Welcome to the ultimate laptop buying guide for music producers and composers using Cubase Pro 12. As a fellow music enthusiast and laptop aficionado, I understand the importance of finding the best laptop for Cubase Pro 12 that can handle the demands of this powerful Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) while providing a seamless creative experience. In this guide, we'll focus on the unique requirements of Cubase Pro 12 users and explore the ideal laptop specifications to optimize your music production workflow.
When searching for the best laptop for Cubase Pro 12, it's crucial to consider the specific needs of audio production: fast processing power, ample storage, and high-quality display and audio capabilities. My extensive laptop spreadsheet includes recent releases, specs, and reviews from both professionals and users alike, allowing us to pinpoint the top laptops that meet the requirements for Cubase Pro 12 users across various price ranges.
As a Cubase Pro 12 user, you're well aware of the importance of features like ASIO Guard, the MixConsole, and the VST Expression Map. I've taken these aspects into account, along with other elements such as compatibility with popular audio interfaces and MIDI controllers. With this guide, you'll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and find the perfect laptop to enhance your music production and unleash your creative potential with Cubase Pro 12.
The laptop processor market is currently dominated by three main players – Apple with its ARM-based M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M2 system-on-chip modules; AMD with its 6th generation Ryzen processors; and Intel with its 12th generation processors. All three silicon chips have adopted a hybrid performance/efficiency core design (based on big.LITTLE). In a nutshell, this means that some of the cores offer high performance while others offer lower performance with a better battery life.
So when does a high-performance CPU become necessary? If you’re looking to produce audio with Cubase Pro 12, then you should aim for a mid-to-high range laptop. Cubase Pro 12 is a powerful digital audio workstation that can utilize multiple processor cores, so if you can get your hands on an Intel 8th Gen or AMD 9th Gen “Ryzen” laptop with an H-series processor, it’ll do the job well. However, keep in mind that such laptops will consume more power and generate more heat, so they may require active cooling (fans) in order to run at full speed.
For lower budget options, you may need to sacrifice some performance for a better battery life. In this case, you could look for laptops with Intel Core i3 processors or AMD Ryzen 3 processors, but remember that you may experience some bottlenecks if you’re using these chips for high-end audio production tasks.
To get an idea of what to expect from each price range, I ran a few benchmarks using Cinebench R23 – which is a popular benchmark that tests single-core performance, which is crucial for audio production applications such as Cubase Pro. Here are the results:
As you can see, the performance increases with the price, but keep in mind that other components (e.g., the GPU) may have a bigger impact on the overall performance of your laptop. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much performance you need and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Graphic cards are an important component for gaming laptops, but for those looking for a laptop for music production, a dedicated graphics card isn't always necessary. That said, some DAW-specific effects and 3D audio visualizations can benefit from having a dedicated GPU.
Nvidia continues to dominate the laptop GPU market. While they recently released a few RTX 40 series cards, these are not yet available on laptops (expected in 2023). In the meantime, Nvidia's latest notebook cards are in the RTX 30 series, such as the RTX 3070 Ti. Desktop GPUs are now a lot more power-hungry, which has widened the gap between power-limited notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards in the past few years. Additionally, Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label for its RTX graphics cards. Now, the exact GPU wattage is determined by a laptop manufacturer (OEM). Unfortunately, this results in a wide variance in graphics performance even in laptops with the same GPU chipset.
If you're looking for a MacBook, you can skip this section.
When comparing laptop graphics performance, we suggest using 3DMark scores, particularly the Fire Strike test. These tests are designed to push the GPU to its limits, which is ideal for our purposes since we need to know how well the laptop performs when pushed to its limits.
For music production, a minimum of the Iris Xe Graphics G7 is suggested. If you want better performance for gaming purposes, a recommended GPU is the Quadro T500. For the highest performance option, the GeForce MX550 is your best bet. If you want a more powerful graphics card, make sure your laptop has an open PCIe x16 slot; many laptops reserve this slot for an upgrade option but don't include it by default. If your laptop doesn't have one, it's best to look for a model that does since it will be more future-proof. In some cases, it might be better to buy a desktop PC and connect it to your laptop via an external display port (eDP or Thunderbolt 3 eGPU).
To help you decide on the best laptop Graphics card for Cubase Pro 12, we have provided a list of recommended GPUs and their expected laptop price ranges below.
Recommended GPUs and their expected laptop price ranges
|Graphics Card||Expected Laptop Price Range|
|Iris Xe Graphics G7||Under $1,000|
|Quadro T500||$1,000 – $2,000|
Cubase Pro 12 is a powerful Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and is known to be particularly RAM-hungry. While the amount of RAM needed depends on the size of your projects and how many plugins you use, here's a guideline for deciding on the right laptop RAM for Cubase Pro 12.
Most mid-range laptops come with 16 GB of RAM and high-end – 32 GB or more. For the latest-gen Intel and AMD CPUs, DDR4 and DDR5 are both supported, though DDR5 is still quite expensive and needs time to mature as a technology.
Many people think that having a lot of RAM is only important for professionals, but having extra memory is beneficial for everyone using a DAW. That's because the more tracks you have open at once, the more memory you'll need.
The amount of RAM you need depends on your project size and how many plugins you use. If you're working with a lot of tracks (around 20-30) and/or a lot of plugins (around 30+), you'll need 32 GB of RAM or more. But if you're working with less than 10 tracks and 15-20 plugins, 16 GB will be enough. If you're looking for an upgrade, make sure your current laptop has an SODIMM slot available – it's easy to add some extra RAM later on, but it's not possible to upgrade the soldered-on memory.
Recommended RAM specs for various budgets
6 Best Laptops for Cubase Pro 12
- Excellent price
- Good gaming performance
- Can double as a work laptop
- Three color choices
- Bad battery life
- Rather plain design
- Weak GPU yields unsatisfactory frame rates
- Screen only so-so despite 144Hz refresh rate
The HP Victus 15 is a budget gaming laptop that offers good gaming performance and can double as a work laptop. It has an excellent price, but it falls short in terms of battery life and design.
- Delivers smooth gameplay at 1080p.
- Fast SSD.
- User-replaceable memory and storage.
- Good port selection.
- No VRR to reduce screen tearing.
- Some performance loss on CPU under load.
The HP Victus 15 is a solid gaming laptop with powerful components for smooth gameplay at 1080p. It features a fast SSD, user-replaceable memory and storage, and a good selection of ports. However, it lacks variable refresh rate (VRR) to reduce screen tearing and may experience performance loss on the CPU under heavy load.
- Relatively bright touchscreen
- Attractive chassis design
- Turbo Boost sustainability could be better
- No integrated SD reader, USB-A, or HDMI
- Superb 1080p gaming performance
- Strong productivity capabilities
- Great price
- Poor webcam, touchpad, and speakers
- Some games appear washed out on display
The ASUS TUF F15 FX507VU-ES53 is a budget gaming laptop that offers superb 1080p gaming performance and strong productivity capabilities at a great price. However, it falls short in terms of its webcam, touchpad, and speakers, and some games may appear washed out on its display.
- Stylish and sleek form factor
- Gorgeous display
- Webcam quality is poor
- No biometric features
- Sturdy construction
- Fast Wi-Fi 6E
- Excellent response times and no PWM
- Wide color gamut coverage with Dolby Vision support
- Limited display angle
- No biometric login
- Heavy SSD throttling during continuous reads
- High heat and noise
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar impresses with its sturdy construction, fast Wi-Fi 6E, excellent response times, and powerful performance from the Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070 Ti. However, it suffers from a limited display angle, lacks biometric login, experiences SSD throttling, and has high heat and noise emissions under load.
- Fantastic value
- Top-tier gaming performance
- Middling screen
- A bit heavy
- Strong overall performance
- Display is big, bright, and fast
- Per-key RGB lighting
- Some flex to keyboard deck
- Poor battery life
The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 is a strong performer for Cubase Pro 12, thanks to its 13th-gen Core i9 CPU and RTX 4090 graphics. With a big, bright, and fast display and per-key RGB lighting, it offers a great user experience. However, it does have some flex in the keyboard deck and suffers from poor battery life.
- QHD display with 165 Hz
- Expandable working memory
- Slightly below-average performance for a RTX 4080
- High noise level
- Excellent 4K display with AdobeRGB
- High-quality case
- Thunderbolt 4 PCIe 4.0
- Very high system performance
- Lower graphics performance than the predecessor
- Performance not completely stable under combined load
- Not Wi-Fi 6E compatible
- 720p webcam
The Dell XPS 17 9720 impresses with its excellent 4K display and high-quality case. It offers very high system performance and features like Thunderbolt 4 and PCIe 4.0. However, it falls short in terms of graphics performance compared to its predecessor, and the cooling system could be stronger.
- Excellent mechanical keyboard
- Class-leading Mini-LED display
- Uninspired design
- Short battery life
No matter your budget or needs, there's a laptop out there that will meet your needs for Cubase Pro 12!
If you're looking for an entry-level setup, an Intel i3-1115G4 processor, Iris Xe Graphics G7, and 8 GB RAM should do the trick.
The next step up would be an Intel i5-10310U, Quadro T500, and 16 GB RAM. This setup should provide enough performance for most users.
For those who want the highest-end setup, an Intel i7-1180G7, GeForce MX550, and 32 GB RAM should easily handle Cubase Pro 12 and more.
Here's a quick look at the requirements for each setup:
|Minimum||i3-1115G4||Iris Xe Graphics G7||8 GB|
|Recommended||i5-10310U||Quadro T500||16 GB|
|High-end||i7-1180G7||GeForce MX550||32 GB|
Q: What are the recommended laptop specs for Cubase Pro 12?
For a seamless experience with Cubase Pro 12, we recommend a laptop with at least an i5-10310U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card such as the Quadro T500 or GeForce MX550.
Can I run Cubase Pro 12 on a budget laptop?
Yes, you can run Cubase Pro 12 on a budget laptop. However, it is important to keep in mind that you may experience limitations in performance and the ability to handle larger projects. We recommend a budget laptop with at least an i3-1115G4 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and integrated graphics like the Iris Xe Graphics G7 for basic usage.
Which laptops are compatible with Cubase Pro 12?
Cubase Pro 12 is compatible with a wide range of laptops. Some popular options include the HP Victus 15 ($880), HP Victus ($939), ASUS TUF F15 FX507VU-ES53 (starts at $1000), ASUS ROG Strix Scar ($2,050), Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16 ($3,390), and Dell XPS 17 9720 ($5,600). These laptops offer varying levels of performance and cater to different budget ranges.
How much RAM is needed to run Cubase Pro 12 smoothly on a laptop?
To run Cubase Pro 12 smoothly on a laptop, we recommend a minimum of 16 GB of RAM. This will provide ample memory for running the software and handling multiple tracks and plugins without experiencing significant performance issues.
Is a dedicated graphics card necessary for using Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop?
While a dedicated graphics card is not necessary for running Cubase Pro 12, it can greatly enhance the overall performance, especially when working with graphical plugins and visual effects. If you plan on using resource-intensive plugins or require advanced visual rendering capabilities, we recommend opting for a laptop with a dedicated graphics card like the Quadro T500 or GeForce MX550.
What is the minimum processor requirement for running Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop?
The minimum processor requirement for running Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop is an i3-1115G4. This processor provides sufficient power for basic usage of the software. However, for a smoother experience and better multitasking capabilities, we recommend opting for at least an i5-10310U or higher processor.
Can I use Cubase Pro 12 on a Mac laptop?
Yes, Cubase Pro 12 is compatible with Mac laptops. You can run it on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and other Mac models that meet the recommended specifications. Be sure to check the system requirements and ensure compatibility before making a purchase.
Can I use Cubase Pro 12 on a touchscreen laptop?
Yes, you can use Cubase Pro 12 on a touchscreen laptop. However, it is important to note that Cubase is primarily designed for use with a traditional mouse and keyboard setup. While some touch gestures may be supported, the full functionality and efficiency of the software are best achieved with a standard input method.
How to optimize a laptop for Cubase Pro 12 performance?
To optimize a laptop for Cubase Pro 12 performance, we recommend the following steps:
Update your laptop's operating system and drivers to the latest versions.
Close unnecessary background applications to free up system resources.
Adjust the power settings to prioritize performance over battery life.
Configure Cubase Pro 12's audio settings to match your laptop's hardware capabilities.
Use an external audio interface for better audio quality and reduced latency.
Regularly clean up your laptop's hard drive to ensure sufficient storage space.
Consider upgrading to an SSD for faster load times and improved project performance.
Are there any specific audio interfaces recommended for use with Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop?
While there are numerous audio interfaces available on the market, some popular choices for use with Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop include the Focusrite Scarlett series, PreSonus AudioBox series, and Universal Audio Apollo series. These interfaces offer excellent audio quality, low latency, and seamless integration with Cubase Pro 12. Be sure to choose an interface that suits your specific needs and budget.
Table of the Best Laptops for Cubase Pro 12
|HP Victus 15||$880|
|ASUS TUF F15 FX507VU-ES53||$1,100|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$2,050|
|Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16||$3,390|
|Dell XPS 17 9720||$5,600|