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7 Killer Music Laptops That Won’t Break The Bank

Check out any music studio nowadays and a laptop computer is likely running the entire show…or at least most of it. For better or worse, laptops have become integral to music production, handling a multitude of tasks including recording, mixing, sequencing, rendering, and more. They even serve as sound sources and music distribution hubs for completed tunes. 

On the home studio front, laptops are pretty much indispensible. They’ve essentially replaced hardware recording devices, external signal processors, and even amplifiers. And if portability is a primary concern, their combination of power and compactness is hard to beat. 

Of course, like most studio equipment, laptops can be pretty expensive. Take a look at the listings for top-tier laptops and the price is likely to give you a heart attack. 

But there is hope for home recording enthusiast on a budget. The technological advances that have come down the line over the past several years have made laptops more powerful and more affordable than ever. Nowadays, you can get a laptop that is powerful enough to serve as the hub for your studio for even less than what a state-of-the-art model would have cost only a few years ago. 

By the way, if you are on an especially tight budget, you might want to check out our guide to The Best Chromebook For Music Production (For Beginners). If your needs are more modest, there’s no reason why a Chromebook shouldn’t work as your main recording and all-around music production machine.

Best Laptops under $500 laptops for recording and music production 

Here we present some of the best music production laptops, all of which come in at less than $500 each. If you are looking for a new computer for recording and music production, any of these models will do the job without breaking the bank. 

Lenovo IdeaPad 320 

Price: Check here


  • Has a full-sized keyboard
  • Comes with an SSD
  • Memory can be upgraded 


  • No turbo option for the processor 

Lenovo’s IdeaPad 320 might be inexpensive, but it has what it takes to deliver solid, reliable performance in your home recording studio. It has a generous 15.6-inch HD display, so you never feel cramped when working on large projects in your DAW. Plus, the excellent AMD Radeon R7 graphics controller makes images crisp and clear. 

The AMD A12 2.7GHz Quad-Core processor isn’t the fastest on the block, but it does get the job done with minimum hassle. The IdeaPad 320 comes with a decent 8GB of RAM right out of the box, which will get you started nicely on modest projects. You will want to upgrade this as soon as you have extra cash, of course. But keep in mind that the maximum memory this particular model supports is 12GB. 

For the price, you also get a speedy 256GB solid-state drive and plenty of USB ports. It even has a full-sized numeric keypad, which is often useful for DAW control. 

Bottom-line: The Lenovo IdeaPad 320 doesn’t have a particularly powerful processor. Nevertheless, you should be able to run any of the big DAWs and a good number of plugins before you reach the limits of its capabilities. And you could always upgrade the memory for more wiggle room for large projects. 

Dell Inspiron i3567

Price: Check here


  • Very light and portable
  • Excellent value for the money 


  • Doesn’t have an optical drive

The Dell Inspiron i3567 comes in at just under $500, but its features and capabilities make it a worthy contender in the home recording stakes. Even with its sizable 15.6-inch screen, it remains pretty light and portable. If you need a laptop for home and mobile recording, the portability of this particular model makes it a good choice. 

The 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 dual-core processor won’t win any awards for sheer power. But it is the 7th Generation model, so it is more than usable for home recording and music production applications. You also get 8GB of RAM right out of the box, so you can handle modest to fairly complex projects before you need to think about upgrading. 

The Inspiron i3567 comes with a 1TB hard drive, so you have plenty of space to store your tracks and completed songs. And if you want to create music videos to accompany your creations, you will find that the onboard Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics card is more than up to the challenge. 

Bottom-line: The Dell Inspiron i3567 delivers outstanding quality and performance for the price. It doesn’t have an optical drive, but you could always get an external USB model and still remain well within your budget. In any case, the Inspiron i3567 is an excellent choice for basic recording tasks. 

HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen

Price: Check here


  • Inexpensive for a touch screen laptop 
  • Comes with a 1TB hard drive


  • Comes with an HDD instead of an SSD
  • Battery life isn’t the best 

The HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen would be a superb home recording laptop even if it came with a higher price tag. As it is, it provides excellent bang-for-the-buck with its large touchscreen display, fast processor, and decent memory and storage capabilities. It is also part of HP’s celebrated business line, which means that it is pretty rugged and durable. 

At the heart of the unit is a 3.6GHz Quad-Core AMD processor that should handle most DAWs and effects plugins with ease. You also get 8GB of RAM and a massive 1TB hard drive, so you can get started immediately without having to spend more money on costly upgrades. The Radeon R7 graphics is a welcome addition, rendering graphics beautifully with crisp definition. 

We especially like the touchscreen, which makes controlling onscreen knobs and sliders fast and easy. Of course, all this power tends to drain the battery quickly, but overall, the HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen is a serious machine for serious music recording work. 

Bottom-line: You might have to do a bit of shopping around to find an HP Business 15.6 Touchscreen at less than $500, but they are out there. The effort to find one will definitely be worth it for the touchscreen capability that makes recording and music production so much more convenient and enjoyable. 

HP Jaguar 15.6 Touchscreen

Price: Check here


  • Has a 10-finger multi touch screen
  • Good battery life 


  • Has an HDD instead of an SSD 

The HP Jaguar 15.6 is another HP model with a fast and responsive touchscreen. It’s priced even lower than the HP Business 15.6, which is pretty impressive considering everything you get for the money. 

The Jaguar’s Intel Core i5 processor runs at 2.50GHz out of the box, but you can crank it up to 3.10GHz for CPU-intensive tasks. The 8GB of RAM and sizable 1TB hard drive should be sufficient for most music applications, and you can pretty much make do for a while before you need to add more RAM and an external drive for your project files. 

This particular model’s touchscreen is the 10-finger multi-touch variety, making DAW navigation an absolute delight. You also get a good number of USB ports for all your peripherals and a full-sized “island” keyboard.

Bottom-line: At less than $400, the HP Jaguar 15.6 Touchscreen is an affordable option for home recording setups. We would have liked to see an SSD instead of the included HDD, but the multi-touchscreen and excellent battery life make it a good choice nevertheless. 

Acer Aspire E 15

Price: Check here


  • Comes with an SSD
  • Has a powerful i5 processor
  • Battery life is excellent 
  • Good value for the money


  • None, really 

The Acer Aspire E 15 comes at an almost unbelievably low price that we had to check to make sure we were looking at the right model. If you have any doubts as to whether a budget-priced laptop can deliver studio-worthy performance, the Aspire E 15 should lay them to rest. 

Acer clearly didn’t skimp on processing power, giving the Aspire E 15 an 8th generation Intel Core i5 3.4GHz CPU. So whether you need to record a full band, score a film, or produce a music video, this machine will handle whatever job you throw at it without a hiccup. 

For the price, you also get an Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics control with an impressive 2GB of VRAM, a gorgeous 1920 x 1080 widescreen display, and 8GB of RAM. It even comes with a 256GB SSD, ensuring quick and hassle-free data transfers for even the most demanding recording jobs. 

Bottom-line: With its powerful processor and outstanding battery life, the Acer Aspire E 15 is a worthy addition to any home and mobile recording setup. It even comes in far below the $500 mark, making it one of the best deals for music production today. 

Dell Inspiron i5378 2 in 1

Price: Check here


  • Can be used as a tablet and a laptop 
  • Memory is upgradeable 


  • The base model only has 4GB of RAM
  • Doesn’t have an optical drive

Can’t decide between a laptop and a tablet? Why not both? The Dell Inspiron i5378 2 in 1 delivers the power and performance of a laptop and the convenience and portability of a tablet in a single package, making it an excellent addition to your studio setup. 

The 7th Generation i3 Intel Core processor is powerful enough for all but the most demanding jobs and performs well in most home studio settings. Unfortunately, the base unit only comes with 4GB of RAM, which is a bit of a letdown, but you can upgrade it to a maximum of 16GB when funds permit. 

On the other hand, the Inspiron i5378 does have a 1TB HDD. This means that you have more than enough storage space for the largest projects and associated files.

Other features include Waves’ MaxxAudio Pro technology and an Intel HD Graphics 620 controller. Overall, the Dell Inspiron i5378 is a very respectable laptop that has the added advantage of transforming into a tablet. 

Bottom-line: If you need the power of a laptop and the convenience of a tablet, the Dell Inspiron i5378 2 in 1 is right up your alley. It does come in at right around the $500, so you might have to save up some more for some necessary upgrades. Even so, the base model should tide you over for most recording and music production jobs. 

Asus VivoBook X541UA

Price: Check here


  • Light and very portable
  • Supports USB-C 
  • Plenty of upgrade options 


  • Comes with an HDD instead of an SSD

The Asus VivoBook X541UA is an excellent choice for recording engineers who need a light and portable machine that doesn’t sacrifice power and performance. It has a fast and responsive 15.6-inch touch screen that lets you get around most of your DAW’s functions without a mouse. Processing is ably handled by the 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor, which can be turbo boosted to 3.1GHz for more demanding recording and production jobs.

Memory and storage requirements are handled by the 8GB of RAM and the 1TB HDD. Plus, you have the option to upgrade the memory to a very respectable 32GB. This particular model has an Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics controller, which does a great job of rendering and displaying images. 

The VivoBook X541UA has a decent number of USB ports, and support is provided for USB-C. This is a welcome addition for a laptop at this price point, ensuring future-proof compatibility for a host of newer devices. 

Bottom-line: You might have to look around to find an Asus VivoBook X541UA at under $500, but the effort will be worth it. With a powerful processor, touchscreen, and USB-C support, this particular model will serve your recording needs for a few years. 


There you have it! That’s our rundown of the best recording and music production laptops you can get for less than $500. Any of these models could easily serve as your primary studio machine, and we are confident that you will get a lot of use out of whichever one you choose for at least a couple of years. 

Keep in mind that you will have to stick to the base model for most of these to keep the price under the $500 mark. You might also have to do a bit of comparison shopping and price matching to get the best deals. But with a bit of patience and some haggling, you can get a powerful and very serviceable machine for less than five bills. 

Don’t forget to check our guide to The Best Chromebook For Music Production (For Beginners) as well, for even more affordable options! 

Good luck and happy shopping!  

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