How to pick the best laptop for music production
While there isn’t one specific model that is the best laptop for music production, there are certain factors that are important when choosing a computer for music production. You want it to be fast and powerful enough to be able to handle a complicated track with many channels and effects, without any noticeable latency or audio artifacts (like hissing or static).
That means you need a fast CPU with a lot of processing power, as much RAM as you can cram in it, and a Solid State Drive (SSD) as the hard drive. This will ensure smooth playback, without delays or stutters, as well as fast rendering times when your track is ready.
Laptop vs. stationary
Is it better to use a laptop, or is a stationary PC the best for music production? In terms of compatibility and functionality, it doesn’t matter much, so it comes down to personal preference and mobility needs.
Your money goes a little further when it comes to power and performance when you’re buying a stationary PC. It’s also easy to replace or add new parts, and you can have a ridiculous amount of USB ports and other types of physical connections. On the other hand, it’s pretty much stuck in one place.
If you are mainly going to make music in your home studio, where you have a bunch of other physical equipment, a powerful stationary computer is a great choice.
- More bang for your buck
- Stationary (hard to move)
- Mobility (carry it everywhere)
- Generally pricier
If you are likely to your produce music or audio on the go, a laptop is easily the best choice. They tend to cost more if you want it to be as fast as a stationary computer, but with a decent pair of headphones and a good DAW, you’re ready to make and master the next hit anytime – wherever you are.
Conclusion: We prefer laptops. If you do too, get a laptop! If not, get a stationary PC!
Operating system: Mac vs. Windows
The main difference between Mac OS and Windows when it comes to music production, besides the aesthetics of the OS, is which music production software it supports. If you prefer Apple laptops, or you want to use Logic Pro, then a Macbook is the easy choice – It even comes with a free DAW (GarageBand). If you want to use another Digital Audio Workstation, then a Windows PC would suit you better.
Conclusion: If you like Mac, get a Macbook. If you like Windows, and/or want more software options, get a Windows laptop. They are both great tools for music production.
The best laptop for music production should have a large enough display to work comfortably on, without the need for an external monitor. Keep in mind that the size of the screen has a direct impact on the battery life, if you intend to mix your tracks on the train.
Laptop screens can have widely different viewing angles, color representation, resolution and contrast, so make sure you think it looks good. Music software tends to use color-coding and you want it to pop! Modern laptops should offer an adequate resolution, but some certainly go higher, if you are in to that sort of thing.
Conclusion: Get a large enough screen to work comfortably, with good color representation and sharpness.
The Central Processing Unit is exactly what it sounds like, it’s the part the does most of the computing in your computer. That’s why it’s important to have a fast one. There’s only two manufacturers of note, AMD and Intel, with negligible differences. They both have lots of different models and it really comes down to what you can afford.
Intel: If you are going with an Intel, make sure it’s at least a Core i5, and preferably a Core i7. The highest tier is Core i9, which is leaps and bounds more expensive.
AMD: the AMD equivalent is the Ryzen series of processors. The Ryzen Threadripper and Ryzen 9 series are the top of the line, while Ryzen 7 is close to an Intel Core i7 in performance.
Conclusion: Get the fastest CPU you can afford. A Ryzen 7 or Intel Core i7 is the best choice for most people. Note that some models are optimized for speed and others for low power consumption.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is the working memory of your computer, where everything that is needed for what you are currently doing is stored.
You want to have a lot of it. The more RAM your computer has, the better and smoother it will handle large and complicated tasks, such as a music track with lots of instruments, layers and effects.
While it’s possible to create music without a lot of RAM, it will be a much more enjoyable experience if you have at least 8 GB of RAM. If you can afford it, 16 GB or more is highly recommended.
Conclusion: The best laptop for music production has a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, and preferably at least 16 GB of RAM for the best experience.
Hard drives have two important specs to consider; speed and space. Solid state (SSD) hard drives are much, much faster than the old school ones with moving parts.
They are also more expensive, so it’s common to pair a smaller SSD for working with a larger disk drive for storage.
To ensure that your workflow is smooth and that everything loads really fast, you should choose an SSD in every case – even if it’s smaller. You can always buy an external hard drive for your cat memes if you run out of space later.
Conclusion: The best laptop hard drive for music production is a fast SSD drive.
Leave room for upgrades
If you can’t afford a real monster PC right off the bat, you might consider choosing one that has room for upgrades. If you can add some more RAM, or swap out the hard drive, or even the CPU at a later time, it might be a smart move. The gear doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as you are able to produce music and audio!