To start working with music production, in addition to instruments and other equipment, you need a computer. Without a desktop or laptop, you will have no way to record, mix, and master some music.
Sometimes it is hard to find the best cheap laptop for music production when you are on a tight budget, so we are providing a list to help speed up your process.
When it comes to buying laptops, no one likes to go cheap. But this is not an ideal world, and the equipment can be quite expensive. In this case, you may need to look for more affordable laptops below $500 (or around that price range) for now; you can get your hands on expensive and super high-end things.
Speaking of which, I will be honest with you; there are not many big computers that can be purchased on a limited budget and that also for music production. But believe me, it is not the end of the world. And that\’s exactly why I\’m compiling this list of the best laptops for music production below $500 (or around that price tag).
Before you start getting into things, let me tell you a few things. First of all, since it is a sheared laptop review list, you won\’t find new MacBooks or gaming computers here. With a budget of $500, you will probably be able to find some better quality laptops with Windows.
Now Windows can be a little more complicated when it comes to running different APPS and plugins compared to Apple computers, but a $500 Asus laptop can be as powerful as a MacBook if you find the right hardware.
These may not be the best models for professionals, but whether you are a beginner or a college professional looking to leave a mark on the music world, I have got you covered. Here are some laptops you should put your hands on:
Acer Aspire E 15
Acer is a really excellent brand with some reliable, fast computers. The Aspire E 15 is equipped with a powerful 8th generation Intel Core i5 3.4GHz processor, an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 8GB of memory (dual slots), a 1920 x 1080 widescreen display, a 256GB solid-state drive, a rewritable DVD double-layer drive, a webcam, and it runs on Windows 10 Home Edition.
The battery will stay charged for up to 10 hours. The Aspire E 15 also has Bluetooth so you can connect your Bluetooth-compatible MIDI instruments and another device to the computer.
Having a solid-state drive (SSD) greatly increases the speed of the laptop. Solid-state drives do not have any moving parts, so accessing files is much faster than if you have a normal hard drive (HDD). A lot of laptops have a problem with slowing down once they become full of files and programs, so a solid-state drive helps to prevent that.
The Intel Core i5 processor is one of the faster ones out there, so navigating and using your DAW and plugins will be a breeze. With dual slot memory, both the solid-state drive and the memory of the laptop are upgradeable.
The Acer Aspire E 15 goes for around $500 and is a great, affordable laptop. I highly recommend it for both seasoned producers and beginners, as it is upgradeable, fast, and has a wonderful battery life. from my perspective, the Acer Aspire E 15 is the best budget laptop for around $500.
HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen
The HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen laptop is definitely one of the best budget laptops out there. HP is a brand that has been trusted by many music producers and computer users in general, and I personally have found HP\’s computers to be highly reliable and well built.
The HP Business laptop features a 3.6GHz Quad-Core AMD CPU, a 1 TB hard drive, 8GB of RAM, a webcam, HDMI, and Radeon R7 graphics. It is a lightning-fast laptop that will be able to handle a heavy workload filled with tons of plugins in your favorite DAW.
With a 1 TB hard drive, you will have a lot of storage for project files and music software. 8GB of RAM is plenty to run plugins without decelerating your computer down. If you have graphics-heavy plugins, that should not be an issue either due to the Radeon R7 graphics card. The laptop runs on Windows 10.
Of course, the most defining feature is the touchscreen, which is one of the reasons why I\’m ranking this laptop so high. Having a laptop with a touch screen makes your workflow much more efficient as you get a chance to break away from using a mouse.
The touch screen makes using faders and knobs in your DAWs and plugins so much easier and therefore expedites mixing and mastering.
One of the main complaints people have with this laptop is that it slows down once it has so many programs and files on it. This can be remedied by switching out the hard drive with a solid-state drive.
While it is at the very top of the $500 budget (and slightly over, depending on where and when you buy it), it is very worth it. The HP Business Touchscreen laptop goes for a little over $500 on Amazon, but depending on where you get it, it might be cheaper.
HP Jaguar 15.6 Touchscreen
As you can see, I\’m a fan of touchscreen laptops. The HP Jaguar is another great choice for a decent laptop for music production that also happens to be cheap.
The HP Jaguar has an Intel Core i5 processor that has a base of 2.50GHz and goes up to 3.10GHz. It has a 1 TB hard drive, It also has 8GB of RAM, which is enough to run many plugins in your DAW.
The touchscreen on this laptop supports ten-finger multi-touch and has a 15.6-inch screen. It is Bluetooth compatible, and if you don\’t like Bluetooth, there are several USB ports and a full-size island-style keyboard as well as a touchpad.
Having a hard drive versus a solid-state drive is not really a big problem, but for some people, it really does matter. If you care a ton about speed, get a solid-state drive for this one. Overall though, this laptop is a great budget choice laptop, and it is also under $500 on Amazon.
Asus VivoBook X541UA
The Asus VivoBook X541UA is a laptop that is specially designed for those who want portability, and it definitely serves this purpose while being powerful enough to produce music and handle a ton of plugins and whichever DAW of your choice.
The VivoBook X541UA is a touch screen laptop made with multimedia in mind. It has a 15.6-inch screen and an Intel Core i5 processor with a base of 2.5GHz and an overclocked up to 3.1GHz.
It is equipped with a 1 TB hard drive and 8GB of RAM, which will leave you with lot of space and memory and the chance to upgrade it (max memory up to 32GB).
The keyboard is more ergonomic than others made by Asus, so anything that you have to do with the keyboard will be much easier on your hands if you have to spend hours working on a project. It is also Bluetooth compatible and has many USB ports, including USB-C, so it is compatible with newer hardware that uses USB-C.
The graphics card is an Intel HD Graphics 620, so you will have no issue rendering videos or using plugins that have a lot of graphics. Since this is an Asus computer, it runs on Windows 10 Home.
This laptop goes for a little bit more than $500 on Amazon, but because of the processor and touch screen, I think you should definitely consider it if looking into buying a laptop for music production. If you are not willing to shell out $550, try to find it on sale.
Lenovo IdeaPad 320
The Lenovo IdeaPad 320 is an inexpensive middle of the road laptop that won\’t break your wallet but also will allow you to make music without any lag during the process.
The IdeaPad 320 features a 15.6-inch HD screen and AMD Radeon R7 graphics, a 2.7GHz AMD A12 Quad-Core processor, 8GB of RAM that can be upgraded to a maximum of 12GB, and a 256GB solid-state drive.
The laptop also has many USB ports, an HDMI port, and is Bluetooth compatible for use with all your MIDI devices that connect using Bluetooth. Moreover, there is a built-in HD webcam with a microphone.
The keyboard of this computer is full size and even has a full-size numeric keypad, which is something you do not usually see on smaller laptops.
While the processor is a bit slower than others on this list, it should give you enough power to run your DAW with all its plugins without causing any issues. Lenovo has some really great computers, and this is one of them.
Dell Inspiron i5378 2 in 1
The Dell Inspiron 2 in 1 laptop is a really nice choice for seasoned producers who often have recording sessions with clients while also being a good option for beginner producers.
The Dell Inspiron 2 in 1 has Waves MaxxAudio Pro technology and Intel HD Graphics 620, so you will have no problem navigating through your DAW, and if you are not using an audio interface to listen to the laptop, it will sound great whether you are using headphones or speakers.
The processor is a 7th Generation i3 Intel Core processor, which means it is powerful enough to run a DAW without get stuck down by plugins. The laptop comes with 4GB of RAM but is upgradeable up to 16GB of RAM, which is a lot for a 2 in 1 laptop. As for storage, it is got a 1 TB hard drive.
Here\’s arguably the best feature of this computer: it is a 2 in 1, which means that you can use it as a normal laptop, or you can use it in a stand, tablet, or tent mode since it has a touch screen. This comes in handy, especially if you are recording live sessions in a studio and need to be up on your feet.
If you use the Inspiron 2 in 1 as a tablet, that saves you a ton of money because you won\’t need to buy an iPad to control your DAW during sessions.
I absolutely 100% recommend this laptop, as it will save you a ton of money in the long run because it is a 2 in 1, and it is also upgradeable if you find that its base specifications aren\’t enough for what you are using it for.
There are a lot of great laptops out there that will do well with running music production software. While looking for a budget laptop, make sure to never skimp on RAM, CPU, and a hard drive or solid-state drive.
Having a fast, capable processor will enable you to work efficiently and save you from waiting several minutes just to start your computer up and get things running. RAM allows for more plugins to be used in your DAW and works hand in hand with your CPU.
If your processor isn\’t fast enough, you will get issues like latency while recording, and if your RAM is not big enough, you will get issues like your plugins running slowly or crashing. This is why having a good computer is so important.
That being said, do not forget to look at older computers, especially ones from Apple. They can be just as good as newer computers, and you will be able to save much more money if you buy something that\’s been refurbished or used.
For more information on the best computers to use for music production to help you choose the best laptops and desktops within your budget, be sure to check out the articles and guides that we have coming up in the near update!