My team currently uses a very outdated Dell laptop (soon to be replaced by a used laptop donated by a member of the Rotary Club, that laptop is only a few years old). We have on our long term wish list (since it is not a priority) to get an actual new laptop, not a used one. What kind of laptops do you guys use and which brand of laptop (Acer, HP, Dell, MacBook) do you think is best for FRC purposes (including uses like PR).

For programming/Office/PR/most anything, basically any laptop will work. It’s only when you get into intense tasks like CAD/video editing that beyond decent specs start to really matter.


Well, quite honestly, any up to date/recent laptop will work. I use an HP touch screen 11’ laptop, and it’s really quite nice, works well, and does everything I need it to do for FRC and personal purposes. It’s really personal preference on what you like best. So mess around with different computers and see what you prefer.

11’ Laptop :eek: :eek: :eek:
That must cost a fortune
:smiley: :smiley:

I use a lenovo t400 that I bought used for 200 and it works perfectly. I am able to run Solidworks with no problem and its my “work” laptop because they are so durable making them perfect for FRC. Any lenovo is good.

I use a Lenovo W530. Love it. Super durable, and comes with workstation graphics, which are optimized for CAD and 3d modeling rather than gaming, as most graphics cards are.

Whoops. I meant 11’‘.
Aha, that would cost a lot. It may actually be 13’’ though. I forget.

I personally have a Lenovo with dual NVIDIA cards. It’s run everything I’ve thrown at it from a graphics and GPGPU standpoint.

I donated my old Dell, which had a really fast Core2 Duo and a dedicated 8400M NVIDIA graphics card (purchased early '09). That laptop ran our driver’s station, which had some pretty decent displays and a HUD. It also ran a suite of non-Cheesy image processing algorithms. It could also handle most of the CAD on our robots for full robot renders.

The point is, if you want to do CAD or anything graphics-related - get a dedicated card. Don’t settle for integrated graphics. Whether it’s Core i3/i5/i7 isn’t as big a deal, IMO - but i5 is typically a decent midpoint for complex robotics-related development. If you want to make it super-fast, first burn your restore media from the HDD, then replace the HDD with a SDD (Samsung Evo 128GB is cheap-ish) and reinstall the software.

Most modern (last 2 years or so) PC touchpads are awful when they get even slightly dirty or if your fingers are sweaty. This may be a consideration if you plan to use it for a driver’s station.

The team’s outreach displays used to be old desktop PC’s (Athlon XP’s anyone?) but due to increase in media usage they’ll soon be replaced by some slightly-newer-but-still-old laptops.

I will caution against macbooks for FRC purposes - most CAD programs are Windows only, and the driver station is Windows only. You can do it with Boot Camp or A VM on a Mac, but that requires a bit more effort to get set up than it would if you just bought a Windows box to start with.

High end technical specs aside, some features you might want is a laptop with a 1080p resolution, 9 cell battery for longer life, and better than average keyboard. Also one that has both a vga AND an hdmi port is very nice for presentations. Some laptops come with one or the other and when you go to different companies or schools you want to make sure you can connect to their projector/tv unless you decide to bring your own.

Although I personally use and prefer Asus, my team uses a 15-inch Toshiba Satellite equipped with 12GB RAM and an i7 for programming and the drive station. Before we bought it, we were used an older Dell Latitude with an i3 and 4GB (now upgraded to 8GB) which is still in use as a secondary computer. We appreciate the significant speed advantage a new i7 has over our older processor, with LabVIEW code taking significantly less time to compile and more complicated dashboard code being easier to run.

That being said, once you go through the process a Mac can make a perfectly functional CAD machine-- 2220 uses a bunch of old-ish Macbooks from our school running Windows for CAD (we use Creo). They perform quite well and were free to us.

One of the old captains on our team ran Creo quite well on his Macbook Pro for the 2011 and 2012 seasons too.

My point being that, yes it’s a bit more effort (and a Windows license), but if you really like macs it’s completely possible to make it work.