NOOB: How to know if my laptop is good enough?

Howdy. Old guy here, just joined the forum. In my youth I played guitar and sang a bit in a band but haven’t picked up a guitar in decades. I have decided to dust off my Fender flat top and see what happens if I do some simple multi-track recording. I did a little research, most of which pointed me to Audacity and read/watched some Tutorials.

I know next to nothing about audio although I’ve done a lot of software coding and otherwise am a decent DIY guy. So, I am seeking baseline advice on whether I need to add a sound card or whether perhaps my laptop has a decent card already.

I read all the Read Me stuff, checked the FAQs, etc. and waded through the years-long thread on USB Sound Card Reviews but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for and, frankly, a lot of the information on this site is way over my head anyway. Some of the products Reviewed in the Sound Cards Review thread are no longer available and some of that data seems out of date. Since laptops have evolved remarkably in the last dozen or so years, I want to do a basic Sanity Check before I buy a USB Sound Card. Fair enough?

I have:
A one-year-old HP 15-dw3xx laptop running Windows 11 which is current.
250GB disk, half of that is free.
8GB memory.
USB 2.0 and USB-C ports.

The laptop has RealTek audio and the driver is current.
Output is set highest at 24-bit 48,000 hZ.
The RealTek widget allows for ‘advanced’ settings for Exclusive Mode (allow applications to take control), Hardware Acceleration and Signal Enhancements all of which are currently turned Off.
My no-name microphone has a mini-jack, as do my headphones.

I don’t know what else I can tell you.

So, what do you think? Do I need a USB Sound Card and, if so, could you suggest two or three decent inexpensive units to consider?


You have a headphone/microphone combo connection. I think ideally that’s supposed to connect to a headset with a boom from one side of the headphone holding the microphone in front of your face.

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Unfortunately, there are two different connection standards for those. So it’s a juggling act.

I can’t get the info to tell me if there’s a built-in microphone. Is there? It says there are built-in speakers—full stop. If there is I think I can set you up for simple overdubbing just with what you have. It won’t be Glen Glenn Studios, but it should work.


If by “multi-track” you mean recording more than 2 performances (channels) at the same time,
Audacity can have problems with that …

Audcaity’s competitor OCENaudio, (plus ASIO4ALL), is a better bet if you need to record >2 channels at the same time.

I was going for overdubbing. Put down one track and then add more on top later. That’s perfectly doable.