The Best Laptops for Music Production in 2020: Apple, ASUS, Lenovo - Rolling Stone
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The Best Laptops for Music Production

These laptops can turn your bedroom into a home studio and let you take it on the go

Black female vocalist working with sound engineer in a recording studio

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There’s never been a better time for recording music at home. Modern computers have made it possible to make studio quality recordings from a bedroom, and the Internet allows you to post them on streaming services, opening your art up to a global audience. If you’re due for a laptop upgrade, and want to get serious about music production, we’ve got you covered.

What Are the Best Laptops For Music Production?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the laptop for music production; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Processor: All of the computers below have a fast, modern processor from either Intel, AMD, or Apple that’ll be able to handle anything you throw at them.

Storage: Because you’ll be making and storing tons of songs, you’ll want hardware that comes with a hefty amount of storage. You can always get an external hard drive, but it doesn’t make sense to buy a laptop just to buy an external hard drive. With that in mind, we’d recommend getting a laptop with at least 128 GB of storage.

RAM (Memory): Having a computer with a lot of RAM will allow you to work with larger projects without encountering any slowdown. The computers in this guide have at least 8GB, which is the minimum amount you’ll need.

Inputs: A computer’s inputs (known more commonly as ports), are what allow you to connect accessories to your machine. Each of our picks has a different assortment of ports, which you should strongly consider depending on how you intend to use your machine. All of them support WiFi and Bluetooth, though, so you have a range of wireless connectivity options, too.

Operating System: The laptops below run either MacOS Big Sur (Apple’s operating system) or Windows 10 (Microsoft’s latest operating system).

Screen Size: We’ve picked computers with screens between 13 and 15 inches because they hit the sweet spot in terms of portability. If you need a larger display, we recommend hooking your computer up to an external monitor.

1. BEST OVERALL: APPLE MACBOOK PRO

MacBook Pro

Apple

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro was designed around delivering top of the line performance without sacrificing aesthetics or battery life. It runs on the company’s custom M1 processor, which is significantly more powerful and energy efficient than Intel’s current line of chips. In our testing, the M1 handled intense tasks like 8K video editing and exporting without breaking a sweat, so you should have no problem producing dense, complex tracks without an issue. The only thing to keep in mind is that a lot of software hasn’t been optimized for the M1 yet.

In terms of specs, the new MacBook Pro has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. A 512GB model is also available if you’d prefer internal storage to carrying around an external hard drive. While we’d generally recommend using a computer with more RAM, the new MacBook Pro’s M1 chip is a lot better at memory management, so it’s less of an issue. There is a 16GB configuration of this computer if you’d prefer additional memory. The computer’s 13.3-inch “retina” display has a high enough resolution that you’ll be able to make clear, precise edits without completely zooming into your track.

The MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt 3 / USB4 ports that’re compatible with all USB-C accessories and a headphone jack, which is a little barebones when it comes to inputs. You can connect a new interface, like Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 directly into the computer with its included USB-C cable, but you may need an adapter if you have older recording hardware. We recommend Pluggable’s Thunderbolt 3 dock, which allows you to connect USB-A accessories, a monitor, and Ethernet cable to the machine.

The MacBook Pro’s healthy amount of power and portability makes it a great laptop for music production whether you’re making studio demos, recording live shows, or mixing and mastering tracks.

Buy: MacBook Pro at $1,099.99

2. BEST WINDOWS PICK: ROG Zephyrus G15

ROG Zephyrus G15

Amazon

If you prefer using Windows instead of MacOS, Asus’s ROG Zephyrus G15 is a great choice for music production.

It was designed in gamers in mind, which means this laptop is extremely powerful. It comes with 16GB of RAM, 1TB (terabyte) of storage, and runs on an AMD Ryzen 7 processor that can run at up to 4.2GHz. These tech specs mean the Zephyrus G15 can hold hundreds of hours of audio files, and work through complex edits and long exports with ease. The PC also has 6GB of video memory courtesy of its built-in NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 graphics card.

The Zephyrus has a 15.6-inch 1080P screen, which gives you a wide canvas to work on while you record, mix, and master. It’s a lower resolution display than the one on Apple’s MacBook Pro, but it’s still a great, big screen. Asus equipped this laptop with four USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI port, so you should have no trouble connecting all of your accessories without needing an adapter.

This laptop is an excellent choice for music production, but its high-powered graphics card also makes it a solid pick if you like video editing or gaming. It’s a premium Windows laptop that’ll serve any musician well for many years.

Buy: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15 at $1,549.00

3. BUDGET PICK: LENOVO YOGA C740

Lenovo Yogavook C740

Lenovo’s Yoga C740 offers the best bang for your buck, and it’s a great machine for a home musician or producer.

The Windows 10 laptop has a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, which is pretty good considering its modest price. The laptop has two USB 3.1 ports, one USB-C port, and a single USB 3.0 port. This is a healthy array of inputs that’ll work with all of your current and future recording gear.

The Yoga C740’s key feature is that its 14-inch 1080P display can be flipped a full 360 degrees. The touch sensitive display can be used like a tablet, which means you can make quick edits to your music using your finger instead of a track pad and cursor. If you’re more comfortable using an iPhone or iPad for creative work, this is a must-have feature.

It may not be quite as powerful as the other laptops on this list, but Lenovo’s Yoga C740 holds its own at nearly half the price.

Buy: Lenovo Yoga C740 at $638.00

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