My friend and I are starting a podcast together. She’s used Macs before, but hers is so old it’s pretty unusable. I’m thinking of buying her a new (used) Mac laptop. (She’s stuck on a PC for work). Her machine would only be used for recording the podcast. A different machine would process and lay in the tracks. I could buy this machine for $500. Do you think this would work? I can’t remember the site that tells me how far I can update the OS and things like that. We’re thinking we will use Skype for the podcast if that matters. I also want it to be able to run DEVONThink. https://everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/specs/macbook-pro-core-i7-2.0-15-early-2011-unibody-thunderbolt-specs.html
I don’t have experience with podcasting or which hardware would be sufficient, but it might be a dicey proposition. You might want to try to contact Mac writer John Moltz, perhaps through the Twitter feed of his podcast The Rebound or his Mastodon account (he deleted his personal Twitter account) - from what he’s said he uses some old Mac gear around the age of what you’re considering, but to insure that the audio file gets saved he actually saves (via Call Recorder?) to multiple machines simultaneously.
Also, you might want to peruse http://lowendmac.com/ for articles on using older hardware in 2018.
Once upon a long time ago, I regularly recorded 16-24 simultaneous audio tracks at 48kHz/24-bit on an intel pentium (probably single core, maybe duo core, likely in the low 1gHz territory) machine with 512gb of ram onto a 5400rpm hard disk without much problem.
Once upon a slightly less long time ago, I regularly recorded 24 tracks of audio, simultaneously, to my Core 2 Duo 15” 2008 MacBook pro’s internal drive, sometimes with running times of over 90 minutes. Again, no problems.
I suspect any Mac made in the last 6-8 years will handle printing 1 or 2 mono audio channels to disk without breaking a sweat.
If you’re just recording, an older Mac will do fine. I’d keep an eye out for software compatibility. If you pick up something that can run Mojave, you run into software support issues in a few years. The Early 11 MBP is pretty close to that cut-off.
I use the app MacTracker to keep up with that stuff.
With hardware from 2011 I think the bigger issue is reliability, not processor speed. That’s why I suggested the OP contact Moltz - he podcasts multiple times a week and had issues with his older devices that resulted in his saving his files to multiple destinations as a precaution.