Your Questions: What’s The Best Laptop To DJ With?

The glowing Apple is cool, but do you really need a Mac to DJ with? Pic: iCreate

The glowing Apple is cool, but do you really need a Mac to DJ with? Pic: iCreate

Digital DJ Tips reader Taylor writes with a very common issue: "I recently received my first digital DJ kit, the Numark Mixtrack Pro. I'm really enjoying getting to know the controller and the software. My question to you now is in regards to the kind of computer I should run on. In your recent blog post entitled A Parent's Guide to Buying Digital DJ Gear for Teenagers you commented: 'Of course, the laptop of choice is a MacBook, but don't forget that a $400 Dell will also do just fine.' Please could you tell me what exactly it is about the Mac or a MacBook that is attractive to DJs using digital equipment? Why does the Mac vs PC debate rage so strong? And what should I keep in mind when shopping for an appropriate laptop in regards to hardware specification?"

Digital DJ Tips says:

First, try the laptop you've already got. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If your current laptop can run the software, consider waiting until it needs replacing before worrying about it, especially if you're a beginner. By then you'll have a better idea what you'd like next. OK, let's say you don't have a laptop, or it's time to replace the one you've got. Now it's a case of needing to know the minimum spec necessary for DJing, and to decide, as you say, between a PC and a Mac.

The good news is that modern DJ software will run on most modern laptops. If you're buying a Mac, any of the new ones will work fine. Check the minimum specs on the site of the software you run (here they are for Traktor, Virtual DJ and Serato ITCH), but this isn't going to be an issue unless you're really cutting corners. Memory is the most important thing - 2GB minimum - and make sure there's enough hard disk space for your tunes.

More important is to get a laptop that is well built (as a DJ laptop tends to take more abuse than say an office-bound one) and from a good manufacturer.

PC vs Mac

That brings us nicely on to the PC vs Mac debate. The truth is that you can DJ perfectly well with either PC or Mac, as all major DJing software runs on both platforms. Furthermore, the components used in PCs and Macs nowadays are pretty much the same (overwhelmingly Intel chips, same memory/hard drives etc). There are still differences though:

Advantages of PCs

  • They are cheaper than Macs for equivalent specs
  • There is much more choice from a whole host of manufacturers
  • You may be more familiar with using PCs, thus you'll have less of a learning curve

Advantages of Macs

  • They are guaranteed to be well built and reliable, coming from just the one manufacturer
  • OSX is a more stable, operating system than Windows. Put simply, a Mac is less likely to crash on you

I have used both, and I prefer Macs hands-down, not just for DJing, but for all computing. I hate to repeat the marketing, but it's true: they just work. In an office, a crash is probably not going to feel like life or death. Performing in front of a crowd? Just imagine how that feels. Having said that, I DJed with a PC in front of a crowd for many years with no issues (it crashed regularly, just not when DJing). Yet my only crash in living memory while DJing was with my Mac (which has never crashed on me outside of this), when someone jogged the USB cable out of the socket while I was playing (OK, it was me). Neither Mac nor PC is going to help you in that circumstance.

It comes down to money

I'd say if you can afford a MacBook and either know already or are happy to learn the operating system, get one. If not, research your PC well, keep the anti-virus up to date, and be sure it's reliable before you play a mission-critical gig on it. For any computer, quitting all other applications when using your DJ software (or better still, only using it for DJing) further protects you.

Finally, you may be interested to know that in our 2010 reader's survey, over 50% of our readers said they used a Mac for DJing.

What operating system is your laptop? Do you have a PC that's never crashed or a Mac that always does? Got anything to add to the debate? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. If you arent Paul van Dyk, the laptop you will work.
    And different software has very diferent reqierments, traktor might use 2 gigs of memory at any one time, but Mixxx wont use half a gig.

    • Uh, I use Traktor instead of Mixxx because Mixx was nothing but trouble on my low end PC: the sound always stutters as soon as you do anything.

      It seems to me the demands on the computer are much lower in Traktor than they are in Mixxx.

  2. If you can afford it, go Mac, your DJ software will work perfectly out of the box. On a PC, you’ll probably find you need to do some research to make sure your laptop is suitable (most are, but I hear some suffer from driver issues causing dropouts, e.g. http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/showthread.php?t=52319), and then some configuration work to make sure Windows is optimized for audio performance.

    If you are looking at DJing professionally and you aren’t into fiddling with computers to get things working perfectly, save up for a Mac, for me the high quality hardware and operating system makes it worth the extra money – but if you can’t afford it, I’m sure it’s possible to get any semi-decent PC laptop running just fine :)

    • One thing that can be seen is that there are now high end computers by Samsung or HP that include things such as better Sound Cards than Mac. There will always be a fight between Mac and PC over which is the most secure to use; to admit PC does have a lot more viruses because of a bigger user base, but Mac does have some viruses that they cant fix. There has also been better advances in Windows and Mac OS X and they both run the same hardware usually by Intel. Lots of people prefer mac for its fancy GUI and productivity apps, but lots of people prefer windows for its broad friendly user base and its functionality so it all depends on your preference mac or PC. My personal thing to add is just because you see a DJ use a mac that doesn’t mean that macs are for a DJ because almost every DJ I have seen uses either Windows or Mac or both. Both operating systems have there flaws and viruses(Yes Macs do have viruses) because they aren’t perfect machines, both if them will have flaws and bugs. Windows may be buggy and lag at points, but one thing that I have discovered about Mac is that they don’t have an option that will allow you to force stop an application. So if you want to buy a Mac or PC pick one that best describes you and what you want from a computer, and remember deep down inside that both Mac and PC run the same software.

      • Alt + Right click and you get a force quit option dude. Alternatively clicking the apple logo on the finder bar gives you a force quite tab where you can select any open apps and quit them.

  3. Thunk Differnt says:

    Apple does not guarantee quality! I’ve used Macs exclusively for 10+ years, and have had freezes, kernel panics, hard locks, unexpected quits, and all that other crap, some at very inopportune times, just like my old PC’s… I used to be in it for the OS, which is still better than Windows, but anymore, I don’t think it is really that much of a difference… I SERIOUSLY WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO RECOMMEND A FRIEND BUY AN APPLE RIGHT NOW… I have 2 Apple laptops and a VERY expensive Mac Pro… The desktop especially is made with some of the cheapest components you could find… Both the disk drives failed inside of 3 months… the hard drive failed in six… adding a second monitor caused kernel panics… repair permissions, reset PRAM, take to apple store, pay out your ass if it’s past warranty… APPLE IS PAST THEIR BEST DAY… they’ve put so much focus on making phones and tablets that their computers and operating system have suffered greatly

    • That’s interesting & very valid point. I am a Mac user too & used to have similar problems. The crashes & freezes occurred however more frequently when I was using Tiger & The very early version of Traktor Pro kept crashing very often, I was too scared to take it out playing live & was using T3 & hoping for a crash proof update on Tpro.
      Then Snow Leopard came along & crashes hardly ever happen & also the fact that Tpro updates seem to have eliminated the issue.
      I have had the same 1st Macbook Intel Core Duo now for 4years & it still keeps serving me very well.
      Our desktop PC is about the same age & is a useless relic by now….
      I understand your concerns with a shift of focus in the Apple family , but I think they still have a very good product & I am rather tempted to consider the latest Macbook Air, if I need to replace my current one.
      (This being said it might still keep up for a good while…)

  4. I have been performing using a PC for years without any problems, in both a Djing and Live PA setting
    Pc’s can be pretty stable/dependable, as long as you keep them clean/manitainen.
    One tip as well is to dedicate your pc just for djing.(Only put your DJ software on it/nothing else)This will keep crashes to a minimum/not at all..

    • Phil Morse says:

      Would be lovely to haver a dedicated PC for DJing but in my experience that’s a dream for most people! :)

      • But anyone can make a dualboot, than you have it dedicated.

      • I’ve used two PC’s (one laptop and one desktop) for DJ’ing and Production/Recording for years with no major issues. I see all of my friends with Macs and they have crashed numerous times over the years. I think its the user that determines it and the culture behind it. Most Mac users tend to know more about technology than the average PC user (who can accompass the office, family, and others) and they tend be abused because of this. Mac users are more specific in why they purchased it.

        I think people like Macs for the aesthetics instead of the functions. As long as you are maintain your laptop you should be fine. Viruscan, clean your cache, keep up files. Its translates no matter the platform.

        I’m using both Windows XP and Windows 7 with Traktor, Pro Tools, Reason and Record, and tons of other software used for my individual tasks.

      • Laptop PC’s Are Pretty Cheap.
        I buy all mine Refirb/Used,
        For about 200-300$ you can get a year old model that runs great.
        I mean if you are Serious about digital Djing and dont want crashes on a pc. A dedicated system is your only safe/reliable bet.

      • @Jason Hazardous,
        Why choose? I use a Macbook Air for live performances, and a Windows desktop for music development. They play perfectly between each other (surprisingly). But all my music is on a 1 TB external hard drive.

  5. I get asked this question on a daily basis. Having worked in IT for the past 22 years and DJ’ing for about as long, I feel more than qualified to answer this question.

    Basically, you can get away with a PC or a Mac but you need to ask yourself a few questions:

    1) Is this machine going to be used for DJing only?
    2) What software can’t you live without?
    3) Do you know how to run OSX or Windows?
    4) What kind of upgrades do you think you might want a year or two down the road and what is the cost for these upgrades?

    There is no right or wrong answer. For me, I prefer a PC because I know them inside and out and while I know OSX well enough, I feel more comfortable with a PC.

    Over the past 10 years I have owned at least 5 PC notebooks and 2 Mac based notebooks. I won’t even get into the Unix machines. I have found that as long as you max out the memory (RAM) and have a decent external sound card, you really can’t lose.

    Just remember, if your laptop is making you money via DJ gigs, don’t be cheap. Buy what is going to last at least 2 years and keep up with OS patches and bug fixes. And please, don’t install crappy adware or “free” software off the web. You won’t like the results.

    One last caveat; don’t buy a Sony! I can’t tell you how many “top of the line” Sony notebooks I have had to fix. They are pricey and poorly made; not a good combination. A good Dell or HP laptop with a stripped down OS and minimal software installed will more than suit your needs.

    If you need instructions on how to tune your PC for performance, send me an email. I guarantee I can boost your system’s performance by at least 20% with some simple changes to your OS.

    • Bryan – I’m interested in knowing how to strip down my OS (Windows 7 Home Premium, HP mini 311-1025).
      I run VDJ7Pro and I get occasional dropouts of sound. I’m comfortable fiddling with the OS.
      Thanks for posting!

      • Bryan I was using a mac but it bbroke down and now I can afford to get a new 1what will be the best solution laptop to get now can you help me please thank you

    • Phil Morse says:

      Bryan, I’ve emailed you – we should definitely turn this into an optimisation article.

    • sorry mate but especially dell and hp are known for their shitty drivers and dpc latency issues. most of the time you can get away with it by disabling components but seriously i would never recommend one of them. the only thing i could recommend is to make sure that you can return the product and get your money back. and this is for pc AND mac. the new i5 and i7 macs have no dedicated usb connectors
      anymore. lets look forward to the upcoming sandy bridge ones….

      • Here’s the thing though, KLOSELINE. Dell and HP don’t write drivers. The hardware manufacturers do. The driver for an Intel 10/100 Ethernet card would be the same driver on a Dell, HP, Sony, etc.

        The only drivers you need to be concerned with are Audio drivers which are provided, once again, by the manufacturers (Native Instruments for the Audio DJ line, Realtek for the bulk of internal laptop sound cards, etc).

        The drivers to control USB function? Those are provided by the motherboard manufacturer (Abit, Asus, etc).

        Sorry, but it’s not about the brand.

    • hi B, need some HELP with my PC, had dropout and freezes, did NI article 354 inst, but in the end..updating the driver to audio 4 dj did it, then incresing the buffer size. didnt have to disabled all drivers etc. i want a mac but for 1800 macpro 15 inc, hp has now beats with amazing ft.

      • Hi Adrian,

        I’m having a bit out trouble understanding what it is that you need help with. The NI article you referrence is a good source of information of getting the correct latency and buffer size for machines with varied hardware (lots of RAM, slow HDD, Old MotherBoard with thin Bus’s, etc).

        From your comment it seems that you have got your system up and running as you would like it. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

        Bryan

    • Hey Bryan
      I would like to talk to you and get a recommendation on a good PC to buy now. I have a PC (HP) now and have used it to DJ with Traktor Scratch Pro and VDJ7. I had minor issues at first but once I configured my system right and updated drivers, I have no problem with either program. I just brought some Numark V7’s and I now need to update my laptop because of the spec’s required to run them and Serato is more than I current have. Please hit me back, so I can get something that will work.
      Thanks
      Anthony (DJ Ant4)

    • Just started djing a year ago. Need to get another computer and only have about $600 dollars also bought a Traktor S2 a while back. THinking about buy the HP G7-1310US but not sure of the Ram. I was told at least 10k for djing but dont think I need that much. What do you think. I also would like to know how to get the new computer performance better so no hang ups. Help.

    • Just started djing a year ago. Need to get another computer and only have about $600 dollars also bought a Traktor S2 a while back. THinking about buy the HP G7-1310US but not sure of the Ram. I was told at least 10k for djing but dont think I need that much. What do you think. I also would like to know how to get the new computer performance better so no hang ups. Help.

    • Hi Bryan,

      I currently connect my PC to my mixer/controller with an RCA to 1/8″ cable. How does an external sound card integrate into this set up? I’m assuming the sound card connects to the PC with USB, then what?

      Thanks,
      Dave

    • Bryan,
      Great post man. I have an HP g60 series laptop, and I am interested in turning it into a djing machine. I have dumbed down all of the video features for my graphics card and I know that on paper, the laptop should be doing the job. However, I keep having problems with sound stuttering. Would it be worth it for me to install a different OS than windows? If not, is the a way to trick out my laptop to a more acceptable DJ workstation. Thanks!

    • DJ Kazz says:

      Hi Bryan, I just recently started deejaying with my laptop with Virtual DJ Broadcaster version. Since I have an older laptop (Dell Inspiron 1420 with Pentium dual CPU T2330 @ 1.6Ghz with 4GB Ram on a 32 Bit Operating system), I did not want to get a more sophisticated dj software. Everything seems to be working fine, but I noticed that 220G HD has already 196GB used up and I only have 59GB of mp3 in my music folder and 60GB in my iTunes folder. I can’t figure out where the other 76GB of memory is being used on the HD. I have deleted just about everything and looked through all my files, programs and folders and they do not add up to this. Can you help me located and free up more memory and increase my performance? I also met a DJ that uses Dell Alienware laptops and he says it works perfectly for djing. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    • I have a Toshiba s-755 laptop and it plays the videos on the laptop, however it will not read the vga adapter. It does on the club manager’s Asus but not my Toshiba. Do I need a laptop with a better video card?

    • Would love to have an email with your tips for a PC tune up! Thank you

    • Bryan I would love to hear some of your PC Laptop tips for better performance. ~Cheers~

    • I too am very interested in learning how to strip down the OS of my PC and boost it’s performance. Also if you could help me a few external hard drive music issues I have been having that would be more than amazing.

      AJ

    • Is there a link for a new post on Brian’s suggestions?
      I’m about to buy a Pc after being in Mac for years. they’re good, but I don’t think the price difference justifies the performance or reliability. treat your pc nicely and it’ll respond to you nicely. I’ve seen Mac crushing and dying too, right out of the shop included.

    • alex/mcdj1One says:

      Read your comment and liked your information. I’m in the process of purchasing a computer for dj’g/Serato but I am definitely going the Dell HP route first and if lucky a refurbished MAC but most likely a Dell. Anyhow I will keep in touch as to techncal issues and/or concerns. I work with and around djs all the time so I’m familiar with product just not so savy with the technology. Hope that’s cool and send me an email to let me know what’s up! I’m in Los Angeles by the way.

  6. Thats something that both vinyl and CDJ’a have going for them – they dont crash.

    • Vinyl’s don’t crash, but CDJs on the other hand, do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZnxT58aXkc

      Anyways, I’ve been using my Fujitsu Lifebook to DJ for over a year, and it’s never crashed on me. I recently got a Macbook Pro, and while running Traktor, has crashed on me several times. I had to mess around with the processes that were running (mdworker was taking up 2.3+ GB of RAM), and now it works fine. But quite frankly, PCs and Macs are for two different things. Macs are more suitable for the arts: music creation/production/performance, graphic design, video editing, etc, while PCs are geared for gaming, office work, and etc. Each OS is optimized for different things, but that’s just my opinion.

    • But they skip, and vinyl has tick noises.

    • Are ASUS laptops good for djing.

  7. Sorry to say but I feel as if this article is just written on bias, as in every Mac vs PC forum posts that pop up everyday. Tom D said “High quality software and hardware…” for Mac; lets get this straight: if you were to do your research Mac hardware is not at all better than any hardware in a PC. The hardware Mac uses is outsourced and not at all any better than products you can buy yourself (do some research). Ive seen plenty of Macs fall apart just as fast, if not faster, than the PC laptops I have had.

    Also this thread talks about PC crashes like its common and that Macs are tanks. Another biased term used by Mac fans. PCs crash “more” because a Windows machine allows you to manipulate the OS way more than a Mac can, therefore a lot of people do stuff they have no idea wtf they are doing and crash it. It also has to do with people not knowing how to use Windows properly. This is where the “idiots” of computing SHOULD get a Mac because Macs, like everyone says, just works. You turn it on and use what you need to, no extreme customization and stupid “free” programs to get online.

    I do agree that with a PC you deal with more driver crap. This is where Macs shine. Most things just plug it in. However windows 7 allows tons of things now that you can just plug in and go.

    All in all it all comes down to this: if you want to shop for a computer that can handle DJing and dont LOVE the mac OSX, then buy a PC. Only get a Mac if you truly love the OS, because the price difference besides that is not worth it (just got a laptop for $600 with the same specs as a Mac for $2000… Im not buying a laptop for its $1400 OS)

    • Phil Morse says:

      We actually said in the article that there’s no difference in components largely any more between Macs and PCs.

      I guess, as you point out, the point is that Macs “just work” – which is what people want for DJing. If it’s “harder to break” a mac, then that’s a good thing for someone who wants it to do a rock-solid job where a crash would be catastrophic.

    • What pc and which mac brand specs did you match. My limit is $600 for a pc. Thanks for your info inadvance

    • I agree.

  8. I’ve been using a Macbook Pro and I want to add some points:

    1) I’ve found the audio drivers better in OS X, eg: no need to install drivers for an Edirol soundcard.

    2) Easier to access Midi settings in the operating system through the system preferences.

    3) Using Automator in OS X I created a script that I execute each time before I start a DJ set (kills all useless processes and changes several settings)

    4) On the exact same setup, since I started using the Macbook instead of my previous Sony Vaio laptop, I don’t face ground loop problems!

    Those are some of the reasons I highly recommend using a Macbook. Of course I know it’s more expensive, but I think it’s a fair investment. Only bad thing is that they have less USB ports and no HDMI output if you go for video!

  9. I Have no Problems on my Laptop, I own a Asus UL80A, not really good in specs but it does the job, it runs on a Windows 7 and optimized for my Contorller, meaning.. all the special features of Win7 is turned off (like aero styles) and USB root hubs are always turned on.

    If you have the cash to buy a Mac, then buy a Mac, you dont have to optimize anything because it wont crash on you, I plan to buy a macbook air this year.. even its the 11 inch model only to replace my laptop.

    Its a matter of choice, if you use your laptop for anything else, go for a laptop, because there are a lot of programs that are compatible with windows, but if you want performance and you solely use your laptop for DJing and minor stuff like internet use then go for a Mac

  10. What I come to realize being a owner of a mac and a PC is that certain programs work better on one than the other. Virtual Dj Works way better on a PC. It is a bit unstable on a mac. Serato works great on a Mac. But can be sometimes unstable on a pc. It wine downs to the software u choose to work with.

  11. Phil, great article and topic opener. Cheers.

  12. If you are looking for an alternative to Macbook line, might be worthwhile to look up which Pc’s currently get the least amount of service repairs & other problems.

    For example HP = Very Bad
    Asus = Very Good (Yeah the very interesting netbook range with Bamboo Cover optional)

  13. Hello All,

    Thanks for the comments! Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article featuring a graphic, step-by-step guide to tuning your Windows XP, Vista, and 7 machine.

    This guide will cover tuning both a laptop and a desktop as many people (such as myself) run a desktop at home and gig out with a laptop, tablet, or netbook.

    If you have any hardware or software specific issues you would like included, please send me an email and let me know.

    Bryan
    bryan AT loovax.com

  14. - Use anything you want.
    – Know how to use it.
    – Dont use MAudio FastTrackPro (piece of #&%@^!)

  15. H. Sandoval says:

    What is your opinion on using a mini mac that is solely used for djing. It would be used at home. It would cost less than a mac laptop and can also be upgraded in the future.

    • Mac Mini’s are great. The only concern is the heat generated by normal operation of the Mini. Just make sure that the vents for airflow on the case are clear of obstructions.

      We us a Mini at work as a media box to stream movies, tv, and music to the clients on our network via iTunes. Works great even under a heavy load.

  16. I’m usging laptop an ASUS. I have choosen from the gaminglaps..
    Alienware is pretty good but too much of a “brand”

    I recently uppgraded to to a ASUS from this family…..

    http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=WzU7IKA6SWdBvaRd
    u can go with the intel i5 as well…

    Works just wonderful..

    /Do

    • I also went for this family of laptop ;) got the g73 j ty600v £850 from pixmania….should be £1200 in uk, and for a similar specced mac another 600 quid at least. i also did a ton of research before choosing this as didnt want to experience any grounding issues which have been a major issue with some laptop manufacturers specifically dell and hp, although dells more recent studio xps and alienware lines are supposedly much better than previous, but still overpriced.
      Although traktor worked perfectly at 96khz 24 bit when i first got the pc when i did start to play around with the system, predictably things didnt continue to run as smoothly.
      I have had some issues with midi, mainly due to installing tons of trial production software and not paying attention to what i was doing probably, which were then made worse by college tutors trying to help, one rollback later it still wasnt working so 2 weeks ago i did a system restore and reinstalled everything, now pretty much sorted, midi works fine but getting some audio dropouts when running cubase etc, so still some investigating to do. After mailing NI before the reinstall they admitted that there are some issues especially with newer multicore processors and 64 bit operating systems, and i find that the last driver for the audio 8 works better than the current one sometimes…hopefully the new release will have new drivers for audio8 +traktor audio 10 that resolve this.
      On the subject of mac vs pc, mine is a moral argument and a logical one. the same stuff is now inside both machines, except the one that claims to be the best isn’t even remotely futureproof-Apple dont support bluray because they didn’t invent it, same as they held back on usb for years as they wanted to push firewire…i understand they only have a small share of the market and want to defend their territory so to speak, but that’s a bit ridiculous.maybe their scared it’ll sap revenue from their appletv and Itunes hd moneyspinners, but thats hardly fair to their laptop purchasers…I don’t like being bullied by anyone and I certainly wont be paying extra for the privelege.
      as far as reliabilty and being better for creative industrys, my housemate and another friend (both djs and very into music tech) have pretty much just built a holodeck (yup thats right!, see below)at the university of salford and bought 30 macbooks to run the video software etc, and its hilarious to see the facebook rants about Multiple hard drive failures, video format conversion and handling nightmares and so on. Linux is the best and most stable system so far, if apple are so clever why arent they better? too busy making money on phones and ipads+pods is the answer.
      at least with windows machines I can easily switch to linux if i ever feel the need.
      As a dj i will want to be able to keep up with higher resolution sound files and video files etc which will inevitably come on blu ray discs in the near future rather than multiple dvd’s and any machine i buy now needs to be adaptable and open format, not restrictive and controlling… older macs dont even have the option of using traktor as usb not there.
      Apple are the new technics, a great brand, but nothing that special in the big picture, they were just the first to have a widely used stable operating system that looks pretty, but like these big assed mercedes “off road” things you see around, when you take them up a grassy hill they’re no better than my grandad’s old rover really, and will one day be looked at the same way. coming on digital dj tips in 5 years “7 ways the demise of the mac will change dj culture” if they’re not careful how they continue to do business…
      And besides if the guys that made this think macs are pants, I’ll trust their opinion… big ups to John O’Hare ad DJ Gaspa!

  17. I am also usinf a ASUS gaming laptop, and it works like charm. Not to mention it turns heads when a the light are out: http://www.notebookreview.com/assets/45952.jpg 2 years strong and no problems yet.

  18. Great advice. I got Itch almost a year ago and shortly thereafter an HP dv4 entertainment type laptop with 4 Gb of RAM, a duo core Intel processor and Windows Vista. Itch never stopped hiccuping with Vista (even after every reconfiguration for DJ’s available). I had Windows 7 installed and again tried every reconfiguration including the wildly popular “run in XP mode” installation. During these lengthy and tedious exercises I noticed Itch running flawlessly on my old desktop with XP. Things really get interesting when I try to install XP over Windows 7. The only people I found that were successful had completed an extra step known as “slip streaming the drivers” with the assistance of an entirely different (techie only) program that accesses your computer more deeply than you would ever want to admit. The expensive disk for the installation of XP claimed much more than it was capable of.
    After all of that I restored the original OS to this machine and sold it and bought an old Dell Latitude D620 with 2GB, a duo core processor and Windows XP (the version doesn’t matter) and NO PROBLEMS with Itch.
    I have to recommend any duo core laptop PC with 2GB of RAM and a good, clean factory install of XP and you have as reliable a system as you can get. At least that’s my experience.

  19. I am using a Toshiba Tecra exclusively for Serato. In my opinion I believe you use what you are comfortable with. But with that said before you purchase a laptop (PC or Mac), know the minimum required specs for the software you are using. After knowing the specs buy a laptop that have at least twice those specs. That will save you down the road when you get the upgraded versions of the software and your laptop won’t fail you. I have been in the game for 34 years. I have survived turntables before 1200’s, cassettes, CD’s, and now MP3 controllers. Last comments: Adapt to what’s new to stay relevant.

  20. Chris Argueta says:

    Bought my first laptop for DJ’ing about 2 years ago.

    Got a Dell Studio 15 from the Dell website. Cost $1200. Never crashed, but I could never get rid of the DPCs no matter what I disabled in the Device Manager. I’ve had small issues with audio glitches and latencies. I have never felt 100% confident with this machine.

    Got myself a new laptop: Dell Inspiron 15R (N5010) for $700 at Walmart, on sale. After a BIOS update, Works like a champ! I now have a clean, all green, DPC Latency Checker display. No latency issues, no audio glitches, no dropouts. And I haven’t even optimized it for audio yet.

  21. I have been using HP laptops, running XP, Vista, and now 7, for going on five years now. With Echo Indigo DJ sound cards they have been rock solid. My only major crash at a gig was when I was using an M Audio Fast Track Pro card.

  22. I’m constantly working on both OSs, is the nature of my job, but I DJ on a MBP. Solid machines, true, but the “OSX is more stable than Windows” thing is a myth. Mostly a result of Apple’s smart but totally fake ad campaign. Windows 7 are rock solid, and I do mean ROCK SOLID. No issues on either of my 5 PCs currently running them. As for the “just works” statement… I guess is up to your style. I find my self being a lot more productive on Windows 7 than on Snow Leopard. In fact, apart from the “Tap space to preview” and Expose I really can’t think of any other OSX feature that makes more productive than Windows 7…

  23. What about upgrading the HD on a MacBook Pro? My current HD isn’t a solid-state drive and I find that if I bump my laptop a bit it will make the track skip.

    Does the average MBP really need a SSD? In a club setting with the bumping bass will it still be stable without a non-SSD?

    • Phil Morse says:

      The Mac HDs are no better than those that good PC manufacturers use, and in theory they will fail if shaken around enough – obviously SSD would solve that vibration issue. Interestingly, it’s a problem identified by AndrewAndrew in our recent interview with them.

      • Does anyone have any real world experience with using the stock/OEM hard-drive from MacBook Pro? I don’t want to show up to my first gig and have my laptop harddrive skip but SSD are out of my budget at the moment so I’m hoping I can get by with what I got… thanks for the help!

        • Phil Morse says:

          Actually more than half of our readers are Mac DJs, including me. Mine has never let me down so I wouldn’t worry too much – just don’t set up on the bass bins.

        • Having your mac/laptop on a stand really helps. The few times I had to put my mac directly on the booth I noticed lots of vibrations on it (especially if the subs are beneath the booth).

  24. I personally prefer choose a PC laptop and I think that the laptop from Asus NX90 Bang & Olufsen is a very good choice for using with most DJ softwares like Traktor DJ scratch pro or whatever else Digital DJ software (Torq, Itch…) The wrong point regarding this laptop is the price, very expensive if you need a strong hardware configuration (Core I7, 4Go Ram…) otherwise the laptops “Alienware” from Dell are nice choice too. I think this is what i’m going to choose for replacing my old laptop because it can’t start the latest release of the Serato Itch software that I use with my Allen&Heath Xone:DX mixing deck.

    • the nx90 is totally overpriced, but that’s because its a designer laptop with B&O speakers, no advantage for dj software, go for a cheaper gaming version and you’ll get the same performance but without the extra price tag, its not like you’ll be using the laptop’s built in speakers most of the time..I think Asus released this purely to cater for those who like to have a more expensive better looking laptop than their mates, but don’t want to buy a mac….

  25. Bikram aditya says:

    Hi there I’ve been using Win laptop for djing since 5 yrs ,in the begining I was using a Config. – Win xp ,256 mb ram, i.4 ghz,celeronM
    with bcd 2000 ,for say around 3 months I was totally confused & dissapointed with bcd coz it always used stop responding to bdj & vdj
    after around 30 min of continuos play ,& then one day I mailed my problem to the Behringer support & they replied me with some changes to be made in the settings of my laptop ,like turning off anti virus ,wifi etc ,I did whatever thay said & since then my bcd never stopped till date .Now I’ve got a 1. dual core laptop ,win xp ,1 gb ram,2.34 ghz & 2. netbook ,intel atom ,1.6 ghz,1gb ram .Now on both of them I m using Hercules rmx ,bcd 2000, & even NS7
    without any problems.Aaaah yes I’ve made the same changes in settings as advised by behringer in all of my laptops and all is well. tnx

  26. MacBook Pro All the way. I dont care how custom your PC is Macs Were designed for music software and all that fancy stuff. I have used PCs and finally saved up to get a mac and it was the best decision i have ever made. It takes a bit getting used to well not really. but Mac all the way

  27. I’m not a pro or even gigging out all that much at this point…but I love my macbook air. Not the most powerful, but to me what a laptop should be. I have the giant core i7 Imac for home, but the air is the bees knees when it comes to actually carrying the thing around.

    I haven’t missed the supposed lack of power. As long as I’m not crunching video this thing chugs along faster than the macbook pro 2.whatever ghz it replaced.

    Rumored spec bump this summer in them will make them I think the default laptop for most people truly on the go. I just wish my S4 was as portable :P

  28. Well, I’m using a low end Acer laptop with dual boot win xp and win 7 on it.. XP for dj-ing with VDJ and AA VMS4, and win 7 for other purposes… and never had any problems… would never buy a Mac cause of the limitations in the hardware customization… you get more bang for the buck with a laptop… But if u really want OSX stability just install it on any laptop… who said you have to use Windows if you’re not on a Mac??

  29. eMachines (Acer) E725

    • ckersey says:

      Am in the process of acquring the Acer Aspire am complete novice but would like to use asi get my Feet wet with dj capAbilities…Any advice greatly appreciated

  30. Just remember that a Laptop cooling pad will save your laptops life expectancy & also keep it running cool & more stable.

  31. My Mac never puts me down on deejaying though been an inside and out PC user as well! Stability wise and fast processing, I’ll go for Mac. But I know a lot of people using PC that haven’t encountered hiccups at all. Thing is, with Mac, you don’t have to go through a lot of preferences when you are about to purchase while on PC, we have to be very keen on choosing what fits most especially if we are on our way to the successes of our gigs.

    • Well, that’s the thing why PC and laptops will always be a huge leap above a MAC for me. The thing is I can pick exactly what i want from a number of vendors.. and not between 1 or 2 choices like on a MAC.

  32. I want to throw tomato’s at the writer for the following quotations…

    “I have used both, and I prefer Macs hands-down, not just for DJing, but for all computing. I hate to repeat the marketing, but it’s true: they just work. In an office, a crash is probably not going to feel like life or death. Performing in front of a crowd? Just imagine how that feels.

    The only crash I can remember in living memory was with my Mac

    Having said that, I DJed with a PC in front of a crowd for many years with no issues (it crashed regularly, just not when DJing).

    Yet my only crash in living memory while DJing was with my Mac (which has never crashed on me outside of this), when someone jogged the USB cable out of the socket while I was playing (OK, it was me). Neither Mac nor PC is going to help you in that circumstance.”

  33. Im getting my First Macbook Pro, Ive read that so many dj’s use them, Ill be using Traktor Duo on it, I hope it will work fine for me thats all Im hoping for

  34. Count me in if you are using Mac Book Pro for DJing.

  35. I’m trying to decide on a laptop strictly for djing. I heard that the new MacBook Air with the flash storage is a way to go over the MacBook Pro. I need some major help here. Thanks.

  36. It’s a cool thing to bash HP products. And they give plenty reason. Now with that said, I am typing this on my 3 plus year old custom built HP laptop. NEVER failed me. Aside of one gig where I wasn’t smart enough to reboot (I always hibernate), I’ve NEVER had my laptop fail me. Switched from Vista to Windows 7 since I bought it as well. I get way more bang for my buck than a Macbook Pro, & actually better specs. I can’t stress this enough – Not gonna attack the Apple fanboy brigade here, but my custom HP has never done me wrong. Go CUSTOM BUILT from HP’s website. WAY more bang for your buck as opposed to paying $500 – 800 more for the same specs (with no HDMI for you video enthusiasts. You’ll be fine. Trust me. Or at least trust the 3 year old custom built HP laptop I’m typing from . . .

  37. DJ Malarky says:

    The best laptop to dj with is the one that works. Simple and reliable. When you get it going remember, if it aint broke, dont break it lol. DJ Malarky out.

  38. I dunno why people don’t DJ with alienware laptops, there built to quality, work amazingly and you can choose your colourscheme.Fuck the glowing apple, i dj behind a glowing alien head

  39. MAC hands down. I’ve used both. I have a MAC Book Pro, 2.4 Ghz, duo core, 8 gigs of RAM (upgraded from 4 because I do video), 1 TB of data (all my library is internal, for speed!). It’s the best computer I’ve ever used.

    SECRET TIP: Login to Apple.com, in search type “refurbished” and you will get a list of computers/laptops that have been refurbed, but still carry the same warranty as new. This can save you some $. It saved be $500.00.

    -T$

    • Hi there….i would like to know whether my macbook air might be able to do roughly the same job? I’m no pro….just a beginner wanting to learn.

  40. Dj BugnHard says:

    Mac or PC…in the end experience is the best teacher…

  41. TechnoRage says:

    You speak of a learning curve you don’t have when you choose a PC. I think it’s not really a learning curve with Mac OSX (it’s far more intuitive); more a getting used to as opposed to Windows PC’s, where you really need to learn the basics.

    I am used working with both platforms OS-ses for a long time. Only working with a Mac I am looking forward to and it’s way more solid.

  42. One thing you need to also consider is that many Midi controllers have their own built-in audio card with their own drivers which can be an advantage and let’s you bypass using the lower-grade on-board audio. My Traktor S2 has an excellent built-in audio card. Don’t forget to create a “Restore Point” on a Windows PC before messing around with any OS settings or adding/removing/upgrading software or drivers; that will avoid a lot of headaches if you are a novice at this kind of stuff and need to back out of your changes. I am currently shopping for my 1st laptop myself and it is quite a project even though I work in the PC support industry for a living. I am also considering a smaller size all-in-one PC as a possibility for mobile work however all the ones I have been able to see in person are quite heavy.

  43. Antonio Wild says:

    Bryan,
    I currently run 2 cdj 1000mk3s and 2 technics 1200mk2s with a Xone:92 mixer, a want to purchace Traktor Scratch Pro 2.5 and Traktor F1 Remix Kontroller for my live shows with timecoded cd’s and vinyls so i can use my decks as the interface. Can you suggest a laptop that will be able to handle these requirements? Keeping in mind i would also like to run ableton suite 8 for producing.

    Cheers

  44. i dj online… i keep dropping streams or i have cutting or skipping…idk what the problem is i run vdj 7 and traktor 2

  45. Has anyone ever used Rain Laptops? I’m thinking of getting the Livebook A2.

    • Hey Marcos,
      Did you ever get the Rain Livebook? I was thinking about getting it also! Anyone with info on the rain livebook?

  46. Just thought i’d mention I use a Dell Vostro 200 desktop, cost me £200 with screen, spent £20 on a 2GB ram upgrade to take it to 3Gb. (it’s mainly a static setup – but it has been out an about.) To keep everything running smooth, there is nothing else other than the DJ’ing software installed, it’s purely dedicated (not even any AntiVirus – but no need since it uses an airgap firewall to the internet.) Never had any problems or crashes (win 7 64bit ultimate)
    My controllers are Rane SL2 interface with 2 x Technics SL1210 Mk2 and Serato scratch live as the software.

  47. Hmmm, Not sure why anyone would think because a computer is only made by one company is better got me there makes no scence you get what ever they give you.

    I agree buy what you can with the best spec’s.

    As for the OSX working better with less crashes maybe so only because there is mutch less of them on there just think about it all the companies out there making pc’s and using windows compared to apple, What would you say 10 to 40 percent, That is why there are more problems and most of them are man made.
    If you like the Mac or apple buy one but please lets have apples for apples not pinto and Cadillac. I also like the apple but not for what they want and the learning curve don’t like to mixs tools up keep them all the same.

  48. I always keep my phone ready with a song qued up, that way if my pc does freeze I at least have a backup while I get settled. Usually when my pc freezes it still keeps the song going, just doesn’t let me control anything, so I’ll make a distraction in the mic or something getting the crowd pumped up while I switch the cable to my phone haha

  49. I use all OSes for different reasons. If you are using a laptop for DJing, Windows will require more restarts for security updates for sure because it is the world’s most used OS. For some users, this can be distracting. You will definitely want to keep Windows and your security software updated even if the laptop never connects to the internet. Remember that even borrowing a USB stick could bring your laptop a virus or malware. Thus, compromising its security and stability. Also you will want to create and use an account with non-administrative privileges whether you’re using Mac or Windows. You’ll want to shut down all non-essential applications while DJing as well. It all depends on how willing you are to be proactive in securing your system no matter what OS you are using.

  50. It’s like the eternel argue between Mac and PC :)

    Personally I use a PC, an Alienware, which coast the same price as a Mac Book but with more power. I have lot of DJ friends (but also not DJ) who are on Mac and used to be on PC, and they now prefer Mac and want to “convert” me :)
    The thing with that kind of user is that they compare cheap PC with Mac, which is like compare a BMW 525i with a Renault Twingo (google it if you don’t know what this French car look like). Of course Mac is better if you compare with a cheap PC, but if you compare to something more powerfull with good piece (not cheap ram or hard drive) it’s basically the same.

    The most important is how do you feel confortable with the operator system. And what do you want to do outside of DJing with your computer (for exemple, I’m using FL Studio which is not (yet) on Mac). If you can put the price of a Mac but you prefer PC, go for a PC with the same kind of price, with a truthfull brand (Alienware are good, but they are not the only one). It just depend how more confortable you are with what you buy. The only advantage of Mac in DJing (from my point of view) is the keyboard skin you can put on it for showing the shortcut (like for Serato, but probably for other DJ program),because it’s always the same keyboard. And also Logic but it’s another thing.

    One thing with the PC too, is that people use more often shitty cracked program, which is harder to find on Mac so it not rare to see people stuggling with their PC and not have same issu with a Mac, mostly because they don’t use it the same way.

    But at the moment of your choice, it’s like choosing between two DJ program or music program like Ableton and Logic or Pro Tools, you can do all the same stuff with them, they all sound the same exept for some internal effect/plug and the only real difference is how much you feel confortable with the interface. But for the same price, you will have the same quality (and if you want it cheap, go for cheap PC, but don’t complain that is not good as a twice more expensive Mac :) )

  51. Sam wokke says:

    A Hp probook 15inch i5 3230 2,6ghz dual core 4gb ram. good enough or do i really need i7 quad core 8gb ram 2,2ghz.

    Want to buy a stable dj laptop but a macbook pro is no option becouse of cash.

    ps. sorry for my english

  52. DJ Mr. Anderson says:

    I use a Dell and I have never had it crash on me. I’ve used a midi-controllers and I have never had any problem at all. I had used this one for five years and started looking for a new one just for DJing. I was thinking about a Mac but all my research is telling me stick with a PC.

  53. well personally i await the day when major dj sotware will be available for the linux os

  54. I did use PCs when I started in 2010 but they were constant maintenance. They always had something wrong like a hard drive failure or a virus. And honestly, Macs are FAR easier to use than any PC. When I first started using computers, I had to look up videos every now and then just to find out how to change a simple setting. Plus the Macs have fantastic multitasking compared to PCs. With a Mac, you can have up to 16 desktops at once that you just swipe in between using the mouse or trackpad. Ever since I got my new late-2013 MacBook Pros with retina displays last year, I’ve never had a single glitch or bug. No viruses, hard drive failures or any problems. They’ve got incredible boot times. My dad upgraded his hard drive in his Dell Precision M4700 from a 500GB SATA drive, to a 700GB SSD after it failed. My friend came over one day and he’s got a 13″ late 2012 MacBook Pro non-retina with standard configuration and we put his up against my dad’s Precision. The Pro beat my dad’s laptop by 10 seconds.

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