5 Of The Best Laptops For Music Production In 2023

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These days, it's more likely than not that if you're creating music, you'll need a computer, and because programs like Pro Tools, Ableton, and Logic Pro have become essential for producers, you'll need a computer with the right specs for music production. For example, Ableton requires a minimum of 8 GB RAM, an Intel Core i5 or a comparable AMD processor, and ASIO-compatible audio hardware.

Because desktops generally have more processing power and other advantages, they've typically been preferred over laptops, but that's changing now that technological advances have allowed laptops to become formidable in their own right. While still not quite as powerful as their desktop counterparts, their portability can be a huge advantage to music producers who travel or don't have a single workspace, as well as DJs who use the same machine to produce as they do to perform. Laptops are also generally more affordable, which is great for music producers on a budget. The ideal laptop for your needs will meet the recommended hardware requirements for the production tools you use.

MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023)

The MacBook Pro's ability to run Logic Pro isn't its only advantage — it's also a powerhouse that can even rival desktops. Since Apple started replacing Intel CPUs with its own proprietary chips, its entire line of laptops has been on an impressive run. Any of the recent MacBook Pros would be an excellent choice for music production, but if you have the budget, you'll want the 2023 MacBook Pro for its superior performance, as well as its 16-inch screen option to give you more room to work. 

The 2023 base model uses an Apple M2 Pro chip with a 12‑core CPU, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD, with the option to customize and make it even more powerful. With a setup like this, you'll be able to smoothly run any music software you can throw at your laptop, as well as run other programs in the background.

The 2023 MacBook Pro doesn't skimp on ports, which can be key for music production. Along with a MagSafe 3 port, it includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, and thankfully, a headphone jack. Of course, all of this comes with a literal price. If you're running on a limited budget, these perks might not be enough to justify the cost of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at a whopping $2,499 and only goes higher from there.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED

For a variety of reasons, some people will never use an Apple computer or device. Fortunately, the Asus VivoBook Pro 16x OLED has a lot of the same advantages as the 2023 MacBook Pro. This includes an incredible display, which might not seem important for audio production, but is definitely something you'll appreciate if you're spending countless hours working on your laptop. 

The Asus VivoBook Pro runs on an Intel Core i7-11370H processor with 32 GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, and has an impressive battery life, which is great for DJs who don't have access to a power outlet when working a gig. The VivoBook Pro's secret weapon is its Asus DialPad, a virtual wheel on the trackpad that simulates the physical Asus Dial and can give music producers analog control.

The Asus VivoBook Pro 16x OLED is modestly priced at $1,450, though this may still be too expensive for a lot of aspiring music producers. The laptop is not without its faults, of course — based on reviews, it has a mediocre webcam and a finicky fingerprint reader. Additionally, its overall design is kind of dull, which some image-conscious DJs might want to take into account.

Dell XPS 13 Plus

If image is part of your brand, the slick design of the 2022 Dell XPS 13 Plus is something to consider. While not a powerhouse, its 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1240P and 8 GB of RAM are enough to meet the needs of most music production. It also has state-of-the-art wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, which is great if you're collaborating in real-time with other musicians. It's also lightweight and very portable. While more expensive than the Dell XPS 13 base model, the Plus still has a decent starting price of $1,399 and can be found discounted for less.

The base model, while cheaper and slower, is also adequate for music production, but both models have a major drawback in their lack of ports. With only two Thunderbolt 4 ports, no microSD slot, and no audio jack, it will be frustrating to use a Dell XPS 13 if you need to directly connect it to instruments or other audio gear. If you do intend on attaching external accessories, the performance of the Dell XPS will start to show its limitations. Its lack of a 3.5mm audio jack is also disappointing, especially since its built-in speakers leave much to be desired. You can work around this, however, with USB-C headphones or a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter.

Acer Swift 3 SF316-51

If you're producing music on a budget, the Acer Swift 3 SF316-51, the only laptop on this list priced under a thousand dollars, might be your best option. That cheaper cost comes with less power and performance, though with its Intel Core i7-11370H processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD, it should be enough to meet your needs. It's also got a solid build, as well as a comfortable and responsive keyboard and touchpad. Its 16-inch screen gives you plenty of space to work, though it does have a 1080p resolution.

On the other hand, the Acer Swift 3 is plagued with a lackluster webcam, microphone, and speakers, based on reviews. It also comes packaged with a lot of bloatware that hurts performance and drains its already limited battery capacity, so be prepared to remove any bundled software you don't want. Don't expect more than five hours of battery life if you're running standard music production software on the Acer Swift 3.

Apple MacBook Air M2

While any of the M1 or M2 MacBook Pro models would fit on this list, the latest M2 Apple MacBook Air doesn't fall far behind in terms of performance and usability for music production. Plus, its ultra-lightweight design and portability give it an advantage for anyone on the go, especially musicians carrying around instruments and other gear who are looking to shed as much weight as possible. The Air will also save you hundreds of dollars compared to the Pro models, with the 2022 M2 MacBook Air starting at $1,199.

Apple's M2 chip makes this model the most powerful of the MacBook Air computers, but it's still cheaper than the Pro for a reason. The base model is limited by its 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage when compared to similarly-priced PC laptops. With only four ports and no fans to combat overheating, the MacBook Air can't compete with its more powerful Pro siblings.