Life has never been easier for a music producer. The reach an individual has through social media alone is staggering, not to mention the multitude of tools available to market, distribute, and profit from your craft. Not too long ago, musicians would pray to be discovered by record labels, the only people with the power to get their music out to the masses.
And then we get to the gear, the dizzying array of amazing music-making devices is incredible. For almost zero start-up costs, a teenager can create a studio in their bedroom capable of professional results. All you need is a good computer, some software and you are ready to go. I love my studio and the power that it has, but when it comes to traveling, I am left with no computer to produce on.
I am in the market for a portable machine to take to other studios, as well as produce on the go, so I need something lightweight, comfortable to use with plenty of power and ports. For a long time Apple’s Macbook Pro has been the king of the heap, and it’s easy to see why; gorgeous looks, powerful hardware, and state of the art ergonomics make the MacBook pro the benchmark for traveling creatives.
Then I saw the price. Yikes. In no way am I blind to the advantages of a high specced machine, I realize the payoff between high price and having exactly what you need is invaluable, but I don’t need that much machine. I occasionally travel for work, so the MacBook Pros are out.
The dark side.
I have long been a staunch Apple fan, I use their pro desktop every day, and it’s a beast. So considering a windows laptop seemed a little dubious to me, but, if the price is right and it does what I need, I don’t care about the brand.
Enter the Microsoft Surface laptop 3, on the surface ( heh get it?), a brooding beast that promises plenty of power and portability. Is this the laptop I am looking for? Let’s find out, but first, some specifications.
Microsoft surface laptop 3 (as tested)
CPU: Intel i5-1035G7
RAM: 8gb DDR 4
GPU: Intel integrated
Screen: 13’ pixel sense touchscreen
Weight: 1.3 kg
As you can see, the machine I tested wasn’t exactly a barnstormer; with an i5 processor and integrated graphics, it’s not suited for video editing or heavy gaming. The Surface laptop does have some nice, fast DDR4 RAM, and coupled with the efficient i5 and SSD; the machine is perfectly fine for everyday use.
Where it’s not so fine, is any other task above word processing. Ok I’m being dramatic, but this machine is simply not powerful enough for my needs, I would have loved to have tested the i7 or even Ryzen models but alas. In this current form, it chugs away with several plugins activated and struggles to work with audio samples smoothly.
The design, screen, and portability are all on the money; its matte black housing looks ultra-modern and expensive. You could carry this around in one hand all day, and the battery would probably still have some juice in it. For a regular user who wants a lightweight laptop, this machine would be hard to beat.
Needs more ports.
The RRP is also quite high for a machine of this specification, although, you do pay a premium for the beautiful chassis and responsive touchscreen. Unfortunately for a producer such as myself, the array of ports (or lack thereof) is a big let down. There’s not much to say about the surface laptops connectivity as it has only four ports: a USB-A, USB-C, headphone jack, and Surface Connect.
If you are in the market for a portable, attractive laptop and you need a touchscreen, it’s hard to recommend anything but the surface laptop 3. If you are a creative professional, many other alternatives are better suited. Maybe it’s back to drooling over MacBook Pros for me.