New Laptops for FRC

Hey anyone have any suggestions for some good laptops for FRC? My team has a budget of about 1,000 - 2,500 for this.

To clarify based on some of the comments below:
Our team is hoping to purchase one as a team programming laptop
And another as a dedicated driver station computer

(also thanks for all the help so far to everyone who has commented)

Good laptops for Onshape, or basically any other CAD software? (If they are for CAD make sure to get some mice as well, CAD is damn near impossible on a trackpad in my opinion.) Or coding I guess. Also a thing you’d probably use a laptop for. Driver station? Etc.

1 Like

What do you want to do on it? CAD? Programming? Driver Station?

This page has recommendations for a Driver Station

1 Like

This thread may be of interest: Inexpensive programming machine?

Washington state surplus auction does have a few options available if you’re ok with used.

Really just depends on whether you’re looking to get one or many, whether you’re willing to accept older/used hardware, what the end use case is.

1 Like

Thanks so much! (This is actually exactly what I was looking for for one of the computers)

I always recommend Lenovo for a good laptop - specifically a business class one.

I suggest a new laptop for programming/cad, and a refurbished one for the driver station, which is much more likely to be banged up and doesn’t need top of the line performance

This one with 16gb of ram is a year newer of the one I use for work. Does CAD and programming very well

And then for the driver station, a refurbished lenovo (or business class dell or hp, but we like lenovo to keep the chargers the same) works well. Or, a cheap gaming laptop

1 Like

I’ll drop in again to remind people to reach out to local hospitals and medical offices to see if they have a program for device recycling. We got 10 very durable laptops perfect for driver stations a few years back and have had zero issues with them since. Even if one was to break, we have 7 spares after giving a few away. Our local hospital group has a policy to keep devices updated every 3-4 years to ensure security and device stability.

This allows us to go to competition with a main driver station, a back up and a back up back up just in case.

3 Likes

This, a million times. I also strongly recommend Lenovo, the P series or the T series. These are serious business class machines that can be repair fairly reasonably by the user with components that are not horribly overpriced. They have sturdy chassis, can take reasonable amount of abuse, and have good support and drivers. You will pay a premium for the Lenovo, but it’s a for a reason.

I recommend you splurge for the largest batteries you can get. Also, immediately install right angle usb connectors to save the USB ports. The USB ports on driver stations computers and programming laptops get horrible abused.

https://www.amazon.com/Oxsubor-SuperSpeed-Female-Extension-Cable/dp/B0793P8XJK/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=right+angle+usb+connector&qid=1617116961&sr=8-4

Use a piece of tape over the right angle usb connectors so people don’t remove them.

I use a P50 and P51 for all our cad work. It’s a workstation class that requires a much bigger power brick, but runs a quadro video card.

We have less powerful machines for the programming and driver station computers. Those don’t need much power, to be honest.

Lenovo has their own refurbished computer website. They have a stupidly fast P53 on there right now for $1600 if you want a serious machine (32 gigs ram, nvidia quadro rtx 4000 max Q). The have more reasonable P53’s with quadro T2000’s for $900. They have a decent T590 that has intel UHD graphics that would work fantastically for a programming / driver station for $700.

4 Likes

Thanks so much! I’ll be looking into this!

I know you have probably already handled this, but I will recommend anyway:

The single best bang-for-your-buck is Dell Refurbished Off Lease Refurbished Laptops

The refurbished standard is so good, I have never found any scratches or defects. All laptops get new batteries and chargers as well.

They are lease trade-ins from business settings. All electronics are enterprise-grade hardware. I regularly see 50% off sales. I have seen 4-5 year old Precision workstations at 500-600 dollars. My personal laptop, an i7 Latitude, was like 200 bucks. This is the way to go for programming and driver stations IMO.

2 Likes

+1 to this. I found a tough book style laptop with 16 GB of Ram and a Terabyte of Solid-state for $150. It’s came from a company that leased to construction site workers.


What I’m about to say is for a very very select number of people, but might be of some use someday to someone. If you ever get really into machine learning algorithms with python, an nvidia gpu is currently needed to support CUDA part of pytorch. Running training on GPU’s is significantly faster than on your CPU.


A question for the general public: Does a better graphics card improve performance of Onshape?

1 Like

This is an excellent point and question. As a follow-up can one use a Google Coral with a Win10 laptop? If so, would that help in either or both cases?

Edit: The Coral does have support for Windows.

If delving that deep into pytorch, I would recommend buying a workstation laptop (Precision). You will find a majority have nVidia GPUs. Otherwise, an ultrabook (Latitude, for example) will be more than sufficient. I’m assuming that your team has a good budget if machine learning is on the table for a season. At that point, I’d suggest purchasing a Jetson to do the heavy lifting in terms of “figuring”.

Technically yes. However, most of OnShape is web based so at a certain level it will not matter.

If you want to maximize your performance, you can mess around a little and force Chrome to use your GPU in rendering. This involves working your Chrome flags and will probably drain your battery pretty fast if you’re on a laptop.

Steps:

Benchmark your current performance here: Compatibility check (onshape.com)

Follow steps here: Hardware and Graphics Recommendations
Be sure to follow the NVIDIA steps if you have a relevant graphics card.

After that, go to chrome://flags and do the following:

Go back to Compatibility check (onshape.com) and see the improvement for yourself (hopefully).

Credit: @Carlos1425

2 Likes