Best CHEAP Budget Laptop for Podcasting [2024 Reviewed]

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ThumbnailBudget Podcasting LaptopsProRec ScorePrice
Lenovo ThinkPad E15

Lenovo ThinkPad E15

8.8
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Acer Aspire 5

Acer Aspire 5

8.5
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HP 15

HP 15

8.1
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Introduction

Like Voice Overs, Podcasting isn’t very resource intensive, which works out in your favor if you are looking for a budget laptop. You can go for a Windows machine such as an Asus, Dell, Lenovo or an HP and still have some money left over that you can spend on other resources such as audio interfaces and headphones. If mobility is not an issue, then it may be worth investing in a PC instead of a laptop, to get the most out of your dollar.

When choosing a budget laptop for podcasting, you want something that has decent performance with little to no fan noise and thermals, along with a fast 500 GB or higher SSD drive. You also want to make sure that your machine has a decent port selection so you’re able to connect your interface and any other peripherals that you want.

Ideally, you should go with a machine that has at least 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Most budget laptops come with only 8 GB, which is acceptable if they offer other features for the price. Having an upgradeable RAM setup is always great for future-proofing your device. If you ever feel like your laptop isn’t as fast as you want, you can always increase the memory to make it feel snappy once again.

Another important consideration is the screen size. A 13” or even 15” device is great for portability if you are a mobile podcaster. A smaller display will also have more pixels per inch, which increases the sharpness. However, with a smaller device, you can’t fit as many tracks on a single screen. That’s why if you mainly use your laptop in one place, , we recommend getting a larger device, something with a 17” screen.

It might also be tempting to get a MacBook since they have some exclusive podcasting software such as GarageBand and Logic Pro and often don’t come with any driver-related issues. Luckily, most modern Windows laptops, also have great up-to-date drivers and provide much better value, making them the go-to option when you’re on a budget.

You’ll be pleased to know there are many excellent DAWs, such as Audacity, that are completely free. You won’t miss much since they are often used by industry experts and come with the added benefit of being useable on budget devices. For paid DAWs, Adobe Audition is the most popular one among podcasters, which also works perfectly fine on budget machines.

Best Budget Laptop for Podcasting Review

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

8.8ProRec Score
Lenovo ThinkPad E15
Price to Performance
9
Processor
8
RAM
9
Storage
9
Connectivity
9
Additional Features
9

The Lenovo ThinkPad E15 comes with the Intel 11th Gen Core i5-1135G7, a 4 core and 8 thread processor with a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.2 GHz. You get a 10 percent performance boost compared to the i5-1035G7 on its predecessor. In our testing using Restream, the podcasting performance is perfect for a budget laptop with very few stutters and virtually no crashes.

The fans on the ThinkPad E15 are surprisingly silent. They only kick in when the machine is pushed to its limits, and even then, you barely notice the noise. The E15’s predecessor had some really loud fans, so we are pleased to see the improvement with the newer model. As a result, your podcast audio will be free from any loud fan noise. We did encounter some coil whine during charging which was a bit annoying but did not significantly impact our podcasting experience.

Even the thermal performance is impressive since the machine maintains its temperatures well. It should be noted that when you start a heavier task, the device throttles its performance a bit, but then it returns to normal and maintains that indefinitely.

Our model came with 32 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD. The high capacity memory makes multitasking a breeze and ensures your device is future-proof. The storage will also be enough to store your podcasting software such as Adobe Audition and a few audio/video files. If you ever feel that your storage is filling up, you can consider getting an external storage device. Moreover, both the RAM and storage are upgradeable, which further future-proofs your device.

The 15.6″ Full HD (1920×1080) TN panel was also pretty nice. It was really sharp, with good viewing angles and color accuracy that helps color grade your video podcast. You can also tilt the screen 180 degrees for better functionality. Our only problem was that it only has 220 nits of brightness, the same as its predecessor, making outdoor visibility really difficult. However, since most podcasts are shot indoors, this should not be a big issue.

You get a seriously impressive port selection with the ThinkPad E15, especially considering it’s a budget device. It comes with 1 Thunderbolt 4, something rarely found in this price range, 1 USB-A 3.2 Gen1, 1 USB 2.0, an HDMI 1.4b, an RJ-45 Ethernet jack, a headphone jack, and a charging port.

You can use any audio interface you want with access to both Thunderbolt and USB-A ports. There are other ports available for connecting accessories as well. We also recommend using the ethernet port if you’re going to live stream to ensure no network lag resulting in a smooth podcast listening experience for your audience. The built-in webcam and microphone are useable, but we recommend getting a dedicated recording setup if your budget allows since that will seriously upgrade your podcast’s quality.

With the ThinkPad, you get many features that help it stick out from the other budget options. These include one of the best backlit keyboards in the market, access to both a fingerprint scanner and Windows Hello facial recognition for quick and secure access, and the Kensington lock.

The ThinkPad is on the heavier side, coming in at 4.3 pounds, and its dimensions are 14.49 x 9.65 x 0.74 inches. The upside of this is that you get excellent build quality. Just holding the device, you can feel that it is a well-built machine. It may not be as premium feeling as the ThinkPad X-series, but it’s just as durable.

The battery life of the ThinkPad is also pretty good, coming in at 8 hours of screen-on time. We managed to get a full day’s worth of usage on a single charge. You can also quickly top up your machine using the included fast charger.

To conclude, the ThinkPad E15 is a solid device with the best port selection and features, not just at this price but also when compared to more expensive options. It also has solid performance and silent fans, making it perfect for podcasting. The high capacity and upgradeable RAM and storage, as well as excellent build quality, make this device future-proof for the years to come.

ThinkPad E15 Benefits

The ThinkPad E15 has very quiet fans, making the machine virtually silent and great for podcasting.

The upgradeable 32 GB of RAM and 1 TB SSD storage make this device very smooth and future-proof.

The excellent port selection, with access to Thunderbolt 4 and USB-A ports, means you can connect any accessory you want.

You get excellent and durable build quality with the ThinkPad E15, which makes it a much more premium machine.

ThinkPad E15 Drawbacks

The coil whine while charging can often get a bit annoying.

The outdoor visibility of the ThinkPad isn’t that great because it only has 220 nits of brightness.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

8.5ProRec Score
Acer Aspire 5
Price to Performance
10
Processor
9
RAM
8
Storage
8
Connectivity
8
Additional Features
8

The Acer Aspire 5 is another excellent budget option for podcasting. It comes with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7, a 4-core and 8-thread processor with a 4.7 GHz turbo boost frequency. It performs about 10 percent better than the i5-1135G7 on the ThinkPad and 35 percent better performance compared to the i7-10510U. Just like the ThinkPad, Acer’s podcasting performance is excellent. It even has faster rendering times because of the 0.5 GHz greater maximum CPU frequency.

The fan noise of the Aspire 5 is very similar to the ThinkPad. Both of their fans rarely turn on, and that only under extreme workloads. Even when they do turn on, they’re reasonably silent. This significantly improves our podcasting experience since we don’t have to worry about removing the background noise while editing. Moreover, our model didn’t produce any coil whine, unlike the ThinkPad and even the predecessor of the Aspire.

Both the 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage are exactly half in capacity compared to the ThinkPad. However, they still manage to get the job done, although you still may consider getting an external storage device. Moreover, the storage is also upgradeable if you ever need more space in the future. The same can’t be said about the memory since the RAM kit is soldered onto the motherboard; thus, can’t be upgraded.

The 17.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display of the Acer is very good for the price. It has better colors and viewing angles when compared to the ThinkPad’s TN panel. It is even useable outdoors, but not under direct sunlight.

The Acer Aspire 5 comes with 1 USB 3.2 Type-C Gen 1, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port, 1 – USB 2.0 Port, an Ethernet jack, and an HDMI port. With access to both USB-A and USB-C ports, you can connect nearly all audio interfaces you want. The Ethernet port is also an excellent inclusion for live streamers.

Like the ThinkPad, we don’t recommend using the built-in webcam and microphones on this machine for recording either. A dedicated recording setup will provide you with an exponentially better podcasting experience. An issue we ran into with the Acer was that the audio playback sounded very muffled, even using headphones. We had to reinstall the audio drivers to solve this problem, after which there were no audio-related issues.

The Acer Aspire has many other features that make it a much better value, including access to both a fingerprint scanner and facial unlock, a decent backlit keyboard, and Windows 11 out-of-the-box.

The dimensions of this laptop are 15.89 x 10.38 x 0.78 inches, and it weighs 4.72 lbs, making it the heaviest device on this list. Despite that, we still managed to carry it around in our backpack, albeit with some difficulty.

During our testing, we got approximately 8 hours of battery life on a single charge. Just like the ThinkPad, this device also managed to last us an entire day of usage. The predecessor of the Aspire offered 2 more hours of battery life, so we were a bit disappointed to see this downgrade.

Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is a great device that offers excellent performance, especially considering the price. It doesn’t miss out on any essential features, such as a backlit keyboard or a fingerprint scanner. To top it all off, you also get decent battery life and a good port selection, making the Acer a fantastic package for podcasting.

Acer Aspire 5 Benefits

You get excellent performance for the price with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7.

The Aspire is a very silent machine as it barely produced any noise during our testing.

The port selection is excellent, with access to both USB-A and USB-C ports to connect almost all kinds of audio interfaces.

Acer Aspire 5 Drawbacks

The Acer’s RAM kit is soldered onto the motherboard, thus limiting the upgradeability of the device.

Our model’s stock audio drivers were problematic, making audio playback muffled even with headphones, so we had to reinstall them.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

8.1ProRec Score
HP 15
Price to Performance
10
Processor
7
RAM
8
Storage
9
Connectivity
7.5
Additional Features
7

HP Laptop 15 is a great budget option, it comes with the Intel Core i3-1115G4, a dual-core processor with a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.1 GHZ. This processor appears a lot in budget to midrange laptops as it does an impeccable job handling general workload with proper efficiency and zero clunkiness.

Compared to its predecessor, the machine scores about 20 percent better in single-core and dual-core performance. It also performed 77 percent worse than the i7 on the Acer because of having 2 fewer cores and a much slower frequency.

For audio editing, the HP is equipped to run the software needed for creating crisp and concise audio clips without any issues. However, due to the processor, your potential with video podcasts is somewhat stifled, as it struggles a bit with video editing. In case you consider video podcasts important for your brand, the quad-core processor, such as the i5 or the i7 on the ThinkPad and Acer, is more suited to your needs.

The thermals also pleasantly surprised us – the laptop barely gets hot at all due to the low-powered CPU. The ventilation is situated on the bottom of the machine, allowing it to maintain temperatures pretty effectively. Of course, in case of podcasting, you will not need to worry about the heat at all. The laptop houses a single fan that maintains appropriate temperatures for regular tasks like audio recording and usually stays quiet.

Unlike its predecessors, the memory capacity for this laptop has doubled from 8GB to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, proving to be more than ideal considering that the usual podcast editing apps like Adobe Audition have a minimum requirement of 4GB. This amount of RAM usually goes by with little trouble for multitasking unless you push your laptop on purpose.


Along with that, you get 1TB of storage. This is a very good base storage to start with, considering you will be keeping a lot of podcasts and audio clips spanning for hours.

The 15.6 HD Micro-edge display on the HP was about what we would expect in this price range. It had decent colors and sharpness, although viewing angles and outdoor visibility were a bit lacking. Since you will primarily use this device indoors, we can excuse this, especially considering that most panels in this price range aren’t that bright anyway.

The laptop also provides an excellent catalog of ports for you to use. These include 1 SuperSpeed USB type-C port, 2 Superspeed USB Type-A ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 Headphone/Microphone jack, and an AC charging port. Having USB-A and USB-C ports allows you to connect an audio interface along with some additional accessories.

You will also find the laptop quite portable, weighing around 3.72 pounds, and its dimensions are 14.11 x 9.53 x 0.78 inches. It’s the lightest option on our list, mainly owing to the smaller cooling system. You can easily carry it with you anywhere, being ready to work at a moment’s notice.

The laptop averaged a battery life of about 6-7 hours of mixed-use. It also charged quite quickly, topping up at about an hour, and, as long as the workload isn’t relatively heavy, which in the case of general podcasting is not really the issue.

In conclusion, with a tight budget in mind, this laptop does an adequate job in terms of performance and provides a solid foundation for podcasting, especially considering the price point. It comes with a good enough processor, excellent memory and storage, and efficient thermals that allow the laptop to stay quiet, proving that it is a valid contender as budget podcasting laptop.

HP Laptop 15 Benefits

The HP Laptop 15 is one of the most affordable Windows devices on the market that can properly run podcasting software like Audacity.

You get 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1 TB SSD to make your device future-proof and snappy.

You get a decent port selection with access to both USB-A and USB-C ports to connect audio interface and other accessories.

HP Laptop 15 Drawback

The performance wasn’t sufficient for editing video podcasts.

The display on the HP Laptop 15 is a bit lacking, especially outdoors, where visibility is minimal.

Verdict

budget podcasting laptops scoring model comparison quantitative analysis

Based on our scoring model, you can see the highest variance in the Processor and Additional Features categories. The Acer Aspire 5 comes with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7, which shreds through all podcasting-related workloads, helping it secure a 9 in this category. The HP 15, being a more affordable option, only comes with an 11th Gen i3, which gets the job done but is still slower, thus scoring only a 7.

The ThinkPad laptop series offers unique features that sets it apart from the competition, helping it achieve a 9 in Additional Features. The HP 15, on the other hand, doesn’t offer the luxury features seen with the more expensive laptops; therefore, it finishes last in that category.

The ThinkPad remains stable in all categories (never scoring below an 8) and stays ahead of the competition in the RAM, Storage, Connectivity, and Additional Features categories. It takes a dip in the Processor category but even then, the performance wasn’t bad at all, it held up its own fairly well. It also finishes behind the Acer in the Price to Performance category because of the relatively slower processor while having a similar price range.

The Acer Aspire 5 performed really well throughout our tests, with only a 0.3 point variance compared to the top contender. It defeats the competition in Price to Performance and Processor categories, scoring a 10 and a 9, respectively. It has a decent score of 8 in all the other categories, where it it loses to the top contender by a single point. If you are looking for a good laptop with outstanding performance, especially for the price, then the Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent option.

However, according to our testing and scoring model, the best budget laptop for podcasting is the Lenovo ThinkPad E15, with a final average score of 8.8. You get some flashy features such as a best-in-class backlit keyboard and the Kensington lock that aren’t present on any of the other laptops as well as the best RAM and Storage config (32 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1 TB SSD). It even has a Thunderbolt port, something rarely seen this price range. While the ThinkPad doesn’t provide the strongest processor for the price, it handles all podcasting workloads with ease, and that too with minimal thermal throttling and fan noise. If you need a budget laptop for podcasting, the ThinkPad E15 is the way to go. Highly recommended!

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I making any sacrifices going for a Budget Podcasting Laptop?

While the performance of a budget laptop will not be as good as a more expensive machine, it won’t have much of an impact if your use case is podcasting. You can spend the extra cash on a better recording setup and have a much better podcasting experience.

What is the most important aspect of choosing a Budget Podcasting Laptop?

The most important aspect of a budget podcasting laptop is the quality of your storage device. A slow mechanical drive will completely tank your performance even if you have a fast processor. It is common for budget devices to come to HDD, so you should look for a model which includes an SSD instead.

Why should I consider Windows over mac OS for a Budget Podcasting Laptop?

Windows machines provide much better value compared to Macs, where you pay a premium for the “Apple logo.” A budget Windows device will offer a similar experience but at a much better price range.

Other than a Laptop, what else will I need for a Podcasting setup?

Other than your laptop, you will require an audio interface that connects to your device via a USB port. You can then connect other accessories to your audio interface. These can include studio-grade headphones, mixers, and microphones. You will additionally need a DAW such as Adobe audition or Audacity for recording your podcasts, as well as a dedicated camera if you have a video podcast.