Cheap, effective laptops

Hi all, I could use some help.
Most of the kids on my team are unfortunately unable to get their own laptops due to most brands having cut their <$300 lines because of chromebooks. Anyways, can anybody suggest some cheap laptop lines that work well for CAD and programming? Thanks in advance.

Are you guys able to do Desktop setups, or are you guys strictly on laptops? Will you be using the Driver station on these also, or do you have a computer for that?

Unless you are using on shape and cheap cad laptop is not a thing.

You can’t find any laptop that runs CAD well under $300.

That being said, there are laptops that will be able to run it decently enough for it to be usable.

If you’re willing to go a bit over budget ($339), this should suit your needs.

I used to use an older Pavilion model (which are worth taking a look at) that has a slightly weaker CPU and graphics card than the one in the link posted, and I could run Autodesk Inventor well enough to do whatever was needed. Even after messing with all the settings I could to lower the resources the program needed, it was still pretty laggy, but not enough to be a massive issue.

I don’t have any recommendations of current products, but in the past I have had a good experience using a “back to school sale” low end laptop to do cad and other design work. When shopping, look for Celeron or Pentium branded processors and do a web search for the processor specifications. Often, the low end processor is a rebranding of an older low-mid tier processor that is quite capable.

Another route to explore is refurbished mobile workstations. There are plenty of off-lease laptops on ebay and similar sites that can be a good bang for the buck option.

If Used laptops are an option, I’d look at getting some used Dell Latitude/Precision laptops from the last few years, with Nvidia or ATI graphics. I’ve had great luck with Dell Latitudes (and Precisions for the most part), and they’ve gotten so cheap used it’s ridiculous. $300 on ebay can buy a lot of laptop if you know what you’re looking for… A year and a half ago I bought a Dell Latitude E6430 for $250, while that was with Intel graphics (which aren’t bad but not enough for modern CAD), $350 at the time would get one with Nvidia Quadro graphics instead. I haven’t looked more recently, but I’d think the price has come down some.

Cheap elitebooks don’t seem to be a bad option either

Anything used with an i5 or i7 and 8gb+ RAM will do you well for basic CAD found in FRC. Eventually you’ll be wishing for 16gb RAM, i7, and a Quadro graphics card.

Here’s a question, does it really have to be a laptop? Personally, I’d be looking for a used HP Z series workstation. Media companies surplus them out by the pallet-full. What was an $8,000 computer 7 years ago is a $300 computer today, and still a pretty great computer.

Or, pick up anything 2nd-gen i5 or newer, stick 8GB or more RAM in there and a cheap FirePro card and you’re good.

If you must go with a laptop, personally I would never go for used or refurb on a laptop unless it was dirt cheap. Also on laptops, I would choose a Full HD (1920x1080) or better screen first over any other characteristics.

For new, this is about the best deal currently for something with dedicated graphics.

Without dedicated graphics, this.

If you want an SSD, this.

If you’re running Solidworks, I’d probably recommend going for the dedicated graphics. If you’re running Inventor, you’d be surprised with how good Intel graphics can be.

Attached is my full laptop selection guide, because this is not the first time I’ve come across this question.

Laptop Purchasing Considerations.pdf (110 KB)

Laptop Purchasing Considerations.pdf (110 KB)

Thank you to everybody who has replied. Our driver station is on a 5 year old laptop that I myself donated to the program for those who were asking. We use Solidworks so I would imagine that Celerons and Pentiums are out of the picture.
I was fortunate enough to be employed during the summer thanks to my work in FRC and MITES, and was able to buy myself a ZBook Studio G3.
We have desktops, luckily we work in a drafting lab and an unused auto shop. The biggest problem right now though is that everything has to be done through the school and we’ve got a tech request that has been in for 3 months asking to have OneDrive installed so we can all sync our files. IT, am I right?