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Best laptops for music production 2023

todayDecember 9, 2023 1

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The best laptops for music production are becoming an increasingly popular choice for professional and amateur music producers and artists alike. While PCs are still a popular choice for music production, laptops are starting to challenge their number one spot for music production thanks to advancements in performance, speed, and storage. In an ever-moving world, having a reliable laptop that will allow you to work on the go is a very important factor for the modern musician.


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Selecting a laptop which balances portability, power and battery life are key factors to consider, but how do you know which one to ultimately choose? We’ve curated our top six music production laptops currently available on the market after hands-on reviews. Whether you have a never-ending budget or want to save a penny or two, need something with heaps of storage or consider RAM to be more important, there will be a suitable music production laptop for you.


Best laptops for music production: Our six perfectly tuned picks

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3, 2023)

1. Best overall music production laptop

Creatively conduct on your MacBook

$3050 $3200 Save $150

The Apple MacBook Pro Max 14-inch (M3) takes our top spot. Thanks to its incredibly smooth performance, the M3 chip offers all the power you’ll ever need for most music production tasks. Its lightweight and portability are additional bonuses which make it ideal for musicians on the move.

Pros

  • All the power you’ll need
  • Incredibly smooth performance
  • Lightweight and portable

While not as prominent in the laptop gaming sphere, Apple products tend to be the preferred choice for laptops when it comes to music production. The MacBook’s sleek design, brilliant portability and smooth performance bring music producers back time and time again and the brand-new MacBook Pro Max 14-inch M3 is no exception.

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Relying on a similar design to the previous iterations, the 2023 model sports Apple’s brand-new M3 Max chip. With a 16-core CPU, 40-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine, this thing will run any DAW (digital audio workstation) with ease, no matter how many plug-ins you throw at it. It has 36GB of unified memory and 2TB of storage and its performance is smooth as butter. 1TB of internal storage is fantastic for a laptop, and it allows you to store a heap of audio tracks and musical creations generously.

We found the battery life to be consistent, and although the results will vary depending on how hard you are running the MacBook. Don’t be surprised to find it lasting around 12 hours whilst mixing on the move. The display is everything you need for working on musical projects and, although there are laptops with more connectivity options, the three Thunderbolt 4 ports are enough whilst working on the move. Like most Apple products, the MacBook Pro Max 14-inch comes with a rather hefty price tag in comparison, but with these specs, we think you’ll be over the moon at its performance.

Asus Zephyrus G14 Hero 4-1

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023)

2. Best Windows music production laptop

Asus delivering the goods

$1620 $1700 Save $80

If you’re after a high-performance laptop running Windows for music production, look no further than the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. Offering fantastic CPU performance encased in a robust build, this is a safe bet for music producers looking to balance travel and their passion.

Pros

  • Fantastic CPU performance
  • Robust build
  • Decent battery life
Cons

  • The design could be more elegant

Perhaps not everyone’s initial go-to brand when considering laptops for music production, but we’re here to tell you that the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop is a stellar choice if you prefer working on Windows. Asus offers the ROG Zephyrus G14 in quite a few different configurations, but we suggest that if you can stretch to the 32GB RAM, 2TB SSD storage option, it will deliver fantastic results for years to come.

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Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 (2023) review: Heavyweight performance, lightweight design

The Zephyrus G14 might be pricey, but it packs a lot of power into a convenient and compact form factor.

Not only does the 2TB SSD storage offer a boatload of internal memory, it performs very quickly. Load speeds are fantastic, which comes in handy when you’re trying to download audio tracks.

Asus incorporates AMD processors across a wide range of their laptops, and the Ryzen R9 processor, in particular, shines when handling big files within a DAW. Renowned for its prowess, the Ryzen 9 is fantastic at effortlessly managing resource-intensive plugins, so if you’re partial to a Universal Audio plugin or two, this is the choice for you.

There are perhaps more elegant laptop designs out there, and although, shall we say the ROG Zephyrus G14 is minimalist in aesthetic, we found that it is built like a tank thanks to its magnesium casing. For a 14-inch laptop, we’re pleased with the connectivity options; USB-C (3.2) and USB 4 ports, two USB-A ports, a microSD slot for memory cards, and a 3.5mm connector. There’s not much to grumble about.

swift-x-14-9

Acer Swift X 14

3. Next best Windows music production laptop

Swift by name, swift by nature

The Acer Swift X 14 is a fantastic alternative to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 if you’re looking for a Windows laptop for music production. Slightly less expensive with fantastic operating speeds, it will do just about everything you need it to do for mixing your music on the move.

Pros

  • An alluring display
  • Quick memory speeds
  • Good number of connections

Acer has earned a spot on our list thanks to the Swift X 14 laptop, a great choice for those looking for a suitable working machine that will effectively cope with most of the things you’ll end up throwing at it. Starting with the internals, the Swift X 14 uses an Intel Core i7-13700H processor and an Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics card.

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Moving on, you’ll find 16GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. The SSD is quick and boasts read speeds of up to 6200MB/s, no small feat for a 14-inch laptop. If you find yourself constantly loading audio samples from your library or are pining for a smooth and speedy workflow, you’ll really love the read speed capabilities.

We’re impressed with the connectivity options of the Swift X 14 with two Thunderbolt USB-C sockets, two USB-A 3 ports, an HDMI 2.1 video connector and a microSD slot. This is just about as much as you can ask for on a 14-inch laptop. However, if we have one complaint, it’s the rather noisy cooling fan. There is a ‘silent mode’ you can access, which is imperative if you’re planning on recording audio, but under heavy pressure, the fan can become rather loud.

Lenovo LOQ

Lenovo LOQ 15i (2023)

4. Best budget music production laptop

Lenovo LOQ range saving your wallet

$1288 $1499 Save $211

The Lenovo LOQ 15i (2023) is our choice of the best budget laptop for music production. There are plenty of transferable gaming features that work great when producing or mixing music; a decent battery life, quick loading speeds and a generous amount of connectivity options make this an excellent small package.

Pros

  • Plenty of connection options
  • Reasonably quick loading speeds
  • Decent battery life
Cons

  • Display doesn’t compete with pricier models

The Lenovo LOQ range is incredibly popular for those wanting to save a bit of money without compromising much on performance. If diving into musical projects is on your agenda, be sure to check out the LOQ 15i. Although we’d recommend the option with better specifications – costing around $1300 – the range does begin at around $950, if you don’t want to spend that much.

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This version we managed to get our hands on was one of the more powerful LOQ 15i laptops. With an Intel Core i7-13620H processor and 16GB RAM, this laptop will manage pretty intense projects up to a certain degree of efficiency. We have no problems with the 1TB SSD which is capable of read speeds up to 4065MB/s. Although there are faster read speeds out there, this is considered an ‘affordable’ laptop and any opinion should be based on that fact.

Lenovo has designed the connection ports a bit differently by placing the majority of them on the back. Round the back you’ll find an HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, and two USB-A ports along the back. On the left side, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone socket and a USB-C port, while on the right, there’s a USB 2.0 port. The distributed placement of connectivity options around the laptop contributes to a versatile setup. This versatility proves advantageous while traveling, offering convenience in unpredictable surroundings.

Dell-XPS-17-9j-1

Dell XPS 17 (2023)

5. Best premium music production laptop

Dell for the dedicated

If the sky’s the limit and you’re looking for one of the best music production laptops money can buy, look no further than the Dell XPS 17. With all the power you’ll ever need and a tremendous display, this is a mammoth option – not suitable for the faint of heart or casual producer.

Pros

  • All the power you’ll ever need
  • Tremendous display
  • Touchscreen capabilities

If you’re a serious producer, a full-time artist, or are just looking to treat yourself to a premium laptop option, there aren’t many better machines than the Dell XPS 17 laptop. Although the range starts at around $2000, if you want to go big, the fabulously specced $5,299 option is the choice to go for.

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Dell XPS 17 (2023) review: Go big or go home

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Firstly, the XPS 17 wears Dell’s sleek aesthetic very well. The aluminium and carbon-fiber reinforced polymer is robust, pretty lightweight and does a fantastic job at keeping the important bits safe. Dell has created this laptop for speed, which is displayed in its connectivity options; four ultra-fast Thunderbolt 4 connectors. Your recording equipment will have to be fairly up-to-date to utilize these connections, but if you’re spending this money on a laptop, chances are, your gear will be. We found the display stunning and capable of up to 4K.

However, it’s the performance us music producers are more worried about, and the XPS 17 doesn’t let us down. This thing packs an Intel Core i9-13900H processor, 2TB SSD and 64GB RAM. This is about as powerful as you can get for a laptop like this, and it is more than capable of handling any DAW you throw at it.

It does beg the question, is this a bit too much for music production? Well, it certainly isn’t required by the casual artist who will be doing light work whilst traveling. However, if you are serious about the gig and need to rely on a machine that will cope with running multiple VSTs, plugins, audio samples and a beefy DAW, the more power the better.

IMG_2667

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 (Wi-Fi)

6. Best 2-in-1 music production laptop

Lightweight but powerful

$1000 $1540 Save $540

If you’re looking for the best 2-in-1 laptop for music production, there’s not many that can hold a candle to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9. It boasts a gorgeous design and its ultra-portability makes it a practical choice, particularly if you find yourself traveling all the time.

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Incredibly portable
  • Can be used as a tablet
Cons

  • Not the best connection options

2-in-1 laptops aren’t usually the first choice for music producers, however, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a pretty convincing option. A pitfall of other 2-in-1 laptops is their processing power, but the Surface Pro 9 has that in abundance.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: A master of versatility

The Surface Pro gets equipped with 12-gen Intel Core hardware to give you more power on the move.

This particular specimen is equipped with an Intel 12th Gen i7 Processor and 16GB of RAM, which is more than enough to handle most DAWs out there. However, if that’s not enough, you can get the Surface Pro 9 with 32GB RAM if you need a little extra power. The 1TB SSD storage is incredible for a 2-in-1, so you don’t even have to compromise on the memory.

The benefit of a 2-in-1 is its portability and the Surface Pro 9 weighs in at 879g. We found that it shouldn’t weigh you down whilst on your travels. A potential detractor we can think of is the connection options. With only two USB-C ports on this laptop, you won’t be able to connect to many devices. However, if this is particularly meant for producing whilst you’re traveling, it probably won’t be the biggest detractor.

The bottom line: What’s the best laptop for music production?

Our overall choice, the most recent MacBook Pro 14-inch with the M3 chip, released in 2023, we think suits the most use cases for music producers, while comparing it against its price tag. It’s by no means the most budget-friendly on our list, but has great value compared to the offered specs and performance. If you prefer a Windows machine, many of our other selections bring great performance to the table, we advise you to make your choice based on which fits your lifestyle and producing plans best. If you are just starting out, the Lenovo LOQ 15i and Acer Swift X 14 make solid devices to meet your needs. If you’re on the edge of professional and looking for the best in the business, the Dell XPS 17 is hard to beat.

Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3, 2023)

Editor’s Choice

$3050 $3200 Save $150

How did we choose the best laptops for music production?

There’s nothing quite like a first-hand experience and when one of our team members at Pocket-lint had a good hands-on experience with a laptop, we included it on our list. Otherwise, specifications are incredibly important and the main components that make a laptop ideal for music production are; storage capacity, processor performance, battery life and RAM. We have also taken into account the price tag.

Which CPU is best for a music production laptop?

Primarily, there are 3 different CPU choices for a music production laptop; Apple, Intel, AMD. Whatever choice you make really depends on your preferences. Starting with the most widely available, Intel is probably the biggest name in the CPU world. You’ll come across Intel more so than the others, so it’s important to understand their naming terminology.

Intel’s CPU range starts at i3, which is the weakest processor in its lineup. Since you’re looking for a laptop for music production, you should at least go for one of their middle tier CPUs, which is either i5 or i7. If you want the fastest Intel CPU possible, then you should look at the i9 processor. The i9 is currently the quickest on the market, but a music production laptop that runs an i9 CPU will be more expensive, so bear that in mind.

AMD is another big name in CPUs and they produce Ryzen processors. Like Intel, AMD Ryzen processors are named very similarly, which makes it easy to quickly identify how powerful its processors are; AMD Ryzen 3 is where it starts, then Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9 and AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors are the top of the shop. Here, we recommend at least Ryzen 5.

Finally, let’s take a look at Apple, renowned for its latest line of CPUs known as the ‘M’ series processors. Currently, we find ourselves with the M3 iteration, offering people three distinct options: M3, M3 Ultra, and M3 Max, each progressively enhancing power and responsiveness in that respective order. The M3 CPUs are brand new, offering lots of power, so no matter which option you choose, for music production they will do the job very well.

How much RAM do I need for a music production laptop?

RAM is a very important component to consider when you are purchasing a laptop for music production. The larger your RAM, the quicker and smoother your laptop will be able to perform different tasks. Your laptop multitasks whilst creating/producing/mixing music; running DAWs, audio effects, plug-ins, virtual instruments.

The more RAM you have, the better your laptop will be able to cope with this and run smoothly. Having adequate RAM will also help with latency. Real-time processing is crucial for recording and monitoring audio with low latency. Sufficient RAM helps in creating larger buffers, allowing for smoother real-time audio processing without delays or glitches.

How much storage does my music production laptop need?

Quite simply, the more memory the better. Audio files take up lots of memory, so the more memory you can spare, the more music you can produce. Something you will have to decide on is between HDDs (hard disk drives) or SSDs (solid-state drives). HDDs offer humongous amounts of memory but are slightly slower than SSDs, which will load in samples a lot quicker but tend to be a little more expensive.

However, if your laptop fills up with excessive musical projects, then the best hard drive for music production will come in handy if you need a little extra storage.



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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