We spent hours researching, testing and comparing laptops before we came to the conclusion that the Apple MacBook Pro is the best laptop for music production.
The Mac was the best laptop we looked at for a number of reasons. The speedy processor, and an abundance of USB and Thunderbolt ports, combined with its portability mean it’s the complete package for music producers.
Throughout the guide, we also look at four other laptops which are worthy competitors to the MacBook Pro.
The five best laptops for music production
Here’s a list of the best laptops for music production;
|Apple Macbook Pro MJLT2LL/A 15-Inch...||from $1,875.00||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71...||$1,348.86||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|DELL XPS 15 - 9550 I7 6700HQ 3.5GHZ...||$1,468.94||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|HP Spectre x360 13-4116dx 2-in-1...||$1,891.51||Read Amazon Reviews »|
|Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Black Edition...||from $1,199.99||Read Amazon Reviews »|
The best laptop for music production
It might be a cliche that all DJ’s and anyone in the music industry seems to use Macs, but we honestly couldn’t go past the Apple MacBook Pro as our winner.
The MacBook Pro has all of the aspects we were looking for in a music production laptop.
Weighing just 4.5 lbs, you won’t have any issue taking the MacBook with you anywhere you go, including to gigs. Additionally, it’s 2.17 inches thick, meaning it’s relatively thin compared to gaming laptops.
Boasting an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, the MacBook Pro will be able to handle any music production applications with ease.
Under the hood you’ll find a 512GB SSD which is quick and responsive, having no issues opening intensive applications such as Ableton Live and aiding in speedy boot times. 512GB worth of space should keep you going for a fair while.
If you’re someone that has lots of external bits and pieces, you’ll be happy to hear that the Macbook Pro has 2x USB 3.0 ports and 2x Thunderbolt 2 ports. Thunderbolt 2 ports are 4x quicker than USB 3.0.
The 15.4” screen is the perfect mix of form and functionality and Apple’s retina display gives you incredible pixel density with a 2560 x 1600 resolution.
Sporting a 9-hour battery life, you can be rest assured that the MacBook Pro gives you enough time to make it through a gig or find a charger before it loses charge.
The four other music production laptops we tested
The Asus ZenBook Pro UX510VW was a close second in this contest.
Just scraping in at our 5 lbs limit, the ZenBook Pro is lightweight enough to carry around daily. It’s just 0.8 inches thick, pretty much placing it in the ultraportable category.
Powered by an Intel i7-6700HQ processor and a whopping 16GB of RAM, the ZenBook can handle any application.
The same as the MacBook, the ZenBook Pro also has a modest 512GB SSD drive for speedy boot times and application responsiveness.
The ZenBook comes with 3 x USB 3.0 ports and 1 x Thunderbolt/USB Type-C port giving you plenty of room for attaching external peripherals.
Sporting a 15” 4K screen with 3840 x 2160 resolution, the ZenBook has incredible pixel clarity. It’s also a touchscreen, which may be of benefit to you.
Slightly less impressive is the 7-hour battery life of the ZenBook, which was beaten by the MacBook Pro.
- 15.6" Touch IPS 4K Ultra-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
- Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quadcore CPU (turbo to...
- 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM
The Dell XPS 15 is a worthy inclusion on this list, with very similar specs to the other two laptops previously looked at.
Weighing at 3.9 lbs, the XPS 15 is one of the lightest laptops on our list and is just 0.66 inches thick!
Similar to the others, you’ll also find an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of RAM in the XPS 15.
Likewise, you’ll also find a modest 512GB SSD hard drive, which aids in overall responsiveness of the laptop.
On the sides of the laptop, you’ll find 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x Thunderbolt port, 1 less than the other laptops. If USB ports are critically important to you then you should be considering that before buying this laptop.
A lovely 15.6” 4K display sports a 3840 x 2160 resolution, complete with touch. It looks beautiful combined with the Dell InfinityEdge screen.
Battery life is said to be up to 17 hours with the right configuration, but you’re more likely to see 7 hours.
- 6th Generation Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ Quad Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
- 15.6" 4K Ultra HD Display (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch Screen
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5
The HP Spectre x360 is a solid option, especially if you’re after a laptop with a slightly smaller screen than the rest.
The x360 sports a 13.3” Quad HD screen with a 2560 x 1440 display. It also has an IPS panel for wide viewing angles and is also touch enabled.
Having a 13.3” screen means the Spectre x360 weighs just 3.17 lbs and is a tiny 0.63 inches thick! Talk about ultra portable.
An i7 processor and 16GB of memory again shows this laptop is able to take on any music production application you run.
A 512GB SSD drive is included and should give you enough space for a while before you need to purchase any external drives.
With the Spectre x360, you’ll get 3 x USB 3.0 ports. The lack of Thunderbolt might be a slight concern to you if you’re used to the faster transfer speeds.
If battery life is a priority then you’ll love the 11 hours that the Spectre manages.
- 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6500U mobile processor Ultra-low-voltage platform....
- 16GB system memory for advanced multitasking Substantial high-bandwidth RAM to...
- 512GB solid state drive (SSD) While offering less storage space than a hard...
The Acer Nitro Black is a solid all-rounder, with a mix of pros and cons.
It weighs in at 5 lbs and is 0.9 inches thick, which sits it around the middle of the pack of the laptops we’ve reviewed.
Providing the grunt for the machine is the Intel i7 6700HQ processor that is accompanied with 16GB of RAM which will allow you to multi-task with ease.
A unique point for the V15 is that is has a 512GB SSD, but also comes with a 1TB hard drive which none of the other laptops we looked at have.
In terms of ports, the V15 comes with 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0, which could be useful if you’re having issues with a USB 3.0 drive.
The screen is 15.6” wide and has an Ultra HD 1920×1080 resolution. An IPS display provides wide viewing angles from any perspective.
An average battery life of 6 hours leaves a little to be desired.
- Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz (6MB Cache)
- 16GB DDR4 Dual-Channel Memory
- 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive, 512GB Solid-State Drive
How we chose the best laptop for music production
We spent hours testing laptops, curating reviews from around the web and asking our friends in the music industry what they thought the most important features are in a laptop to be used for music production and DJ’ing.
The following features were determined from the feedback, ranked in order of highest priority to the lowest:
With these features in mind, we set out to find laptops that fit our criteria and then narrowed it down to five that excelled in the aforementioned areas.
The most important consideration when choosing the best laptop for music production
From the feedback we gathered, we determined that portability is the most important factor in a muso’s laptop.
This is especially important and relevant to you if you’re going to be transporting your laptop to and from music gigs.
Portability normally entails two things, the weight of the laptop and also how thin it is. Often you can’t have one without the other. I.e. a thin laptop will also be light.
With this in mind, we made sure to only choose laptops with a 15” screen or smaller to keep the weight down and only chose laptops that are 5 lbs or less.
Other considerations when choosing the best laptop for music production
As well as the Portability, other factors were taken into account to determine the best laptop for music production.
Music production is so intensive on your computer’s hardware that some popular music production programs such as Ableton even have help articles on how to reduce CPU load!
No one wants to deal with a slow laptop and looking for specs like an i7 processor with multithreading, adequate RAM and an SSD drive will ensure your laptop is up to the task.
Large Hard Drive
If you’re serious about music production, you most likely have external hard drives that you store your music on, especially if you are using raw, uncompressed files.
Likewise, someone playing gigs will probably take portable hard drives with them that has a backup of their songs on it.
Nonetheless, having a big hard drive means you can afford to have less reliance on external drives as you have the capacity to hold more on your laptop’s drive.
Lots of USB Ports
If you’ve ever produced music before, then you’d be aware just how quickly your USB ports get used up on your computer.
Midi controllers, external hard drives, FX pedals, mice etc. all require your USB ports. You want to make sure you have adequate ports available just in case you are ever using all at once. You can also consider a USB hub for more ports.
Tip: If playing a gig at a club or pub, name your external hard drive your name and phone number so if you lose it, people can contact you!
You want a screen that is big enough so you can easily see what you’re doing and have plenty of room for multiple windows open, but also one that isn’t going to compromise the portability of the laptop.
Keeping that in mind, the laptops chosen were all 15” or under, which I believe is the perfect mix between portability and screen size.
The bottom line
It was hard for us to go past the Apple MacBook Pro as it was just so good in relation to the aspects we were looking for in a music production laptop.
The combination of portability, speed and a solid number of speedy Thunderbolt ports makes the MacBook perfect for music production.
Additionally, the amazing display, weight and battery life helped to put the Mac ahead of the pack.
If you enjoyed this article, why not read our comprehensive guide on choosing a laptop for college?