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If you’re looking for the best rugged laptop or one of the best laptops on the low end of the price bracket, older Panasonic Toughbooks are a viable choice. And the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 is especially good because it sports a lot of functionalities like its big brothers (more expensive Toughbooks) at a cheap price point.
Unlike other semi rugged laptops available at this price, the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 sports a fully rugged design along with a Magnesium alloy metal body. Also, the whole body looks very sleek and modern, which is not the case with many other rugged laptops.
It features a 5th generation Intel Core i5-5300U inside that has a base clock of 2.30GHz and can turbo boost up to 2.90GHz. This laptop uses integrated Intel HD graphics for display output. To be honest, it’s perfectly fine for driving the small 768p display. Obviously, if you need better performance, you’ll have to shell out much more money for a Lenovo ThinkPad P52. Or, if you are happy to settle for something cheaper than the Lenovo Thinkpad, check out our Panasonic Toughbook review.
The battery life of the Toughbook CF-54 is good enough to the point where you won’t need to carry around the AC adapter everywhere. Panasonic advertises up to 18 hours of battery life. But realistically, you won’t even be getting half of that. Still, it’s good enough to last through an entire working day, but it can’t even touch something like the LG Gram 17 in terms of battery life.
Just like the Panasonic Toughbook 33 Tablet PC, this Toughbook also features a lot of different ports. There are three USB 3.0 full-sized ports that you can use to make for the lack of a hard drive by adding an external storage drive for extra storage, HDMI, gigabit ethernet, and a combo jack. And on top of that, you also get an SD card slot and a SIM card slot to get connectivity where there’s no Wi Fi signal.
Related: Also check out our Panasonic Toughbook CF 52MK5 review.
The build quality is excellent overall other than the keyboard and the trackpad. Besides the LTE antenna pass through, the entire outer shell of this laptop is protected by a lightweight magnesium alloy. But the keyboard and the trackpad are straight-up horrendous. Having no webcam also doesn’t bode very well.
Overall the value aspect of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 is pretty good, to say the least. But there are a few quirks that you should be mindful of. When the rest of the competition provides multi touch displays at this price, Panasonic is still stuck to normal panels. But a plus point to make up for that is, depending on the seller and your location, you get free shipping.
All in all, the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 is a decent budget rugged laptop. Other than the terrible trackpad and keyboard, it checks most boxes just fine and should be good enough for most use cases.