With a close buddy who's a wizard in music production, and after diving deep into heaps of research, I've gotten a grasp on how tricky it can be to find that perfect laptop for music production. The market is a jungle with a dizzying array of options, so pinpointing the right mix of features and specs tailored for music producers is key. In this guide, with a little help from my expert friend, I'm going to share the ins and outs of picking the right laptop to make your audio projects sing.
We rolled up our sleeves and dug into a massive spreadsheet of the latest laptop models, comparing notes on specs and poring over user reviews to shortlist the top dogs. We also jumped into professional reviews and had a good chat with the online community of music producers to make sure the laptops we’re recommending are up to snuff for both the seasoned pros and the newbies. After all that jazz, we narrowed down our choices based on processing muscle, memory, storage flexibility, and audio interface compatibility, keeping an eye on different budget brackets too.
Being a music producer, my buddy stressed the need for a laptop that can keep pace with demanding digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Pro Tools. Also, a laptop with a solid build and reliable performance is your best bet for those late-night jam sessions or when you’re hitting the road for live gigs. With all this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top laptops for music production to fit a range of budgets and preferences, so you can dive into creating your next audio masterpiece with total confidence.
The Beat Goes On: Finding the Perfect Processor for Music Production
When it comes to music production laptops, the processor is one of the most crucial components. With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to decide which one is the best fit for your needs. Here's a rundown of the latest developments in the laptop CPU market and some tips on how to choose the right processor for your music production needs.
What's new in the laptop CPU market?
Apple has recently released their ARM-based M1, M2, M2 Pro, and M2 Max system-on-chip modules, which offer exceptional single-core performance and battery life. Meanwhile, AMD has captured 20% of the laptop CPU market and has begun shipping the first batches of laptops equipped with its latest 7th-generation Ryzen processors. Intel has also released their 13th-generation Core processors, but the 12th-generation Core CPUs can provide excellent value, especially if you don't need cutting-edge performance.
How much CPU power is needed for music production?
The amount of CPU power needed for music production depends on the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) you're using. If your DAW has good multi-core support, there's no need to go overboard with CPU performance. On the other hand, if your DAW only utilizes a single-core, you might not see the benefits of a high-end processor.
How do you know if a processor is fast?
You can look at the clock speed and number of cores to get a general idea of a processor's performance. However, it's not always an accurate measure since different processors have different architectures. Therefore, it's better to compare processors using benchmarks that simulate real-world performance.
How to rank CPUs by performance (single-core, multi-core, and benchmarks)?
One of the most popular benchmarks for audio production is Cinebench R23. This benchmark tests both single-core and multi-core performance and can give you an idea of how a processor will perform in real-world scenarios.
Table of recommended processors for each price bracket
|Processor||Price Range||Recommended Use|
|i3-1115G4||Below $500||Entry-level music production|
|i5-1135G7||$500-$1000||Mid-range music production|
|i7-11370H||$1000 and up||High-end music production|
It's worth noting that if you're using Windows and don't need the best performance possible, look for the latest H-series processors from Intel or AMD. Meanwhile, if you're using macOS, any processor will do as long as it's not an Atom or Pentium series (these are only found in budget laptops). Lastly, if you're looking for a budget laptop, make sure it has enough RAM and SSD space since these are more important than the processor speed in music production.
Jamming in Style: Graphics Card for Music Production
When it comes to music production laptops, the choice of graphics card is often overlooked. However, if you're planning to use a DAW that supports GPU-accelerated effects or do some light gaming on the side, a dedicated graphics card is necessary. In this section, we'll go over what to look for in a graphics card and recommend some options for different budgets.
The current GPU market has seen Nvidia dominating the laptop GPU market, with the RTX 30 series cards making up the majority of the current notebook GPU market. The gap between power-limited notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards has widened in recent years as desktop GPUs have become more power-hungry.
A graphics card affects your workflow in music production by enabling GPU-accelerated effects, such as video processing or some audio processing. A high-end graphics card can also help with smoother video playback and allow for some light gaming on the side.
But do you need a high-end GPU for music production? It depends on your specific needs. If you only plan to use your laptop for music production, a mid-range graphics card is enough. However, if you plan on doing some light gaming or video processing, a high-end graphics card may be necessary.
When shopping for a laptop with a high-end graphics card, look for laptops with the latest Nvidia RTX series cards. Be aware that Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label for its RTX graphics cards, so an exact GPU wattage is determined by the laptop manufacturer. As a result, there can be a wide variance in graphics performance even in laptops with the same GPU chipset.
To make things easier, we've put together a list of recommended GPUs for different budgets:
|Minimum||GeForce GTX 1650|
|Recommended||GeForce RTX 3050|
|High-end||GeForce RTX 2060|
Note that these are just recommendations, and there are other GPUs available in the market that may fit your needs better. Additionally, keep in mind that a laptop with a top-notch graphics card will likely be heavier due to the need for adequate cooling. Overall, choose a graphics card that fits your needs and budget for a seamless music production experience.
Rock on with these high RAM laptops
As a music producer, having a laptop with enough RAM is crucial. RAM, or Random Access Memory, is responsible for temporarily storing the data and programs that your CPU needs to access quickly. With music production software, you're likely to be working with large audio files and multiple plugins, so having enough RAM is essential for smooth operation.
So how much RAM is needed for music production? The minimum amount you should consider is 16 GB, but 32 GB is ideal. Keep in mind that if you plan on running multiple programs simultaneously, you'll need more RAM.
While the latest-gen Intel and AMD CPUs support DDR4 and DDR5, DDR5 is still expensive and needs time to mature as a technology. DDR4 RAM is still the standard for most laptops, and that's perfectly fine for music production.
When choosing RAM for music production, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind. Latency and frequency are important factors that can affect performance. Lower latency and higher frequencies can offer faster data transfer speeds, but they come at a higher cost. Additionally, ECC (Error-Correcting Code) RAM can help detect and correct errors in memory, but it's not necessary for most music production tasks.
If you're looking for a laptop with a lot of RAM, be sure to look for one with an upgradable module rather than one that's soldered in place. This will give you the flexibility to add more RAM in the future if needed.
When it comes to budget, you can expect to pay more for laptops with higher amounts of RAM. Minimum recommended RAM for music production is 16 GB, but if you have a higher budget, going for 32 GB or even more will ensure smooth performance.
Here are our recommendations for RAM depending on your budget:
- Minimum: 8 GB
- Recommended: 16 GB
- High-end: 32 GB
Top 5 FAQs for Music Production Laptops
Q: What laptop is best for music production?
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro and ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo are great options for music production on a laptop.
What specs are needed for a laptop for music production?
For music production on a laptop, you'll need at least an i5-1135G7 processor, a GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and 16 GB of memory. An SSD is also recommended for faster load times.
Can you use a regular laptop for music production?
Yes, you can use a regular laptop for music production. However, to ensure smooth performance, it's recommended to get a laptop with the minimum specifications mentioned above.
Is Mac or PC better for music production?
Both Mac and PC can be used for music production. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and software compatibility.
How much RAM do I need for music production on a laptop?
16 GB of RAM is recommended for music production on a laptop. However, if you work with larger projects or use more complex plugins, you may want to consider getting 32 GB of RAM.
What is the best processor for music production on a laptop?
The i7-11370H processor is the best option for music production on a laptop.
What size SSD is recommended for music production on a laptop?
A 512 GB SSD is recommended for music production on a laptop. However, if you work with large sample libraries or record a lot of audio, you may want to consider getting a larger 1 TB or 2 TB SSD.
Are gaming laptops good for music production?
Yes, gaming laptops can be good for music production. They typically have powerful processors and graphics cards that can handle demanding software. However, they may not always have the best audio interfaces or battery life.
Is a touchscreen necessary for music production on a laptop?
A touchscreen is not necessary for music production on a laptop, but it can be helpful for certain tasks such as editing MIDI notes or manipulating virtual instruments.
What is the best budget laptop for music production?
The HP Victus 15t is a great budget option for music production on a laptop. It meets the minimum requirements and has a price point of around $900.
5 Best Laptops for music production
1.HP Victus 15The HP Victus 15 offers good gaming performance at an affordable price, but its battery life and design leave much to be desired.
- Excellent price
- Good gaming performance
- Solid array of ports
- 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 delivers solid gaming performance and a reasonable price. It features a sturdy build, sharp visuals, and a good selection of ports. However, it falls short in terms of battery life and design.
- Delivers smooth gameplay at 1080p.
- Fast SSD.
- No variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing.
- Slow response time on the display.
2.ASUS TUF Dash F15Affordable and powerful, the ASUS TUF Dash F15 is a solid option for music production on a budget.
- Lightweight and well-built design
- Good display options with FHD 300Hz and QHD screens
- More powerful than the previous generation
- Competitive pricing
- Some quirks affecting everyday ergonomics
- Most ports squeezed together on the left edge
- Be cautious of the FHD 144Hz panel option
The ASUS TUF Dash F15 is a lightweight and well-built laptop that offers good performance and a competitive price. With its powerful hardware, good display options, and decent battery life, it's a great choice for music production, especially for those on a lower budget.
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16
- Stylish, sleek form factor
- Gorgeous display
- Webcam quality is poor
- No biometrics
3.HP Envy 16HP Envy 16: A powerhouse for music production with high-end features, but comes with some drawbacks.
- Plenty of CPU and GPU power
- New 120Hz screen refresh rate
- High-res webcam
- Sleek design
- Merely adequate base screen
- Optional OLED has fewer pixels than before
- Bulky and heavy
The HP Envy 16 offers plenty of CPU and GPU power, along with a high-res webcam and sleek design. It's a tempting choice for music production, but the laptop's bulky and heavy build, as well as its merely adequate base screen and optional OLED with fewer pixels, are some downsides to consider.
ASUS ROG Strix G15
- High-performance CPU and GPU
- Good display
- Skimpy connectivity
- Occasional coil whine
4.Lenovo Legion Pro 5Lenovo Legion Pro 5 is a solid mid-tier laptop for music production, but beware of hotspots and limited battery life.
- Good build quality and design
- Good screen and IO
- Competent CPU with multiple GPU options
- Competitively priced
- No Thunderbolt or biometrics
- Hotspots during gaming
- Poor speakers
- So-so battery life
The Lenovo Legion Pro 5 is a well-built and competitively priced laptop for music production. It offers a good screen, inputs, and performance. However, potential buyers should be aware of hotspots during sustained loads, limited battery life, and mediocre speakers.
Lenovo Legion Pro 5
5.Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16: A sleek and powerful laptop with a fair price tag, perfect for music production.
- Strong overall performance
- Big, bright, and fast display
- Per-key RGB lighting for customization
- Some flex to the keyboard deck
- Poor battery life
The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16 is a powerful gaming laptop with a sleek design and impressive performance. It offers great value for its price, making it a desirable choice for music production.
- Slim and portable design for a 16-inch laptop
- Offers midrange gaming performance at a reasonable price
- All-AMD configuration lags behind Intel- and Nvidia-based competitors
- Unimpressive 144Hz refresh rate and full HD resolution for music production needs
Table of the Best Laptops for music production
|HP Victus 15||$880|
|ASUS TUF Dash F15||$1,160|
|HP Envy 16||$1,800|
|Lenovo Legion Pro 5||$2,630|
|Lenovo Legion Pro 7i 16||$3,390|