- Need a cheap laptop for music production?
- What specs are absolutely crucial?
- Find the best deals with these powerful budget laptops!
There is no denying that, unfortunately, making music costs money. Naturally, if you have the resources, an expensive laptop can unlock the door to endless possibilities. However, most of us don’t have an extra $1500 lying around. For this reason, I’ve put together this list of the five best laptops for music production under $300 in 2020.
While these aren’t going to blow your socks off with pure performance, computers in this price range are still extremely useful for recording and sampling. So if you don’t use a lot of VSTs or don’t mind resampling, these computers are definitely worth a look.
HP Stream 14
Since the dawn of computers, HP have remained a trusted name, delivering high quality products that are widely popular – and rightfully so!
In 2020, the HP Stream 14 is the company’s best low-budget laptop. Let’s start with the perks of purchasing a Stream laptop from HP…
First, the Stream 14 comes with one year of Office 365. If you’re not interested in that, you’ll at least also have 1TB of OneDrive storage for all your projects.
As for the tech specs, the Stream 14 has a fourteen inch HD screen that will beautifully display your virtual studio. Although the keyboard is not backlit, the trackpad is built to be both durable and easy to use.
Out of the box, the HP Stream 14 runs Windows 10.
For less than $300, the Stream 14 has the best technical features for a low-budget device. The system utilizes Intel ‘Turbo Boost’ technology and features 4 GB of DDR3L memory.
It only has 32GB of built in storage, so be prepared to have a large drive to use with it.
All in all, the HP Stream 14 is 8.90 x 13.27 x 0.70 inches and weighs a mere 3.17 pounds. This makes it extremely portable.
Plus, the battery life is rated to last for over 10 hours, so you can take this laptop anywhere to work on your latest masterpiece.
When it comes to ports, the Stream 14 is loaded with everything you need. The left side of the laptop is filled with USB ports (type A and C), an HDMI port, headphone / microphone jack, and a card reader.
For less than $300, the HP Stream 14 is – in my opinion – the best laptop you can buy for music production on a budget.
The device is built to run applications for long periods of time, while being both portable and easy to integrate.
- 4 GB DDR3L SDRAM Memory. Processor technology : Intel Turbo Boost Technology
- More productive. Windows 10 is the best for bringing ideas forward and getting things done
- 32 GB eMMC, No Optical Drive. Front-facing VGA webcam with integrated digital Microphone
ASUS VivoBook L203MA
At first glance, it’s easy to underestimate the ASUS VivoBook L203MA. Understandably so, as the model measures 11.30 x 7.60 x 0.67 inches and weighs only 2.2lbs.
Truth be told, the VivoBook’s minimal footprint plays only to the device’s convenience, rather than function. Although it is true that an 11.6 inch screen may cause you to squint from time to time, the L203MA’s portability is unrivaled for laptops of this caliber.
This ASUS laptop boasts over 10 hours of battery life under normal usage conditions. This makes it great for bringing back and forth to the studio…or your drummer’s house…whatever you call it.
In terms of hardware, the VivoBook is about as good as it gets for under $300.
The system runs 2 Intel processors and comes with Windows 10 preinstalled (on S mode). The laptop is built around a 10, 000 RPM solid state drive with 64 GB of storage, 4 GB of RAM, and a CPU speed of 2.6 GHz.
On its side, the VivoBook features 3 USB ports (type A and C), an HDMI port and a MicroSD outlet. This provides a ton of options for plugging in your instruments or adding more storage for your studio.
The Asus VivoBook L203MA is an ultra-portable solution for basic music production. The laptop’s ample ports, battery life, storage and speed make it great for running simple software and recording on the go.
- Efficient Intel Celeron N4000 Processor (4M Cache, up to 2.6 GHz)
- 11.6” HD (1366 x 768) Display with HD webcam
- Compatible with Google Classroom; run Google Classroom on Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer 11
- 64GB emmC Flash Storage and 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
- Windows 10 in S mode (upgradeable to Windows 10 Home)
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
In the past five years, Chromebooks have had a huge impact on the laptop market.
Laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS are available from a few different manufactures like Samsung, ASUS, LG and Dell. When it comes to making music on a budget with a Chromebook, there are few better options than the aptly named Chromebook Duet from Lenovo.
When Lenovo created the ‘Duet’ they weren’t talking about a Sonny & Cher song, which is a shame because it would have made for a more musical experience. Alas, the biggest downside to any Chromebook is the lack of compatibility with all major music production software.
There are some cool apps on the Google Play store, but for musicians, the Duet is best for running basic programs for recording demos. That’s not to totally write off the Chromebook either, and some of us love a challenge when it comes to our passion!
If you are accustomed to using a tablet as a controller, then the Duet is perfect as the visual power station. Although the Duet’s 10.1′ screen may not be the largest monitor on the market, the device’s 400 nit picture is unmistakable. The ultra-bright HD display can easily be seen in both the sunlight or glare from laser-filled basement shows.
In addition to the detachable keyboard, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet comes with a few other conveniences. To start, in tablet mode, the device is a mere 7.35mm thin. Plus, the whole thing only weighs 920g. If you’re used to lugging around heavy sound equipment, the Duo will be a relief, as the laptop virtually disappears when slipped into your backpack or instrument case.
The Duet is somewhat limited in that it only comes standard with a USB-C port. Although this will likely work with your phone, it is unlikely MIDI instruments will be compatible with this device.
To get technical here at the end, Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet has 4GB of RAM and a CPU speed of 2.0GHz. It comes with either 64 or 128 GB of eMMC storage.
As both a laptop and a tablet, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a unique and highly-functional piece of hardware. For the right musician, this device is great for capturing ideas and running simple programs.
- This ultraportable 2-in-1 Chromebook includes a fast and stable plug-and-play detachable keyboard enabled with 5-point...
- Take it with you everywhere. Thin and lightweight the Chromebook Duet offers up to 10 hours of battery life (2)
- The unique dual-tone design with aluminum alloy on the tablet is a standout design with sophisticated fabric texture on...
- Fast secure and easy to use: This touchscreen Chromebook boots up quickly with just your Google login to give you access...
- With the 10 1" FHD (1920 x 1200) IPS display and stunning colorful details you won't sacrifice for great visuals; The...
Samsung Chromebook 4+
Starting at $299, you can purchase the beautiful 15.6′ Samsung Chromebook 4+, which has the largest screen available in this price bracket.
The HD display will illuminate your digital workspace without weighing the device down or sucking too much battery life.
I say this because the Samsung Chromebook 4+ weighs only 3.8 pounds and has a battery built to last for over 10 hours.
Diving into the technical aspects, this laptop comes standard with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. While this will get the job done, musicians may want to consider upgrading to the 6 GB RAM version to help their software breathe. The 4 GB version is also limited to 1 Intel processor but has a speed of 2.1GHz.
Of course, with a Chromebook, you are also going to be limited to the Google Play Store when seeking out the best music software. While there are some great simple programs available to run on the Chrome operating system, most heavy-duty music production software is exclusive to Windows or Mac.
As the main control of your command station, the Samsung Chromebook 4+ is a bit limited in connecting devices. The laptop has two USB C ports (which are also used to charge the battery), but lacks an HDMI or USB type A port.
If you want a large, beautiful display to watch TV shows between sets, the Samsung Chromebook 4+ may be the best laptop for you under $300. Although it’s not optimal for running complicated music software, it is still a great computer at an attractive price.
- Large and immersive 15.6” display in a compact frame
- Military-grade durability
- Ultra-fast connectivity with Gigabit Wi-Fi
- Advanced security with multiple layers of built-in virus protection
- 10.5 hours of battery life
Lastly, I would like to mention a great, inexpensive laptop that can provide the minimum necessary tools for basic music production. The Lenovo IdeaPad is a handy device for those looking for something cheap but reliable.
To start, the Ideapad has a nice 14′ HD screen. The digital display pairs well with the built-in Dolby Audio speakers, perfect from when you are away from your precious subwoofers.
Of course, Lenovo invented the ‘IdeaPad’ as an easy way to get your ideas out of your head and onto the screen. It’s designed to be easy to use and transport, and weighs less than one pound!
The laptop itself measures a total of 12.9 x 18.5 x 3.2 inches, making it incredibly easy to store.
Unfortunately, with all of that convenience, the IdeaPad falls short on most of the available technology among other laptops. The computer’s CPU speed is a mere 1.6 GHz and has a rated battery life of just 8 hours.
However, there are also many redeeming features of the technology behind the IdeaPad. With Windows 10 S built in, you still may be able to run your favorite music software on this inexpensive device.
Likewise, the IdeaPad has 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space. Additionally, the IdeaPad has 3 total USB ports (USB-A and USB-C), an HDMI input, and a headphone / microphone jack.
- Dual-core AMD A6-9220e 1. 6GHz accelerated processor/ 4GB onboard RAM/ 64GB eMMC flash memory/ No DVD/CD drive
- Microsoft Office 365 Personal 1-year Subscription Included ($69. 99 Retail Value)/ 14-inch WLED-backlit HD display (1366...
- AMD Radeon R4 Graphics/ 802. 11ac Wireless and Bluetooth 4. 2/ Battery life up to 8 hours
- Multi-format digital media card reader/ 2 USB 3. 1 Gen 1 (data transfer only); 1 HDMI output/ headphone/microphone combo
- Windows 10 Home/ Platinum Gray finish/0. 3MP webcam with dual array microphone/ 2 x 1. 5W speakers with Dolby Audio
If you are looking for the bare minimum to get your ideas recorded, the Lenovo IdeaPad is a handy tool for budget-conscious musicians. The built-in speakers, extremely lightweight design, and nice input options make it great for quick and easy music production.
There’s never been a better time for laptops in this price range. Thanks to advances in technology and fierce competition, it’s a buyer’s market.
While serious musicians may want to steer clear of Chromebooks (for now), we’re confident that any of these laptops will be able to handle all sorts of production and recording tasks.
Got a little bit more cash to spend? Check out our list of the 5 best music production laptops under $500.
Last update on 2020-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API