If you are looking to replace your existing music production laptop for a new one, or planning to go for a brand new system, then you will need to consider a few hardware options.
Generally, you will have a good experience with any mainstream laptop. However, if you are serious about producing music, then you will need hardware that works great with newer production software. You will need to consider certain specifications, if your main purpose is to produce music with your laptop.
Mac or Windows
This is the most important decision for you. Both Windows and OS X are good operating systems. Many professional prefer MacBooks because their built quality is excellent, and the operating system is very stable. Here’s what you need to know about Macs:
- They are more expensive than similar Windows laptops
- Servicing them is easier because you can take them directly to the Apple Store
About Windows laptops:
- Wide variety of available
- Often cheaper than Macs
- Build quality varies according to company and product lines
- Great range of music production software available
- Easily upgradable
Both Windows laptops and MacBooks have their fair share of excellent software for producing music. The choice ultimately depends on your preference, taste and budget. For a more in-depth guide check out this laptop buyer’s guide for recording music.
The next most important thing to do is choose the right processor. You will find laptops with 2-core to 8-core processors. Here is what you need to know about processors:
- Don’t always look for higher frequencies. An older 3.2 GHz processor will be slower than a newer generation 2.8GHz model
- At the moment Quad core Intel processors seem to be the best choice
- More cores are better sometimes depending on software, so if the software you use has multi-threading, a 6 or 8-core Xeon processor will be much faster
- A dual core processor is not bad per se, and newer generation processors with two cores are much faster than the previous generation
If you are a beginner, you can get away with a dual core processor because you may not use it as intensively as a professional. However, if you are going to use your laptop all the time, definitely get a laptop with a quad core processor. Most quad core processors come with 15-inch screens for both Macs and Windows.
Usually, more RAM is better than less RAM. A few years ago, 4GB of RAM was considered more than enough because most operating systems were 32-bit. Today, you want at least 8GB of RAM and 16GB will make sure you can edit multiple tracks at once, without losing speed.
15-inch MacBook Pros all come with 16GB of RAM so you don’t need to worry about that. You can buy a Windows laptop with 8GB of RAM and upgrade it to 16GB if you want.
In this day, you want to get an SSD instead of a traditional spinning hard drive. Solid state drives are about 5-10 times faster and editing multiple tracks is that much faster. Having said this, SSD’s are more expensive than HDD’s, so you might have to compromise on storage space. A 500GB SSD seems to be the sweet spot today, and they are getting cheaper all the time. Use an external backup drive to store more data.