The first digital computers were huge, clunky machines. A single model was large enough to fill nearly half a room. In those days, it must have been hard to imagine compressing such a machine to a size small enough to fit in your lap.
So let’s take a moment and show some appreciation for the modern laptop - that you can bring it to and from the office, that you can carry it to the coffee shop, that you can take it with you on your travels.
Nowadays, many laptops are just as powerful as their desktop counterparts. They have muscle processors, stunning displays, and large storage capacities. Laptop specs have gotten so advanced that it’s all too easy to forget about the principal allure of a laptop computer - portability.
If you own a laptop, you’re probably going to take it out into the big wide world at some point. And if you’re going to take it out into the big wide world, it should be tough enough to withstand all that the world has to offer; namely, harsh weather and hard knocks.
HP® hasn’t forgotten that laptops need to be strong in performance as well as in durability. We design all of our laptops with durable builds, but there are a few models that stand apart from the rest. Let’s discover the three most rugged laptops from HP®.
What defines “rugged?”
According to the Merriam-Webster definition, "rugged" describes an entity which is strongly built, constituted, presents a severe test of ability, stamina, or resolution, or is strongly built or constituted . These characteristics definitely fit the bill for rugged HP laptops.
Liken any of our laptops to Clint Eastwood in one of his classic westerns: a lean, mean cowboy riding through the frontier with gritted teeth and hawkish eyes, unfazed by the wilderness or bandits. Rugged.
First, let’s look into what makes a laptop rugged, then we’ll call out some of HP’s most rugged laptops for your consideration.
Here’s what could damage a laptop
Your laptop is bound to get knocked around a little bit when you transport it from point A to point B. It doesn’t matter how careful you are. When you’re moving across any environment, your laptop will experience vibrations, sudden stops, sudden drops, and collisions that could jostle the interior components.
Think about it. When your laptop is in your vehicle, the vibration of the engines will cause your computer’s internal hardware to vibrate, too. When you slide your laptop into your backpack, there’s a small collision between computer and fabric. Most shocks are minuscule and you won’t think twice about them. But for that very reason, HP® computer engineers have to think about these things when designing the build and configuration of a laptop.
A laptop is full of very sensitive hardware that needs to be protected as you carry it from place to place. HP® engineers must ensure that the motherboard circuitry and hardware is tightly locked into place, and that it won’t move around too much when the laptop is in motion. The engineers also have to make sure that the casing can protect the internal hardware from collisions, and that nothing will pierce the casing and damage the hardware.
Weather conditions create their own unique challenges, too. It’s possible that you’ll need to use your laptop in unusually hot or unusually cold conditions. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause your laptop to overheat. Prolonged exposure to low temperatures could cause your computer to freeze.
If you’re using your laptop where there’s wind, sand, or dirt, you risk small particles entering the laptop and disrupting the interior hardware. And then there’s the threat of water damage.
Our HP® engineers must design laptop casings that are enclosed enough to prevent particle entry, but which also have enough openings to allow for proper heat ventilation. The casings need to be well insulated, but, again, they also need to ventilate interior heat. And style can never be sacrificed for durability.
To design a rugged laptop, our engineers have to solve a long series of catch-22 design scenarios. They’ve triumphed time and time again.
HP’s Total Test Process
We determined the 3 most rugged HP laptops through our tried-and-true HP® Total Test Process
(TTP). The Total Test Process puts all of our laptop models through a series of stress tests to ascertain the strength and durability in a variety of environmental conditions. The tests replicate real weather and movement conditions that the laptops might encounter. They simulate rough handling of the product over its lifespan .
- 120,000 hours of rigorous, multi-tiered testing procedures
- 50,000 test steps
- 240 industry-standard hardware and software tests
We follow procedures established by the U.S. Department of Defense, using professional laboratories and standardized methods .
Here are the tests that we perform on our laptops and what they entail. Most PC manufacturers, like HP, put their computers through 5 to 8 of these tests, sometimes more.
The laptop is dusted with Arizona road dust for six hours while it’s being operated.
The laptop endures ten cycles (ten days) of temperatures being cycled between 86 ℉ and 140 ℉, with a constant humidity of 95%.
The laptop is put under pressure that simulates an altitude of 15,000 feet (the highest altitude for military aircraft cargo).
The laptop is operated while it’s exposed to high temperatures of 140℉. The laptop is also evaluated while it’s not operational under temperatures of 160℉.
The laptop is operated while it’s exposed to low temperatures of -20℉. The laptop is also evaluated while it’s not operational under temperatures of -60℉.
Temperature shock test
The laptop is tested to see if it can be operated safely after having been exposed to a sudden change in temperature. Temperatures shift from 205℉ to -60℉.
The laptop is exposed to blowing sand at 140℉ for 4.5 hours (the laptop is rotated every 90 minutes).
Explosive atmosphere test
The laptop is tested to see whether it can be safely operated in fuel-air explosive atmospheres without igniting an explosion.
The laptop is exposed to a temperature of 14℉ for two hours.
Bench handling test
The laptop is put through bench handling, maintenance, and packaging, then evaluated afterward.
Crash hazard test
The laptop is put in a crash simulation to ensure that its hardware does not eject in such a scenario.
ESD (electrostatic discharge) test
The laptop is exposed to electrostatic discharge at 11 different points. The maximum voltage is 8,000 volts.
The laptop is exposed to vibration that simulates it being placed on a U.S. highway truck for 1,000 miles.
The laptop is exposed to shock in a variety of different positions.
The laptop is dropped 26 times from a 30-inch height. It’s dropped on every side, angle, and edge. It’s dropped on plywood over steel over concrete.
The laptop is giving a passing grade when it’s successfully able to boot up its operating system after the test.
Most rugged HP laptop overall
1. HP ZBook 15 G5 mobile workstation
If we had to designate only one laptop as the “most rugged,” we’d pick this one. The HP ZBook 15 G5
has been highly touted for its extreme durability and reliable performance in a variety of harsh conditions. In reality, though, many of the HP ZBook models
have the same durable build, like the HP ZBook Studio and HP ZBook 17. We picked this specific model because of the design of its casing.
The casing has curved and pointed edges so that when it collides with something, it’s more of a battering ram than a helpless victim. You can carry the laptop out into the wilderness, in airplane luggage, or in the trunk of your vehicle without worry that it’s going to be dented or broken. The HP ZBook 15 G5 passed all of its tests with flying colors.
This laptop is built to travel anywhere. Take it on the road, take it to the beach, take it camping, take it to the desert or mountains or tropics. If you frequently use your computer outside the office, you’ll love the HP ZBook 15 because it can handle so many environmental and road conditions.
A big perk about this laptop (well, it’s actually one of the main selling points, but it’s a perk from a durability perspective) is that it’s just as strong on the inside as on the outside. It’s powered by an 8th Generation Intel® Core i5™ processor and a NVIDIA® Quadro® P1000 graphics card.
Most people use desktop computers to run processor-intensive programs, but this laptop is loaded with enough super-powered hardware to enable you to run those kinds of programs anywhere outside the office.
Most rugged 2-in-1 laptop
2. HP Elite x2 1013 G3 notebook PC
If you’re looking for a durable 2-in-1 laptop, the HP Elite x2 1013 G3
takes the cake. This 2-in-1 laptop passed all of its TTP tests.
are specially designed for field use. When you have to use your laptop while you’re standing or walking, the keyboard can inhibit your movement. The HP Elite x2 enables you to detach the keyboard so that it won’t get in your way. Then you can operate the laptop via the touch screen display.
Fieldwork can expose you to lots of different elements, be they dirt, sand, or extreme temperatures. That’s why it’s important to get a 2-in-1 that’s ultra-durable. The HP Elite x2 is built to handle the rugged outdoors. In fact, it would probably get bored sitting at home in your office all the time.
Most rugged laptop for business
3. HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3 notebook PC
need to be durable, too. After all, business can take you anywhere and everywhere. You might have to travel across town for a business meeting, or you might drive to the mountains on a leadership retreat.
Most likely, you’ll also be transporting your work laptop to and from the office every day. Whatever the case, your business laptop should be extremely durable so that it can withstand transit and keep all of your important work documents safe.
Whether you’re going on a company getaway or on your daily commute, the HP EliteBook x360 is sure to be one of your toughest business assets.
Most rugged HP Chromebook
4. HP Chromebook 14 G5
HP Chromebook laptops
run Google’s Chrome OS.™ It’s a great computer for college students
because of its touch screen display and budget-friendly pricing. If you’re a college student who walks, bikes, or skates to class, you’ll want to make sure your HP Chromebook can handle any of those on-campus collisions with fellow students who are rushing to class.
One of the unique features about this HP Chromebook is that it has a minor spill-resistant keyboard, so it won’t get damaged at any dorm parties. Remember, all of your important term papers will be saved on your laptop. The tough casing on the HP Chromebook 14 G5 will keep your documents protected so you can earn high marks and high grades.
Summing it up
HP has an expansive list of durable laptops. Remember that a laptop computer may have your precious photos, documents, and personal information saved on it. So when you take it off the grid, you want to make sure you’ve got a laptop in which all of that information is safe. The more rugged, the better.
 Merriam-Webster.com; Rugged
About the Author: Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.
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