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What do you look for in a laptop? You want portability, right? That is your main concern when comparing a laptop to a desktop computer. If you can carry it around with you, then you are good. But, your life is not all libraries and coffee shops. Sure, you get your work done there, but you are more than that. You are an adventurer, an explorer, a digital warrior.
You need a laptop which is rugged, reliable, durable, and nearly indestructible. When you drop it, it should hold up. It should take the occasional knock. It should even be able to withstand a little heat and cold. Water, too. In essence, it should be built to last.
We are here to help.
The Difference Between Fully-Rugged and Semi-Rugged Laptops
It does not matter if a laptop is fully-rugged or semi-rugged; it is still built to Military Specifications. So, what is the difference between the two?
Fully-rugged laptops are the ones which are designed to function in the toughest climates. They can take almost anything you throw at them and still function and perform. Are you sending an email from the desert? Checking the stock market in the arctic? Or, working in a monsoon? Full-rugged laptops have waterproofed and sealed components, keeping the moisture, sand, and dirt out.
Harsh conditions often mean glare from the sun. Fully-rugged laptops are designed to reduce glare and work in the temperatures which often come with that glare. These laptops can withstand the extreme heat and cold of the most extreme places in the world.
Fully-rugged laptops are great for laborers, those in the military, and everyone else who is working outdoors or in extreme conditions.
You may not know it, but the laptop which you use every day is quite possibly semi-rugged. These laptops are a small step up from the laptops we all know.
You will know that it is semi-rugged if it has a sturdier case (in some cases carbon-fiber reinforced-plastic), spill-proof keyboard, and a gel-mounted hard drive (which protects it from shocks and impacts). Like fully-rugged laptops, they can survive in extreme conditions, just not to the extent of their full-rugged cousins. They remain operational but may slow or freeze.
They are great for outdoor work but are not as suited for extreme conditions. You will find them used a lot with those who work in construction or utilities. The trade-off is that they are sleeker and thinner than fully-rugged laptops, often being more stylish and portable.
What To Look For In An Invincible Laptop
Disclaimer: no laptop on our list is invincible – but they all come pretty close. Durability was a big factor in our choice, but we based our decisions on more than just that.
It goes without saying that a rugged laptop should last. This is not a laptop which only needs to be water-resistant and repel the coffee you just spilled; this is a laptop which needs to withstand the impact of falling on the hard ground as you are scrambling over rocks.
The laptops we chose all come with a tough outer shell which will hold up to impacts and falls. No matter what life throws at it, the laptop will hold up (however, we do not recommend throwing anything at your laptop).
Durability is our main consideration, but you also need a laptop which performs. You are taking your laptop with you for a reason. We only chose laptops which can do just that. If you are used to a desktop computer or regular laptop, then you have certain expectations.
CPU: You will be hard-pressed to find many high-quality laptops these days without an Intel Core processor, and that is not a bad thing. It is hard to discount Intel when buying a new laptop, and the Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 and the Core i9 are among the best processors out there. They have a great ability to handle multitasking and multimedia.
The Core i3 processor is usually found in entry-level machines with the Core i7 or Core i9 in the high-end laptops. The Core i9 is the best in terms of performance though it can get hot if you are using it constantly.
RAM: The more RAM you have, the more applications you can have on the go at any one time. More RAM means more your data is more accessible; great for video and photo editing or 3D modelling. You will want at least 8GB if you don’t have a lot of need, but 16GB is recommended.
Storage: You really can’t beat a solid-state drive (SSD) when it comes to speed. They work silently, are robust, and lightweight. Most manufacturers are now opting to use SSD in their laptops for these exact reasons. With an SSD, you have quick access to your data and programs, and your system will boot with ease. Look for at least 250GB.
Battery Life: In a perfect world, the stated battery life would be exactly what you get, but that estimation is exactly that: an estimation. There are so many variables in play that it is hard to accurately guess the life of your battery. Try to find one with lots of Watt-hours (Wh) or milliamp-hours (MAh)
The laptops we choose have a speedy processor at their core, fast drives, a ton of RAM, and wonderful batteries.
If you are anything like me, you will be staring at your screen for hours at a time (and somewhere in that time, I do get some work done). You need a screen which is easy to look at and comfortable to use.
The first thing that you will want to consider is whether or not you want a touchscreen. This can make some of your daily tasks easier, however, they often come with an extra glossiness, needing extra protection and hardware, and that can make them harder to use for long periods. If you game, stream a lot of content, video or movie edit, then a touchscreen may not be for you.
The resolution is where it is at when you are choosing your screen (along with the size of the screen), and a 3840×2160 4K is one of the best that you can get. Look for a large screen with plenty of pixels.
If you do a lot of typing, a comfortable keyboard is a must. A lot of keyboards try to squish in all they can, like extra keys and number pads, and this can lead to less room for your fingers. I have always found that less is more. A simple keyboard gives me the room to type and is comfortable all day long.
I like space around the arrow keys, instead of being cluttered with numbers, and a snappy tactile response from the keys is great too.
When you see an IP rating on your laptop, such as ‘IP65,’ the IP stands for ‘ingress protection.’ This tells you a little about the waterproof or water-resistant rating of your laptop. It also tells you how good the laptop is at keeping out solids. You are looking at the two digits after the two letters, and the higher each one is, individually, the better rated the laptop is.
The first number deals with safety against solid objects. Let’s take a look:
2: You cannot stick your fingers into the device.
4: Nothing larger than 1mm in diameter can get in.
5: Some protection from dust and sand.
6: Complete protection from dust and sand.
The second digit denotes the protection from liquids:
1: Can resist some drips.
4: Resists splashing water.
5: Jets of water will not get in.
7: Can be immersed in less than one meter of water.
8: Can be submerged in up to 3 meters.
If you can find a laptop rated higher than 5, snap it up!
You want a laptop with extra features, and that usually means extra cost. When we look at products, we always recommend spending a little more to get quality. This will save you money in the long run. You want quality materials, quality construction, and quality performance. Spend a little more now and save yourself a lot of money on repairs and replacements.
The laptops on our list are not the cheapest laptops out there, but they are the most affordable for what you get. We only choose high-quality products.
On that note, let’s take a look at them.
4 Best Fully-Rugged and Semi-Rugged Laptops
With so many options at your disposal, it can be hard to know what to choose. Well, worry, not. We have done the searching for you (our searches are not military-grade, but our laptops are). If you are looking for the best, then you cannot go wrong with these four laptops.
MobileDemand Flex 10A – Rugged 2-in-1 Tablet
Military drop tested. If any product has the words ‘military drop tested’ in the description, then you know that you are getting something rugged and durable. If you find that your laptop is taking a lot of bumps, drops, and knocks, then this could be the upgrade that you have been looking for. The rough outer shell will protect the electronics when you are hiking, boating, camping, or climbing.
You will love that this laptop can become a tablet. The keyboard easily detaches, and you can use the touchscreen for all your needs. This addition makes it easy to transport and hold your laptop, and, of course, use it too. A protective case and screen protector are military-grade certified. You also get a detachable briefcase handle and hand strap on the back. Take this laptop anywhere with you, and even mount it to your vehicle or any other surface with the snap mount plate.
All of this rugged protection protects the Intel Quad-Core processor, powerful enough to manage all of your day to day tasks. The screen is a generous 10.1 inches, with a 1280×800 display, and enough battery life for 6 hours of constant use.
CUK Toughbook 54 Lite Rugged Notebook
This laptop is semi-rugged, which does not make it as durable as a fully-rugged laptop but, what you do get here is the world’s thinnest and lightest semi-rugged laptop in its class. Sometimes life is a tradeoff between convenience and durability. This laptop gives you a great balance of both.
Along with being protected and easy to handle, the laptop packs a punch. It runs Windows 10 Pro and has the Intel 7th generation i5 processor (a great processor in our opinion). When that is combined with Intel HD graphics, you get a lot of power, even when playing video games.
It can get the job done, but what protection does it actually have? Well, the keyboard is spill-resistant, and the case is made from magnesium alloy (with a handy handle). The laptop is certified drop-resistant (from 3 feet), as well as being shock-, vibration-, sand-, dust-, altitude-, and temperature-resistant.
This is a powerful laptop, which looks great, and can handle the toughest tasks.
Dell N4951 Latitude 14″ HD Rugged Laptop
You only need to take one look at this laptop to know that it is rugged. It is small and compact but still has a look about it, a look which tells you that this device is a little beast. That is exactly what it is. It can deal with all you need on the inside while dealing with external conditions too.
Dell redefined how they built rugged laptops with this model, and restarted from the ground up. What you get is best-in-class rugged performance and enterprise-class security and manageability. You can do more with this model than with any previous.
Say goodbye to any dust and water. The IP52-rated ingress protection does amazingly well at keeping out solids and protects against day to day moisture issues. The keyboard especially can hold up to the brunt of extreme conditions. It is water- and dust-resistant and comes with a backlit keyboard for low-light conditions.
The Latitude 14 comes with integrated legacy ports for backward compatibility, comprehensive encryption, advanced authentication, and superior threat protection. If you are worried about anything getting in, water, dust, or viruses, then worry no more.
ASUS Chromebook 11.6″ – Ruggedized and Water Resistant Design
You like to boat, sail, canoe, and spend a lot of time around water. You want a laptop which is water-resistant. Well, you have found it. Along with being water-resistant, this laptop is ruggedized for the great outdoors.
The rugged construction includes reinforced rubber guards, easy grip handles, and a spill-resistant keyboard. The laptop is 2.65 pounds in weight, and you can feel the toughness of it when you have it in your hands. This laptop has been drop-tested from 4 feet and lived to tell the tale (again, try not to drop your laptop if you can help it). The rubber-wrapped frame holds up amazingly to the daily rigors of everyday life, both inside and outside. If your laptop does get into an accident, then you and your work are not going to suffer.
The 180-degree hinge adds durability and ruggedness. Your laptop is never going to be bent out of shape (and neither are you). The spill-resistant keyboard is perfect for protection when you are fishing or against small children.
5 Best Durable (Business-Grade) Laptops
Along with fully-rugged and semi-rugged laptops, there is another category of laptop which we want to talk about, the kind which you want to be durable but not necessarily the laptop which you will take skydiving or mountain climbing with you. They are business-grade or business-rugged laptops.
Business-grade laptops are not as rugged as a fully- or semi-rugged laptop but, in an office environment, they get the job done and are protected. They still have features like shock- and water- resistance, and have reinforced cases. They outdo consumer-grade laptops and are well-suited to students or business people who spend a lot of time on the road.
Of course, they are also well-suited to anyone who wants a rugged and dependable laptop.
We went into a lot of depth about what to expect with consumer- and business-grade laptops with our ‘How Long Do Laptops Last & How To Make Them Last Longer’ article, where Henrik shared his personal experience of a 5 year old Lenovo ThinkPad T440p, and that article tells you a lot about what you need to know about business-grade laptops.
We keep an eye on the most reliable brands and laptops, and this always seems to change considerably year on year, so it is hard to consistently recommend one brand or model but the differences from year to year are getting smaller.
Here are the 5 business-rugged laptops which are topping our list. We have either used or owned each of the laptops on the list, so we can vouch for their durability and performance.
The Most Durable Laptop Made By Apple: MacBook Pro
Apple has always been known to create durable laptops which stand the test of time. The screens are always high-quality and the keyboards last.
The MacBook Pro comes with an i7 or i9 Intel Core processor, depending on what model you choose. Both give you superior processing power, making them great for audio and video editing and gaming.
The SSD storage keeps everything running smoothly, and you can access your files quickly and easily. The SSD storage is available up to 4TD, which is quite possibly more storage than you will ever need, though that does give you a lot of options for Instagram.
You also get a lot of integrated security, with the option to unlock your Mac by fingerprint, password authentication, and access to Apple Pay.
The retina display makes this Apple laptop one of the easiest on the eyes, with amazing contrast, detail, and an LED backlight. From experience, you can stare at this screen for a long time without your eyes hurting.
One of the best all-round laptops for all of your business needs.
The Most Durable Laptop Made By Dell: XPS 13
This 13” laptop is one of the smallest 13-inch laptops in the world, great if you are on the go a lot. The laptop weighs in at only 2.67 pounds and is lighter than almost any laptop of the same size. Don’t let that fool you, though, it packs a powerful punch and is great to work on.
The casing of the XPS 13 is made from solid aluminum. The fact that the case is made from one piece of aluminum instead of parts joined together means that there are fewer weak points, and the laptop lasts longer.
Inspired by the aerospace industry, you also have a carbon- and woven glass-fiber palm rest for maximum strength at minimum weight. That is a great thing as there is a super-fast i7 Intel Core processor inside that you are going to want to protect.
The i7 processor gives amazing performance in a laptop which is so small. You can run multiple applications easily and, with the Dell Power Manager, you can adapt your power mode to dynamically extend your battery and increase your processing power, all while keeping the internal temperature down.
The solid-state drive (SSD) boots in seconds and is responsive when you need to open a program or switch between applications. You have 16GB, well above the recommended 8GB minimum. This laptop is also cool in more than one way. With GORE thermal insulation, the heat is directed smartly out of the device, maintaining the internal temperature and getting the most from the laptop.
If you travel a lot, this could be the perfect laptop.
The Most Durable Laptop Made By HP: Elitebook 840 G5
This laptop is all about the performance. You have an SSD drive with 8GB RAM and an Intel Dual Core i7 processor. This all comes together to make this laptop one of the fastest and most responsive on the market.
There are a few things which we like about this laptop, which we just have to highlight.
The end-to-end protection is excellent. HP has spent a lot of years creating the perfect protection against BIOS attacks, among other things, and that makes this sleek laptop one of the best and most secure laptops out there. If you are working on important files, then this laptop will save you from getting into trouble.
We also like the portability of this laptop. The laptop is slim and sleek, giving you the ability to take this laptop anywhere with you and, when you do, you can do whatever you want with it. The laptop may be slim, but HP has still managed to give you several full-size ports for all the external hardware that you might want to use. There are VGA, DisplayPort, RJ-45, and enterprise docking.
If you are collaborating online, be it through audio or video, this laptop also helps you with that. The sharpness and clarity of video-conferencing are unlike any other, and there is also HP noise-canceling software for crystal clear audio.
A great laptop for working on the go, especially if you need to check in with your home base.
The Most Durable Laptop Made By Lenovo: ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ThinkPad from Lenovo has always been a favorite of mine, and I know that they last. Part of that is down to the power on the inside, which can deal with updates and the progression of software, and part is down to the high-quality components, protected by a rugged outer shell.
The carbon-fiber outer shell is not only one of the most protective outer shells on the market, but it is also sleek and beautiful too. The durability is great for when you are on the go, and protects against knocks and drops, keeping out dust, dirt, and moisture too. It also weighs in at less than 2.5 pounds. You really can take this laptop anywhere with you.
When you are working on the go, the battery life is extremely important. The X1 Carbon gives you up to 15 hours of battery life, enough for two days of work, a long layover, or a flight. The great thing about this Lenovo laptop is that you can boost the battery by 12 hours of life in only one hour. If you are almost out of battery and are boarding your flight soon, grab a coffee, plug in, and, in only an hour, you have enough battery for that flight.
There is also a lot to like when it comes to the security of your laptop. The ThinkShutter covers the front webcam when not in use, so you know that you are not being recorded without your consent. The match-on-chip fingerprint reader has anti-spoof technology, safeguarding your laptop and your data. You can log on and off while feeling that your data is secure.
A great laptop for when you are on the go and cannot plug in.
The Most Durable Laptop Made By Asus: ZenBook 13
The Asus ZenBook 13 completes our list. The ZenBook is one of the toughest laptops out there. It more than meets the ultra-demanding MIL-STD-810G military standards for durability and reliability, and you know that those standards are tough with so many letters and numbers in it. The laptop has undergone a punishing test regime which tested it in harsh environments, extreme altitudes, extreme temperatures, and humidity. It passed all with flying colors.
That protection helps to keep the i7 Quad-Core processor running and the 512GB SSD RAM accessible. With everything inside protected from what your life may throw at it, the laptop remains lightning-fast and responsive.
One thing we really like about this laptop is the display. It has a full 13.3” screen with bezel display for a 95% screen-to-body ratio. The screen is comfortable to look at all day and is large enough for all of your business needs while remaining small enough to keep the laptop sleek and elegant. It only weighs in at 2.6 pounds.
If you work outside, then this laptop is well worth a look. It is fast, reliable, and rugged.