Being an audio engineer, I need the right gear to push my creativity to the limit. Like many others in my profession, I rely on Cubase Pro 12 for digital audio workstations. It's no secret that Cubase requires powerful hardware and I'm here to help. That's why I've written this guide to finding the best laptop for Cubase Pro 12.
Whether you're a professional sound engineer or a part-time hobbyist looking to make your music, you'll find out how to get the best audio workstation for your money. This guide will break down the specs, provide suggestions, and talk about what to avoid when shopping for the best laptop for 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
5 Best Laptops for Cubase Pro 12
1.Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9iLenovo's IdeaPad Slim 9i is a stylish and lightweight laptop with decent GPU performance, but its shallow keyboard and clickpad detract from the overall experience.
- Relatively bright touchscreen
- Lightweight and portable
- Strong GPU performance
- Respectable battery life
- Shallow and weak keyboard feedback
- Slippery and awkward clickpad
- No integrated SD reader, USB-A, or HDMI
- Difficult end-user serviceability
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i features an attractive design and strong GPU performance, but its shallow keyboard and clickpad are a letdown. Additionally, the lack of an integrated SD reader, USB-A, or HDMI may be a dealbreaker for some users.
HP Victus 15t
- Good gaming performance for the price
- Can be used as a work laptop
- Poor battery life
- Uninspiring design
2.Lenovo Legion 5 ProLenovo Legion 5 Pro excels in performance and display, but lacks Thunderbolt support.
- High-quality 165Hz 16:10 IPS display
- Relatively easy serviceability
- Integrated numpad
- Very fast charging
- Low-resolution webcam with no IR or privacy shutter
- Very warm CPUGPU temperatures when gaming
- Moderate-heavy uneven backlight bleeding
- Only average battery life
With a powerful CPU and GPU, Lenovo Legion 5 Pro can easily handle demanding software like Cubase Pro 12. The laptop boasts a high-quality 165Hz 16:10 IPS display, but suffers from some backlight bleeding issues. It also lacks Thunderbolt support.
ASUS TUF F15 FX507ZM-ES74
- Fast performance with high TGP target
- 300 Hz IPS panel with full sRGB coverage
- Chassis base and lid exhibit some flexing
- No per-key RGB lighting
3.ASUS ROG Strix ScarASUS ROG Strix Scar is a powerful gaming laptop, but struggles with heat, noise and battery life.
- Sturdy build quality
- Fast Wi-Fi 6E
- Excellent performance with Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070 Ti
- Wide color gamut coverage with Dolby Vision support
- Poor battery life
- Heavy SSD throttling during continuous reads
- Limited display angles
- No biometric login
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 G533 is an exceptional gaming laptop equipped with an Intel Alder Lake Core i9-12900H processor and a dedicated MUX switch for its Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti graphics card. However, it falls short in areas such as heat management, noise emissions and battery backup.
Acer Predator Triton 500
- High performance capabilities
- Excellent, bright 240-Hz display
- Soldered-in RAM
- Inaccessible SSD
4.ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97 is a powerhouse for gamers but not for creators.
- High-end gaming performance
- Great QHD panel with 240Hz refresh rate
- TB4, Wi-Fi 6E, and PCIe 4.0
- Illuminated case
- Inconsistent SSD performance
- HX CPUs additional premium is not worth it
- No webcam
- Electronic noises
ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97 is a top-of-the-line gaming laptop, equipped with a Core i9-12950HX, RTX 3080 Ti, and a 240Hz QHD display. Its extensive case illumination and quiet fans make it a great gaming laptop, but inconsistent SSD performance and the lack of a webcam may be a dealbreaker for some.
ASUS ROG Strix Scar
- Good QHD panel with 240 Hz
- High and stable gaming performance
- Inconsistent SSD performance
- No webcam
5.Dell XPS 17 9720Dell XPS 17 9720 with Cubase Pro 12 is a powerful combination but comes with reduced graphics performance and weak cooling.
- 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
The Dell XPS 17 9720 with its new Intel Alder Lake processors and RTX GPUs from Nvidia is a powerful machine for running Cubase Pro 12. It has an excellent 4K display with AdobeRGB, high-quality case, Thunderbolt 4 & PCIe 4.0, and very high system performance. However, the reduced graphics performance, weak cooling, and absence of Wi-Fi 6E compatibility are some of its drawbacks.
Dell XPS 15 9520
- Premium design and build, portable form-factor
- Excellent screen options, including OLED panel
- Limited screen angle and still a few other ergonomic quirks
- Miniaturized IO
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|
What laptop is best for Cubase Pro 12?
That depends on your budget and what you plan to use it for. A high-end laptop with an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA Quadro T500 graphics, and 16GB of RAM would be ideal for intensive music production. If you're on a tighter budget, then the HP Victus 15t offers a great value for the price.
What specs do I need for Cubase Pro 12?
At a minimum, you should have an Intel Core i3 processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7, and 8GB of RAM. However, for optimal performance you should aim for an Intel Core i5 or higher processor, NVIDIA Quadro T500 graphics, and 16GB of RAM.
Is 16 GB RAM enough for Cubase Pro 12?
Yes, 16 GB RAM is enough for Cubase Pro 12. With 16 GB of RAM you will be able to work with multiple tracks and plugins without any performance issues.
Can you run Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop?
Yes, you can run Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop. You will need a laptop with an Intel Core i3 or higher processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 or higher, and 8GB of RAM or higher.
What laptop should I buy for Cubase Pro 12?
You should look for a laptop that has an Intel Core i5 or higher processor, NVIDIA Quadro T500 graphics, and 16GB of RAM or higher. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 and ASUS ROG Strix Scar are two good options for running Cubase Pro 12.
Is Ryzen 5 good enough for Cubase Pro 12?
Yes, Ryzen 5 processors are powerful enough to run Cubase Pro 12. However, for optimal performance you should aim for an Intel Core i5 or higher processor, NVIDIA Quadro T500 graphics, and 16GB of RAM or higher.
Can I record with Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop?
Yes, you can record with Cubase Pro 12 on a laptop. You will need a laptop with an Intel Core i3 or higher processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics G7 or higher, and 8GB of RAM or higher.
What is the minimum RAM requirement for Cubase Pro 12?
The minimum RAM requirement for Cubase Pro 12 is 8 GB. However, for optimal performance you should aim for 16 GB of RAM or higher.
Does my laptop need an SSD to run Cubase Pro 12?
No, you don't need an SSD to run Cubase Pro 12. However, an SSD can significantly improve the performance of your laptop by reducing loading times and improving overall responsiveness.
How to choose a laptop for Cubase Pro 12?
When choosing a laptop for Cubase Pro 12, look for one with an Intel Core i5 or higher processor, NVIDIA Quadro T500 graphics, and 16GB of RAM or higher. Refer to the table of recommendations above for specific models that meet these requirements.
Table of the Best Laptops for Cubase Pro 12
|Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 9i||$960|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro||$1,350|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$2,310|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97||$3,800|
|Dell XPS 17 9720||$5,600|