Best rugged laptops of 2019: we test drop-proof laptops for working outside

Image Credit: TechRadar

Welcome to our list of the best rugged laptops of 2019. On this page you'll find the best laptops for working in busy, dangerous and extreme conditions. Every rugged laptop on this list has been built to last, and can withstand drops, knocks, water, dust and extreme temperatures.

So, while these aren't the slimmest or lightest laptops in the world, they offer robust build quality that allows you to get the job done without worrying about damaging your laptop.

The best rugged laptops have been built with rigid and robust cases that can handle high pressure, extreme drops and even exposure to liquid without getting destroyed. To ensure that these laptops can survive, they are subject to hardcore testing, so you can use them in complete confidence that they’re built to task.

So, whether you work on a busy work site, spend a lot of time in the most dangerous places on Earth, or even if you’re just kind of clumsy, we’ll help you find the perfect rugged laptop. We’ve even included our exclusive price comparison tool, so that you can spend less time shopping for the best rugged laptop, and more time saving.

Image Credit: Dell

Image Credit: Dell

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

Very rugged design
Can configure the hardware
Only 4GB of RAM in base model
Big and heavy

If you’re looking for a laptop that can handle anything the planet can throw at it, you’ll want to get your hands on the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme – it’s all in the name. It is a bit old at this point, but that almost doesn’t matter. It’s still a well-designed rugged laptop that meets military standard requirements. It features a rigid magnesium alloy build, shock absorbent case, is IP65 certified against dust, sand and water – it can even handle extreme temperatures. Like the rest of Dell’s catalog, you can configure the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme however you feel like – or however you can afford.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33  

Image Credit: Dell

Image Credit: Dell

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

Tough
Good price
Low capacity hard drive
Lack of ports

Dell is a household name when it comes to the best laptops, but it still makes the best rugged laptops right now. For example,the Dell Latitude 14 Rugged is a tough laptop that combines a rigid outer shell with quick components that are powerful enough for the category – including a 6th-generation Intel Core processor and dedicated AMD Radeon graphics. Even the display is decent, rocking a matte finish that makes it comfortable to use outside – probably where it’ll be most used. It’s the less “extreme” version of our number one pick, but its still one of the best rugged laptops on the market right now.  

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33  

Image Credit: Panasonic

Image Credit: Panasonic

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

2-in-1 design
Fantastic screen
Heavy
Expensive

If you want one of the best 2-in-1 laptops, but you don’t want something that feels like it’s going to snap in half the first chance it gets – the Panasonic Toughbook CF-33 is for you. This 2-in-1 has a flexibility that most rugged laptops just don’t. If you need something that’s easy to carry while you do stock takes and jot down notes, then tablet mode will work wonders. Then, if you need to type up some documents, you can attach the keyboard and comfortably type away. It may be expensive, but it’s one of the only 2-in-1 laptops that can actually take a beating. 

Image Credit: HP

Image Credit: HP

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

Good price
Thin and light
Not as robust as other devices
Underpowered

You might think the HP ProBook x360 11 G1 EE is a normal laptop at first glance. However, once you dive deeper, you’ll see there’s more than meets the eye. While it isn’t designed for big drops and dangerous environments, it's still one of the best rugged laptops for most everyday users – it’s built to withstand more knocks, drops and liquids than the everyday laptop. This is due to an industrial rubberised body, spill resistant keyboard and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 display. It’s not going to be as robust as some of the other rugged laptops on this list, but it’s easily portable and the screen can be flipped – making it a rugged 2-in-1 laptop.

Image Credit: Lenovo

Image Credit: Lenovo

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

Good performance
Rugged design
Bulky compared to normal laptops

Similar to the HP ProBook x360 we mentioned earlier, the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e is more like a standard laptop that just so happens to be a bit rugged. Still, you can just tell that Lenovo has put effort into the construction of this device, as it includes more robust inputs, and can survive drops of up to 90cm. It also features military specifications, that make this a laptop that can survive the harshest conditions. What’s more, it’s affordable, while still offering enough processing power for everyday tasks.