The best laptops for music production

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1. Best overall: MacBook Pro 14 M3
2. Best value: MacBook Air M2
3. Best big screen: Dell XPS 17
4. Best small: MacBook Pro 13
5. Best gaming: ROG Strix Scar 16
6. Best Windows: Surface Laptop Studio 2
7. Large MacBook: Pro 16 M3
8. Dual screen: Zenbook Pro Duo
9. Best of the rest
FAQs
How to choose
How we test

The best laptops for music production help you work quickly and efficiently, with a minimal chance of being held up by stuttering, freezing or crashing. You don't necessarily need the absolute top specs, but a current-gen Intel or AMD chip plus at least 16GB of RAM is advisable. A decent sized high-res screen of 14+ inches is also helpful for viewing timelines, toolbars and other workflow tools in audio editing applications. 

Below, we've listed the best laptops for music production available today. We've used our expertise, industry contacts and extensive review experience, and taken into account everything from power and memory to screen size and portability. (To learn more about our process, see our guide to how we test laptops, PCs and workstations).

If you want to do other things besides music, and see our guides to the best laptops for video editing, as well as the best laptops for animation and our roundup of the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives.

Quick list

Here, we've summed up the most important bits about our top picks of laptops for music production. Simply click on 'read more below' to get even more information, including links to our reviews.

The best laptops for music production in full

Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best overall laptop for music production

MacBook Pro 14 M3CB

(Image credit: Apple)

01. Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3, 2023)

The best laptop for music production overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M3, M3 Pro, M3 Max
Graphics: 16-core up to 30-core GPU
RAM: 8GB up to 36GB unified memory
Screen: 14.2-inch, 3,024 x 1,964 Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: 1TB - 8TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding performance
+
Highly portable
+
Beautiful screen
+
Good connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Microphone isn't the best
-
Cheaper options available

The MacBook Pro 14-inch remains our top pick as the best laptop for music production, especially now that's it's been updated with the new M3 chip. In practice, that means it will continue to work very fast and responsively, even if you're running resource-demanding software and opening multiple browser tabs at once.

While all this power requires a big budget, there is now a new base model with a non-Pro M3 chip that's more affordable than ever, but loses one of the three Thunderbolt ports including in the Pro and Max models.

Ultimately, this might be overkill, but in all honesty, even an M1 MacBook Air handles many tasks with ease. But once you've experienced this more powerful machine, you'd very likely choose the latest 14-inch MacBook Pro every for demanding music production. Whether it's the overall design and build quality, the added connectivity it offers or the unrivalled software support for pro-level music-production applications, it really is a fabulous machine.

Best value laptop for music production

MacBook Air laptop in an office on a black deskCB endorsed

(Image credit: Future)
The best value laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 (8-core)
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 16GB Unified LPDDR5
Screen: 13.6-inch, 2,560 x 1,664 Liquid Retina display
Storage: 1TB SSD (expandable)

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Fanless design could impact performance

Apple may not be the first company you think of when you read the word 'value'. But the 2022 MacBook Air actually offers fantastic value for money for music producers. It's significantly cheaper than the MacBook Pro 14 above, and even many Windows-based alternatives, but still offers a stylish thin and light design and excellent performance thanks to its new M2 chip.

Even though it's not got the immense grunt of the MacBook Pro, this is still a fantastic laptop for music production, and can run any application the more expensive MacBook Pro can. Our reviewer found the MacBook Air ran incredibly well, especially for day-to-day use and creative tasks, although it's worth an eye on temperatures when using it for sustained workloads..

Another benefit is that the MacBook Air is fanless. This means it's silent when in use, which is a huge bonus if you're recording via microphones. It doesn't offer a huge amount of ports, however, so you'll probably need to invest in a dock. Read our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review for further details. 

Best big laptop for music production

Dell XPS 17 9710, one of the best laptops for music production

(Image credit: Michelle Rae Uy)
The best large laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Up to i7-13700H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 17.0" 3840x2400
Storage: 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Gorgeous design

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of ports

Whether you prefer Windows laptops to Macs, or don't care and just want a large display for your music production, the Dell XPS 17 is the laptop for you. Usually, 17-inch laptops are large and uncomfortable to carry. However, with the XPS 17, Dell has crafted a stunningly thin large screen laptop, and it's impressively light as well. 

Power-wise, the XPS 17 packs up to an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM and an Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU. That means that pretty much any music production software is going to run well well on this and shouldn't suffer any performance issues at all. Our reviewer found it able to handle processor-intensive tasks such as having 20+ tabs open all at once on Google Chrome, some of which are streaming 4K videos, without showing signs of lag or slowdown. 

It is expensive, but for many people, the premium design and performance will be worth it. See our full Dell XPS 17 review for more details.

Best small laptop for music production

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) on a wooden table with trans pride flags in the background

(Image credit: Future)
The best small laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display with P3 and True Tone technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful M2 chip 
+
Compact and portable
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen may be too small

The MacBook Pro 13-inch has officially been replaced by a new entry-level 14-inch model with a non-Pro M3 chip. However, this older 13-inch model is still available from many online retailers and offers lots of bang for your buck from the still-impressive M2 chip. Our reviewer ran several resource-heavy apps while also browsing websites and it kept pace brilliantly. The laptop felt fast and responsive, and it was almost completely silent in use too.

In short, if your music production software is very resource-intensive, you can still be sure that everything will run quickly and smoothly. And if you're editing video or other large files too, you're going to be even more pleased at the fast performance of this MacBook. It also benefits from delightfully long battery life. And with a 13-inch screen, it's nice and compact, making it very portable. 

That said, you may prefer a bigger screen to see your music production software's interface in greater detail, so there's a tradeoff to be made there. For more information, read our MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review.

Best gaming laptop for music production

Asus ROG Strix SCAR 16

(Image credit: Asus)

05. Asus ROG Strix Scar 16

The best gaming laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13980HX (24 cores)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe, Nvidia RTX 4080 12GB
RAM: 16GB – 64GB
Screen: 16-inch, 2,560 x 1,600, 240Hz, IPS LCD
Storage: 2x 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Solid build
+
16-inch IPS display

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most discreet design
-
Fairly bulky

High-end gaming laptops, with their excellent processing capabilities, can sometimes be good options as laptops for music production, and the Strix Scar 16 from Asus's Republic of Games ticks all the right boxes. It does go in rather heavily on the gamer-style with a lot of lights, so it's not one to consider if you want something discreet, but it certainly offers the power producers need with an Intel i9 processor and a base spec of 16GB of RAM. 

We were certainly impressed when we reviewed its 15-inch predecessor. We got 10 hours of video playback out of the battery, which was impressive for such a powerful machine. This 16-inch model should be even better thanks to an upgrade to 13th Gen Intel CPUs, plus uber powerful Nvidia RTX 4080 graphics. You get good connectivity options too with two USB-C ports (one Thunderbolt 4), two USB-A, HDMI, ethernet and a headphone jack. The Scottish electronic music producer Hudson Mohawke is apparently a fan of the Strix Scar, too, so you'd be in good company.

Best Windows laptop for music production

Surface Laptop Studio 2

(Image credit: Paul Hatton)
The best Windows laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 8GB GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14.4in 2400 x 1600p 3:2 PixelSense Flow touchscreen
Storage: Up to 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic 16:10 display
+
Great battery life
+
Lovely build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
On the pricey side
-
More ports would be nice

The updated Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 really shows how far Microsoft has come in laptop design. This premium device has a stunning touch screen and plenty of power beneath the hood thanks to an upgrade to Intel's latest 13th Gen CPUs. It also offers good battery life, which will be welcome if you record or edit when you're on the move. 

As a Microsoft product, it's also a showcase for the company's software, especially Windows 11. Our reviewer ran a number of benchmark tests and it delivered consistently high scores. That suggests any music production app you want to use will run with ease, and the built-in speakers are also impressive considering the size of this laptop. It could do with a few more ports, but overall this is great for music production. Read our Surface Laptop Studio 2 review to learn more.

Best big MacBook for music production

MacBook Pro 16 M3

(Image credit: Apple)

07. MacBook Pro 16-inch M3 (2023)

The best large-screen MacBook for music production

Specifications

CPU: M3 Pro/M3 Max, 12-core/16-core CPU
Graphics: M3 Pro, 18-core GPU / M3 Max, 40-core GPU
RAM: M3 Pro, 18-128GB / M3 Max, 36-128GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: 512GB-8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long battery life
+
Plenty of ports
+
Beautiful big screen
+
Super powerful

Reasons to avoid

-
You pay for the M3 magic

While the MacBook Pro 14-inch is the best laptop for music production in our view thanks to its convenient portable size, if you'd like a bigger screen, its 16-inch older sibling offers essentially the same specs, and slightly better battery life to boot. Some find the larger screen more comfortable for working on, especially if working on multiple tracks at once.

As with the MacBook Pro 14 at number one, this is a brilliant laptop for music production that should be able to handle even the most complex projects. It boasts excellent speakers and microphone, and plenty of ports. OK, it's pricier than the 14-inch model. But it's even more powerful and has absolutely stellar speakers, which is particularly relevant here. See our full review of the original M1 MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) for more details.

Best dual-screen laptop for music production

Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED

(Image credit: Future)
The best dual-screen laptop for music production

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i9-13900H (14-core)
Graphics: Up to Nvidia RTX 4060 (8GB)
RAM: Up to 32GB
Screen: 14.5-inch 2880 x 1800 120Hz OLED, 12.7-inch 2880 x 864 IPS
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Fabulous screen tech
+
Excellent connectivity
+
Gorgeous build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Unusual ergonomics
-
Mediocre battery life
-
Slightly limited performance

The Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED offers cutting-edge components, including a recent update to a 13th generation Intel processor and up to Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics. In short, it has plenty of poke for music production workflows.

The 14-core processor and 32GB of RAM also means this is an absolute beast when it comes to all kinds of multitasking. But the real showbiz feature is the dual-screen setup – there’s a 14.5-inch 120Hz OLED main screen, which looks fantastic, and a 12.7-inch IPS display above the keyboard.

The second screen is a huge positive for content creation workflows like music production programmers as it frees up vital screen space and can be used with music production applications to provide extra control, such as sliders for mixing tracks. It gives a level of versatility that other laptops lack. Think of it as a super-charged Touch Bar, allowing you to move apps and tools to the bottom screen, giving you more space to work with on the main one. You can also use a stylus on the second screen, turning it into a great drawing tablet.

It's expensive, and the battery life isn't the best, but it's an incredible machine for creating music. Read more in our Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo OLED review.

The best of the rest

Razer Blade 18

(Image credit: Razer)

09. Razer Blade 18 (2023)

Overkill but absolutely awesome

Specifications

CPU: 13th-generation Intel Core i7-i9
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
RAM: 16-64GB DDR5
Screen: 18-inch QHD+, 240Hz, G-Sync
Storage: 1-2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly powerful
+
Fantastic new 18-inch screen
+
Modern design with great keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Short battery life

The Razer Blade 18 is the latest version of Razer's top-spec laptop and it's better than ever with a larger screen, smaller bezels and the latest Intel and Nvidia chips. It's just a fantastic laptop for all kinds of heavy duty workflows.

That's in no small part down to the hot new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, the fastest laptop GPU on the planet. It's great for gaming and all kinds of tasks that lean heavily on a GPU. It's total overkill for music production, but if you like a little gaming on the side or have other graphically intensive workflows, you'll love this monster machine.

The huge 18-inch screen, meanwhile, provides about as much space as you'll ever find on a laptop for mixing tools and timelines. It's very expensive, but for your money you're getting some of the best mobile tech available right now. Combined with a great build quality, that stunning 18-inch screen and the latest Intel 13th Gen CPUs, this is a brilliant creative workstation for people who need a lot of power. 

A Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 on a white background, with a desktop displaying a mountain landscape

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

This workhorse laptop is a great Studio alternative

Specifications

CPU: 12th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7U
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy and portable
+
Good touchscreen

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of ports
-
Slightly dated by large bezels

The Microsoft Surface Laptop 5 isn’t revolutionary in any single way, but what it does it does without fuss and with surprisingly strong performance. But it's still highly capable for music production, and offers a budget alternative to the Studio.

There is an option of 13.5 or 15-inch screens, along with customisable RAM and storage depending on which processor you choose. For music production, which can be resource-demanding, we recommend the more powerful Ryzen processor, but even the base spec will handily take care of any light-to-medium musical tasks. 

The speakers are more than serviceable too, which is a definite plus here. The lack of ports means you might have to get a dock to accompany it, though. Check out our full review of the previous-gen and very similar Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 to get a better feel for why this is a great little laptop for all kinds of tasks, including music production.

FAQs

What kind of software do I need for music production on a laptop?

There's a huge and ever-increasing range of music production software for laptops. The one that will best suit you will depend on your budget and preferred workflow. Some popular choices include digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X and Reaper and virtual instruments (VSTs) such as Kontakt, Serum, Massive and Omnisphere.

Is Windows or Mac better for music production?

If money is no object, Mac is hands-down the way to go for producers - that's why MacBooks occupy both the first and second spots in our guide. Compared to Windows, Mac hardware is much better, MacBooks are optimised for audio production, and the out-of-the-box software is vastly superior.

However, this comes at a cost; Windows laptops are generally far cheaper than MacBooks. If you're on a budget, the best course of action is to think about your hardware needs, do your research on audio optimisation and hunker down with one of the Windows models we've listed above. 

Plus, there's at least one big perk to opting for Windows; the ability to upgrade your machine, meaning you can boost your RAM and improve your hardware to keep up with your production needs.

How much RAM do you need for music production?

The best laptops for music production must have a good amount of RAM to deliver on all of your performance needs - we’d recommend no less than 16GB, although true beginners may be able to get by with 8GB. 

RAM is immediately accessible, fast working memory in your machine, and the amount of RAM you have can drastically affect performance. If you’re working with large sample libraries, doing lots of audio rendering or recording and overdubbing, you’ll want as much headroom as possible. 

Advanced producers working on comprehensive orchestral tracks with heavy use of plugins and more performance-intensive software would struggle with any less than 64GB RAM. 

How to choose the best laptops for music production

The best laptops for music production need to be powerful with a multi-core processor and plenty of RAM. This is because, as with most creative pursuits, the necessary software for music recording and production can be very demanding - especially for multi-track songs. 

We’d recommend pairing this with a large SSD to give you plenty of storage space for your audio tracks - especially uncompressed ones. To ensure you don’t run out of capacity, you’ll want at least 512GB, but if you can stretch to 1TB, you’ll be thankful for the extra wiggle room.

Naturally, having good speakers is a must. Even if you opt to plug in external speakers or headphones, it’s important to listen to your track through as many different audio systems as possible to see how your frequency spectrum is represented in different setups. Plus, it makes life easier if you are often on the go and want to play your track back out loud. 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure you have a good number and selection of ports on your laptop for music production so you can connect plenty of external hardware without the use of adapters. Again, this makes producing on the go less of a headache, but make sure to check the rest of your equipment first and assess which connections you’ll need, and perhaps invest in a dock.

How we test the best laptops for music production

The best laptops for music production don't need the fastest components on the planet. But we still assess CPU and memory performance to ensure you're getting a zippy all-round laptop for your money. 

Storage is another important factor, so we test the SSD for both sequential throughput and random access performance. Granted, audio isn't as demanding as video when it comes to bandwidth, but multiple high quality audio channels can still create a significant load.

Screen quality counts, too. We assess brightness, resolution, form factor, and contrast, and also consider a screen's overall suitability for music applications.

Beyond music production-specific considerations, we test for broader attributes that apply to every laptop, like portability, battery life, ergonomics, keyboard and mouse quality and build quality.

Matt Hanson

Matt has been a technology journalist for over 15 years, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a managing editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.

With contributions from