Best Laptop for Music Storage [2022 Reviewed]

Introduction

When choosing a laptop for music storage, you have two different use cases. You either have a lot of songs that you’d like to keep on your computer, or you’re a music producer who makes his own songs that require additional space. Both of these use cases may look similar on the surface, however, they are completely different in terms of storage.

If you like downloading music and have a collection of songs, it’ll be tough to get by with a laptop that has limited storage. You will likely store all your files in MP3 format which is about 2 MB per minute for each song. Considering an average song is around 5 minutes, one song then roughly ends up taking 10 MB of disk space. Multiply that by the number of songs you anticipate storing on your device and you have an estimate of how much space all of this is going to take.

Now combine that with the space required by your operating system, applications and other files. It all adds up pretty quick. You’re going to need at least 512 GB of space on the lower end and 1 TB or more if you have a larger collection.

On the other hand, if you are into music production then that is a total different ball game. You will need a lot more storage in this case. Music producers generally have multiple storage mediums. A 1 TB drive (for your DAW, plugins and current projects) is the bare minimum you should aim for on a laptop. Additionally, you also want to get an external drive (~ 5TB) or two to save/archive your samples and projects.

Not only does storing files externally free up space on your laptop, you also get a solid backup in case something goes wrong. External storage doesn’t have to cost a lot either. You can always go for an HDD in this case, but always get an SSD for your laptop (internal storage) since those are faster and will directly impact your computer’s performance.

For both use cases above, instead of external drives you may also consider cloud storage such as OneDrive or Google Drive. If you don’t need a ton of space, then even free space offered by providers will suffice. You can also get creative and create accounts on different platforms. However, you’ll always need an internet connection for accessing your files and it may not be a viable solution in the long run.

Other than storage, your processor and RAM are also major components that affect performance. Based on our experience, laptops with 16 GB of RAM are the bare minimum for general use and even music production (running a DAW like Ableton Live or Pro Tools). However, if you have the budget, we recommend 32 GB or more for better performance and future proofing reasons.

Finally, DAWs work a lot better with more processing power. Getting the most powerful processor in your budget will serve you well. Any modern CPU with 4 cores will be enough but a processor with 6 cores or more is ideal for music production

Best Laptop for Music Storage Reviews

MSI GF75 Thin

8.3Average Score
MSI GF75 Thin
Price to Performance
7
Processor
7.5
RAM
9.5
Storage
10
Connectivity
9
Additional Features
7

MSI is well known for making high performance laptops at multiple price points. The GF75 comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H Quad-Core, which is a 4 core and 8 threads CPU with a maximum clock speed of up to 4.5 GHz. In our testing, it was about 10 percent faster than the i5 9th generation found on its predecessor and it managed to perform well when running different kinds of DAW. You also get a GTX 1650 4 GB GPU which is very powerful for the price, although you won’t really need the extra graphical capabilities for music production or storage, but it sure is nice to have!

You get 32 GB of DDR4 RAM with a 1 TB SSD and 2 TB HDD. There are lower tier variants also available, but we found this to be the more suitable option. 32 GB of RAM is more than enough for running multiple plugins. Having 3 TB of on-board storage means that you are less likely to require any external storage device for your songs and programs. However, if you’re producing heavy then you should at least get one external drive, but the need is probably not going to be immediate.

With the GF75, you get a 17.3″ LCD, FHD 1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS-Level 144Hz display. If you like large screens you will fall in love with this display. It produces great colors and is very smooth because of the high refresh rate. The brightness, while acceptable, isn’t the best we have seen. We tried using the laptop outdoors under direct sunlight and the screen wasn’t as great as we had hoped for. Although under well-lit conditions it worked out just fine.

While working with the MSI GF75, the laptop got pretty hot reaching temperatures of up to 97 degrees Celsius and causing thermal throttling. The fans got a bit too loud. Using a cooling pad and lowering the max frequency of the CPU managed to solve the problem, but with lower performance. Upon further research we found it to be a widespread issue, so you should keep that in mind before purchasing this laptop.

The fans on the MSI were still quite noisy even when the laptop was idle. We ran into some trouble laying vocals in the studio due to the excess background fan noise. This is why a cooling pad is heavily recommended. It will not only maintain temperature, but it will also keep your machine quiet.

We also noticed the display had a yellowish tint, which is a problem that existed on the predecessor as well. We couldn’t fix the problem even after color calibrating the display in the settings and turning off the blue light filter. This is something that is common on other models as well. This virtually had no impact on usability or user experience, but some people may find it annoying to work with.

The port selection on the MSI is amazing! You get 3 USB 3.2 Gen1, 1 USB 3.2 Gen1 Type C, 1x HDMI, 1 RJ-45 Ethernet and a headphone jack. The only thing that was missing is the lack of Thunderbolt support. This is really not a big deal since most accessories such as monitors, external storage devices, and audio interfaces have regular USB-A and USB-C ports. You can also connect all kinds of other devices, rarely anything has a Thunderbolt anyway.

Some other notable features include a good backlit keyboard and excellent speakers with Hi-Res Audio. As the name might suggest, the MSI GF75 Thin is relatively portable coming in at ‎15.63 x 10.24 x 0.9 inches. For a 17-inch laptop, it is not heavy at all, weighing only 4.85 pounds! You wouldn’t usually carry around a laptop this large in a bag. However, we were pleasantly surprised that if we had to, we could do so. Portability is always a good thing, you never know when you have to move around, and no one wants to carry a brick anywhere.

The reason it weights under 5 pounds is because the lower body is constructed out of plastic. With plastic you usually get a cheaper feel but you’ll be surprised that the GF75 is actually put together really well. The upper frame is made from brushed aluminum which looks and feels cool and is a bit more sturdy.

In our testing, we found the MSI to last about 4 hours under normal usage. This is on par with other laptops of this size. If you have a heavier workload, then you can expect to only get 2 to 3 hours of battery life at the most. The machine is designed to be a desktop replacement rather than a portable device.

MSI GF75 Thin Benefits

The MSI has one of the largest on-board storages you can find on a laptop with a total of 3 TB of space.

The display is very large and has a smooth 144 Hz refresh rate and it has great speakers which makes it great for music production.

The device weighs under 5lbs, extremely lightweight.

Awesome port selection

MSI GF75 Thin Drawbacks

The temperature on the MSI gets very high which causes the fan to spin at full throttle, you can combat that by buying a cooling pad for the device.

The screen has a yellowish tint, wasn’t an issue for us but some people may find it a bit annoying.

The battery life of the MSI is mediocre offering only 4 hours of screen on time and 2 to 3 hours of usage for demanding tasks. It is pretty standard considering this is a 17 inch desktop replacement device.

Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Gen 2

9.3Average Score
<strong>Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Gen 2</strong>
Price to Performance
9
Processor
8
RAM
9.5
Storage
9.5
Connectivity
10
Additional Features
10

Lenovo’s ThinkPad series provides one the best features out of any laptop in the market. The ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 is equipped with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 which is a 4 core and 8 thread CPU with a maximum turbo clock frequency of 4.2 GHz. Compared to the 10th Generation i5 found on its predecessor and on the MSI, you get a 7 percent performance boost. This may not be noticeable in daily tasks and even during audio production, but you do get a more future proof device.

Lenovo has optimized their thermals really well with the E15 Gen 2. The Gen 1 model used to get very warm and even throttle thermally which caused the fans to run at full speed, something which the MSI also experiences. Luckily, Lenovo fixed this problem as now the laptop only gets a bit warm to touch, but that doesn’t adversely affect the performance. In our testing, the fans only turned on a couple times when the CPU was being heavily taxed, and even then, the laptop remained fairly silent.

The ThinkPad comes with 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 2 TB SSD. While this is lower than the 3 TB storage on the MSI, it will still be enough to store all your songs and programs without requiring an external storage device right away. The 32 GB of RAM is more than enough to run all your plugins as well as any programs you want in the background. You also have the added benefit of holding on to this machine for longer without having to do any upgrades in the near future.

The E15 comes with a 15.6″ Full HD 1920×1080 Screen. It is amazing for indoor usage with great viewing angles and accurate colors. However, we could not use the E15 when testing it under direct sunlight due to only having 250 nits of brightness. Even in a well-lit environment, the screen was difficult to view. It was only usable indoors when there wasn’t a lot of light. Another issue with the front of the ThinkPad was its large bezels. They are similar to some ThinkPads from 2016 which makes it look very outdated.

Both the ThinkPad and MSI offer very similar port selections. You get 1 Thunderbolt 4 USB 4, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ-45 Ethernet port and a headphone jack. The notable upgrade of the E15 Gen 2 over its predecessor and even the MSI is the inclusion of a Thunderbolt 4 port. It will offer much faster data transfer speeds, and support for more accessories. Along with the included USB-A port, you will be able to connect any kind of audio interface you want.

ThinkPads are known for providing unique features such as the Kensington lock slot, TrackPoint and the inclusion of both a fingerprint scanner and Windows Hello Face unlock. The most notable part of using the ThinkPad E15 was the backlit keyboard. It is very similar to other ThinkPad keyboards. It has a tactile feel with great key travel making it one of the best keyboards we have tested. Although the backlighting was a bit uneven, but not enough to hinder our experience.

While the ThinkPad isn’t as large as the MSI coming in at 14.48 x 9.64 x 0.74 inches, it is very heavy for its size weighing 4.3 pounds. It was a bit easier to carry in a backpack, but we would still not recommend using it as a portable device. The upside of having a heavy device is that it is very rugged, although the E15 is made of plastic rather than Titanium used on more much premium ThinkPads.

In our testing, the E15 Gen 2 offers about 8 hours of battery life, which is a bit of a downgrade compared to the 10 hours offered by its predecessor. We barely ever had to charge the ThinkPad before the end of the day, but having a bit more battery life would’ve been better. Overall if you have a heavier workload, you can expect a battery life of about 5 – 6 hours which isn’t too bad considering you’re working at a desk and you can always charge the device or leave it plugged in if you want. The E15 is definitely one of the most powerful machines available in the market these days. You should look at this one seriously!

ThinkPad E15 Gen 2 Benefits

The E15 didn’t get hot or experience thermal throttling, while also remaining silent.

You get both a USB-C Thunderbolt and USB-A port, along with all the other required ports, to connect any kind of accessory.

The ThinkPad’s keyboard provides one of the best typing experience out of any laptop we tested.

32 GB of RAM is excellent for music production

ThinkPad E15 Gen 1 Drawbacks

The ThinkPad has an old design and it’s made of plastic, although it is built like a tank.

The battery life isn’t too bad but it is a downgrade over its predecessor.

HP Pavilion 15

9.2Average Score
<strong>HP Pavilion 15</strong>
Price to Performance
10
Processor
9
RAM
10
Storage
9.5
Connectivity
8
Additional Features
8.5

With the HP Pavilion, you get an 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1195G7 which is a 4 core and 8 thread processor with a 5 GHz maximum clock speed. It is about 33 percent faster than the i7-1065G7 found on its predecessor and 20 percent faster than the i5-1135G7 on the ThinkPad. We found this to be best performer out of the three, as we did not encounter a single crash when using different kinds of DAWs during our testing. The best part is that the HP remained fairly quiet even during CPU intensive workloads.

The HP Pavilion comes with a massive 64 GB of DDR4 RAM and 2 TB of SSD storage. The hard disk space will be more than enough for all your music storage or immediate production needs. Whereas the 64 GB of RAM is more than enough to run every single program on the planet! This is a really awesome configuration. The RAM and processor combo can easily run multiple demanding programs simultaneously as well.

You get a 15.6″ Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS micro-edge display. It produces good colors and gets bright enough to be used in well-lit environments. Although, when we used it in direct sunlight, like the MSI and the ThinkPad, the results were not all that great. It isn’t the best display you get for the price, but it gets the job done. The HP has very small bezels which make the front design look modern and premium.

The port selection on the HP isn’t the best with 1 USB Type-C, 2 USB Type-A, 1 HDMI 2.0 and 1 headphone/microphone combo. Along with the lack of Thunderbolt support, you also don’t have an Ethernet port. You can connect most of your devices such as audio interface and some accessories like an external SSD, not having TB is not a big deal, it is a good to have, not a must to have port on a laptop.

Luckily, the HP does not skip out on any important features such as the fingerprint scanner along with Windows Hello facial recognition, a good backlit keyboard and a webcam. All the other basic features such as the speakers and Wi-Fi 6 are also on par with other Windows laptop in this price range. You even get Windows 11 Pro preinstalled, which ran very smoothly in our testing and without any major bugs.

 The only major problem we encountered with the HP was that the Wi-Fi card had seemingly stopped working. While we used a Wi-Fi dongle for our testing, it can be problematic for those who don’t have a dongle or don’t want to use up their USB port for a feature that should be built into the laptop. Upon further research we found that the HP was prone to many motherboard related issues which could even brick the laptop. Luckily, if your device is under warranty then HP does easily get these issues fixed if you reach out to them.

The Pavilion is the most portable laptop out of the bunch. Its dimensions are 14.18 x 9.21 x 0.7 inches and it only weighs 3.86 pounds. We found it very comfortable carrying it in a backpack. Despite the portable design it is still built well. The upper and lower body is constructed from brushed aluminum which gives it a premium look, while also making it fairly durable.

In our testing, the HP Pavilion only provided about 7 hours of battery life. We often had to charge it during the day. Luckily, the quick charging speeds meant that we didn’t have to wait for long, but it would’ve been better if HP had provided a longer-lasting laptop.

HP Pavilion 15 Benefits

The HP provides stellar performance for its price with the Intel Core i7-1195G7 CPU.

You get a massive 64 GB of RAM and 2 TB of storage which makes storing and producing music that much easier.

The Pavilion doesn’t miss out on any major features, providing you both a Fingerprint scanner and face unlock along with a backlit keyboard and webcam.

HP Pavilion 15 Drawbacks

There are many motherboard related issues which are common with the HP.

The port selection is lack luster with a lack of an Ethernet and Thunderbolt port.

Verdict

Based on our scoring model, the highest variance can be seen in the Price to Performance, Connectivity and Additional Features categories. The HP Pavilion being the least expensive and most powerful laptop helps it have a perfect score in the price to performance category. The ThinkPad managed to win the connectivity category because of the presence of both a Thunderbolt port, something that was missing on the other two. It also managed to beat the other two laptops in additional features having scored 3 and 1.5 points more than the MSI and HP respectively.

The ThinkPad never scored below an 8 and scored 10 in both Connectivity and Additional eaturees. It had the lowest score of 8 in the processor category and that too only because the HP has a more powerful processor, otherwise the ThinkPad does perform well. It even manages to beat the MSI by 0.5 points due to the newer CPU.

The HP Pavilion 15 is also another great option instead of the ThinkPad with an average score variance of only 0.1 points. It even managed to outperform the ThinkPad in the Price to Performance, Processor and RAM categories, while having the same score in the storage category. The only reason the HP has a lower average score is the lack of a Thunderbolt port and having fewer features because of which it scores 2 and 1.5 points less in the corresponding categories.

Based on our testing and scoring model we have the ThinkPad is the definitive best laptop for music storage. It managed to have the highest overall score of 9.3. IThe large storage capacity is useful for all kinds of music storage, especially if you’re storing uncompressed files. It has top notch features like an amazing keyboard and a finger print scanner, which provides a user experience like no other device. It also has a powerful processor which, although doesn’t perform as well as the i7 on the HP, still manages to perform well enough when it comes to daily tasks and even audio production.

External Drive Considerations

An external storage drive can be a useful tool if you’re looking for music storage. You can either go with an SSD which offers faster transfer speeds or go with an HDD which is cheaper. If you’re producing music you’ll always run out of space since the output your DAW produces is high quality, so you’re going to need external space to store some of your projects, sort of an archive. You can even save your samples and other important things. As time goes by you can buy multiple drives, or even wipe the ones you have if you do not need your old data anymore.

Drives give you access to all your important files and media, including music, on the go. For music producers, they can access their instruments and DAW at any place they want and on any computer. You can work with the same files no matter which device you’re using. Having a large 5 TB drive will ensure that you will never run out of storage space in the near future. Another major advantage of having an external storage device is that they are much cheaper than getting the storage upgraded by the manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter if my laptop has SSD or HDD for Music Storage?

When we talk about actual computer usage (the hard drive in your computer) then having an SSD is crucial. Regardless of whether you are working on the computer doing whatever or importing samples and plugins, or any production related tasks, SSDs will give you better performance. Thus, having the high read and write speed of an SSD is important and saves you a lot of time.

If you’re only storing music to listen to, then an HDD works. The typical MP3 music files don’t take up a lot of space and can easily be loaded from the hard drive. The same is true for storing projects once you’re done working with them, an HDD will work just fine!

The main takeaway here is SSD for your computer/windows, and HDD for either internal or external storage.

Can I compress my files and buy a Laptop with lesser storage?

Regular music files are already compressed in MP3 format. You may compress a high bitrate MP3 file to a low bitrate one without compromising your music listening experience.

If you are a producer then you most likely are going to work with uncompressed formats such as WAV or AIFF files. For professional use, it is not recommended to use a compressed format such as an MP3 file, since they have a much lower bit rate at around 90kbps – 320kbps compared to the 1,411 kbps of WAV formats. Having such a low bit rate doesn’t hinder the audio listening experience, but it will certainly produce a lower quality audio file.

However, if you are just starting out in your audio production career then using MP3 can be good, just for learning or minimal editing, as typical MP3 files take 10 times less storage than their WAV counterparts. But it is not a professional solution at all.

Why do I need External Drives in addition to a Laptop for Music Storage?

The storage on your laptop may not be enough to store all your audio files. If you are an audio engineer then your DAW, instruments and plugins take up a lot of space as well. Even a 1 TB drive can fill up very quickly, especially if you use your laptop for other tasks. We know all too well how frustrating it can be to run out of storage in the middle of a recording or production session, and an external drive will help avoid that.

Another advantage to an external drive is that you have all your files with you no matter where you are and you can access them on different computers. It is especially useful if you are working on different computers or switch devices often. In fact, during all our tests, we don’t download all our plugins and instruments again, but instead, just connect an external drive with all the files already downloaded.

What is the difference between Laptop Storage vs. External Drives vs. Cloud Storage for Music?

The main difference between the three types of storage devices is how accessible they are. A laptop’s storage device can only be accessed on that laptop. On the other hand, an external storage drive can be accessed anywhere, as long as you have that device and your computer has the required USB ports. So, for example, you won’t be able to access an external hard drive that connects via USB-A on a MacBook or any other device without a USB-A port. Cloud storage can be accessed anywhere you want, as long as you have an internet connection. You don’t even need a computer to access those files, in fact, you can download them on your mobile or tablet as well.

Another key difference is the cost. Laptop storages usually cost the most, as the laptop manufacturer charges a markup on top of the price of the storage device. An external drive is usually cheaper, as the cost of production has lowered over time and there is fierce competition in this market as well. As a result, we, the consumer, can get a storage device at a ridiculously low price. Cloud storage has the cheapest up-front cost out of the three. You are only paying for the virtual space you take up on the server of your cloud service provider and the cost of maintaining that server. As a result, you don’t need to pay for any physical device. However, most cloud services have a subscription-based model. You might only be paying a few dollars up front, but over time that can add up quite a bit.

The last major difference between the three storage forms is their durability. When comparing the durability of a laptop storage and external drive, we will have to look at HDDs and SSDs separately. The only way a hard drive can be corrupted or broken is if it is physically damaged, since there is an actual rotating platter that can stop functioning if it is dropped. The hard drives in laptops are usually well protected by the body of the laptop. It is more likely that your laptop breaks first before your hard drive stops functioning. As for external HDDs, they are a bit less protected. Your hard drive is only as durable as its external casing. Although most modern HDDs are well protected, they are still more prone to damage than internal ones.

An SSD has limited numbers of reads and writes, which is how many times the data can be downloaded. It is unrealistic for a regular consumer to exceed this limit, so the chances of this happening are slim. Luckily, since SSDs use flash memory, they are not affected by physical damage such as drops. Therefore, internal and external SSDs are both equally durable.

Cloud storage is the most durable of them all. Since all your data is stored on remote servers, the only way you can lose it is if the servers burn down. Even then, most big cloud providers such as Microsoft and Apple have many backups for such scenarios so you are unlikely to lose your data. Another thing that can happen is that if the company storing your data goes bankrupt then they won’t be running their servers anymore. Fortunately, you can just go for a large and well reputable company such as Google, which will not face bankruptcy in the foreseeable future.