Best Laptop for Music Production under $1000 [2022 Reviewed]

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All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

ThumbnailLaptops for Music Production under $1000ProRec ScorePrice
Lenovo V14Lenovo V14
8.8
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Acer Aspire 3Acer Aspire 3
8.3
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Dell Inspiron 15 3511Dell Inspiron 15 3511
7.9
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Introduction

The sub $1000 price point for laptops has fierce competition. You can find modern laptops in this range that will provide a satisfactory music production experience. However, to find the best one, you will have to dig deep. Not only do you need a machine that performs well, but also one that will be future proof without missing out on any key features! 

When it comes to performance, any modern processor with 4 cores is going to get the job done. If you can find a laptop with a higher core count then that’s excellent, but isn’t a necessity at this price point. We tested multiple 10th generation Intel processors with different kinds of DAWs, and found them to perform really well. Anything that provides equivalent or better performance should be perfectly fine. 

Your laptop’s RAM impacts your production experience quite a bit. While we have produced on machines with as low as 4 GB of RAM, we do not recommend that if you’re looking for a smooth user experience. Having at least 12 GB of RAM keeps you from running into any major stutters or crashes. However, 16 GB or more is really what you should be aiming for. 

We recommend going for a laptop with at least 512 GB of storage. It will be enough to get you started with your preferred DAW and a few of your favorite plugins. However, if you’re looking for a laptop to store more RAW files, then you should look towards getting 1 TB or more. Always go for a device with SSD storage, they’re now the norm even on budget laptops. Alternatively, you may also invest in external storage if you ever feel like you’re running out of space.

OS is also a common deciding factor among most people. Unless you use an OS-specific DAW, you can go for any operating system you want. Most mainstream DAWs such as FL Studio and Pro Tools work equally well on both Windows and macOS. You can go for whichever you are more comfortable with or used to. However, considering the budget you are working with, it would be wise to only consider Windows options. It will be very hard to find a mac under a grand that can keep up with a heavy workload.

Best Laptop for Music Production under $1000 Reviews

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Lenovo V14 Business Laptop
8.8/10ProRec Score
8.8Average Score
ProRec Score – Lenovo V14
Price to Performance
8
Processor
9
RAM
10
Storage
9
Connectivity
9
Additional Features
8

The Lenovo V14 comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 which is a 4 core and 8 thread processor with a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.2 GHz. It is a big upgrade over the 10th generation i5 on its predecessor as we found it to be 15 percent faster in our testing. It performed right about how we expected when testing the laptop with DAWs like FL Studio. There were minor stutters, but the machine didn’t crash at all during testing.

The V14 also had good thermal performance. The external chassis did get a bit warm, but not to a point of concern. There was very little thermal throttling, and the Lenovo managed to maintain its performance even under sustained workloads. There was no coil whine, and the fan noise was also not too loud, our music production experience remained unhindered. 

You get 40GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD with the V14. The RAM is more than enough for any kind of production workload, and will do you good when multitasking or opening multiple programs in the background. The storage is an area where the V14 gets a big upgrade over its predecessor. Previously, you only got a slow mechanical hard drive, which wasn’t acceptable even for an older budget laptop. Luckily, Lenovo made sure to include an SSD, and that too a high capacity one, which makes the laptop a lot smoother. 

The V14 comes with a 14-inch FHD 1080p display which is again an upgrade since the previous model only had a resolution of 1366 x 768. The laptop has a fairly sharp and color accurate panel, which even works well in a well-lit environment. It does struggle a bit under direct sunlight, but that won’t be a problem since most of your music production will happen indoors. The display quality won’t blow you away, but it gets the job done, especially considering the price point. 

The port selection on this device is pretty good as you get 1 USB-A 2.0, 1 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, 1 HDMI, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, 1 headphone jack and a power connector. You can connect most audio gear without any issues since there is both a USB-A and USB-C port. Other unique features include a Kensington Lock, a 720p webcam with a privacy shutter and a full copy of Windows 11 Pro.

Another important security feature of the Lenovo is the included firmware TPM 2.0 which encrypts all your important data on the laptop including passwords. While Lenovo’s ThinkPad series does offer better features, the V14 has decent features for the price point. The only problem we had was that the keyboard wasn’t backlit, and the trackpad wasn’t as comfortable, something the V14 shares with its predecessor.

The Lenovo V14 is a thin and light machine coming in at 12.8 x 9.4 x 0.78 inches and weighing 3.53 pounds. We had no issues carrying it in our backpack, although the weight distribution could be a bit better. The build quality of this laptop was decent as it was mostly made from ABS plastic, which was durable, and we didn’t notice any structural issues during our testing either. Not to mention, you also get a spill resistant keyboard, which protects your device from water damage.

We found the V14 to last about 6 hours on a single charge during our testing. It was not quite enough to get us through a whole day of usage, so we always had to plug the laptop before the day ended. Although the included 65W charger did help us charge the laptop fairly quickly. Overall, we were impressed with the performance and features that the Lenovo V14 offered, especially considering the price point, which is why it managed to secure a place on our list.

Lenovo V14 Benefits

You get 40 GB of DDR4 RAM which can handle all kinds of multitasking you throw at it. 

You get access to both a USB-A and USB-C port great for connecting audio gear.

Despite being lightweight, the Lenovo V14 is also very durable because of its excellent build quality.

Lenovo V14 Drawbacks

The keyboard isn’t backlit, and the trackpad isn’t really comfortable. 

You only get 6 hours of battery life which wasn’t enough to get us through the entire day.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Dell Inspiron 15 3511
7.9/10ProRec Score
7.9Average Score
ProRec Score – Dell Inspiron 15 3511
Price to Performance
8
Processor
8.5
RAM
8
Storage
9
Connectivity
7
Additional Features
7

The Dell Insipron series is Dell’s budget offering which aims to provide an excellent user experience at a more affordable price point. It comes with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 which is the exact same processor found on the V14’spredecessor. It provides a 50 percent performance boost over the Celeron N5030 on its predecessor. We found the Dell to provide a very similar music production experience when compared to the Lenovo, although there was a noticeable difference in audio rendering times. 

The thermals of the Dell Inspiron weren’t the best. Under heavy load it would throttle performance. We heard the fans turn on instantly and they were fairly loud. To solve this problem, we lowered the maximum clock frequency of the laptop to an appropriate level, after which the device performed smoothly and the fans didn’t turn on as often. We found the predecessor on the Dell to have much better thermal performance due to having a more energy-efficient CPU that does not produce much heat. 

You get 32GB of RAM and a 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD with the Inspiron. While 32 GB of RAM is a bit less than the 40 GB on the Lenovo, it still manages to provide a powerful experience. The 1 TB of SSD is  enough to store your DAW, plugins, and a few RAW files. If you ever run out of storage in the future, you can always upgrade the internal SSD or go for external storage. 

The 15.6-inch FHD 1080p LED display on this laptop was surprisingly good. It was sharp and had great colors and viewing angles. It was really bright and was usable even under direct sunlight due to the anti glare coating. The main highlight of this device is the touchscreen. It helps a lot in navigating the UI, a feature that is not seen on most laptops especially in this price range. We found the touch to be responsive, albeit not as good as a dedicated tablet. 

The Dell Inspiron’s port selection includes; 1 SD Card Reader, 1 USB-A 2.0, 2 USB-A 3.2, 1 HDMI 1.4 and a headphone jack. There is no USB-C port so you will only be restricted to accessories and audio interface which connect via USB-A. You can always get a USB hub to connect USB-C audio interface or accessories, which is something that we used during our time with this machine as well.  

The Dell Inspiron doesn’t miss out on any of the essential features such as a decent quality webcam and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. 

The Dell is also fairly light coming in at 14.11 x 9.27 x 0.69 inches and weighing 3.81 pounds. While it was heavier than the Lenovo, we found it quite portable due to having better weight distribution. The build quality and design of the Dell Inspiron is also pretty good, which give it a much more premium look for its price point, while also being fairly durable.

We found the Dell Inspiron to have a very similar battery life when compared to the Lenovo at around 6 to 7 hours. This was a bit lower than the 8-hour battery life on its predecessor which had greater longevity due to having a more power efficient CPU. It was also not quite enough to last us through the entire day, and we still had to charge it before the day ended. Luckily, the Inspiron supported fast charging to top up your laptop’s battery quickly.

Despite having average thermals, the Dell managed to impress us with great performance, a ton of RAM and storage, and excellent design. You will definitely not be disappointed with your decision if you go for this machine.

Dell Inspiron 15 3511 Benefits

You get 32 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD which ensures that your device remains smooth and doesn’t run out of space.

The display of the Dell Inspiron 15 3511 is excellent for the price as not only is it sharp and has great colors, but also has decent outdoor visibility especially for the price.

The Dell is portable and has a modern design which is similar to a lot of higher end devices. 

Dell Inspiron 15 3511 Drawbacks

The thermal performance of the Dell is mediocre as the device faces a lot of thermal throttling especially under high load. 

There is no USB-C port, so you will only be able to use audio interface that support USB-A.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Acer Aspire 3
8.3/10ProRec Score
8.3Average Score
ProRec Score – Acer Aspire 3
Price to Performance
10
Processor
9
RAM
7
Storage
9
Connectivity
7
Additional Features
8

The Acer Aspire series is known to provide excellent value for money and the Aspire 3 is no different. It comes equipped with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 which is the exact same processor found on the Lenovo V14, while costing much less. The predecessor of the Aspire came with an i5-1035G1 which is the exact same processor found on the Dell Inspiron 3511. We found it to be 15 percent slower than its successor. In our testing, the Acer Aspire 3 performed almost just as well as the Lenovo, and we had no major problems.

You get a solid cooling system with the Aspire thatmanages to maintain temperatures even under sustained load. Acer improved the fan quality on this device over its predecessor. The fans don’tget as loud, and they keep the system a bit cooler. Although, when we subjected the Aspire to extreme workloads, the cooling system did struggle a bit. There was a bit of thermal throttling initially, but then the system cooled down a bit and maintained its performance. The Acer manages better thermal performance than most other laptops in its price range. 

The Acer Aspire 3 comes with 20GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SSD. Despite having half the memory of the Lenovo, there was very little difference in the memory performance of the two devices. You also get a large SSD where you can store all DAW, along with all your plugins and instruments.

The 17.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display on the Aspire is a big upgrade over its predecessor. Not only did its predecessor have a smaller display, it was also lower quality. Having a large screen can be useful for music production as you will be able to work with a larger part of your track because of the extra real estate. Whether you prefer a larger or smaller panel is up to your own preference. The Acer has a better display than its predecessor as it was brighter and even had better viewing angles.

The port selection on Acer wasn’t the best with 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A Ports, 1 AC smart pin, 1 HDMI, 1 RJ-45 Ethernet Port and a headphone jack. Just like the Dell, you don’t get any USB-C ports which means you will only be able to use gear which supports USB-C. Not to mention, you will restrict the kinds of accessories that you can use with your laptop as well.

Some additional features of the Acer Aspire 5 include a full-sized keyboard, a 720p webcam and a full copy of Windows 11. The only thing we missed was the presence of backlighting on the keyboard, which we would have forgiven if it weren’t for the fact that the predecessor of the Aspire also came with a backlit keyboard. However, this isn’t much of an issue since many people don’t need a backlit keyboard and the screen is bright enough for you to not feel the need to turn on the backlighting. 

Being a 17-inch device, the Aspire is fairly large and not portable. Its dimensions are ‎22 x 12.5 x 3.5 inches, and it weighs 5.73 pounds. This isn’t much of an issue since most people use their devices indoors in a studio. With the extra heft you get an excellent cooling system and good build quality.

We found the Aspire to last 8 hours on a single charge which is above average. We rarely had to charge the laptop before the end of the day so it will likely last you a full day of usage.

The Acer was the most affordable option on our list and still managed to impress us with its excellent performance and features. It even kept the device cool, while providing excellent battery life which makes it a great option for music production.

Acer Aspire 3 Benefits

Excellent performance for the price range with the i5-1135G7 which even rivals more expensive laptops. 

The thermal performance of the Acer Aspire 3 is pretty good, as the laptop doesn’t thermal throttling a lot, and the fans are also fairly silent.

The battery life on the Aspire 3 is fairly good as it can last 8 hours on a single charge.

Acer Aspire 3 Drawbacks

You don’t get a USB-C port which means you will be restricted in what kinds of audio gear you can connect. 

You don’t get a backlit keyboard which was present on the Aspire’s predecessor. 

Verdict

music production laptop under $1000

Based on our scoring model, you can see the highest variance in the Price to Performance, RAM and Connectivity categories. The Aspire 3 is the most affordable laptop of the bunch and it has the same processor as the Lenovo, which helps is score a 10 in the category which is 2 more than the other two devices. The Lenovo has a massive 40 GB of RAM which is double that of the Acer, so it manages to win the category by 3 points and having a perfect score of 10. The Lenovo is the only laptop which has a USB-C port out of the three devices so it scores 9 in the category while the other two devices only scored 7.

The Lenovo V14 remained stable throughout all categories. It had a perfect score in the RAM category. The only categories it scored less than a 9 were Price to Performance and Additional features, where it maintains a score of 8. Since the Lenovo is the most expensive laptop of this roundup, it didn’t have the best score in Price to Performance, where the Acer dominates. For Additional Features, the Lenovo actually performs really well as it has the highest score of the roundup, but since it is a budget laptop there is a bit more to be desired.

The Acer Aspire 3 is also a good option especially for those looking for the best value.  It provides similar performance as the Lenovo which is why it scores 10 in Price to Performance and 9 in the Processor category. It also has the same score as the Lenovo in the Storage and Additional features categories of 9 and 8 respectively. The only category it doesn’t perform well is in connectivity and RAM where it scores a 7 because of which is has a 0.4 average score variance when compared to the Lenovo.

After a thorough comparison, we found the best laptop for music production under $1000 dollars to be the Lenovo V14 with a total average score of 8.8. The Lenovo  gives you access to both USB-A and USB-C ports and  40 GB of RAM which makes multitasking and using multiple plugins a breeze. Couple that with great performance and build quality, and you got yourself a solid machine for music production.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be any limitations Producing Music on a Laptop under $1000?

There are obvious compromises when going for a budget laptop over a more expensive one. However, if you do your research and select a laptop with great specifications like the ones we have recommended, then you won’t notice any major limitations for producing music. 

What are the considerations when purchasing a Laptop under $1000 for Music Production?

The most important consideration for a laptop for music production is performance. For that you will have to find a good processor and a high-capacity RAM kit. Generally, if your workload involves a lot of rendering then you should go for a laptop with a powerful CPU and if you work with a lot of sampling then having more RAM is beneficial. 

Another important consideration is the storage of your laptop. You should ideally be looking for a laptop with 1 TB or more. You may also consider going for an external storage device since those are more affordable and convenient. 

Why are there no macOS machines on your list?

Apple charges a premium for macs, you won’t find many good deals under $1000. However, there is nothing inherently wrong with those machines, when it comes to music production and if you find a good deal on a mac then you can go for that as well.

Does my Laptop come with a DAW already installed?

No. DAWs such as FL Studio are third party programs that you will have to download or install from a CD/Flash drive.