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5 Best Rugged Laptops in 2018

Not everyone enjoys the luxury of working from trendy coffee shops or air-conditioned office buildings. If a Leatherman multitool is part of your everyday carry and your calloused hands could be used as improvised sandpaper, then you might benefit from a laptop designed to survive the same harsh and unforgiving conditions as you deal with on a daily basis.

Best Rugged Laptops Link Brand Link Price on
Quality Refurbished Computers Panasonic Laptop Rugged CF-31 Toughbook 839.95
Getac Getac B300 Base Model Rugged Notebook PC Laptop 499
Asus ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6" Ruggedized and Water Resistant 224.54
Dell Dell N4951 Latitude 14" HD Rugged Laptop Check Price

Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme

The 14-inch Latitude Rugged Extreme from Dell is totally dust-proof and protected against low-pressure water jets from all directions. The laptop can operate in extreme heat conditions, survive shocks and vibrations, and it even passed the MIL-STD-810G series of tests designed by the U.S military to test its equipment limits in various conditions.

The 14-inch display has 1366 x 768 pixels and features the latest Direct-View screen technology for reduced internal reflectivity and display glare, making the display readable even under direct sunlight. The display is touch-enabled, featuring a resistive touch layer that registers inputs even with gloves on.

Dell has equipped the Latitude Rugged Extreme with the Intel Core i7 6600U processor, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD, and the AMD Radeon R7 M360 graphics card. But no amount of processing power can compensate for a lack of connectivity options. Fortunately, the laptop has three USB 3.0 ports as well as a single USB 2.0 port, two RS232 serial ports, two RJ45 Gigabit LAN jacks, several audio and video ports, and a docking connector. Safely sealed against dust and water by a plastic door are a memory card reader and a PC Card slot.

To satisfy the high security requirements of enterprise customers, the 14-inch Latitude Rugged Extreme comes with the Atmel FIPS 140-2 Certified Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which provides strong hardware-based public key (RSA) security. Also supported are Dell’s native security and data-protection tools and services.

Dell N4951 Latitude 14 Rugged

As the name suggests, the Dell N4951 Latitude 14 Rugged is a less durable version of the above-recommended Latitude Rugged Extreme. Being less rugged, the Dell N4951 is less bulky, more portable, and features less extensive connectivity options. As such, it’s perfect for someone who needs to work outside, in demanding conditions, but doesn’t expect the laptop to be thrown around nor left there for an extended time.

That’s not to say the laptop is made of sugar, as the Dutch would say. Its sealed housing is made from impact-resistant polymers and magnesium alloy, and it is IP52-rated, making it dust protected and capable of withstanding vertically dripping water when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15 degrees from its normal position.

Dell offers the laptop either with the resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels or with the Full HD resolution. Both displays are very bright and have fantastic viewing angles. We would recommend the Full HD display for users of mapping applications and any other software that greatly benefits from extra screen real-estate.

Inside the Dell N4951 is the Intel Core i5-6300U processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 500 GB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive, and the Intel HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics card. Besides standard connectivity options such as USB, serial, and PCMCIA, the laptop also features a dedicated GPS module alongside 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Panasonic Laptop Rugged CF-31 Toughbook

Even though the Panasonic CF-31 Toughbook is clearly a product of the Windows XP era, the laptop has a lot to offer even today. To start with, it’s incredibly affordable—for a rugged laptop. At around $800, the CF-31 is several times cheaper than most modern durable laptops. It’s also several times slower, but that may not be an issue for you, depending on which software you want to run on it. Its Intel Core i5-2540M processor may be several generations behind the cutting-edge, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t run the vast majority of professional software applications with ease. What’s more, the laptop comes with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive, so it’s future-proof in this regard.

Really the only thing holding it back is the outdated 13.1-inch display with a 4:3 display ratio and laughable 1024 x 768 pixels. While the display is extremely bright, non-reflective, and touch-enabled, the small resolution could make some modern applications very difficult to use. The good news is that this is something you can easily verify yourself on any high-resolution display simply by lowering the resolution and examining whether the user interface of your application has adjusted properly.

All ports and slots are hidden under hinged doors that protect them from water and dust. There are five of these doors in total, hiding an optical drive, a PC Card Type II slot, an ExpressCard/54 slot, an SDHC card slot, a Smart Card slot, an HDMI port, a SIM card slot, an RJ45 LAN port, an optional RJ11 modem port, four USB 2.0 ports, and a power jack. The 1 TB hard drive is hidden under its own door and further protected by a security lock.

Overall, if you want an IP65-rated rugged laptop with a super-bright display, plenty of connectivity options, and a decent processor, the Panasonic CF-31 Toughbook is a great choice—especially if you don’t want to spend much and don’t mind the few limitations, such as the low resolution.

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02

The ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 looks like an ordinary laptop, but don’t let the inviting design deceive you. ASUS has reinforced all edges using nano-molding technology, wrapping all four corners with tough rubber. The laptop passed a 3.9 feet drop-test and the keyboard passed a 66 cubic centimeters spill-resistance-test. We wouldn’t count on the laptop surviving vigorous, daily abuse, but we don’t doubt that it can survive the wear and tear caused by regular, daily use.

Apart from the design, the other thing that sets it apart from other rugged notebooks on this list is the operating system. The ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 comes with Chrome OS, an operating system designed by Google that is based on the Linux kernel and uses the Google Chrome web browser as its principal user interface. Chrome OS is flies even on less powerful hardware, so the Intel Celeron N3060 processor feels much speedier than it really is.

The 11.6-inch display has 1366 x 768 pixels and features an anti-glare coating. Thanks to the 180-degree hinge, you can fully open the C202SA-YS02, which is ideal for group study or discussion sessions. The laptop can last up to 10 hours on a single charge at the default display brightness level.

Getac B300 Fully Rugged Laptop

The Getac B300 is a powerful, rugged latop with an Intel i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and all the durability of a Soviet-era tank. The bottom of the laptop is made of a magnesium alloy plates held securely in place by eighteen screws. There’s a small door that lets you access the two SO-DIMM slots, which are, by default, populated by 2 GB modules. Other doors around the sides of the laptop hide the stacked PC Card Type II and ExpressCard 34/54 slots, two USB 3.0 ports, the hard disk, separate microphone and headphone jacks, an HDMI port, a spring-loaded SD card slot, an optional SIM card slot, RJ-45 gigabit LAN jack, two 9-pin DB9 serial ports, and a 25-pin video port, among other less important ports, toggles, and cutouts.

The Getac B300 has a 13-inch display with 1024 x 768 pixels and up to 1400 nits backlight. The astonishing brightness is possible thanks to the QuadraClear technology, which reduces reflective light and enhances transmitting light, according to Getac. When placed next to a regular laptop, which usually only goes up to 400 nits, the difference is immediately noticeable. Of course, such bright backlight impacts the battery life. Fortunately, the Getac B300 has a 96-watt-hour battery, which can keep it up and running on the maximum brightness setting for up to 4.5 hours. With less eye-melting brightness, the laptop runs for up to 15 hours before it needs to be charged.

To make this already fantastic, rugged laptop even better, Getac has added a TPM 2.0 module and a sensitive fingerprint reader. For physical security, you can use the Kensington slot on the back side of the unit to protect the laptop against theft.

Best Rugged Laptops Link Brand Link Price on
Quality Refurbished Computers Panasonic Laptop Rugged CF-31 Toughbook 839.95
Getac Getac B300 Base Model Rugged Notebook PC Laptop 499
Asus ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6" Ruggedized and Water Resistant 224.54
Dell Dell N4951 Latitude 14" HD Rugged Laptop Check Price

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