The best music production laptops you can buy in 2022

The best music production laptops you can buy in 2022

Buying a new laptop that caters to your specific needs can often be challenging. We have a running list of the best laptops you can buy right now, but there’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. Music production, like other kinds of content creation, has some requirements if you want to do it efficiently. We’ve already rounded up the best creator laptops if you’re into other kinds of content, but for this list, we’ve rounded up the best laptops for music production.

Now, while some kinds of content can demand a lot of power, music production is relatively less resource-heavy compared to video editing or even streaming. You’re still going to want a powerful CPU, a decent amount of RAM, and a relatively large display, though. Like many content creation tools, music production software tends to have complex UI elements, so a large screen is important so you can keep everything in view with less scrolling.

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Without further ado, these are the best laptops you can buy for music production right now.

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Best overall: Dell XPS 15 (9510)

Angled view of Dell XPS 15

Dell’s XPS lineup is one of the most popular families of Windows laptops, particularly for content creators. And with the Dell XPS 15, there’s no doubt you’re getting one of the best laptops not just for music production, but all kinds of content creation.

Performance-wise, the Dell XPS 15 has pretty much everything you could ask for. It’s packing up to an Intel Core i9-11980HK CPU, which has 8 cores, 16 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz. It’s one of the fastest laptop processors you can find right now, and if you’re interested in music production, it’s going to handle it gracefully. You can also get this laptop with a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU, and while you probably won’t need it for music, it might come in handy if you ever want to get into other more graphically intensive workloads. Beyond this, the Dell XPS 15 comes with up to a massive 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage. We’d recommend at least 16GB of RAM these days, but having more is going to make your experience better, especially with more complex projects.

The display is another highlight of the XPS 15. It’s a 15.6-inch panel, and it comes in the 16:10 aspect ratio, which is great for music production. Not only is it a large screen, but that taller aspect ratio gives you that much more space to look at your tracks and editing tools with less scrolling. The base configuration is a Full HD (1920 x 1080) panel, but you can make the most of this display if you upgrade to the 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED panel or the Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS option. Those extra pixels can make the screen feel even bigger, plus they support touch, so it’s a worthy upgrade if you can afford it.

Now that remote work is so much more common, the fact that the Dell XPS 15 still has a tiny 720p webcam is a bit of a problem. Yes, it’s not really necessary for music, but if you want to take calls, meetings, or even stream your creative process, this webcam just won’t look very good. The camera does support Windows Hello facial recognition, though, which is very welcome. And on that note, there’s a fingerprint sensor here, too.

On the design front, the Dell XPS 15 is impressive for how compact it is. Despite its powerful specs, it’s a very compact laptop overall, and it’s just 18mm thick. It’s not very light, though, starting at 3.99lbs. And if you care about looks, the Dell XPS 15 is great. It comes in two options – one combines a platinum silver exterior with a black carbon fiber interior; the other uses a lighter “frost” silver exterior with an arctic white interior made from woven fiber glass composite. Both are very unique, though I’d personally choose the white variant.

One potential big downside of the Dell XPS 15 is its port setup. Like other XPS laptops, it’s a bit limited: You get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one standard USB Type-C port, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. Dell does include a USB Type-C to Type-A and HDMI adapter in the box, so you have options, but it’s not as convenient as having those ports built-in.

If you want a great Windows laptop for music production, the Dell XPS 15 is one of your best options. You can buy it below, but if you want a more specific configuration, you may want to check out Dell’s website.

    The Dell XPS 15 is a powerful and compact laptop with a large display that's great for music production.

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Great alternative: MacBook Pro 16-inch (M1 Pro/Max)

Apple's 2021 MacBook Pro 16-inch with M1 Max.

Macs are extremely popular for music production, and it’s in great part thanks to the popular Logic Pro software, which is exclusive to macOS. As such, we couldn’t go without mentioning the MacBook Pro, which is one of the best laptops you can get for music production and content creation in general.

The latest iteration of the 16-inch MacBook Pro is packing Apple’s new M1 Pro or M1 Max processors based on Arm technology. These integrated chipsets have the same CPU with 10 cores – eight for high performance and 2 for efficiency. These are very fast processors, but they’re also incredibly efficient, and so if you want to get work done on the go, the MacBook Pro gives you a mix of performance and battery life that was unheard of until now. It’s fantastic. The M1 Max has a more powerful GPU with up to 32 cores, but that’s not something you’ll need if you just want to make music. What you might want, though, is the extra RAM: The M1 Max comes with up to 64GB of unified memory, while the M1 Pro maxes out at 32GB. You’re getting an amazing experience either way, but if you have very complex projects, you might want as much memory as possible. Aside from that, you can also configure the MacBook Pro with up to 8TB of fast SSD storage, so you’ll have plenty of space and speed for your projects.

The display on the MacBook Pro 16-inch is also phenomenal. This is a 16.2-inch panel, and it comes in a super sharp 3456 x 2234 resolution, so it looks crisp regardless of any configuration options. This also makes for an aspect ratio that’s slightly taller than 16:10, so once again you get the benefits of that taller screen making from for more tracks or UI elements in your music production software. Beyond all of that, this is just a beautiful mini-LED panel, packing thousands of dimming zones to offer true blacks and high contrast ratios, somewhat similar to an OLED panel. It’s also got a refresh rate up to 120Hz.

Something you might have noticed is that the display has a notch, and that’s because Apple shrunk the bezels and also implemented a new and improved webcam, now featuring 1080p resolution and AI enhancements. That means you should look pretty good during video calls and meetings, should you ever need to make them. Oddly enough, despite the big notch, there’s no Face ID support, so you still have to use Touch ID.

The design of the MacBook Pro is honestly fairly standard if you’ve seen one of the previous models, and it still comes in the classic silver and space grey color options. One thing that’s changed is that the Touch Bar is gone and you get physical function keys again. At 16.8mm, it’s a relatively thin laptop, but it’s not very light, starting at 4.7lbs.

Finally, for the ports, the latest MacBook Pro finally brought back ports fans have been wanting for a while. In addition to three Thunderbolt 4 ports, you now get HDMI, MagSafe charging, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack with support for high-impedance headphones. It’s a solid setup, and while it lacks USB Type-A, it’s fair to say you’re probably used to that if you’ve used a MacBook recently.

You can buy the MacBook Pro below or check out more configuration options at Adorama.

    The latest MacBook Pro offers a combination of performance and efficiency you can't find anywhere else, plus it has a fantastic display.

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Best convertible for music production: Surface Laptop Studio

Front view of Surface Laptop Studio

Convertible laptops offer a degree of versatility that many users (myself included) appreciate, and if that’s what you’re looking for, the Surface Laptop Studio is a fantastic choice. In addition to being a great fit for music production, this is one of the best convertible laptops out there, so it’s an easy recommendation.

Starting with performance, the Surface Laptop Studio is packing Intel’s H35 series processors up to a Core i7-11370H, which packs four cores, eight threads, and boost speeds up to 4.8GHz. It’s not quite as powerful as 45W processors, but it still gets the job done well if you’re interested in making music. Beyond that, it does have NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics, so you can lean more into graphical workloads if you want to. Aside from this, you get up to 32GB of RAM – a solid setup already – and up to 2TB of storage, which is still plenty of space for music projects and files.

The display on the Surface Laptop Studio is also great. It’s a 14.4-inch panel, so it’s slightly smaller than others we’ve looked at, but it’s still very sharp with its 2400 x 1600 resolution. That also adds up to a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is even taller than 16:10, so the benefits we’ve mentioned for taller screens apply even more so here. This is also a convertible, but it’s not like most other convertibles. You can pull the screen closer to you or lay it flat over the keyboard base so you can use it as a tablet. Aside from that, the screen also supports Dolby Vision and it’s also a rare instance of a non-gaming laptop having a high refresh rate (120Hz, specifically).

Above that display, we’re looking at one of the better webcams you can find on a laptop. It’s a 1080p webcam, and while other Surface devices have even better cameras, this should still allow you to look great during video calls and meetings, should you need to take them. Plus, Windows Hello facial recognition support is included.

Design-wise, the Surface Laptop Studio still feels very much like a Surface. It’s got the classic Platinum color and clean look all around. Of course, it has its unique convertible form factor, and one interesting thing about its design is that the base has a cutout all around. This is to give you a place to store the Surface Slim Pen 2.

As for ports, much like other Surface devices, this is the downfall of the Laptop Studio. It’s one of the first Surface PCs to support Thunderbolt 4, which is great, but all you get are two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a Surface Connect port for charging. There’s no USB Type-A or a traditional display output, which is a problem if you want to connect an external display or other peripherals without a dock or dongle.

    The Surface Laptop Studio is a unique convertible laptop with solid specs and a great display, making it a great option for music production.

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Best dual-screen laptop for music production: ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED

ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582

We’ve talked about the benefits of having a taller screen, but what if you had a whole other screen to display more information at once? The ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED does exactly that, and with a second screen giving you access to quick shortcuts, it can make content creation that much better.

Let’s start with performance, though, because the Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED delivers. The model we’re recommending is packing an Intel Core i7-10870H, a 45W processor with 8 cores, 16 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz. It’s not the newest processor around anymore, but this is far from a slow CPU and it will handle music production and other kinds of content creation just fine. It also includes an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, so if you want to get into more intense workloads, this laptop is ready for that, too. On top of that, this model includes 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD for storage, which still gives you a solid set of specs for music production.

Focusing on those displays, we first have the main 15.6-inch display, which comes in the more typical 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s not as tall as other screens we’ve looked at, but it’s still a super-sharp 4K (2840 x 2160) panel, so it can show a lot of information on the screen already. Plus, it’s a stunning OLED panel, so everything will look great on this screen.

Complementing that display is a secondary 14-inch (diagonal) display, which has the same width, but half the height of the main screen. This can be used to display all kinds of things, and in media editing apps, you can place certain controls or views on the bottom screen so you can see that much more at once. The bottom screen also supports touch, so you can use it for quick granular controls, too. This is a fantastic and innovative setup for content creation, and it can truly change your workflow if you want it to.

It’s not all perfect, though, and for everything it does right, this laptop still uses a standard 720p webcam, so it won’t be the best if you want to make video calls and meetings on it. Thankfully, it does support Windows Hello, so at least you get that added convenience when unlocking your PC.

In terms of design, of course, the Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED stands out quite a bit. The second display on the keyboard base forces the keyboard itself to be pushed down to the bottom half of the laptop, and because of that, the touchpad is now on the side. It’s an odd setup, but you can get used to it, and the touchpad doubles as a number pad, too. Of course, when you’re dealing with a dual-screen laptop with powerful specs, it’s hard to keep it compact, so it’s a bit thick at 21.5mm. Plus, it weighs 5.16lbs, so it’s not the easiest laptop to carry around, but it’s understandable why.

Finally, in terms of ports, we get a solid setup overall here. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB Type-A port, HDMI, and a headphone jack. That covers most basic needs you might have, though some might have appreciated an SD card reader of some kind.

We’re recommending this model because you can buy it straight from Amazon, but there is a newer version with 11th-generation Intel processors and higher-end specs out there. However, it’s only available from third parties at this time, so it may be a risk. You can check that model out here.

    The ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED has a unique dual-screen setup that makes productivity better than ever, plus it has the specs to back it up.

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Best 17-inch laptop for music production: Dell XPS 17

Dell XPS 17 on white counter

If you want a larger screen so you can fit as much content as possible, the Dell XPS 17 is almost unmatched when it comes to content creation. Take everything that makes the XPS 15 one of the best laptops for music production and kick it up a notch, and you have the XPS 17.

Starting with the CPU, the Dell XPS 17 is quite similar to its 15-inch sibling. It comes with up to an Intel Core i-11980HK processor with 8 cores, 16 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz. Because it’s bigger, though, it might benefit from additional airflow and improved cooling. While it’s not exactly necessary for music, the XPS 17 is also more powerful on the graphics side, packing up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 with 70W of power, a big step up from the smaller model. Otherwise, it can still come with up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage just like the XPS 15, so you get the same outstanding performance and tons of space for files.

The display is just as great on the XPS 15, just now bigger, and in turn, better for music production since there can be a lot of elements on the screen. It’s a 17-inch panel in the 16:10 aspect ratio, and just like the smaller model, the base configuration comes in Full HD+ (1920 x 1200). There’s no OLED version of hr XPS 17, but you can still upgrade to the Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS panel, which is definitely recommended so you get the sharpest image and a higher pixel density so more UI elements fit on the screen.

Unfortunately, the laptop also has the same downsides as the XPS 15, including the poor 720p webcam. All the same problems apply: The resolution is low, and the sensor is too small to capture a decent amount of light. Again, you do at least get Windows Hello facial recognition, plus a fingerprint reader if you prefer that method.

The Dell XPS 17 also follows the same design language as the rest of the XPS lineup, but it’s not available in an Arctic White model. As such, you’re stuck with the platinum silver/black carbon fiber look. It’s still a compact laptop, though, smaller than even some 15-inch models, and it measures just over 19mm thick. At 4.87lbs of weight, it’s not light, but it could also be far worse for a 17-inch laptop.

Another downside that comes with most XPS laptops is the port setup, and that also holds up here. Being a larger laptop, the XPS 17 does come with four Thunderbolt 4 ports, so you have plenty of options if Thunderbolt is already part of your life. But aside from that, you only get a headphone jack and an SD card slot built-in. Again, there’s a USB Type-C to Type-A and HDMI adapter in the box if you need it, but it might not be ideal for everyone.

You can buy the Dell XPS 17 below, or check out more configurations on Dell’s website.

    The Dell XPS 17 takes the compact design and powerful specs of its smaller sibling and kciks it up a notch to make for an even better experience if you want a large screen

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Best for gamers: Razer Blade 15 (2022)

Razer Blade 15

Work and play don’t have to be completely separate, and if you want a laptop you can also use for gaming, the latest Razer Blade 15 is the one to go for. It’s one of the most powerful laptops you can buy for both gaming and music production right now, particularly because it’s shipping with Intel’s latest 12th-generation Alder Lake processors.

That’s right, the Razer Blade 15 is now available with up to an Intel Core i9-12900H, which is a new processor with a hybrid architecture featuring 14 cores (6P + 8E), 20 threads, and boost speeds up to 5GHz. Early benchmarks suggest a noticeable performance increase over the previous models, so if you want the absolute best, this is it right now. On the gaming side, the Razer Blade 15 comes with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics, which is also brand-new hardware and a significant upgrade over the standard RTX 3080. Otherwise, it comes with up to 32GB of RAM (upgradeable to 64GB) and a 1TB SSD (plus a free M.2 slot for upgrades).

For the display, the Razer Blade 15 is using a 15.6-inch panel that comes in the more typical 16:9 aspect ratio. The wider aspect ratio is a little less ideal for music production but it makes total sense for gaming. It comes in a few configurations, too: Full HD (1920 x 1080) with a 360Hz refresh rate, for the more dedicated esports gamers; Quad HD (2560 x 1440) at 240Hz, striking the middle ground between smooth gameplay and crisp visuals, or Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) at 144Hz, the ideal display if music production and content creation is your biggest focus.

The Razer Blade 15 also has the benefit of featuring a Full HD 1080p webcam, something you don’t see often in gaming laptops. If you want to make video calls or stream your games, this is a solid webcam to do it without having to buy an external camera.

Razer kept with its traditional design language for this model, so it’s everything you’d expect. An all-black chassis with a green Razer logo on the lid and per-key RGB backlighting make this a gaming laptop that’s not overly flashy. The RGB light in the keyboard only shines through the labels, so it’s not at all obnoxious like some other laptops can be. Despite its powerful specs, it’s under 17mm thick, and its starting weight of 4.4lbs isn’t overly heavy, either.

And for ports, there’s not much reason to complain at all. The Razer Blade 15 is packing a very well-rounded setup, with one Thunderbolt 4 port, one regular USB Type-C port, three USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a headphone jack, and a full-size SD card reader. There isn’t much more you can ask for here, and it really covers just about any need you might have.

The Razer Blade 15 (2022) is available to order, but it’ll only begin shipping on February 22nd. Still, it’s not too early to get your order in.

    The new Razer Blade 15 is packing Intel's Alder Lake hybrid processors and the latest NVIDIA RTX graphics, making it one of the most powerful laptops around.

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Lightweight Mac: MacBook Air

macos 12 monterey on macbook air m1

As we’ve already pointed out, MacBooks are some of the best laptops for music production thanks to the exclusive Logic Pro software. So while the latest MacBook Pro is an incredibly powerful machine that’s prime for content creation, we’d be remiss not to include a lighter option in the form of the MacBook Air. This is still a great MacBook, but it’s much easier to take with you anywhere.

The latest MacBook Air is powered by the Apple M1, which isn’t quite as powerful as the M1 Pro or Max. It has an eight-core CPU, with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, but overall, it’s still a pretty fast laptop, and you can certainly use it for music production if you’re not planning to work on huge complex projects. You can also configure the MacBook Air with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage, so while it’s not the beastly machine that the 16-inch MacBook Pro is, it’s far from lackluster in terms of performance. And because it’s still based on Arm technology, battery life is fantastic and better than comparable laptops with Intel processors.

The display is also very good here. It’s a 13.3-inch panel, so it’s a bit small, but it still comes in that fancy 16:10 aspect ratio that’s great for content creation apps, including Logic Pro. It’s also a very sharp Retina display, featuring Quad HD+ (2560 x 1600) resolution, so it’s more than good enough to display a lot of information at once, even at this small size.

Apple is still using a 720p webcam in the MacBook Air, but the M1 processor dos include some AI features that make this a solid camera considering its resolution. As usual, there’s no Face ID here, but you do get Touch ID support if you want an easy way to unlock your laptop.

The latest MacBook Air doesn’t change much in terms of the design compared to the previous models. It’s a sleek-looking laptop, measuring 16.1mm at its thickest point and weighing 2.8lbs so it’s easy to slip into a bag and carry anywhere. It comes in either silver, space grey, or rose gold, so at least you have one extra option compared to the MacBook Pro, which is appreciated.

The story is similar for the ports, as it’s just like previous models. You get two USB4/Thunderbolt 3 ports with 40Gbps of bandwidth, plus a headphone jack, and that’s it. You only get one display output this way, but you can use a Thunderbolt dock to connect peripherals. Still, it’s a limited port setup, there’s no denying that.

Regardless, if you want something lightweight and capable, the MacBook Air is still a great choice for music production and general day-to-day use. You can buy it below or check it out at Adorama if you want a higher-end configuration.

    The MacBook Air with the Apple M1 processor is both lightweight and capable, plus it has a great display for productivity.

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Best for portability: Surface Pro 8

Angled view of Surface Pro 8

If portability truly is your biggest concern, then the Surface Pro 8 is likely the best “laptop” you can find if you’re getting into music production. It’s a tablet, so it makes sense that it would be the most portable device on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a capable PC.

First off, the Surface Pro 8 is powered by up to an Intel Core i7-1185G7, which is a 15W processor with four cores, eight threads, and boost speeds up to 4.8GHz. This puts it more in the ballpark of the MacBook Air in terms of performance, which isn’t a bad thing, though it’s obviously not as powerful as the bigger laptops on this list. Still, it should handle some less demanding musical works without much of a problem. You can configure the Surface Pro 8 with up to 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, so you’re not missing much on those fronts, and you’re bound to have a great experience.

As for the display, the Surface Pro 8 has one of the sharpest and best you can find. It’s a 13-inch panel, and it comes in the 3:2 aspect ratio, just like other Surface PCs. That means you still get that tall screen, even with the relatively small size, so it still has s solid amount of space for your music production workspace. Plus, it’s super sharp with a resolution of 2880 x 1920, so it’s even better. Of course, it’s a tablet, so it supports touch and pen input, and as a bonus, the Surface Pro 8 also supports Dolby Vision and it’s one of the few non-gaming Windows PCs with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Surface Pro 8 also has one of the very best webcams you’ll find on a PC. The front-facing camera is a 5MP sensor and it can record 1080p video, plus it has Windows Hello facial recognition built-in. There’s even a second camera on the back, though, that one being a 10MP sensor with 4K video recording. It’s not needed for music production, but it’s nice to have these features available, even for your personal life.

One of the unique aspects of the Surface Pro 8 is that it’s a tablet, and that means the keyboard cover can be removed if you don’t need it. The Surface Pro 8 weighs just 1.96lbs and it’s 9.3mm thin, making it by far the lightest device on this list. Even if you add the keyboard cover and the Surface Slim Pen 2, it’s easily the most portable laptop here, and it’s still a very capable one. It comes in platinum or graphite color options, but the keyboard can also be had in red or ice blue, so you get more customization options that way.

Just like the Surface Laptop Studio, the Pro 8 has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Surface Connect port for charging, and a headphone jack. A limited port setup is more understandable considering how thin and light this device is, but it’s still likely to cause some problems if you have any wired peripherals you plan on using with it. A Thunderbolt dock will probably help with this.

    The Surface Pro 8 is a thin and light Windows tablet that you can also use like a full-blown Windows PC, and it's got the specs to handle music production just fine.

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And those are what we’d consider the best laptops you can get right now for music production. There’s something for everyone here, from the most powerful machines to some thin and light options, with other great options in between. The Dell XPS 15 takes the top spot for us because of its large and tall display with fantastic configuration options, very powerful CPU, and a relatively compact design that makes it reasonably portable. However, the MacBook Pro 16-inch is also a phenomenal music production laptop and with the Logic Pro software and Metal engine, it’s just as good if not better in many ways.

All the other options here are great, though, so look at them all closely before making your choice. And if music production isn’t what you’re after, maybe you’ll want to check out our list of the best laptops for video editing.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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