Buying the best laptop for DJing is not just about user experience, specific software and hardware requirements. The most important thing is having a reliable and stable laptop for your live performances, not only during your first few gigs but your entire career as a DJ.
Nobody wants dropouts or even worse a complete computer crash in the middle of their first gig, this is indeed a DJ’s worst nightmare.
How do you avoid this?
You’ll have to go through countless of websites and do all the research yourself. How? By reading reviews and check any comments or reports about dropouts, crashes, driver’s stability, etc, and even then it’s not really a safe bet.
The good news is…
I already did all that work for you.
So what will you find in this article?
We’ll go through the process on how to find the best laptop for djing so you can find the best laptops for djing yourself but first I’ll show you the best, most reliable and popular laptops used by DJs as of 2017.
Top 5 Best Laptops for DJing
These are the top laptops DJs haven’t reported issues in forums, social media and reviews. You can be safe you’ll have almost 0 chances of having issues when performing live with any of these. These also have more than enough performance for you to comfortably run your favorite DAW applications.
The Best Laptop For DJing
CPU: Intel Dual Core Core i5 2.9-3.3 GHz | RAM: 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | Display: 13.3” Retina Display IPS Glossy
One of the reasons why you see a lot of DJs advicing you to buy a MacBook is their realibility. This model doesn’t have the highest spec you can get from a MacBook Pro but as far DJing goes it is more than enough.
If budget isn’t an issue and you’re starting your career as a DJ, you can play it safe with Apple MacBooks . Why? Everything from the software , operating system, the motherboard and even the sound cards are all built and designed by the same company which makes everything work flawlessly and with almost no chances of crashing, blue screens, dropouts or any of your worst nightmares.
An i5 dual core processor with +3GHz and 8GB RAM is plenty to run the most intensive DAW software out there plus the fact that it has an 512GB SSD , with the latest technology available, will make sure to read out your mp3s and tracks faster plus they are more reliable than a regular HD Drives.
Its resolution is far higher than what you will find on many mainstream laptops out there (2880×1880) which will allow you to fit in more VSTs, Interfaces, Windows, etc.
As a bonus it has a backlit keyboard for the countless of times you’ll be performing in dark settings you’ll be performing and as long as you stick with the 2015 Models, you’ll get plenty of connectivity for all your peripherals and external devices.
Best Cheap Laptop for DJing
CPU: Intel Core i5 up to 3.1GHz | RAM: 8GB-16GB 2133MHz DDR4 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 15.6″ Full HD Matte Finish
Another gem for DJing. Dell offers quite reliable and solid laptops with their Inspiron, XPS and Precision series. It’s a windows laptop you can also count on for DJing in general.
This model is not as powerful as the DELL XPS 15 nor does it have a graphics card (which is totally unnecessary) , which is also three times more expensive, but is sufficient for DJing and performing live: 3.1GHz multicore processor and 8GB RAM (upgradeable to 16GB).
If you think you need more RAM, it will be more cost effective for you to upgrade it yourself. Don’t worry RAM is one of the easiest thing to update on a laptop.
On the plus side, it comes with an Solid State Driver as a storage device with plenty of capacity for your samples, tracks and mixes along with the advantage of the superb reading speeds these offer.
It’s display size is actually bigger than the MacBook Pro shown above for those who have problems with sets up far from an optimal viewing distance . It also comes with a matte finish for those few instances where reflections are unavoidable.
As a bonus it also comes with a backlit keyboard to easily see your keys in dark settings and plenty of ports for all your external connections(x1 USB 2.0, x2 USB 3.0 and HDMI for displays). Without any doubt this is the best laptop for djing for those on a budget.
Best Portable Laptop For DJing
CPU: Intel Dual Core Core i5 1.6-2.7 GHz | RAM: 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | Display: 13.3” LED-backlit Glossy Widescreen Display, 1440 x 900 resolution
If you are wondering why another MacBook made it into the list, well the reason is simple. It’s very hard to find reliable laptops from PC Manufacturers. It’s not the fact that Windows is unstable or PC laptops are bad in general but the fact that their parts are made from a whole array of different manufacturers, making them less efficient and more likely to crash on you.
The Air on the other hand is completely different from the Pro, it’s far more portable and has probably the longest battery life as far as ultrabooks and laptops go. It’s only 2.9lb and with +13 hours of battery life.
The latest 2015 Model has more than enough power to match the 13” MacBook Pro, it can be upgraded all the way to an i7 processor but an i5 is sufficient for DJing. While 8GB RAM is also sufficient, keep in mind it cannot be upgraded after purchase.
Luckily, it also comes with a blazing fast 512GB SSD storage (the latest tech as of 2017 – PCIe flash storage) and a backlit keyboard. In fact, the Air has the fastest boot up times on this list mainly due to its hard drive technology.
Lastly if you thought it doesn’t have enough ports as the MacBook Pro think again: it has X2 USB ports and a thunderbolt 2 port (for external displays) which is pretty good for an ultra thin laptop.
Best Windows Laptops For DJing
CPU: Intel Dual Core Core i5 2.5-3.0GHz | RAM: 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Display: 14” LED-backlit Widescreen Display, Full HD Matte Finish
When it comes to reliability and durability you can never leave Lenovo out of the picture. Out of all of their models and series, the thinkpads are one of the most durable laptops they have . With one of the best rigid and solid designs builds, a huge bonus for DJs.
This model is not a gaming laptop nor does it have any unnecessary features (no dedicated graphics card). As you can see by the specs listed, it seems to hit the right spot on every feature as far DJing is concerned.
Plenty of power with 3.0GHz (turbo boost) and dual core processor along with the right amount of RAM (8GB) and an SSD with 256GB for storage to increase read out times and give you a boost in terms of overall performance.
It’s display size being 14” is neither too small for those far from eyesight sets ups or stands nor too big for portability while having a full HD resolution to give you space for a plethora of interfaces, tools without the need to switch back and forth between views when you are performing. It also comes with a matte finish to prevent reflections from disturbing you when performing.
Out of this list it has the greatest number of ports :It has 3 USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot, ethernet, mini-displayport, and HDMI and guess what? It also comes with a backlit keyboard. Plus the keyboard itself is also spill resistant for any accidents that may happen whenever you are performing. Definitely the best laptops for Djing coming from a Windows machine, nothing is missing from this one.
Best Laptop For DJing and Producing
CPU: Interl Core i7 3.5Ghz Quad Core | RAM: 16GB 2133MHz DDR4 | Storage: 128 GB + 1TB HDD | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB | Display: 15.6” Matte IPS FHD display 1920 by 1080 resolution
ASUS gaming laptops are quite popular among DJs looking for a non-apple laptops. Out of their entire plethora of models and series, this particular model strikes the right balance for DJing in particular. The only issue is the GPU which is totally unnecessary unless you have gaming in mind (which you shouldn’t really if you want your laptop to last and not crash on stage) but then again what else could you expect from a gaming machine.
It has far too much power for DJing: i7 Quad Core 3.5Ghz and 16GB but you can never complain really about it really especially at that price.
This one strikes the right combination for storage: a hybrid system. 1TB HDD for all of your files, tracks and mixes and an SSD for your mostly used samples, mixes, OS and software. Its display doesn’t fall behind either, it’s a 15.6” which is a must have if you have your set up quite far from your view and a Matte Display for those instances where bright reflections are unavoidable (working outside or when the sun is playing against you).
Plus you get way too many ports to play around with, probably far more than you’ll ever need: x3 USB 3.0 ports, x1 USB 3.1 port, HDMI, SD Card Reader and with a backlit keyboard too.
If you don’t mind the huge gaming tag on it, this laptop has everything you may need for DJing while remaining affordable at the same time.
How To Buy The Best Laptop For DJing
The first thing to consider when buying a laptop for DJing is of course the software you’re gonna use:
Here are 2 of the most popular software used by DJs:
|Traktor Pro||2.0 GHz Intel Core i5 or equal AMD processor||4 GB RAM||1GB||1024 x 768 screen resolution|
|Serato||i3,i5,i7 with 1.3GHz||5GB||Screen Resolution 1280 x 720|
As you can see most modern computers out there actually are more than enough, if you have a laptop near you and has been built during the past 5 years, it is likely that it will be able to run your software without issues. Even though, there’s only three of them virtually all of them have about the same requirements.
Laptops today come with far more power than these specifications require without being that pricey. Why should you stick with modern laptops instead of your cheap old 3 year old laptop? You will be guaranteed everything will work seamlessly and with little effort as possible with a new one. Nobody wants to be on the fence with a cheap laptop specially for live performances.
Besides there are other things to take into account such durability, design, storage, ports, etc, not specified by your software.
The goal of buying a laptop specifically for DJing is stability. The challenge becomes much more difficult with so many choices of laptops today especially if you go for windows manufacturers. Here’s a few tips when looking for a stable and reliable laptop for your gigs.
- Your laptop should solely be used for DJing purposes, try to not to build it with other things in mind: web browsing, gaming, watching movies. Not only that, in fact it is recommended you use a different laptop for making your tracks and mixes.
- Don’t be cheap when buying laptops for DJing. You don’t have to go for the latest and best specs on the market but actually pay attention on the brand and build quality of your laptop.
- Keep all other software out of your laptop, only install your DJ software, your samples and tracks.
Recommended Specs For DJing
If you want a stable and reliable system, you should never make your laptop reach a bottleneck and use up all of its resources, this will make it more likely to crash and this is the reason why we have to go over the specs and aim for far higher than the ones recommended by software companies.
As mentioned by the software requirements, you’re gonna need a multicore CPU. Either a dual core or quad core works fine although a quad core may be too much for DJing in general, but it’s actually more useful for producers where you’ll be launching several applications at the same time to make your mixes and tracks.
However if we are just dealing with laptops for DJing and live performances, an i5 dual core processor over a quad core i7 processor will be alright.
The most important thing is to keep the clock speed as high as possible, either with an i5 or an i7 processor. At the end, it’s not the number of cores that really matter but the frequency or the speed at which each “core” operates.
This will make sure everything will work flawlessly no matter what and how many effects you are applying and VSTs you are using.
Although your software mostly recommends 4GB of RAM, you can never go wrong with more RAM. It’s cheap and you shouldn’t have an issue going for 8GB. If you are going for an 8GB RAM laptop, do so at the time of purchase most laptops are not upgrade-able. Otherwise do your research or you may be stuck with low RAM especially if you choose ultrabooks.
A higher RAM along with a high clock speed for your CPU will keep your system away from reaching its limit and will also put less stress on it making it less likely to experience a drop out or a crash.
8GB is enough for live performances.
Storage size shouldn’t be an issue, since this laptop is mostly used for DJing. Just try your best to keep a lot of space empty on it which will keep your system working flawlessly. You’ll avoid hitting any bottlenecks and therefore avoiding any mishaps during your performance.
A 128GB-256GB device should be enough but if you plan on storing large files on it, then you can bump it to 512GB or better yet use an external hard drive. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep a lot of empty space.
Solid State Drive
If budget isn’t an issue and you’ve already maxed out on RAM and CPU, invest on an SDD. Unlike regular hard drives, their readout is faster and are they are more quiet than regular hard drives plus they’re more resistant to the physical damage from being constantly on the move.
Also, it doesn’t have any moving parts like regular hard drives do(which has thousands), so it is less likely to crash on you.
Although DJ software is very specific on what kind of display to use, it is only relevant to run the software optimally. There’s more things to keep in mind when shopping for laptops.
Ideally you’d want a higher resolution than the one stated on your DJ software. The higher your resolution, the more tools, interfaces and buttons you’ll be able to see on the screen without having to switch views back and forth. However going for 4k and ultra high resolution displays may not be a good idea for a few software out there. Stick with full HD or Retina Displays.
Size may or may not be an issue. If you are putting your laptop on a stand or looking it from a distance then avoid low screen sizes, depending on your set up and eyesight a 13-15” screen should be sufficient.
A 17” is of course a huge bonus but that comes with less portability, higher price and far less battery life into the mix.
Matte vs. Glossy Finish
Long story short, the difference between them is their color reproduction. A Glossy finish will give you more rich and vivid colors due to the fact that it doesn’t come with a protector on top of it so light will directly hit your eyes from the screen without being deflected.
The down here is that if you are on a setting with high illumination either from sunlight or artificial light (in a club or outside), then you may have trouble seeing your display properly.
A Matte finish does come with a protector which diffuses light in all directions giving you a more pale color reproduction which you won’t even notice.
A Matte finish is recommended to make sure you actually can see your screen anywhere either outside with sunlight hitting your screen or in a highly illuminated club.
Obviously, avoid all netbooks and ultrabooks with a lack of ports (the New MacBook is an example).
Ideally you’d want a laptop with enough ports for all your components: DJ controller, midi keyboard, DJ effect units, visual displays, etc.
USB 3.0: Make sure there are plenty for midi interfaces, pad controllers and an external sound card.
Thunderbolt 3: This is useful for external displays and high data transfers.
HDMI: You can also attach another screen with an HDMI. Your laptop may not or may have one but a thunderbolt port or miniDisplay port will do the trick as well.
You don’t need a full size keyboard which comes with a numerical pad. So the size shouldn’t be an issue however you may want a backlit keyboard just in case your gig may be a place where you may not be able to see your keys easily.
Lastly make sure the laptop you buy is well built and has a solid design. A DJ laptop will take more physical damage than a laptop from a regular consumer which is just simply standing on a desk as opposed to being constantly on the move.
Even if you find a laptop with all the specifications listed above for a cheaper price, take a look at the design and built because that’s where manufacturers try to cut the price down.
Another good tip is to aim for business class laptops as opposed to regular consumer laptops, they are build with durability and reliability in mind.
If you found any more reliable laptops for djing, please let us know in the comments know!