Best rugged laptops 2017: we test drop-proof laptops for working outside – TechRadar

If your job entails moving around a lot, or visiting busy worksites and factories, then you’ll want to invest in a rugged laptops.

The best rugged laptop will have a solidly-built body that can withstand drops, or even pressure being placed upon it – such as if something heavy falls on top of it. It should also ideally have some protection against liquids, dust and high and low temperatures.

While rugged built quality is important, the actual laptop itself should not be forgotten about, so we’re also looking for the best rugged laptops that feature powerful components as well.

So, if you’re looking for the best rugged laptop that combined protection with performance, you’ve come to the right place, as below we list the very best rugged laptops on the market today.

1. Panasonic Toughbook CF-54

The very best rugged laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U vPro processor | Graphics: Intel Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 500GB HDD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, optional GPS, LTE | Weight: 1.9kg | Dimensions: 271 x 345 x 30mm

Rugged laptops are like small tanks with screens, and the Panasonic ToughBook CF-54, which the company has created mainly for workers in the automotive diagnostic industry, and field service workers specialising in indoor repairs and maintenance – is one of the best for outdoor usage too. It’s thinner and lighter than other rugged laptops on this list, mainly because Panasonic classes this as a ‘semi-rugged’ laptop. That means it’s not the most durable laptop on the market, but it is still very tough – able to withstand falls of up to 90cm. Thanks to its thin and attractive design (by rugged laptop standards), the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 is the best rugged laptop for people who want a bit of portability to go with their protection.

2. Dell Latitude 14 Rugged

A fantastic rugged laptop from Dell

CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U processor | Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M360 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, Ethernet | Weight: 1.9kg | Dimensions: 347 x 243 x 44.4mm

Dell is another big name laptop maker that also does some excellent rugged laptops. The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged is a fantastic machine that combines a tough outer shell with some very decent specifications, included a fast Intel Core i5 processor and a dedicated AMD Radeon graphics card. The screen looks great and it comes with a matte finish, which makes it comfortable to use outdoors – which is probably where you will be mostly using the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged. We’d have liked to have seen a larger capacity SSD and a bit more RAM, though.

3. Panasonic Toughbook CF-33

Rugged 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch 2160 x 1440 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, Ethernet | Weight: 2.76kg | Dimensions: 313.0 x 288.4 x 46.1mm

Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 is a very unique device, as it is a 2-in-1 laptop, which can have its keyboard removed to become a rugged tablet. This gives it a flexibility that many of the other devices on this best rugged laptops list miss out on. If you need something to easily carry while you do stock takes and jot down notes, then the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33’s tablet mode works brilliantly. Then, if you need to write documents, turning it back into a laptop allows you to comfortably type away. You do pay a price premium for this, and at  $3,649 (about £2,800, AU$4,900) starting cost , it is one of the most expensive devices on our list. At the moment it is only out in the US, but hopefully we’ll see worldwide availability soon.

4. HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE Notebook PC

A sturdy laptop

CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500 | RAM: 2 – 8GB | Screen: 11.6inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, | Weight: 1.35kg | Dimensions: 207 x 302.4 x 19.9mm

At first glance you’d think that the HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE Notebook PC is just an ordinary laptop, rather than a rugged one. However, it actually falls somewhere between the two. While it isn’t designed for big drops and dangerous environments, it is built to withstand more knocks, drops and spillages than normal laptops. This is thanks to an industrial rubberised body, spill resistant keyboard and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen. While it may not be as robust as other rugged laptops, it is easily portable, and the screen can be flipped to turn it into tablet mode.

5. Lenovo ThinkPad 11e

Rugged performance

CPU: Intel Core i3-6100U processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, | Weight: 1.5kg | Dimensions: 300 x 210 x 22.3mm

The Lenovo ThinkPad 11e, like the  HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE, is more of a standard laptop with rugged elements to it. However, Lenovo has put a lot of thought into the construction of this machine, so it includes reinforced corners and ports, and can withstand drops of up to 90cm. It has also passed military specifications that ensures that this is a laptop that can withstand a lot of punishment, including high pressure, vibrations, high and low temperatures and a lot more. It’s also modestly priced, while still offering plenty of power for day-to-day tasks. 


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