Laptop for live keyboards


I’ve been using a macbook pro with mainstage since 2012 and it with usual upgrades (ram, ssd) it’s still holding on well but lately experience old-age mechanical problems (connectors etc).

So I’m looking for a PC laptop solution that would be first and foremost optimized for live keyboards with Cantabile.

Audio interface is RME Fireface UC (usb!), not planning on switching.

Most intensive plugins used are Ravenscroft, Omnisphere, u-he diva&repro, Acoustic Samples B5 and some others not so cpu-intensive. Needs to handle multiple layers and splits easily. No sequencing/backing tracks on stage, only live keyboards playing.

What I’m looking for:

  • lightweight and portable but durable at the same time
  • preferably 13-14", i7 (or maybe i5 would be enough?), 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • reliable hardware and drivers
  • works fine in winter (sub 0°C) and summer (35°C) outside
  • good thermal design to avoid cpu throttling that would affect plugins
  • low audio latency

Based on my research I’m leaning towards Dell XPS 13" but not decided/convinced yet. Price range of xps would be about right. Would fancy a bit lower price but definitely not higher.
Has anyone done a recent research / tests and would share some experience?

Thanks and best regards,


In my business we have bought lots of XPS 13" laptops the past 4 years. They hold up well and don’t seem to have cooling issues. 16GB 512 SSD is good. They are the high end of what we spend on a laptop.

It’s very compact for the size of its screen.

Probably wouldn’t be a problem now but I have an older model that maxes out at 4GB making it pretty useless at this point.


I’m using Dell XPS 15 (9570) with 16 GB and 512 MB SSD. I’m using similar plugins ( CFX Grand, Pianoteq, Omnisphere ) and it runs quite smoothly. Only thing is the Realteq wifi and audio chip which sometimes could cause interrupts I don’t want. I‘m disabling wifi during live performance and I have uninstalled the realtech audiodriver since I’m using the MOTU 624 interface (thunderbolt/usb).
Running with power scheme High Performance everything works fine, in my experience.



Thank you very much. However recently I’ve read a bit too much about coil whine and especially DPC latency on the XPS models so I’m a bit scared…

How about HP elitebook 840 g5? Anyone with it? It’s even cheaper than the XPS…
Thanks and best regards,