Because of the global pandemic that we are in, we are forced to work from home so as to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
More and more people are turning to the internet for some revenue. Some people would resort to game streaming while others would invest their time in creating podcasts for their audience.
Whatever the case may be, if you are looking for the best microphones for gaming and streaming in 2020, then you’ve come to the right place.
For today, I am going to recommend some that will surely be right for your budget.
Best Microphones for Gaming and Streaming
Blue Yeti is a household name when it comes to microphones. In fact, at the time of writing, this product has been on the market for more than 10 years and that is truly saying something.
The reason why this is so popular is that aside from its relatively low asking price (at least for a microphone), it is one of the only mics out there that can support four directional modes.
The Yeti can record audio via omnidirectional, stereo, cardioid, and bidirectional modes and it does so seamlessly so you only get the best performance possible.
Whether you are playing games or recording something for a video or a podcast, the Blue Yeti provides amazing value and its ease of use makes this easy to recommend to a lot of people.
2.Elgato Wave 3
Elgato is a well-known brand but you might only know about the company because of its stream deck and capture cards. But, the company also makes some amazing USB microphones and the Elgato Wave 3 is a pretty strong contender.
Although this microphone doesn’t have different modes that you can switch to unlike the Blue Yeti, the Elgato Wave 3 still produces quite an amazing sound simply because it prevents audio clipping and has a pretty intuitive and powerful software that helps you use this thing to your heart’s content.
There is a steep learning curve when it comes to using its proprietary program though, but once you’ve mastered it, you will be happy that you’ve gone with this thing over other USB microphones.
It only has a cardioid pattern but it does a pretty good job of eliminating outside noise. So, if you type on your mechanical gaming keyboard, for example, the noise will not be picked up by the microphone.
3.Blue Yeti X
If you want a more modern Blue Yeti microphone, then the Blue Yeti X is definitely for you. This thing only improves upon the original and one of its handy upgrades is the inclusion of an LED front panel that helps you know volume levels, as well as the different parameters of the microphone. This really helps a lot, especially if you want to find out certain things at a glance.
It should go without saying that the overall sound quality is top-notch and you still get four different modes that are present in the original Yeti on this one as well. That means that you can switch between bidirectional, omnidirectional, stereo, and cardioid modes depending on your need or preference.
Since the company has partnered with Logitech, you can install the G Hub software to tweak certain parameters of the mic such as setting a voice preset, adding cool effects, among many other things. This level of customization is always welcome and it truly helps separate this mic from all the others on the market.
There is also a handy noise-reduction button that helps eliminate background noise. This is perfect if you are situated in a noisy environment and you do not want your recordings to contain extraneous noise.
If your heart is solely set on creating podcasts and you want a microphone that you can trust, then the Rode Podcaster is for you.
This is a cardioid microphone that ensures that the voice recording will only come from one direction (this is also why the placement of the mic is an important thing to consider as well).
I am amazed by its ability to record crystal-clear audio and it is pretty much a set-and-forget USB microphone.
Although its audio quality is amazing, do keep in mind that for the price of $229, you are only getting the microphone, which means that if you want a pop filter or a shock mount, you will need to spend extra to get those.
Still, this is an easy recommendation because of its performance and the fact that it is backed by a solid 10-year warranty.
Another popular microphone for streamers, the HyperX Quadcast has the same switch modes that are on the Blue Yeti but it does have some nifty features of its own as well.
First of all, the microphone has red lighting which is sort of a brand thing but it certainly adds to the aesthetic appeal.
You can set it to cardioid mode if you just want the microphone to pick up your voice or you can set it to omnidirectional if you want it to get sound from multiple sources all at once.
Its tap-to-mute system is highly praised by the gaming community and I am pretty sure that you are going to make good use of it too.
Even though this thing comes with its own internal pop filter and its desk stand, the latter is a bit short so you will still need to invest in a proper stand if you want it to be positioned directly near you.
Still, if you want one of the best microphones for streaming that doesn’t break the bank, the HyperX Quadcast is an easy recommendation.
6.JLab Audio Talk GO
If you want to get into the streaming and podcasting scene but you are reluctant to spend more than a hundred dollars on a dedicated microphone, then the JLab Audio Talk GO is for you.
For just under $50, you are getting a relatively small microphone that provides a well-balanced performance. It may sound tinny when compared to more premium options, but it certainly is good enough for most people.
It has a portable design and there is a tripod already included in the package so that you can easily just place this on your desk and start talking.
This is one of those mics that you just plug in and use and that is what many people really love about this thing.
Even though this thing only has two condenser mics, it was still able to capture my voice really well. Although it doesn’t have any extensive options, you are still getting a competent microphone that is definitely perfect for people who are still new to streaming or podcasting.
XLR microphones provide better overall quality than USB mics, but they are usually quite expensive and that is why most people shy away from getting them. However, the Audio-Technica AT2020 is cheap in that it only costs $99.
It doesn’t have the necessary cables and stands that you need to use when you are going to start streaming, though, so you will have to spend more money to get them. You will also need a dedicated mixer as well.
But, after everything is set up, you will be pleased by the quality of the Audio-Technica AT2020. Its crystal-clear audio makes this one of the best in terms of creating voice-overs and professional podcasting.
8.Razer Seiren X
Another amazing yet simple SB microphone is the Razer Seiren X. Razer is one of the well-known companies that create amazing gaming peripherals and the Seiren X is meant for people who are into game streaming.
This can be connected to your computer via USB and one cool feature of this thing is that it allows you to put some cute emoticons on the microphone itself thanks to its 8-bit LED display.
According to the company, this is a ‘Super-Cardioid’ microphone which should make this ideal for streamers and podcasters. However, in my testing, it was able to pick up a lot of ambient noise, which means that if you have a mechanical keyboard, the mic can record that as well which can be off-putting for some.
I do like its audio quality and that is saying something considering that this is just an $80 microphone. Its ease of use also makes this easy to recommend to complete beginners.
9.Blue Snowball Ice
Most of the microphones on this list require you to set things up first before you can really use them to their fullest potential, but if you just want a rather simple solution where you just plug the device and it works, then the Blue Snowball Ice is perfect for you.
You might say that we are biased towards a certain brand, but to be honest, the company just creates amazing microphones that are hard to pass up.
The Blue Snowball Ice is a relatively small desk microphone that has its own tripod and it connects to your gaming PC via USB connection. It doesn’t have extra features, so it literally is a plug-and-play peripheral.
As you can expect from Blue, the audio quality is superb despite its low asking price. It may not have the feature set that you can find on more premium offerings, but the basic functionality of this thing should suit most users right off the bat.
Because this microphone records audio in a cardioid pattern, this is perfect not only for game streaming or podcasting, but it can also be reliably used in video-conferencing as well.
HP Envy 15 (2020) Review- A Great Laptop for Creatives
Are you a professional photographer, video renderer, photo editor, or any profession that involves creative work? If so, you’re probably looking for a portable laptop that you can bring with you for a quick edit and I can highly recommend the HP Envy 15.
Read further to find out why the HP Envy 15 is a great laptop for creative professionals.
You are probably thinking about a flashy portable machine since I am talking about a laptop for creative professionals, right? But, even though this thing can handle any creative workload, it is best that the chassis itself remains subtle and that is what HP delivers.
The HP Envy 15 has an all-aluminum chassis that looks tame but professional. Here, you get a silver build that looks and feels premium- so much so that this laptop weighs 4.7 pounds. It is a bit heftier than other laptops of this type on the market, but this should just tell you that this thing is robust in terms of build quality and reliability.
On the lid, you will find the company’s logo which is presented with lines that have off-angles which I think is done for aesthetic appeal.
On the sides, you will find some air vents alongside some USB-A and USB-C ports, a microSD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The USB-C ports have Thunderbolt 3 support which is pretty nice.
Unlike most of the laptops that you find on the market, the HP Envy 15 is actually equipped with an AMOLED display that is quite similar to some flagship phones that you can find on the market.
Because of the said panel, you get vivid and punchy colors with amazing contrast and brightness. Creating content on this thing is a dream thanks to the display’s color prowess.
After using my colorimeter, I got a 100% sRGB rating, 97% Adobe RGB, and an impressive 142% DCI-P3 color gamut rating which is truly superior to others. Now you know why HP is marketing this as a great laptop for creative professionals.
It is worth mentioning that the HP Envy 15 also supports true HDR which means that you can watch any HDR content online and enjoy it on its 15.6-inch AMOLED display.
You can also use the company’s dedicated touch pen on the screen itself and it is pretty accurate as well. Just remember that the said accessory is not included in the box, so you will have to spend a bit more money just to get one.
There is also a 720p webcam at the top which produces good quality images, albeit on its color is a bit on the cooler side. It does have a privacy shutter that you can use to hide the camera when you are not using any application that warrants its usage.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I am more of a typist than a creative type but I have to say that this laptop has an amazing keyboard. It has a good feeling on every keypress and its tactile feedback is on point. It doesn’t have any backlighting whatsoever, but I think that is a fair compromise.
I find the keyboard’s layout a bit odd considering that there is a lot of real estate that can be used here. I think that has something to do with the speaker grilles that are found on both sides of the keyboard, but I would’ve wanted the company to go the usual route and have a layout that is used by many laptop manufacturers out there.
I just do not like that some keys are in line with each other. For instance, the page up and page down keys are in line with the delete key, which you will find pretty annoying when you are used to the regular layout. This also means that the power button is not on its usual placement on the side, which can be a turn off for some people (no pun intended).
The touchpad has a glass surface. It measures 4.5 x 2.7 inches and I consider it to be respectable enough for most users. Because of the said surface, it is pretty easy to glide your fingers to make gestures, make accurate drawings, etc. It also supports Windows precision drivers as well, so you will know that the company has got you covered if you decide to go all creative on this laptop.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H
- GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060 Max-Q
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
- Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD +32GB Intel Optane
- Display: 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 AMOLED
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Intel WiFi 6 AX 201
- Ports: HDMI 2.0a, 2x USB-C (w/ Thunderbolt 3.0 support), 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
- Battery: 86 WHr
- Weight: 4.7 lbs
The HP Envy 15 has some pretty respectable specs. It comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and is coupled with Nvidia’s RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU.
Its performance is pretty good, especially if you are doing some photo editing or even some video rendering workloads. Although it is not as fast as some AMD Ryzen-powered laptops on this front, you still get a fast laptop nonetheless.
Although this thing is marketed as a laptop for creative professionals, its RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU can handle PC games really well. In my testing with the 4K model, it is best that you set the graphical settings to just medium to get anywhere between 45-60 fps depending on the game that you want to play.
I can imagine that you get even more performance on the 1080p model, but 45-60 fps is already quite playable.
You can use the HP Command Center to set the different operating modes depending on your usage. Setting it to Performance mode ekes out every last bit of performance which is great if you really need a powerful system for games and creative workloads. Its balanced profile should be used in most cases.
If there is one downside to this otherwise great laptop, it would be its battery life. The HP Envy 15 is equipped with an 86 WHr battery which, on paper, should be adequate for this kind of machine, right? Well, not exactly.
You see, the 4K AMOLED screen sucks out more battery than an IPS display of the same resolution. Yes, you get better visual fidelity with an AMOLED panel but that is at the cost of battery life.
In my testing, you could get only 2 hours and 36 minutes of effective runtime before you need to reach for the charger. That means that any taxing workload- may it be professional use-cases or playing games- can truly drain the battery really quickly.
You will have to bring the charger with you anywhere you go if you want to continually use this laptop when you are outside, but its hefty power brick can be a bummer to bring for people that want maximum portability.
The HP Envy 15 is definitely a pretty good laptop for creative individuals. Its 4K AMOLED display produces vibrant colors with amazing contrast and its pretty impressive dynamic range sets it apart from most of the laptops on the market.
Even though this is not a true gaming laptop, you can still play any games that you want on this thing, albeit you may have to tone down some graphical settings here and there to get good enough frame rates.
The downside to this otherwise amazing portable machine is its battery life. That has something to do with the display panel used as AMOLED screens are generally power-hungrier than their IPS counterparts.
But, if you are okay with the fact that you need to bring the laptop’s charger with you at all times, then the HP Envy 15 is a pretty impressive choice for creative professionals.
The HP Envy 15, as reviewed, costs $1,600.
HP Omen 15 Review- A Competitive AMD Ryzen Gaming Laptop Under $1500
If you were to shop for a gaming laptop back then, you would have to choose one that is equipped with an Intel processor because they are clocked higher and they have a good reputation in the gaming department.
Fast forward to today and we now have new laptops that are packed with AMD’s Ryzen CPUs and the HP Omen 15 certainly has one of the best out there.
Today, I am going to be reviewing this thing. Find out why I think this is a really competitive AMD Ryzen gaming laptop under $1500.
In terms of aesthetics, the HP Omen 15 is not as ‘loud’ as the other gaming laptops on the market. It has a predominantly black chassis, though you will find that it is actually space gray when given ample lighting.
The lid has the Omen branding in the middle and the colorful diamond situated above the said word actually looks really nice. Other than that, it doesn’t have any other bling.
For the ports, you will find a USB Type-A Gen 3.2 port, an HDMI 2.01a port, an ethernet jack, a full-sized SD card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack on the left.
On the right-hand side, you have two additional USB Type-A ports, a mini DisplayPort, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port.
While most other gaming laptops in 2020 weigh less than 5 pounds, the Omen 15 weighs a bit more at 5.4 pounds. It is still lightweight but I think that this is worth mentioning, especially if you’ve tried the other laptops that were released this year.
It is still somewhat thin, though, at just 14.1 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches, so in terms of portability, you can still put this inside your backpack without any issues.
IPS panels have come a long way when it comes to performance and the HP Omen 15 comes equipped with a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a refresh rate of 144Hz. It is a 1080p screen which should be enough for most users.
The screen is vibrant and that is to be expected given the choice of the panel used. Keep in mind that, by default, the screen is set to 60Hz, so if you want to tap this thing’s full potential, you would have to manually set the refresh rate to its maximum.
The color accuracy of the display is pretty good at 90% sRGB and 71.8% DCI-P3 color gamut. In most games, you will definitely see the crisp images and because it is a relatively color accurate screen, you can do some light photo and video editing tasks on here as well.
There is a 720p webcam at the top-middle part of the display and I think that this is the right placement for such a thing. The camera quality is respectable, though the microphone volume could have been improved.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Omen 15’s keyboard has a standard layout without the full Numpad. I think that this is a better implementation considering that having the Numpad would cram the keys so much that it makes it hard to use.
My review unit only has the white LED backlighting and it is pretty bright. However, you can opt for the full RGB version, though you would have to decide if spending an additional $50 for RGB lighting would be the right thing to do or not.
The keys themselves are a bit mushy for my taste but I am glad that I can still type relatively fast on them. My only gripe with the layout is that the power button is situated directly above the backspace and if you have large fingers like me, you could potentially press the power button while you are typing which can be a pain.
For its touchpad, this laptop has a 2.9 x 4.5-inch matte touchpad. While I love its responsiveness, it would have been nice if it had a glass finish (but this is pretty much my personal preference).
It has plenty of surface area to work with and I am happy to report that you can make precise mouse movements just by simply using the touchpad. It doesn’t have physical buttons, but I think that this is a standard affair at this point.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
- GPU: Nvidia Geforce GTX 1660Ti
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200
- Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 144Hz Refresh Rate
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 (Intel AX 200), Bluetooth 5
- Battery: 71 WHr
- Weight: 5.4 Pounds
The configuration that I have comes with AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H mobile processor. In terms of productivity tasks and some light rendering, this definitely beats any Intel equivalent chip out there.
For its gaming performance, you could set the game’s graphical settings to high or ultra in some titles, though for more demanding games such as Control, for example, you would have to set it to medium to get considerable frame rates.
I am okay with the 1080p resolution display simply because the GPU cannot produce more than 120Hz if the native resolution is higher.
Playing battle royale games shouldn’t be an issue since they are not too taxing on the laptop and you should be able to reach 144 frames per second comfortably.
I really love the fact that the 8-core/16-thread CPU on this thing can handle whatever workload you throw at it. This is not only a competitive gaming machine but it can certainly go above any Intel counterpart out there.
I do have to point out that if you are taxing the GPU and CPU too much, this machine is quite audible at 56 dBA. That is really loud, but considering that the fans are working as intended, the chassis didn’t go beyond 40C so it is quite okay to the touch.
In terms of thermals, the laptop didn’t go beyond 80C while gaming, and in rendering, it didn’t go above 85C which is indeed impressive. However, always remember that this thing can be really loud, so do bear that in mind.
Lastly, if you haven’t used an AMD Ryzen-powered PC or laptop before, the nature of the CPU ramps the fans up a little bit since the chip boosts quite frequently. This is normal behavior so if you are using this thing and you’ve noticed that the fans frequently go up and down in terms of fan speeds, now you know why.
While I like the performance of the HP Omen 15, it does suffer a little bit in the battery department. In my testing, you could get 6 hours easily doing light to moderate tasks. However, once you put this thing to its limits, you could only go as far as 3-4 hours of use.
The good thing is that you can bring the charger with you and it gives it enough juice in such a short amount of time.
I just wished that HP had beefed up the battery a little bit as the 71 WHr battery on this thing is a bit too low, in my opinion.
I am really happy and impressed with the HP Omen 15. Finally, we have a pretty competitive gaming laptop that is priced under $1,500. With the configuration that I have, it only costs you $1,299 which is pretty insane.
Do keep in mind that you can also get the highest spec version of this laptop which comes with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, but that thing costs $1,800 (which is still pretty good).
However, if you are okay with the mid-range performance, the HP Omen 15 with the Ryzen 7 4800H chip is a pretty good gaming laptop.
Huawei Matebook 13 Review- Ryzen Needs More Power
Getting a decently priced laptop that can do a lot of things is quite common nowadays, especially since people are forced to work remotely due to the Covid-19 virus.
The Huawei Matebook 13 is a pretty good laptop, though the version I am reviewing today is a bit of a letdown compared to its Intel counterpart.
Read further to find out why.
The Huawei Matebook 13 is a sleek laptop that has an all-metal chassis. It looks and feels premium and although it is an all-metal build, it still remains lightweight at just 2.9 pounds which is quite impressive.
On the right, you will find a USB-C port and on the left, you will find another USB port and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack and that’s pretty much what you’re going to get.
If you are wondering where the ethernet port is, well, the Huawei Matebook 13 doesn’t have one. Instead, you are going to have to rely on your router as it uses 2.4GHz or 5GHz WiFi connections. This can be a deal-breaker for some, but I think that most people are okay with the omission.
Now, if two USB-C ports are not enough for you, you can buy its separate USB-C adapter that allows you to plug in an HDMI-compatible device, a slew of USB-A ports for your peripherals, and even a VGA connection.
It is also worth mentioning that if you are to charge this laptop, you will have to use the left USB-C port as it is both for charging and data transfers. The one on the right is solely used for transferring data.
Here, you will get a 13-inch IPS touchscreen display with an sRGB rating of 80% using my monitor calibration tool. If you are going to do some editing or video rendering on this laptop, you can certainly do so because the display is somewhat accurate for such use-cases.
The screen also has slim bezels to provide you with a lot of screen real estate that you can use for your documents and creative tasks.
Although the laptop is relatively thin, I am surprised that you cannot open this thing with just one hand because the base is not heavy enough to stay on the desk. It is easy to open with both hands though, so I don’t think this would be a huge issue.
Keyboard and Trackpad
If you are going to look at the layout of the keyboard and trackpad, you will find that it is quite similar to the Macbook Air. I think that this is one of the biggest compliments that Apple can receive since it is really almost identical.
Although the keyboard itself looks Apple-esque, I’d have to say that I am a bit disappointed. The keys feel heavier to type on and as a typist and writer, this can prove to be a bit challenging compared to other laptops. Perhaps your mileage may vary though because I may have been accustomed to mechanical keyboards so this could have been the issue here and not with the actual laptop’s keyboard.
As for the trackpad, it is a bit larger to allow for easy mouse glide and precision tracking. Gesture-based actions are also possible with the touchpad and I am pleased with it.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX Vega 8
- RAM: 8GB Samsung LPDDR4 2400MHz
- Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
- Display: 13-inch IPS touchscreen display, 2160 x 1440 resolution
- Battery: 41.8 WHr
- Weight 2.9 Pounds
It is important for you to know that there are two versions of this laptop. One has an Intel processor and this review unit has the AMD Ryzen chip. To summarize its performance, it is lackluster, though it is really good for productivity and general everyday tasks.
If you are into some photo editing work and you also do some light rendering tasks, the Ryzen CPU that is inside this thing can pretty much handle those workloads.
However, it is pretty disappointing that the AMD Ryzen CPU runs hotter here and as a result, you can experience severe throttling issues when the chip is under full load.
I’ve asked other reviews who’ve had the Intel version and they say that they didn’t experience similar issues at all. I think that this is only true for the AMD version and I am really disappointed here.
You can do some light gaming on the side, especially those steam games that are not really graphics intensive, but you shouldn’t expect groundbreaking performance here.
All in all, I am disappointed with the performance package. I don’t know if there is a fault with my review unit but if how this performs on my end is similar to other units with the AMD chip, then you might want to consider the Intel version instead.
Because this is just a thin and light laptop, you can expect that there are some compromises that have to be made, especially in the battery department.
And, true enough, the Huawei Matebook 13’s 41.8 Wh battery is not as good as the other 13-inch laptops out there.
With moderate use (everyday tasks, watching online content, and web browsing), I was only able to get roughly 7 hours from full battery down to 0%.
This is not the same as the Intel version, however, as you can comfortably see 9-10 hours of screen on time with it.
I am disappointed with the AMD version of the Huawei Matebook 13. Its performance is okay when it comes to multi-core workloads, but its battery life and how it performs in games (at least when compared to the Intel version) leave much to be desired.
I do like its chassis and its lightweight form factor, but the omission of an ethernet port and the fact that this thing doesn’t have USB-A ports right off the bat might deter you from getting this thing.
What is worth noting, though, is that the AMD version of this laptop only costs $899 compared to the Intel version that costs $1,199. The price disparity could lead you to buy this one instead.
But for me personally, I wouldn’t recommend the AMD version, so you should turn your attention to its Intel counterpart if you are really going to buy the Huawei Matebook 13.
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