Podcasting is a fantastic way to start your content production/marketing journey. But it requires some equipment so here we will look at the best budget laptop for podcasting.
I love the fact that it makes it easy to get everything you want from content production (such as authentic, conversational and branded content) but without the hassle of carrying tonnes of equipment, like in the case of video production.
A lot of my customers and clients actually like the idea of creating content that doesn’t rely on them worrying about the way they look or present on camera. Podcasting is a very relaxed form of content production.
For my podcast, Publish, Perish or Podcast, the only reason that I use a laptop is for editing after we have recorded on a portable recorder. I use the Zoom H4n but check out the rest of my equipment recommendations in my other blog.
Many people use their laptops to also record their podcast. This means that you want the laptop to be reliable and stand up to the demands of recording software.
Garageband, Audacity, WavePad Audio Editor, Adobe Audition and Reaper are all similar in hardware requirements. All of the laptops I suggest below will be able to handle them!
There are a few important aspects of laptops that I consider before making a purchase for content production. The good thing is that podcasting is not as resource intensive as video editing or motion graphics. This means there’s no need to spend thousands on a high-end machine.
The important specs to look for
Laptops come in many sizes with a huge array of internal components that can leave even the most tech-savvy person confused. Technology moves so quickly that it can be challenging to know what you actually need inside your laptop.
Here are a few considerations that I make when choosing the best budget laptop for podcasting.
Screen size is so important as it can be the difference between enjoying your editing experience, or not. Editing a podcast can take up to three or four hours depending on the length of the raw audio.
Some audio editing and recording software can take up a fair amount of screen space. Here is the difference between a desktop monitor (23.6 inch) and a laptop monitor (15 inch)
You can see that on the laptop the screen is more crowded and could comfortably only fit one more track at that size. This won’t be an issue for a single voice or person podcasts. If you have a music track and two voice tracks you’ll be very comfortable on a 15.6 inch monitor.
I advise all new podcast editors and producers that are editing on a laptop to get a screen no smaller than 15.6 inches. This will mean that you have a nice time editing and recording your podcast.
If you need a smaller laptop for space/portability reasons I recommend getting an external monitor to do your editing on. You’ll still be able to record comfortably on a smaller screen but for editing, you may want a bigger screen.
If you can afford it – I use a dual-screen setup and really enjoy the amount of space it gives me. I can have multiple folders and browsers open with no issue and can glace between them without having to open and close windows.
Hard drives hold all of the information for your podcast. From logos, raw audio, sound effects, stingers, editing files, and music – it soon adds up to a huge amount of information.
The good news is that storage is getting cheaper and cheaper. Lower end laptops have the old traditional hard drives that physically write on to a spinning disk. Newer ones have solid-state drives (SSDs).
I expect that in the next few years we will no longer see laptops that have old hard drives and all will have
What size should you get?
The largest one possible with your budget! Look for over 1TB of storage if you want to be future proof.
The average file size for one-hour raw audio can be as large a 350 MB. So if you have four channels/guests that could easily be over 1GB of data. Music, stingers and intro or outro tracks aren’t as big as the raw audio that you;d collect but it is something to take into account!
One other option is to carry a portable hard drive with you but I like to keep my kit simple.
RAM was one of those things that I completely misunderstood for a long time. Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer memory that is typically used to store working data and machine code.
Essentially: More RAM = a faster computer when editing multimedia.
For most multimedia applications they’ll recommend at least 16GB worth of RAM. I have, and it is possible, to run Reaper and other audio software on 8GB of RAM but it runs a little slow and is prone to crashing which is very frustrating.
Crashing means that you lose all of your data and edits from your last save point and, in the past, I have lost up to one hour worth of work! Avoid at all costs!
You’ll quite often see it accompanied with the connector type, eg. DDR4. This will make it easier to replace and you should take note of this connector when you buy.
Because of shrinking laptop sizes, manufacturers are putting fewer USB’s into laptops. If you are using your laptop for onsite recording you’ll have to consider that you make need two USBs for microphones. Even though this sounds obvious, a lot of laptops are now made with only one USB port.
Better double-check this before you hit the buy button!
For under $500 you’ll struggle to find anything with 16GB of RAM. However, you can buy a laptop where you can upgrade the RAM yourself and add more RAM modules. There are also some SSD upgrade options for most computers – if you want to upgrade dramatically look at the next price point.
The best option with upgradeable memory is the Dell Inspiron 5575 15.6″ Laptop.
|RAM||8GB DDR4 RAM (Supports up to 16GB)|
|Storage||1TB 5400 RPM Hard Drive|
|Display||15.6 Inch Full HD LED-backlit|
|USB ports||3x ports (one 2.0, two 3.1)|
This laptop should be considered entry-level and getting another 8GB DDR4 RAM module will make this seem like a much better computer. There are two slots available and it is as easy as unscrewing the backplate and clipping in the extra RAM.
With a nice big screen, this laptop will make editing easy on your eyes. the laptop looks sleek and reports on line say that feels like a sturdy laptop.
$500 – $1000
This is where you really should be positioning your budget if you want a laptop for multimedia production of any sort. At this price point, you are able to get a decent machine with 16GB of RAM and lot’s of SSD storage.
My pick for this price range is the MSI GV62 8RD-276 15.6″ Performance Gaming Laptop.
|USB||3x (USB 3.1) + 1x Thunderbolt 3|
This laptop may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to design. It has a very “boy racer” type of look to it. If you can get past the design, below the hood are a powerful set of components.
I may actually be a bit of an MSI fanboy but I do think they make an excellent range of laptops and computers.
There are many laptops in this range and you’ll be looking for the best mix of hardware options for your particular use case. However, don’t just buy an Apple because everyone else is. There are many more really good options for you!
Bonus option – Over $1000
This is where I have a definite recommendation! I wanted a machine that could handle all the software and editing that I could throw at it with power to spare! I didn’t want to drink the Apple Koolaid but liked the power their machines provide.
For an ultimate power machine, you cannot go past the MSI P65 Creator 8RF-450US Ultra Thin Productivity / Gaming Laptop.
|Display||15.6 144Hz 7ms, IPS-Level FHD,Anti-Glare 1920×1080|
|USB ports||3x (USB 3.1) + 1x Thunderbolt 3|
This laptop is expensive, yes. But I’ve never had such a pleasant experience with a laptop in my life.
It is powerful enough to ensure that your editing goes without a hitch and can even handle video editing and motion graphics tasks with ease. It is sleek and sexy which gives Apple a run for its money.
The bottom line
When choosing a laptop for any multimedia project or creation you need to consider a number of important factors, In my experience, I have never regretted prioritizing RAM and storage. Also, spending a bit of time to really investigate how I will use a laptop.
Take time to check that it has the hardware that will make your content production a pleasure.