Top spot for the best laptop for music production has long been dominated by the Apple Macbook Pro. As the only platform for Logic Pro X, the Macbook is ubiquitous within all walks of music production, be that in the DJ booth, on the road and from home studios to pro setups.
PC users have usually been confined to the humble old desktop format, but the times they are a-changin’ and have. With the rise of the ultrabook and gaming laptops, Apple’s stranglehold on the world of music production, mobile, or otherwise, is at an end. The Cupertino-based firm is now trading punches with Microsoft, Dell, Samsung, MSI, Asus, Acer, Lenovo and even Huawei.
When shopping for your next big-budget music production laptop, you’ll need to be focussing much of your attention on power. Although, the basic specification requirements for most DAWs is a multi-core processor, around 3GB of RAM and a few gigabytes of storage, many producers and DJs will also be running photo and video editing software too. Therefore a machine capable of handling the latest software.
Another feature high on a DJ’s, or travelling musician’s list is weight - the lighter the better. Combined with that that other must-have; good battery capacity and we quickly see the price for a good all-round laptop reach premium levels.
So in this roundup we will be concentrating our search on the best laptops that are available in the world today, so you can be sure that your future-proofing yourself for the longest time possible.
We won’t be focussing on various legacy ins and outs, such as the number of USB sockets, or lack of. With vast swathes of USB hub and docking options available, your hunger for I/O can be sated in such dongles and peripherals.
1. Apple Macbook Pro
The best Macbook Pro ever, improved for 2018
CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, (2,560 x 1,600) IPS | Storage: 128GB – 2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
If you're after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, we suggest you look into the 2018 model of the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. While Microsoft had the performance edge over last year's MacBook Pro, with the Surface Book 2, Apple has come out swinging with some seriously beefed up specs for the 13-inch MacBook Pro 2018, and even more so if you go for the larger 15-inch model. The headline Touch Bar – a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard can be used for any number of things, most notably the features within Logic Pro X 10.3. It's certainly retained Apple's sense of style, but it comes at a cost. This is a pricey machine, so you may want to consider one of the Windows alternatives. If you're open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 or the excellent MateBook X Pro. But, if you're a steadfast Apple diehard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!
Read more: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar 13-inch (2018)
2. Huawei MateBook X Pro
Quite possibly the best laptop in the world
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 , Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 3K (3,000 x 2,080) | Storage: 512GB SSD
The Huawei MateBook X Pro is our pick for the best laptop money can buy in 2018. After years of this list being dominated by the (still excellent) Dell XPS 13, the MateBook X Pro has proved to be a truly brilliant challenger. This is a gorgeously-designed laptop with a stunning screen (albeit with a rather odd aspect ratio), and it comes packed with cutting edge components that allows it to perform brilliantly, and a battery life that runs rings around many of its rivals. It also has a very competitive price, giving you features, design and performance for quite a bit less money. Sadly, it's not available in many countries, so if you struggle to grab hold of it, look into getting the Dell XPS 13 (below).
Read more: Huawei MateBook X Pro
3. Dell XPS 13
Still one of the best laptops ever made
CPU: 8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4k (3840 x 2160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Even though the Dell XPS 13 has been knocked into second place by the sublime MateBook Pro X, it’s still an absolutely brilliant laptop. There’s a good reason why it was at the top of our best laptops list for three years running. The 2018 Dell XPS 13 is a slimmer, more powerful version of the award-winning laptop with a stunning 4K display and a gorgeous Rose Gold on Alpine White colour option. The Dell XPS 13 rocks an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, this Dell XPS 13 continues to be the most popular Windows laptop in the world. What’s more, there’s a wide range of customisation options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs.
Read more: Dell XPS 13
4. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
The most powerful 2-in-1 laptop in the world
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U - Intel Core i7-8650U 1.9GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
With the Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops in the world. The Surface Book 2 has some powerful enough components to handle most day-to-day tasks, and even some light gaming and video editing if you go for a model with a dedicated graphics card. Brilliant build quality and excellent battery life makes this a wonderful device for using as either a laptop, or as a powerful Windows 10 tablet. It also comes in a 15-inch version, which is more powerful and with a larger screen. If you're after a more affordable 2-in-1 device, then the Acer Switch 3, below, is well worth checking out.
Read more: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
5. MSI GS65 Stealth
The best gaming laptop of 2018
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5X VRAM, Max-Q) | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) anti-glare, wide-view 144Hz panel | Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD
The new MSI GS65 Stealth has knocked another noteworthy gaming laptop off this list, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, thanks to its excellent array of cutting edge components, which includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It's also more reasonably priced than the Zephyrus GX501, and its subtle design means that it can double as a work or study laptop without raising any eyebrows. If you're looking for a more affordable gaming laptop, however, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is a good shout.
Read more: MSI GS65 Stealth
6. Acer Predator Helios 300
A budget gaming laptop with brilliant performance
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa core 2.2GHz) | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 + Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 15.6-inch, Full HD
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is a fantastic affordable gaming laptop that proves that even if you don't have the kind of money to buy the MSI GS65 Stealth that also features on this best laptops list, you don't have to sacrifice too much when it comes to power. The Acer Predator Helios 300 packs some excellent components, such as a new 8th generation 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card and 16GB of RAM. While it's still an expensive proposition compared to regular laptops, for a gaming notebook you are getting a heck of a lot of power for the price.
Read more: Acer Predator Helios 300
7. Samsung Notebook 9
A beautiful MacBook Pro alternative
CPU: Intel i7-8550U | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 8GB-16GB | Screen: 15-inch 1,920 x 1,080 LED | Storage: 256-512GB SSD
While it may not have the best keyboard in the world, the Samsung Notebook 9 is still one of the best laptops you can buy in 2018. Packed with more horsepower than the MacBook Pro, but at a much lower price, Samsung has crafted a laptop that has just as much substance as it does style. Plus, on top of its killer specs, it’s lightweight and thin, making this one of the most portable 15-inch laptops you can buy today.
Read more: Samsung Notebook 9
8. Apple MacBook 12-inch (2017)
Last year's MacBook is another winner
CPU: Intel Core M3 1.2GHz - Intel Core i7 1.4GHz | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | Screen: 12-inch, (2,304 x 1,440) IPS 16:10 | Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD
Last year's iteration of the MacBook is another win for Apple, and it's once again won us over with a gorgeous design, excellent performance and best-in-class battery life. Apple has updated the processors with Intel's 7th-generation Kaby Lake range, which means you get improved performance and longer battery life without sacrificing the thin and light design that the MacBook is famous for. While the MacBook 2017 is not designed as a pure productivity machine, like the more powerful and versatile MacBook Pro above, or as a gaming machine like the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, it's still one of the best laptops in the world right now thanks to being a super slim and light MacBook that you can take anywhere without even noticing the weight, and being a powerful showcase for macOS High Sierra. If you're after a MacBook, this year's model is easily one of the best.
Read more: Apple MacBook
9. Lenovo Yoga 920
Another remarkable 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Intel Core i7-855OU | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch 1920 x 1080 - 13.9-inch 3840 x 2160 | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Some of the very best laptops over the past 12 months have been 2-in-1 devices, and Lenovo has added to that list with the excellent Lenovo Yoga 920. It features a wonderfully slim design, and its build quality is exceptional. The 360 degree hinge allows you to convert the laptop into a tablet-like device, making it flexible in all senses of the word. It's cheaper than the Surface Book 2, and while it doesn't offer quite the same quality when in tablet mode, it's an excellent device with plenty of power and bags of battery life. It's definitely a worthy alternative, and it's easily one of the best laptops we've seen this year.
Read more: Lenovo Yoga 920
10. Acer Swift 3
Best budget Ultrabook
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB DDR4 | Screen: 14-inch full HD (1920 x 1080) ComfyView IPS | Storage: 128GB – 256GB SSD
While you may have been convinced that ‘budget Ultrabook’ was an oxymoron up until this point, the Acer has turned this common misconception on its head with the Swift 3. That’s because the company has taken the all-aluminum chassis of the Acer Swift 7 and stuffed some more affordable components inside for everyone to enjoy. It doesn’t run macOS, but the Acer Swift 3 does put the age-old MacBook Air to shame in about every other regard, including the nigh-unbeatable price tag. Of course, in the process of demolishing the competition, Acer did have to cut a few corners in order to keep the price so impressively low. So although you can’t expect much in the way of an Ultra HD display or quality onboard sound, the performance benchmarks alone give even the Surface Laptop a run for its money.
Read more: Acer Swift 3