Portability may be the key feature of a laptop, but what about durability? An accidental drop or a spilled cup on the table can completely ruin your expensive computer.
When you need a machine that will make it through rain, snow, or high drops, it’s time to take a look at a different class of notebook.
Below we’ve rounded up the best rugged laptops on the market covering every range of size and specs!
Recommendation for September 2020
Best Rugged Laptops In 2020
Panasonic Toughbook CF-52MK5 – Widescreen Option
Most tough laptop models try to mesh ultra-portability with tablet features. If you prefer a system without a touchscreen and want more viewing area, this is an excellent model to consider.
Overall the hardware specs here are quite similar to the Dell Latitude Rugged, but with a larger screen panel. 15 inches may be on the small side for laptops overall, but in terms of rugged models, this is ample viewing space.
When reviewing their purchase, buyers mention that the keyboard feels more responsive than other rugged models. There is less protection around the power port however, so keep that section away from spraying water or dust!
This is the “Lite” version of the Toughbook line. The Prime and Touchscreen editions jack up the price but offer more features if you want different specs.
Recommended configuration for Panasonic Toughbook
CPU: Intel Core i5-3360M | Graphics: ATI Radeon HD7750M | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.4″ 1920×1200 Widescreen HD Display| Storage: 240GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 4 hours | Weight: 7.5 pounds
Getac S410 G2 – Most Durable Laptop
Getac’s offering in our list of contenders isn’t just a tough laptop, it also has security in mind. The lid is built with space for a padlock, so even if someone swipes your computer, they still aren’t going to get it open.
The 8th gen processor easily outclasses the other options in this list in terms of raw power.
In most other respects the S410 G2 is on par with the tough notebooks listed above at a slightly lower price.
Want more features in exchange for a higher price tag? Higher resolution versions with different hard drive specs are also available straight from the manufacturer.
For the truly security-obsessed, you can even get a built-in infrared facial recognition scanner.
Buyers constantly bring up the dual-battery setup, in addition to the enhanced security features. They note that this model is only rated for three foot drops however, which is lower than many other rugged notebooks.
Recommended configuration for Getac S410 G2
CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U | Graphics: ATI Radeon HD7750M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14″ HD Touchscreen Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: swappable battery | Weight: 6.2 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad P52 – Best Laptop For Construction
Based on the specs alone, this system seems head and shoulders above the other contenders listed here. So why have we listed it down so low?
This is what’s known as a semi-rugged notebook. It can’t even begin to compare the toughness of the Panasonic Toughbook or Dell Rugged lines.
That being said, this model is still a better option than your typical notebook in terms of durability. The keyboard is specifically designed for spill resistance, while the ThinkPad line has been re-tooled for a heavier construction.
This is also one of the very few semi-rugged laptops with a decent dedicated graphics card. You won’t be running AAA games at ultra settings, but you can at least get most games running.
For buyers, the key features are the heavy construction and the addition of a fingerprint reader near the touchpad.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo ThinkPad P52
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H | Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P1000 | RAM: 32GB | Screen: 15.6″ 1920×1080 IPS HD Display| Storage: 1024GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 8.9 hours | Weight: 3.65 pounds
Asus Chromebook Flip C214 – Water Resistant
When you need a durable laptop on a budget, the Chromebook should easily be in your list of options. While you have to make concessions on the specs, you still get a very sturdy machine.
Water-resistant, scratch-resistant, even fingerprint-resistant: you name it, this little guy can withstand it!
As a hybrid device, there are some drawbacks to know ahead of time. First off, there’s no internal SSD or HDD here, just 32GB of flash memory.
That means you won’t be storing large files or installing giant programs. If you go this route, be ready to sign up for an online backup service and be restricted to apps only.
Buyers rave about the sturdy keyboard, rugged hinges, and extra USB ports, but usually wish it had more RAM to compete with other laptops.
Recommended configuration for Asus Chromebook Flip
CPU: Intel N4000 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6″ 1366×768 Touchscreen HD Display| Storage: 32GB eMMC | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 12 hours | Weight: 2.6 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11E – 2-in-1 Rugged Laptop
This rugged convertible laptop is enforced with hinges that allow the laptop to rotate 360 degrees and has rubber bumpers to protect the corners of the device. While the keyboard is water-resistant, and the keys are mechanically anchored to stay secured plus the display is Corning Gorilla Display that prevents scratches.
Though it only runs on Intel Quad-Core processors it can handle many day-to-day tasks, it is equipped with 42WHr battery that Lenovo claims to last for 24 hours in a single charge.
Getting a laptop that can withstand harsh treatment and affordable is good for students who are pretty hard on their gear who knocks and drops them.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga
CPU: Intel Celeron Quad-Core N4100 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6″ 1366×768 Touchscreen IPS HD Display| Storage: 128GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 24 hours | Weight: 3.51 pounds
HP ProBook x360 G1 – Cheap Water-Resist Option
If you ever need a laptop that is tough that could last long but still on a budget price category then HP ProBook may be a great fit for you.
This laptop has passed the MIL-STD 810G1 protection test that means it has been tested to withstand drop shocks, vibration, and humidity.
The 11.6-inch display is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and rubber to help protect it from knocks, drops, and scratches. While the keyboard is spill-resistant which a great deal for clumsy people who always accidentally knocks their coffee!
The Intel Celeron processor isn’t much power but can handle most light tasks with ease so you can use it for everyday computing needs.
Recommended configuration for HP ProBook x360 G1
CPU: Intel Celeron Dual-Core N3350 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6″ 1366×768 Touchscreen LED HD Display| Storage: 64GB eMMC | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 3.2 pounds
LG Gram 17 – Thin & Light Option
This extremely light laptop is packed with powerful specs and has a sturdy build that can withstand knocks and drops!
This laptop has passed the MIL-STD-810G military stress test which means it has been tested to withstand shocks, the only drawback with this laptop is the price other than that this laptop is crazy powerful.
The 17-inch screen size could be a great benefit and it only weighs less than 3 pounds so you can carry it anywhere without straining your back or hands.
Powered by powerful Core i7 processor and massive 16GB RAM that you can do any heavy tasks simultaneously without getting laggy, perfect for students who need power for their studies.
This laptop has a 19.5-hour battery life so you don’t worry about getting out of juice in odd places.
Recommended configuration for LG Gram 17
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 17″ 2560×1600 IPS HD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 19.5 hours | Weight: 2.95 pounds
MobileDemand Flex 10B – For Construction
This laptop is built for people who constantly move around while doing something on the laptop, it is built sturdy to survive on accidental drops and knocks.
With its thin design and lightweight body, you can bring it anywhere you want without the hassle so this laptop is really great for those who is always on the move.
Though the processor is not as powerful as others on the list this laptop can suffice any working needs and light computing.
This laptop went trough the durability test and got the certification from MIL-STD-810 G, which makes this portable laptop to be on the list of best-rugged laptops.
Recommended configuration for MobileDemand Flex 10B
CPU: Intel Celeron Quad-Core N4100 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 10.1″ 1280×800 HD Touchscreen Display| Storage: 128GB eMMC | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 6 hours | Weight: 2.07 pounds
GPD Micro Industry Laptop – For Engineers
Are you an engineer or a field programmer where you need a small laptop that can handle extreme coding work? This laptop is definitely for you!
Though it is only powered with Intel Celeron, the processing power is optimized so you can use it for coding and other tasks. Equipped with 8GB of RAM you can surely do some multitasking which is convenient for people who needs to have more windows opened at the same time.
It is less than 2 pounds of weight is convenient for workers who need to configure something in odd places.
The operating system is switchable between Windows OS and Ubuntu that is convenient for people who code using Ubuntu.
This laptop is surely a laptop for computer geeks that wants it to be rugged and can rock!
Recommended configuration for GPD Micro Industry Laptop
CPU: Intel Celeron Quad-Core N4100 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 6″ 1280×720 HD Touchscreen Display| Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 / Ubunto | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 1.03 pounds
Ever wanted to do your spreadsheets during a forest fire? How about playing Minecraft in a hurricane?
Need to keep editing video after accidentally taking your laptop through the car wash? That’s the ludicrous level of ruggedness we’re talking about with Dell’s Extreme series.
This is a laptop equally at home in the machine shop as out in the field on location during adverse weather. Pressure sealing and latched doors on the ports prevent any damage from dust, water spray, or sand grit.
Between the small screen and flip-over design, you can essentially use this laptop like a tablet. The touchscreen responds even if your hand is in a glove, which puts it a cut above similar devices.
There are some downsides, however, starting with the extremely high price. With only 8GB of RAM and onboard graphics, this also isn’t meant for serious gaming or CAD programs.
The extreme level of protection and portability are often cited by buyers. They also tend to mention the weight, as this laptop is a good deal heavier than similar-sized models.
Recommended configuration for Dell 7424
CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14″ 1920×1080 Touchscreen Outdoor Readable HD Display| Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 13 hours | Weight: 8.5 pounds
Picking The Best Rugged Laptops in 2020
For all the power they offer, laptops tend to be surprisingly fragile devices. Throw in dangerous working conditions — or even worse, inquisitive toddlers — and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
To ensure your notebook is still functioning after being dropped or jumped on, a ruggedized machine is the way to go.
Finding a tough laptop that won’t break under normal conditions is more difficult than you’d imagine. Not only does the price go up considerably in most cases, but you also have to make major trade offs for enhanced durability.
Expect lower specs than other laptops at the same price points. If you want a portable computer with top-shelf hardware and rugged resistance to drops and spills, the price absolutely explodes.
With careful weighing of pros and cons between models however, you can find the right laptop to meet your needs and still survive harsh conditions.
What Should I Expect From A Tough Notebook?
Rugged laptops have only one core feature in mind — surviving heavy use in any conditions. Design sacrifices must be made to get the screens, ports, and keyboards as resistant to drops and spills as possible.
If you want a laptop that’s going to do well in a hot machine shop or cold outdoor conditions, you won’t always get the latest specs.
These machines will live through falls and extremes of temperatures, but you usually aren’t going to find features like 4k displays. Cutting edge processors and large amounts of RAM aren’t standard, either.
In general, you will have to choose between sturdy hardware or high-end specs, but won’t often find both in the same package.
How Can I Get More Protection For May Laptop?
Buying an expensive notebook capable of surviving 120+ degree heat and living through six foot drops is an extreme option. While some job locations require that degree of protection, not everyone needs that level of damage resistance.
For Chromebooks or other 2-in-1 laptops that combine a tablet aspect, there are often external cases available. Much like an iPhone case, these offer extra protection against drops and spills at a much lower price.
Physical locks, fingerprint locks, and infrared scanners can also frequently be added to standard laptop models for added security.
Cases and locks give your device a much longer lifespan for far less money than buying an expensive rugged laptop.
What Are The Shortcomings Of A Rugged Laptop?
Generally these types of machines simply aren’t built with future upgrading in mind. They are purposefully difficult to open so they can’t be ruined by water, dust, etc.
The design philosophies of “rugged” and “upgradeable” are working at cross purposes there, so don’t expect to get both at the same time.
Likewise, you really aren’t going to find a gaming model that truly deserves the term rugged. Due to the fragile nature of graphics cards and the increased power consumption, gaming and durability don’t go hand in hand.
Those issues aside, there are a few caveats to know about with tough laptops before making your purchase.
Many of these models use rubberized keyboards that don’t have the same “clack” as typical keys. That makes it easy to miss letters or get accidental typos at first.
When buying a rugged laptop, make sure to fully check the specs to ensure they are meeting your needs. For instance, many models are water-resistant, but not fully waterproof.
They are usually rated against water spray, but not against full immersion for an extended period. Before ordering an expensive machine, find the specific ratings and certifications on drops, spills, and shock absorption.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Toughest Laptop?
According to most websites, the Dell Latitude Rugged Extreme editions are the toughest laptop there is, they are quite pricy but the specs and built are worth it.
Which Laptop Is Waterproof?
While there are many spill-proof or water-resistant laptops, there is no such thing as a waterproof laptop yet. There are covers available that make them waterproof but the laptop alone is just water-resistant and not waterproof.
What Is A Military-grade Laptop?
A military graded laptop means it has undergone some durability test and was given certification like the MIL-STD-810G certification.
Extreme Protection With Great Specs
Whether you need an extreme level of protection or just want a tablet that won’t break with rough use, we’ve got a device for you!
These five best rugged laptops will meet your needs for construction sites, outdoor use, or anywhere else. What did you think of our picks, and what’s the sturdiest laptop you’ve found? Let us know in the comments!