Rugged laptops are often as thick as a briefcase and covered in what feels like an inch of rubber. That’s great for if you’re on a construction site, but won’t work for students. You don’t have to purchase a box with a keyboard to get a laptop that can survive a little abuse. Several laptops feel like everyday laptops and happen to have extra protection, such as the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e, which has reinforced hinges and rubberized corners.
Best overall: Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e
This rugged convertible passes 12 military-grade tests along with 200 durability tests. It has reinforced hinges that allow the laptop to rotate 360 degrees and has rubber bumpers to protect the corners of the device. The keyboard is water-resistant, and the keys are even mechanically anchored to stay secured to the device. The display is Corning Gorilla Glass to prevent scratches.
It runs on an Intel Quad-Core N4100 processor, which can handle many day-to-day tasks for students. It only has a 42 WHr battery, but Lenovo states that it can last all day on a single charge. It also has a Kensington lock slot to keep it secure when a student uses it in a public place.
- Has passed 200 durability tests
- Has rubberized corners
- Is relatively affordable
- Uses a processor that isn’t extremely powerful
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e
Flexible and durable
This convertible laptop features rubberized corners, reinforced hinges, and a water-resistant keyboard.
Best for college: LG gram 17
This laptop is almost impossibly thin, considering what’s inside. It has three USB-A 3.0 ports, a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, an HDMI 1.4 port, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack. The screen is a 2K 17-inch display, and the PC is powered by the Intel Core i7-8565U processor. In addition to all those ports, it has a large 72 WHr battery that will help it last all day. It is also MIL-STD-810G military stress-tested, which means that it has been tested to withstand shocks (meaning drops, not electricity), vibration, and humidity. The main drawback for some students is its price, which is too high for most high school students but affordable for some college students.
The LG gram 17 has the screen size and benefits of a large laptop, but it weighs less than many 15-inch laptops. You may have to get a larger back to carry it in, but it will be lighter on your back than much of its competition.
- Great battery life
- MIL-STD-810G military stress tested
- Has many ports
- Extremely light
- Too expensive for most high school students
- Doesn’t have discrete NVIDIA GPU
Best for college
LG gram 17
The LG gram 17 is an impressive laptop, whether ruggedness is a priority or not. Adding a military stress test helps make it a better choice for students.
Best Value: HP ProBook x360 11.6″ G1 EE Notebook
The HP ProBook x360 is built for students. It’s affordable, durable, and can convert into a tablet. It passes the MIL-STD 810G1 protection test, which means that it has been tested to withstand shocks (meaning drops, not electricity), vibration, and humidity. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 and co-molded industrial rubber to help protect it. It also has a spill-resistant keyboard. Despite its price and ruggedness, it looks like a regular laptop.
The Intel Celeron N335- Dual-Core processor isn’t very powerful, but will be able to handle many day-to-day tasks. The 64GB of storage will be enough for some files, but you may have to rely on the cloud to free up space.
- Has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for a sturdy screen
- Features co-molded industrial rubber to protect the body
- Is very affordable
- Has an Intel Celeron processor that isn’t that powerful
- Only has 64GB of memory.
HP ProBook x360 11.6″ G1 EE Notebook
Affordable and durable
This laptop is durable enough to toss in a bag and handle the everyday life of students. It’s also incredibly affordable.
Best semi-rugged: Panasonic TOUGHBOOK CF-54
This is a semi-rugged laptop, meaning it can handle more wear and tear than standard laptops, but it isn’t a tank. It’s spill-resistant and has a storage drive heater. It also has an option for a second battery that can be hot-swapped. That means you can switch in a charged battery without turning off your device. With two batteries combined, you can get up to 18 hours of battery life. You can also get the Panasonic TOUGHBOOK CF-54 with a dedicated GPS and several other outdoor features if your studies take you to the field.
On the inside, this laptop runs on a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor. It’s an older chip but has enough power to handle everyday tasks and to get through work.
- Provides more protection than standard laptops
- Has an option for a hot-swappable battery
- Has options for add-ons such as dedicated GPS
- Runs on an older processor
- High price
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK CF-54
This laptop can have hot-swappable batteries and is spill-resistant. It’s not a tank but is more durable than standard laptops.
Getting a laptop that can handle the everyday life of a student doesn’t need to break the bank or require a clunky laptop that looks like it’s from the 1990s. The Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e has rubberized corners and reinforced hinges that help it stand up to the bumps and knocks of student life.
While no laptop is going to be indestructible, reinforcing the weakest points of a laptop makes a big difference. The Thinkpad Yoga 11e does this well with its added durability on its corners, screen, keys, and hinges.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Sean Endicott is a tech lover who manages to go through too many devices because he isn’t careful enough. He’s learned a thing or two about making sure that the weak points of a device are reinforced.