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The best rugged laptops of 2018: we test drop-proof laptops for working outside

If you’re looking for one of the best laptops that can keep up with your rugged work, you’ve come to the right place. The best rugged laptops can handle drops, knocks and extreme temperatures. And, we didn’t just rank the best rugged laptops, we’ve also included our exclusive TechRadar price comparison deal, so that you don’t need to be rough on your wallet.

The best rugged laptops have solidly-built bodies that can withstand drops, or even pressure being placed on it – like if something heavy falls on top of it. It should also ideally protect against liquid, dust and extremely high and low temperatures.

While rugged built quality is important, the actual laptop features should not be forgotten, so we’re also looking for the best rugged laptops that feature powerful components as well.

So, if you work on a busy work site, or often use your laptop while travelling, then buying the best rugged laptop for your needs is essential, so read on to find our top picks for 2018.

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Produced in partnership with Getac, Bullitt group and GooseVPN, the first of our “presented by” guides shed more light on the tough tech industry with a particular focus on the road ahead and how ruggedised devices will evolve.

1. Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme

The very best rugged laptop

CPU: Intel Core i3-6100U | Graphics: Intel Graphics 520 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, optional GPS, LTE | Weight: 3.9kg | Dimensions: 356 x 246 x 52mm

The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is easily the best rugged laptop you can buy today, and while it’s been around for a while now, this is still a fantastically designed rugged laptop that meets military standard (MIL-STD) requirements. It has a rigid magnesium alloy build, shock-absorbent case, is IP65 certified against dust, sand and water, and can even withstand extreme temperatures. It also has some pretty beefy internals as well, and like other Dell laptops, you’ll be able to customise the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme so that it runs on the best components for your needs. If the Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is a bit overboard for your needs, you may find the next laptop on our list more to your liking.

2. Dell Latitude 14 Rugged

A fantastic rugged laptop from Dell

CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U processor | Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M360 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch 1920 x 1080 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, Ethernet | Weight: 1.9kg | Dimensions: 347 x 243 x 44.4mm

Dell is another big name laptop maker that also does some excellent rugged laptops. The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged is a fantastic machine that combines a tough outer shell with some very decent specifications, included a fast Intel Core i5 processor and a dedicated AMD Radeon graphics card. The screen looks great and it comes with a matte finish, which makes it comfortable to use outdoors – which is probably where you will be mostly using the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged. It’s the less…well, ‘extreme’… version of the Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme which sits at the top of our list of the best rugged laptops.

3. Panasonic Toughbook CF-33

Rugged 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12-inch 2160 x 1440 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, LTE, Ethernet | Weight: 2.76kg | Dimensions: 313.0 x 288.4 x 46.1mm

If you want one of the best 2-in-1 laptops, but don’t want something that feels like it’ll snap in half, the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 is a great choice. This 2-in-1 has a flexibility that most of the best rugged laptops just don’t have. If you need something that’s easy to carry while you do stock takes and jot down notes, then the tablet mode works wonders. Then, if you need to write some documents, you can attach the keyboard to comfortably type away. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s one of the only 2-in-1 laptops that can handle rougher work loads. 

4. HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE Notebook PC

A sturdy laptop

CPU: Intel Celeron N3350 processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500 | RAM: 2 – 8GB | Screen: 11.6inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, | Weight: 1.35kg | Dimensions: 207 x 302.4 x 19.9mm

At first glance you’d think that the HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE Notebook PC is just an ordinary laptop, rather than a rugged one. However, it actually falls somewhere between the two. While it isn’t designed for big drops and dangerous environments, it is built to withstand more knocks, drops and spillages than normal laptops. This is thanks to an industrial rubberised body, spill resistant keyboard and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen. While it may not be as robust as other rugged laptops, it is easily portable, and the screen can be flipped to turn it into tablet mode.

5. Lenovo ThinkPad 11e

Rugged performance

CPU: Intel Core i3-6100U processor | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, | Weight: 1.5kg | Dimensions: 300 x 210 x 22.3mm

The Lenovo ThinkPad 11e, like the  HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE, is more of a standard laptop with rugged elements to it. However, Lenovo has put a lot of thought into the construction of this machine, so it includes reinforced corners and ports, and can withstand drops of up to 90cm. It has also passed military specifications that ensures that this is a laptop that can withstand a lot of punishment, including high pressure, vibrations, high and low temperatures and a lot more. It’s also modestly priced, while still offering plenty of power for day-to-day tasks. 

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