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Asked — Edited

Laptop Recommendation?

I'd like to put all my robotics on a dedicated laptop. I don't *think* I need a cutting-edge machine, but I feel I need something with a good processor to handle multitasking.

I'd prefer something with a 10" -13" screen (my other machines are 17" monsters), Windows 10 upgradable (if it doesn't come installed), a nice large hard drive and something I can tear down and upgrade if I want (no glue-sealed cases!). No Chromebooks; all my data and files stay with me, not in the cloud.

It doesn't need to be new. Reliability a must! Price range < $300. (Good grief! I feel like I'm placing a dating ad!:P )

What are you guys using? Any recommendations?

#1  
I don't have a specific recommendation that meets these needs, but the one thing I will suggest is to spring for an SSD instead of a traditional hard drive. I upgraded a smiles ASUS ultrabook to an SSD when the hard drive failed, and it went from being barely usable to one of the best computers I have owned because it is SO much faster.

My work laptop just got upgraded to a Lenovo with an SSD and a Core i5 vPro processor, and it is incredibly fast. Boots in 6 seconds.

Alan
#2  
I agree with Alan. I have been using SSD's exclusively for about the past 7 or so years except for on my NAS storage LUNs.

As for cloud, have you checked out NextCloud? It is your own cloud server that only you access. I use this for some of the files that I don't care if people get access to and a way to store things offsite. My NAS is the main storage that I use as it has 8TB of storage and is network accessible and redundant. It allows me to quit worrying about the size of the local hard drive so much and worry more about the speed of the machines.

I have a 3 to 4 year old laptop running 3 SSD's in it which rates in the top 20% of machines tested by benchmark tests. It performs well enough for me and I probably won't replace it until something bad happens to it. I use this machine for coding, producing Tech Today, CAD work and a lot more and is pretty much is my daily driver.

I use Samsung SSD's pretty much exclusively and have had great luck with them. I used to use Intel SSD's 7 years ago and had pretty good luck with them also.
#3  
Agreed! That's why I want to be able to open it up. ;)

I have an SSD (mSata form factor) here that I took out of my Dell Precision (upgraded to 1TB SSD) waiting for a home. But SSDs are cheap enough these days, so it's easy enough.
PRO
USA
#4  
@CochranRobotics,

Related to your NAS, do you have RAID volume, or do you have another NAS for backup.

I had some issues in the past with NAS appliances, some implement the raid, but if the hardware fails you need a similar hardware to mount the volumes (RAID 5) so i end up running multiple storage and duplicating the information ...

can you share your strategy... more and more running a family data storage is like running a datacenter:)

And yes i don't trust the cloud too:)


ps: sorry to hijack the thread... feel free to kick me out:)
#5  
i use FreeNAS. I have 2 raid 10 zfs volumes that are mirrored. The NAS uses an I5 proc with 32 GB ram.

In the event of a failure of a drive, I have 3 spare drives on a shelf. If the power supply goes out, I have a spare. The motherboard goes out and I can replace it. There are SATA cards in the box and i have a spare one of those. The raid config is housed on a little used SSD which is the OS drive. The OS is backed up to my NextCloud instance.

If there is a tornado that takes out my house, well, I backup the NAS to an external drive. I just have to remember to grab it.
#6  
I manage a NAS of similar config for a business, so this is the reason for the spare parts laying around...
PRO
USA
#7  
Its not an appliance but a computer right?

what kind storage controller and how many disks?
#8  
Mine is a PC. Actually, it is the PC that was going into my first Inmoov. It got used for something more important. I did have to upgrade the motherboard so that I could add all of the sata cards.

There are 16 disks + 2 for OS mirroring.
one raid 10 set
2tb 2tb 2tb 2tb
|
V
2tb 2tb 2tb 2tb

mirrored to another raid 10 set of the same config.

Basically, I can loose up to 4 drives at one time and be okay. I am only using about 3TB of space on it. Actually, there is 7.1something usable in this config.

As far as drive controller for mine, I am just using some cheap SATA drive controllers. There are 4 of them in that machine, with 4 drives attached to each. The OS is on an SSD off of the SATA 0 port on the motherboard and the 2nd SSD (mirrored) is off of the SATA 1 port on the motherboard.
#9  
They do sell appliances though, but I had a lot of parts laying around, so I used them instead of buying an appliance.
#10  
@CochranRobotics -

Thanks for the info on NextCloud. Despite my distrust of the cloud, NextCloud appears to be a safer and more private way than port forwarding to access my files remotely. Especially since port forwarding is above my comprehension level, and I'm sure I'd set it so my server was public rather than private.:)

Now, that brings us back to what a good, cheap, robust laptop (10" - 13") might be good for my robotics work. While I'm not afraid to go under the hood to make modifications, I'd just as soon not have to replace a motherboard, etc. Guess I'm looking for instant gratification.;)
#13  
One more thing on the NAS RAID setup.

In the hardware physical configuration, it is important to make sure that the sata controllers are not all setup to go to the same drive in each set. This is because if you have drive 1 from each set going to a sata controller, and your controller goes down, you will need to perform a recovery that is more extensive.

There are two decent options.
Option 1...
Controller 1
disk 0 set 0
disk 1 set 0
disk 2 set 0
disk 3 set 0
If the sata controller goes out, you will loose the raid 10 but because it is mirrored, you will be able to recover and be able to run in a degradated mode until the issue is resolved.

Option 2...
Controller 1
disk 0 set 0
disk 1 set 1
disk 2 set 2
disk 3 set 3
If the sata controller goes out, you will still be able to recover due to the redundancy built in and may not be able to run in a degradated mode very well, but it should work.

bad configuration
controller 1
disk 0 set 0
disk 0 set 1
disk 0 set 2
disk 0 set 3
If the sata controller goes out, you will have a downed environment that will need hardware replacement and then a recovery. Don't do this. It will probably require you to do a resilver and then a restore from backup.

I opted for option 1 as it still leaves 3 copies of the data available to use and still provides a raid 10 config for redundancy until the controller is replaced. I simply run in a degradated mode until I can do this repair, and the external drive is still able to be used for backups.
#14  
Thanks much! I'm on the trail!