New Laptops?


#1

Hello techies!
I haven’t bought a computer in a long time, so I’m kind of out of the loop, so I was hoping to get some help here.
I teach robotics and we use laptops for programming for VRC with robotC, some low-level CAD (sketchup and tinkerCAD), arduino programming, and other general tasks.
What is a good, basic laptop that can power those things without dragging or crashing a lot? I’m on a small budget, so the lower the price, the more I can get. But, I don’t want to go “cheap” and wind up with gutless laptops.
Thanks for the help!


#2

Build a laptop on Sager. You can get whatever OS and specs you would like, and the prices are quite good.

Bonus: It’s one of the few places still selling Windows 7 on a decent computer. Saving you the price of buying the OS separately.


#3

Hmm, it looks like those are all $900+ laptops.

My $300 laptop can run Autodesk Inventor and programming programs, you definitely don’t need a high-end laptop (but if you think you’ll need a high-end laptop in the near future (1-2 years), a high-end laptop could be worth it)

Intel i3 and an integrated graphics card (like Intel HD graphics) should be fine for what you need. I don’t know too much about which brands are best though.


#4

Sagers are kind of bulky.

IBM ThinkPads, the newer ones that is, are the favorites of a lot of CS students (esp. the ones with extended batteries), I know that Dell Ultrabooks are pretty nice too.

I avoid Toshiba and HP. Toshiba cuts too many corners and HP has bloatware all over / bad build quality.

You want something that can run Windows, avoid Chromebooks for this reason (unless they can run Windows well too).


#5

Blast… I was looking at the HP Pavilion x360 and Toshiba Satellite…:o

Do you know that the name of the “new” thinkpad is? It isn’t sold as thinkpad anymore (that I could find)


#6

I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to HP completely. I understand where Cody is coming from, but I also have an HP Envy as my school computer which we also use for robotics. It has proven to be an excellent computer.


#7

Yeah probably no to those.

IBM owns Lenovo and sells their consumer products through that name now. Look here.

You want a 1080p (1920x1080) screen, backlit keyboard (everyone I’ve ever forced to get this option has thanked me), and at least an i5 (that’s a dual-core with hyperthreading, use Intel’s ARK to look up a chips detains), 3-6M cache, an Intel HD Graphics 4000 or above, or a discrete GPU in which case go nVidia.

Don’t ignore graphics, in fact if you want to really do some serious CAD MAKE SURE you have some kind of discrete GPU.

As for RAM, 4GB-16GB, I recommend 8GB as a nice butter zone, this can usually be upgraded.

This is probably up your alley, but look for others before you make a choice.

Your probably not going to get all this for under $800. Which seems to be the market decided price wall for something that isn’t a craptop.


#8

I bought my daughter a U530 touch for Christmas, and upped the RAM. I am hoping it gets her a while into college. (hoping so) It’s great and runs Autodesk Inventor just fine on Windows 8 with a nice i7 processor (not the newest low power i7 though).

I suggest ripping out the hard drive and replacing with an SSD though. Newegg is selling them pretty cheap these days.

But now you’re talking a $1,400-$1,500 laptop but that is still way less than a Macbook Pro or Air. It is also future proof for a while.

The only gripe with Lenovo so far is the Superfish malware thing I had to uninstall one day. Oh, and UPS forcing me to sign for it versus dropping at the door.

I use a Lenovo ThinkPad T440 for work and it is smaller and lighter than the U530 but has a smaller screen but it has an SSD. It’s a good machine. Only gripe I have is the stupid Control/Fn key swap Lenovo does on the Think Pads.


#9

Chromebooks are amazing (I dare anybody to find another laptop for 300 USD with a full HD IPS panel), but if you want to run Windows, don’t get one. That’s not what they’re designed for and nobody has any interest in helping you make it work (it won’t fwiw). Drivers don’t exist at all. If anybody tries to shoehorn Windows onto a Chromebook they’ll find the touchpad, webcam, hotkeys, and usb ports won’t work, or will be very flakey if they do.


#10

Like above. Lets say keeping a budget of less than 400. There are a few good i5s on sale right now with good specs. I saw a Lenovo flex for 499 though. As long as you stick with Dell or Lenovo you are good for long run. Had problems with Toshiba (getting cheap builds), HP (too many hardware problems), and a few others. There are a few good Asus. I have several Lenovo laptops (thinkpad, yoga) that still work great.

Like Giraffees said, if you budget allows, another 170 will get you a good SSD but can wait. Make sure to go between 4GB and 8GB memory.


#11

I talked to Cameron’s (Team 62) dad at Worlds and they used a very cheap little laptop. It was less than $200. I think it was an Asus? They were very happy with it. Cheap, good enough for RobotC, very long battery life, etc. If you contact him I’m sure he would be glad to give you a model.

This range of laptop won’t do you much good for any type of CAD though. If you want to do any decent amount of CAD, even if it is just Sketchup, I think you need to expect to pay more than $400. (or else your just going to be disappointed)


#12

I have an Asus. Its a K55N. It was $400, and had the best hardware for the money.
AMD A8 4500M
Radeon 7640G
6 GB RAM

It handles Inventor just fine, and I can even play GTA IV.

Some things to consider though: Windows 8 not Windows 7. (although I have an SSD and am running Windows 7)

This laptop is a compromise though. The $400 I paid for it seems to have gone mostly to the hardware and not the physical laptop itself. It’s not a fancy aluminum laptop like a macbook. It’s plastic, and if you don’t periodically tighten all the screws, it will flex. A LOT. However it will outperform most macbooks. :smiley:

Asus has decent build quality. It’s better than Toshiba, less bloatware than HP, but mine has a sticking keyboard issue, although this seems to be a rare issue.
I periodically tighten the screws , and take pretty good care of it, and mine has survived two years of beatings in high school.


#13

Chromebooks can’t be used for robotC, can they?


#14

Correct, they cannot. (Not with the Chrome operating system. Some people buy chromebooks, wipe them, and put linux on them)


#15

Still can’t run RobotC.


#16

wait a minute, have you been to any competition in Zionsville Indiana? Because I think I’ve seen you playing GTA at a competition with a mod that replaces your player model with a horse.

Though it is possible to get ConVEX working on one.


#17

Pretty sure PROS will work too.


#18

I thought that most chromebooks use ARM based processors. If they do this rules out PROS. It also technically rules out ConVEX the way it comes but it’s open source so it can be ported to devices with ARM based processors (meaning you could also use it on a nexus 7 running ubuntu or any of the various SBC’s that have ARM based processors).


#19

The PROS IDE (eclipse etc.) doesn’t have a pre-built binary for ARM (as far as I know), however, both PROS and ConVEX use a makefile so, as long as you have gcc and dev tools on the ARM system, you should be able to compile a program. If java is installed then the Purdue download tool should work, my stm32 download tool probably just needs to be recompiled for it to work. I may try and get development working on a beaglebone just for fun (or perhaps Cody could do that :slight_smile: )


#20

or a nexus 7! Oh, that’s right, Ubuntu runs terribly on it :confused: