Best Laptop for Music Production under $300 [2021 Reviewed]

Best Laptop for Music Production under $300

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Introduction

A lot of people are interested in music production but don’t have the budget to buy a really expensive laptop to satisfy their needs. If you are already familiar with the software that you’ll require for music production, then you must have encountered Pro Tools, FL studios, Reaper and Abelton.

Many users look at the “minimum specification” section and are driven away by the fact that they would need an i5 or an equivalent AMD processor to run the program smoothly. While this might be the case, but many users have reported that having something a bit less power will also work, albeit with some minor compromises. If you can adjust your expectations, then you’ll realize that you can get some pretty solid laptops for under 300 that will be sufficient to get you started with music production.

Having a low budget means that you have to be careful while choosing which laptop to go for. Some of the options that you might have encountered might not even be powerful enough to run a simple word processor. That’s why the first most basic criteria a laptop must fulfill is that it needs to have a minimum of 4 GB of RAM. This is the minimum that most experts would recommend and also matches with the minimum specification requirement listed on the website for the various software you will use. Many also say that you should get 8 GB, but that’s simply not possible with the price tag we are working with.  As long as you don’t have a ton of programs running in the background and you’re mindful of the number of tracks being used, you can easily get by with 4 GB.

You also need to make sure that the operating system you’re getting is Windows 10 64-Bit. While macOS is also a viable alternative, but finding a functional MacBook in this price range is practically impossible. Many people don’t check that the operating system they’re getting is a 64-bit system, which results in the programs not being compatible. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a 32-bit laptop, but it is designed for a much more lightweight user. Therefore, many programs don’t even install on a laptop with this. However, if you were to use a program that supports 32-bit or not use an intensive program at all, then a 32-bit OS is recommended for a laptop in this price range. One thing that you need to be careful with is that many versions of Windows 10 in this price range come with the S-mode enabled. For those who don’t know, it doesn’t allow you to download programs from unknown sources. Make sure to turn it off from the settings whenever you want to download your desired program. Feel free to turn it back on if you would like to, but it won’t make much of a difference.

Buying a laptop in this price range isn’t easy. You need to make sure that you’re getting the best price-to-performance ratio. A lot of manufacturers don’t put in a lot of effort to offer their consumers decent hardware. Therefore, finding the best device for your needs can require a lot of time and effort. Luckily, we have done all the hard work for you and compiled a list of some of the best laptop for music production, each of them being under 300 dollars.

Top 3 Laptops for Music Production Under $300 [Reviews]

HP Stream Laptop

The first laptop on our list is the HP Stream. This is the perfect entry-level laptop and has some pretty decent features for the price. As long as you have your expectations set correctly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good it is.

The processor on this is an Intel Dual-Core Celeron N4020 (1.1 GHz base frequency, up to 2.8 GHz burst frequency, 4 MB L2 Cache) with Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 600. The Celeron series are made to be energy efficient and compared to a regular i-series. They may be slightly less powerful but also last much longer. They are made for cheaper laptops and aren’t that bad. The one used on this laptop is one of the best Celerons you can get and it is also one of the best processors for a Windows laptop in this price range. One slight disadvantage that this laptop has that it gets really hot as compared to other laptops and may cause thermal throttling, but as long as you make sure not to cut off the airflow, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

The RAM in this device is our recommended amount of 4 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM. Unfortunately, it is not user upgradeable. For a normal laptop, this won’t be much of a problem, but for something in this price range, it would be good to upgrade it after a few years when your laptop is slower. It’s good to see that the RAM is somewhat fast as you get DDR4, which will just make your laptop a bit faster than if it had DDR3.

The storage is a 64 GB eMMC SSD. This amount may or may not be enough for you, but you will have to delete the files or programs that you’ve already used. A really good thing is that you get an SSD, which makes opening programs much faster, as compared to if you only had a mechanical hard drive and loading times will essentially be zero. Unlike the RAM, the storage is upgradeable and we highly recommend doing that as it will just make your usage much more convenient. Even if you don’t upgrade the storage, we recommend getting an external hard drive and store most of your programs over there.

As for the display, you get a 14.0-inch diagonal, HD (1366 x 768), micro-edge, Bright View, 220 nits brightness, 45% NTSC, and 79% Screen to body ratio. Considering the price, this is a pretty good display. It is bright enough for outdoor usage as long as it’s not under direct sunlight. While not being 1080p, it is still sharp and produces pretty nice colors and viewing angles. The bezels are also small which makes this laptop look much more expensive than it actually is. Overall, we are pleased with this display and most people won’t have much of a problem with it.

The port connectivity on this laptop is just about what you would expect from a laptop in this price range, with the added benefit of getting a USB-C port. The ports included are as follows 1 micro SD media card reader; 1 SuperSpeed USB Type-C 5Gbps signaling rate; 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5Gbps signaling rate; 1 HDMI 1.4b; 1 AC Smart pin; 1 Headphone/microphone combo. There are a few other features that make this laptop a much better deal and also helps it stand out from the rest of the options in this price range. You get the option to buy this in either black or white, as well as an 11.6-inch variant which is slightly cheaper. You also a full copy of Windows 10 Home (with S mode enabled) pre-installed, along with full access to Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, and 1 TB of One Drive storage for one year. Lastly, you also get a 720p webcam, which is decent and certainly better than if it were not included.

This laptop comes in at 11.08 x 7.59 x 0.66 inches and weighs 2.37 pounds. It’s portable, especially if you go for the 11.6-inch version. It’s about what you would expect from any laptop in this price range. You also get a 37Wh Lit-ion battery rated to last about 9 hours, which in real-world usage is about the same. The energy-efficient Celeron certainly helps it achieve this great battery life. Overall, this laptop is noteworthy for the number of features that it provides for the price range. Please also see our comparison of HP Stream vs Chromebook.

PROS
CONS
Upgradeable storage
RAM not upgradeable
Multiple sizes and color options
Insufficient storage
Great design
Runs hot on heavy loads
Free One-Year subscriptions to many services
 
Amazing battery life
 

ASUS L203 Vivo Book Laptop

The next laptop on our list is the Asus L203 Vivo Book. It’s the entry-level VivoBook and is surprisingly similar to the HP Stream, but as some subtle difference that helps it stand out in the massive sea of generic laptops in this price.

This laptop is powered by Intel Celeron N3350 Processor (1.1 GHz base clock, up to 2.4 GHz max boost clock) with Intel HD Graphics 500 graphics. As you can see by the maximum boost clocks, this is slightly less powerful than the previous option. However, since it consumes less power, it runs much cooler, which was an apparent problem with other processors. That means that while the maximum performance is lower, but it can maintain that level of performance for much longer. It also doesn’t get uncomfortably hot on your lap if you’re doing any power-intensive tasks for an extensive-time period.

The RAM on this model is a 4 GB DDR4 stick, which is identical to the one found on the previous option. Sadly, this too cannot be upgraded which makes this laptop a bit less future-proof.

Another aspect this laptop shares with the HP is the 64 GB eMMC SSD. As previously mentioned, it should be enough for you as long as you make sure to delete the files and programs that you have used and won’t be using again. What this laptop does differently is that it provides you a free 64 GB micro SD card with an SD card adapter, so that you can use it with the included port. This means that you’ll have double the storage than if this was not included. You can store a bit more files locally without worrying about running out of space. Moreover, if you want to upgrade the storage then the option for that is also there. We highly recommend getting some form of an external storage device. A 1 TB hard drive is fairly cheap nowadays and will ensure that you have a backup of your files and that you never run out of storage.

The display on this laptop is an 11.6-inch diagonal, HD (1366 x 768) panel. From our observation, it looks almost identical to the one found on the previous option, which isn’t a bad thing, as that was pretty good for the price. We believe that this is a mass-manufactured panel, which is fairly cheap that’s why it’s so common to see manufacturers use this in this price range. This helps them keep the overall cost down and invest in better components, which will benefit the end-user.

The similarities don’t end here. The port selection is also identical as you get 1 micro SD media card reader; 1 USB Type; 2 USB Type-; 1 HDMI 1.4b; 1 AC Smart pin; 1 Headphone/microphone combo. There are a few other noteworthy features that we feel should be mentioned here. Some of these include a built-in HD webcam with microphones for video calls, Windows 10 Home included (with S mode enabled), and a full year’s access to Office 365 with 1 TB of OneDrive storage. The design of this laptop is pretty nice for the price range and clearly shows that the manufacturers put in some thought when making this laptop. It also comes in 2 colors which are Grey and Blue.

The dimensions of this laptop are 11.3 x 7.6 x 0.67 inches and it weighs only 2.2 pounds. A mixture of plastic built and minimal components makes it one of the most portable laptops out there. But that doesn’t mean that it’s flimsy since it’s fairly durable and can easily survive everyday abuse. The battery is rated to last 10 hours, which is surprisingly accurate when compared to its real-world usage. That makes it an all-day laptop and you wouldn’t have to worry about running for a charger every few hours.

PROS
CONS
Free micro SD card included
Not upgradeable
Amazing design
Slightly less powerful laptop
Two-color options
 
Free Office 365
 
Portable
 
Amazing battery life
 

2021 Lenovo 3 Laptop

We know that we mentioned that you should only get a Windows 64-bit laptop for this price range. However, Chromebooks have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years and have dominated this price range. We think that it would be unfair to not mention at least one Chromebook. Those familiar with Chromebooks would know downloading proper programs is not possible on them due to ChromeOS’s limitations. That means that a lot of great hardware potential is left unused. To combat this problem, we would recommend running all your programs virtually rather than natively. If you don’t know how to do that, there are thousands of guides online that would teach you how to do so and we highly recommend checking those out.

The processor on the Lenovo 3 is the AMD A6 Dual-Core Processor (1.8 GHz up to 2.7 GHz). It’s slightly more powerful than the one found on the HP Stream, but the difference is so little that it’s barely noticeable. That being said, this CPU runs much cooler, therefore there is very minimal thermal throttling. The good thing about AMD laptop processors is that they are APUs, which means that they have pretty decent graphics as compared to other alternatives. Overall, these provide one of the best performances on any laptop in this price range.

The RAM on this laptop is 4GB LPDDR3 SDRAM. While the RAM capacity is almost identical as compared to the other options, but the RAM type is LPDDR3, which is a low power consumption version, but it’s also slower. We think that it’s a nice deal, since having low power consumption saves battery life and leaves more power for the processor, and the decrease in speed isn’t that noticeable, considering that the amount is identical.

Along with that, you get a 32 GB eMMC. The amount of storage that you get is way less than we would recommend, however since it’s upgradeable and considering the other features, it’s a valid scarifies.

The display is an 11.6″ HD (1366×768) LED-LCD panel, which is almost identical to the other options. It should be noted that the bezel around the display is a bit more than the other options which makes the design seem slightly out of date. But considering the price that it comes at, we can’t really complain.

The port selection on this laptop is pretty good as well. You get 1 micro SD media card reader; 1 USB Type C; 2 USB Type-A; 1 HDMI 1.4b; 1 AC Smart pin and 1 Headphone/microphone combo. It’s good to see that there are 2 USB-C ports rather than 1. Otherwise, it is completely identical to the other laptops on this list. There are a few other features that make this laptop a much better deal like the inclusion of a 720p Webcam and a free backpack included. Many other features are present which are Chromebook specific, such as one Year worth of Google one, which includes 100 GB of Google Drive, and there are also 3 months of Google Stadia.

The dimensions of this laptop are 11.02 x 7.87 x 0.67 inches and it weighs 2.42 pounds. It’s as portable as the other options on this laptop. You also get a 10-hour battery life, which makes this laptop an all-day device. To conclude, the inclusion of some pretty decent features, as well as the AMD processor, makes it a pretty strong contender for your next music production laptop.

PROS
CONS
Really powerful processor for the price
Low storage
Energy-efficient RAM
Outdated design
2 USB-C ports
 
Google One included
 
Portable
 
Excellent battery life
 

Final Words

We reviewed some really interesting laptops that brought great features for a more accessible price range. It’s hard to believe that you can even get a functional laptop for the mere price of 2 copies of Windows 10, and that too which can handle music production. It’s time to decide which of these three machines will provide the best features for the price. Although all three of the devices we mentioned are great, so feel free to choose any one of them that you like. In the following section, we will talk about what makes each of these laptops worthy of our recommendation and which one you should buy.

The first laptop we reviewed was the HP Stream. It comes with a relatively powerful Intel Celeron processor, which makes it good for slightly intensive tasks like music production. Applications like FL Studios require a really powerful CPU to utilize all its features and this device will get the job done. Note that the HP Stream also ranks well in this list of gaming laptops under $300.

Next comes the Asus L203 Vivo Book. It might not have as powerful of a CPU, but also doesn’t suffer from the same heating issues as the HP, which is why a lot of people might prefer this. And it isn’t lacking in other features either since it has a great battery life and amazing design. What takes the cake is the included 64 GB SD card, which doubles the storage, making it the highest storage laptop on our list.

Lastly, we reviewed the 2021 Lenovo 3. Once you get over the fact that you have to run programs virtually, you’ll realize that this laptop is excellent. The AMD processor powering the machine is right about the most performance you can get in a laptop of this price range. Moreover, other features like the inclusion of Google One and a pretty commendable battery life grants this laptop a position on our list.

It’s finally time to decide which laptop is the best one for you. Our pick is the HP Stream and it gets our recommendation because of its powerful processor. The only reason one would buy the Asus Vivo Book is because of the included micro SD card, but since you can purchase that for fairly cheap, we think that it’s not worth the loss in performance. One of the only disadvantages the Stream has is that it runs hot. But this problem can be fixed by ensuring that there is sufficient airflow to minimize thermal throttling. The only reason we haven’t recommended the Lenovo is because a lot of people won’t be willing to virtually run a program that runs natively on other devices. If you think that you don’t have a problem with that then this is certainly the laptop for you.