So…I want to buy laptops for my teams. Anyone have an affordable bare bones model that you use and love? I am a little limited on funds.

Don’t have any laptops on me, but i have found a $80 Laptop That should be good enough for programming at least.

Ah…to clarify. I am not trying to acquire donated equipment. Just looking for affordable options.

If possible, find a local computer recycler that is willing to sell computers directly to end users. Then go pick up some ThinkPads.

Otherwise find some old ThinkPads on eBay or similar sites.


@jonathans what is your budget?

Try Chromebooks – we just bought a bunch of new ones for training at something like $250 each.

@Rick TYler you cant program v5 on a chromebook yet though?

This is really the important question. “affordable” means different things to different people. The 80$ from 2006 suggested earlier is probably too far on the cheap side of the “affordable” spectrum for you, also its crap.

If you are using RMS a chromebook can be really cheap as @Rick TYler suggested. If you want to use PROS and are seriously tech savy you could probably make due with a chromebook. Otherwise you probably want windows.

If you want to run VCS(has terrible performance) your probably going to want a modern ish computer. A used ThinkPad as suggested earlier would be a good choice, some of the really cheap new machines especially 1 generation old would also be a reasonable choice. You can pick something like those up for ~300$ each I think.

If its being purchased from a school on PO or something, it might not work, but I’ve purchased several used thinkpads from ebay and less than half new price. All were off corporate lease and still had Lenovo factory warranty on them. Obviously buyer beware but if you are judicious and select well, it works. Actually I am currently using a T440S that I got for ~$180 off ebay. I wiped it clean and did a fresh install of Win 10 and it works great for robotC and casual computing. I got my daughter a P50s workstation to do CAD and games. It looks brand new save a scratch on the bottom plate and has warranty to 2020. I think it was $600 for a ~$2000 computer.


Yep. Looking at $500 or less per machine. Hopefully. ThinkPad sounds like a good option.

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Robot Mesh Studio is browser-based (even the Desktop edition) and works fine on Chromebooks. Small caveat, though, is that it works better on faster Chromebooks than on slow ones. The $200-something units we bought were tested first.

In highschool, I volunteered at a place called Free Geek (Chicago edition), where we would refurbish old computers (desktops and laptops) and sell them at really low costs. When I was there, we’d put copies of Linux Mint on all of them.

I’d recommend checking to see if there’s one in your area (and maybe even volunteering :slight_smile: ).

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My team programs on this (a refurbished ThinkPad T420):

You can go even cheaper but still a very decent machine to write code on and do other mundane PC things you would do on an Intel i5/i7 machine (throw in an SSD and some extra RAM):

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Ya both of those are very reasonable and priced fairly.

I love thinkpads, I use an X230 and it works great.

I think you can get pretty get refurbished laptops that are within generation or two, made by a reputable manufacturer, and that will last you a decent amount of time from stores such as newegg.

Using PROS means usually you’re looking at windows, a ThinkPad is my top choice (and what most of our team has), simply because water resistance, tank like build quality, and generally being understated and not something you care about being damaged/stolen. You’ll want a decent amount of storage, but it shouldn’t be a super big concern. A decent screen size of 14" I think fits nicely, bigger is difficult to carry around, smaller and it’s hard to see. A quick look on newegg and you’ll find a bunch of T440, and T450 models. Those are pretty good for what you want to do. (grab a few extra batteries too though).


Thinkpad fan here, I have a stack of refurbs T61’s that I love. You can get pretty nice ones for < $150. They really can put up with rough abuse.

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I have owned two ThinkPads and used three other Lenovo laptops, i absolutely recommend them.

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My laptop of choice is the Microsoft surfacebook 2 because it has a fantastic keyboard and I can be able to draw on in with the surface pencil for design

About 3 years ago, I bought 12 matched Dell Inspiron laptops through their “Outlet” sales to use for VEX IQ camps. I started on Dell’s webpage and found the outlet stuff, then talked to them by phone to work out exactly what we wanted. We ended up with 12 factory refurbished computers for just under $110 each. They are not powerful or have a lot of storage, pretty much just enough to hold window, Robot C, a pdf reader, SnapCAD, and pdf’s of all the IQ builds. In other words, exactly what is needed for programming IQ robots, no more, no less. In the “camp” situation, it’s handy that every student has an identical setup to make the camp run smoothly.