Computer Price

Hi, my team is buying a laptop for FRC and we want to know what maximun price should the computer have.

Thanks in advance.

If by laptop for programming or driver station - whatever you can afford, there is no maximum price.

If for onboard robot processing, the maximum retail price is $500 this year.

To add on to this, you don’t want to skimp on a driver station laptop. It doesn’t need to be super powerful, but you want it to be able to boot quickly and be fast to use in a time crunch.

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To add on to that addition, if this is for a driverstation, make sure that you buy a USB Ethernet interface if the laptop doesn’t have one!

It’s actually a pretty good idea to keep one on you even if the laptop does have one… RJ45’s don’t like being plugged and unplugged that much :rofl:


You actually need more than one computer… The driver station should just be used for the driver station. In most cases it doesn’t need to be high end. But you want a Ethernet port. The more USB ports the better. A solid state hard drive. Good battery life. You don’t need a big screen with a high end digital card. You don’t need a high end CPU. We use a Dell educational model the is ruggedized for student use. $500 is the most you should be spending. There is a paper on CD on the ideal driver station computer.

For programming there is a big divide between what they want and what they need. The actual programming tools don’t really take a lot of resources.Our programmers largely use their own computers.

For Cad. the more the better

As firecrafty says, don’t skimp on the driver station laptop. See the Driver Station Best Practices paper for more good discussion - particularly reasons for using a business-class laptop.

That said, you don’t need to break the bank. A lot of companies replace their laptops as soon as they’re out of warranty (usually 3 years) so there are a lot of business-class laptops available second hand (check eBay or look for local electronics recyclers) for probably around $300. Or ask team parents and mentors if anyone’s employer is willing to donate one to a few used (but not too old) laptops to the team.

As an example, for the past two years, 623 has used Dell Latitude E7440 laptops for drivers stations and programming machines. These laptops were donated by my employer and would have otherwise ended up in the scrap heap because they were out of warranty. These work fine as a driver station or a programming laptop. Key specs are:

  • Dual-core Intel i5 processor
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • Built-in Ethernet
  • 3x Built-in USB

In particular, the SSD (as opposed to a spinning hard drive) is probably the best investment you can make in making the laptop speedy, especially at boot time. You could easily get away with 8 GB of RAM, maybe even 4.

We use these precisely for that reason:

Also these for USB:

The end plugged into the computer gets tied down to the drivers station base for strain relief. Replacing a busted extension cable is a lot faster and cheaper than replacing a busted port inside a laptop!

Got it! Thanks to all.