There are a couple of things to look for when looking for a music production laptop. First, you want to make sure the system can handle the workload. That means a fairly competent CPU with at least four cores and a minimum of 16GB of RAM. Memory is particularly important if you work with hundreds of tracks, plugins, or samples. A large storage drive is crucial, as audio software and tracks take up a lot of space, and you'll also want a good number of ports for other equipment, like a production station, keyboard, or audio interface.
Another thing to look out for is fan noise, as you don't want the microphone to pick up the noise while recording. Screen size is a matter of preference, as it depends on whether you use an external display. If you plan on working on the go, you'll also want to consider the battery life.
We've tested over 85 laptops, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops for producing music and the best laptops for DJs you can get. You can also check out our picks for the best laptops, the best business laptops, and the best budget and cheap laptops.
The best laptop for music production we've tested is the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021). It's an exceptionally well-built device with plenty of processing horsepower, and it provides a great user experience with its Mini LED display, spacious keyboard, and gigantic touchpad. Its excellent port selection includes three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s and an HDMI port, so you can easily plug in your production station, keyboard, audio interface, etc. There's also a high-output 3.5mm headphone jack for hard-to-drive cans. This laptop has fans, but they never get loud, so you don't have to worry about fan noise getting picked up on the microphone. The main downside of this laptop is that you're paying for graphical performance that you don't necessarily need.
If you want more screen space and don't mind paying more, go with the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021). It's the same device but with better-sounding speakers and a slightly longer battery life. As you may already know, there are newer versions of MacBook Pro 14 and 16 with the M2 chip. They're identical to the M1 models in design; you just get a faster M2 SoC, HDMI 2.1, and increased memory support (up to 96GB). Apple no longer sells the M1 model, so getting the M2 is best. If you want more information, we have a full review of the M2 MacBook Pro 14 coming soon.
For Windows users, we recommend the Dell Precision 5570 (2022). It's also a high-end mobile workstation that provides a premium user experience. It's available with Intel 12th Gen H-series CPUs, which can easily handle complex music with hundreds of plugins, tracks, and samples running simultaneously. Unfortunately, its battery life is nowhere near as good as the MacBook Pro, and it only has three USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, so you'll need a dock or dongle if you want to use an external display.
If you don't want to spend too much money on a mobile workstation like the Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021), the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022) might be a good fit. This ultraportable is easy to carry around, and while it doesn't quite have the processing power of the MacBook Pro, it's still plenty fast for most workloads. It's a fanless device, so you don't need to worry about fan noise ruining your recordings. Plus, the battery lasts over ten hours of light use. The main drawback is its limited port selection, as it's limited to two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for one external display only.
A larger alternative would be the newly-released Apple MacBook Air 15 (2023). It's essentially the same device as the 13-inch but with a 15.3-inch screen and better speakers. Its battery life isn't quite as good as its smaller sibling's, but still enough to get you through a full day of light use. Like the 13-inch, there's a fingerprint sensor so that you can log in quickly.
The Acer Swift 14 (2023) is our recommendation on the Windows side. This 14-inch model has a nice bright screen and tons of ports, and it's available with Intel 13th Gen H-series processors, typically found in mobile workstations and gaming laptops. However, its keyboard, touchpad, and speakers aren't as good as the MacBook Air's. Also, the fan is audible when running at full speed, so it might not be ideal if you need to record something with a microphone.
Our best mid-range pick is the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 (2023), a convertible laptop with a 360-degree hinge. It sports a large 16-inch display, giving you plenty of screen real estate to see your tracks, samples, and tools. Additionally, since it's a 2-in-1, you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet, which is handy when you want to use it to see your music sheets or watch videos during your downtime. It feels surprisingly well-built for a laptop in its class and fairly portable for a 16-inch device.
This laptop has an AMD Ryzen 5 7530U or Ryzen 7 7730U CPU; both perform well and are suitable for music production. The Ryzen 7 has more cores, so it's a better option if you're worried about performance or a heavy multitasker. The memory isn't user-upgradeable, so getting the maximum of 16GB upfront is best. Fan noise is very low and isn't bothersome in quiet settings, and the battery life is excellent at around ten hours of light use. There are tons of ports for peripherals, but sadly, the USB-Cs lack Thunderbolt 4 support.
The best budget laptop for music production we've tested is the ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023). Like our mid-range pick, this is a 16-inch model, but it isn't a 2-in-1, so you lose the tablet functionality. The display doesn't support touch input at all. You still get a nice keyboard and a large touchpad, and it's also available with the same AMD Ryzen CPUs as the Dell. Its fingerprint sensor allows you to log in quickly, and its battery lasts around eight hours of light use. Ports include three USB-As, a USB-C (not Thunderbolt 4 or USB4, sadly), and an HDMI. The display only gets to about 250 cd/m² at full brightness, which is fine for most indoor settings but not for sunny environments or outdoors in broad daylight. One last note: you may have trouble finding a configuration with 16GB of RAM, so you may have to get an 8GB model and upgrade it yourself.
If you like the 2-in-1 tablet form factor, get the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021). You can detach the keyboard to make it easier to hold as a tablet or save space and pop it back on when you need to type something out. Its 3:2 display looks sharp, gets bright enough to combat glare, and supports pen input. You get an excellent 1080p webcam for video calls and a Windows Hello IR camera for quick logins. The battery is pretty short at seven hours of light use, but luckily, the power adapter is fairly compact, and you can also charge via its USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. Speaking of ports, expect to get a dock because it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 4s, a headphone jack, and a proprietary Surface charging port. Unfortunately, you need to buy the keyboard and stylus separately.
As this is a model from 2021, there's already a newer version, the Surface Pro 9. It's essentially the same device but with faster Intel 12th Gen. processors. The Surface Pro 9 is easier to find, but if you don't need the performance increase, you can save a good chunk of cash with the Surface Pro 8 since it's an older device and often on sale.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops to record music and the best laptops for DJs you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s a list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.