Best MacBook for DJing: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to power and performance, MacBooks are the flagbearer in the world of DJing. MacBooks are not only favorable for non-experts and beginners who want to learn DJing fast, but they have a better history with audio processing and stability than PCs.

The best MacBook for DJing will have a screen size of 13 inches or more, at least 2 USB ports for plugging in gear, a screen resolution that lines up with the DJ software in use, good battery life, high build quality and internal tech specifications that can support your DJing activities.

With a MacBook, you are guaranteed a seamless experience and performance. But since different models exist for different purposes, read on to find important tips and things you should consider when choosing a MacBook for DJing purposes.

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What to Consider Before Buying a MacBook for DJing

The best MacBook you could ever own is one suited to your needs. Since you are looking to buy a MacBook for DJing, these are the things you want to look at before purchasing one.

Manufacturing Date

MacBooks are released every year. Every release brings forth a new upgrade and a better running system or specs than the last. Even though MacBooks can last over a long time with good care, a newer version is less prone to crashes, and it will perform even better.

If you want optimum performance in your DJing experience, choose a MacBook that is less than five years old from its manufacturing date.

In light of Apple making the big transition from intel processors to its own silicon processor, this might mean a wait for new buyers, especially if you foresee a risk in your Mac becoming obsolete. Read more about this in the last section of this guide.

Screen Size

As a DJ, you will be using your MacBook while standing instead of sitting down – which is essentially what laptops are designed for.

Thus, if you have a very small screen relaying information to you, you might find it strenuous to DJ effectively, whether at the booth or outdoor terraces.

It is also important to consider how convenient the screen size will be with the DJ software (such as Virtual DJ or Traktor) you plan on running. Here, aside from the screen size, the resolution and brightness will also play a huge role. A bigger screen means quicker accessibility and ample real estate to see every app you need, including the toolbar.

The best MacBook for DJing will then need to have a screen display of 13, 15, or 16 inches.

Although some might argue that a 13” screen size MacBook may be too small, it still gives a clear view of the software, tools, and buttons you need to work with. A 15” or 16” screen size is ideal if you’re going to be playing far from your laptop and on a stand.

On the other hand, a MacBook with a high resolution gives you enough range to customize your settings according to the DJ software in use. The good thing is that even with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you still have retina displays with resolutions of up to 2560×1600, which is more than enough to see everything with crystal clear clarity.

A 15 inch MacBook Pro has a resolution of 2880×1800, which is even higher. Therefore, whether you decide to buy a 13”, 15” or 16” screen size MacBook remains ultimately dependent on your personal preference and budget.

Screen Brightness

When it comes to brightness, it is always a good practice to increase the brightness to full. See if daylight will affect your performance bearing in mind that the more sunlight there is, the more likely you will experience difficulties when seeing your display.

Now, even though brightness doesn’t affect performance, it greatly affects the battery runtime. As such, it is wise to consider the battery life of your Macbook, in correspondence to times you might have to DJ on full brightness but away from a power source. The higher the battery life, the better it is for you.

Taking this into consideration could mean the difference between arriving at a gig prepared or your laptop shutting down mid-use because you needed to increase the brightness a bit.

Nonetheless, with a MacBook, you have the option to invert the colors of your screen to reduce screen glare when DJing outdoors.

Tech and Spec Options

The internal specs of your MacBook should factor as you consider which MacBook will be best for DJing. Let’s start with the memory that you will rely on to store music and the overall efficiency of your MacBook.

RAM

RAM capacity is an important component of a DJ’s laptop. It makes your DJing process snappy and ensures there’s no latency when using DJ software or design tools. RAM also facilitates a smooth running of multiple high-speed tasks, which is essentially what every DJ wants when playing.

That said, the minimum consideration you could have when choosing a laptop for DJing is 4GB RAM. Fortunately, MacBooks come with nothing less than 8GB, which can be upgraded to 16GB, which is the standard amount of memory.

Even with 8GB memory, your MacBook will still give you high speed when multitasking and great performance for all DJing purposes.

However, RAM capacity is only part of the equation. You also need to consider the hard drive memory.

Hard Drive Memory

A large and fast hard drive is the best decision you could make when choosing a MacBook for DJing. After all, you need free space to store and create a database for your tunes and mixes. The latest MacBook will have ample SSD storage, but how sufficient it is will depend on what else you use your MacBook for.

As mentioned before, it is not recommended that you use a MacBook, which is more than five years old, for DJing. However, if you own a 2008 – 2012 MacBook, you can benefit by installing a Solid State Drive to increase storage and speed.

The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (with Retina displays) ship with SSD storage; thus, you do not have to worry about speed.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The best MacBook for DJing would be one that can run multiple tasks at once without lagging or crashing. Since you will be running DJ software on your MacBook, you should eye a laptop with a faster running CPU for faster processing of data.

A MacBook with 8-core Intel processors is ideal since it can process up to 8 tasks at a time.

If you cannot afford one with such a high Intel processor, choose one with more than the minimum CPU required for the Dj software you plan to use to run.

For instance, to run a Serato DJ program flawlessly, you would require an i5 processor as the minimum. This means for you to DJ without glitches, your MacBook should run on a higher processor than the required. Each DJ software will tell you their minimum and recommended specifications a computer needs to run it. Try to aim for recommended as much as possible. If you can’t find this information, simply ask the software maker.

GHz

Gigahertz, also known as GHz, represents the speeds at which a computer processes data. The higher the GHz, the faster a computer processes or clocks. This is useful because it means the applications on your MacBook will run faster and smoother.

Therefore, aside from checking the CPU, ensure that your MacBook has a high number of GHz. MacBooks with more than 2.5 GHz operate smoother and guarantee the best performance, especially for live sessions.

Nonetheless, you shouldn’t forget that the higher or modern the tech is, the higher the price point. A MacBook might be costly due to the high GHz, which translates to faster speeds and, thus, more efficiency.

Weight

Weight becomes a factor if you are required to travel with your laptop to gigs often. The 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs 3.02 pounds (1.37 kg) while the 15-inch MacBook Pro weighs 4.02 pounds.

Since you might need to carry other gear like headphones, a DJ controller, power pack and cables, the difference in how heavy your luggage feels, may have to come down to how small or large your MacBook is lest we forget the weight of the laptop bag.

It is no wonder some DJs prefer the MacBook Air version due to their lightweight build.

A crucial fact to consider is there are weight limits for economy class travelers with hand luggage. This could be as low as 10kg. If so then, it helps to know the weight and dimensions of your MacBook to determine how much space your MacBook will take up on the airplane or train.

Battery

With the different versions of MacBook available, expect a difference in running time and battery life from each version. As a DJ, you want a MacBook that can guarantee you enough charge to last you through all your DJing endeavors – whether you can access electricity or not.

Here’s a table showing the different models used by DJs and the battery life after testing. Click on the name of the MacBook to see it over on Amazon and get the latest details yourself.

Name

Battery life

Price

13” MacBook Pro (2020)

12 hours

$1799.

13” Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

10 hours

$1799

15” Apple Macbook Pro (2018)

10 hours

$2431.99

15” Apple MacBook Pro (2017)

8 hours

$1149

16” Apple MacBook Pro Retina Display (2019)

11 hours

$2149 or $2499

Input and Output

Whilst the setup and choice of gear differ among DJ’s, Input/output remains a very important factor to consider before buying a MacBook for DJing. In case you are using a Dj controller, a sound card, a pad controller, and external displays, you may need up to four USBs or ports.

Even though this is a rare setup, the key is to determine how much equipment you will need to plug into your MacBook and consider buying a laptop with sufficient ports.

For external displays, look at the bandwidth supply to the Thunderbolt ports. A 13 inch MacBook (with three ports) can support two 4K (4096×2304) external displays and one 5K 5120×2880) display. On the flip side, the 15 inch MacBook Pro 2017 can support up to four 4K external displays or two 5K displays.

Essentially a MacBook with more ports is favorable for a DJ because you can plug in more peripherals at once.

The Best MacBook Laptops for DJs

Apple releases MacBook laptops in different models and versions. There’s the MacBook Pro, which is very popular among DJs and the MacBook Air, which is good for everyday tasks. The three versions of the MacBook Pro include The 13-inch, 15-inch (which has been discontinued), and the 16-inch MacBook, which is the most coveted among DJs.

You may ask among the three versions, which one should you get? The short answer would be it depends on your budget. The long answer involves referencing the following review as we’ve got the lockdown on the best MacBooks for DJing in 2020.

Let’s start with the 13 inch MacBook model, which displays the smallest screen you could ever consider as a DJ.

Again, simply click the MacBook’s title to go and view more details over at Amazon.

Apple MacBook Pro 13” (2020)

The new Apple MacBook Pro has been gaining traction since its release due to its new magic keyboard. Upgrading from the previous butterfly keyboard, the magic keyboard is for users who crave comfort, speed, and few errors when typing. As a DJ, the back-lit magic keyboard and touch ID guarantee a seamless experience as you search for tracks on your laptop.

Something else you will notice on the MacBook Pro 2020 is the intel 10th gen powerful processor, faster RAM, and massive storage capacity. Even though the laptop is a bit pricey going at $1799, it has alternatives priced at $1299 and $1499.

The $1299 MacBook pro powers a quad-core 8th gen core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage while the $1799 MacBook Pro gives you twice the storage at 512GB.

The new MacBook Pro also has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which most DJs will find favorable.

Pros

  • A new magic keyboard, an improvement from the previous butterfly keyboard
  • Delivers 10th gen processor, which exhibits great performance
  • Long battery life
  • A crispy and colorful display

Cons

  • Thick bezel
  • Expensive
  • If you buy too early, you might miss out on the upgraded version, which is said to have the new Apple silicon processor instead of the intel processor

13” Apple MacBook Pro (2019)

Another powerful MacBook that can crunch through any DJing process is the previous model of the 13 inch MacBook Pro. As you shall see in the table below, the differences between the 2019 MacBook Pro and the new release are not that noticeable.

However, if you covet the Magic keyboard provided on the 2020 MacBook Pro, higher performance, and longer battery life, upgrading would be a good decision. Nonetheless, 2019 release remains a powerful contender when deciding which laptop to buy for DJing.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Great performance and fast speeds
  • Comes with a touch bar for enhanced productivity
  • Good battery life
  • 4 Thunderbolts 3 USB-c ports

Cons

  • Pricy
  • 4th generation butterfly keyboard that cannot compare in terms of typing experience to the new magic keyboard
  • Outdated 8th generation CPU.

15” Apple MacBook Pro (2018)

This period can be a confusing time if you are considering buying the 15 inch Apple MacBook Pro. But not to worry. Even though Apple has phased out the 15 inch MacBook Pro, it remains a powerful machine with configurations that can give you the best experience as a DJ.    

Another advantage is that following discontinuation, you can get it for as low as $1449 instead of going for the pricey alternatives.

Configurations to expect from the 15” Apple MacBook Pro include; 16GB RAM, a decent screen size of 15.5 inches, the 9th generation processor, and up to 512GB storage.

This laptop may not be on sale for a long time. Hence, if you are considering buying it, you might want to do it sooner rather than later.

Pros

  • Powerful configurations
  • Decent battery life
  • Ultrafast SSD
  • Big screen size
  • Better graphics card for video editors
  • It has four ports, which are an advantage

Cons

  • Getting a used/refurbished 15 inch MacBook Pro can be a risk
  • It has the butterfly keyboard, which is a concern to many MacBook users
  • It doesn’t have the latest cooling system, which may constrain performance

15” Apple MacBook Pro (2017)

You might consider the 2017 model of the 15 inch MacBook Pro if you are targeting a reasonably priced laptop but with good performance.

Running on 2.5GHz intel core i7, you should expect a seamless and unique DJing experience, fast speeds, and ample storage of up to 512GB SSD.

Even though you might have to pick a used/refurbished laptop for the set price point, MacBooks have a longer shelf life, which means this laptop will still be worth considering in 2020.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Decent configurations and screen size
  • Thin design
  • Vibrant colors
  • Phone size trackpad which improves accuracy and reduces accidental clicks as compared to other models
  • Has an SD card slot

Cons

  • Doesn’t support a MagSafe connector
  • It has a butterfly mechanism keyboard
  • The battery life might disappoint you
  • You might wish it had the function key row

16” Apple MacBook Pro Retina Display (2019)

The 16 inch Apple MacBook Pro thankfully does have a 16-inch immersive Retina display and the coveted magic keyboard, which amplifies your typing experience as a DJ.

Dubbed as the most powerful MacBook Apple has ever released yet, this laptop takes the lead with superfast processors, largest battery and storage capacity, vibrant colors, next-generation graphics, and an audio system like no other.

Pros

  • Massive display
  • Thin bezels
  • New magic keyboard
  • New cooling system for increased performance and quick dispersing of hear
  • Significant performance improvement from the MacBook 15
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Longer battery life

Cons

  • At an eye-watering $2499, this price point might have you consider waiting until Apple moves the features to other MacBooks. As they have already done by having the magic keyboard on the 13” MacBook Pro
  • No SD card slot

This table lists different versions of MacBooks and the best you can consider purchasing as a DJ. For a better comparison, we have indicated the release year, specs, and price point for you to gauge which one fits your preference and budget.

Click the Macbook’s name to view it over at Amazon.

Name

New Apple 13” MacBook Pro 

13” Apple MacBook Pro

15” Apple Macbook pro

15” Apple MacBook Pro

16” Apple MacBook Pro Retina Display

Release date

2020

2019

2018

2017

2019

Display

13.3 inch backlit Retina display

13-inch Retina display with true technology

15.5-inch Retina display

15-inch Retina display

16-inch Retina Display with True technology

Processor

2.0GHz quad-core 10th generation intel core i5 turbo boost up to 3.8GHz

2.4GHz quad-core Intel i5 processor boost up to 4.1GHz

2.8 GHz quad-core i7 processor with Turbo up to 3.8GHz

2.5GHZ intel core i7 processor with Turbo boost up to 3.7GHz

9th generation 8 core intel i9 processor with Turbo boost up to 4.8 GHz

Battery

12 hours

10 hours

10 hours

8 hours

11 hours

Touch

Touch bar & touch ID

Touch bar & touch ID

Touch bar & touch ID

Touch bar & touch ID

Touch bar and touch ID

RAM

16 GB or 32GB

8GB

16GB

16GB

16GB up to 64GB

Storage

512GB to 4TB SSD

256GB to 512GB SSD

256GB & 512GB SSD

512GB SSD

1TB up  to 8TB storage

ports

4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

2 Thunderbolt 2 ports 2 USB 3 ports.

4 Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports

weight

3.1lbs (1.4kg)

3.02lbs (1.37kg)

4lbs (1.8Kg)

4.46lbs (2.02Kg)

7.9lbs (3.6Kg)

Price

$1799

$1799

$2431.99

$1394.00

$2499

Who Should Choose the 13-Inch MacBook?

The 13 inch MacBook is a great choice if you want a solid DJing purchase that won’t break the bank, but with the latest tech and specs. If you get the upgraded MacBook pro with a magic keyboard, you walk away with one of the most powerful and fastest machines to be released by Apple.

If you cannot afford the new version, consider the more affordable baseline versions.

Who Should Choose the 15-Inch MacBook?

If you have a fairly modest budget but still want a powerful laptop with decent screen size, the 15 inch MacBook is a steal. It is designed for users with a heavy workload and those who value more customization.

Who Should Choose the 16-Inch MacBook?

If you are a power user and do not mind the price point, the 16 inch MacBook is worth buying. Due to its unbeatable performance, the 16 inch MacBook is best suited for DJs, graphic designers, video editors, music producers, and other professional creators.

Should You Buy a New MacBook in 2020?

After Apple announced that the company would make a transition from intel processors to its own Apple silicon powered processor, many wondered if it would be wise to upgrade to a new version before the release of the said new MacBook.

In the same way, if this transition is to influence your decision, consider the following factors before taking the final plunge:

  • New MacBooks are likely to be more powerful and have a longer battery life than the intel mac laptops.
  • The silicon powered MacBooks could be an entirely new take on mobility and connectivity for MacBooks.
  • Even though the new Mac doesn’t change completely, app compatibility issues might arise if you have an intel based MacBook.
  • With the 15” MacBook Pro already discontinued and a new development on the way, it might be difficult to sell your soon to be obsolete MacBook easily.

As many would say, the MacBook is a powerful device with a longer shelf life. This fact might even influence you to believe that the transition will not require you to upgrade to the Apple silicon powered MacBooks. True.

However, when you are stuck with a Laptop destined to be phased out, obsolescence is likely to occur.

To counter this, experts suggest waiting until Apple announces its first silicon powered MacBook.

With no spring event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple might hold an event or make another product announcement early next year.

Nonetheless, if this transition doesn’t influence your decision, you can purchase the MacBook of your choice in this article.

Conclusion

Just as it happens when choosing many devices, being clear on the intended use of your MacBook is key when determining which one will be best for you as a DJ.

If your DJing involves music production, video DJing, video editing, graphic design, live streaming, and other related functions, you may need a more powerful MacBook than if you needed one for audio DJing. The same applies if you are going to use one MacBook for DJing and also for personal use.

Therefore, key aspects of research include the hardware and software requirements. Look at the processor, storage space, and input/output needs.

Ultimately, this guide will help you when considering the overall functions your MacBook is going to play, the budget you’re going to spend, and the specs you should be looking to aquire for the best DJing experience and performance.

Sources

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