The 8 Best Rugged Laptops of 2020

Durable devices for tough working conditions

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Panasonic Toughbook 55

The Toughbook 55 certainly sets itself apart from the crowd of ultra-thin notebooks that have come out this year. Featuring a 14-inch anti-glare screen, spill-resistant keyboard, magnesium alloy case, and the MIL-STD-810H durability certification, this laptop is able to withstand drops up to three feet, extreme temperatures, and just about anything the elements can throw at it.

Technically, the Toughbook 55 is classified as "semi-rugged" because it doesn’t have the most heavy-duty water- and drop-resistance ratings. But for most people, the Toughbook’s 55 specifications make it plenty durable. It also weighs less than five pounds, which is quite light for a laptop like this.

Another major selling point, and the reason it’s our pick for best overall: the Toughbook 55 has a modular design that allows for hassle-free custom configuration. The list of modules is extensive and includes extra features like a fingerprint reader, Blu-ray player, expanded storage, upgraded graphics, and even a second battery that can extend the Toughbook’s life to an unheard-of 40 hours.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged

If you need a laptop that can handle extreme or hazardous conditions, the Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged may be the machine for you. With an automotive-grade magnesium alloy chassis, IP-52 certification, and QuadCool heat regulation technology, this laptop can handle drops, splashes, and high temperatures without missing a beat.

It also has the option for a super-bright FHD touchscreen display that’s still easy to see in direct sunlight, making it a great choice for people who work outdoors. And for the days when you need to put in more hours, swappable dual batteries keep the Latitude 5420 Rugged working as long as you do.

This laptop can be customized with either a 7th Gen Intel Core i3 or 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and has options for a 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive.

Best Budget: Asus Chromebook C403NA

Many budget laptops cut back on screen size to save money, but the Chromebook C403NA from Asus offers a brilliant 14-inch display for the price of a much smaller screen. That, plus its super durable design, make it a great budget option that can withstand the occasional bump, drop, or splash. For this price, you can’t expect full ruggedization, but for students, kids, or people on the go, the Chromebook C403NA should offer the right level of durability.

Aside from practical design choices like a rubberized bumper along the edges and a spill-resistant keyboard, the C403NA also meets MIL-STD-810G durability standards, meaning it can withstand drops up to four feet and over 60 pounds of pressure on the lid, which are impressive stats for the price. It even has a modular design so components like the battery and keyboard can be easily swapped out if damage or part failure occurs, which is a more wallet-friendly option than replacing your whole laptop.

Other features include the Chrome OS with access to the Google Play Store, a lay-flat hinge, and a welcome variety of connectivity options, including two USB Type-C ports, two USB Type-A ports, and a microSD card reader.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Gen 5

If you’re looking for a tough laptop at an affordable price, the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Gen 5 is a durable, lightweight option that’s great for school and home use. Its low price tag means it isn’t quite as rugged as the more expensive laptops on this list, but it’s definitely built to withstand the rigors of everyday use.

A water-resistant keyboard protects against splashes, rubber bumpers prevent damage during travel and transport, and its sturdy chassis is rated to withstand drops up to three feet. Plus, it weighs less than three pounds and can operate for up to 12 hours on a single charge, making it super portable for students.

The ThinkPad 11e Gen 5 has an 11.6-inch HD anti-glare display and a choice between an Intel Celeron N4100 or Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor. It can also be configured with up to 256GB storage. All of this adds up to a solid laptop for a budget price.

Best Professional: Dell Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme

Dell Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme

 Courtesy of Amazon

The Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme is the top of the line when it comes to ruggedized laptops. This is built for people working in hazardous environments who require the highest levels of durability. If your work exposes your laptop to extreme temperatures, impacts, blowing dust, or water, then most ordinary computers don’t stand a chance. The Latitude 7424, on the other hand, is unfazed.

This laptop is rated for MIL-STD-810G, so it can withstand drops up to five feet, temperatures from -60 degrees to 160 degrees F, high altitudes, and exposure to everything from sand to rain. It also has an IP-65 rating for dust and water resistance, meaning it's fully sealed against particulate matter and can even hold its own against pressurized water.

On top of its tank-like construction, the Latitude 7424 also features a super-bright 14-inch touchscreen that’s visible in direct sunlight—great for those who need to take their work outdoors. It also has two swappable batteries for extended performance and tons of port options including Ethernet, VGA, Display Port, a Blu-ray drive, and more.

Best 2-in-1: Panasonic Toughbook 33

If you often work on the go and like the intuitiveness of touchscreen devices, then a 2-in-1 laptop-tablet might be a good option to consider. The Toughbook 33 is a fully rugged laptop with a 12-inch touchscreen display that can detach from the keyboard and operate as a separate tablet.

Combining the power (and keyboard) of a full-sized laptop with the streamlined convenience of a tablet, this is an incredibly versatile device that’s perfect for people who need to get work done while on their feet. The 3:2 display is designed to make documents and business applications as readable as possible, and it’s bright enough to be visible in direct sunlight.

In addition to its flexibility, the Toughbook 33 doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to durability. It has a MIL-STD-810G certification and an IP65 rating for water resistance, so it can handle all kinds of extreme conditions, splashes, vibrations, and drops without missing a beat. If your job demands versatility, the Toughbook 33 is the best rugged 2-in-1 device out there.

Best Budget 2-in-1: Asus Chromebook Flip C214

For an affordable, durable laptop with some extra versatility, check out the Chromebook Flip C214 from Asus. It can be used in a traditional laptop configuration or flipped around on its 360-degree hinge and used as a tablet. Write notes with the built-in stylus, type on the keyboard, or draw with your finger using the touchscreen display, all on the same device. Its flexibility and wallet-friendly price tag make it an obvious choice for the best budget 2-in-1.

And of course, we haven’t forgotten about ruggedness—tested at MIL-STD-810G durability standards, the Chromebook Flip C214 is incredibly tough for a laptop in this price range. It can withstand drops up to four feet and has rubberized edges to protect against impacts that could otherwise shatter a screen. The keyboard is also spill-resistant so knocking over your coffee mug won’t be the end of the world. The Flip C214 combines excellent durability with a 2-in-1 touchscreen design and the perks of Chrome OS, including access to the Google Play Store, at a budget price.

Best for Students: Asus Chromebook C202SA

No matter how old the student is, school laptops tend to take a beating—they need to be tough enough to handle frequent transport, but not so bulky that they weigh down your backpack. Fortunately, the Asus Chromebook C202SA is a lightweight laptop with the power and connectivity students need, encased in a rugged design that protects your investment.

It has an 11.6-inch HD display with a lay-flat hinge, and it weighs less than three pounds, making it super portable and one of the lightest laptops on our list. It also has a rubberized edge to protect against drops up to 3.9 feet and a "spill-proof" keyboard. The modular design even allows for quick and easy component replacement, making this affordable laptop an even smarter buy.

Powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 processor and running Chrome OS with automatic updates and virus protection, the C202SA delivers the performance students need to stay connected and secure. It also has a ten-hour battery life for all-day use.