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.
Best Laptop Deals in October 2020
I think that at this point, Laptops have become an essential part of our lives. This is true especially during a time where most businesses let their employees work from home.
Because it is a necessity, I understand that not a lot of people have the money to buy the most expensive laptops out there. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable options to choose from and today, I am going to be providing you with the best laptops deals in October.
I have scoured the internet for the best deals in order for you to get one that is in line with your budget. Without further ado, let’s get on, shall we?
Best October Laptop Deals
1.Microsoft Surface Pro 7 w/ Type Cover Keyboard
Price: $699 (was $959) @Best Buy
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 may not be a ‘true’ laptop, per se, but this tablet is actually a 2-in-1 device wherein you could add its keyboard attachment and make use of its gorgeous display.
The beauty of a 2-in-1 device is that you can use the display for more portability but you can also choose to utilize the keyboard if you want to type documents or even play some games.
Its convenient kickstand allows you to look at your documents or watch your favorite movies and TV shows without any issues.
Although this deal is just a modest setup with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and just a 128GB SSD, the entire system is quite a steal, in my opinion, because it is now sold for only $699.
If you want a good laptop for productivity, I suggest that you take a look at the Surface Pro 7.
2.Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 4K
Price: $549 (was $999) @Samsung
If you fancy a Chromebook, I highly recommend that you check the Galaxy Chromebook 4K right now because it is on a huge discount.
The beauty of Chromebooks is that the platform has become more diverse than ever before- allowing you to do a lot of things from making your documents to playing some Android games.
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was one of our picks for the best Chromebooks because of its vivid display and really good specs.
Speaking of specs, this particular laptop is equipped with a 10th generation Intel Core i5-10210 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. Of course, you could choose to expand its storage by spending more money if you want to.
3.Asus Vivobook 15.6
Price: $479.99 (was $599.99) @Best Buy
A professional-looking machine with the specs to match its exuberance, the Asus Vivobook 15 is a laptop that I am sure a lot of people will love.
Here, you are looking for a machine that is built with a Ryzen 5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD which, for a laptop that is sold under $500, is a pretty good deal.
I understand that not a lot of people are familiar with AMD Ryzen processors, especially if they have come from using Intel machines, but I am here to tell you that the Ryzen 5 chip that this thing comes with should be more than enough for most use-cases.
I would also like to add that the display of this thing is quite vivid and punchy and it is definitely one that I would recommend for most people.
4.HP Pavilion x360 14t
Price: $590 (was $690) @HP
If you are fond of using laptops with a capacitive touch screen display, then the HP Pavilion x360 14t might tickle your fancy.
What I love about this thing is that not only does it have a pretty good display, but you can also utilize it as an amazing touch screen with an included multipoint pen as well.
If you are interested to know more about its specs, you will be getting a portable workhorse that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD.
Although its discount is not as high as the others on this list, this is still a pretty good purchase if you wish to buy this one.
5.Asus Zenbook S
Price: $1,099 (was $1,499) @Best Buy
If having a 4K screen is really something that you want in a laptop, I recommend that you look at the Asus Zenbook S 4K.
It’s got a really nice 4K display and I am quite surprised by how Asus has crammed a lot of amazing things inside a laptop with a relatively slim form factor.
Aside from its suave looks, you are looking into a portable machine that comes with an Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD. If you ask me, this is a pretty good deal.
6.Dell XPS 13
Price: $749.99 (was $858) @Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is one of my most favorite ultrabooks in 2020. It is lightweight but it definitely packs enough punch to handle almost any workload you can imagine.
Here, you are getting a laptop that has the 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. Even though you are only getting a small amount of storage right off the bat, the good thing is that you can actually choose to expand it either by paying a little bit more or spending some money to get your own NVMe SSD.
Seriously, I am glad that Dell has given you the chance to get this thing because it is really that good.
7.Lenovo ThinkPad E15
Price: $729 (was $850) @Newegg
Lenovo’s Thinkpad line of laptops has always been known to be great productivity machines and the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is no different.
It packs some punch because it is built with an Intel Core i5 10th generation processor, 8GB RAM, and 256GB of storage. This processing package should give you enough oomph to handle any workload you throw at it.
If there is one complaint that I have about this laptop, it would be its plastic chassis. It doesn’t feel as premium as the others on this list.
Still, I can recommend this in a heartbeat, especially if you are looking for a productivity machine that can do a lot of things.
8.Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED
Price: $1,589 (was $1,899)
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is one of those laptops that truly amazing displays. So much so that if you are a creative content creator, I suggest that you put this into consideration because it is really good for such workloads.
Here, you are getting a laptop with an Intel Core u7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia GTX 1660ti GPU which is good enough for both gaming and creative needs.
Because of the fact that it is built with an OLED display, you can expect impressive visuals at a relatively affordable price.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 Review- A Great Business Laptop Under $1,000
Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops are made specifically for office use and because of the Covid-19 situation we are in, getting a laptop in this day and age is considered a must.
Having said that, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is made for business professionals that want a fairly light laptop that they can bring with them anywhere they need it.
Today, I am going to review the said laptop. Find out why I think it is a great business laptop under $2,000 by reading further.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a 13-inch laptop that has all of the bells and whistles that business professionals would love in a portable machine.
You have the ability to tilt the screen 180-degrees and its minimalistic design fits right in. It has a pure matte black aesthetic which I think is a great idea because it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially if you are in an office setting.
Most people want to feel secure and the good thing is that this laptop comes with a fingerprint scanner which is situated slightly to the right of the trackpad. It is fairly accurate and it can readily scan your fingerprint in a matter of seconds.
Although this is a 13-inch laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a bit heftier than its counterparts. It is still incredibly lightweight at only 2.8 lbs though, so I wouldn’t make too much of a fuss about it.
While most laptops have their ports scattered on both sides (and some even on the back), the ThinkPad X13 has all of its ports situated on the left side of the unit.
Here, you will find a single USB Type-A port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack. The inclusion of two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports is great because you can also use it to power up another display if you want to.
This particular machine comes with a 13.3-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. In most cases, the screen is fairly accurate, though the colors do not pop out too much, at least, when compared to other 13-inch laptops that you can find on the market.
I am also surprised that the viewing angles aren’t that great compared to most IPS display panels out there. But, this is not to say that the ThinkPad X13’s screen is bad; it is just that it could have been better.
I am also not impressed with the color accuracy of this thing, as well as its peak brightness. Using a colorimeter, this thing only scored 72.3% on the DCI-P3 color spectrum and it only averaged 278 nits of brightness.
Now, the colors are fairly accurate, but it just doesn’t pop out. This means that this laptop is not meant for creative workloads, but it is more than enough for productivity tasks and typical office workloads.
There is also a 720p webcam on the top-middle portion of the display that provides a clear output, which is nice considering that most people work from home nowadays.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While most laptops out there use fairly flat chiclet-style keycaps, the keyboard on the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 actually has more concave keycaps. To my surprise, I was able to type better with this style compared to what you can find on other laptops in the market.
Because of how the keys are shaped, you can easily discern if you’ve changed to an entirely different key. This helps typists to type really fast without having to constantly look at the keyboard.
I also like the fact that it has a fairly good key travel and tactile feel. It is not a mechanical keyboard, but I still love how it feels every time I type.
For the touchpad, you are getting a 3.9 x 2.5-inch precision glass trackpad that has a relatively good feel and performance as well. It is smooth enough for better scrolling and it can register multiple taps at once which can be really helpful in some tasks.
While most laptops have ditched the two physical buttons that are supposed to be for the left and right mouse buttons, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 still has them, albeit they are positioned at the top of the trackpad and not at the bottom.
The placement is not intuitive in my opinion, but for people that still want to use mouse buttons when they are using the touchpad, then I guess this is still a welcome addition.
Specs and Performance
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
- GPU: Integrated Radeon Graphics
- RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200
- Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
- Display: 13.3-inch IPS, 1920 x 1080 Resolution
- Connectivity: 802.11AX Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Battery: 48 WHr
- Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches
- Weight: 2.8 lbs
I am glad that a lot of laptops that you can find in 2020 are already equipped with AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors. The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is packed with the AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U and an integrated Radeon graphics solution.
While you cannot play games on this thing (technically you can, albeit with very low frame rates), the ThinkPad X13 is actually a pretty good productivity machine.
The processor is more than capable enough of doing some rendering tasks, as well as the usual office workloads that you normally would do on a business laptop.
As configured, the storage could have been improved. Fortunately, you can spend a bit more to get higher storage capacities. Furthermore, if you know how to pry open a laptop safely, you can actually upgrade with another SSD as well if the current storage option is not enough for you.
I am pretty impressed with the performance package of this thing. Even though it is considered a modest machine, it still performed admirably in most business workloads, though I wouldn’t use this machine for creative workloads like photo or video editing mainly because of the underpowered specs, as well as a less than stellar display.
Normally, laptops for professionals should last the entire day because you will never know when you’re going to need it.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 lasted 7 hours and 53 minutes in my battery of tests, which includes some web browsing, watching movies, and doing some usual office tasks.
Its battery life is respectable, though the MacBook Pro and other 13-inch laptops fared better in this regard.
Affordable laptops are highly sought after nowadays because most of us work from home. But, despite the fact that this event will pass, you will still need a relatively good laptop that can handle your office and productivity tasks.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Gen 1 is a competitive portable machine that is priced under $1,000 and I can highly recommend this for people that want a laptop that they can rely on in these trying times.
This thing costs $975 but you can have some components upgraded at an increased cost.
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.
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