Best laptop for music production of 2024

The best laptops for music production and DJs help make recording and mixing seamless. We've tested hundreds of laptops for musicians, artists, and creatives - and these are the ones we recommend for music production. 

Music production software isn't the most demanding of apps, so you won't need to invest in the top-of-the-line machine to power through a recording or editing session, but it's worth investing in one that won't lag or freeze or otherwise slow you down and sap your creativity - especially if you're working across mediums. For that reason, the Apple MacBook Pro is an excellent all-rounder laptop for musicians and DJs who dabble in image editing and video production, and it's our top pick. 

Our team of expert reviewers have gone hands-on with all the best laptops for a range of creative uses. As part of our rigorous review process, we compare specs, benchmark performance and battery life. We also explore built-in speaker and audio quality, design. dimensions, and portability for creating music wherever inspiration strikes.  


The best laptops for music production of 2024 in full:

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best laptop for music production finalists in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best laptop for music production overall

MacBook Pro 14-inch on a table in an office

(Image credit: Future)
Best laptop for music production overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant performance
+
Best screen on a laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen may be a bit small for some

It’s no surprise that the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is the top choice for music production. As a creative powerhouse, it’s also one of the best laptops for video and photo editing.

This M1 Pro- or M1 Max-powered laptop takes the MacBook Pro to the ultimate level. It impresses with power, an equally breathtaking battery life, and an XDR display with 1600 nits of peak brightness and a wide color gamut. The SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports (all of which can stay available thanks to MagSafe charging being back) are lovely little extras.

The mini-LED technology on this laptop is the same as the new iPad Pro, offering a massive 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

Read the full MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review.

The best Windows laptop for music production

A Dell XPS 13 (2022) on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
A powerful and light laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: 10th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8 - 32GB LPDDR5
Screen: 13.4-inch FHD
Storage: 512GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous design
+
Great starting price
+
Lightweight and highly-portable
+
Performance is good for productivity and general use

Reasons to avoid

-
Controversial redesign
-
Performance suffers with more demanding workloads
-
Lack of ports
-
Webcam isn't great

The Dell XPS 13 (2022) has been a regular in our best laptops list for years, and it also earns a well-deserved spot in our best laptops for DJs list. The 2022 update came with a new color option, fewer ports, and some updated hardware.

However, it now rocks 12th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which means the Dell XPS 13 (2022) is a brilliant performer, while remaining thin and light. There’s a wide range of customization options as well.

Like most ultrabooks, the XPS 13's speakers are not great, and the speaker placement doesn't enhance the audio quality. The connectivity options are a bit limited too. The updated XPS 13 (2022) lost all ports except for two Thunderbolt 4 ports. While this was a controversial move, if you utilize a dock this won't matter much regardless. Though, if you still are utilizing a lot of USB-A devices, you will need adapters to be able to plug them into this laptop.

Read the full Dell XPS 13 (2022) review.

The best premium laptop for music production

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

(Image credit: Apple)
A top content creative laptop in a slightly larger package

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long battery life
+
Plenty of ports

Reasons to avoid

-
On the bigger side

The MacBook Pro 16-Inch is a monster of a computer, no matter what kind of creative you are. Its performance is only rivaled by its little brother, and though that beautiful screen is just a little bonus for audio creators, its size will give you a little extra screen real estate for your workflow. 

Just as importantly, its impressive battery life will power you through an entire show. And, you won’t experience any performance throttling because it’s not plugged in. Additionally, it comes with plenty of ports — 3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C), HDMI, SDXC card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack, and MagSafe 3 — so you’ll be able to plug in all your audio peripherals as well.

The display is absolutely stunning. It supports one billion colors for smoother gradients and comes with the expected 120Hz refresh rate, making it the fastest MacBook Pro 16-inch display yet.

Read the full MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2021) review.

The best laptop for special music production features

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Alan Walker Special Edition

(Image credit: Future)
A powerful laptop for music production with a robust controller

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 14-inch, IPS, 2,560 x 1,440, 120Hz
Storage: 1TB Samsung M.2 SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great CPU performance
+
Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

What makes the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Alan Walker Special Edition unique is as much outside the box as inside. It is still the same great laptop that the regular G14 is but includes a new color for the chassis and colorways for the keyboard. But, this collaboration with the YouTube DJ is more than just a paint job. 

The box it comes with can be used as a controller for mixing or as a synth pad that connects through USB-C to use with a dedicated app. Even if you already have your own dedicated controllers, the G14 Alan Walker Special Edition comes with two USB-C and two USB-A ports to connect them with. And, it comes with plenty of power to handle most music production sessions.

Read the full Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 Alan Walker Special Edition review.

The best lightweight Windows laptop for music production

Surface Laptop 4

(Image credit: Future)
Solid Windows laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Up to AMD Ryzen 7 4980U
RAM: Up to 32GB LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense display or 15-inch PixelSense display
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable keyboard
+
Beautiful screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough ports

Both its 13-inch and 15-inch models rock powerful internals for music production, which means that the Surface Laptop 4 will see you through all your music-making needs. It even comes with a gorgeous 2496 x 1664 touch display so your eyes are just as entertained as your ears. 

It’s battery life is decent too, enough to see you through a whole work day. It could use a few more ports, but that’s what a hub is for. Whether you’re producing someone’s music or making your own, this one’s one of the best.

The Surface Laptop 4 is just 0.57 inches thick and weighs 1.3kg (2.79 pounds), which makes it easy to carry around. Despite its sleekness, the laptop feels quite robust. The lid's made of aluminum and has zero flex to it. 

Read the full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review.

The best afforable MacBook for music production

Apple MacBook Air (M1,2020)

(Image credit: Future)
Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
+
Battery life is great

Reasons to avoid

-
Fanless design could impact performance

The M1 silicon chip has been a real game-changer, and so has the first laptop to receive it. The company’s thinnest and lightest is more powerful than ever before, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. 

Thanks to its excellent performance and brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still – the Macbook Air (M1 2020) is an excellent prospect for music producers. This MacBook is no longer just for casual users anymore.

The Macbook Air's battery life is fantastic, you can expect between 14 to 18 hours of battery life. The laptop features a fanless design, so it runs without any noise, but this can lead to heat management issues and lowered performance when being used for long hours.

Read the full MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review.

The best iPad-like laptop for music production

Surface Pro 8 outside on a table showing Windows 11 desktop

(Image credit: Future)
Powerful touchscreen Windows laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13” PixelSense Flow Display (2880 x 1920p), up to 120Hz refresh
Storage: 128GB – 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Faster processors
+
Gorgeous new design
+
Bigger display
+
Thunderbolt 4

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive
-
No more USB Type-A
-
Type Cover still sold separately

The newest iteration of the award-winning Microsoft Surface Pro line is a major improvement over the previous Surface Pro 7, which was still one of the best laptops for music production for those who wanted a more versatile iPad-style experience on a Windows device. 

The Surface Pro 8 is even better in this regard, with a faster Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, better battery life thanks to Intel Evo certification, and upgraded RAM options to help keep your music production on track as your compositions get longer and more complex.

There is no more USB-A support though, so if you have any peripherals like Mics that use a USB-A, then you might have to get an adapter if you go with the Surface Pro 8.

Read the full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review.

The best laptop for multiple music production peripherals

Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021)

(Image credit: Future)
A great laptop for music production with an absolutely stunning display

Specifications

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge Anti-Glare Non-touch IPS – 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) Anti-Reflective InfinityEdge Touch IPS
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i7 - i9
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (4GB GDDR6)
RAM: 16 - 64GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 3456 x 2160 OLED InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 400-Nit
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful screen
+
Great CPU performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life disappointing

The Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021) may be gorgeous to look at but it’s a powerhouse as well. It comes with more than enough processing power and RAM to handle most of your music production, and, if you’re willing to pay for a hard drive upgrade, you can keep all your files on the laptop itself. 

It even comes with a decently powerful GPU, though it’s not going to stand up to the best gaming laptops out there. And, while its battery life could also be a little better, it’s an incredibly portable machine, making this a great option for taking on the road.

The Dell XPS 15 has several ports — a USB-C 3.2, a full-sized SD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and a wedge-shaped lock slot, all of which will help connect your music production peripherals with ease.

Read the full Dell XPS 15 OLED (2021) review.

The best form-factor for music production

Asus ZenBook Duo

(Image credit: Future)
A dual-screen laptop for all your music mixing needs

Specifications

CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7-Core i9
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 4K OLED (3840 x2160p) Touchscreen, 0.2ms, 440 nits, Pantone-validated; 14-inch 3840 x 1100p, anti-glare IPS secondary display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous main display
+
Second display actually useful
+
Great performance
+
Very stylish
+
Extremely responsive 0.2ms display

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Cramped keyboard and touchpad
-
Poor Battery life
-
No SD card slot
-
Last-gen Intel CPU

Whether you're recording, editing, or mixing a new track, the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX582L is about as functional a creative workstation as you're going to find anywhere, thanks to its dual-OLED touchscreen displays that let you keep your tools handy while freeing up your workspace to keep you focused on the task at hand.

While it doesn't have the latest 11th-gen Intel Core processors, the Core i7 and Core i9 are plenty powerful for nearly any task you want to throw at it, whether that's mixing live audio or recording a new session in a studio.

The battery life on this one isn't the best by any means, so make sure you have access to a power outlet while you're working on the go, or you might find the music stopping rather abruptly when you least expect it.

Read the full Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15 (UX582L) review.


Best laptops for music production: FAQs

Which laptop is best for music making?

The best laptop for music production is going to depend on what part of the process you specifically need to use it for. If you're looking for something from initial audio recording to final mixing and publishing, than something like the MacBook Pro 16-inch is going to get you there.

But if you're looking for some portable options for on the road recording and some light editing, the latest Dell XPS laptops will work nicely and thanks to excellent battery life can last long enough to get through a good sized recording session.

How to choose the best laptops for music production for you

There is definitely a difference between what a music production laptop needs and what specs will make the most difference in your music production.

Obviously, a graphics card is not that high up on the list, but you're going to want the best processor you can get, specifically one with great single core performance. This tends to be the latest Intel Core processors, so the latest Core i7 and Core i9 processors will serve you well.

You're also going to be loading up some heavy duty software and working with some rather large raw audio files, so RAM is going to be very important. The more the better, but anything less than 8GB simply won't work at all and really the minimum you should aim for is 16GB RAM.

Storage will also come in handy, but if you need to save on cost, go for more RAM than more storage. You can always use an external SSD if you need to, but there's no such thing as external working RAM.

How we test the best laptops for music production

When testing which laptops for music production are best, we take the same approach we do when conducting tests on all hardware. 

For the core internal hardware, we run standard tests that stress the CPU and GPU with any hardware controls set to balanced for a consistent baseline across the various laptop manufacturers, including GeekBench 5, CineBench, PCMark 10, 3DMark, and Blender.

We also measure the frame rate of some PC gaming benchmarks, like Total War: Three Kingdoms and Metro: Exodus, to see how well the CPU and GPU work together to quickly render complex 3D scenes, which is just as important for a creative workstation as it is for gaming.

For gaming laptops specifically, we also spend a lot of time gaming on them (strictly for work purposes, we swear), and getting a feel for the actual experience a potential buyer can expect from the laptop. In the case of the best Nvidia laptops, this also means testing game performance with and without Nvidia DLSS enabled.

For creative workstations, there are several other benchmarking tools that we use, including encoding a 4K video in Handbrake and applying different filters and effects in different Adobe apps like Photoshop and After Effects to simulate its intended real-world use.

We also measure a laptop's battery life, since laptops are meant to be mobile devices to some degree, and if a laptop's battery dies out after three or four hours away from an outlet, that's an important thing to know, especially when even laptops running powerful hardware like a discrete Nvidia GPU are able to get seven or eight hours of battery life nowadays.

Finally, we compare all this with a laptop's MSRP and judge whether the price matches its performance. There are some very powerful laptops out there with great performance, but if they cost twice what their only slightly less powerful competitor does, then we make sure to let you know that.

Get in touch

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Steve Clark
B2B Editor - Creative & Hardware

Steve is TechRadar Pro’s B2B Editor for Creative & Hardware. He explores the apps and devices for individuals and organizations that thrive on design and innovation. A former journalist at Web User magazine, he's covered software and hardware news, reviews, features, and guides. He's previously worked on content for Microsoft, Sony, and countless SaaS & product design firms. Once upon a time, he wrote commercials and movie trailers. Relentless champion of the Oxford comma.

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