connecting audio devices and MIDI, the laptop should have the right set of ports. On top of this, the laptop should also support HDMI for extended screens.
Are there Ultrabooks that run audio production software?
Definitely. Ultrabooks have come a long way since their inception and there are some performance-based Ultrabooks in the market. Choosing one of these laptops means that you can enjoy a seamless performance without losing the benefits of portability.
We have tried to create an inclusive list of the best laptops you can use for Pro Tools. In doing so, we have managed to add both gaming laptops and performance-oriented Ultrabooks to the list.
Some laptops come under the $1000 price tag. So, if you are a struggling musician or a student, you should go for that option. Doing so would also mean that you can run only the basic version of Pro Tools. Despite that, such a laptop would be a great place to start.
On the other hand, if you are someone who has to deal with high-end projects, it’s better that you go for something like MacBook Pro or a high-end gaming laptop from the list.