DJing is among the few professions where an individual can besolely responsible for an event’s success or failure. How you perform as a DJ is dependent on style and techniques learned through years of practice. One aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked though is your equipment.
- 1 Key Requirements of a DJ’s laptop:
- 2 MacBook vs PCs for DJs:
- 3 Advantages of Having a PC Laptop for DJing
- 4 Best Laptop for Serato DJ Software:
- 5 MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid-2018):
- 6 Is a MacBook Air suitable for DJing?
- 7 Best DJ Laptops under $500:
Having the right mixer, speakers, and of course the perfect laptop for DJing is essential to putting together a good mix. Choosing the best laptop can be hard because your requirements are different than most. In this article we’ll go through the DJ laptop requirements, best laptops for different pieces of software, and even end with some budget picks.
A DJ’s laptop is the most crucial instrument when it comes to putting everything together. While you can DJ without a laptop, it can be a hindrance to do that full time. Even if you only want a laptop for your home setup, you should choose one from this list. A good quality laptop can enable a DJ to perform seamlessly.
|Best All Around||
Apple MacBook 12
||Used by the pros and specifically designed for music/video production||Expensive||Check Price|
|Best PC Option||
Dell XPS 13 9370
||Better performance for less money||Most of the ports have been replaced by USB-C||Check Price|
MSI GS65 Stealth
||Most powerful computer on this list||Heavy – not great option for mobile DJs||Check Price|
MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid-2018)
||Powerful processors||Very expensive||Check Price|
||Great Option for Mobile DJs||Lacks in power if doing extreme multitasking||Check Price|
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-51DJ
||Best Budget Option||Small hard drive (256 GB)||Check Price|
Lenovo Ideapad 330
||Long Battery price||Small hard drive (256 GB)||Check Price|
Dell Inspiron i3583
||Great value for the price||Shorter battery life than others on this list||Check Price|
Key Requirements of a DJ’s laptop:
Instead of focusing on brand and price, you should focus on the tasks you’ll be doing with it. DJing requires extensive music and video production which requires a good processor, lots of memory, and the ability to have multiple memory-intensive applications open at the same time.
Here’s what I believe are the minimum requirements for a DJ laptop.
|Processor||Intel i5 or i7|
|Screen Size||13″ – 15″|
The processor is essentially the brain of your laptop. As a DJ, I would go between the Intel i5 processor and the Intel i7.
Running Rekordbox or Serato while mixing together tracks and putting together visuals requires a strong processor capable of handling these applications.
For most DJ’s the Intel i5 processor is sufficient. However, if you are more in sampling, rendering, and use large datafiles consistently, youshould get a laptop with an Intel i7.
The main concern for DJ laptops is that you have enough space to store all of your files. The bare minimum hard drive space I’d recommend, maybe if you’re a mobile DJ who doesn’t want a clunky laptop, is 250GB.
But, being honest though, I’d recommend a 500Gb to 1 Terabyte hard drive.
Apart from the processor and hard drive, you also need to look at the amount of memory (RAM) and screen size. Laptops with more RAM will help you run multiple applications at the same time and prevent hangups. The last thing you want is for your laptop to freeze during a set.
And a larger screen size is intuitive. You don’t want to be squinting over a tiny screen as you try to play your set. You should have a minimum of 13″ screen but a 15″ inch screen is better if you’re not using a laptop stand.
Interested in learning more about the ideal requirements for a DJ laptop? Watch this video.
MacBook vs PCs for DJs:
The debate between MacBook and PC’s for DJing is hotly contested topic in DJ forums. But both systems have their own benefits and perks. Here are some factors that can help you choose the best option for you.
|Used by most of the top DJs in the world||More configurable|
|Stylish/well designed||Cheaper for same quality|
|Designed for Music/Video productions|
Used by the pros:
The MacBook has made quite a name for itself in the DJ world. Its style and quality is what makes it a top choice among some of the best DJs in the world. Moreover, depending on the Macbook version you get, it is lightweight and portable making it a suitable option for frequent travelers.
Their superior quality components and durable built is also an important attribute that captures the attention of the pros. One of the key benefits of having a MacBook is that you don’t have to face compatibility issues.
Extremely stable, designed for music/video production:
There’s a reason Macbooks dominate among other creative types. Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Rekordbox, Serato – all of these pieces of software run flawlessly on a Macbook.
Macbooks are designed for audio video editing and as a DJ, guess what? You’re going to have to use software to create, compile, and play music and video mixes. Macbooks are designed to handle those pieces of software out of the box.
Compared to some Windows laptops, Macbooks just look sleek. The user interface is smooth and everything just works as it’s supposed to. The retina display makes the screen even more vivid. It also comes with the incredible end-to-end keyboard which has bigger keys enabling easier touch typing.
On some Macbooks now, you can even get them with a touchscreen. This is actually something we don’t recommend to DJs looking for a laptop. The last thing you want is somebody bumping into you accidentally touching your screen, and destroying your entire mix.
Advantages of Having a PC Laptop for DJing
Even though Mac has its own perks, there are some areas where a PC can beat it way too easily. Here are the factors that can best a MacBook.
This may not seem like an important point, but it can influence your decisionsignificantly.
MacBooks are configured with set components and a set configuration. This can pose problems though when it comes to upgrades. While it’s easy to upgrade a PC laptop with different components and accessories, it’s almost impossible to do the same with a Mac.
Find that your Macbook is getting slow from over the years? It’s time to toss it out and buy a new one – which can get expensive over time.
As a DJ, price may or may not be on your mind. I know it definitely was for me when I first buying a laptop. That’s why I tried to figure out as many ways to DJ without a laptop first before I got one.
If you consider purely the specs of each laptop, it’s not much of a contest.
You can easily get the same spec Windows laptop for $300 less than the cost of a Macbook.
However, keep in mind what you’re really buying with a Mac. You’re paying for the stability, the ease of use, the knowledge that everything will just work out of the box – no setup required.
Of course, Macs aren’t included on our list of budget laptops for DJs (for that, see our $500 option and below), but for the right DJ, they are worth it.
Depending on the amount of hardware accessories you carry with you for DJing, you may want to consider using a Windows laptop versus a Mac. Generally Windows has more compatible accessories such as chargers, data cords, DJ headphones, portable flash drives and more.
On the subject of chargers, I have to note one thing.
MacBooks are notoriously famous for having weak chargers that break often and easily.
DJing requires a lot of software for different uses. Most of thesepieces of software are designed to be compatible with a MacBook but there are times when a PC may not be able to handle that particular software with the existing components. However, this problem can be solved easily with a minor parts upgrade.
Best Laptop for Serato DJ Software:
If you are new to the world of DJing, you will surely cross paths with Serato in the future. In a gist, Serato is a music production software that is preferred by world-renowned DJ’s for creating, sampling, rendering, and storing sounds. It is one of the best music software for DJs.
Because of the multifunctionality, Serato can be extremely taxing to run on many laptops.So, if you are planning to use Serato, then you need to find a laptop that has some advanced components to back it up.
Here are some laptops that you can use to run Serato and create music seamlessly:
|Apple MacBook 12″||Comes with 1.2 GHz Intel Core m3 Dual-Core and an Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 with 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 RAM combined with a 256GB SSD.|
|Dell XPS 13 9370:||This laptop comes with 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core, 13.3″ 3840 x 2160 IPS Touchscreen, and 16GB LPDDR3 &f 512GB SSD for better performance.|
|MSI G65 Stealth:||MSI is one of the toughest laptops in the digital world. A Serato worthy version of this laptop comes with 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H Six-Core, 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 144Hz Display, 32GB DDR4, and 512GB NMVe SSD.|
|Apple MacBook 12″:||Comes with 1.2 GHz Intel Core m3 Dual-Core and an Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615 with 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 RAM combined with a 256GB SSD|
|2018 Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro:||This amazing laptop from Apple features high performance of 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 Six-Core, 15.4″ 2880 x 1800 Retina Display, 16GB of 2400 MHz RAM and 512GB SSD.|
|Apple 13.3″ MacBook Air (Mid 2017, Silver):||This MacBook has a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Dual-Core, 13.3″ 1440 x 900 Glossy Display, 8GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 RAM and 512GB SSD.|
Let’s learn more about these laptops below:
Apple MacBook 12″:
As mentioned above, the Apple MacBook has been the first preference of music creators for their production-related works. While they are not cheap, the laptop offers commendable performance and stability.
Apple operating system i.e. OSX is clean and streamlined which makes it perfect for creative users. and Combinedwith amazing specs, a MacBook is a force to be reckoned with in the hands of a DJ
A MacBook can get you great value for money with qualities like metal casing, brilliant screens, and excellent battery life. Its compact size and lightweight makes it a great option for DJs who travel more frequently.
The components the comprise a MacBook can easily run software like Serato, however, you might have to look for more powerful processors such as i5 or i7.
Here are some specs of Apple MacBook 12”:
- 1.2 GHz Intel Core m3 Dual-Core
- 8GB of 1866MHz LPDDR3 RAM | 256GB SSD
- Integrated Intel HD Graphics 615
- 12″ 2304 x 1440 IPS Display
- USB 3.0 Type-C Port
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.2
- Force Touch Trackpad
- Stereo Speakers | Dual Mics
- Slim, Compact Design
- macOS High Sierra
Dell XPS 13 9370:
Dell is one of the best laptop makers among the Windows operating system manufacturers. The company’s latest offering in the high range segment Dell XPS 13 9370 is simply phenomenal when it comes to performing with heavy software.
The laptop comes with an amazingly crisp screen, great hardware components, and a rock-solid build. Dell XPS offers these amazing features at a reasonable price as compared to Macs.
Dell XPS is probably the company’s best offering in the performance segment up until now as it comes with an exclusive combination of features like 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Integrated Graphics, and more. These features are enough to run Serato smoothly without any hiccups.
Here are some general specs of Dell XPS 13 9370:
- 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core
- 16GB LPDDR3 | 512GB SSD
- 13.3″ 3840 x 2160 IPS Touchscreen
- Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620
- SD Card Reader
- Thunderbolt 3 | USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth
- Windows 10 Home (64-Bit)
MSI GS65 Stealth:
MSI has garnered insane popularity in the gaming world due to its superior performance even when running high-graphic games such as COD, HALO, Assassin’s Creed, and more. This superb performance is a result of the unconventional construction that marks MSI’s prowess over other laptop brands.
MSI laptops are not only suitable for gaming but can also handle DJing seamlessly. Moreover, they are priced reasonably and allow you to run Serato along with other programs stably without the danger of crashes. If you are creating music and running Serato with Ableton simultaneously, MSI is your go-to machine.
In addition to this, the laptop has amazing graphics and components that can easily handle software like Serato. Moreover, the laptop is also able to handle software like Serato DJ and Serato video at the same time. The components included in the MSI GS65 Stealth can ensure seamless operation of software developed in the future, without any kind of upgrade.
One thing to note: as a gaming laptop, the MSI GS65 is perfect for the DJs who want to add some visuals to their presentation. This laptop is easily powerful enough to create high frame rate videos and mix music at the same time.
MSI laptops are usually heavy due to the components that are included in the laptop but the GS65 is surprisingly lightweight and portable. The amazing screen to body ratio and sufficient battery life is suitable for all computing operations.
Here are some key specifications of the MSI GS65 Stealth:
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8750H Six-Core
- 32GB DDR4 | 512GB NMVe SSD
- 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 144Hz Display
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5)
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 5.0
- Thunderbolt 3 | HDMI | Mini DisplayPort
- RGB Backlit Keyboard
- Windows 10 Pro (64-Bit)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, mid-2018):
The MacBook Pro is one of the high-performance laptops used by DJs since the beginning of 2012. The earlier versionsMacBook Pro consisted of a 2.4GHZ i5 processor and 16GB of RAM and could run Serato DJ seamlessly. However, it only gets better with the latest model.
Newer versions of MacBook Pro come with the latest i9 processors from Intel and a 32GB RAM. The storage on this version of the MacBook comes with 4TB SSD capacity which gives you tons of space to store your music.
Moreover, it has the Intel Iris plus for a graphic card which enables you to run as many programs as you can seamlessly. Its retina display features LED-backlit display with IPS technology which makes creating music a different experience altogether.
Here are some key highlights of the MacBook Pro (Mid 2018):
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Six-Core
- 16GB of 2400 MHz RAM | 256GB SSD
- 15.4″ 2880 x 1800 Retina Display
- AMD Radeon Pro 555X GPU (4GB GGDR5)
- True Tone Technology
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 5.0
- Touch Bar | Touch ID Sensor
- 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports
- Force Touch Trackpad
- macOS High Sierra
When talking about the ultimate machines for DJing, the MacBook Air 2015 has to be on the list. We are talking about the laptop that is recommended as the original Ultrabook. This laptop is basically what every DJ needs, it is powerful, slim, and offers excellent battery backup – perfect for the mobile DJ.
If you are worried about running the latest versions of Serato DJ, don’t worry at all. With the high quality specs on this laptop put together into a lightweight package – this laptop runs Serato perfectly.The MacBook Air comes with a MagSafe charger which is widely preferred among Apple users.
MacBook Air has a lightweight chassis which makes it perfect for commute and its sleek body enables it to fit in any kind of laptop bag easily. The only problem that you might come across on this laptop is the 8GB RAM. While 16 GB would be better, 8 GB is sufficient to run Serato DJ and a side program like Serato Video.
Here are some key features of the MacBook Air:
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 Dual-Core
- 8GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 RAM | 512GB SSD
- Integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000
- 13.3″ 1440 x 900 Glossy Display
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.0
- Thunderbolt 2 | USB 3.0
- 720p FaceTime HD Camera | SDXC Card Slot
- Stereo Speakers | Dual Built-In Mics
- Slim, Lightweight Design
- macOS High Sierra
Is a MacBook Air suitable for DJing?
Yes, the Macbook Air is a great laptop for DJs.
As we said above, the Macbook Air can run Serato DJ easily and has a powerful enough processor to handle anything you can throw at it. It also is designed so that programs like Serato, Ableton, LogicX, Garageband, and Pro tools will run perfectly on it. Is it perfect for DJ’s though? Think about 2 things.
1. The Macbook Air is expensive. To it’s credit, it’s one of the best ultralight laptops in the market. However, if you’re looking for similar performance at a lower price point, consider the Dell XPS 13.
2. Macbook Airs are designed with the mobile DJ in mind. Because of it’s lightweight, you do sacrifice on some performance. I’d want to see 16 GB memory but it only has 8 GB.
Overall, if you got the money ($$$), buy the Macbook Air. It’ll last you through years of DJing through different clubs, at different festivals worldwide, and you’ll always be able to have it by your side.
Best DJ Laptops under $500:
While it helps to have a great laptop like the Macbook Air or a Dell XPS, every year computers are getting cheaper. And it’s not always necessary to have a high end laptop for DJing.
If you’re strapped for cash, you have 2 options: dj without a laptop, or buy a budget pick. Here’s someof the best budget laptops for DJing.
Here are some laptops that you can buy to start DJing or perform small-time gigs.
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-51DJ:
The Acer Aspire 5 is the perfect option to start this list. It is slim, portable, and can handle different softwares with ease. It comprises a configuration of:
- 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U Processor (Up to 3.9GHz)
- 8GB DDR4 Memory
- 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- 15.6” IPS Screen
- Very well built and attractive profile
- Excellent battery life
- Powerful CPU and specs to run most production tasks
- Small hard drive (256 GB)
Lenovo Ideapad 330:
Lenovo has also given some amazing machines in the past such as the YOGA series. However, to match a beginner DJ’s requirements Lenovo has put forth its excellently designed product i.e. Lenovo Ideapad 330.
The Ideapad 330 comes with an AMD processor that competes against the likes of Intel. It’s lightweight and rapid charge function make it a worthy competitor. Here are some of the key components of the Ideapad 330.
- AMD A9-9425 Processor (Dual-Core, 3.1 GHz up to 3.7 GHz)
- 8GB DDR4 Memory
- 256GB SSD
- 15.6” Screen
- AMD Radeon R5 Graphics
- Attractive and slim profile laptop
- AMD processor keeps costs down and performance up
- Battery life up to 5 hours is good
- Small hard drive
Dell Inspiron i3583:
The industry veteran who has a reputation for producing brilliant products bring you a laptop suitable for DJing in the mid-range segment. Dell Inspiron i3583 comes with the same processor as the Aspire on the top but it also comes with a Touchscreen that enables you to access the software functions easily.
The laptop can support any DJ software without a hiccup, but keep an eye on the battery. Average battery life is only 4 hours and as it gets low (1 hr or less), you may have some trouble running all of your DJ software.
Here are some key features of the Dell Inspiron i3583.
- Intel i5-8265U
- 8GB DDR4 Memory
- 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- 15.6” Touchscreen
- Dell build quality
- Excellent touchscreen
- Good processor
- Slightly bulky
- Short battery life
DJ’s need to be careful when buying a laptop and should consider their usage spectrum before finalizing. Using a laptop beyond the capacity can increase the chances of crashes and breakdowns.
I hope the above information has helped you understand the difference and importance of purchasing the right DJing laptop. If you have any queries or suggestion you can write them in the comments below.