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Best Computer for Robotics Engineering

Best Computer for Robotics Engineering

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If you’re searching for a new engineering computer, then you’re in the right place. I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently, “what is the best computer for robotics engineering?” And in this article, I’m going to outline my thoughts on what laptop you should get specifically for engineering and robotics.

Computers for two areas in Robotics Engineering

Before we dive into specific model numbers and brands, I want to preface this article with some context. The best computer for robotics engineering is directly related to what you’re doing.

Furthermore, robotics is split into two different branches: research robotics or industrial robotics. Both fields are equally interesting but require different tools.

Best Computer for Robotics Engineering
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Research Robotics

Research robotics is focused on sophisticated systems using AI, hardcore algorithms and programming in Python, C++, or ROS. Engineers working on research robots typically work on the Unix platform (aka Mac OS or Linux).

Therefore, you’ll have many options when it comes to picking out a computer. You can choose to go Mac, Windows, or Linux (or some combination of them all). Your only limitations will be either price, company standards, or personal preference.

Best Computer for Robotics Engineering
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Industrial Robotics

If you’re in the manufacturing world, you’ll be focused on industrial robotics. The technology is significantly simplistic in terms of algorithms and programming.

Automated systems will be built using PLC’s, Ladder Logic, and industrial robots. Controls, Automation, or Robotics Engineers in this field will be limited to Windows-running computers. (Sorry all you unix fans).

Unless you’re part of some unicorn startup using Linux, you’ll most likely be running some version of Windows. Popular controls software such as Studio5000 (Rockwell Automation & Allen Bradley PLC’s), STEP 7 (Siemens controllers), and HMI’s run on Windows. There’s no way around this unless you want to create a virtual machine on a Mac computer.

With that said, here are my recommendations for the best computer for robotics engineering.

Best Computer for Robotics Engineering

The following recommendations will be sorted by price (highest to lowest). While you can buy laptops for under $500, I’ve always had bad luck when buying cheap. Buying a new computer is an investment in your productivity. Therefore, I recommend buying the best computer that you can afford.

The computers on this list are ones I’ve personally wanted to buy for one project or the next. Pricing starts around $1000.

In a future article, I will outline some options under $1000, but for now, this is what I’d buy if I was starting a new job, buying a laptop for college, or just wanted an upgrade.

Related Article: Should I use Mac or Windows PC for Robotics?

General Engineering Computer Specs

In terms of raw specs, I recommend at least 8GB RAM (16GB if you’re doing graphics), 256GB SSD, and an Intel 8th Gen i5 or i7 processor. Screen size, weight, color, etc. doesn’t really matter, so pick whatever you like! Also, if you’re trying to decide between the i5 or i7, here is some insight from laptopmag.com:

“While the Core i7-7500U-powered laptop showed stronger performance on just about every test, it wasn’t all that much better than what the Core i5-7200U model had to offer. …Rather than paying $100 or $200 more for a Core i7 on your laptop, you’d be better off spending your money on moving from a hard drive to an SSD, getting a larger SSD or making sure you have at least a 1080p screen. Read the full article, here.”

2018 MacBook Pro

Highlights

  • macOS High Sierra
  • 2.6Ghz up to 4.3GHz 8th-gen i7
  • up to 16GB RAM
  • configurable up to 4TB SSD
  • Intel UHD Graphics / Configurable to Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 Memory
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina Display & Touch Bar w/ Touch ID

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Highlights

  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • 1.9GHz up to 4.20GHz 8th-gen Intel i7-8650U
  • up to 16GB RAM
  • up to 1TB PCle SSD
  • Intel Iris Graphics
  • 4X USB 3.1 (2 are Thunderbolt 3)
  • HDMI, 4-in-1 MicroSD card reader

ASUS VivoBook Pro

Highlights

  • Windows 10 Home
  • 7th-gen Intel i7-770HQ turbo up to 3.8Ghz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • NVIDIA GTX 1050 4GB discrete graphics
  • USB 3.1 Type-C, USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 2.0
  • HDMI, & headphone/mic ports
  • HDMI, 4-in-1 MicroSD card reader
  • 15.6” 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) WideView Touch Panel

Dell XPS 15

Highlights

  • Windows 10 64-bit
  • Intel i7-8750H 2.2 GHz turbo up to 4.1 GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 256 SSD to 2TB PCle SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB DDR5 Graphics
  • HDMI, 4-in-1 MicroSD card reader
  • 15.6″ UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD display (3840 x 2160)

What computer do you use for robotics?

Buying a new computer can be tricky. It all comes down to personal preference, budget, and of course the tasks you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re primarily programming or using Unix-based systems, I recommend picking up a MacBook.

On the other hand, if you’re working with PLC’s or industrial equipment, you’re probably going to want a laptop with Windows.

If I had to pick a Windows computer, I’d probably go for the ASUS VivoBook or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Ultimately, the decision is yours! I hope these recommendations help you with your next computer purchase.

Comment Your Pick, Below!

Did you just get a new computer for robotics? What did you purchase? What would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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