Computers, Technology

Noisemakers: The 5 Best Laptops For Music

Once upon a time, any computer that could install Winamp was good enough to bring in the noise and the funk. Today, choosing the right laptop for music is as confusing as Ke$ha’s whole career.

The issue with digital music is it takes up a lot of memory. The higher the quality of the music, the more storage space it needs, and the more power it requires for playing and editing.

When buying a computer to cope with these cumbersome audio files, you need a set of specifications that lean heavily on hard drive size and processing power. What you can mostly ignore is graphics, since stunning visuals are less important than making sweet sound.

We’ve broken down the specs and dug out the five best laptops for music.

Macbook Pro

forum.lowyat.net

Pros:

  • Reliable
  • Strong customer service
  • Recommended by professional DJ’s

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to customize

Verdict: The Macbook Pro is the premium laptop choice simply because it’s more reliable than PC’s. It’s ideal for both music production and recording, the best laptop for ableton, and works perfectly for djing since it’s less likely to crash.

The Macbook is a lot of computer, toting around quad-core or hex-core processors backing boatloads of RAM. All that power comes at a high price, literally, and there’s a certain stigma to any Apple product.

Though the sticker price is daunting, the Macbook Pro does everything a full-time mobile DJ could want and more. It has a stunning 32 gigs of RAM, and the very base unit has a quad-core processor.

Turbo boost the Pro, and it can run at 4.8 GHz with a 3.2 gig a second transfer speed from the hard drive. Even without that bump, it kicks 2.3 GHz out of it’s Intel i5 processor, which is more than enough juice to get the party moving.

The Pro comes in either 13 or 15-inch models, based on your preference. Either one comes with the full retina display – still the most gorgeous laptop monitor out there – and will pump out your jams quickly and effectively.

Despite being the best in the business, for straight music production, the Macbook is overkill. It’s meant for rendering graphics, compiling code, and writing programs.

If you require something with screaming speed that can game, or helps you start a special effects studio, the Macbook can do it all. But you’ll pay extra for the luxury and brand name, yet still need to add hard drive space. Purchase: $2,250

Hardware specifications for Macbook Pro
Processor 2.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
RAM 16GB DDR SDRAM
Storage 512GB SSD
Graphics Radeon Pro 560X graphics
Display 15 inch Retina LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Operating System Mac OS X – High Sierra
Battery Life 8-10 hours
Weight 4 pounds
Other features True Tone Technology, intelligent typing, butterfly keyboard mechanism

Acer Nitro 5

unbox.ph

Pro:

  • Inexpensive
  • Hybrid hard drive
  • Tough shell

Con:

  • Heavy

Verdict: Bigger and cheaper than the other choices, the Nitro 5 doesn’t lack for power under the hood. It also brings durability to the table, and doesn’t waste much space or power on graphics, giving you more for music.

Acer gets a rap as a budget laptop company, but the Nitro 5 isn’t a cheap imitation. It comes in hot with a gorgeous backlit keyboard that’s easy to see while playing the club, has miles of RAM, enough processor to do the job, and a beefy hard drive.

Speaking of the hard drive, it’s a hybrid with the larger size of an Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and the speedy access of a Solid State Drive (SDD). Using a hybrid drive like this avoids the need for added storage, or external drives that can be lost, stolen, or broken while making the scene. Purchase: $878

Hardware specifications for Acer Nitro 5
Processor 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7300HQ 2.5GHz
RAM 16GB DDR4
Storage 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Display 1920×1080 resolution
Operating System Windows 10
Battery Life 7 hours
Weight 5.95 pounds
Other features Alexa enabled, Multi-touch screen, tablet hybrid,

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

hungrygeeks.ph

Pro:

  • Large number of ports
  • SteelSeries keyboard
  • Easy to customize

Con:

  • Short battery life
  • Comes with manufacturer bloatware

Verdict: This is the PC of choice for anyone who’s looking for Mac-grade specifications and trustworthiness with more flexibility and personality. Though the processor isn’t as quick as a Macbook Pro out of the box, it’s primed for boosting and tweaking.

Light and downright beautiful to behold, the Stealth Thin checks all the major boxes of the best laptop for recording music, or merely playing it. The simple SSD lacks raw storage, but the three USB 3.0 ports, USB 2.0 port, thunderbolt 3 port, and SD card slot more than make up for it.

The soundcard on the Stealth has premium jacks for headphones and microphone, setting you up for stereo work without any extra equipment. Since this is an investment, a Kingston lock slot is also built in so that no sticky-fingered club goer can steal your gear. Purchase: $1,850

Hardware specifications for MSI GS65 Stealth Thin
Processor 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H 2.2 – 4.1GHz
RAM 16GB DDR4 2400MHz, 2 Sockets; Max Memory 32GB
Storage 256GB SSD NVMe (PCIE Gen3x4)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
Display 15.6″ FHD
Operating System Windows 10
Battery Life 5 hours
Weight 4.14
Other features Ultra thin bezel, SteelSeries customizable keyboard, VR ready, Thunderbolt 3 ready, LAN: Killer Gaming Network E2500, Wireless: Killer N1550 Combo (2*2 ac)

HP Spectre x360

arstechnica.net

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • 4K monitor

Cons:

  • Needs a protective case
  • Stylus requires batteries

Verdict: Much more than the specs alone say, the Spectre has more than a ghost of a chance of being our favorite laptop for streaming thanks to the wide FHD IR Camera and eye-popping display.

It’s easy to underestimate the x360, with it’s paltry 1.8 GHz processor speed and airy feel. Put it to the test, and it uses its 16GB of RAM like a maestro, and the quad-core processor hits all kinds of benchmarks for speed.

Though the 4K screen isn’t necessary for recording or playing music, it’s shocking how much easier long hours of music editing and track splicing are on a nice monitor. It does more than look pretty, it reduces eye strain. Purchase: $1,400

Base Hardware specifications for HP Spectre x360
Processor 8th Generation 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7 – Turbo Boosts to 4 GHz
RAM 16 GB SDRAM
Storage 512 GB SSD
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Display 3840 x 2160 resolution
Operating System Windows 10
Battery Life 7 hours
Weight 2.8 pounds
Other features FHD IR Camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 Combo, Bang & Olufsen dual speakers

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition

usatoday.com

Pros:

  • 3K touchscreen
  • 8 second boot
  • 2nd Gen Dolby ATMOS

Cons:

  • Limited ports
  • Very light

Verdict: Though the aesthetic is nice, it’s the quick operation, high power, and satisfying feel of the MateBook that makes it stand out. That Dolby ATMOS and quad on-board speakers don’t hurt, either.

Though the display is only 13.9″, the 3K output helps make it feel bigger, which is an advantage to traveling DJ’s. The fact the Matebook tips the scales at under three pounds is also nice for musicians on the move.

By making the power button double as an identity verification system, the MateBook allows for faster powering on while simultaneously preventing theft. Being able to protect your stored music and access it faster are both huge bonuses.

Where the MateBook falls short is both in durability, as it’s very thin, and the company name itself. Huawei is a Chinese corporation that has already been accused of privacy violations, which means you should be careful with their otherwise excellent merchandise. Purchase: $1,500

Base Hardware specifications for Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition
Processor 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM 16 GB LPDDR3
Storage 512 GB SSD
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX150
Display 3000 x 2000 resolution
Operating System Windows 10
Battery Life 8-10 Hours
Weight 2.93 pounds
Other features 3K, quad speakers, quad microphone, 0.57-inch thickness

How to Choose the Best Laptop for Music

It’s easy to waste a lot of money if you go after the wrong computer. When selecting the best laptop for music playing and production, focus on CPU, RAM, and hard drive.

CPU

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the first thing to consider in a music laptop. Since the CPU handles all the actual operation of the computer, it also handles playing music.

Why CPU is Important

The CPU – AKA processor – is the part of the computer that carries out jobs. The more power it has, the more jobs it can do.

Since playing music is an intensive process for a computer, carrying it out takes power. That power comes from the CPU.

If you have deeper, layered, more complex music, as you would with an orchestra or EDM, it requires even more power. Thus needing a stronger CPU.

Anyone using audio software, such as Serum by Xfer, Live 10 from Ableton, Traktor, Virtual DJ, Serato, or one of the other options will need even more push in their rig, since those can suck up as much as 90% of your CPU when they run.

What CPU is Right

In our tests, we found Intel processors performed best when playing or manipulating music. Intel’s Xeon, i5, i7, and i9 processors were generally best for music production.

If you’re hoping to avoid Intel, the AMD Ryzen line of processors – namely the 5 and 7 – were also up to the task. While not generally as good as Intel, using an AMD could save you significant money and the difference in power is negligible.

That covers make and model of the processor, but you’ll also want to keep an eye on the CPU speed and the number of cores.

Multiple cores and higher GHz speeds are both better for processing. An octo-core is going to be better than a quad-core, a 4.0 GHz is going to be better than a 2.0, and on up the scale.

Though cores and speed are nice, and add to efficiency, they’re not the entire story. Really, if you’re using anything with four cores (quad-core) or more, and a speed of 2.5 GHz, it’s going to be good enough to run most audio software smoothly.

Ideally, a quad-core processor with a speed of more than 3.5 GHz is what you want. A laptop with that basic layout can run most any high-end software without even breathing heavy.

RAM

RAM, or Random Access Memory, is the second specification to consider when you’re going to be making beautiful noise with your laptop.

What RAM does is hold the code for a piece of software so it knows how to run. The more RAM you have, the better your computer can multi-task, and use multiple audio programs.

In the case of RAM, go big. You’re never going to regret having more, so start with at least 8GB and always be on the lookout for inexpensive additions.

Also, when buying a laptop for music, choose one that can be upgraded later. You’ll save money on the initial purchase, and still be able to turn it into a serious noisemaker down the road.

Hard Drive

As with RAM, a hard drive works better when it’s bigger. The more storage space you have on your hard drive, the more music you can keep on it.

Our suggestion is to start with 500+ GB. If you’re a prolific musician, or want to put your whole discography onto your laptop, then a terabyte or two for your hard drive isn’t a waste.

Besides sheer gigs of storage, you’re also going to want to aim at a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a hard disk drive (HDD). The reason being, SSD’s are faster, less likely to fail, harder to break, and provide more secure storage than a standard HDD.

The only reason to opt for an HDD over an SSD is to save money.

Why The Macbook Pro Tops The Charts

It’s easy to accuse us of being Apple or Mac enthusiasts to crown the Macbook Pro as the best in the business. But such is not the case.

When it comes mobile music production, Macbook Pros have the advantage of coming from a single manufacturer. That enforces their reliability, which makes the more valuable to mobile DJ’s at any level.

Apple also specs out their computers hard, and charge more for their products to employ knowledgeable support staff to assist customers. All of that adds to the utility behind the solid RAM, CPU, and hard drive capabilities that come with the Macbook Pro lineup.

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