- Need a new music production laptop but on a tight budget?
- Maybe something cheap as a backup for your studio?
- Here are 5 excellent laptops that won’t break the bank.
As all musicians know: if you’re in it for the money, you’re probably not a real musician. But unfortunately, it still takes money to get started.
The laptop is by far the most visible and comprehensive piece of equipment for music production. While it is tempting to spend everything you have on an amazing computer, you may want to save some money for the rest of your home studio hardware essentials.
Thankfully, you do not need a ultra high spec supercomputer to produce great music. For those of us on a budget, we have rounded up five of the best music production laptops under $500.
2020 Dell Inspiron 15 3580
With a 15.6" HD LED-backlit built to withstand glare and a screen that's large and clear, it makes this laptop perfect for seeing all of your software either in your home studio to onstage at your next gig.
- LED-backlit 15.6″ HD display
- Built to withstand glare
Dell are perhaps the biggest of the big names, or at least tied with HP. The Dell Inspiron 15 3580 is the company’s newest budget model, and it may just be the best laptop for music production under $500.
Admittedly, at 14.96 x 10.09 x 0.89 inches it’s a bit bulkier than other music production laptops. But while there are certainly slimmer and lighter options available, the Inspiron’s features are well worth the extra baggage.
First of all, let’s address the 1TB hard drive. While this is a huge amount of storage for a $429 laptop, it’s not a solid-state drive, so be prepared to wait for things to load. However, it is possible to upgrade it to an SSD yourself later on.
Secondly, the 15.6″ HD display is LED-backlit and built to withstand glare. A screen that large and clear is perfect for seeing all of your software in settings from your home studio to onstage at your next gig.
To keep things speedy, the Inspiron is built with four Intel processors to deliver a 1.80GHz base computing speed. Plus the 8GB of DDR4 RAM can keep your music software running for long periods of time without overheating.
When you’re ready to plug in the hardware and pump out your audio, the 3580 has all you need. This laptop is loaded with ports and includes 3 USB ports, an SD Card Reader, an HDMI port, a RJ45, and a headphone & microphone audio jack.
Of course, if you prefer wireless headphones, this laptop is Bluetooth ready.
With an insane amount of storage and tons of premium features, the Dell Inspiron 15 3580 is well worth the low cost. Producers looking to create an entire library worth of music will be happy with this affordable device.
Asus VivoBook 15
Whether at work or play, ASUS VivoBook 15 is the compact laptop that immerses you in whatever you set out to do. Its new frameless four-sided NanoEdge display boasts an ultra slim 5.7mm bezel, giving an amazing 88% screen-to-body ratio for supremely immersive visuals.
- Good value for money
- Convenient for transportation
In 2020, the Asus VivoBook 15 is up there in terms of bang-for-your-buck. The VivoBook 15 is priced at only $399 and delivers a surprising amount of features.
To start, just take a look at the screen size, which is the same length as the Dell Inspiron 15 3580. Plus, your virtual studio will look great on the four sided NanoEdge display.
Functionally, the Asus brings the power without the price. With a speed of 3.4 GHz and DDR4 SDRAM, your music production software will run like a breeze.
The VivoBook 15 comes standard with 8GB of memory and Windows 10 S operating system. Although this means it is designed to only run Microsoft Store apps, the system can be switched out of “S” mode.
The size, weight, and innovative “ErgoLift” hinge make the VivoBook 15 incredibly convenient for transportation. The laptop measures 14.10 x 9.10 x 0.80 inches and only weighs 3.75 lbs.
Additionally, the laptop features handy features like fast charging and a backlit keyboard.
The speakers on the Asus 15 pack a surprising punch, with more bass than expected. When plugging in instruments and speakers, there are plenty of ports (USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, USB 2.0, and HDMI) to choose from.
For $400, The Asus VivoBook is a high-quality laptop with convenient features at an affordable price. Backed by a one year accidental damage protection warranty, this laptop is a great buy for any musician.
HP 14″ Ryzen 3-3200U
The DDR4 2400 MHz RAM Memory with Solid State Drive (SSD) combo brings the muscle for gaming, creating, and advanced multitasking, so you can do it all, anywhere.
- Smooth user experience
- High definition touchscreen
In the business world, there are few bigger names than HP. In 2020, the company’s Ryzen Home and Business Laptop is a great computer for under $500.
At its core, HP’s Ryzen is built to run large applications for extended periods of time. The computer’s 8GB of DDR4 2400 MHz RAM Memory and 128 GB Solid State Drive (SSD) combine to deliver one smooth experience. With Windows 10 preinstalled, you should have no problem running your music software.
For inputs and outputs, HP has likely included more ports than any other laptop at this price level. The Ryzen comes jam-packed with an HDMI port, RJ45 LAN jack, 3 USB ports (type A and C), and a microphone/headphone jack.
Additionally, HP has included a ton of bonus features for security and accessibility. For example, the Ryzen 3-3200U comes with built-in fingerprint and media scanners.
As you may expect, this HP 14” laptop is an incredibly convenient size and weight. The device weighs 3.25 lbs. and measures 12.75 x 8.89 x 0.78 inches.
As a bonus, the Ryzen includes a high definition touchscreen for those who like to get hands-on. The screen is backlit by an efficient LED system for maximum battery life.
Ultimately, the HP Ryzen 3-3200U is one of the best laptops money can buy for under $500. The device is great for producing music and comes with attractive bonus features for everyday use.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3
Powered with the new AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Series Mobile Processors with Radeon Graphics, with multi-core processing power that offers incredible bandwidth for getting more done faster, on several applications at once.
- Incredible bandwidth
- Sleek design
Just making the list starting around $449, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is an affordable laptop that ticks a lot of boxes. Although it is not as powerful as some of the more advanced models, Lenovo delivers the bare-bones essentials for simple audio tasks.
Lenovo are known for building long-lasting laptops and the IdeaPad 3 is no exception. Both in daily battery life and expected lifespan, the IdeaPad 3 is rated highly among its peers.
In terms of ports, the IdeaPad 3 has the basics to accommodate most of what you’ll need to plug in. The laptop comes standard with three USB ports, and an HDMI socket.
Most importantly, the IdeaPad 3 is built around an MD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. For basic music production, this should be plenty of power to run your software and all your fancy plugins. Plus, the two speaker Dolby Audio system will ensure decent enough sound for laptop speakers.
In terms of convenience, the IdeaPad 3 is a leader in its price category. The thin device is only 12.88 x 9.49 x 0.78 inches and weighs a mere 3.3 lbs, making it very portable.
Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a great laptop for the price. Despite lacking some premium features like a backlit keyboard, the performance under the hood makes it perfect for any thrifty musician.
Acer Aspire 5 Slim
15.6" Full HD IPS screen, with thin bezels providing you more space to work with wherever inspiration strikes. It’s the perfect companion to take with you wherever you go!
Lastly, if your budget is really tight, we would like to recommend a laptop that will only set you back $350. The Acer Aspire 5 Slim is an affordable laptop capable of powering basic music production.
For starters the Acer stays true to its name as a truly slim laptop. The device’s official measurements are 14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches and the laptop weighs just under 4 lbs.
The 15.6 inch display falls in line with the larger screens for laptops of this price range. The full HD IPS display and the backlit keyboard make it easy to always see what you are doing under any circumstance.
Most importantly, it’s rated at an impressive 3.5 GHz computing speed. Backed by 2 processors and DDR4 SDRAM, the Aspire 5 is quick and capable of running most basic music software platforms.
Unfortunately, built-in storage is where this laptop falls short. It only comes standard with 128 GB of hard drive space and 4 GB worth of memory. With that said, there are 3 USB Ports (type A and C) to plug in an external drive.
If you’re trying to stick to a tight budget then it’s also worth checking out our rundown of the best music production laptops under $300.
For only $350, you can get your hands on the Acer Aspire 5 Slim and begin to produce music without spending all of your money. The Aspire is not the most powerful laptop on the market, but can still get the job done as part of a basic home studio.
Transporting your music laptop? Check out our review of the Mono Flyby Ultra Backpack.