Finding the Best Laptops for Music Production – Part One

Among all the things that will be necessary for a successful studio, the computer is probably at the center of it all. Your computing device is where you will be uploading, downloading, engineering, and creating the madness that we musicians call music. No matter how good your microphone, cables, and other equipment are, they are essentially just useless keepsakes without a laptop. Therefore, it is essential that, as a music producer, you know which devices qualify as the best laptops for music production in the industry.

But any laptop will suffice, right?

Not just any old ordinary laptop can quality as one of the best laptops for music production and we’ll cover why in much greater depth in this article.

Basically, the wrong laptop can make your recording and engineering experience a living hell as well as seriously stunt your ability to upgrade your studio. There are several reasons why this is true but perhaps the most prominent one would be processing capabilities.

This will probably be most apparent when working with your DAW of choice. As you begin to work on tracks of greater complexity, whether via engineering, mastering or producing, your computer’s ability to handle the ‘workload’ will make all the difference in how good or bad your musical creation experience goes.

At its worst, a computer that is ill fit to handle these responsibilities will lag, crash, and render music creation damn near impossible. If this is happening, don’t even think about upgrading your DAW, microphone, or anything else, because this will only worsen the problem. And if you, like many other studio recording professionals, have already invested a substantial amount of time and money into your computer, the last thing you want to do is be forced to make a steep investment into another device because the one you were using failed under the load of your musical work. The consequences in this situation are brutal. You may lose all of your saved files (hard drive failure), have to go through the extreme inconvenience of replacing all of the software that you previously downloaded on your old computer, and generally set yourself back days or even weeks depending upon the flexibility of your financial situation and schedule at the time.

That’s a lot to deal with, right? Right, so we’ll help you avoid this problem (we can’t guarantee it though, technology is man-made after all) so that you can create and work with the confidence that you won’t be screwed in the worst way one day.

Why a Laptop and Not a Desktop?

Great question. The reason why we are compiling a list of laptops and not desktops is because of the obvious factor of mobility associated with a laptop as well as the cheaper cost. Our goals are to provide you a comprehensive guide for not only finding the best device but the best practicable device. A desktop that costs $10,000 is nowhere near practical and is limiting in that you’re fixed down to one place to use as a workstation. Given this age of collaboration and increasing globalization (not to be political here!), it’s imperative that most musicians be mobile in order to complete their work.

Okay, So I Understand Why I Need One of the Best Laptops for Music Production But What Exactly Makes These Laptops the Best?

There are a few factors that we look at when deciding which laptops are the best for you to use. We won’t give a full lesson on computing, but we will cover some of the basics below:

Processing Speed – As mentioned above, this is perhaps one of the most important facets of the computer that you’re about to pick. To cut down to the gritty on this portion of our review, there are a few processors that are going to yield the best ‘marks’ in terms of processing speed. The top ones listed, per cpubenchmark.net, are the Intel Core i7-7700k @ 4.20 GHz and the i7-4790k. Beyond these processors you’ll receive benefits that won’t necessarily enhance your music production experience as they are better suited for more memory intensive tasks.

Bit-Size – Windows computers come in two different bit sizes, 64-bit or 32-bit. Basically 64-bit computers are better able to handle ‘large amounts of RAM’. Here is a more in-depth explanation if you desire, but what we have here is all you need to know for the purposes of music production.

RAM – RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it basically refers to how much memory your computer has to do things in the present and now. So, to be clear, this is not the memory that your computer uses to store files and software. Rather, it is the memory that your computer has available to perform tasks in the present. Opening up your browser to read this, for instance, requires the use of RAM.

As a rule of thumb, the more RAM, the better. For music production, editing, and alterations, you want to try to land in between the range of 8 and 32 GB RAM. The closer to 32, the better. Obviously, this will increase the price as well but you get what you pay for.

Soundcard – If you have an inferior sound card, then there could be lag and you may even be unable to play your sound accurately.

There are several other factors that play a fairly significant role into how effective your Windows Computer will be at functioning for you, but we won’t dig into those too much.

Below, we’ll give you our formal list of the Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition.

PysRox’s List of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition 

For each computer on our list, we decided to grade them using four categories, which are; aesthetics, hardware, pricing, and ‘overall’. Each category is graded on a score from 0 to 100 with 0 representing the worst possible score and 100 the best.

Below, is a breakdown of the criteria that we have used for grading each of the categories.

Aesthetics – The aesthetics score is based purely on how good the laptop itself looks. Is it a stylish, sleek, and thin design? This particular category will be explored in greater depth than it was for other devices because of the multiple nuances of a laptop.

Hardware – This will be the most important category by far. This is because the predominant reasons for what would make a laptop better for music production, engineering, and audio recording reside within the hardware composition of each candidate. We’ll be breaking down all of that tricky jargon that you find attached to these devices and helping you decide which one is truly the best.

Pricing – The pricing score will be based upon two things: (1) How reasonable we feel the pricing is given what the laptop offers and how well it serves the purpose of audio recording and (2) It’s price relative to that of comparable devices on the market.

Overall – This category merely gives an overall score to help you better assess how good each individual laptop is in contrast with the others.

 

*As a side note, we will be containing our list to laptops that are between $500-2,500, to ensure that you aren’t laying out too much money. Fortunately, when it comes to audio recording, laptops that exceed this price range often do not perform discernably better than the best ones on our list when it comes to audio recording, music production, and engineering specifically. In other words, if you come across some super computer out there that costs like $10,000, then it’s probably overkill for what you want to do music-wise.

 

#5 –  ASUS ZenBook UX310UA

Aesthetics – 85/100

Hardware – 80/100

Pricing – 85/100

Overall – 83/100

Coming in at #5 on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition is the ASUS ZenBook UX310ua. You absolutely can’t lose with this device.

Aesthetics – Aesthetically, there isn’t much going on in terms of the color-scheme but everything else is amazing. The laptop itself is made out of ‘Rubedo Gold’ colored titanium steel, which makes for a beautiful and ‘modern’ looking cover. It’s also fairly small at only 13.3 inches and 18.35 mm thick, giving it a very lightweight, sleek look. There isn’t too much going on with the keyboard part of the device, but it does come equipped with a backlight which is extremely convenient for when you’re banging out some late night studio sessions or have a lot of work to do late.

Hardware – There is a lot to say about the hardware of this device. First, it contains the Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core processor which is in the ‘elite class’ of processors that you’d want as part of the corei7 grouping (see above in our RAM section if you’re confused). The device also comes equipped with exceptional battery life too, which is useful if you’re doing a lot of editing or toggling on the move. It comes equipped with high-resolution imaging, 1 TB of data, plus 516 GB on the SSD, with the capability to connect to higher broadband speeds. All of these things are extremely useful when downloading, uploading, saving items, and accessing them. And, speaking of memory, the laptop comes equipped with 8 GB of RAM, which is right in our preferable range of what is necessary.

Pricing – At its current listed price, the ASUS ZenBook UX310UA is very fairly priced and can even be considered to be somewhat of a deal given everything that you get with this laptop. At the time of writing, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a laptop of this nature to go for double its listed value given all of the specs that we outlined in the hardware section. This falls in line with the general trend of the ASUS product line in general, as they rarely charge too much for their products. Therefore, we’ve scored this pretty high in terms of pricing. If you need a laptop for less than $1,000 that will do a superb job with audio recording, music production, and engineering, then you’ll really want to consider purchasing this one.

For more information, including how to purchase, customer reviews, and a more detailed product description, click here.

 

 

#4 – MSI GS70 Stealth Pro-006

Aesthetics – 85/100

Hardware – 90/100

Pricing – 80/100

Overall – 87.5/100

Coming in at #4 on our list ofBest Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition is the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro-006. Though known for its gaming capabilities, this laptop is absolutely phenomenal when it comes to all things music related. With amazing hardware specs coupled with an amazing aesthetic value,

Aesthetics – Appearance-wise, this laptop is top-notch. With an all-black covering and a thin frame coupled with a beautifully large screen, this laptop looks spectacular. The keyboard is one of the prime features, look-wise, as it has a colorful background that can glow up multiple colors at once, display just one or a combination of a few depending upon the user’s inputted preferences.

Hardware – What can’t this laptop do? It’s built in with the i7 series intel core processor that functions at 2.7-3.1 GHz (protip: that means it’s pretty damn fast), which is top of the line as we mentioned at the beginning of this article. It’s also equipped with a whopping 16 GB of RAM, which ain’t easy to come by these days! In addition, it has a 128 GB SSD, which is nerd speak for this laptop can pretty much handle displaying extraordinary graphics without concern. It also has over 1 TB of memory! For those that do not know, that means this laptop holds 1,000 GB.

Pricing – Pricewise, it’s definitely not a steal of any sort. The pricing is absolutely fair, given what it offers and what other comparable laptops are going for on the market and it stays well within our earlier listed budget range of $500-2,000. However, it leaves a little bit to be desired in this area. As a consumer, you don’t simply want to get things at the ‘going rate,’ you want steals! And we want to find them for you but this item is not a ‘steal’ per se. But don’t let that discourage you from purchasing! You can be assured that you will enjoy every single penny you spent on this laptop and there shouldn’t ever be a time where you feel ‘Damn I could’ve went with _____’. It’s also very important to remember that these laptops are a long-term investment. This isn’t money that you’ll be dropping in a year from now. This laptop should serve you for many years to come and ensure that your audio recording, sound production, and engineering needs are adequately met to the fullest extent.

For more information, including how to purchase, customer reviews, and a more detailed product description, click here.

 

#3 – Dell XPS9360-7336SLV

Aesthetics – 80/100

Hardware – 90/100

Pricing – 90/100

Overall – 87/100

Coming in as a solid and strong #3 on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition is the Dell XPS9360. While it is not the most impressive looking machine that one can find on the market, it is a very quality laptop in terms of hardware and one that will serve any producer or engineer well.

Aesthetics – As noted above, the weakest feature of this device, if we were to list one would be its aesthetics. However, that is not to say that the aesthetics on this device are terrible. It has an all-silver color pattern on its outside casing and the keyboard, keys, and panel that surrounds the keyboard is all black, making for a palatable mix of dark tones. The screen is fairly large, which is good for engineers and producers wishing to get a full visual of what they’re working on. The laptop is fairly thin, but not as thin as we would prefer, but that’s merely us being picky.

Hardware – The hardware on this device is a high point and a major part of the reason why we bumped the pricing up to where it currently stands at. It comes with 16 Gig of RAM, which is spectacular. There’s also a SSD, which is a fancier version of the standard video card that inferior computers are equipped with. It, of course, comes equipped with the i7 core processor as well, which guarantees that you’ll be able to access and run programs at a very high speed.

Pricing – Pricewise, this laptop is a great deal, simply. Given all the features that it comes equipped with, its current listed price is somewhat a steal and a major part of why we bumped it up to #3 on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition.

For more information, including how to purchase, customer reviews, and a more detailed product description, click here.

 

 

#2 – Microsoft Surface Book

Aesthetics – 90/100

Hardware – 95/100

Pricing – 80/100

Overall – 90/100

Coming in as a strong #2 on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition is the Microsoft Surface Book. This laptop may, aesthetically, be the best on our entire list. Which is saying a lot. It also holds a superior hardware that any user would love to have. It truly lives up to its billing as a ‘super computer’. It is, however, just a smidgeon outside of our preferred price range, but still within our constraints, so we had to take a little bit back from the laptop’s rating due to that. Read below to get the full story of how we scored this item .

Aesthetics – Aesthetically, the laptop has everything you’d want in a laptop. It’s so slim it looks like you could crack this thing in half across your knee which is a huge positive. It also has a very straightforward design with a metallic-silver color going all the way around the device and even coloring the keys and mousepad itself. It has a very futuristic look to it, with not too much going on whilst screaming ‘sophistication’. Aesthetically, this is the quintessential laptop of the 21st century.

Hardware –  The hardware on this device is jaw-droppingly good. To start with, it is indeed equipped with the i7 series intel core processor, which is more of a requisite than bonus at this point. It also is equipped with a highly sought after graphics card, assuring the visuals of any project you have for any project on this computer will be as high-res as it gets. The screen itself detaches, which is a huge plus. It comes with 16 GB of RAM, ensuring that you won’t have too much lag or problems processing very large musical files that need to be altered, uploaded, and downloaded. It’s an extremely light device too, so it shouldn’t really be a problem for you to get from point A to point B with this bad boy. By the way, did we mention laptop screen detaches? It even comes with a stylus too!

Oh, okay!

Yeah, this thing is pretty much awesome.

Pricing –  The only thing that could be seen as a negative here would be the pricing of this laptop. It is extremely expensive at its current listed price. While we can definitely see, understand, and endorse individuals purchasing the laptop at its current price at the time of writing, we can also understand why some may try to forego on it. However, if you have the money and flexibility to purchase this laptop, we would absolutely recommend it. It’s an amazing piece of technology that is almost guaranteed to deliver exactly what you’re looking for.

For more information, including how to purchase, customer reviews, and a more detailed product description, click here.

 

#1 – Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Mobile Workstation Laptop

Aesthetics – 80/100

Hardware – 97/100

Pricing – 90/100

Overall – 95/100

Coming in at a respectable and well-deserved #1 on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition is the Lenovo ThinkPad P50. Simply put, this laptop is absolutely awesome.

Aesthetics – Upon first glance, this laptop appears to be an average, ordinary run-of-the-mill sort of device with nothing too special attached to it. It would be easy to see why individuals may pass up on it or not realize it’s true value (which could be a blessing in the instance of robberies – Yes, they do happen!).  The laptop itself is all black all the way around with red outlining on some of its keys to provide a very light accent to the color theme. It is a fairly thick device, but that may be absolutely necessary due to the sheer amount of hardware components that it contains. It also doesn’t feature anything crazy aesthetically that will make you say wow, but it is not an ugly device by any means.

Hardware – This is where the device really shines. It comes equipped with a whopping 32GB of RAM, which is double the second highest amount on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition. It is also equipped with the latest Windows OS, Windows 10. As if this weren’t enough, it is equipped with the ‘NVIDIA Quadro M2000M’, which is basically a really high tech graphics card that can basically handle anything. In addition, it has a Pantone color sensor, the 7th generation Intel processor (i7-6820HQ) and over 1 TB of data! This is your typical laptop on steroids. You won’t ever have to worry about doing anything musically that is outside of this laptop’s realm of capability. The best part about it is that you’ll have a portable device that is capable of handling everything for you at a moment’s notice.

Pricing – This laptop is expensive, no doubt. But given the fact that you are getting nearly double the quality in hardware components as many of the other devices on our list of Best Laptops for Music Production – Windows Edition, the pricing is beyond fair. If you really want to just throw the money out there and get yourself the best of the best, the crime de la crime, or the bee’s knees so to speak, then this laptop is absolutely the one you should be looking to purchase. Bar none.

 

For more information, including how to purchase, customer reviews, and a more detailed product description, click here.