This season we added vision to our robot. As a result we would max out our laptop with the most basic functions. It worked most of the time but it was scary. As a result we want to upgrade our laptop. What makes a good laptop for robotics and any suggestions on which we should get?
What were you doing with vision that overloaded your laptop? Were you doing the actual processing on the laptop or just streaming? What kind of laptop do you have now, and what are the specs?
There’s a white paper published here with some recommendations for driver station specs and best practices.
Thinkpads from eBay can be pretty cheap and are excellent driver station laptops.
My team uses a Lenovo thinkpad as well. Not sure the year on it, but it works fine. I’m not a fan of Lenovo, but for as a driverstation it’s more than capable
I would highly recommend thinkpads as well. From my experience they are usually fairly cheap considering there performance when bought used. In addition they are virtually indestructible and reparable if somebody were to shatter the screen with a flying piece of metal. If you do choose to purchase thinkpad I would recommend you look for one in the “T” series. The first number of the 3# model number refers to the screen size (4= 14”, 5=15.7”). The second number then refers to the generation. The current generation is 8(eg. T480 or T580). However any laptop back to the 4th or 5th gen would probably work. I would recommend you look for at least 4 Gb of ram, and an Intel i5 processor. Specifications will very slightly within models, so you want to check the specific specifications of each laptop you look at.
+1 for a Thinkpad
You can look for Manufactured Refurbished Thinkpads and you’ll find tons of good results.
We got a W540 with an i7, 8gb ram (we upgraded ourselves to 24gb), 240gb SD, and nvidia k1100m GPU. GPU supports CUDA which is good if you’re doing vision processing on the dashboard (which I don’t recommend, but still)
Note: Ours completely crashed after a windows update, and had to be reinstalled. Always keep your old laptop as a backup. The laptop was also the programming laptop. We had to do some surgery on our robot that led us to reprogram something and couldn’t because of it. KEEP A SPARE.
Note 2: If you’re using this as a driverstation laptop, I 100% recommend upgrading the screen. The screen that comes with it is okay, but you can get a nice IPS 1080p display for $50-60. Super easy install (10 mins and 4 screws). We did this and we love it. (Screen: Glossy IPS: https://chadk.co/a2we)
Note 3: Since this laptop is older, there is suspicion of the SSD going bad (it randomly crashed again one day). SSDs are cheap and I would consider replacing.
I love this laptop. We are going to get more of them.