Introduction

Being a central pillar of a music production setup, the careful consideration of what laptop to buy is essential. Running all of your musical applications, storing your audio content, and permitting you to research useful information a laptop is an unmistakable ally of the modern music producer. However, it is difficult to not be overwhelmed with the multitude of laptop options that are available in today’s market. This is why we have decided to make your choice easier. This article will offer you the most important information you need to know before purchasing a laptop for music production. It will also deliver you a list with the best laptops for music production.

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How to choose a laptop for music production ?

When choosing a laptop for music production, there are several things that you should consider:

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RAM

You want to have the most RAM possible (8 GB or higher) / The reason is because it facilitates the running of DAWs, Plugins and other software.

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Processor

Another important specification to look out for is the processor. You would prefer it to be one of the latest generation processors. If the options are too expensive for you, the basic requirement would be a dual core processor of about 2.5 Ghz.

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DPC Latency

What drive options are available ? Is there only a Hard Drive, Solid State Drive or are they combined ? HDD is very useful when storing stuff. The advantage is that it is less expensive and you often get a considerable amount of it when it is featured on a laptop. The advantage of SSD is that it’s blazingly fast. Therefore, it is really appropriate for running applications and softwares. Today, you should look out for a 7200 RPM (revolutions per minute), which is good enough for both reading and writing tasks.

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Ports

Are there FireWire ports (useful in audio), USB, FW and Express slots ? The more available the better.

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Warranty

Before buying any electronic device, you will want to make sure that it comes with an advantageous warranty. This is especially the case when you are buying a laptop which you will (without a doubt) use for several years. In this regard, consider at the same time the budget you still have to allocate to additional music production equipment. Prioritize your needs.

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Physical Aspects

Do you want a larger screen or you don’t really mind the fact that it will be less portable ?  Can you put it inside your backpack if you travel often. Here, 15,6” seem to be the perfect fit. Additionally, you will want to know if the fan system rarely produces overheating (and irritating noise).

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Basic requirements should be…

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8GB Ram 
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Core I7 processor (goes for both desktop and laptop)

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500 GB HD

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Dual-core processor with speed of 2.5 ghz

6 Best Laptops For Music Production

ACER ASPIRE V15 NITRO REVIEW

Acer aspire v15 nitro
Acer aspire v15 nitro
Acer Aspire V15 Nitro

Pros & Cons 

L

Backlit Keyboard and display

L

Enormous storage space

L

Excellent graphics for music editing and gaming

K

Unsatisfying trackpad and multi-touch gestures

K

Cooling system (directs all of the hot air right on the top of your legs)

In terms of build quality and design, the Acer Aspire V15 is remarkably slim and light. Much slimmer than all rival brands (except Lenovo). This Acer feels quite qualitative even though it has an all plastic construction. The display is very bright and provides a good color accuracy. Both the contrast and the sleek matte finish are eye-pleasing. This will facilitate your workflow.

If you consider the built-in speakers, they are very loud, and it can be a good way to check your audio on them as a side testing even though you should do mixing in a real studio with the appropriate equipment. Performance is great and the processor really keeps up with heavy tasks such as loading up several VSTS and more CPU intensive DAW functions. However, the battery life is not terrible (about 4 hours with average settings). The price is also rather high but not that high if compared to competitors.

Acer Aspire V15 Nitro SPECIFICATIONS

  • Intel Core i7 – 6700HQ 2.6 GHZ (6MB Cache)
  • 8 GB DDR4 Dual – Channel Memory
  • ITB 5400 RPM Hard Drive
  • 15.6 – Inch Full HD Screen
  • 2-USB 3.0 Port

MacBook Pro Series Review

Apple 13 Inch MacBook Pro Laptop

Apple 15 Inch MacBook Pro Laptop

Apple 15 MacBook Pro laptop

Overall Pros & Cons 

L

Solid performance & quality

L

Minimal driver or software issues

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Compatible with almost all digital audio workstations (DAW)

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Only provides USB C ports (even though you can get an adaptor)

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Pricey (However, quality comes at a certain price.)

Nowadays, it has become a social trend to own a MacBook pro, and the same rule applies in the world of music production. Loved for its stability, the MacBook pro is one of the best deal when it comes to music production as many DAWs are entirely optimized for it. Moreover, the design and quality of manufacturing are without a doubt some of the best out there facilitating your working environment.Considering the multitude of options available in today’s market, the best MacBook Pro is any model with a minimum of 8 GB RAM & a Dual-Core processor of minimum 2.5 gHz.

The most recent models have incorporated the intuitive touch bar which can be configured with your DAW of preference. One of the few downfalls are both the price and the few ports that are available (especially with the USB-C models). Nonetheless, you can still go with with an older model (2013, 2014) and that won’t really be a mistake considering their performance.

Since, there are almost 10 MacBook Pros options for you to choose from the latest 2017 model to the 2015 models, we have narrowed down the possibility to the best available options:

Apple MacBook Pro 13", Mid 2017 (256 SSD Version)

  • Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake Processor (2.8GHz quad-core/Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz)

  • 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 13 Inch Retina Display (2560 x 1600 pixels)
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

  • Touch Bar & Touch ID

Apple MacBook Pro 13", Mid 2017 (512 SSD Version)

  • Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake Processor

  • 16GB 2133MHz memory
  • 512 GB SSD
  • 13 Inch Retina Display (2560 x 1600 pixels)
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

  • Touch Bar & Touch ID

Apple MacBook Pro 15", Mid 2015

  • 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (Crystalwell),

  • Turbo Boost up to 3.4GHz

  • 16GB 1600MHz RAM

  • 256GB SSD

  • 15.4-inch screen with Retina display (2880×1800 pixels)

  • Two Thunderbolt 2 ports

Apple MacBook Pro 15”, Mid 2017 (256 SSD Version)

  • Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake Processor (2.8GHz quad-core/Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz)

  • 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory

  • 256GB SSD

  • 15 Inch Retina Display (2880×1800 pixels)

  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

  • Touch Bar & Touch ID

Apple MacBook Pro 15”, Mid 2017 (512 SSD Version)

  • Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake Processor (2.9GHz quad-core/Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz)

  • 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory

  • 512 GB SSD

  • 15 Inch Retina Display (2880×1800 pixels)

  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports

  • Touch Bar & Touch ID

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop

Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop

Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop

Pros & Cons 

L

Excellent battery life

L

Solid manufacturing

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Multitude of ports, including USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3

K

Unappealing design

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The screen isn’t very bright.

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Can easily heat up during intense sessions.

More of a gaming laptop, the Acer Predator can also very well be used for Music Production. In fact, at this price, the purchase of a laptop with these type of specifications is a steal. It is definitely one of the cheapest available options out there for these specifications.

In terms of construction, the laptop is very well built and the red lighting is very useful. Nonetheless, compared to other laptops, we wouldn’t say that the Predator marks the most points in the design department. But is that really a criteria of utmost importance ? What you will also get with this laptop is an extensive amount of connectivity options with a standard USB, USB C port, HDMI and an Ethernet Port. In terms of true flaws, we can underline the acceptable quality of the screen. Even though quality speakers  on a laptop don’t really matter for a music producer, the sound system here is up to par.

Acer Predator Helios 300 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Latest 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Processor (Up to 3.8GHz)

  • 16GB DDR4 Memory & 256GB SSD

  • 256GB SSD

  • 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen IPS display, Red Backlit Keyboard

  • 2 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 USB 3.0 Port

ASUS FX503VM Review

ASUS FX503VM laptop

ASUS FX503VM laptop

Pros & Cons 

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Great performance

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Bulky and resistant construction

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Clear display

L

Storage options (1TB HDD coupled with 128 GB SSD)

K

No USB Type-C connection

K

No 7200 RPM HDD (Instead, 5400)

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Can heat up easily during intensive sessions

Asus has managed to develop itself an honorable reputation in the computer world over the years. This is not surprising considering how competitive their laptops are. The Asus FX503 VM is no exception to the rule. With a matte finish, this laptop is very slick looking and doesn’t look like some of the gamer laptops on the list. Indeed, the design is simple  (all plastic construction) and not too flashy. In addition to looking good, the laptop feels great too. What we have in mind here is the keyboard, which is very comfortable to type onto. Conversely, the trackpad can feel a little unpleasant. Even if the connectivity options with this model are good, the USB ports seem to be too rigid and could wear out quickly. Moreover, the fans of this laptop can get very loud under CPU intensive tasks. However, what makes this choice a good choice for music producers is its great CPU performance which should allow you to run all your music programs without any problem.

ASUS FX503VM SPECIFICATIONS

  • 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core 2.8GHz (Turbo to 3.8GHz)

  • 16GB RAM (DDR4)

  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD

  • 15.6″ Full HD Matte Panel

  • 2x USB 3.1 (Type A), 1x HDMI 1.4, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x headphone/Mic jack, 1x RJ45 LAN port, 1x card reader

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ000QUS Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ000QUS laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ000QUS laptop

Pros & Cons 

L

Crystal clear HDR display

L

Long battery life

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Appealing design

K

Uncomfortable trackpad

K

Not the most affordable option

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Overheating issues

Lenovo hasn’t always been the most reputable brand in terms of computer, however it seems as if they have managed to deliver a competitive laptop with the ThinkPad X1. Very slim and light, this model still feels solidly manufactured. Moreover, the Keyboard is phenomenal and very comfortable. The Trackpad is appropriately sensitive, with minimal falsely recognized finger positions.

In terms of what is inside of this machine, you get a very fast laptop, with a stellar CPU. What we mean is that the featured i7 processor is fast enough to keep up with most of your intensive tasks. Paired with that is a long battery life. You will also get a good number of ports including HDMI,3 USB3, and a thunderbolt port. What we would have liked to see is an additional USB-C port. Another downfall, is the RAM which is not upgradable. However, this is rarely the case.

ASUS FX503VM SPECIFICATIONS

  • Intel i7-6500U (2C, 2.5 / 3.1GHz, 4MB, 1866MHz)

  • 8GB Memory

  • 512GB SSD (a 256 SSD also exists)

  • 14″ WQHD (2560×1440)

  • 3xUSB3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Onelink+ connector

Extra Consideration

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What are the advantages/Benefits of this type of product?

The question could also be asked differently: What are the benefits of a laptop over a desktop when it comes to music production ? If you wanna go portable, laptops and even tablets like the iPad can be great options for music producers. Often, laptops allow for more flexibility for a music producer, more portability, and you the great amount of options in today’s market make it easier for you to find an affordable option if that is your concern.

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What does really matter and how do I make a choice between the multitude of options in today market ?

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The first question you should probably ask yourself is: are you looking for portability at all costs ? In that regard, it will probably better to go for a 13 or 15 inch model if you plan to travel a lot with your computer. If you only plan to work inside your home studio with your computer, weight and size should not really mater in your selection.

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Are you looking for a more flexible laptop? How many ports do you need ?  Will you use any external hard drives or DVD drives ? Do you plan to connect your laptop to an additional screen display (a lot of music producers go for this option). We think that it is always best to have a fair share of ports since you will probably need this connect your music equipment.

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What computer power do you need? And is speed really important ? For music producers, speed of processors should matter.  This is because you are using a lot of CPU intensive programs. A powerful graphic card can also be handy even if it’s not really a necessity in audio (more the case for video).Will you want to upgrade your RAM or even your motherboard in the future ?

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What budget do you have? For a competitive and qualitative laptop you will need to consider a budget of between 1000 $ and 1500 $ at least. It is important because you will want your laptop to still be running good for a couple of years, and avoid buying a new computer again very soon. That being said, it is not impossible to make music on a low-budget computer. Nonetheless, you should be aware of the fact that you might not obtain the same results as on a higher tier laptop.

All these questions should matter but any decent i7 processor and 8 Gb Ram laptop would do the job. In our opinion, this would be the minimum you need to avoid having your tracks freezing and to keep running your VSTs flawlessly.

Conclusion

Selecting a laptop is never a really task with all the specifications that have to be considered. Nonetheless, our list of laptops offers accessible options for everyone. A laptop will always be an expensive device considering the extensive amount of functions and tasks it can perform and the central importance it holds in a working environment. 

In our opinion, the MacBook Pros are probably the best all round option even though they are also the most expensive. Both Acer models offer a great CPU performance without having a great design. The Asus model has an appealing design and is performing well, however it can heat up easily and its storage options aren’t the best. Finally, the Lenovo Thinkpad is a great option in terms of design and performance, but its price and overheating issues make it as imperfect as the other models on our list. 

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there is no perfect option, and you should find a laptop that really corresponds to your needs.  We hope that this article has provided you with the clearest information about music production laptops and that it will facilitate your choice.