Laptops

Best laptops for podcasting under $500

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Finding the right laptop for music production on a budget can be a daunting task. It requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure your device can handle the demands of music production. In this review, we’ll explore two laptops, the ASUS VivoBook Business Laptop and the Acer Aspire 5 Slim, both priced under $500, and evaluate their performance, features, and drawbacks for music production enthusiasts.

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Processor Power:

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When choosing a laptop for music production, a powerful processor is essential. Look for a modern Intel or AMD CPU with at least 4 cores. Alternatively, older-generation models can also provide sufficient performance at a lower cost. Keep in mind that a 2-core processor may limit your workload and plugin usage.

Storage and Memory:

For music production, it’s recommended to have at least 1 TB of storage. However, within this price range, 512 GB or even 256 GB can suffice, as long as the laptop supports expandable storage. Opt for an SSD instead of a hard drive, as they offer better performance.

RAM is crucial for running multiple plugins and instruments. Aim for a minimum of 12-16 GB, and ensure it’s expandable to future-proof your laptop.

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Operating System:

While both macOS and Windows provide suitable music production experiences, Windows laptops generally offer better value. Avoid ChromeOS devices, as they can’t run demanding software like Pro Tools or Ableton Live.

Consider Additional Interests:

If you plan to use the laptop for gaming or other resource-intensive tasks, consider increasing your budget to find a more powerful device.

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Best laptops for video editing under $700

 

#1 ASUS VivoBook Business Laptop

ASUS VivoBook Business Lapt

Performance and Cooling:

The ASUS VivoBook impresses with an 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, although it has only 2 cores. Despite occasional stutters during music production, it performs well within its price range. The laptop’s fans activate under load, ensuring effective cooling, albeit at the cost of increased noise.

Memory and Storage:

With 20 GB of RAM and a 512 GB M.2 SSD, the VivoBook boasts a stellar memory and storage configuration. This ample RAM capacity allows for smooth plugin operation and future-proofing. The SSD ensures snappy performance, and there’s room for expansion if needed.

Display and Touchscreen:

The 15.6-inch FHD IPS display offers sharp visuals and decent colors but struggles in bright environments due to its limited brightness. The touchscreen can be useful but is prone to accidental touches.

Port Selection and Features:

The port selection is decent, with USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and a headphone jack. Notably missing is an Ethernet port, and the USB-C port lacks Thunderbolt support. However, both USB-A and USB-C ports allow various audio interface connections. The laptop features a fingerprint scanner and facial unlock for added convenience.

Size and Battery Life:

At 14.17 x 9.25 x 0.78 inches and 3.97 pounds, the VivoBook is relatively heavy and lacks optimal weight distribution, making portability a concern. It offers 7 to 8 hours of battery life, sufficient for a day of use with careful management.

Pros:

  • Strong performance with i3-1115G4 processor.
  • High-quality 20 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD.
  • Fingerprint scanner and facial unlock.

Cons:

  • Touchscreen sensitivity issues.
  • No Ethernet port or Wi-Fi 6 support.

#2 Acer Aspire 5 Slim

Acer Aspire 5 Slim

Performance and Cooling:

The Acer Aspire 5 Slim houses an AMD Ryzen 3 3350U processor with 4 cores and 4 threads, performing slightly slower than its Intel counterpart but still suitable for music production. It runs quietly, making it ideal for live recording, thanks to efficient cooling.

Memory and Storage:

With 12 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, the Aspire 5 offers adequate memory and storage. While less than the VivoBook, it handles music production tasks without noticeable performance issues. User-upgradeable storage and memory options are available.

Display and Port Selection:

The 15.6-inch FHD LED-backlit IPS display delivers decent visuals but struggles with outdoor visibility. The bezels are on the larger side, giving the laptop a somewhat dated look. The port selection includes USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, Ethernet, and a headphone jack, offering versatility for audio interface connections.

Features and Build Quality:

The Aspire 5 features a fingerprint scanner, backlit keyboard, Windows Hello facial recognition, and a sturdy build with a premium feel. Its dimensions are similar to the VivoBook, making it a bit heavy for daily carry.

Battery Life:

With a battery life of around 8 hours, the Aspire 5 matches the VivoBook’s endurance, ensuring a full day of usage with occasional charging.

Pros:

  • Quiet operation and efficient cooling.
  • Important features like fingerprint scanner and backlit keyboard.
  • Premium build quality and durability.

Cons:

  • Mediocre display with limited outdoor visibility.
  • Slightly slower Ryzen CPU compared to the VivoBook’s Intel processor.
#3 Dell Inspiron 15 3510: A Budget-Friendly Contender

Dell Inspiron 15 3510

The Dell Inspiron 15 3510, sporting an Intel Celeron N4020 processor, enters the competition as a budget-friendly option for music production. Let’s delve into its performance, cooling, memory, display, and more to see how it stacks up against its competitors.

Performance and Cooling:

The Inspiron 15 3510 features an Intel Celeron N4020, a 2-core 2-thread processor with a max boost frequency of 2.8 GHz. It outperforms its predecessor, the N3020, by approximately 30%. However, compared to the Acer’s AMD 3350U, it falls short, performing about half as well. While suitable for basic music production tasks, it struggles with more demanding workloads, occasionally resulting in crashes.

Silent Operation:

One of the standout features of the Dell Inspiron is its near-silent operation. Even under heavy workloads, the laptop remains relatively quiet, making it an excellent choice for live audio recording. The power-efficient Celeron processor contributes to excellent thermal performance, preventing thermal throttling.

Memory and Storage:

The Inspiron comes equipped with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD. While the memory capacity is generous, the weak processor limits its full potential. The limited storage may pose challenges when storing audio files, but expansion options are available through internal upgrades or external storage devices.

Display and Design:

Despite featuring an HD display instead of the standard 1080p, the 15.6-inch screen impresses with good color reproduction and viewing angles for its price. It also offers decent outdoor visibility due to its matte coating. The laptop’s modern design with small bezels is a significant improvement over its predecessor.

Port Selection and Features:

The Inspiron’s port selection is somewhat lacking, with no USB-C port. It includes USB-A 2.0, USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, a headphone jack, a charging port, and a microSD card slot. While it lacks an Ethernet port, it supports Wi-Fi 6, unlike the Asus VivoBook.

Build Quality and Portability:

The Inspiron’s dimensions are 14.33 x 9.8 x 0.78 inches, and it weighs 3.81 pounds, making it the lightest in this roundup. Its portability is enhanced by its lightweight design, although it’s constructed with less durable-feeling plastic, which may lead to durability issues if not handled carefully.

Battery Life:

The laptop offers approximately 8 hours of battery life, sufficient for a full day of usage. However, considering the power-efficient Celeron processor and lower-resolution display, some users may expect longer battery life.

Pros:

  • Silent operation and efficient cooling.
  • Surprisingly good display with outdoor visibility.
  • Lightweight and portable design.

Cons:

  • Limited performance for demanding tasks.
  • Lack of USB-C port.
  • Durability concerns due to plastic build.

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