For years, the laptop of choice for DJs, music production, and any creative application for that matter has been dominated by Apple. From the DJ Booth to the studio, the renowned Apple Macbook has become synonymous with professional audio applications. Although still a popular choice, Windows operated laptops from manufacturers such as Microsoft, Dell, and ASUS are gaining in popularity. Resulting in a serious fight for the 2021 top spot!
Next to having a great set of headphones, choosing the right laptop for your DJing and music production is vital. And with a number of specs, features, and price options to consider; it can be a difficult and overwhelming decision. In this article, we discuss all the things you need to consider when purchasing a new laptop, as we round out our top 5 choices for 2021.
- Buying Advice: What To Consider
- So what are the best laptops for Music Production and DJing
- The Final Say
Buying Advice: What To Consider
Not that long ago, making music from your laptop was completely unheard of. These days, having a mobile, yet highly powerful music production studio is not only a reality – it’s a must have! While virtually any laptop is capable of producing and recording music to some extent; if you’re serious about music production and DJing, you’re going to want a laptop that performs under high-demanding applications. Keeping your budget in mind, there are many different specs to consider. But it all starts with the operating system you want to go for, boiling down to the dreaded Mac versus PC debate.
Apple Macs and Macbooks have dominated the music industry for years, and for good reason. The Apple Macbook Pro has been and continues to be a powerhouse of a laptop. But, you’re either an Apple person or you’re not. If you already have a bunch of Apple products, and know your way around the operating system, using a MacBook is really going to streamline your workflow. And if that’s the case, the choice is easy; go for the Macbook Pro 2020 edition. Alternatively, if you’re someone who prefers a laptop running on windows, and you’re more familiar with the Windows operating system. We’ve got a few options listed below that are sure to meet your needs.
However, you’ll also need to double-check the requirements of your favourite music software or DAW. For instance, if you’re using a program such as Logic to record and mix your music, you’ll find it’s only compatible with the Apple OS, limiting your options again. While you’ll also find some software that’s only compatible with Windows, such as Cakewalk SONAR and older versions of FL Studio (FL Studio 20 now supports Mac OS and Windows).
If you’re a DJ, you’re constantly relying on your laptop screen (along with your controller) to queue up your next track, control your DJ software and mix your tracks. While if you’re using your laptop for music production, you’ll need a screen big enough to see your audio tracks at a glance. As well as your plug-ins and virtual instruments.
Opting for a smaller screen size such as a 13″ will certainly save you some money, but you might find it quite challenging. The safest option, in our opinion, is to go for a 15″ notebook – Big enough for you to easily see what you’re mixing, while also maintaining a size that’s compact enough to easily transport to and from your next gig.
When it comes to the CPU or processor, you’ll want to upgrade to the fastest CPU you can afford. The faster your CPU, the more tracks, plug-ins, and virtual instruments your computer will be able to playback without overloading. Preventing your machine from slowing down or even crashing your music software. A faster CPU also means lower latency in general, as well as a more responsive system.
We suggest you go for a processor in the Intel i5 or i7 lines running a minimum of quad-cores. Alternatively, you’ll find the AMD A10 quad-cores also sufficient. The more cores your processor has, the more tasks your laptop will be able to handle at once. For example, if you’re running multiple plugins and recording several tracks, this will use a lot of CPU power. So the more cores the better, 6 or 9 would be great, however, dual-core processors should be avoided as they’re simply not enough for modern DAWs.
The next thing to look for with your new laptop is RAM. Standing for Random Access Memory, the RAM is where your computer temporarily stores the information you’re currently using; such as project files and samples. Again, more is obviously better. However, depending on your budget we’d recommend opting for at least 8GB of RAM, but more definitely wont hurt!
Finally, you’ll also have to consider the storage options for your next music production laptop. Although a lot cheaper in terms of the amount of storage you can get, Hard Disk Drives (HDD) use spinning and magnetic hardware components. Therefore, making them much slower, and also more prone to failure than the modern and now standard Solid State Drives (SSD). SSD’s are not only more reliable, but run a great deal faster as well. Therefore, making your computer run faster, and perform better in combination with your DJ and DAW software.
Most laptops in 2021 default to solid-state drives, however, it’s important to keep this in mind. You definitely want to avoid any computer or laptop still running a traditional HDD, or even the Fusion drives by Apple which fuses together old hard-drive technology with SSD.
If you’re DJing, you’re likely going to have a massive digital music collection. And if you’re producing, you’re going to have heaps of project files, samples, plug-ins and more; so, you’re going to want ample storage space. You’ll definitely want to look at getting a portable hard drive eventually. However with system files, and applications taking up heaps of space to begin with; we’d recommend choosing a laptop with a minimum of 256GB of SSD storage.
So what are the Best Laptops for Music Production?
We’ve done the research for you. Trawling across the web and hand-picking 5 of the most popular, and reliable laptops for DJing and Music Production in 2021. Each of the laptops below feature more than enough power for you to comfortably run your favourite DJ Software or Digital Audio Workstation.
So whether you’re looking for a laptop for the DJ Booth, Home Studio, or simply a portable option; these options should provide you with more than enough power.
Without further or do let’s get into the 5 most popular options!
Apple MacBook Pro 16″ 2021
- CPU: 6-core Intel Core i7 – i9
- Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X or Radeon Pro Vega 20
- RAM: 16 – 32GB
- Display: 16-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display
- Storage: 256GB – 4TB SSD
For years, it’s been the go-to laptop for musicians all over the world, and the latest 16″ November 2021 edition of the Apple MacBook Pro continues the trend. If you can justify the price, which can sometimes work out considerably higher than a PC; or if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem – the MacBook Pro is the best choice for music production and DJing.
Featuring the latest, 9th Generation Intel Processors, and up to 32GB of RAM – You’ll be able to record and mix complex, track and plugin-heavy songs without suffering dips in performance. As well as perform heavy DJ sets for long periods of time. Another benefit of the MacBook Pro is its surprisingly robust aluminum casing. So you won’t have to worry about drops, knocks or bumps damaging your laptop during transport and travel.
So, unless you’re set on running the Windows operating system, want to run the Cakewalk DAW, or simply can’t meet the budget. The Macbook Pro is our top pick when it comes to laptops for DJing and Music Production.
Dell XPS 15
- CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ – i7-7700HQ
- Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
- RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4
- Display: Up to 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) with InfinityEdge touchscreen
- Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD
If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to Apple and looking for a powerful Windows system for your music production; the Dell XPS 15 may just be the laptop for you. Featuring incredible, InfinityEdge technology; the display of the XPS15 extends right to the edge of the machine. Resulting in a laptop that not only looks the goods but is as small as possible for a 15-inch laptop.
Although it might push the budget, a specced out XPS15 features a 4K colour-accurate display. Giving you an awesome display for you to see all the tracks you’re currently working on.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
- CPU: Intel Core i5-i7
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- RAM: 8GB – 16GB
- Display: 13.5-inch 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense
- Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD
Unlike the original Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 devices that promised so much and failed to deliver. The Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is a traditional Windows 10 laptop, and one of the best currently in the market. Featuring quad-core processors, plenty of RAM, and up to 1TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage, the Surface Laptop 2 has everything you need to effectively run your DAW’s and DJ Software. As well as a stunning touch-screen display and plenty of USB ports. Ditching the 2-in-1 design, the Surface Laptop 2 maintains the sleek and stylish design of the Surface, with added performance. So if you aren’t set on Apple, this is another excellent choice. The downside to this laptop, however, is the 13.5″ screen. Great if you’re looking for an ultra-portable solution, but might make mixing multi-track songs and DJing, that little bit more challenging.
Shop Microsoft Surface Laptops
Asus Rog Strix Scar III
- CPU: Intel i7
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
- RAM: 16GB (base)
- Display: 15.6” Full HD
- Storage: 1TB SSD
Designed specifically as a gaming computer, the ASUS Rog Strix Scar III offers enormous amounts of power for a music production laptop. Featuring the latest Intel i7 processor, as well as a base amount of 16GB RAM, this ASUS laptop boasts more than enough power to effectively run your music software even under the most demanding recording applications. While the cooling system ensures your machine stays cool under pressure and avoids overheating.
The laptop of choice for several known producers including Hudson Mohawke; the Rog Strix Scar III is a powerful and lightweight machine that even rivals many desktop computers. So, if you can get past its branding as a gaming laptop, this is another great choice.
Samsung Notebook 9
- CPU: Intel i7-8550U
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150
- RAM: 8GB-16GB
- Screen: 15-inch
- Storage: 256-512GB SSD
The Samsung Notebook 9 is packed with the power to rival the MacBook Pro, at a much more affordable price. Sporting a stylish, lightweight and thin design while maintaining a gorgeous 15″ screen. Making the notebook 9 one of the most portable laptops in its class. On top of its sleek design, the Notebook 9 sports at least a 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and i7 processor. Not to mention insane battery life. Meaning you won’t have to add countless upgrades to get the most out of this laptop (unlike the MacBook).
However, the one area this laptop falls short, and could possibly even be a dealbreaker, is the keyboard. With squishy feeling keys, the keyboard on this laptop certainly lacks when it comes to user experience. If you’re happy to sacrifice the traditional keyboard feeling for portability, great. Otherwise, you may want to consider using an external keyboard when you’re at your desk.
The Final Say
There you have it, five of the best and most popular picks when it comes to laptops for producing and DJing. But the laptop that’s best for you is going to differ from person to person. If you’re a fan of Mac OS, and your budget meets the hefty price tag, go the Macbook Pro and upgrade it to a level that your budget allows.
However, if you’re more inclined to use a Windows laptop, we’ve got four great options that are ready to take your DJing and production to the next level. Alternatively, use our guide in regards to specifications and shop around in order to find a powerful and affordable laptop that suits you.
Finally, with every laptop for DJing and music production, you’ll need a great set of headphones. So check out our previous article, where we go over all the best and most popular DJ Headphones. You might even want to look into getting a sturdy and ergonomic laptop stand to improve your workflow!