Before we dig into the best budget laptop for music production, it’s important to know that the performance of your laptop is the main priority to focus on when purchasing a laptop for music production and recording.
Generally, a laptop will offer less performance than a desktop in the same price range. Since it’s also tricky to upgrade a laptop’s hardware specs, you better make sure to see everything through before making the wrong choice.
This especially counts if you are on a budget. If your budget is less than $500 I’d still suggest you go for a desktop unless you unconditionally need a laptop because of its portability.
When it comes to buying a laptop for music production and recording, there is no doubt that a Mac will be the best choice overall. For laptops, the MacBook Pro will provide the highest performance when it comes to music production but they are generally much more expensive than a PC laptop.
And since we are discussing the best budget laptops for music production under $500, it would be irrelevant to discuss the advantages of owning a Mac, unless you are considering buying a used one. (Be careful with that unless you know what you are doing).
Some of the specifications that you will utterly need are a high CPU performance, 8GB Ram as a comfortable minimum and 1+ TB Hard Disk Drive (HDD).
Operating System: Windows 8 or 10 is required if you want to use more than the dual-touch available with Windows 7, preferably a 64-bit system can handle large amounts of memory more efficiently than a 32-bit operating system, a 64-bit system can be more responsive when running several programs at the same time. This can make a difference if you are loading and using large sample libraries or RAM-intensive plugins.
CPU: CPU or Central Processing Unit is the primary factor to consider when buying a music production laptop. Make sure to go for i5 or i7 Intel processors and preferably aim for a +6000 CPU Benchmark. Two ideal CPU performance scores for music production are i7–4720HQ and i7-4810MQ.
RAM: Typically 8 GB is the recommended minimum but you might want to go up to 16 GB if you have a huge sample library and/or if you use a lot of VST- plugins. If you are not sure how much RAM you will need, the best choice will be to buy a laptop that allows you to expand the RAM from 8Gb to 16GB. 32 GB is not necessary for music production purposes.
HDD: HDD or Hard Disk Drive. The biggest factor for music production HDD’s is hosting audio files and sound libraries. Most users will need a 1+ TB HDD. Any traditional 7200 RPM HDD should serve you well, given large SSD’s are still prohibitively expensive. SSD storage is much faster than its HDD equivalent but also more expensive.
Soundcard: The sound cards that come with even the most advanced computers rarely handle music production well. You will eventually have to upgrade your soundcard or use an audio interface anyways if you want a professional studio setup so it shouldn’t be a priority in your choice of a music production laptop. If you are not sure what an audio interface is, here’s an explanation What is an audio interface?
USB-ports: Most devices and professional audio hardware are USB connected so make sure to have enough USB Ports to connect them all.
Compatibility: Make sure that your laptop is compatible with your DAW Software. Most DAWs are compatible both with PC and Mac but FL Studio, which is one of the most used DAWs, has only a beta version on Mac. This is a custom Crossover wrapped version of FL Studio for Mac OS X and so is bit-identical to the Windows installer but it seriously lacks some of the features compared to the Windows version.
Luckily, there are some affordable laptops that DO possess all the specifications needed for music production.
After comparing tens of laptops that possess the Must Have specs that you need for music production and analyzing their price/value, I picked, what I think, is THE best value on the market for low budgets music producers ( less than $500).
So, without further ado, let me present to you the best budget laptop for music production of 2018 for less than $500
This Touchscreen and friendly PC comes with an Intel Core i5-6200 processor which is above the +6000 CPU Benchmark recommended for music production.
It has a 1 TB Hard Drive Size and a 8 GB RAM- size that’s expandable up to 16GB. It works on Windows 10 (64 bit). The HDD hard drive is replaceable with SDD.
It has a 2 2.0 USB; 1 3.0 USB, 1 SD card,1 hdmi, 1 CD/DVD, 1 headphone/audio output and 1 ethernet.
The Dell Inspiron has a15.6 inch display which the most popular display size range for laptops. This provides enough space to have a good view of your music software application.
This laptop comes equipped with a touchscreen, enabling users to more closely interact with the operating system.
Since I was digging deep into the realm of Music Production Laptops, trying to find the best value for you, I thought I’d share 2 other great laptops that I found in the same price range. There are just a little bit more expensive but still under the $600 bar.
If you can afford to put a few more bucks into your laptop, make sure to have a look at similar laptops with equal specifications.
This laptop has a larger 17.3-inch screen and weighs 6.61 lbs so if you are a producer on the go, this is something to consider and you might want something more lightweight and portable.
It has 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-7200U mobile processor, which a bit higher than the Dell Inspiron and 8GB DDR4 system memory for advanced multitasking (expandable to 16GB)
It operates on Windows 10 operating system and has a 1TB hard drive for ample file storage space.
Bluetooth 4.0 interface syncs with compatible devices and 1 USB 3.0 port maximizes the latest high-speed devices.
Also includes 1 USB 2.0 ports to connect more accessories and peripherals, HDMI output that expands your viewing options and additional ports.
A little bit smaller and lightweight than the Lenovo, this laptop is certainly a good pick because it comes with the Asus Sonic Master technology, which makes it an excellent laptop for music producers on a budget.
The ASUS Sonic Master uses a codec to deliver a professional sound performance. It has also an optimized amplifier and larger speakers for a powerful audio output.
Like the Dell and the Lenovo, it has all the specifications that you need for music production, like an Intel Core i5-5200U processor and a 1TB Hard-Drive size.
The operation system is Windows 10 (64bit) and it has an 8GB RAM-size that can’t be upgraded.
So, there you have it. My best pick for the Best Budget Laptop for Music Production under $500 for 2018.
It wasn’t easy to find laptops that have all the specificities for music production at such a low price but luckily for small budget producers, good budget laptops exist.
That doesn’t mean that you should go for these laptops if your budget is higher than $500. You always get what you pay for and I’d recommend pushing the price a little bit higher if you want optimal performances for your music production.
If you have any questions or you’d like to comment, please feel free to use the comment box below.
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My name is Angélique. I am a full-time music producer and blogger.I created Children of the Electronic Revolution to give you all the tools you need to help you become the successful music producer you dream to be !