Best Laptops For Music Production: Buying Advice
Choosing a laptop capable of running CPU-intensive audio production work can be tricky. Some options focus heavily on battery life. Others major on performance, and favour higher-grade processors to ensure operations run snappily. Add into that differences in screen sizes, aesthetics and any number of other variables and we can easily see how its hard to justify buying one model over another.
You’re essentially looking for two major things on the spec-sheet above all others: the CPU and the available RAM. The CPU is what does the real work. So every time you load a new MIDI instrument, fill the piano roll with data, or bounce down audio to new tracks, you’re asking the CPU to translate it into sound.
Adding extra effects or instrument plugins works the CPU. Exporting finished versions of your tracks works the CPU. You get the picture. If it involves processing, the CPU is your best friend so it pays to prioritise a solid model over most other features.
Best Refurbished Laptops Of 2021 For Home And Office Use
Last Updated By Subhash D
It is not always necessary to spend a fortune on flagship laptops when you can get the same performance and quality at a much lesser price. Yes, I am serious when I am saying this. I am talking about certified refurbished laptops.
In my more than twenty years of experience in the IT industry I have learned that among every 10 laptop breakdowns, 9 are related to software issues. It can be a virus infection after an application download from an untrusted source or some OS malfunctioning. The chances of hardware failure are the bare minimum I can say this with certainty from my professional experiences.
Having said this, I can assure you that non-functional laptops can be easily converted into reliably running machines with a few hardware upgrades and replacements. I discussed this in my previous guide on Refurbished Laptops. So, buying a certified laptop is not a bad idea if you make this purchase from an authorized refurbisher.
Dell Xps 17 Performance
With its 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-10875H processor, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, the XPS 17 is an undeniable powerhouse. The laptop ripped through nearly every test we threw at it, starting with our real-world test. I launched my typical 40 tabs in , but loaded it up with a couple of Twitch streams and videos. The XPS 17 took it all in stride with no signs of slowing down.
The notebook kept up its performance on our synthetic benchmarks. When we ran Geekbench 5.0, an overall performance test, the XPS 17 achieved 7,740, pushing past the 4,278 premium laptop average. The MacBook Pro and its Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU wasnt too far behind, at 7,201. The Envy 17t hit 3,272.
On the Handbrake test, the XPS 17 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 8 minutes and 41 seconds. It was faster than the 18:41 average and the Envy 17ts 22:23. The MacBook Pro was a bit faster at 8 minutes flat.
When we ran the File Transfer test, the XPS 17s SSD clocked a transfer speed of 620.6 megabytes per second, beating the Envy 17ts 390 MBps. Still, it was short of the 692.1 MBps average. The MacBook Pro scored a whopping 1,1017.9 MBps, but keep in mind that this was on the BlackMagic Read/Write test, a different benchmark than our usual test .
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How To Find The Right Gaming Laptop
When shopping for a gaming laptop, there’s a lot to consider. To help you choose a system, here are five key points to keep in mind when choosing a system.
Budget: What you get for the money.
You can find good inexpensive gaming laptops for under $1,000. However, more powerful mainstream gaming laptops are often priced between $1,500-$2,000. Premium systems typically cost more than $2,000 and come stacked with a host of high-powered goodies such as high-powered specs and tricked-out software.
Screen Size: 15 inches is the go-to
It’s very rare that you’ll find a 13 or 14-inch gaming laptops nowadays as smaller bezels and lighter frames have paved the way for seriously thin-and-light gaming laptops. That means the days of chunky 15.6-inch laptops putting a strain on your back are over .
From there, you have the 17.3-inch desktop replacements that like their smaller counterparts are becoming super svelte. But there are still the big behemoths that don’t skimp on the specs. However, weighing upwards of 8 pounds, those big boys are made for your home gaming station.
Screen Resolution: 1080p for high refresh rates, 4K for detail
Refresh rate: 120Hz is the sweet spot
Intel or AMD?
Battery Life: At least 4.5 hours
Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 16GB Are Best Bets
You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 1080p screen.
Cpus: A Fork In The Road
Essentially, a faster processor means two things your computer can handle more tasks being thrown at it, and it can ‘process’ those things a lot quicker. You may see only small differences perhaps an audio file will render one minute quicker using the faster of two processors, but over time this clearly adds up.
In the CPU world, there are two major players. Intel is the big name, with a huge share of the market. Intels range goes from i3 the least powerful all the way up to i9. Most common in mid-to-upper tier laptops, however, are the i5 and i7 variants, and within that sphere you have different speed ratings, measured in gigahertz, as well as the option to turbo-boost when youre placing the computer under major stress. The other name to look out for is AMD, which produces the Ryzen processors. These follow a similar nomenclature to the Intel versions, so R3, R5 and so on, and are popular amongst the gaming crowd.
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Display: At Least 14 Inches With 1920×1080 Pixels
A display is one of the most important and expensive parts of an office computer. For basic tasks, it is good to have a 14-inch or a 15-inch screen with a resolution of 1920×1080 . If there is a taller display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, dont hesitate to take it, as it is great for working with documents.
If you select an 11-inch laptop and use it without an external monitor, you might notice that you dont have enough space when working with large spreadsheets. A laptop with a 17-inch screen might be too heavy and bulky.
But Are Cheap Laptops Worth It
You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select.
Rather than just making a few purchase suggestions and sending you on your way, we’re going to equip you with some knowledge that’ll help you be a more informed laptop shopper. You know all that computer jargon of processor-this and gigahertz-that we’ll explain it all in terms that anyone can understand.
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Dell Xps 17 Battery Life
Typically, a laptop with a 4K display doesnt last past 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. But after continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the XPS 17 lasted 9 hours and 5 minutes. It outlasted the Envy 17t and the premium laptop average . The MacBook Pro, however, was the last laptop standing at 10:55.
Settle On An Operating System
The Mac vs. PC debate is one of the oldest in modern technology, and we’re not going to pick a side or try to settle that particular religious war here. But if you’re not wedded to one or the other by years of habit and are open to switching, here’s a quick rundown of your choices.
Windows 10 is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system. Desktops that use it and previous versions of the OS are what most people typically rely on, so you’ll be assured of the best compatibility and the widest selection of third-party software. Desktops running Windows 10 are also readily available below $500, making them attractive to casual users, families looking for a second PC, and bargain hunters.
Macs are an excellent choice if you’re already in an Apple-centric household, since they offer seamless compatibility with iPads and iPhones, including the ability to send and receive messages on any device connected to your iCloud account. The cost of entry will be higher than with the least expensive PCs, however.
Google’s Chrome OS is a viable alternative to Windows and macOS, but desktops running it are rare and best suited to niche uses like powering a restaurant menu display. A fourth option is to buy a desktop with no operating system at all and install an open-source one of your choosing, such as Ubuntu Linux. We don’t recommend going this route unless you’re technically savvy, willing to experiment, and okay fixing software compatibility issues and other quirks.
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Asus Chromebook C202sa 116 Inches
The Chromebook C202SA is a tough cookie, with a wide rubber bumper running all the way around it. It is said that it can also withstand being dropped flatly from 3.9 feet high and a side drop of 31 inches, thats how sturdy it is. In addition, it is also water-resistant and can stand a spill of a maximum of 2.23 ounces of water, as it has good protection with Mylar lining. It is lightweight at 2.2 pounds. The dimensions of the Asus Chromebook C202SA are 11.6 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches.
As for connectivity, there are 2 USB A ports of 3.0 SuperSpeed of 5 Gbps transfer rate. In addition, there is one HDMI port one SD card slot one audio jack and the AC jack. The screen display of 11.6 inches comes with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels with average viewing angles, and there is an anti-glare coating for better visibility.
It is powered by the Intel Celeron N3060 chipset clocking at a speed of 1.6 GHz and has a RAM of 4 GB LPDDR3, with Intel HD Graphics 400 integrated in it. This is combined with a hard drive capacity of 16 GB eMMC. The battery life lasts for an average of 10 hours. Though it is not equipped with a superfast performance or any amazing features, it has a solid built and offers a good user experience at a low cost.
The Best Laptop Of 2021
The late-2020 MacBook Air, powered by Apples M1 processor, is the best laptop you can buy. The base model, which includes 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, starts at $999.
Appearance-wise, this laptop has a lot in common with the Intel-powered MacBook Air that Apple released earlier this year, including the same 2560 x 1600 screen, Touch ID, 720p webcam, fingerprint sensor, and scissor-switch keyboard.
But the new processor is the star of the show here its fast. In our testing, it handled intense photo- and video-editing workloads better than almost any Intel-powered laptop weve tried this year. It was also able to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at close-to-playable frame rates, which is quite a feat for integrated graphics. At launch, these apps hadnt yet been optimized for the M1 processor and were running through Apples Rosetta 2 translation layer but they still worked fine.
And the processing power didnt even weigh down the battery life: we got between eight and 10 hours of sustained work.
Another benefit of the M1 processor is that it enables the MacBook Air to run iPhone and iPad apps natively on macOS. As of this writing, there still isnt a huge selection of mobile apps available, and some that have been released arent quite optimized for the laptop screen. Still, its a benefit we can look forward to as time goes on.
The HP Spectre x360 14 is one of the best convertible laptops you can buy.
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The Best Laptop Deals This Week*
*Deals are selected by our partner, TechBargains
Increasing your budget to around $1,000 will unlock access to nearly all of the cutting-edge features modern laptops offer. These include slim, sturdy aluminum chassis, brilliant touch-enabled 4K displays, powerful processors and graphics chips, and batteries that will last all day and well into the night. The major caveat in this price range is that youll have to pick and choose which features are most important. You might be able to land a laptop with a beautiful 4K display or a cavernous terabyte of solid-state storage at this price, but probably not one with both.
If your piggybank has $2,000 or more, you can choose almost any combination of features you want. Even the most powerful laptop that money can buy, though, must still obey the laws of physics. Powerful hardware generates heat, and the cooling mechanisms that such components require take up space. Hardcore gamers who want a 17-inch display and a screaming-fast graphics processor that requires bulky cooling pipes and fans cant expect to find it in a thin, light laptop.
IT-manageable, security-conscious business laptopsmodels made primarily by Dell, HP, and Lenovohave their own pricing dynamic, and they tend to cost a bit more, all else being equal. Thats because of their premium warranty or support plans, enterprise-specific silicon focused on manageability or security, fingerprint or face-recognition login features, and more rugged build quality.
Best Windows Laptop: Dell Xps 13
- Display: 13.4-inch display at 1920 x 1200 / 3.5K OLED / 4K
- Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i3 / Core i5 / Core i7
- RAM: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB
- Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB solid state drive
- Size and weight: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.64 pounds
The Dell XPS 13 has long been a near-perfect Windows laptop, and the latest model makes it even better with the most immersive and stunning PC display weve seen yet. It sports a four-sided InfinityEdge display, meaning theres virtually no bezel to get in the way of any movies, shows or work documents you have open on its gorgeous 13.4-inch panel.
Dells laptop comes with a crisp full HD screen to start, though you can configure it with a 4K display if youre willing to pay up. Our full HD model looked beautiful in everyday use, with thick, inky blacks that made it easy to sift through work documents and plenty of color and detail when we stared at Henry Cavills chiseled face and shiny gray hair while streaming The Witcher.
And with optional touch functionality, the XPS 13 is as versatile as mainstream laptops get. The XPS 13s touch display proved fast and responsible in our testing, whether we pinched to zoom into web pages or bounced between tabs and applications with the tap of a finger. You should check out the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 if you want a true convertible tablet experience, but the standard XPS 13s touch screen still gets the job done for basic tasks.
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Should I Consider A Refurbished Laptop
Every manufacturer and reseller has different standards for refurbishing previously used laptops. A slight discount on a rigorously tested MacBook Pro that Apple sells with the same warranty as a new one might be worth the cost savings, while a laptop refurbished by a third party youve never heard could be chancy. Its best to buy any refurbished machine directly from the manufacturers online store as opposed to from a reseller, especially a reseller that may be hawking refurbs from marketplace” sellers or third parties on its platform.
Some of these resellers or their third parties will rate their refurbished stock with a grade. Weve seen refurbished laptops being sold and rated with grades of A, B+, B, C, and so on, to reflect the relative amount of wear and tear on the machine. There is no universal grading system for refurbished PCs, however. Its generally up to the reseller what the grade means, and thus it can vary from seller to seller. Were wary of machines graded this way and strongly recommend insisting on an ironclad return policy in the case of purchases like these, if you decide to roll the dice. You could end up pleasantly surprised, but usually, a refurbished-laptop deal that looks too good to be true…is.
Top 6 Laptops For Working From Home
The demand for laptops is very high nowadays, as all the workers who started working from home because of the COVID-19 need to stay efficient. Below, you will find a list of attractive options to help you purchase the best laptop for home office. I also recommend selecting one-two models in case your first choice is not available at the moment.
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Best Business Laptops In 2021
The best business laptops based on our testing
Whether you’re buying a fleet of laptops for your employees or just looking for a productivity system for yourself, you’ll want one of the best business laptops as they are typically durable, powerful, secure and easy to use.
We review dozens of business laptops each year and the models that make our best business laptops list offer a combination of comfort, performance and battery life. Don’t forget about security and durability business laptops typically come with fingerprint sensors, IR cameras and security chips, and many have military-grade durability. Newer models should even feature webcam sliders and displays with built-in privacy filters.
If you need something with a bit more oomph than your traditional business laptop, then check out our best workstations page. If you’re not sold on a business laptop, read our general best laptops page which features many devices that could do for work. Looking for more specific recommendations? See our best Lenovo ThinkPad and best Dell Latitude and Precision laptops guides.