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How to choose the best laptop for Ableton & Music production
Apple has recently been producing some of the best laptops for Ableton & music production. Its MacBook Pro is widely popular among musicians due to its Logic Pro X software and portability. But now, PC-users have a good range of choices too with big tech brands like Dell, Microsoft, Razer, and Lenovo making laptops tailored for music production. This has led to a competitive market for music production laptops which is great for musicians as we now have more options to choose from.
Whether you choose Apple or Windows, there are certain factors to keep in mind when selecting the best laptop for Ableton. Make sure to check the power and memory specs of the machine you’re considering before making a purchase. These two elements will help determine how well your laptop can handle any music production tasks you throw at it.
For real-world music production, the basic requirements of a multi-core processor, around 4GB of RAM and a few gigabytes of storage will not suffice. Buying a laptop with minimum specs is only setting yourself up for disappointment and likely an early upgrade. To avoid this with Ableton Live aim for higher than 8GB of RAM. Choose one with enough power to handle the latest software, big file sizes and larger set sizes, so that it can keep up with your music production needs as they grow.
If you are a DJ or musician who travels often, weight and portability should be important factors in your laptop selection. The beefiest laptops may boast powerful specs but can be heavy and cumbersome to carry around. Make sure you look for one that is lightweight enough so that you don’t get tired lugging it about.
The best laptop for music production should be a balance of power, portability and cost. Look for one with enough battery capacity to keep your workflow running in off-grid situations.
Check out the list below for our top picks of the best laptops for Ableton.
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Related: Best Midi Controller for Ableton
Apple M1 Macbook Pro 14″ – Best Laptop for Ableton Live
|CPU: M1 Pro
|Graphics: M1 Pro
|RAM: 16GB – 32GB
|Screen: 14” Liquid Retina
|Storage: 512GB -8TB
|Very Expensive 🙁
The 2022 Apple M1 MacBook Pro 14″ may not have a new design or upgraded screen, but don’t let that fool you. This laptop packs a powerful punch with its in-house hardware and software combination designed for optimized music production. All the enhanced features of this beast are tucked away under the sleek exterior, giving you a highly desirable and capable laptop for Ableton & Music production.
The 14” model features the latest M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which bring with them unprecedented power and performance. You can configure the M1 to include some eye watering specs, such as up to 64GB of RAM and 8TB of SSD storage. Or course, this premium laptop does come at a price – you’ll likely be paying out around £/$6,000 for the highest spec version. But if you can afford it, you will get unparalleled performance that no other laptop can currently match. The Best Laptop for Ableton Live.
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Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED – Great Windows Laptop for Ableton
|CPU: 12th Generation Intel Core i5-1230U
|Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
|RAM: 8GB – 32GB
|Screen: 13.4 (1900 x 1200) 500-Nit
|Storage: 256GB to 1TB PCIe NVMe
|Good looking design
|Would benefit from more in/outs
Renowned for its sleek design, gorgeous screens and powerful specs, the Dell XPS line are billed as the perfect laptops for musicians who don’t want to join the ‘Apple gang’. The XPS is widely considered to be the closest Windows alternative to a MacBook Pro. Which means it’s a great PC laptop for Ableton!
The XPS range is definately comparable to the Macbook Pro when it comes to style, quality and performance. You won’t find a better laptop for music production for the money than this series – unless you consider the elite gaming laptops with higher specs (see the Razor Blade Laptop Below).
The latest XPS model boasts a 12th-generation Intel Core i5-1230U and an incredible InfinityEdge Anti-Glare screen. If you’re not using the laptop for music production as its primary function, this laptop is also perfect for watching films and other work based tasks. The XPS 15 is more powerful, but the XPS 13 still provides great value for the price.
Solid laptop for music production
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|CPU: Apple M2
|Graphics: Apple M2
|RAM: 8GB – 24GB
|Screen: 13.6” Liquid Retina (2560 x1664)
|Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD storage capacity
|Thin and light laptop for easy gigging
|Powerful yet silent
Beautiful screen and detailed speakers
|For the price, its not a huge improvement on the M1
The new M2 MacBook Air from Apple is the future of music production. Super light at 1.24kg and super model thin at 11.3mm, the MacBook Air M2 is the lightest and thinest model yet.
The sound made from the MacBook Air’s four speakers is surprisingly good. They provide a decent representation of the music your listening to, even capable of doing a rough mix down. Further detailed mixing and mastering work would need to be then completed on dedcicated monitors.
The 18 hours of battery life will keep you going through a few creative Ableton sesssions (although that isn’t quite as long as the 20 hours offered by the new M2 13-inch MacBook Pro). The Air also has two Thunderbolt USB 4 ports, so any extra connections may require you purchasing additional`
Related: Free Ableton Templates
|CPU: Apple M2
|Graphics: Apple M2
|RAM: 8GB -24GB
|Screen: 13.3” Retina display (2560 x 1600p)
|Storage: 256GB – 2TB
|Great battery life
|Only has two Thunderbolt 3 ports
The 13″ MacBook Pro is Apple’s latest laptop to feature the M2 processor, and provides some impressive speed when tested for music production. Although it outperforms the Air on some tasks, the differences are not as drastic as one may expect.
The latest MacBook Pro M2 carries over some features from previous designs, such as the Touch Bar. This was removed from the 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros but is still present on the 13″. Some love it while others don’t – it’s a divisive feature that may influence your decision.
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|CPU: Apple M1
|Graphics: Apple M1
|RAM: 8GB – 16GB
|Screen: 13.3” Retina (2560×1600)
|Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD storage capacity
|Slim and lightweight design (perfect for making music on the go and gigging).
|Cheaper than the Pro range
Can find good deals in the second hand market
Previously and Apple Air wouldn’t have been an option for running Ableton Live. But with the introduction of Apple’s M1 chip in the 2021, we saw the Macbook Air become powerful enough to easily handle audio production tasks. This is great for those who want an Apple laptop but can’t afford the big budget Macbook pro models.
You will be able to do everything you need in Ableton with either the Pro 13″ or the Air M1. For those with a bit more to spend, you could consider the newer MacBook Air M2. Although it will grant additional speed, it does carry a much steeper price tag. So for music makers on a budget, the Air M1 is still the best of the Apple laptops for music production. You might even snag yourself a second hand bargain 😉
Apple M1 chips do it again powering one of the best laptops for Ableton Live.
|CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i7
|Graphics: Up to Quadra RTX 5000
|RAM: 32GB – 64GB
|Screen: 15.6” OLED 4K Touch
|Storage: 1TB SSD
|Maybe overkill for music production
Razor is well knwon for making some of the best laptops for gaming. When thinking of a gaming laptop you might envisage vivid colors and RGB lights. The Razer Blade 15 Studio for goes all of that and provides an incredibly powerful machine that works perfectly for music production. It may feature customizable RGB backlighting on the keyboard, but overall this laptop exudes sophistication and serious power, capable of producing music easily with Ableton.
One of the most powerful cpu laptops for Ableton & Music production.
|CPU: Up to 9th Gen. Intel Core i7
|Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4 GB
|RAM: 8 GB (max 64 GB)
|Screen: 15.6” Full HD display/120 Hz
|Storage: 256 GB SSD
|Future Proof with upgradable RAM
|Battery life could improve
MSI is a well known brand in the gaming world for building top-notch gaming PCs – the MSI GF63 lives up to those expectations. This mid-range laptop has great internals, a sleek design, and even added cooling features – making it perfect for Ableton live performances or as your music production studio.
Powered by a 2.4 GHz i5 processor, the MSI GF63 will handle most audio tasks you throw at it. You can upgrade its 8GB of DDR4 RAM up to 64GB, so you can easily future-proof your laptop for larger live sets or studio sessions.
|CPU: Intel Core i5
|RAM: 8 GB
|Screen: 15.6” Full HD
|Storage: 512 GB SSD
|Plenty of power
|Solid budget option
|If you can afford more – go for it.
Base processor speed isn’t that quick
The Acer Aspire 5 is a great budget-friendly laptop for music production, offering an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It also has a USB-C port for faster data transfers and is capable of handling most popular music production software. For under $500/£500, you’d be hard pressed to find a better Windows machine suitable for music production.
Best Laptop for Ableton on a budget.
How do you choose a laptop for music production?
Picking a laptop that will be able to handle the demands of audio production can be tricky. Many users prioritize battery life, while others prioritize performance with higher-grade processors. Other variables like screen size and aesthetics can further complicate the decision-making process. It’s not an easy task to determine which model is best for you.
No matter what you’re using the laptop for – be it producing music or editing video – there are certain characteristics you should look for. You want a laptop that offers power, performance, and is also reasonably priced. Luckily, there are lots of great laptops available right now at very reasonable prices. So what makes a good laptop for Ableton?
When it comes to performance, we’re referring to how fast the laptop can process and access data. If you’re a sample-based producer with lots of loops and one-shots stored on your laptop, then you’ll need a machine that can quickly access those files. The best choice is usually a solid-state drive (SSD), which is more expensive but offers faster data transfer speeds and no moving parts to break.
This article has taken into consideration all of the above when deciding which the best laptops for ableton live are.
Which CPU is best for music production – Intel, AMD or Apple?
When it comes to CPUs, faster ones offer two benefits – they can run more tasks and do them faster. This may result in small differences, such as an audio file rendering a minute quicker on the faster processor, but these add up over time.
Intel and AMD are the two major players in the CPU world. Intel’s range goes from i3 to i9, with most mid-to-upper tier laptops coming with an i5 or i7 variant. These CPUs have different speed ratings measured in gigahertz, and can also turbo-boost when under stress. AMD produces the Ryzen line of processors, which follow a similar nomenclature to Intel’s. These are popular amongst gamers.
Apple has always been known for making machines tailored towards creative pursuits. Its newer models come with an M1 chip inside, which combines many of the laptop components onto a single chip for increased power and efficiency. This was further enhanced with their newest chips – the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and most recently the M2 chips.
The upside of these improvements is that music producers benefit from better performance and processing capabilities, as well as extended battery life. Logic Pro X users on M1-based machines are currently in the best position to take advantage of this technology, though not all third-party software brands have made the necessary switch for full native support yet. Companies like Ableton and Akai have begun offering full native support.
If you are considering replacing your current setup with an M1-based machine, we recommend researching the different options thoroughly. All major developers are aware of the new chips and should be in the process of developing native support for them. Ultimately, it will depend on your individual situation and needs as to whether you decide to make a switch or not.
How much RAM do I need for Ableton?
When it comes to RAM, take the minimum specifications of Ableton with a pinch of salt and aim higher if possible. Running a multitrack Ableton Live session on only 4GB of RAM is not ideal, as RAM acts as the short-term memory for your machine. Having more RAM means that audio playback will be smoother and glitch-free, since the computer won’t need to access audio from the hard drive as often.
It’s also worth investigating whether the laptop you choose can be upgraded with extra RAM in the future. Apple laptops unfortunately won’t have this luxury, due to their sealed chassis, but PC laptop users might.
How much storage do I need?
For Ableton, the required space is 3Gb for install and 8Gb of space recomended. If you are going to be installing the Ableton Live Packs you may need a further 76GB for the additional sound content. If you are a music producer who makes use of a lot of samples and sample libraries, you’ll want to use a solid state drive (SSD).
The benefit of these drives is that files load faster due to the rapid data transfer. They are marginally more expensive than hard disk drives (HDD) but are worth the additional cost for music production applications.
It’s common to see both storage options used – a HDD for storage of files and archived content and an SSD for the audio production tasks where much faster response is needed. Another alternative is the use of an external SSD drive. The SSDs that use USB-C technology, are more than capable of the types of transfer speeds required for music production software.
Does Ableton work on laptop?
Yes Ableton live will work on a laptop as long as the laptop meets the minimum requirements. You can view those on the Ableton website here.
Does Ableton work on mac?
Yup. Ableton works on Mac. You can view Ableton’s minimum requirements on their website to ensure your spec is sufficient.