I have had the opportunity of using music production laptops pretty mush most brand of laptop out there this year given what I do. I have loaded FL Studio and M-Audio controllers on every one of the laptops below. In case anyone is considering purchasing a laptop, you may be able to use this information before you buy:
My recommendation for music production:
Incredible machine. Fast and runs the drivers for the m-audio well. The boot is a little slow due to the Lenovo management software. The biggest advantage of the Lenovo’s is they ground their boards out like Apple does so you don’t get the “power buzz” out of it when its on AC power.
HP NW8xxx series, NC6000:
Do NOT buy HP anything if you are going to produce. HP DOES NOT ground their boards properly and you get a terrible AC Buzz through your USB or Firewire interfaces. Laptops have great performance, however, the buzz is unbearable. I had to run this one on battery all the time when recording vocals. Stay away from Compaq/HP for music production.
These machines are terrible – avoid them. Warranty is terrible and performance is terrible. I had horrible performance and stability with these machines, especially in Ableton.
Apple Macbook, Macbook Pro:
Excellent machines for music production. Downside is these are expensive so if you have the money, go for it. Their warranties and extended are expensive, however, these are the best grounded machines. I got the least amount of buzz out of these from AC. For this reason, they make excellent machines for music production on the MAC or Windows side.
Dell isn’t bad. I tested an XPS laptop. I personally am not a big fan of Dell given their support and construction. They are pieced together from Samsung contracts in Malaysia. I did hear a higher level buzz from the Dell than the Lenovo, but it wasn’t much worse. Performance and stability is good with the Dell.
Over the last year and a half, I have switched laptops for testing for my job and inevitably loaded Ableton and VSTS/drivers for testing the machines for the hell of it for my own knowledge.
Out of them all, I was surprisingly impressed with the Lenovo T61 quality and quietness when running in the studio. I think the Lenovo is the closest to the Apple MacBook in terms of a machine built to do music.
I think you can’t go wrong with either the Lenovo T series (stay away from the Ideapad series) or the Apple Macbook series. Apple was without a doubt the quietest machine in the studio followed by the Lenovo. I would recommend if you are only going to run Windows, go Lenovo. If you want the MAC OS, go Apple Macbook Pro.
By all means, stay away from any HP/Compaq models as they obviously don’t know how to ground their boards and you get ridiculous amounts of noise out of them when on AC power.
I would quite honestly stay away from everything else with the exception of Dell if for some reason you can’t buy an Apple or Lenovo.
for more music production equipment and more check out my blog.