Looking for the best laptops for music production? We’ve handpicked the 6 finest notebooks and laptops for music producers from Asus, Lenovo, Apple, and Acer.
As a musician, having a portable music production workstation can be a blessing, so laptops look increasingly enticing. But with so many laptops available in the market, it can be a little challenging to decide which one could be the best one for you. Should you go for the fastest core speed or bigger storage? We have reviewed and compiled a list of the best laptops for music production based on different criteria, to answer these questions.
So, how do you choose the best laptop for music production?
First, it’s the operating system. You don’t want to grab an Apple laptop if you’re looking to use a Windows-only DAW (like Cakewalk by BandLab) on it. Second, it’s your budget, of course. While this list does require you to have a moderate amount of budget, the laptops enlisted are of varying range.
So, make sure you check the prices as you go through. Third, your music genre — do you use almost nothing but synths, some samples, and effects to get that awesome drop?
You definitely need a faster CPU. But what if you are a classical composer and use gigantic sample libraries of entire orchestras to create sweeping symphonies? Perhaps even film or game scoring? You need to be looking at great graphics, a bigger SSD, and memory so the computer can playback videos and stream those samples.
Now that we have some ideas of how you need to be picking your weapon of choice, let’s have a look at the list:
The 6 Best Laptops for Music Production in 2021
1. Lenovo ThinkPad P15S
The recommended laptop for classical music production #2
Huge sampled instruments, convolution reverbs, and complex routings? This colossus can take it all.
For using a lot of sampled instruments and articulations, this laptop does provide a 1TB SSD and high-speed 32GB RAM. The CPU it comes with is very impressive as well, with 4 cores and a working speed up to 4.9 GHz. Furthermore, with the Quadro P520 graphics, it definitely does sound like a smooth working experience overall. Let’s have a closer look at what’s under the hood:
This particular laptop comes with the Intel i7-10610U CPU with 4 cores (8 threads) running at a base clock of 1.8 GHz, boosting to an ultra-fast speed of 4.9 GHz. Next, we have 32GB DDR4 RAM. Built as a true workstation computer, it will easily handle large projects with multiple Kontakt, SampleTank, or other sampler instances with effects per individual track, making it a solid choice for music production.
- User experience:
If you wanted to use this laptop inside the studio, you would have the option to connect three more screens to this via the HDMI port, USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and a Thunderbolt 3. The displays are driven by a powerful NVIDIA Quadro P520 graphics processor with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory. Out of the box, though, you have a 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) display. So far, this laptop has no shortcoming as both a stationary workstation and a mobile studio.
The ThinkPad P15S has multiple storage options, but the biggest is a large 1TB SSD. Of course, you could upgrade it to an even bigger one if you wanted to. Although, we think that adding an external SSD alongside the internal one would be enough for most use cases. Note, however, that this is an upgraded laptop. So, you may find different storage configurations from other stores. The upgrade does not affect your warranty in any way.
This laptop comes with a 57Wh battery, with a battery working time of 5 hours. While slightly on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to battery life, it could be a nonissue if you mostly intend to use it as a stationary studio computer.
CPU: Intel i7-10610U | Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P520 2GB | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 1TB SSD
Pros & Cons:
in terms of pros, the laptop is very well-priced for the power it offers. The CPU, RAM, and GPU are all fantastic for almost any kind of music production scenario. The big 15.6″ screen also ensures comfort while using the laptop on the go; it’s neither too big nor too small. Having a Thunderbolt 3 port also means that you could use it for audio interfaces.
We would vote the battery life and fewer CPU core count as the biggest issues with this laptop. If you are looking for a laptop that stays on for a long time on battery, perhaps this one wouldn’t be of big interest to you. And if the laptop had 8 cores instead of 4 with similar clocking, it would have been even better at multitasking. Despite that, though, if you are looking for a high-value laptop that can handle large projects, then this is worth considering.
Perhaps not the best mobile computer, but this laptop is one of the best for studio use. It gives you high processing speed, plenty of RAM, the possibility to use multiple displays, and a lot of value for money. If you don’t have a rig for your studio yet, then this is a solid choice for sure.
2. 2020 Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch
The recommended macOS laptop
With the latest 10th generation Intel processor and optional upgrades, this 2020 MacBook Pro by Apple is still going strong.
In this offering by Apple, we get to have multiple CPU and storage choices, making it an ideal choice for any kind of music producer looking for a portable, powerhouse workstation. It has a great 1TB SSD for storage, 4 core CPU options, and 16GB memory. There are plenty more to talk about when it comes to this impressive piece of tech, so let’s get right into it:
This laptop comes with two options for the processor: Intel i5 and i7, both 10th generation with 4 cores. The processor speed starts at a base clock of 2 GHz and an impressive 3.8 GHz when boosted. In terms of memory, we have 16GB RAM, running at an insane 3733 MHz boosted speed. Plus, you can upgrade it up to 32GB if you need it. Clearly, Apple knows how to make sure using their products gives a smooth experience.
- User experience:
Of course, many studios demand multiple display setup and audio interfaces, and this laptop doesn’t flinch at it. MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports that can handle one 6K/5K resolution screen or two 4K screens. And if you own a Thunderbolt-compatible audio interface, this laptop would only be a natural choice.
Again, Apple makes sure to offer multiple choices, so we have the option of having a 512GB or a 1TB SSD. All in all, we have a choice for both music producers, mainly using synths and those using samples and audio. Being disk-free, this laptop has an almost non-existent working noise as well.
With a Li-Poly battery, Apple promises a working time of up to 10 hours on battery. However, if you have multiple devices connected to it, we should expect a couple of hours less than the claim. Even so, this must be one of the longest battery lives we’ve seen around.
CPU: Intel i5/i7 10th gen | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3″ 2.5K (2560×1600) | Storage: 512GB/1Tb SSD
Cons & Pros:
The possibility of having a big memory and storage is something a lot of producers look for in a studio computer, and the MacBook Pro is built exactly for that. On top of that, you get a high-resolution 2K Retina display with True Tone technology, amazing battery life, and the option to have multiple screens.
The most significant issues with this device would be the price and the relatively low CPU core and speed. While we do get a lot of value for the money in RAM and storage, the MacBook Pro does seem a little underpowered when comparing the CPU and graphics capacity with other similarly priced laptops. Another thing you might have an issue with is the size of the 13.3″ screen, which isn’t quite large enough for running audio software comfortably.
However, if having a blazing fast CPU isn’t the first thing in your mind, then Apple knocks it out of the park.
In conclusion, if you are a macOS fan, this laptop is the natural choice for you to get. It’s certainly powerful and has plenty of optional additions that will get you future-proofed for years to come.
3. Lenovo Legion 5
The recommended Windows laptop
If we’re talking about raw power and performance, the Legion 5 is absolutely a beast. It can definitely stand strong compared to even some of the well-built custom desktop PCs.
While the laptop has been built for gaming, it still provides top-notch specs for music production, which ultimately does have some similarities to gaming too. However, we should also be looking for a less power-hungry CPU when it comes to laptops, and this one certainly does deliver with its mere 35-54W of power consumption. The 7nH ‘Zen 2’ Ryzen processor helps keep the CPU speed super-fast without overheating. But what about the rest of the goodies under the hood? Let’s have a look at them:
At this price range, it’s rare to find a laptop with a CPU running at 2.9 GHz and boosting to 4.3 GHz when needed. Combine that with 8 cores and 16 threads, and it sure takes everything to another level. In terms of memory, we have a DDR4 16 GB RAM running at 3200MHz, so even a heavy sample library user should be delighted with it.
- User experience:
Perhaps you’d want to have multiple screens connected to your workstation when you are in your home studio. This laptop has a USB3.2 Gen 1 port, a DisplayPort, and an HDMI 2.0 port that will let you connect three more screens. And as for the graphics, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti with 6GB dedicated memory is more than capable of handling that pristine 4K resolution we’re all after.
This laptop has a 512GB SSD. So, for streaming samples, it’s fantastic. Furthermore, the SSD will make sure that your laptop makes no disk noise at all, which is crucial for a quality recording experience.
With its Li-ion battery, this laptop remains working for an average of 5 hours on battery. With USB audio interfaces and headphones drawing some power off the laptop, we would guess that the laptop will have enough juice to last around 4 hours without battery savings.
CPU: Ryzen 7 4800H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 512GB SSD
Cons & Pros:
With this laptop, you get plenty of power and memory for a fair price. Having a great graphics processor and the ability to connect three more screens is fantastic for setting up a studio workstation. Another feature a lot of people praise the Legion 5 for is its quiet running noise —if you aren’t running the CPU too much, the laptop barely makes any sound at all. And on top of that, the medium-sized 15.6″ screen ensures comfort on the go as well.
In terms of cons, the only one worth noting is the battery. While studio application wouldn’t give any issue, you might wish for longer battery life when you’re on the road. The second issue could be the storage amount — 512GB can feel quite small when we take the gigantic sample libraries available nowadays into perspective. A workaround could be to use an external SSD or simply replace the internal SSD itself.
Overall, this laptop can handle almost any kind of need when it comes to music production on a modest higher-end budget. With its sheer power, speed, and quiet running noise, it’s a great choice, in particular, as a stationary workstation.
4. Acer Aspire 5
The all-around music production notebook
The Aspire 5 is a true amalgamation of value, comfort, and performance.
Many musicians don’t really stick with one genre or workflow — or even a production room, for that matter. We’re constantly on the hunt for inspiration, and that means having a computer that can take it all — enough processing power to handle multiple synths, plenty of RAM to experiment with samples, and a battery life that keeps up with your spontaneousness. This large-screened notebook by Acer offers precisely that. It even has multiple choices for the processor, the RAM, and the storage, making it a pick that’s impossible to go wrong. Let’s have a look at some of its key features:
With the i3-1115G4, i5-1135G7, and the i7-1165G7 as the options for the CPU, this notebook leaves plenty of options for you. We would certainly recommend the i7-1165G7 with its 4 cores (8 threads). The i7 has a base clock of 2.8GHz, capable of boosting up to an amazing 4.7GHz. Along with it, we have 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, which you could expand up to 24GB with an aftermarket upgrade. Overall, we think it sure does provide a lot of value in terms of power.
- User experience:
Depending on the CPU you choose, this notebook comes with a minimum of 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) screen or a maximum of 17.3″ FHD screen (highly recommended), backed by the Intel Iris Xe graphics. You can also add two more screens to it via the USB 3.2 Gen 1 and the HDMI port. There is an option to get a version of the notebook with a touch screen too. So, if you want to get hands-on with your mixing process, perhaps this might be an excellent choice for you.
The Acer Aspire 5 comes with two options for storage: a 128GB SSD or a 512GB SSD. While we would suggest the 512GB one, you could indeed get started with the smaller option and invest in a larger SSD later down the road. Either way, having an SSD means that during your audio recording sessions, you will have absolutely no disk noise to worry about.
This notebook lasts an impressive maximum of 8 hours on battery. It is clear that Acer built this with the idea of providing portability in mind. So, if you are looking for a universal, failsafe mobile computer to make some music, then look no further.
CPU: Intel i3/i5/i7 11th gen | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 4/8/16GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD/17.3 FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 128/512GB SSD | Touchscreen: available with 15.6″ FHD screen
Cons & Pros:
Having multiple options for the CPU, the RAM, and the storage is an absolute win. With the best possible choices, you would have a very powerful computer capable of serious heavy lifting, especially considering the price. You also get a great battery life, which helps make this notebook perfect for the road. And finally, it comes with an on-screen assistant when you first boot the notebook up, so it’s a breeze to set up for the less tech-savvy.
The biggest issue we found with this notebook is the lack of options for larger storage and a higher core count. Granted, the high speed of the CPU does help make it competent. However, if we had had an option to get at least a terabyte of storage, it would have made the laptop absolutely unbeatable in terms of pricing and performance.
This notebook is a match made in heaven for the musicians who like making music out of the studio while dabbling and experimenting with new styles and genres.
5. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S15
The recommended laptop for classical music production
The legendary workstation for large sampled instruments and hundreds of tracks.
For the musicians producing orchestral pieces, film scores, and other kinds of music with gigabytes of samples being streamed constantly, focusing on having a large enough storage, plenty of memory, and a powerful CPU is a must. This offering by Asus definitely delivers on those needs and goes beyond. The focal point of this laptop is its CPU, which can boost up to an extraordinary 5.1 GHz speed. Of course, there is also a large 32GB RAM and a 1TB RAID SSD storage, ensuring plenty of space for storing sample libraries while you’re on the go. Let’s talk a little more about what’s inside:
With the impressive Intel i7-10875H CPU, this laptop rocks 8 cores (16 threads) running at a base clock of 2.3 GHz, capable of boosting up to an incredible 5.1 GHz when needed. Of course, due to temperature restrictions, you might see a real-life speed of 4.9 GHz more often, which still remains just as wonderful, though. Next, we have high-speed 3200 MHz RAM with 32GB memory, which is certainly plenty for most use cases.
- User experience:
Asus hasn’t skimped over the display and graphics of this laptop either. It offers an impressive 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) screen with a refresh rate of 300Hz. It also has an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q graphics processor with 8GB of dedicated video memory. The impressive graphics can undoubtedly handle the laptop’s additional triple display support via an HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and a Thunderbolt 3 DisplayPort. In fact, if you were to use a Thunderbolt 3 external hub, you could even connect up to 4 displays. If there was any laptop that could be the primary PC for a studio, this is it.
For this laptop, Asus offers 1TB (512+512GB) SSD storage. For the most part, it is plentiful for a mobile studio. However, if you intend to use this laptop as the main computer for your studio, you might want to replace the SSDs with larger ones. Fortunately, it has two NVMe M2 slots, so you could upgrade to a large amount of storage. That option could be a major reason for you to consider this laptop.
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S15 has a 76Wh Li-ion battery. You can expect it to last over 7 hours on battery easily, while some claim that it lasts over 8 hours. Even on the lower end of the spectrum, the battery working time of this laptop is impressive.
CPU: Intel i7-10875H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q 8GB | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 1TB SSD
Cons & Pros:
Out of all the laptops we have talked about so far, this could be the most impressive one. The large amount of RAM, great graphics, and CPU could be worth the hefty price, especially if you like having multiple screens at 4K resolution, even while working on large projects smoothly. Out of the studio, the decent-sized screen, long battery life, and out-of-the-box 1TB storage ensure a flawless mobile workstation for sure.
Despite it all, though, the laptop is certainly pricey. It is easily twice as expensive as the other entries in our list, and that too, with only 1TB of storage, can feel like a bit of a downer. Another thing you might want to consider is that if you are not working with high-resolution video scoring or game scoring, then this laptop may be a little over-powered for you.
If you have the budget for it, you couldn’t go wrong with this laptop for almost any kind of music. For large projects with hundreds of instruments and their articulations, you’ll probably find this laptop to be one of the best for mobile use. And with some upgrades, you will easily have a great force to be reckoned with for your studio.
6. Lenovo IdeaPad 3
The recommended laptop for electronic music production
Have a lot of software synths and effects to run? Then you’re going to love this insanely fast workhorse.
Being an electronic music producer, you will want to focus on having a high-powered CPU and a decent amount of RAM. Lenovo designed this laptop for gaming, which makes it the perfect choice for music production with its 8 cores (16 threads) CPU and a boosted clock of 4.2 GHz. On top of that, we have a great graphics processor, high-speed RAM, and plenty of battery life for a relatively moderate price. Let’s have a closer look at what we get with this one:
As mentioned, we get an 8 cores (16 threads) Ryzen 7 4800H CPU. It runs at an impressive base clock of 2.9 GHz and boosts to a blazing fast 4.2 GHz when needed. In terms of memory, we have a 3200 MHz 8 GB RAM, which is plenty unless you use gigantic sample libraries. Although, even if you do, you could always upgrade the laptop with more RAM up to 32 GB by utilizing its two DDR4 slots.
- User experience:
You will get the option to add two screens to this laptop via the HDMI and the USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports for the studio. The decently powered NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics processor with 4 GB of dedicated video memory can run two 2K screens with ease. For your audio interface, you will have three other USB ports to connect to.
For this laptop, Lenovo offers a 512GB SSD for storage. It’s certainly plenty for music production. Even if you were to put aside 200GB for the OS, DAW, and samples, you’d still have 300GB for your projects and recorded media. The SSD also ensures that your recording sessions will be quiet and smooth.
With its Li-ion battery, this laptop runs for up to 6.7 hours on a single charge, and it does have the standard rapid charging capability as well. While not the longest battery life we’ve seen so far, it is still quite impressive for a laptop with as powerful a CPU. It would certainly be remiss to consider only the battery life.
CPU: Ryzen 7 4800H | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) | Storage: 512GB SSD
Cons & Pros:
The biggest positive point for this laptop is that you get an insanely powerful CPU for a moderate amount of money. A laptop with 8 cores running at a boosted clock of 4.2 GHz is certainly no joke. We are also a fan of the big 15.6″ FHD screen. The RAM speed is certainly well above average at 3200 MHz, and the ample SSD storage ensures a smooth working experience for sure.
However, the biggest issue you could run into with this is the RAM amount. While it’s certainly plenty for most use cases, some people do use larger sample libraries that could require at least 16GB to run well. Fortunately, this laptop does support up to 32GB RAM if you were to replace the original sticks with two 16GB ones. The second issue could be the graphics — if you are a fan of using 4K screens, then this may not be quite enough for you.
We definitely recommend this laptop for electronic music production. It can handle a large number of synths, effects, and complex routing with ease. With two added screens, it could be used as the primary workstation for your home studio while also having portability, thanks to the decent amount of battery life.
There certainly are plenty of options to choose from nowadays when it comes to laptops. From the ultra-powered Asus ROG Zephyrus S15 to the adventurous Acer Aspire 5, we have options for just about anyone. And with so many options, we also get to choose a rig that perfectly fits our music genre and workflow, ensuring our money is being spent in the right place. It becomes increasingly hard to disagree that we are indeed living in the golden age of music production.
K. M. Joshi is a multi-award-winning composer and sound designer, specializing in film, game, and TV audio. He enjoys making cinematic music, rock, blues, and electronica.