Laptop recommendations for Mixxx

People sometimes ask for recommendations for laptops to get for using with Mixxx so I figured it would be good to write some guidelines. There is no need for an expensive laptop to use Mixxx, but there are a handful of issues to beware of when shopping for cheap laptops. I think the most important guidelines for shopping for a laptop for DJing are:

  1. Avoid Chromebooks. It is possible to run normal native Linux applications in Chrome OS but they don’t have access to USB devices. It is not necessarily easy to install a normal Linux distribution on a Chromebook, even for experienced Linux users.
  2. Avoid eMMC storage drives. These are soldered onto the motherboard so they cannot be replaced and they are typically too small to be suitable for DJing with only 32 - 128 GB. Although they use similar technology to solid state drives, they are generally much slower than SSDs. Lots of cheap laptops have eMMC drives now so do your research on what you are considering to buy.
  3. Get a solid state drive (SSD) with at least 512 GB to have plenty of space for your music library, operating system, and whatever other data you need. You can get a cheap laptop with a small SSD or a mechanical hard drive and get a bigger SSD separately from the laptop. This will often end up saving money compared to getting a laptop that comes with a bigger SSD. SSDs are quite cheap nowadays. You can get a 512 GB SSD for ~$60-70 USD or a 1 TB SSD for ~$100 USD (either M.2 or SATA, check which interface your laptop uses). Replacing a mechanical hard drive in an old laptop with an SSD will make it run way faster (this matters far more than CPU speed or RAM size). Don’t worry about the speed of the SSD; even the slowest SSD is way faster than any mechanical hard drive and more than adequate.
  4. 4 GB of RAM is fine for using Mixxx, but I’d generally recommend at least 8 GB if you don’t want to worry about how many browser tabs you have open. The RAM in laptops is usually upgradeable, but sometimes it is soldered onto the motherboard.
  5. CPU speed isn’t really important unless you will be contributing code to Mixxx and recompiling Mixxx regularly. Even a midgrade Intel Core i5 CPU from 2011 works fine.
  6. Any screen resolution 1366 x 768 (HD) or above will work for Mixxx. I’d generally suggest 1920 x 1080 (1080p) or higher for better visual quality. Only the cheapest laptops have 1366 x 768 screens anymore. Touch screens are nice but not necessary. I personally suggest a 14 or 15 inch screen size, but that’s a matter of personal preference and you could use Mixxx on a 13 inch laptop.
  7. GPU speed is not important for Mixxx. Intel or AMD graphics integrated into CPUs work fine; there is no need for a separate GPU for Mixxx.

New laptops meeting these guidelines start at prices around $400 - 500 USD. These have small HDs/SSDs which could be replaced with a larger SSD for a total cost ~$450 - 550 USD. You may have luck finding a good deal on a used laptop, but it may take some work to find one that meets these guidelines.

I’m not putting recommendations for specific laptops here because the market changes very quickly. The best deal today will likely not be the best deal in 6 months.

If you are looking for laptops that come with Linux, System76 sells laptops with free coreboot firmware preinstalled. Dell, Lenovo, Entroware, Tuxedo Computers, Juno Computers, and Laptop With Linux sell some laptops with Linux preinstalled as well but they don’t use coreboot firmware.

1 Like

Regardind disk space 2 / 3:
it’s recommended but not necessary to have all music on internal drives. SD cards and small USB drives are also cheap nowadays, and it’s possible to have multiple music folders linked to your library. Just make sure the card/USB drive is plugged in and mounted before you rescan your library for updates (and uncheck the auto-rescan option in the Preferences).

Yes external drives are an option but they are inconvenient to transport and one more thing that could go wrong during a gig. Internal SSDs are quite cheap now (both M.2 and SATA form factors), so as long as you can upgrade the storage drive in a laptop (that is, it doesn’t use an eMMC drive), I’d recommend that over an external drive.

1 Like

Confirmed! My old i5 7200, 512GB SSD, 4GB RAM was already great for running Mixxx (only).

I would like to add an additional point though. While Mixxx is not resources hungry at all but you may want to consider other tasks you do while DJing. I just bought a new Ryzen 7 Laptop with 16GB RAM as I run OBS, QLC+ and possibly even Firestorm fewer (for Second Life) in addition. As the big clubs don’t run Mixxx and it’s rather used by bedroom DJs or mobile DJs for their parties then maybe video streaming / recording and the likes are also important. This needs to be considered when planning for a Laptop as well.

4 Likes

external drives work OK with MIXXX but if you are going to the effort of speccing a DJ laptop a large onboard SSD makes things so much easier and more reliable, I’ve had glitches playing live due to USB cable issues to the external drive, one less thing to go wrong!

The entry level 960GB SSD I got for my DJ laptop a while back has been a major win. They are even less expensive nowadays.

I’m using a 4th gen i7 and it has more than enough grunt for MIXXX, before that a 3rd gen i5 which was also fine.

(using Xubuntu 16.04)

2 Likes