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Rugged laptops that are solidly built usually cost a lot. However, if you are not going to perform any CPU/graphics-intensive work on your laptop, compromising on the hardware to reduce the cost might actually make sense. That’s exactly what the Panasonic Toughbook CF-52MK5 does, making it probably the best rugged laptop and the best laptop that is affordable.
The components inside the Panasonic Toughbook CF-52MK5 might not be great, but it is an excellent rugged laptop available at a low price point. The display and the keyboard are very good for the price. And the modular design allows users to swap out/replace the components inside easily.
Related: Are you shopping for the best laptop for photo and video editing? Read the MSI P65 Creator review
As we mentioned before, it may be solid in terms of build, but not so much in terms of performance. The Intel Core i5-3360M inside is over eight years old at this point, made on a 22nm node. It’s neither performant nor efficient (bad for battery). And the ATI Radeon HD7750M also is similarly old; even modern integrated graphics will easily be able to beat it in terms of performance.
We already mentioned that the hardware inside is more than eight years old and not efficient whatsoever. So the battery life is going to be pretty horrible. The LG Gram 17 ultrabook comes with much more modern and efficient hardware and an awesome 72Whr battery. So get that instead if you need long battery life.
Related: Check out the Panasonic Toughbook CF 54 review
You get three USB ports with the Panasonic Toughbook CF-52MK5. It’s an old laptop, so don’t expect something like a USB type C port or anything like that. The fact that it comes with a legit copy of Windows 10 Pro operating system is surprising in itself. The headphone jack and the microphone jack are separated. So, the port situation doesn’t look very good for this laptop. Even the somewhat smaller Panasonic ToughBook tablet PC has more ports than it.
Well, it’s a rugged laptop that is meant to be carried out to places where a normal laptop won’t survive. And it’s excellent for that use case. It’s built like a tank from top to bottom. And it comes with a really nice handle that can retract for easy carrying. The keyboard might not be as good as the full-sized one found in the Lenovo ThinkPad P52, but it’s still very good at this price point.
Granted, this laptop comes with a lot of low-end hardware. Even the 240GB SSD inside is a DRAM-less one, making it almost as slow as a 7200 RPM hard drive. And the fact that you don’t get any other included hard disk inside for more storage really doesn’t paint a good picture. But at $650, you can’t really expect much more from a rugged laptop of this caliber. And if you are not satisfied with it in any way, you can return it for a full refund within the United States. That fact alone makes this laptop worth checking out.
Hardware aside, the Panasonic Toughbook CF-52MK5 is quite good overall for a cheap, rugged laptop. It’s a great option that you can seriously consider checking out if you are looking for a budget rugged laptop.