Music production and recording is one of the most challenging, demanding, and rewarding hobbies a person can experience. From the early stages of creating the music to the final mastering and distribution, music production is a long process that requires a computer that can stand up to the task. As a musician, I have built a small home studio, and I know from experience that the best laptops for music production do not always come cheap, but they can be worth the price tag.
Music production software is hard on your computer’s RAM and hard drive. If you’re still attempting to run modern recording from an ancient laptop, you know that the constant crashing, freezing, and sound glitches are aggravating. Why not treat yourself and your music to a refreshing set of possibilities by adding one of the best laptops for music production to your repertoire? Not only will your recordings start sounding better and more polished, your creative juices will be virtually limitless without a lagging computer holding you back.
What Makes A Laptop Great for Music Production?
Like a gamer choosing a new PC to run the latest MMORPG, musicians and producers need to pay careful attention to certain specifications of the best laptops for music production. Among the most important factors are:
- Hard Drive. Recording software, VSTs, and sound files take up a lot of storage space. Over time, you’ll acquire more programs and create more songs, pushing your hard drive to maximum capacity. Most modern laptops are now using Solid State Drives (SSD) instead of older Hard Disc Drives (HDD). SSDs are faster than HDDs but can’t store as much data. Many of the newest laptops on the market come with a 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB SSD. Laptops still using HDDs can store 1 to 2 Terabytes (TB)There are two easy ways to work around low hard drive storage capacity:
- Use a cloud service to save your files (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud).
- Use an external hard drive
- RAM. Music production software is very demanding on your computer’s memory .The more RAM (Random Access Memory) your laptop has, the better. More RAM means that your production software will load faster, you’ll relieve latency issues, and you’ll be able to run more VSTs, effects, and tools in your music programs without it crashing or freezing. The best laptops for music production have at least 4 Gigabytes (GB) of RAM, but that is pretty low by today’s standards. Instead, look for a laptop that has 8 GB of RAM and can be upgraded to 16 GB or more.
- CPU and Processing Speed. Of all the things you can easily upgrade on a computer, processing speed isn’t typically one of them. Sure, you can rip out a slower CPU, like an Intel i3, and replace it with a new high-speed Intel i7, but you’ll void the laptop’s warranty and risk permanently destroying your computer. Unless you’re a seasoned computer technician and can perform advanced surgery on a laptop, I recommend buying the fastest CPU right from the start. Intel’s i3, i5, and i7 CPUs are the most popular, with i7 being the fastest. Average laptop processing speed is 2.2 – 2.6 GHz, and the higher the GHz, the better.
- Inputs and Disc Drive. Most laptops come standard with a few USB ports, but a lot of DAW music interfaces still use FireWire connections. Before the introduction of USB 3.0, FireWire connections transferred data faster. Now that USB 3.0 has become the norm (and faster), it might be hard to find a laptop that comes with a FireWire port. If you have a music interface that uses FireWire exclusively, like the Presonus FireStudio or Focusrite Saffire, you can always check into a FireWire to USB adapter.Another option to consider is whether the laptop comes with a disc drive or not. As more software companies move to digital downloads, many laptops no longer include a disc drive. Almost all music production software can be downloaded now, but if you’re using older software that comes on a disc, a laptop with a disc drive may be important to you. One option to solve a lack of disc drive support is to buy an external USB disc reader.
7 Best Laptops for Music Production Comparison Guide
Reviews of the Top Rated Laptops for Music Production
In most music circles, Apple’s MacBook Pro is considered one of the best laptops for music production. Sleek, slim, modern, and fast, musicians and producers across the world turn to Apple laptops to get the most out of their music. The Apple MacBook Pro MJLQ2LL has several features producers and recording artists need:
- Intel i7 CPU at 2.2 GHz
- 256 GB SSD (upgradeable to 512GB)
- 16 GB RAM
- 15.4 inch screen
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- Two Thunderbolt ports
- Beautiful 2,880 × 1,800 resolution display
- GarageBand software pre-installed
Believe it or not, thousands of musicians have made complete albums using only Apple’s GarageBand. If you’re just getting started, the MacBook Air MMGG2LL may be the best laptop for music production.
A drawback of the MacBook Pro is that it is built without a CD / DVD disc drive. Also, there’s no option for an Ethernet connection. These missing features can both be alleviated using Apple’s wide range of external USB plugins. The Apple MacBook Pro is available with several upgrades and in different styles, such as a 13 inch display version, larger hard drive, and retina display.
The MacBook Air 13.3 inch laptop is Apple’s lighter and cheaper version of the MacBook Pro. Although it isn’t as fast and has less RAM, it costs significantly less. Some of the MacBook Air MMGG2LL’s specs are:
- 8 GB RAM
- Intel i5 processor / 1.6 GHz processor speed (Upgradeable to Intel i7 2.2 GHz)
- 1440 x 900 native resolution
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- One Thunderbolt port
- 2.96 pounds total weight
- Up to 12 hours of battery life
- Pre-installed programs like GarageBand, Pages, and iMovie
Like the MacBook Pro, the Air doesn’t come with an Ethernet port or CD / DVD drive. It also isn’t as upgradeable as some PCs, and replacing the “built-in” battery can require professional help (Apple will do it for you for a fee).
As a top selling laptop on Amazon, the Acer Aspire E15 is quickly becoming one of the best laptops for music production, especially for those building a budget friendly home studio. Much cheaper than an Apple Macbook Pro and with many similar tech specs, you really can’t go wrong with Acer’s Aspire E15 laptop.
- Intel i7 CPU with speeds up to 3.1 GHz
- 8 GB RAM (upgradeable to 16 GB)
- Fast 256 GB SSD
- 15.6 inch screen
- 1920 x 1080 native resolution
- 12 hours of battery life
- Two USB 3.0 ports
One feature that separates the Acer Aspire E15 from the Apple offerings is its included disc drive, allowing you to install music software from a disc, burn CDs, and watch DVDs. Worried that this Windows 10 laptop will come pre-installed with clunky, storage hogging programs? Don’t be. This Acer Aspire laptop includes only the programs you need and nothing you don’t.
It might be called a gaming laptop, but this Dell Inspirion can double as a music making machine. It might not be considered by some as one of the best laptops for music production, but it can certainly hold its own against competitors. Some of the Dell Inspirion 15 Gaming Laptop’s features include:
- Intel i5, 2.3 GHz
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics card
- 8 GB RAM (upgradeable to 16 GB)
- 256 GB SSD
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Three USB 3.0 ports
- 1 HDMI port
This Dell isn’t as cheap as the similarly built Acer Aspire E15, and it doesn’t have a disc drive. One great thing about the Dell Inspirion 15 gaming laptop is the ability to add another SSD, boosting the storage capability and speed.
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