The best laptops for music production (2024)

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  • Quick list
  • 1. Best overall
  • 2. Best small
  • 3. Value Windows
  • 4. Value Apple
  • 5. Best 17-inch
  • 6. Best gaming
  • 7. Best 2-in-1
  • 8. Best loud
  • FAQs
  • How to choose
  • How we test

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1. Best overall: MacBook Pro 14 M3
2. Best small: MacBook Pro 13
3. Value Windows: Asus Zenbook
4. Value Apple: MacBook Air M2
5. Best 17-inch: Dell XPS 17
6. Best gaming: ROG Strix Scar 16
7. Best 2-in-1: Surface Studio 2
8. Best loud: Razer Blade 18
FAQs
How to choose
How we test

The best laptops for music production are those that can handle intensive audio processing without frequent hiccups, freezes, or crashes. That doesn't necessarily mean you need the absolute top-of-the-line spec. But a current-generation Intel or AMD processor coupled with at least 16GB of RAM is highly recommended.

A high-res display of 14 inches or larger can also enhance your workflow by providing ample space to view timelines, toolbars, and other essential elements of audio editing applications. That said, if you move around a lot you may prefer something smaller and more portable. Finally and most obvious, great speakers are an indispensable component for anyone involved in music production.

As experts in reviewing laptops, we've pulled together a list of the best laptops currently available for music production. Our evaluation process took into account various factors such as processing power, memory, speaker quality, screen size, and portability. And we can personality attest to their capabilities and suitability for music production tasks. You might also find out guides to the best laptops for graphic design and the best laptops for animation useful.

Quick list

Here, we've summed up the most important bits about our top picks of laptops for music production. Simply click on 'read more below' to get even more information, including links to our reviews.

Best overall

01. MacBook Pro 14 (M3, 2023)

The latest M3 MacBook Pro 14 is more powerful than ever, making it our top choice for musicians and producers overall. There's also a more affordable model with the non-Pro M3 chip.
Read more below

Value Windows

02. Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (UX3405)

This laptop is a heck of a lot of power for a very reasonable price. If you want value, but don't want an Apple laptop, this is the model for you. We loved its screen, power and the speakers are pretty good too.

Value Apple

03. MacBook Air (M2)

Can't afford our number one choice but want a MacBook? The MacBook Air is cheaper than the Pro, yet its M2 processor will cope with the most demanding music production software.
Read more below

Best big screen

04. Dell XPS 17

If you prefer a big-screen laptop for your music production, the Dell XPS 17 is our top pick. We reviewed the 9710 model and loved it, and things seem to have only improved with the latest iteration.
Read more below

Best small screen

05. MacBook Pro 13 (M2)

MacBooks are loved by music producers for their ease of use and power. But if the options above are a bit too bulky, the older 13-inch model offers most of the MacBook Pro upsides in a smaller package.
Read more below

Best gaming

06. ASUS ROG Strix Scar 16

If you're a gamer who also produces music, here's the best of both worlds. This gaming laptopoffers portability and a features set that perfectly suits music production.
Read more below

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The best laptops for music production in full

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Best overall laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (7)The best laptops for music production (8)

01. Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3, 2023)

The best laptop for music production overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max

Graphics: 16-core up to 30-core GPU

RAM: 8GB up to 36GB unified memory

Screen: 14.2-inch, 3,024 x 1,964 Liquid Retina XDR display

Storage: 1TB - 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+

Outstanding performance

+

Highly portable

+

Beautiful screen

+

Good connectivity

The MacBook Pro 14-inch remains our top pick as the best laptop for music production, especially now that's it's been updated with the new M3 chip. In practice, that means it will continue to work very fast and responsively, even if you're running resource-demanding software and opening multiple browser tabs at once.

Crucially, the speakers and sound are immaculate, with great balance and a rich tone.

While all this power requires a big budget, there is now a new base model with a non-Pro M3 chip that's more affordable than ever, but loses one of the three Thunderbolt ports including in the Pro and Max models.

Ultimately, this might be overkill, because in all honesty, even an M1 MacBook Air handles many tasks with ease. But once you've experienced this more powerful machine, you'd very likely choose the latest 14-inch MacBook Pro every for demanding music production. Whether it's the overall design and build quality, the added connectivity it offers or the unrivalled software support for pro-level music-production applications, it really is a fabulous machine.

See our 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 review here. The power and performance of the 14-inch version is the same, just with a smaller screen, which means increased portability.

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Best small laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (9)

02. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022)

The best small laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 with 8-core CPU

Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU

RAM: 8GB – 24GB

Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display with P3 and True Tone technology

Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+

Powerful M2 chip

+

Compact and portable

+

Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-

Screen may be too small

The MacBook Pro 13-inch has officially been replaced by a new entry-level 14-inch model with a non-Pro M3 chip. However, this older 13-inch model is still available from many online retailers and offers lots of bang for your buck from the still-impressive M2 chip. Our reviewer ran several resource-heavy apps while also browsing websites and it kept pace brilliantly. The laptop felt fast and responsive, and it was almost completely silent in use too.

In short, if your music production software is very resource-intensive, you can still be sure that everything will run quickly and smoothly, and with great sound. And if you're editing video or other large files too, you're going to be even more pleased at the fast performance of this MacBook. It also benefits from delightfully long battery life. And with a 13-inch screen, it's nice and compact, making it very portable.

That said, you may prefer a bigger screen to see your music production software's interface in greater detail, so there's a tradeoff to be made there. For more information, read our MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review.

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Best value laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (10)

03. Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (UX3405)

The best value Windows laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core Ultra i9-185H Processor 2.3 GHz (24MB Cache, up to 5.1 GHz, 16 cores, 22 Threads)

Graphics: Intel Core Ultra i9-185H Processor 2.3 GHz (24MB Cache, up to 5.1 GHz, 16 cores, 22 Threads)

Screen: 14-inch, 3K (2880 x 1800) OLED 16:10, 100% DCI-P3, touchscreen

RAM: 32GB LPDDR5X

Storage: 14-inch, 3K (2880 x 1800) OLED 16:10, 100% DCI-P3, touchscreen

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent power and screen

+

Good sound

+

Great value

Reasons to avoid

-

Soft graphics performance

We gave this laptop a rare five star review, and are blown away by the performance and power you get for the price, hence our decision to place it as the best value pick for music production.

It's a brilliant all rounder. The screen is gorgeous, Asus have nailed the OLED technology. The power is great, too, and the all-important speakers stack up. They aren't tinny and can get to quite a significant volume without distortion. It's lightweight, and beautifully designed.

We found even the entry-level model tore through audio editing apps with ease, impressive at this price point. And if you want to upgrade to a model that's on par with the new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air you can, for a very reasonable upgrade in price, too.

A downside is a comparable lack of ports, which could be an issue for music producers, but there are ways around this. See our Asus Zenbook 14 OLED review for more.

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Best value Apple laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (11)The best laptops for music production (12)

04. Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022)

The best value Apple laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)

Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU

RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5

Screen: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display

Storage: 1TB SSD (expandable)

Reasons to buy

+

macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive

+

Battery life is great

Reasons to avoid

-

Fanless design could impact performance

Apple may not be the first company you think of when you read the word 'value'. But the 2022 MacBook Air actually offers fantastic value for money for music producers. It's significantly cheaper than the MacBook Pro 14 above, and even many Windows-based alternatives, but still offers a stylish thin and light design and excellent performance thanks to its new M2 chip. The speakers on the 15-inch model are better than the 13-inch, but they're both an improvement on the previous iteration – and more than good enough.

Even though it's not got the immense grunt of the MacBook Pro, this is still a fantastic laptop for music production, and can run any application the more expensive MacBook Pro can. Our reviewer found the MacBook Air ran incredibly well, especially for day-to-day use and creative tasks, although it's worth an eye on temperatures when using it for sustained workloads..

Another benefit is that the MacBook Air is fanless. This means it's silent when in use, which is a huge bonus if you're recording via microphones. It doesn't offer a huge amount of ports, however, so you'll probably need to invest in a dock. Read our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review for further details.

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Best 17-inch laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (13)

05. Dell XPS 17

The best 17-inch laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Up to i7-13700H

Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060

RAM: 16GB

Screen: 17.0" 3840x2400

Storage: 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+

Great performance

+

Gorgeous design

Reasons to avoid

-

Lack of ports

Whether you prefer Windows laptops to Macs, or don't care and just want a large display for your music production, the Dell XPS 17 is the laptop for you.Usually, 17-inch laptops are large and uncomfortable to carry. However, with the XPS 17, Dell has crafted a stunningly thin large screen laptop, and it's impressively light as well.

The sound is impressive, with the stereo speakers providing a good enough audio experience. The sound isn't rich, with some bass tone missing, but we think it's passable.

Power-wise, the XPS 17 packs up to an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM and an Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU. That means that pretty much any music production software is going to run well well on this and shouldn't suffer any performance issues at all.Our reviewer found it able to handle processor-intensive tasks such as having 20+ tabs open all at once on Google Chrome, some of which are streaming 4K videos, without showing signs of lag or slowdown.

It is expensive, but for many people, the premium design and performance will be worth it. See our full Dell XPS 17 review for more details.

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Best gaming laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (14)

06. Asus ROG Strix Scar 16

The best gaming laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13980HX (24 cores)

Graphics: Intel Iris Xe, Nvidia RTX 4080 12GB

RAM: 16GB – 64GB

Screen: 16-inch, 2,560 x 1,600, 240Hz, IPS LCD

Storage: 2x 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+

Great performance

+

Solid build

+

16-inch IPS display

Reasons to avoid

-

Not the most discreet design

-

Fairly bulky

High-end gaming laptops, with their excellent processing capabilities, can sometimes be good options as laptops for music production, and the Strix Scar 16 from Asus's Republic of Games ticks all the right boxes. It does go in rather heavily on the gamer-style with a lot of lights, so it's not one to consider if you want something discreet, but it certainly offers the power and sound producers need with quad speakers, an Intel i9 processor and a base spec of 16GB of RAM.

We were certainly impressed when we reviewed its 15-inch predecessor. We got 10 hours of video playback out of the battery, which was impressive for such a powerful machine. This 16-inch model should be even better thanks to an upgrade to 13th Gen Intel CPUs, plus uber powerful Nvidia RTX 4080 graphics. You get good connectivity options too with two USB-C ports (one Thunderbolt 4), two USB-A, HDMI, ethernet and a headphone jack. The Scottish electronic music producer Hudson Mohawke is apparently a fan of the Strix Scar, too, so you'd be in good company.

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Best 2-in-1 laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (15)

07. Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2

The best Windows laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H

Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 8GB GPU

RAM: Up to 64GB

Screen: 14.4in 2400 x 1600p 3:2 PixelSense Flow touchscreen

Storage: Up to 1TB

Reasons to buy

+

Fantastic 16:10 display

+

Great battery life

+

Lovely build quality

Reasons to avoid

-

On the pricey side

-

More ports would be nice

The updated Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 really shows how far Microsoft has come in laptop design. This premium device has a stunning touch screen and plenty of power beneath the hood thanks to an upgrade to Intel's latest 13th Gen CPUs. It also offers good battery life, which will be welcome if you record or edit when you're on the move.

As a Microsoft product, it's also a showcase for the company's software, especially Windows 11. Our reviewer ran a number of benchmark tests and it delivered consistently high scores. That suggests any music production app you want to use will run with ease, and the built-in speakers are also impressive considering the size of this laptop. It could do with a few more ports, but overall this is great for music production. Read our Surface Laptop Studio 2 review to learn more.

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Best loud laptop for music production

The best laptops for music production (16)

08. Razer Blade 18 (2023)

Overkill but absolutely awesome

Specifications

CPU: 13th-generation Intel Core i7-i9

Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090

RAM: 16-64GB DDR5

Screen: 18-inch QHD+, 240Hz, G-Sync

Storage: 1-2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Reasons to buy

+

Incredibly powerful

+

Fantastic new 18-inch screen

+

Modern design with great keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-

Very expensive

-

Short battery life

The Razer Blade 18 is the latest version of Razer's top-spec laptop and it's better than ever with a larger screen, smaller bezels and the latest Intel and Nvidia chips. It's just a fantastic laptop for all kinds of heavy duty workflows.

That's in no small part down to the hot new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, the fastest laptop GPU on the planet. It's great for gaming and all kinds of tasks that lean heavily on a GPU. It's total overkill for music production, but if you like a little gaming on the side or have other graphically intensive workflows, you'll love this monster machine.

It has six speakers, which work together to provide excellent sound, much louder than any of the picks on our list so far – so if you're bound to your laptop speakers this is the option for you.

The huge 18-inch screen, meanwhile, provides about as much space as you'll ever find on a laptop for mixing tools and timelines. It's very expensive, but for your money you're getting some of the best mobile tech available right now. Combined with a great build quality, that stunning 18-inch screen and the latest Intel 13th Gen CPUs, this is a brilliant creative workstation for people who need a lot of power.

We love the 17-inch version, as you'll see in our Razer Blade 17 review , and the upgraded model is even better (as long as you've got a big enough bag).

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FAQs

What kind of software do I need for music production on a laptop?

There's a huge and ever-increasing range of music production software for laptops. Which you choose you will depend on your budget and preferred workflow. Some popular choices include digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X and Reaper and virtual instruments (VSTs) such as Kontakt, Serum, Massive and Omnisphere.

Is Windows or Mac better for music production?

If money is no object, Mac is hands-down the way to go. Compared to Windows, Mac hardware is much better, MacBooks are optimised for audio production, and the out-of-the-box software is vastly superior.

However, this comes at a cost; Windows laptops are generally far cheaper than MacBooks. So if you're on a budget, the best course of action is to think about your hardware needs, do your research on audio optimisation and hunker down with one of the Windows models we've listed above.

Plus, there's at least one big perk to opting for Windows; the ability to upgrade your machine, meaning you can boost your RAM and improve your hardware to keep up with your production needs.

How much RAM do you need for music production?

The best laptops for music production must have a good amount of RAM to deliver on all of your performance needs. We’d recommend no less than 16GB, although true beginners may be able to get by with 8GB.

RAM is immediately accessible, fast working memory in your machine, and the amount of RAM you have can drastically affect performance. If you’re working with large sample libraries, doing lots of audio rendering or recording and overdubbing, you’ll want as much headroom as possible.

Advanced producers working on comprehensive orchestral tracks with heavy use of plugins and more performance-intensive software would struggle with any less than 64GB RAM.

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How to choose the best laptops for music production

The best laptops for music production need to be powerful with a multi-core processor and plenty of RAM. This is because, as with most creative pursuits, the necessary software for music recording and production can be very demanding - especially for multi-track songs.

We’d recommend pairing this with a large SSD to give you plenty of storage space for your audio tracks, especially uncompressed ones. To ensure you don’t run out of capacity, you’ll want at least 512GB, but if you can stretch to 1TB, you’ll be thankful for the extra wiggle room.

Naturally, having good speakers is a must. Even if you opt to plug in external speakers or headphones, it’s important to listen to your track through as many different audio systems as possible to see how your frequency spectrum is represented in different setups. Plus, it makes life easier if you are often on the go and want to play your track back out loud.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have a good number and selection of ports on your laptop for music production so you can connect plenty of external hardware without the use of adapters. Again, this makes producing on the go less of a headache, but make sure to check the rest of your equipment first and assess which connections you’ll need, and perhaps invest in a dock.

How we test the best laptops for music production

The best laptops for music production don't need the fastest components on the planet. But we still assess CPU and memory performance to ensure you're getting a zippy all-round laptop for your money.

Storage is another important factor, so we test the SSD for both sequential throughput and random access performance. Granted, audio isn't as demanding as video when it comes to bandwidth, but multiple high quality audio channels can still create a significant load.

Screen quality counts, too. We assess brightness, resolution, form factor, and contrast, and also consider a screen's overall suitability for music applications.

Beyond music production-specific considerations, we test for broader attributes that apply to every laptop, like portability, battery life, ergonomics, keyboard and mouse quality and build quality.

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The best laptops for music production (17)

Matt Hanson

Matt has been a technology journalist for over 15 years, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a managing editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.

With contributions from

  • Erlingur EinarssonTech Reviews Editor
  • Tom May

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