Music production has become increasingly digitalized, and with it comes the need for a laptop that is capable of handling the demands of the task. There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a laptop for music production, but in this article, I will highlight the top things to look for to ensure that you get the best laptop for your needs as a budding music producer.
- How much does it cost? (duh, you have to make sure it’s in your budget first!)
- Operating System
If you have to choose between MacOS and Windows for music production, it mainly depends on your software. ProTools, Ableton, and Cubase, for example, work on both. Logic, on the other hand, is only available on macOS. Another advantage of MacOS is that it is much more stable than Windows. That’s why most musicians who work live use a MacBook. Another small note regarding Mac is that some plugins have not yet been fully updated for the new M1 chip. It will come with time.
- Processor A good fast processor is essential when buying a laptop for music production. This ensures that your laptop can handle running multiple applications at the same time without slowing down.
- RAM Random Access Memory (RAM) is the temporary memory that your laptop uses to store data while it’s working. For music production, you’ll need a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM. However, if you’re using multiple virtual instruments and plugins simultaneously, you may need to consider a laptop with 16GB or 32GB of RAM. More RAM means your laptop can handle more processes at the same time. For example, when you produce a song, you use a heavy program supplemented by all kinds of plugins, which also consume RAM. In the meantime, you’re researching, reading your emails, or listening to reference music on Spotify, and you realize why 16GB of RAM isn’t a luxury.
- Storage When it comes to laptop storage, there are two type: Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). SSD is a type of memory that does not use mechanical parts, and it is much faster than traditional hard drives. The SSD is where you install all your plugins or store your samples so they load quickly. If you have 20 tracks, each with a number of samples and effects, it’ll run faster on an SSD than on an HDD. I short, HDDs are slower and less expensive, but SSDs are faster and more expensive.
For music production, I recommend going for a laptop with an SSD because it will offer faster read and write speeds, which can be useful when working with large audio files.
- Display When considering a laptop display, there are many things to look at – the size, resolution, panel type, brightness, color accuracy, refresh rate, and whether or not you need a touchscreen. If you like you can dive into these topics in a lot more detail here but for music production, the main things I focus on are size (I like to have multiple screens open at the same time) and brightness (who wants to work in the dark!!). The other features are nice to have as you get more experience but not essential.
- Graphics Card While a dedicated graphics card may not be necessary for music production, it can be useful if you plan on using 3D graphics software. If you’re just starting, an integrated graphics card should be sufficient. However, if you’re planning on using more advanced software, consider a laptop with a dedicated graphics card.
- Battery Life Finally, battery life is something you need to consider. When producing music, you may need to work on the go or in a location without access to a power source (stuck at an airport perhaps!!) I recommend looking for a laptop with a battery life of at least 8 hours
So there you have it, the essential elements of a good laptop. To check out more detailed, individual laptop reviews head on over to Best Music Laptops Ultimate Guide