5 Best Laptops for DJs of 2024

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DJs have specific requirements for a laptop, maybe even more than other areas of music production. The basic things that make a computer work well for DJing and recording are similar, but they have some key differences.

It can be difficult for DJs to know what to look for in a new laptop, especially those that are new to it or even audio production itself. Even as a professional audio engineer, I know I would.

It's challenging to pick the right DJ software, controllers, and reliable DJ headphones, and then there’s the eternal debate between a Windows laptop that can be expanded and upgraded (to an extent), and Macs that are totally locked down.

I considered specs that DJs need most like processor, RAM, and screen size when curating this list. My top pick is the MSI Pulse GL76 because it’s got all the horsepower, great heat management, and a large display that makes navigating crowded DJ software easy.

Quick Summary of the Best Laptops for DJing

  1. MSI Pulse GL76 (Best Laptop for DJs Overall)
  2. Dell XPS 15 9530 (Best High-end Laptop for DJs)
  3. Lenovo ThinkPad P15s (Best Under $800)
  4. Apple MacBook Pro M3 16.2-inch (Best Mac Laptop for DJs)
  5. ASUS Vivobook s15 (Best Budget Laptop for DJs)

Best Laptops for DJing

Best Overall

A powerful laptop that’s built to perform.

Why We Love It
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Pro Graphics & processing
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Fantastic heat management
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17.3” display

SPECS:

CPU: i7 1200Hz
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen Size: 17.3”

It might be marketed as a gaming laptop, but the Pulse GL76 is perfect for music production. This spec'd out DJ laptop doubles as a fantastic centerpiece for recording too. I used it at a friend's studio and was impressed, but MSI has a way of doing that.

Under the hood it’s got all the right pieces without going over the top. Twelfth gen Intel core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics processing, three USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0, and a large 17.3” screen. There's no USB-C port though.

At nine pounds, it is on the heavy side, and it doesn’t have USB-C or Thunderbolt ports, but the tradeoff is how much juice it has. Whether you’re running a DJ set with some simple peripherals or want to set up shop for serious recording sessions you won’t find many other models that offer this much at the price point.

The Dell XPS 15 9530 is a fine alternative, but the screen isn't as big. It's not just perfect for DJs, it's one of the best laptops for music production period.

What Could Be Better

  • Higher weight isn't as convenient as other models for DJs on-the-go

Best High-End Laptop

A lot of RAM, fast processing, and backlit display.

Why We Love It
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Fast, reliable processor
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Large amount of RAM
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Tons of connectivity

SPECS:

CPU: i7 14th gen
RAM: 32GB
Screen Size: 15.6” 

Dell really stepped up their game with the XPS series, and this model offers a high-end mix of performance and utility.

The 14th generation Intel i7 processor rates higher than some models of the next step up in the series - the i9. A massive 32GB of RAM means you won’t have to worry about upgrading and have peace of mind knowing it’s enough to handle anything you put it through. 

Most SSD drives are smaller, and most base models come with 512GB of storage space unless you custom-build it. But the onboard hard drive in the 15 9530 comes with a 1TB drive, which is more than enough to store all the software, sessions, samples, and songs you need.

A backlit keyboard that provides great visibility for dark environments sets it apart, and I love the mix of ports that support whatever standard your gear uses. This includes Thunderbolt 4, USB-C, and an SD card slot.

When it comes to other high-end options like the MSI Pulse GL76 or Apple MacBook Pro M3 16.2” the XPS 15 9530 has twice as much RAM. It won’t fit everyone’s budget, but the price point isn’t ridiculous and the value it brings is worth it – if you can afford it.

What Could Be Better

  • Prohibitively priced for some

Best Under $800

Quality, reliability, and affordability.

Why We Love It
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1TB hard drive
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Good GPU
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Anti-glare display

SPECS:

CPU: i7 10th gen
RAM: 32GB
Screen Size: 15.6” 

Like gaming laptops, business laptops make great music machines. I find it ironic how the specs for these disparate use cases are so similar. Lenovo makes some of the best and most durable laptops for music producers, and the Lenovo ThinkPad P15s is part of a great model line so I did a full review for this model.

It has a fast 10th gen Intel i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD hard drive, nVidia Quadro P520 graphics card that's ideal for video editing, and a convenient 15.6” screen that offers enough visual real estate without being too cumbersome.

The anti-glare display is a small but critical feature that makes it one of the best laptops for DJs. The Dell XPS 15 9530 has comparable specs overall, but it's twice the price.

Whether you’re doing a set in bright blazing sun or the contrast of a dark stage and strobing lighting you’ll be able to see what’s on the 1920x1080 resolution laptop screen clearly.

What Could Be Better

Best Mac Laptop for DJs

An investment in a DJ laptop that will last for years.

Why We Love It
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Unified RAM
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Retina display
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Good screen size

SPECS:

CPU: M3 12-core
RAM: 18GB unified
Screen Size: 16.2”

The Windows versus Mac debate can get really heated, especially with people who know computer technology. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, at the end of the day they’re just different tools meant to perform the same tasks. The best one to use is the one that gets you the results you’re after.

Apple’s MacBook Pro M3 builds on their impressive (and expensive…) legacy, and it makes a fine choice for DJ work. The M3 proprietary processor and 18GB of unified RAM with integrated graphics ensure sleek operation. And at 16.2” the screen size offers plenty of space, but it’s the high-resolution retina display that sets it apart.

Everyone has their own opinion of Apple products (I have my own...), but there’s no denying their quality and durability. If you want comparable utility but can't shell out Apple money, the MSI Pulse GL76 is a great choice - if using a Windows laptop for DJing doesn't bother you.

If I was looking to make an investment in a non-Windows machine that functions on a high level, has a great display, and long battery life this one will last you for years.

What Could Be Better

  • MacOS doesn't support all types of software

Best Budget Laptop for DJs

A good mix of power and affordability.
Why We Love It
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11th gen i5 processor
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SSD hard drive
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15.6” screen

SPECS:

CPU: Intel i5 11th gen
RAM: 20GB
Screen Size: 15.6”

Just because you’re on a strict budget doesn’t mean a few hundred dollars can’t get you a great DJ laptop.

Spec-wise, the processor is a little underpowered compared to other options on our list, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold up. Considering it’s an Intel core i5, it’s interesting that ASUS decided to stunt it out with 20GB of high-bandwidth RAM.

I think the ports are one of the best features about this model. With a USB 3.0 type A, USB-C, and two USB 2.0 connections you can connect all kinds of peripherals. A combination audio ⅛” jack supports output and input, and there’s a SD card slot that supports additional storage.

Like most models, there are multiple ways you can build it out, but that comes at an increased cost. And the touch screen adds a tactile element to the workflow that’s perfect for music applications. If you have a little more budget the Lenovo ThinkPad P15s has more RAM.

What Could Be Better

  • Audio jack only supports one 1/8" signal in and out at a time

Best Laptops for DJs 2024 Buyer’s Guide 

Choosing between the best DJ laptops is a little different than if you’re shopping for one solely for music production. Luckily, there are a lot of similarities in the best music production computers in terms of specs and features. 

The main factors I considered are the ones that matter the most to DJs. Processing power, RAM, and screen size are all critical to getting the best performance from any music production laptop.

DJ Software

Before you start assembling a wish list of DJ laptops, consider what DJ software you run. There are four types of major DJ software: Serato DJ, Traktor, Rekordbox, and Virtual DJ. Make sure any laptop you’re considering at least meets the minimum requirements for the best DJ software for your needs.

Operating System

The operating system (OS)  isn’t as big of a concern as it used to be. Most applications run on the two main players - Windows and Mac. But there are some that are only designed for one or the other. Windows is the safest bet, and this goes beyond the OS itself.

A Windows laptop is more customizable and has some components that can be upgraded, like beefing up the RAM. I'm not a Mac person, but they are a fine choice too. They’re built with a set-it-and-forget-it ideology which is great if you just want to focus on the music.

In the end, it all comes down to user preference, specs, and DJ software considerations.

Specs

No matter how you’re using it, music production laptops have things in common. Specs are at the top of that list, but I never count out ease of use or dependability.

You don’t need as much power in a DJ laptop as you would for only doing music production, but I recommend having one with enough power to handle any DJing situation.

When evaluating specs in laptops, I consider the processor to be one of the most important features. The two main options in Windows machines are Intel and AMD, and you should consider an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 at the least. 

If you can, I recommend going for the next levels up like i9/Ryzen 9. The i11 and Ryzen 11 are newer and even more powerful. Macs work a little differently, and if you’re in the Apple ecosystem a M2 or M3 processor is a fine choice that's just as modern as the options for Windows models.

A good amount of RAM is next. Windows laptops let you upgrade RAM sticks, so if you start out with 8GB you can expand later. But considering the pull that DJing has on RAM usage, I suggest 16GB at least. Even a laptop like Dell XPS 15 9530 with 32GB is worthwhile, especially if you also want to use the computer to produce music.

Next up is the hard drive. Considering how laptops for DJs are meant to be used on the go in chaotic situations, a solid-state SSD drive is a must-have. This goes for any external drives for music libraries too. 

Screen 

DJ software has a reputation for being “busy”. And with so much going on, I look for a screen that accommodates that. As far as size, you want at least a 15” screen, but a lot of DJs prefer something larger like 17” or even 19”. But if you don't mind a small screen, check out our choices for best tablet for music production.

Direct sunlight doesn’t play nice with laptops. The contrast of dark stages and bright lighting can be just as bad. DJs need a laptop with a good amount of brightness. Some DJ software even includes a “daytime setting” feature, which I love.

More screen resolution means more space to accommodate multi-faceted DJ software. This doesn’t just relate to the size, but the resolution settings within the operating system.

Ports

It’s strange, but ports are often one of the last considerations when DJs shop around for laptops. Think about it. Between external hard drives that house the music library, DJ controllers, pad controllers, headphones, and powered DJ speakers there's a lot of connectivity going on.

Don’t be tempted to use a USB hub either. They’re fine for devices like keyboards, but they can cause bottlenecks and latency that I would never want to have to deal with when it’s showtime.

Battery Life

There are two main reasons a reliable battery life is important in a good laptop for DJs. The first is mobility. Like any musician, freedom from electrical outlets is a huge benefit. But it’s not just performance where this is useful.

With a battery that has a long life on each full charge you can work during travel and prep sessions or handle administrative tasks like booking gigs and corresponding with fans anywhere there is an internet connection.

Secondly, there might be instances where you can’t plug in for whatever reason or forget your charging cable. Though infrequent and inconvenient, it does happen. It's happened to me. The security of knowing you have enough juice to get the job done goes a long way in situations like that.

Accessories

There are a lot of accessories DJs use in their setups, especially those that do it professionally. If you’re going to use DJ equipment like audio interfaces, a stand, controller, or case you need to size and pair it correctly with whatever type of laptop you use.

I suggest you consider what you see your final setup being if possible and plan accordingly. 

Your Budget

If budget isn't the issue, you should definitely go for a high-end DJ laptop. If you don't wont to spend a lot of money or are just starting out, go for affordable but sufficiently adequate laptop like ASUS Vivobook S15 which we reviewed in detail.

FAQ 

What is the best laptop to DJ on?

My choice is the MSI Pulse GL76. It’s got a fast Intel core i7 processor, a great amount of RAM that you can upgrade to more if you need to, and a large display with enough space that makes navigating audio and DJ software easy.

If you’re in the Apple ecosystem you can’t go wrong with the MacBook Pro M3 16.2”. It’s expensive, but with the proper care it will last for years on the DJing circuit. When budget is a concern the ASUS Vivobook S15 is a great middle-of-the-road option that won’t disappoint.

What are the minimum specs for a DJ laptop?

DJ laptops don’t necessarily need as much horsepower as a computer that’s dedicated to music production, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the most powerful model within your budget.

When it comes to the processor an Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 will get you by, but with the increasing demands that DJ applications require from hardware it’s better to consider an i7/Ryzen 7 or above.

Hard drive space is subjective, but with the mobility requirements DJs have you want a solid-state drive because they are more reliable and less fragile than mechanical drives.

Now let’s talk about RAM, another one of the most important performance specs. 

How much RAM does a DJ laptop need?

More RAM is always a good thing. But at a minimum you want to look for a DJ laptop that has at least 8GB. 

It's not just about how much RAM the computer comes with, but being able to upgrade and add more provides a good performance safety net as your DJ rig expands. 

This is where the Windows versus Mac debate becomes critical. Windows machines provide the ability to upgrade and replace RAM. Macs are locked down, so how you spec the computer out before you buy it is critical if you want to go with Apple. 

Conclusion 

Computers are the centerpiece of modern music production, and this is just as true for DJs as it is for producers, engineers, and musicians. But knowing where to start can be daunting if you’re not that tech-savvy. 

Here I listed my choices for five of the best DJ laptops and went over some of the most important specifications and features to look for. 

My top choice is the MSI Pulse GL76 because it’s fast, powerful, and has great heat dispersion. If you’re on a budget, we recommend the ASUS Vivobook S15, and if you’re strictly in the Apple family the MacBook Pro M3 is a sure thing.

Photo Courtesy Amazon

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