Whether you're a professional DJ or just taking your first steps into photography, a capable machine is essential because it is the cornerstone of your workflow. There are many factors to consider when shopping for a laptop and, in this guide, our goal is to help you get a better idea of what specs are going to matter the most for the most common content creation applications.
Best Laptops for Photographers and Videographers on the Go
Videographers and photographers constantly on the move need a workstation that's powerful enough to handle tasks quickly and efficiently. Video editing is complex enough that we've gone into depth on the subject, but we think there's a reason the MacBook Pro has become the gold standard when it comes to content creation. Apple's flagship device has the specs to be a catchall for all kinds of creatives and applications, not just in this category but across several. The Pro is a fantastic device for anyone who needs power and portability.
CPU, RAM, and hard drives are all possible areas in which a laptop can bottleneck and, while that's more of an issue when it comes to video editing, having a laptop with strong processing power will make your workflow much smoother and save you a ton of time. The exact specs you'll need are going to vary on a case-by-case basis, but these are areas on which you generally don't want to skimp.
The best laptops for this category will have specs that prioritize performance, and the MacBook Pro has these in abundance. It's capable of running industry-standard programs for photographers and videographers alike. As for which MacBook to get, we recommend the 14-inch or 16-inch models that utilize M3 Pro or M3 Max chips—the best devices available now. The M3 Pro and M3 Max chipsets are designed with resource-intensive, graphically heavy tasks like editing 4K video in mind.The MacBook Pros also have three Thunderbolt™ 4 (USB Type-C) ports, as well as an HDMI port and an SDXC slot. They're also configurable with up to a 12-core CPU, 38-core GPU, 96GB of unified memory, and 8TB of storage.
For those who would rather get a Windows laptop, the Dell XPS 15 is another great all-around alternative that comes with a 15.6" display, alongside a speedy 13th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a respectable 512GB SSD. It’s also fairly thin and light, which make it a great fit for creatives on the go. Whichever you choose, these laptops are designed for creatives who absolutely need portability but aren’t willing to compromise on power.
Best Laptops for Illustrators and Digital Artists
Illustrators and artists need a laptop that can handle graphics-intensive tasks with ease. Ideally, on top of using a powerful machine, having a color-accurate display should be a priority for graphics-based work. Having enough ports that let you connect to a graphics tablet or even stylus support may be another essential factor for the working digital artist.
One of our favorite laptops in this category is the 16" Zenbook Pro 16X from ASUS. It features a 3200 x 3200 OLED touchscreen with a 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, for starters. The display is Dolby Vision-certified and PANTONE Validated to ensure accurate color rendering, too. It also includes the ASUS Dial, which is a physical controller that gives you access to features, like changing brush size or an undo button, in creative apps within reach of your fingertips. Specs-wise, it comes with a 13th-Gen Intel® Core™ i9 processor, 32GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070.
An alternative option we recommend is the Zenbook Pro 14 Duo, also from ASUS. While the dual-screen device might seem gimmicky, the second screen is incredibly useful, with its ability to act as an OLED touchpad. It's also got some great specs, with a 13th-Gen Intel® Core™ i9 CPU under the hood, alongside 32GB of memory and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060.
Best Laptops for Music Production
Like our other categories, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing a laptop for music production. You'll naturally be working with a ton of different files and plug-ins, so ample memory and a larger storage drive are pretty essential in this category. A healthy selection of ports is also going to be a priority for plugging in other audio equipment, like a keyboard, for example. A laptop that fulfills this criteria would also be a great fit if DJing is more your passion.
As always, we'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't mention the MacBook Pro. If you're okay with spending more to get the most "future-proofing" from your purchase, the M3-based MacBooks from earlier are incredible options. Depending on your needs however, even an older MacBook like this one from 2021 is a great workhorse for most music workflows. It's packed with Apple's first generation in-house chips, but they still offer tremendous value for creatives looking to spend less. Another great midrange choice is the the Dell XPS 13. While it’s not as beefy as the 15" version, its spot on this list is well deserved. It's equipped with a 13th-Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 2 Thunderbolt™ 4 ports. It’s an ideal laptop for on-the-go creatives who need something portable but don't need a fancier display.
What laptops are you currently using? Let us know in the Comments section, below, whether you're researching something to replace your current setup or if this is your first time shopping for a laptop geared toward content creation! For more information on the laptops mentioned, be sure to click through to the individual product pages.