When people say they want the “best” computer for a specific task, that’s too broad of a topic to really give an answer that will satisfy someone. There’s so many different variations and factors for music that could drastically change which computer is better for your individual situation. Are you producing music? Are you recording music? Do you need a portable studio? Another huge factor is whether you prefer Windows or Mac. They both have different software and production tools available that are exclusive to each other. We’ll try to simplify as much as we can in this article to help you choose which laptop is the best for music production.
When you purchase a laptop, you need to make sure it’s something that you don’t want to modify too much because buying a laptop is very similar to purchasing an audio interface. What you’re buying is basically what you get and there’s really not a lot of room for improvement. First, you have the brands which is basically just the logo and the appeal of the products. Then, you have the product line and the series which is just how companies push out slightly modified products year after year. We’ll dive into some specific brands to consider and this article is basically just general opinion.
This doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely the best because in reality, there is no best laptop for music production. There’s a lot of different great laptops that offer different things. If you look around on the internet, it won’t take you long to find a debate between Mac and PC. It’s a battle of the internet that’s been going on since they were both in competition and still are. I’ll clarify it for you right now, the Mac computer is far more reliable and stable. It’s not an opinion, it is a fact. Out of the box, the Mac is stable and is a very well-polished music production laptop. However, with that being said, if you get a Windows laptop, it can also be just as stable but it requires far more work and maintenance to keep it stable. If you’re someone who clicks on every link, never cleans out your computer or you’re a hoarder of large files, you’re going to have a miserable time and a really slow computer. The bottom line is basically that if you’re not someone who’s knowledgeable with computers, then you’ll probably want a Mac.
One of the things you can upgrade on whatever machine you get is the RAM. For processing audio files and multiple applications, it’s recommended that you have at least 8GB. This is often standard now for budget gaming computers and audio production laptops. One thing that you need to think about for storage is that it doesn’t have to necessarily be internal storage. Most modern computers today have USB ports that allow you to attach external hard drives. So if you need something that’s not stationary that you’ll need to carry around with you a bit, this is something you need to look into. Also, make sure it comes with plenty of USB ports for all your different needs. Find out all of the input and output requirements to make sure that you have all the necessary ports required.
If you’re looking into getting SSD storage, you need to remember that SSD space is relatively expensive. Generally, SSD isn’t necessary for audio production. Audio production software loads up relatively quick without the use of high speed drives. However, if you’re also doing some gaming, then you might want to look into SSD and stay away from Mac. Mac’s are great machines but not for gaming. You should make sure you have a monitor that’s no less than 15 inches. 17 inches is a great standard for production machines but the price starts to go drastically up once you start going higher in screen inches. Some DJs have been spotted on stage with 13 inch screens but the use of their systems are minimal as they have heavy hardware that they have to pay attention to rather than their laptops. Also, for your battery life you need to figure out how much you’ll be traveling and how often you’ll be home. If you’re traveling a lot, you’ll need something with amazing battery life.
Best Laptop for Music Production Complete Guide
This is one of those things that you CANNOT cheap out on. The main reason is that most music producers, especially EDM producers use a powerful tool called FL Studio. If you have a lot of multitasking and large projects, you need a highly powerful Intel CPU. AMD CPUs are generally ok for mid-range gaming but they’re not great for music production.
We recommend Intel i5 and i7 CPUs for performance and multi-threading. If you can afford it, you should get the i7 6700K. It’s a bit pricey but it’s definitely worth it performance wise: Other great processors are the i7s 5820K, 4770K, 4790K and there’s some i5 processors like the 5675C, 6600K, 4670K, 4690. If you’re a bit of a power user and need some extreme performance that comes with a hefty price tag, you’ll want something like the i7 4960X, the i7 5960K or the i7 5930K. Now, what you’re generally going to get with these processors is a 10 to 15 percent performance improvement but you could be spending up to 400 percent more than you normally would from the non-power user processors.
If you take a look at benchmarks, you’ll notice that a 10% performance increase is really just barely noticeable. So you really have to define the price tag and see if it’s worth it for you. It’s not something that’s going to knock your socks off or see a huge performance increase with. You ideally want a 30% increase in CPU performance and then you’ll notice how much quicker things run. Ideally, the more CPU performance you get for your dollar worth, the happier you’ll be but that’s one of those things you have to determine for yourself before you make the purchase. Regardless, the CPU is super important and actually the most important aspect of a studio production laptop.
For anything movie or music production related, you need power. As far as CPU laptops goes, it’s really the same ideology as described above. You need to aim for some benchmarks that go above and beyond like 6,000+ from quad core processors. Don’t fret though, quad core processors are very common and have gone down in price in the last 10 years. Some quad core processors are even under $100 today that don’t perform too poorly.
Another thing you need to take note of or do is to make sure you’re a common sense user. If you have a quad core processors, don’t load up your browser and programs with a ton of plugins that your processor can’t handle. Always keep an eye on your task manager if your computer starts running a little sluggish to see what is choking your processor. While it can handle it, it will eventually kill your processor and you’ll be buying another one soon.
On par with graphic design, photo editing, and video editing and processing, audio production software is one of the most CPU intensive things you can do with your computer today. The reason for this is production of these things is solely based on your CPU and there’s nothing else to offload some of the work to. When you play online games however or large games like World of Warcraft, while your CPU does play a significant impact, a lot of the graphical stuff is loaded onto your GPU so in that regards, both the CPU and the GPU are important. In the case of music and video production, the CPU is the sole aspect that’s doing the production.
Now, sound is pretty important so you can hear the quality of your work and have great output but it’s really not the most important. However, with that being said, you generally want to avoid any kind of internal or on board sound chip. You really aren’t going to be 100% certain that you’ll have an ASIO4ALL driver that works. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
Consumer soundcards surprisingly aren’t that bad if you maintain your computer and they tend to last quite a while as well. ASIO drivers are very good and the best part is, they’re very compatible with almost every OS you have. You can have Windows XP or Windows 10 or even anything in between, they generally tend to work pretty well. Choosing a soundcard isn’t exactly high on the priority list but if you’re a budget music producer, then the basic stock soundcard is probably going to do just fine for you at the moment until you can afford to upgrade.
Memory is very important in your computer regardless of what you do. This allows you to run more applications at once and it will determine how many applications your computer can handle. Granted, the application makes a big difference as well as some only use around 50kb and then you have some applications that can use several gigs while they’re running under high load. Also, you have to be aware of memory leaks in some programs that occur when the program is out of date or poorly optimized but that’s another issue for discussion.
Generally, you want to shoot for 8GB or 16GB. 8GB is more than enough to suite the average music producer and can run a bunch of different programs concurrently without any issue. Some people may consider 16GB to complete overkill but you can never have enough RAM and it’s safe. However, people that are upgrading to amounts like 32GB and 64GB are going complete overkill. You will not see any of that benefit over the 16GB. It won’t make your computer blazing fast and you won’t see any performance benefit out of it unless you’re running hundreds upon hundreds of programs at once. As time evolves and the size of applications grow, maybe programs will be using 5-10GB of memory in the future but at this current point in time, 8GB and 16GB is more than enough.
Hard Drive (Disk Space)
This is one of those things that’s been debated among the hardware community for quite some time now. Do you use a HDD (which is short for hard disk drive) or do you use a SSD (which is short for solid state disk)? I’ll give you the shortest answer possible: SSDs are better for things such as loading your operating system up and storing your system files on them which are used to install programs and load other programs.
However, for games and other things like programs that take up a lot of space, then you’ll want to have a large storage HDD that can store all of these and more. Can SSD be used for these types of things? Absolutely, but it takes a massive amount of money to get a SSD large enough to utilize for a normal HDD. We’re not that far into the future where SSD will completely overthrow the normal HDD. All of your programs and games will load really fast on the SSD but the cost associated is absolutely ridiculous and not worth it in our opinion. At least at this current point in time.
On a decent computer, FL Studio and other music production programs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, or Avid Pro Tools should load quick enough without spending hundreds on a SSD. Just make sure you have at least 2TB of storage on your HDD to store everything you need or an external HDD with that much space. Upgrade as you need and get as much storage as you need.
GPU (Graphics Card)
In all honesty, the graphics of your computer for music production really isn’t that big of a deal. The only thing you need to look for when choosing a GPU is to make sure that it has a HDMI or DVI display port so that you can hook up more than one monitor. Believe me when I say having more than one monitor is a god send and a huge time saver. Your production rate will spike and the quality of life under more than one monitor goes up as well.
Best Laptops for Music Production Reviews
1. Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL/A Review
The Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL is a powerful 15 inch retina display performance powerhouse that offers a nice bundle of not just performance but audio as well. If you’re someone who uses a laptop for music or film, then you’ll definitely want to look into this laptop.
It comes equipped with a nice whopping 16GB of memory to handle any of your music production or multi-taking needs. You also have a nice 512GB of PCI-e flash storage available if you so choose to use it. Also, it comes with a quick and powerful i7 processor as well. It might not give you the quickest performance possible, but it’s definitely great for people just looking for something slightly low budget and suitable for this intended purpose. With this particular model, we don’t see a lot of changes unlike some other models. Most of the functionality and the features have remained unchanged from the previous models. First, you have this glass body exterior that’s made of aluminum. This exterior is the exact same as the previous iterations of this model. The measurements of this particular series is 15.51 inches by 11.06 inches. However, the weight of this laptop is only 4.5 pounds exactly so it’s relatively lightweight and easy to carry around in your hand or in a bag.
When it comes to the input and the output connectivity options, they’re pretty good and on point regardless of what you need to connect. You first have the HDMI port, a nice headset jack, a SDXC card reader and then you have some ports for Thunderbolts. Thunderbolts are relatively expensive and if you don’t have the funds to buy them, that’s fine because Mac still has a nice selection of display options available. However, there’s the flaw for business users because there’s an Ethernet port and it’s not exactly the best. It’s actually pretty limiting in what it can do. Now, if this is a concern for you, then all you have to do is purchase an Apple Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter and you’ll be good to go. You’ll also notice that it comes standard with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well if that’s something you’re looking for.
Then we have the specifications of this laptop. The Apple MacBook Pro MJLT2LL/A comes equipped with a nice powerful quad core Crystalwell 2.5 GHz Intel i7. This processor isn’t exactly the quickest processor out there on the market but it’s definitely powerful enough to power whatever you need it to do. The Graphics are pretty on point as well, as the AMD Radeon R9 M370X comes in handy. The card comes with 2GB GDDR5 video memory and is far equipped to handle anything you can throw at it. Paired with 16GB of memory, this system is a bit of a powerhouse that can handle most applications and even some games. Now, while the processor isn’t the best but still powerful, you’ll notice that it doesn’t really overheat (no need for a laptop cooler) and it has a relatively low voltage when it’s in use. This in turn means that the battery life will be extended when it’s in use a lot and it’s great for people traveling. It doesn’t sacrifice any kind of system performance because the voltage is relatively low compared to a lot of other CPUs out there on the market today. It’s actually surprising to see such a high performance graphics card onboard a motherboard, especially in a laptop. It’s not the top of the line kind of graphics card but it’s still powerful none the less. If you’re looking to play some 3D games or you’re looking to do some gaming on the side, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what this thing can have thrown at it.
There’s a nice 15.6 inch IPS display and the resolution of this beast comes in at 2,800 by 1,800. That’s a great resolution and will display anything at beautiful quality. It’ll also allow room for a lot of icons on your desktop if you’re one of those people who hoards icons and doesn’t properly keep them in folders. This kind of resolution is only commonly seen on high end laptops such as the Toshiba Kirabook 13 i7 Touch. Then, you have the all over performing Lenovo Y50 with a giant resolution of 3,840 by 2,160. This is a massive display and isn’t necessary by today’s standards. Even being responsive, most modern web pages today wouldn’t even display properly under that display and most websites would look small. You’ll also find under the 4k resolution that some websites have pixelated images because most websites aren’t yet optimized to display images on 4k.
The contrast of the characters on the keyboard is rather excellent and it’s easy to see them. The keyboard is back lit so it’s going to be relatively easy to read and it’s far better than what most competitors offer which is the typical silver illumination which can be difficult to read at times. Then, you have this trackpad which is glass covered and it seems pretty well-proportioned. There’s also the nice multi-touch function which is incorporated for convenience. There’s even a nice force touch feature as well featured on this particular laptop.
Now, while MacBooks and Macs in general can be reliable and handy, they’re not exactly the most fun systems to use. Sure, they get infected a lot less and they’re a lot more reliable but when you get some kind of a project that requires older software such as some Microsoft software like Office 2008 or something along those lines, you’re going to have yourselves a nightmare. The problem with this particular scenario is, there’s scaling on the images and it will eat away at the quality of the images. There’s also people who aren’t particularly into the whole glossy glass look that a lot of different Mac computers have and they prefer the stale PC look by comparison. It’s just a matter of preference in that regard.
However, if there’s one thing that can be said for the MacBook Pro, it’s that the battery life is always right there on point and is very nice. Especially for people traveling as most people who use Macs are always in a coffee shop, at a conference room or using it for business, you need something that’s durable and always online. The Wi-Fi options and battery life of a typical Mac machine is great.
2. Asus G752VT Review
The Asus G752 looks really nice and slim. The new design with the G752VT comes in a look that really lightens up the computer from the previous black slab look in previous early versions. It’s really nice compared to the predecessor, which isn’t necessarily a bad machine on its own. Now, while this computers intention was ideally to be a gaming laptop and a powerful one at that, it’s actually a really great media management laptop as well. The overall performance of the G572VT is very high and the backlit keyboard is nice for readability. In addition, there’s nice macro keys you can attach to your favorite programs to help speed up and enhance your production process.
Now while this design is quite nice, previous versions and systems had variations of this design. First, they ditched the matte black and wanted to go with something like dark silver, bronze or a little different black. Now, on the inside however, it doesn’t feel like a lot has changed but believe me when I say, what’s inside is highly powerful and can do anything you want it to do. First, we have the Intel i7 6700HQ which actually is a drastic change from earlier systems of the same family. That is the only change however because then, we have a lot of hardware that looks familiar.
Remember, the entry level unit came with a nice Nvidia GTX 970M graphics chip and then it also came equipped with 16GB of memory. It also came equipped with two different hard drives and a 128GB sata drive as well. One of the great things about this particular laptop is that it comes equipped with a nice full sized keyboard with a numerical pad. The individual keys you’ll find are rather large and the travel location of the keys is respectable as well. The function keys are where you’re normally used to and expect seeing them to be. The arrow keys are a bit offset towards the user, which is an interesting change but a good one. This also makes them a lot easier to find in games as well if you need to set up macros using these function keys.
Then, we do have a little bit of negative things though because the keyboard isn’t perfect. It’s one of those things that’s good but it could use a little bit of work. It’s not one of those deal breakers but there’s just a few little fatal flaws with the keyboard such as things with lighting. First, if you have too much light leaking, you’ll find that each key cap will become a little bit distracting but this isn’t a problem for hardcore dedicated gamers. Also, there’s really only three different levels of backlighting brightness. So, there’s not a lot of customization there and a lot of people feel that the options are slightly outdated. It’s not really uncommon in the past few years for RGB LED keyboards to have their own software to help control them.
The touchpad is rather large and you can find it right below the keyboard. It has its own nice tactile left and right mouse buttons and is relatively smooth to the touch. It’s not exactly an afterthought at all, as this is keeping up with the previous Republic of Gamer rigs that have been released. Navigation is a smooth breeze and this is thanks to how large the surface is and how responsive it is as well. A lot of gamers have noticed a delay in response times when they’ve picked up this laptop thanks to the touchpad. Thankfully, the G752 hasn’t been cheap on the display, which a lot of laptops do. Now, while this isn’t too exciting for most people and might seem standard, the 1080p display is actually quite nice to anyone who’s in this line of work. So, when we compared the G752 and the G751 side by side comparatively, we can safely assume that both of them have very similar features. It’s almost uncanny how similar they are to each other. The panel is more than likely the exact same as the 51 which isn’t really a bad thing per se. One problem with the Razer Blade which this computer handles quite well is the contrast. While Razer really wants to break into the gaming market with their own laptops, they have a LONG way to go.
Alienware 15 also has poor contrast which shouldn’t particularly surprise anyone as it comes to flaws with Dell or Alienware products. This isn’t to say all Alienware and Dell products are bad but they definitely have their flaws. Now, while we’re boasting on about excellent quality, that’s ideally only part of the story. There’s so much more to this laptop and one of those things is G-Sync. Also, the panel has a nice 75Hz refresh rate. When it comes to synchronization of the frame rate, it’s great to see so many major advancements in that field and regard. This is huge to laptops and the gaming community as a whole. Really, there’s only a small handful of laptop manufacturers that have included this type of functionality.
3. Dell Inspiron I7559-2512 Review
Now, I know a lot of gamers and enthusiasts out there have a very hard hate for Dell machines because of their history but this is one machine in particular that promises to not only be great for entertainment, media and the production of but it also promises to be great for gaming as well. Supposedly, this is one of those machines that’s great for word processing and media editing so let’s put it to the test and look at the specifications of this machine.
First, let’s take a look at the CPU and the graphics. If it promises to be a great gaming machine, surely it has great graphics, right? It comes equipped with an i7 Skylake processor, which is a great start and then it comes equipped with a GTX 960M GPU. This is excellent news because it can run old and mid-range games on ultra without any kind of problem what so ever. The only kind of struggle you might see is on brand new graphic intense games on ultra-mode settings but it should be able to run them just fine on medium or even high settings.
Inspiron doesn’t necessarily have a bad reputation and usually makes pretty trustworthy machines but how does it do on media entertainment and the production of media? Surprisingly, this machine surpassed the expectations of most gamers who have bought it and it’s known to be a budget gaming machine. We have to consider the gaming prowess of the machine as that’s what a lot of people are aiming for with this particular laptop. The Inspiron i7559 performs a lot better than most people would expect in that regard. There’s a lot of strenuous things that can be done with this laptop and we pretty much tried all of them. Our results showed the same thing every single time, nice and positive results. On the 3DMark Cloud test, it showed up at a nice 13,017 points which is really high. Then, we have the Fire Strike Extreme which ended up scoring an impressive 2,123 points. We can compare this test by looking at the ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74 which scored considerably lower. What’s great about these machines for gaming is that if you’re an avid GTA5 fan or player, which a lot of older kids and adults are, you can expect to get around 50 FPS in this modern action game. Then, if you’re into Witcher 3, you can expect to get around 30 FPS on the highest settings available. This is very impressive for a laptop.
This should be more than enough to keep you entertained, even for the hardcore gamers that play highly intensive games. Remember, gaming is resource intensive and so a high-performer in this area is generally also expected to be a high-performer in other areas like music recording and production. Now, the display is another thing in question but don’t worry because the display is actually quite nice for a laptop. While most modern laptops that are cheap only come with a 1300px wide resolution, this machine comes with a nice HD 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution support. Also, there’s a nice coat of anti-glare that will help for people that sit by a window or in coffee shops. You really need 1080p at a minimum for any kind of gaming machine or rig setup.
The exterior of the i7559 is very nice as well. It’s a nice polished black plastic finish and you might notice some red on the logo of the Dell lid. Also, there’s other parts that might be red such as the feet, the fan ventilation, the speakers and the touchpad as well. It highlights red in all the right places and has a nice impressive aggressive look to the machine. Then, we have the input and output ports which are quite handy and impressive on their own. First, you’ll have your USB 3.0 ports which there are two of. Next, we have a nice headphone jack location that’s located directly on the left of the laptop. Then, on the right side, we have a USB 3.0 port, a HDMI port, a handy 2 in 1 card reader for SD cards and then you have the Ethernet port. Additionally, you’ll have a handy Kensington lock slot as well. If you need storage, then there’s no need to worry about that because you have a well-equipped 8GB HDD and SSD hybrid storage drive.
Now, for those who need to do a lot of communication or meetings, you’ll probably need a webcam or great audio communications hardware attached to the laptop. The good news is, there’s a HD 720p camera that only faces forward attached to the laptop, right above the display. If you need wireless connectivity for Bluetooth 4.0, then that’s also good news because you’re in luck. There’s also a nice backlit keyboard with a white light that usually comes in the Inspiron 15 series. The keys are great quality but sometimes, it feels like the keys are just too far apart or there’s just a further reach than there should be for the keys. The touchpad is a really nice and smooth addition. It’s very sturdy and feels really responsive. Also, the speakers attached to the laptop are very high quality and you won’t be disappointed in the audio. The only downfall of the speakers is that you might hear some tinny kind of sound at maximum volume. Now, while DVDs may seem like a thing of the past, a lot of people still own and use DVDs.
You’ll have to buy or have your own external DVD drive because this laptop doesn’t come with one. If you plan on using discs, you’re out of luck but most things are kept in digital format now so that shouldn’t be too much of a deal breaker. Now, the biggest downfall of this machine is the battery life because it has a very intensive CPU with high voltage and high use GPU which drains the battery at a rapid rate. This is why it’s not a great computer to take around for mobile use because it only lasts 5 and a half hours. No one should expect a prolonged battery life for a laptop that has this kind of power when it’s unplugged from a power source.
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