Music production, so engrossing and enthralling, is also a taxing pursuit for your laptop. It requires superior hardware and specifications, besides top-notch sound quality and multiple connectivity options. In its most basic definition, a music production device should be able to support a DAW or a digital audio workstation. While DAWs generally come with inbuilt plugins, many producers also depend on external ones.
Music production can be even more CPU-intensive than some 3D games. The latter can at least offload some work to your GPU. It means a powerful CPU is imperative – an Intel Core i7 or above – and should get complemented by effective heat dissipation.
In the contemporary landscape, where more people work remotely, on the move, and in hybrid environments, a multimedia laptop must match up accordingly. A selection of ports to access external hardware, card readers for large raw audio files, and ergonomic features like comfortable keyboards support modern working styles.
10 Best Music Production Laptops 2023
While Apple rules the roost in this domain, other brands have also produced worthwhile music production and sound mixing solutions. We have rounded up some of the finest picks catering to professionals and enthusiasts, starting from less than $2,000.
MacBooks for musical immersion
Multimedia professionals and enthusiasts have long favored a Mac for its stunning audio-visuals and dependable, secure performance. The 16.2” Apple 2023 MacBook Pro remains one of the best picks for music production, delivering all the power you need with a competent M2 Pro chip, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
It features three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, and over 22-hour battery backup to let you access your musical extravaganza without a glitch. Plus, the compatibility across other Apple devices is smooth and seamless.
Since music production goes hand-in-hand with visual content, Apple focuses on a dazzling Retina XDR display with HDR and 1000 nits of brightness. These Macs also have Magic keyboards that simplify the user experience with a function key row and Touch ID. The assortment of customized features for A/V professionals justifies the steep price tag of around $2,700.
Razer Blades for desktop-grade performance
A veritable powerhouse for music buffs comes from the Razer family – the Razer Blade 16 (over $4,000). This stunning device delivers extreme performance with an Intel Core i9 CPU, RTX 4090 graphics, 32GB RAM, and a 2TB SSD.
Razer equips this laptop with Advanced 7.1 surround sound to provide an engaging and stereo auditory experience. Mini LED technology and a high-res display (4K UHD+) complement your work by enhancing the visual frontier.
A particularly winsome feature of Razer’s series of multimedia laptops is portability. The build resembles a 15” machine; even the adapter is smaller and lighter. The company uses a scratch-resistant finish to ensure you won’t damage your laptop when frustrated with a melody or lack thereof!
Music producers who require more storage space and a larger display can consider the Razer Blade 18. It offers six speakers infused with the delights of THX Spatial Audio. It is slightly cheaper, too – around $3,800.
The loss of mobility gets compensated by other advantages, such as the upgradability of up to 8TB of storage and 64GB of RAM. The brilliant performance – up to 175 W TGP – becomes sustainable with a competent cooling mechanism.
Dell XPS for superior productivity
The impressive XPS range by Dell has developed a formidable reputation for its brilliant configuration, customization options, and options to boost productivity during multimedia content generation and overdubbing.
The Dell XPS 17 costs approximately $3,500. In exchange, it offers an Intel Core i9 CPU, RTX 4080 graphics, up to 32GB RAM, and 8TB of SSD storage. It has top-notch audio – Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Waves Nx 3D – with specially tuned speakers by Grammy-winning producers.
NVIDIA Studio drivers make a remarkable difference to your work, unveiling AI assistance and upping overall productivity. The XPS series also has well-designed keyboards with large key caps and two Thunderbolt 4 ports to keep you connected with your stuff.
ASUS laptops for affordable creative solutions
A high-performing music production laptop needn’t necessarily cost a small fortune. The ASUS Zenbook Pro 14 Duo is a case in point – 14.5 inches of wonder, with a secondary touchscreen (tilted) to ramp up the speed and ease of your projects.
These laptops have competent specs, like Intel i9 processors, RTX 4060 GPUs, 32GB RAM, and up to 2TB of storage space. It has a bright, color-accurate main display with Dolby Vision and Pantone validation.
You can also consider the ASUS ROG Strix line-up for music production. Although they are conventionally gaming machines, these devices have processing power and connectivity options for music production and editing.
The G16 costs about $2,000 and gets powered by an Intel Core i9 processor, 16GB RAM, and RTX 4070 graphics. It delivers reliable performance for running multimedia applications like PreSonus Studio and GarageBand. A MUX Switch, which increases performance by up to 10%, also works wonders.
Acer Predator for experiencing advanced technologies
Acer takes pride in embracing the newest in design, multimedia finesse, and powerful performance. The Acer Predator Triton 17 is a behemoth in its own right, equipped with an Intel Core i9, 64GB RAM, a 2TB SSD, and RTX 4090 graphics.
It will cost you over $3,600, but sample this: you get NVIDIA Advanced Optimus for productive and immersive work. This machine has six user-facing speakers covered with steel mesh for durability. The WQXGA screen, with a 250Hz refresh rate and Mini LED, looks gorgeous. Laptops from this range can also double up as gaming laptops – who cannot use a break?
Acer invests in convenient, user-friendly keyboards with Corning Gorilla Glass, hotkeys, and customization options to facilitate speed and efficiency.
Should you prefer a Mac or a Windows laptop for music production?
Let’s be upfront: Mac is the undisputed winner in this department. These laptops have excellent music production hardware, optimized features for multimedia, and a user-friendly but secure work environment. MacBooks also bundle better additional software.
However, if your budget is smaller, Windows laptops like the Dell XPS or Razer Blade are excellent options. They also have one more advantage: the ease of upgradability based on your production needs.
How much RAM does a music production laptop need?
A decent amount of RAM – at least 16GB – is mandatory for audio projects. The absence of speedy working memory will lower performance when you work with sample libraries and audio recordings.
We recommend 32GB or 64GB RAM for producers who work with orchestral tracks. These projects require multiple plugins and demanding software. Getting a laptop with easy upgradability is a good idea for future compatibility.
How can you test the audio performance before purchasing a music production machine?
It goes without saying – high-quality speakers are indispensable for creative folks. You will frequently play back a soundtrack, which makes both volume and detailing crucial. It is true even when you rely more on headphones or external speakers. We suggest tuning in to a track through various audio systems. It will help you assess how the frequency spectrum gets rendered.
A safe option is choosing a trustworthy brand like Dell or Razer with Waves MaxxAudio Pro or THX Spatial Audio.
Why is the display important in a music production laptop?
The foremost reason is that most relevant software and DAWs have complicated interfaces. You want a clear, meticulous screen that reduces the need for scrolling and has abundant space to fit in different plugins simultaneously. It is why most professionals prefer large 17” displays. Another good idea for your well-being is to prioritize low blue light emission, a comfortable viewing angle, and sufficient brightness to work in different lighting.