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Laptops for tuning in 2023

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I'm in the market for a new laptop and one of the uses will be tuning. Mainly on MBE and Omex software with potentially FuelTech also moving forward. I build classic british engines and drivelines, recently there is big demand to convert these classic cars to EFI. Which I am doing and now taken to learning the tuning side of things with the HPA standalone tuning course and with the tuner I have used for years as he nears retirement. I was wondering what recommendations people have? I ideally want full size keys (arrow/pageup/down) and not a laptop with half size/dual function keys etc. I know it wants an SSD, full size USB ports and doesn't need vast memory but at the same time I don't mind spending more if I get a better, faster laptop. Are gaming laptops like ASUS TUF F15 any good for the job or am I barking up the wrong tree? I realise personal preferance comes into this but I'm interested to know what works for people. I'm UK based (which may effect what I can affordably acquire).

TIA, Dan

As with all things, budget will come into it.

If I had the need, and the budget, I'd be looking at one of the "toughened", "rugged", or "military spec'" options - especially if it's expected to be used "in the field" at the track, where it could be expected to get wet, knocked around, etc. There are several suppliers who should be able to tailor their product to your requirements - the advantages are significant, but so can the price premium be.

Be honest about your requirements - some will offer the CPU based graphics, "gaming" GPUs, or "workstation" GPUs, along with the usual CPU/cores/speeds, RAM, SSD size(s), etc, options.

[edit] Forgot - some will have older, refurnished, products which may be a sound alternative, if on a budget.

For a laptop using current Engine Management Programs and also looking at logging, I would sacrifice processor speed over screen size and resolution. Most EMP's are not processor hungry and can be run on a relatively low spec processor, but looking at the small screen that has a low resolution all day is tiring.

The minimum spec's that i would have for a laptop that is only to be used for tuning would be.

i5 (or AMD equivalent) processor

8gb memory, but 16gb preferred

Full HD (1920*1080) screen resolution

15" screen size.

256gb SSD (512 or 1tb better)

GPU isn't that important in most cases.

If you are using video synced logging, then you would want to look at upspeccing the laptop to accommodate this.


There are a few threads on this which have good general info.

Personally I'm anti "tough" laptops because they are massively overpriced for their specs, bulky, heavy, and standard units hold up fine for me.

I suggest avoiding cheap laptops that aren't reliable, also avoiding going too far with processor power or graphics card power because it will ruin battery life.

Currently, I have 2 Dell XPS 15 and that's my suggestion. Base level I7 chip and mid option graphics card. 16 or 32 GB RAM, 512-1TB SSD depending on your needs. I deal with lots of large log files from high speed loggers, but if I was just doing reflash tuning 512 SSD would be PLENTY big. I suggest the high res monitor option to help your eyes and give you more workspace. If you get Dell's top of the line warranty, the service is astonishingly good.

Agreed, Mike, but I can be a bit 'rough' on stuff, and some lappies can be relatively easy to damage, and that would be my preference - or a simple, cheap s/h option I could stick a SSD in, and swap out if (when!) I broke the lappie.

When the gentleman figures out what he actually wants from the device, he'll be much better placed to make his selection.

Oh, been keeping an eye on the "Framework" laptops - they're designed to be user repairable and re-configurable, and there seems to be a thriving aftermarket for re-purposing them, too, so a very "green" option - https://frame.work/ - not quite what the OP is after, though.

My go to is Lenovo Thinkpad or Dell XPS

Both are built to a higher standard that normal laptops, and are mainly targeted commercial use, and not consumer.

For this reason their build quality is far higher, the materials are better and they are just stronger. Things like hinges, keyboards and the frame around the screen are all far stronger.

I used to buy laptops for schools by the thousands, and mainly used ThinkPad and they are still my personal go to. If you also shop around, you can get them for a reasonably price bump of normal consumer laptops you'll get at your local computer supplier.


I use a refurbished Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 with the extended (dual) batteries. Being refurbished, I paid WAY less than a brand new one, and I didn't have any problems with it so far.

The reason I chose a rugged one is that I do track side support for time attack and rally teams, and the conditions in the field are a bit more harsh than on the dyno. I wanted to have a lot of battery time as you don't always have access to an electrical outlet in the service areas. I can even "hot swap" batteries if needed.

The previous replies cover great features you'd like for a tuner's laptop, so I won't repeat those!

Thanks all for your responses. I will do some more research into your suggestions. My current dyno guy has a toughbook and rates it highly but like you say, they can cost a fortune but the refurb or ‘green’ upgradeable options might be worth a look also.

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