Best Music Laptops Ultimate Guide

Discover The Best Laptop For Music Production

Best Music LaptopsIf you find yourself wondering what kind of laptop you need to record music, this guide may help you make that big decision.

Now before we get to the specs, there are two different kinds of people who use computers. A mac guy and a PC guy. I honestly have used both, and I can assure you, they both can handle the task.

But let’s be honest, if you’re a mac guy, your mind is made up and you’re not even reading this! Joking aside, I understand that you may be in the middle of what to do, Mac vs. PC? Like I said, I have used both PC and Mac for music production. I like them both!

Whether you’re a DJ who needs a laptop for recording and live producing or a rock n roll band laying down tracks for your next album, we’re here to help you make your next decision for a new music recording laptop.  We hope you find the best laptop for music production with the guide we put together.

Table of Contents

What Makes A Good Laptop For Recording Music?

Like anything related to a computer, you want to ask yourself a few questions before buying it.

  1. How much does it cost? (duh, you have to make sure it’s in your budget first!)
  2. How much storage does it have? A good number would be at least 256GB, more if you can afford it!
  3. How much RAM? ( Random Access Memory) This is very important, it allows data to be stored and accessed quickly, at least 8GB
  4. What kind of processor? (It’s the computer’s brain, it can handle multiple things at the same time, and that is very important for recording music. Things like multiple tracks being played back and recorded at the same time, while using plugins can really slow down a machine. And it also depends on how heavy will you be tracking? If it’s just you, a normal laptop can handle your basic home recording. But if you’re really going to make an epic production, a high end processor is what you need.)
  5. What sort of ports does it have? (USB-C, USB, HDMI, etc.)
  6. How big is the Monitor? (That’s up to you, I use a 17″, and also an extra monitor for when I use a lot of tracks.)

These things are what to keep in mind when looking for that laptop. The higher the quality or the more memory is when things will start to get more expensive. However, you can get a good quality laptop for music for around $1000.

If this price point is too high for you, you might want to take a look at my article on the best laptops for music production under $500. But, you get what you pay for, and before you learn that the hard way. Find out what fits for you.

What Fits Your Needs?

We have gone over a few of the important specs and now you probably have an idea of what will fit your style. So below, I have already done the research for you and put it all in one spot! You’ll find the specs on the best music laptops on the market. And below there, I will review them all.

Rather than taking somebody’s advice on Youtube, take a look at the options and criteria to help you make your decision.  No matter if you prefer the drums, or bass, or a wired guitar (be sure to check out TheGuitarJunky.com) it is easy to find the best music laptop that is perfectly suited to your needs.

Below you’ll find a comparison table of my favorite music production laptops available today, and below that you’ll find a more extensive review on each of them.

But if you’re not into reading extensive, in depth reviews and just want a quick answer for which laptop we think you should buy for your music production needs, here are our ultimate top 3 picks for the best music laptops for 2021:

The M1 Apple MacBook Pro is a nice laptop with long battery life and incredible power thanks to its M1 Chip and is our top choice if you’re an Apple fan.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 has a fast processor and heaps of RAM and is good value for money.

The Dell XPS 15 9500 is a powerful, high quality machine, at a premium price, and is our top choice if you’re a Windows user.

Best Laptops For Music Production Comparison Table

Image Name CPU (Processor) RAM Storage Buy On Amazon
M1 Apple MacBook Pro
8-core Apple-designed M1 chip
8GB
256 GB or 514 GB
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
10th Gen Intel Core i7
8GB or 16GB
128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB

Microsoft Surface Book 3
10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7
8GB, 16GB or 32GB
256 GB, 512 GB, 1TB, or 2TB
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H
32GB
1TB
Dell XPS 15 9500
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H
16GB
1TB

So, Which Laptop Should You Buy?

Here are our summaries on the good and bad for each laptop. Again, it all comes down to what you need – how much storage/memory size/processing power you need/want and, importantly, your budget – how much are you willing and able to spend?

Pros
Cons

Obviously, if you’re someone how prefers Mac OS over Windows, Apple’s latest MacBook is likely going to be the one for you. And this year, for the first time ever, Apple has actually tried putting their own processor in a Macbook.

Every other Macbook before this has used Intel processors which are very powerful, but Apple thought they could do better. And now, thanks to this new M1 processor, this new line of MacBook Pros is quite similar to the previous generation, except it’s more powerful and has significantly better battery life.

This is all great and the newest MacBook Pro could be a great option for those who prefer to use Macs, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Compatibility – The biggest issue is compatibility, all the apps that you might want to install on your MacBook were all designed to run on Intel chips, and as Intel chips are quite different from Apple’s new M1 chip, you might find that there are some apps that won’t run very well on it.

Of course, any App offered by Apple, along with some other really popular apps have already been re-built to run amazingly well and take full advantage of this M1 chip.

But a lot of apps (including most music production apps) are still only designed to run on Intel chips so the M1 processor will have to work really hard essentially pretending to be an intel processor and in the end, the performance will usually end up being slightly worse than a good Intel chip.

Over the next year or so most apps should catch up and start running well on M1 chips, but all this is certainly something to keep in mind.

Ram – The other thing to keep in mind is that these MacBooks only have 8GB of RAM. And while 8GB of RAM isn’t terrible, it would be nice to have a bit more for music RAM production.

If you prefer MacBooks over Windows laptops, but you’d rather not get a MacBook with an Apple-made chip until they’ve been around for a few generations, you can still get the latest Intel-powered MacBooks here.

But if you’d like to give Apple’s new M1 chip a try, the M1 Macs are a very nice option for music production.

Pros
Cons

The Microsoft Surface Pro is quite different from other laptops, it is actually a tablet with a detachable keyboard.

But it still has very powerful internals and a full version of Windows so it will still effortlessly be able to handle music production.

You can choose between a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor which are both very powerful, but for music production, I would definitely recommend upgrading to the i7 if you can afford it.

It’s a similar case with the RAM, you can choose between 8GB or 16GB of RAM. And while either option would be perfectly fine for regular use, when it comes to music production, I would recommend choosing the 16GB option as it allows you to have a lot more running at once.

You can also choose between 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of storage. And if you don’t mind storing most of your tracks on the cloud or on a portable SSD, the 256GB option will be just fine, but if you want to store everything on the computer, you’ll definitely want to go with the 512 GB option.

The Surface Pro’s ability to detach from the keyboard and become a tablet might not be very helpful for music production, but it could certainly be handy to be able to use it as a tablet when doing other tasks on the go, and then set it down on your desk and use it as a fully-featured laptop for music production.

Unfortunately, the speakers aren’t awesome, but most laptop speakers aren’t overly good anyway so you probably already have a high-quality set of headphones or external speakers. 

And due to the design, it can be a little uncomfortable to try and use it as a laptop on your lap, but as long as you plan to either use it on a desk or table or use it as a tablet when on the move, this really isn’t anything to be too concerned about.

So overall, this is a very powerful device, and if you want something that’s nice and portable, this is likely going to be the one for you.

Pros
Cons

If you like the idea of the Surface Pro that I mentioned above, the Surface Book 3 is essentially a better version of that. 

It detaches from the keyboard like the Surface Pro does, but due to the fancy hinge design, it can still be used on your lap very comfortably as though it’s a regular laptop which is nice if you often use your laptop on your lap.

The keyboard is quite a bit better than the Surface Pro, and it optionally has more RAM and storage than the Surface Pro if you’re willing to pay a bit more.

It has the same two processors to choose from (10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7), but as for the RAM, you can choose 8GB, 16GB, or a massive 32GB. The 16GB option will be perfect for most people, but if you like to have a lot of stuff open at once, the 32GB option is certainly nice to have.

As for the storage, there is still a 256GB option which will be perfectly fine if you’re happy to store most of your tracks elsewhere, but you can also choose to upgrade to 512GB, 1TB, or even 2TB of storage. If you never want to run out of space, 2TB will be the way to go.

The only real downside of getting the Surface Book instead of the Surface Pro is that it is a fair bit more expensive which is probably to be expected considering the benefits.

But if you don’t mind the higher price tag and you want a convertible laptop to produce music on that doesn’t have the drawbacks of the Surface Pro, this is probably the one for you.

Pros
Cons

The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3 is a more traditional laptop, it doesn’t detach from the keyboard or anything fancy like that, but it’s extremely powerful, available at a pretty reasonable price, and has a very good keyboard.

Unlike the other laptops I’ve mentioned today, the Thinkpad only has one variation of specs currently available on Amazon. But that one option gives you: 

  • A very powerful Intel 10th Gen 6 core i7-10750H which will effortlessly power through the demands of music production.
  • A huge 32GB of RAM which is enough to have practically as many different things open simultaneously as you want.
  • And a nice big 1TB of storage which should easily be enough space to store all your work.

Something that really sets this laptop apart from a lot of others is its great selection of ports. While most laptops these days just have a few USB-C ports and perhaps a USB A port if you’re lucky, the Lenovo ThinkpadX1 Extreme Gen 3 has two USB A ports (regular USB ports), two USB-C ports, an HDMI port, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone/microphone jack.

It also has a really nice keyboard which is not super important for music production, but it’s still very nice to have whenever you need to type something, and it has a fingerprint reader which is in my opinion the easiest way to unlock your laptop.

The fans can sometimes get slightly loud when it’s working really hard, but as long as you don’t overwork it or have your microphone pointing directly at it, it’s really nothing much to worry about.

Overall, it’s a really nice laptop with plenty of power and a few nice features. So if you’re looking for a regular laptop with enough power to easily handle the demands of music production and fairly good value for money, this is probably the one for you.

Pros
Cons

The Dell XPS 15 is a very powerful laptop with a very premium look and feel, it’s a pleasure to produce music on, but it is a bit overpriced considering the specs.

You get a nice powerful Intel 6 core i7-10750H, which will effortlessly power through the demands of music production.

A nice large 16GB of RAM which will give you plenty of space to have loads of things open. And 1TB of storage which should give you plenty of space to store all your tracks and other files.

It has a really big trackpad similar size to the MacBook which is really nice if you use your trackpad for music production as most Windows laptops don’t have a trackpad as good as this.

And some great sounding speakers that fire up from either side of the keyboard so that you can hear them much more clearly than if they were under the laptop.

Obviously, the speakers in a laptop aren’t too important because you’ll probably still need to use a high-quality pair of headphones or external speakers. But if you ever need to quickly listen to a track without your normal audio setup, these speakers will sound decently good. 

Like the Lenovo Thinkpad, The Dell XPS also has the added bonus of a nice keyboard and a fingerprint reader which is always good to have on a laptop.

So if you don’t mind the higher price tag, and you’re looking for a truly premium Windows laptop experience, this is probably going to be the one for you.

And that brings us to the end of my ultimate guide to the best laptops for music production. Hopefully, you found all these tips on what to look for helpful, and with the rundown of my five favorite options available today, hopefully, you’ve found the perfect laptop for your needs.

Once you’ve chosen your new laptop, if you also need a new wireless mouse, laptop stand, audio interface, portable SSD, or USB microphone, I have other articles to help you choose one of those.

Or if these laptops are a bit out of your price range, I also have a list of the best laptops for music production under $500.

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