Best Rugged Laptops for Tough Environments

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

Work in a rugged environment? Acer creates rugged laptops and tablets that work in every environment. We show what rugged is, how to choose, and excellent options for you. 

What is a rugged laptop? 

A rugged or ruggedized laptop is a specialized computer designed to operate reliably in harsh environments and conditions, including extreme temperatures, dust, and moisture. These laptops are engineered to take more stress and knocks than the average laptop. They have a thicker and stronger external housing than a standard laptop. A rugged laptop is built for field use including:

  • Industrial 
  • Construction 
  • Outdoor pursuits 
  • Military purposes

While the average laptop is not weak, rugged laptops have specialized reinforcement and components to keep them reliably working in hazardous environments. 

What makes a laptop rugged? 

Rugged laptops should be: 

  • Durable 
  • Reliable internally and externally 
  • Customizable 
  • Compatible with Legacy systems

Rugged laptops are subject to much more strenuous tests than standard laptops because they need to function in adverse conditions. There are three main kinds of certification to look for: 

  • IP certification 
  • MIL 
  • ATEX 

You'll need to check each one specifically for your working environment. 

IP certification 

IP certification, formally known as Ingress Protection certifications, focuses on dust and how watertight the device is and also applies to smartphones. The ratings are from 0-6 for solids, and 0-8 for liquids. A higher IP rating means it can function in dusty, humid, and high rainfall environments. 

Ratings consist of "IP" and then two digits. The first digit refers to solid ingress protection such as sand or grit getting into ports. The second digit is liquid ingress protection like rain or a spilled drink getting into ports or joints around the surfaces and screen.

For example, the Acer ENDURO N7 has an IP65 rating. The 6 is the highest dust protection level, and the 5 means it can withstand low-pressure water jets from all directions.

MIL certification 

MIL used to be the American military standard, but now companies use it to show how rugged their equipment is. The MIL standard defines the height from which a laptop or tablet can survive a drop and how well it can take prolonged vibrations. The US military does NOT set this certification.

The MIL-STD 810G standard is about 800 pages, including around 30 tests of integrity against weather conditions and physical force. MIL-STD 810G indicates the test standard compliance required for the US Department of Defense to consider using it in a military setting.  

ATEX certification 

ATEX certification is a rigorous testing procedure for electronics outlined by the EU. ATEX determines how suitable a laptop or tablet is in explosive atmospheres. ATEX is an abbreviation for ATmosphere EXplosible, and is used in short form for European Directive 2014/34/EC. All explosion proof components, mechanical equipment and protective systems must satisfy all requirements to receive the CE approval and be allowed on the market since 2003. 

Who would benefit the most from using a rugged laptop? 

Not all work takes place in comfortable and safe offices: devices need to thrive in hectic, dangerous, or physically demanding environments where you cannot make immediate backups. Falls, water, humidity, and dust can ruin the average notebook. Yet without your device, everything grinds to a halt until you replace it.

A rugged laptop is suitable if you work in:

  • Construction and engineering 
  • On oil rigs 
  • Rescue teams 
  • The fishing industry 
  • Mining 
  • Farming 
  • Law enforcement or military

People who work outdoors in inclement weather would definitely benefit from a rugged laptop, including:

  • Mountain climbers and orienteers 
  • Divers 
  • People who stay far away from urban areas frequently

A tough laptop for Digital nomads could be helpful given the likelihood of rough handling, drops, and other accidents.

Should you buy a rugged laptop? 

Short answer: it depends.

If you buy a gaming computer, you will pay more for the extra grunt. If you are a designer, you will pay more for the extra RAM. The same goes here. 

Rugged laptops cost more than their civilian counterparts. Remember, you are buying a product for a specific use. You don't lose performance, and you gain physical security.

If you work in an office, the extra cost isn't worth it. However, if you need serious computing power in hostile conditions, it is definitely worth it. 

The Enduro Line by Acer 

In 2020, Acer launched its new line of rugged notebooks and tablets designed to give the durability, portability, and performance needed to work in the field.

  • Enduro N7 is a dependable tool for first responders and industrial manufacturers 
  • Enduro N3 is for outdoor enthusiasts 
  • Enduro tablet series (T1 and T5) are for retail, warehouse, and manufacturing use. 

Acer develops advanced technologies and offers vast practical experience and quality of service support. In addition to physical protection, the devices also include security and management services like Acer's Enduro Manageability Suite (AEMS). 

Acer Enduro N7

Acer's Enduro N7 is a laptop built to survive. This durable, rugged Windows laptop will work all day in harsh conditions. It's dust and water-resistant, making it perfect for the on-the-go worker. 

MIL-STD 810G certification means it can work at extreme temperatures of -21°C to 60°C, 122cm drop testing, and vibration testing at 7.7 gs per axis. IP65 certification means total protection from dust and low-pressure jets of water. 

Strong security with a TPM 2.0 crypto-processor will protect data and the system's physical integrity. The device also features a hot-swappable battery. 

Acer Enduro N7 Specifications: 

  • CPU Intel Core i5-8250U 
  • GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620 
  • Display 14.0", Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS 
  • HDD/SSD up to 256GB SSD 
  • RAM up to 8GB 
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro 
  • Dimensions: 356 x 269 x 37 mm (14.02" x 10.59" x 1.46") 
  • Weight: 2.85 kg (6.3 lbs.) 

Acer Enduro N3

This rugged notebook features up-to-date Intel® Core™ processors and longer battery life and gives excellent performance for the entire day. The Enduro N3 has a sturdy design that can manage life in the great outdoors. 

It's the thinnest and lightest 14-inch rugged laptop weighing a mere 11.85kg. 

With an IP53 rating for dust and water resistance and passes MIL-STD 810G tests for shock absorbency. Watch this video to see how it will cope with wind-blown sand, extreme temperatures, vibrations, and damage caused by 'salt fog.' 

Acer Enduro N3 Specifications: 

  • CPU Core i5-1135G7 
  • GPU Iris Xe Graphics 
  • Display 14.0", Full HD (1920 x 1080) 
  • 512GB SSD 
  • RAM 8GB DDR4 
  • Windows 10 Home 
  • Dimensions: 351 x 245 x 21.95 mm 
  • Weight: 1.85kg 

Acer Enduro T1

The Acer Enduro T1 tablet can operate while wearing gloves and comes with a range of optional accessories allowing for adaptation to any scenario. 

This compact and durable 10.1" rugged Windows tablet suits warehouse and factory work. MIL-STD 810G and IP54 certified, with a range of optional accessories and programmable keys, the T1 satisfies many functions in severe environments. 

The T1 has been constructed using shock-absorbent materials and engineered to take hard hits and falls. With an optional portfolio keyboard, this tablet transforms into a 10.1" laptop able to manage administrative tasks. 

Enduro T1 Specifications: 

  • Android 
  • MediaTek MTK MT8385 quad-core processor 
  • 8" WXGA (1280 x 800) display 
  • IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi 
  • 4 GB standard memory 
  • 64 GB Flash Memory 
  • 5 Megapixel rear camera 

A durable and dependable machine that can withstand damage allows you to keep working to the deadline despite knocks, bumps, and falls. Thin, commercial-grade laptops may cease to function, leaving you in the lurch. 

If you work out in the field, Acer Enduro rugged laptops or tablets are an ideal purchase. The prices are higher than your average laptop PC, but you are buying something far superior- and missing a deadline or losing data could prove considerably more costly.


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