You won't find these on Amazon
Laptops are designed for portability, but not to take a beating. If you perform geological field surveys, work on construction sites, or have another job that places you out in the elements, you need a “rugged” laptop.
Rugged computers are designed to withstand punishment that would destroy other machines. They’re built to withstand extreme temperatures, include spill-resistant keyboards, and have additional safety features that let them continue working long after a different computer might have broken.
Best Rugged Laptops for Tough Environments
These are the best rugged laptops and semi-rugged laptops on the market.
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 interior components, as well as bumpers around the exterior to protect it from falls.
With an 18.5-hour battery life, the Toughbook G2 will keep working as long as you do. It supports up to a 1 TB solid-state drive and an optional i7 CPU. Every Toughbook comes pre-equipped with robust security features and antivirus software. In addition, it also includes:
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 512GB SSD
- 16GB RAM
- Front and rear cameras
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 4G LTE connectivity
The Dell Latitude Extreme 7424 is one of the toughest laptops out there. It can resist impacts from up to six feet and has an IP65 weather-resistance rating, which means it will be safe from anything short of complete, prolonged immersion in water. In addition, the QuadCool thermal management means it can operate even in 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), an integrated graphics card, and up to 8 GB of RAM. The Dell Latitude also includes:
- Hot-swappable batteries for continued use
- Up to 4TB of storage
- 1000-nit, anti-glare display for use in direct sunlight
- Glove- and pen-touch compatibility
- Backlit keyboard
- Optional fingerprint reader
The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 has the same design that fans of the lineup have come to know and love, yet it is certified under MIL-STD-810G standards. The laptops are designed to withstand mechanical shock and vibrations caused by running ships. They are also rated up to 98% humidity at temperatures up to 140 degrees and as low as -13 degrees.
In addition, the laptops are tested to withstand a week of solar radiation and for operation at 15,000 feet. They’re even tested for use around common types of fungus. Should something go wrong, the ThinkPad 13 includes a worldwide warranty valid in more than 160 countries. It’s a tough machine that remains lightweight at just 3.17 pounds with a battery life of up to 11 hours, as well as:
- 13.3-inch display
- Up to 512 GB SSD
- Up to 32 GB RAM
- A 720p camera
- Multiple ports
- Intel HD graphics
The Toughbook 55 is considered a semi-rugged laptop rather than a rugged laptop. This means that it’s a durable laptop but less expensive than the full-blown “rugged extreme” options. The Toughbook 55 offers up to 38 hours of battery life thanks to an optional second battery, as well as an easy-carry handle. It’s tested to military standards and has an IP53 magnesium alloy frame.
What sets the Toughbook 55 apart is that it includes six user-upgradeable expansion areas for memory, storage, keyboard, and three xPAK areas. This allows for far more customization on a case-by-case basis than other laptops of this type. On top of all of this, it features:
- 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 others on this list, but it has two things going for it that 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 is only $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. A built-in webcam makes it perfect for video conferencing. Unfortunately, it only has an integrated GPU, but it’s sufficient for lightweight work while on the go. It also has:
- Two USB-C ports
- Two USB-A ports
- MicroSD card reader
- 1-year free Google cloud storage
If you’re a gamer on the go and need a gaming laptop that can withstand more abuse than the average laptop, the ASUS Tuf Gaming A15 laptop is your best option. 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 losing frames.
In addition, a set of dual-fans will keep the temperature down, while the battery will give up to 8.7 hours of web browsing or 12.3 hours of video playback. If you’re going to game, you’ll want to find a power outlet. On top of that, the ASUS Tuf includes:
- 15.6-inch IPS display
- 512GB SSD
- Military-grade durability
- RJ45 Ethernet and HDMI 2.0b ports
What About Apple?
There aren’t really “rugged” laptops for Apple users, but you can look on Amazon for various rugged cases that will keep your Macbook protected from falls and spills if you prefer to remain in the macOS ecosystem.
Rugged laptops tend towards SSDs rather than hard drives due to the vibrations they suffer. Most of these laptops you won’t find on Amazon; they have to be ordered directly from the manufacturer, as they’re typically considered specialty machines. Their functionality makes them suited to almost any application, whether you’re looking for a business laptop or a water-resistant workhorse to keep in your truck.