Apple has long been known for producing top-notch laptops for recording music. With its flagship MacBook Pro being the go-to choice for musicians using Logic Pro X, Apple has dominated the portable music-making scene. However, the landscape has evolved significantly in recent years, and PC users are no longer confined to desktop setups. Big players like Dell, Microsoft, Razer, and Lenovo have stepped up their game, challenging Apple’s supremacy and bringing their own musical expertise to the table.
Selecting a music laptop solely based on the minimum recommended specifications can lead to frustration and the need for an early upgrade. To future-proof your investment, you require a laptop that packs enough power to handle the latest software and accommodate growing file sizes. Additionally, it should have sufficient battery life to meet your needs as they evolve.
For DJs and musicians on the go, weight and portability become crucial factors. While high-end laptops with impressive specifications exist, they often come with a hefty weight that can quickly wear out your shoulders when you’re constantly on the move.
Therefore, the ideal music production laptop should strike a balance between power and lightweight design. It should also offer a reliable battery capacity to sustain you during situations when you’re away from a power source. So, without further ado, continue reading for the best laptop to record music.
Apple M1 MacBook Pro 14″
If you’ve had the opportunity to use previous models of Apple MacBook Pro, you’re likely familiar with its iconic industrial design, stunning Retina screens, and the seamless integration of hardware and software that make it a highly sought-after and incredibly capable music recording laptop. However, upon first glance at the 2022 Apple MacBook Pro 14″, you may initially feel a sense of underwhelm, and we certainly shared that sentiment. It lacks a flashy new design and a significantly upgraded screen. However, what truly sets it apart lies hidden within the machine’s chassis – a complete enhancement of its internal components.
Leveraging the power of the latest M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, the 14″ model now boasts an impressive level of processing power and cutting-edge performance, perfectly suited to meet the demands of even the most discerning creative professionals. It can be configured with mind-boggling specifications, including up to 64GB of RAM and a staggering 8TB of SSD storage. This laptop for music production stands unparalleled in its capabilities. Granted, it comes with a hefty price tag – maxing out the configuration on Apple’s website could set you back around £/$6,000 for the highest-end version. However, if you have the means, there is simply no other machine that can rival the capabilities of this laptop. For a detailed analysis of our testing results, please refer to the comprehensive review linked below.
Dell XPS 13 OLED (2021)
The Dell XPS lineup has established a strong reputation, thanks to its elegant design, stunning displays, and impressive specifications. These laptops are marketed as the perfect choice for creative individuals on the go who prefer not to be restricted within the Apple ecosystem, offering a Windows alternative that closely rivals the Apple MacBook Pro.
The XPS series delivers a comparable level of style, quality, and performance to the MacBook Pro, while operating on the Windows OS. Currently, unless you’re considering high-end gaming laptops, it’s hard to find a better overall package for the price.
The latest model boasts a powerful 12th-generation Intel Core i5-1230U processor and an exceptional InfinityEdge Anti-Glare display. While this might not be the standout feature that music producers seek, it becomes an excellent option for those who also use their laptop for activities like watching movies or simply admiring its beauty.
For those seeking a more substantial display, there is a beefier 15″ model available higher up in the range. However, for the majority of users, the XPS 13 offers a highly compelling package.
Apple MacBook Air M2
Apple’s latest offering, the M2 MacBook Air, marks an exciting new chapter in Apple’s lineup and promises to elevate your laptop music production to new heights. Weighing in at a mere 1.24kg, it is Apple’s lightest and thinnest machine, measuring just 11.3mm in depth. The addition of new color options adds to its appeal, and we couldn’t resist the allure of the light gold Starlight variant, although the Midnight option was tempting too.
Surprisingly, the sound quality produced by the Air’s four speakers, which also support Spatial Audio, surpasses expectations for a device of this compact size. While it may not be suitable for intricate mastering tasks, it is remarkably capable for mixing and provides a very satisfying listening experience. The battery life of the Air is commendable, although it falls slightly short of the impressive 20-hour mark offered by the new M2 13-inch MacBook Pro, with a quoted endurance of 18 hours. It’s worth noting that the MacBook Air comes equipped with only two Thunderbolt USB 4 ports, so if you require additional connections beyond a monitor and audio interface, some creative solutions may be necessary.
Critics have highlighted the absence of a fan as a disadvantage when comparing the MacBook Air to the latest MacBook Pro. However, as music producers, we believe that the absence of a fan is a significant advantage, particularly in terms of noise reduction. Does the new Air overheat? In our performance tests using benchmark projects from logicprohelp.com and music-prod.com, we observed an 8% performance improvement with the M2 Air chip compared to our M1 Mac Mini in both Logic and Ableton Live tests. During these intensive tasks, the Air did warm up, but not excessively.
Apple MacBook Pro M2 13”
Apple’s most recent addition to their lineup, the 13″ MacBook Pro, joins the Air M2 as the company’s latest laptop featuring the powerful M2 processor. In speed tests specifically geared towards musicians, it demonstrates impressive performance. However, it’s worth noting that while it does outperform the Air in certain tasks, the margin is not as wide as one might anticipate.
The latest MacBook Pro M2 still retains some elements from previous designs, with the infamous Touch Bar being a prime example. Although this feature has been omitted from the latest 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros, it lingers on with the 13″ model. The Touch Bar has always been a subject of debate, with opinions divided on its usefulness. Personally, we believe it introduced solutions to problems we weren’t even aware of, so we are pleased to see its absence on the Air M2 and 14″ Pro, which currently rank as our preferred Apple laptops for music production.
Apple MacBook Air M1
In the past, if you were a serious music producer, anything below Apple’s MacBook Pro line simply couldn’t handle the demanding processor and RAM requirements of audio production. However, with the introduction of the M1 chip in the 2021 Apple MacBook Air, we were convinced that this argument could be largely put to rest, especially for the majority of home producers. Coupled with the inherent advantages of the Air – its slim form factor and lightweight design – it becomes a formidable production machine, particularly suited for those who need to work while on the go.
If we were to nitpick, it could be slightly disappointing that there hasn’t been a significant design revolution; the Air range retains its familiar appearance. Additionally, having a few more USB ports would always be appreciated. However, choosing Apple’s more affordable model no longer means compromising on production performance as it may have in the past.
Which of the Good Laptops Do You Prefer?
In the end, the choice of the best laptop for recording music depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you opt for the power and capabilities of Apple’s MacBook Pro, the versatility of the Dell XPS, or the balance of performance and affordability offered by the MacBook Air, there are options available to suit every musician’s requirements. Embrace the evolving landscape and find the perfect laptop to take your music production to new heights.