Laptops are designed to be portable, but not to be beaten. If you do geological surveys in the field, work on construction sites, or have other work that exposes you to the elements, you need a “rugged” laptop.
Rugged computers are designed to withstand penalties that would destroy other machines. They’re designed to withstand extreme temperatures, include spill-resistant keyboards, and have additional security features that allow them to continue working long after another computer fails.
Best Rugged Laptops for Harsh Environments
These are the best laptops and semi-rugged laptops on the market.
Panasonic Toughbook G2
The Panasonic Toughbook G2 is one of the most popular rugged laptops. Not only is it a two-in-one touchscreen computer/tablet, but it has a magnesium alloy chassis that protects the components inside, as well as bumpers around the outside to protect it from falls.
With an 18.5-hour battery life, the Toughbook G2 will perform as long as you do. Supports up to 1TB SSD and an optional i7 processor. Every Toughbook comes pre-loaded with powerful security features and anti-virus software. Additionally, it also includes:
- Windows 10 64 bit
- 512 GB SSD
- 16 GB RAM
- Front and rear cameras
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G LTE connectivity
Dell Latitude Extreme 7424
The Dell Latitude Extreme 7424 is one of the toughest laptops on the market. It can withstand impacts of up to six feet and has an IP65 rating, meaning it will be safe from anything short of complete and prolonged submersion in water. Plus, QuadCool thermal management means it can perform in even the hottest environments.
The base model of the Dell Latitude includes an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor (but you can choose to upgrade to an Intel Core i7), integrated graphics and up to 8GB of RAM. Dell Latitude also includes:
- Hot-swappable batteries for continuous use
- Up to 4TB storage
- 1000 nit anti-glare screen for use in direct sunlight
- Touch compatibility with gloves and pens
- Illuminated keyboard
- Optional fingerprint reader
Lenovo ThinkPad 13 (2nd Gen)
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 has the same design that fans of the line know and love, but it’s certified to MIL-STD-810G standards. Laptops are designed to withstand mechanical shock and vibration caused by moving boats. They are also rated for up to 98% humidity in temperatures up to 140 degrees and as low as -13 degrees.
Additionally, laptops are tested to withstand a week of sunlight and to operate at 15,000 feet. They are even tested for use around common types of fungi. If anything goes wrong, the ThinkPad 13 includes a worldwide warranty valid in more than 160 countries. It’s a rugged machine that stays lightweight at just 3.17 pounds with up to 11 hours of battery life, plus:
- 13.3 inch screen
- SSD up to 512 GB
- Up to 32 GB of RAM
- A 720p camera
- multiple ports
- Intel HD Graphics
Panasonic Toughbook 55
The Toughbook 55 is considered a semi-rugged laptop rather than a rugged laptop. That means it’s a durable laptop but cheaper than full-fledged “extremely rugged” options. The Toughbook 55 offers up to 38 hours of battery life with an optional second battery, plus an easy carry handle. It is tested to military standards and has an IP53 magnesium alloy frame.
What sets the Toughbook 55 apart is that it includes six user-upgradable expansion zones for memory, storage, keyboard, and three xPAK zones. This allows for much more case-by-case customization than other laptops of this type. In addition to all this, it has:
- 14 inch screen size
- Optional Quad Core processor
- three-year warranty
- Numerous ports, including Ethernet
The Asus Chromebook isn’t strictly a rugged laptop like the others on this list, but it does have two things the others don’t: affordability and portability. Most rugged tablets and laptops, especially those with military-grade protection, tend to be heavy and prohibitively expensive. The Asus Chromebook costs just $350 but comes with rubber bumpers and a spill-resistant keyboard.
The Asus Chromebook has a 12-hour battery life and a Full HD touchscreen. An integrated webcam makes it perfect for video conferencing. Unfortunately, it only has an integrated GPU, but that’s enough for light work on the go. He also has:
- Two USB-C ports
- Two USB-A ports
- MicroSD card reader
- 1 year of free Google cloud storage
ASUS TUF Gaming A15
If you’re a gamer on the go and need a gaming laptop that can take more abuse than the average laptop, the ASUS Tuf Gaming A15 laptop is your best bet. It includes Microsoft Windows 10, an AMD Ryzen 7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. The machine has the specs needed to play almost any game without dropping frames.
Additionally, a set of dual fans will keep the temperature down, while the battery will provide up to 8.7 hours of web browsing or 12.3 hours of video playback. If you’re going to play, you’ll want to find a power outlet. On top of that, ASUS Tuf includes:
- 15.6 inch IPS screen
- 512 GB SSD
- Military-grade durability
- Ethernet RJ45 and HDMI 2.0b ports
What about Apple?
There aren’t really any “rugged” laptops for Apple users, but you can search Amazon for various rugged cases that will protect your Macbook from drops and spills if you prefer to stay within the macOS ecosystem.
Rugged laptops tend to use SSDs instead of HDDs due to the vibrations they experience. You won’t find most of these laptops on Amazon; they must be ordered directly from the manufacturer, as they are generally considered special machines. Their functionality makes them suitable for almost any application, whether you’re looking for a business laptop or a waterproof workhorse to carry around in your truck.