System76 launches Lemur Pro, its lightest Linux laptop


System76 Lemur Pro Linux laptop

System76 has been manufacturing Linux-based PCs for over a decade, and the company continues to pump out new systems for those who prefer the “alternative” operating system to Windows hegemony. With its new Lemur Pro laptop, the company adds to its already formidable lineup of notebooks, desktops, and servers.

At just 2.2 pounds (and a mere 0.61 inches thick), the Lemur Pro is System76’s lightest laptop to date. Between the slim form factor and the latest Intel processors — not to mention the 73 Whr battery — the Lemur Pro promises great battery life, though the company is only providing claims in a cheeky fashion (10 hours to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, 16 hours for reading Wikipedia, 21 hours for coding with VIM). 

The Lemur Pro becomes the third System76 laptop to make use of 10th-generation (or Comet Lake) 14nm CPUs, joining the Galago Pro and Darter Pro models in offering either the Core i5-10210U or the Core i7-10510U. It supports up 40GB of RAM and, with a pair of M.2 SSD slots, up to 4TB of storage. It also features a 14.1-inch full HD 1,920×1,080 display, along with a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a USB 3.1 Type-C port with charging capabilities.

Like other System76 systems, the Lemur Pro ships with either Ubuntu or its own Pop!_OS installed. Among its other advantages, the company’s OS flavor encrypts its installation and offers full-disk encryption. Like the Galago Pro and Darter Pro, the laptop also ships with open-source Coreboot firmware to replace the company’s own BIOS.

System76 is promising an early April arrival for the Lemur Pro, with a starting price tag of $1,099. You can provide your contact info on the company’s website to have a chance at first dibs on the new laptop.

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Best laptops with the longest battery life in 2020: Dell, Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and more

A laptop with good battery life used to be mean a skinny, under-powered notebook that sacrificed performance to squeeze every extra minute out of a charge. Obviously the more powerful a system is, the more power it draws, and the less time a battery can handle supplying that power. 

But research into extending battery life — not to mention work from processor manufacturers — has yielded huge dividends over recent years, and while the super-svelte portables and the laptops designed for basic productivity tasks (think Chromebooks) still provide the most time between charges, there are far more systems that boast solid battery life without sacrificing nearly as much performance as they once did.

Because impressive battery life can be found in pretty much every category of laptops these days, we’re here to help you figure out which ones actually provide the best battery life for different laptop types, from Chromebooks to 2-in-1 hybrids to even gaming laptops. Check out a dozen of our picks for laptops with the longest battery life below.      

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.


A business convertible laptop with a number of features — and a price tag to match — the Latitude 7400’s most impressive spec has to be its battery life. While laptop review sites have varying methods of battery testing, top reviewers are getting at least 13 hours of juice from the system.

Though its eighth-generation Core processors options aren’t Intel’s latest, they’re still powerful Core i5 and i7 options. Step up from the base configuration, and you get 8GB or 16GB of RAM, 256GB or 512GB solid-state storage, a full 1,920×1,080 14-inch display, and a larger 60Whr battery that can maximizes battery life. Regardless of configuration, once you do reach the end of your charge, Dell claims the ExpressCharge feature provides an 80% recharge in a just an hour.

$1,579 at Dell


In a world of snazzy luxe notebooks and dirt-cheap laptops, it’s hard for a solid mainstream laptop to stand out. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking past Acer’s Aspire family, which offers all-around quality at a reasonable price While the Aspire 5 won’t stand out in most areas, long battery life is its calling card. In its review of the Aspire 5, our sister site CNET got over 8.5 hours of juice from its battery. 

That finding is close to the 9 hours Acer claims for the Aspire 5, and is noticeably higher than most sub-$500 laptops provide. You also get decent performance from Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors, and Acer even throws in a full HD 15.6-inch screen to boot.

$313 at Amazon


Need a little more battery life and don’t mind a bit less performance than the Aspire 5? Acer has you covered with the Swift 1, a 2020 version of what we used to think of as the type of laptop that would sport good battery life: It’s pretty cheap and small, and won’t be confused with a $2,000 gaming laptop in the performance realm.  

Nonetheless, the Swift 1 is more than competent for basic tasks, which you can perform all day thanks to its battery life. CNET’s testing found that the laptop provided more than 9 hours of life between charges, close to the 10 hours that Acer claims for the Swift 1. It manages to hit that figure by using lower performance, but more efficient Intel Pentium and Celeron processors, though Acer does throw in a full HD 14-inch display even on the base configuration. 

$379 at Best Buy

16-inch MacBook Pro

Just from its name along, the MacBook Air should have the best battery life of Apple’s laptops, right? Not anymore, as the latest MacBook Pro models have surpassed the svelte Air. One advantage of the MacBook Pro’s bigger size is that Apple can squeeze a bigger battery within it, and in the case of the 16-inch version, it’s much bigger: 100Whr compared to the 58Whr of the 13-inch edition. 

While you’re supposed to get an extra hour of battery life from the bigger MacBook Pro, it also has more room for top-notch components that can quickly erase that advantage. If you want a more consistent 10 hours of battery life, the smaller MacBook Pro might be the ticket if you’re set on an Apple laptop with the top battery life. 

$1,149 at Amazon


Asus isn’t the first name when you think of business laptops, but that might change with the ExpertBook B9450, which weights a mere 1.9 pounds and promises up to an astounding 24 hours of battery when it launches in the coming weeks.

To go up against the likes of the Lenovo ThinkPads of the world, a full day’s battery life definitely helps, as does its meeting of MIL-STD 810G durability standards. Other cool features include a LED number pad that’s built into the trackpad area of the keyboard and, like the Dell Latitiude 7400, a quick-charging mode that recharges the battery up to 60 percent in just 40 minutes. Designed around the principles of Intel’s Project Athena initiative, the ExpertBook B9450’s combination of top battery life and design savvy could make it a business laptop worth considering compared to the more traditional players in the market.

$1,700 at Asus


Google rolled out the Chromebook concept years ago around a cheap laptop with minimal specs that could offer excellent battery life using the efficient Chrome OS and cloud-based apps. While it’s succeeded wildly with that concept, its own forays into Chromebook systems has taken a different tact, emphasizing higher specs and a higher price tag.

Its Pixelbook Go costs more than many mainstream Windows laptops, thanks to specs like Intel Core processors, superior keyboard and a full HD 13.3-inch touchscreen display. It’s also one of the increasing number of Chromebooks that offers Google Play store integration for access to Android apps. In terms of battery hours, Google claims 12 hours between charges, but ZDNet’s own Matthew Miller says he’s been getting closer to 10 hours. He’s also been using it as his daily laptop, which should say something about the effectiveness of Google’s approach.

$648 at Amazon


HP really stepped it up with the latest version of its ultraportable business 2-in-1, which gets a processor boost, receives some significant cosmetic surgery, and still retains superior battery life.

Specifically, the newest Spectre x360 leaps from 8th-generation to 10th-gen Intel Core CPU options, significantly improving its performance. It also loses a lot of unnecessary bezel space, making it 13 percent smaller than it previously was. Even with those changes, the Spectre x360 still provided 10.5 hours of battery life in CNET’s testing, part of the reason it earned our sister site’s Editors’ Choice award.

$1,000 at Best Buy


The ExpertBook B9450 is designed to compete against the likes of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, one of the leading ultraportable business laptops. It’s a tall order, as the ThinkPad is a staple of the corporate world, and Lenovo doesn’t rest on its laurels with the X1 Carbon, including solid battery life. 

There’s one important caveat to its battery duration, however: If you opt for the 4K display with 500 nits of brightness, battery life plunges. If you can live with the 1080p display for superior battery performance, you still get a 2.4 pound system with a carbon-fiber chassis that has passed a dozen different MIL-STD-810G durability tests. 

$1,763 at


As with gaming laptops, desktop replacement notebooks with large displays are notoriously power hogs, making “battery life” seem like a bit of an oxymoron. But that was before the likes of the 17-inch version of the LG Gram hit the scene.

It might be built around a 17-inch 2,560×1600 display, yet this Gram manages to weigh less than 3 pounds. That svelteness, along with eschewing the discrete graphics that many desktop replacements offer, helps allow it to eek out some phenomenal battery life — over 12 hours in CNET’s testing. And that was before LG updated the Gram lineup for 2020 and increased the size of the battery in its largest laptop from 72Whr to 80Whr.

$1,850 at Amazon


If anyone knows how to claw the most battery life out of Windows, it should be Microsoft, so it should come as no surprise that two of its Surface devices appear in our roundup. While the world waits for a possible Surface Book 3, it still has the Surface Book 2 to handle productivity duties.

Despite being bigger than the original Surface Book (sporting a 15-inch screen compared to the original’s 13.5-inch display), the sequel manages to provide well over 10 hours of battery life. That’s even when equipped with a Core i7 CPU and GeForce GTX 1060 discrete graphics, as ZDNet’s own Ed Bott found when testing out the Surface Book 2. It owes its fantastic battery life to a jumbo-sized 102 Whr battery, which can also quickly recharge the laptop in relatively little time.

$1,499 at Amazon


Whereas the Surface Book 2 looks to serve as a desktop replacement, the Surface Pro X looks to serve as a very portable traveling companion. Microsoft’s thinnest, lightest Surface device, the Pro X is also one of the few Windows systems using an ARM processor rather than one from AMD or Intel.

You should expect about a dozen hours of battery life from the Pro X, even with a very high-res 2,880×1,920 13-inch display. In our review, the ARM chip managed better performance than you might expect from technology best known for powering smartphones, but the newest Qualcomm SQ1 processor trounced the previous Snapdragon chip that HP used in its Envy x2. There are a couple of disadvantages to the Surface Pro X — namely, full ARM compatibility with Windows apps is still developing, and the starting price does not include a digital pen or keyboard to turn this into a full convertible device. But battery life definitely isn’t one of them. 

$991 at Amazon


In 2020, there can even be a winner for best battery life for a gaming laptop, as component makers have squeezed more power out of tinier processors and graphics cards. The current holder of the title is the MSI GS65 Stealth, which comes in at a little over 4 pounds despite packing a six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 discrete graphics card.

While being just 0.7 inches thick, the GS65 Stealth manages to smush in an 80 Whr battery, which provides several hours of power away from an outlet. Although 6 or 7 hours can’t compare to the other models in this roundup, that’s much better than the 2 or 3 hours many gaming laptops offer. As a result, an otherwise very good midrange gaming notebook becomes a great choice compared to more power-hungry rivals.

$1,930 at Amazon


Unlike the Pixelbook Go, Samsung’s latest Chromebook is based on the original concept: Low power, low cost. The 11.6-inch Chromebook 4 starts well under $300, in large part due to components like Intel’s Celeron N4000 processor, just 32GB of onboard storage, and a run-of-the-mill 1,366×768 screen.

While that might not be cause for much excitement, its battery life should be — Samsung claims 12.5 hours, and though Laptop Mag only got about 10.5 hours in its review, that still was an hour longer than the average Chromebook it’s tested. Samsung has also upped the design quality compared to similarly priced Chromebooks, with an aluminum top and durability features that allow it to pass a number of MIL-STD 810G tests. Better still, you move up to a Chromebook 4+ with a 15.6-inch display (albeit with less battery life) and still only pay around $300.

$243 at Amazon

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German grocer Aldi is selling Medion Gaming Desktop PC, Gaming Notebook in the UK


Aldi Medion Gaming Notebook

Aldi has grown since its birth in 1961 from a German-based grocer into an international supermarket chain that has close to 2,000 locations in the U.S. alone. It’s succeeded with a strategy of low prices on a smaller selection of products than you might find at a typical mega-supermarket, but we’re writing about the company on this site for an offering that seems at odds with that strategy: a gaming PC.

Aldi’s UK customers can now pick up the Medion Gaming Desktop PC or the Gaming Notebook through the company’s website, each selling for £949.99. The Medion brand is a longstanding German computer company that Lenovo purchased several years ago to expand its European reach. It already sells computer and electronics through Aldi and other UK retailers (in addition to Western Europe and Australia), but the gaming systems are new to the UK site.

As you might expect the Medion gaming systems Aldi is offering are pretty good values, if not exactly designed for gamers on very tight budgets. In either case, you’re getting a system built around an Intel Core i5 processor — the six-core i5-9400 for the desktop, and the i5-9300H for the laptop — as well as discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics — the RTX 2060 for the desktop, and the GTX 1660 for the notebook. 

The Gaming Desktop PC also comes with 16GB of RAM, a terabyte solid-state drive with PCIe interface, neon blue accents to its chassis, and even a CD/DVD rewritable drive. The Gaming Notebook features even more storage than the desktop version, coming with both a 512GB PCIe SSD and a terabyte hard drive, though it lacks the optical drive. It, too, features 16GB of memory, and its 15.6-inch display has 1080p full HD resolution (1,920×1,080).

Interested stateside buyers may want to consider an equivalent Lenovo system, as it’s questionable that these PCs would ever see the light of day in the U.S., considering that Aldi doesn’t have online ordering available through its U.S. website. UK readers can feel free to let us know in the comments section below if you would ever consider purchasing a gaming PC from Aldi. 

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The best Target Black Friday 2019 tech deals


(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Target may not have the range of electronics deals for Black Friday like a Best Buy, or even competitor Walmart, but it has the clout of its brand and the ubiquity of its locations to sell a lot of the devices it does offer. 

Below are a half dozen of those specials on laptops, tablets, and smart home hubs that are highlights of Target’s Black Friday ad.

When is Target’s Black Friday sale?

According to Target’s official Black Friday ad, it’s sale doesn’t kick off until Nov. 28. However, the company has said it’ll run special promotions throughout the entire month of November. Target also has special promotions available for RedCard holders and Circle members, including early access to Black Friday savings starting a day early on Nov. 27.

Black Friday 2019: Best Target deals

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page.

If these deals aren’t yet available, they will be when Target’s Black Friday sale goes live.


Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones for $130 ($170 off)

You can save big on these Beats headphones that regularly go for $300. They are already marked down for Target’s Holideals promo that is going on throughout the month of November, but they’ll have an extra $40 off if you wait until Nov. 28.


Apple iPad 10.2-inch tablet for $249.99 ($80 off)

It’s been years since the Target Black Friday ad featured iPads on the cover, but it still has a deal on the latest model in this year’s edition. The 10.2-inch version of the iPad (non-Pro, non-Mini version) is usually priced at $329, so this is an extremely rare discount of nearly 25 percent.


HP Chromebook 11-v010nr Laptop for $99.99 ($80 off)

This $100 Chromebook appears to be a popular Black Friday special, as Office Depot and OfficeMax are offering the same model for the same price. The 11-v010nr represents Google’s original vision for Chrome OS laptops: basic computing via minimal specs (Intel Celeron processor, 4 gigs of RAM, 16GB of built-in storage, 11.6-inch display) at a very low price point.


Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 for $29.99 ($50 to $100 off)

You’ve been able to find this deal everywhere on Black Friday for a few years now — including on Amazon itself, of course — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one, letting you snap up a tablet for the price of dinner. If you want something bigger and more powerful, Target is also slashing the price of the recently refreshed Kindle Fire HD 10 by $50 to $99.99 for Black Friday.  


HP Pavilion 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop for $599.99 ($145 off)

Target jumps on the gaming laptop bandwagon with a midrange offering from HP that includes an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. The 15.6-inch display offers 1,920×1,080 full HD resolution gaming that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card can output.


HP Omen 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop for $899.99 ($250 off)

An even more powerful gaming notebook, the Omen is equipped with a six-core Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state, and 32GB of Intel Optane memory to speed boot-up. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card powers the Omen’s gaming capabilities, which are on display via its 15.6-inch full HD screen.


Google Nest Hub for $79 ($50 off)

Known as the Home Hub when it launched last year, Google’s smart home assistant features Voice Match to get calendar updates and reminders read to you as well as letting you place phone calls. It also doubles as a digital photo viewer through its integration with Google Photos and can interact with Nest-compatible cameras and lights to let you monitor your smart home setup.

More Target Black Friday 2019 deals

Target has plenty of other deals, not only on Black Friday but throughout November. Here are some of the highlights:

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The best Microsoft Store Black Friday 2019 deals


(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While the Microsoft Store hasn’t yet released an actual Black Friday ad (or had one leak), it does have a preview of several deals on its site. 

Also: More Black Friday coverage at CNET

As you might expect, price cuts on the company’s own Surface devices lead the way, along with several sales on Windows laptops. We’ll update this space if new deals emerge, but for the now, here are the highlights Microsoft is touting for Black Friday.

Black Friday 2019: Best Microsoft deals

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page.


Microsoft Surface Go for $299 ($100 off)

The cheapest route to the Surface world, the base model Go is a 10-inch tablet running Windows 10S via an Intel Pentium 4415Y processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 64GB solid-state drive. Though it’s even cheaper with $100 off for Black Friday, the Surface Go still has premium touches like Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and 1,800×1,200 resolution for the touchscreen display.


Microsoft Platinum Surface Pro 7 with Type Cover Bundle for $699 ($180 off)

With this deal, Microsoft matches the Black Friday Best Buy has been advertising on the base Surface Pro 7. It includes an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and a 12.3-inch 2,736×1,824 touchscreen display, along with a type cover that turns it from a tablet to a convertible laptop.


HP 15-dy1731ms Laptop for $299 ($190 off)

You can score a 15.6-inch laptop with the latest 10th-generation Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor for under $300 with this deal. It also includes 8 gigs of RAM and 128GB solid-state drive and is set up to run Windows 10 in S mode to extend battery life, though you can convert the full version of Windows 10 for free.


HP 15-dy1771ms Laptop for $499 ($200 off)

If you need more power than the above HP provides, this deal slashes $200 off the price of a laptop with a 10th-generation Core i7-1065G7 instead of a Core i3 chip. You still get 8GB of memory and a 15.6-inch screen, but the solid-state storage is quadrupled to 512GB.  


Lenovo Legion Y540 15 Gaming Laptop for $789.99 ($400 off)

It seems like nearly every retailer offering Black Friday deals on PCs has a couple of gaming laptops on sale. In Microsoft’s case, it has a pair that come in under $1,000 for gamers watching their budget. The Lenovo Legion Y540 packs an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 8GB of RAM, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics, along with a 15.6-inch full HD display and generous storage offerings of both a 512GB SSD and a terabyte hard drive.


Asus ROG Strix G Gaming Laptop for $899.99 ($300 off)

Your other affordable gaming laptop choice from Microsoft’s Black Friday deals has storage on board (just a 256GB SSD), but it doubles the amount of RAM to 16GB. The Asus otherwise uses the same processor and graphics card, while providing a similarly sized Full HD screen.


More Microsoft Black Friday 2019 deals

Microsoft has not specified all of its Black Friday specials, including which specific configurations of certain Surface devices will receive savings. Until we know more, here are a few other Black Friday deals Microsoft is promoting:

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The best Newegg Black Friday 2019 tech deals


(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tech lovers know Newegg as one of the leading online retailers for computers and components, so their Black Friday ad should be of interest to PC buyers. 

Also: More Black Friday coverage

As expected, there are numerous deals on computer parts, but those looking for readymade systems have plenty to choose from as well, as the following Black Friday specials make clear.

When is Newegg’s Black Friday 2019 sale?

Like many retailers, Newegg is offering deals on tech and gadgets throughout the month of November and December, but its official Black Friday 2019 sale does not start until Nov. 25. And it will last until Nov. 30. 

Black Friday 2019: Best Newegg deals

If these deals aren’t yet available, they will be when Newegg’s Black Friday sale goes live.


Portal Mini from Facebook for $79 ($50 off)

Newegg is slashing $50 off the price of Facebook’s recently released smart device, which combines a camera that can pan and zoom automatically with an 8-inch display to allow you to make video calls via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is built in to turn this into more than just a glorified webcam, answering voice commands and able to control compatible smart devices around the house.


Lenovo 100e Chromebook for $99 ($88 off)

Newegg gives us a different sub-$100 Chromebook deal than the Samsung one that we’ve seen from other retailers. The 100e also comes with 4GB of RAM rather than the 2 gigs these other Chromebook specials typically offer, though other specs are comparable (16GB of built-in storage, MTK MT8173C processor, 11.6-inch display).


ABS Rogue SE Gaming Desktop for $525 ($225 off)

Perfect for a gamer on a budget who doesn’t need a neon light show emanating from every part of their rig, the understated Rogue SE comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 video card provides the graphics punch on the gaming front.


Acer Aspire 5 Laptop for $600

This Acer notebook is a solid midrange choice, especially at this price. It features an Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 8 gigs of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive, and Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics. Throw in a 15.6-inch full HD display, and you have yourself a good deal.  


Asus GL10CS Gaming Desktop PC for $770 ($220 off)

If you need a little more oomph (and slightly more design flair) from a gaming desktop than the ABS mentioned above, this Asus delivers better specs for not much more than the Rogue SE. It packs a ninth-generation six-core Core i5-9400F instead of an eighth-generation one, and boosts the graphics prowess with a faster GeForce GTX 1660 card while matching the 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD of the ABS.


More Newegg Black Friday 2019 deals

Newegg’s Black Friday deals don’t end with the above specials. There have plenty of other sales in their Black Friday ad, especially if you are in the market for a new gaming PC. Here are several more highlights:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad E495 Laptop (AMD Ryzen 7 3700U processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, 14-inch full HD screen) for $560
  • HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop (AMD Ryzen 5-2400G processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics) for $770
  • Acer Predator Helios Gaming Laptop (Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 32GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics) for $1,400
  • SkyTech Gaming Desktop (Intel Core i5-9300H processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics, 15.6-inch full HD screen) for $640
  • Lenovo IdeaPad 730S laptop (Inte; Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, 13.3-inch full HD screen) for $750
  • ABS Fort Gaming Desktop (AMD Ryzen 7 2700X processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and 240GB SSD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics) for $1,200

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Best rugged laptops for business in 2020: Dell Latitude, Panasonic Toughbook, Lenovo ThinkPad, and more

While virtual threats to our PCs rightfully grab most of the headlines — as viruses and cyberattacks can affect millions of computers simultaneously — our systems also face threats from physical damage that can knock them offline temporarily for repairs or permanently if the damage is catastrophic enough. Mobile devices obviously run a bigger risk of physical damage since they are picked up and moved around far more frequently than desktop PCs.

To combat potential physical hazards to on-the-go computing, manufacturers responded with what are known as “rugged” laptops — notebooks that can resist the bumps and bruises of mobility better than standard-issue portables. Minimum defenses rugged laptops possess include bumpers that can protect against drops and specially treated keyboards that can withstand liquids being spilled on them. If you’re working in more challenging environments — on a construction site or in extreme climates — there are rugged notebooks designed to handle those situations as well.

If your business requires the use of rugged laptops, we’re here to help. We’ve collected nine different notebooks that cover the gamut of offerings, from models with basic protections to rough-and-tumble outdoor warriors.   

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.


One sign of a truly rugged laptop is if it passes testing for MIL-STD-810, which is a military standard for durability under a variety of environmental conditions. Dell’s line of Latitude Rugged Express laptops is all MIL-STD-810 certified, starting with the flagship 7424. It’s built around a 14-inch 1080p display that’s a resistive touchscreen, which allows it to be used with gloves or a pen, as well as equipped with 1,000 nits of brightness to be fully visible when used outside in daylight.

Rugged features include drop protection of up to 3 feet while in use and 6 feet when turned off and IP65 ingress protection, which means that it promises complete protection from dust and protection from jets of water. Not surprisingly, it’s neither small (7.6 pounds and up if you add a second battery or carrying handle) nor cheap (especially if you upgrade beyond the base configuration of Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD), but it’s probably as tough of a system as Dell offers.

$4,142 at Dell


As the name suggests, the 5420 lacks the “extreme” features of the 7424, such as the super-bright, resistive touchscreen as a standard feature (it’s an option, along with a 1,000-nit non-touch display). With IP52 ingress protection, it can protect (but not totally protect) against dust and provide limited moisture protection, and drop protection is 3 feet in transit.

On the other hand, the 5420 is thinner and lighter (4.9-pound starting weight) and much less expensive if you don’t need such ultra-rugged touches. It also comes with the same base specs as the 7424 and still features a magnesium alloy chassis and dual-battery support.

$1,399 at Dell


Need the 7420’s industrial-strength toughness, but want a little more versatility? Dell has you covered with the 7214, which combines the extreme rugged features of the 7420 with the popular convertible form factor. Instead of a heavy 14-inch system, 7214 includes a 12-inch display encased in a flip case that allows you to switch between laptop and tablet form factors.

It has the same IP65 ingress protection as the 7420, but the base specs are a little different. You get a sixth-generation Core i5 CPU instead of a seventh-gen Core i3 and half the RAM (4GB versus 8GB), but twice the solid-state storage (256GB versus 128GB). At 6 pounds, it’s also svelter than the 7420 while retaining the same drop protection — and similar high price tag. 

$3,998 at Dell


A specialty producer of rugged computers, Durabook offers a rival to the Dell Latitude 7254 Extreme with its Z14I. With a similar 14-inch screen — super-bright and touch-enabled for gloves, stylus, and fingers — and MIL-STD 810G certified and IP65 rated, the Z14I can go pound-for-pound with the 7254 even if its starting weight is an ounce lighter at 7.7 pounds.

While its starting price is a little more than the 7254, the Durabook has a couple of advantages for that extra cost. First, its base configuration includes an eighth-generation Core i5 processor instead of a seventh-gen Core i3, along with 256GB of SSD storage instead of 128GB. Second, the Z14I is also MIL-STD-461G certified, giving it an extra level of protection against electromagnetic interference, which may be of particular interest for defense-related businesses. 

$3,599 at Durabook


Another specialty producer of rugged systems, Getac’s B300 is similar to other flagship laptops like the Z14I and Latitude 7254, though it is slightly smaller with a 13.3-inch screen instead of a 14-inch one. But it also goes beyond the 1,000-nit displays of its competitors, pumping out a whopping 1,400 nits of brightness.

The B300 also distinguishes itself with a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, which sounds weird for a laptop until you remember that this type of laptop actually has bumpers for protection. That could provide an additional level of comfort beyond the MIL-STD-810G and MIL-STD-461G certifications and IP65 rating that the B300 also possesses.  

View Now at Getac


If you just need a solid business laptop that can survive daily tumbles, the forthcoming ProBook x360 435 G7 convertible can give you peace of mind without many of the extreme features that turn other rugged laptops into literal heavyweights. According to HP, it’s passed 19 different MIL-STD-810G tests, including a drop test, while weighing in at just 3.3 pounds.

It also comes with a spill-resistant keyboard made of anodized aluminum, and keeps the inside of the notebook safe with the self-healing HP Sure Start BIOS. This ProBook is one of the first laptops announced that will use AMD’s latest 7nm Ryzen 4000 processors, which will be paired with up to 16GB of RAM, 512GB of solid-state storage, and a 13.3-inch full HD touchscreen display that uses Corning Gorilla Glass. Display options include a 1,000-nit super-bright version for outdoor use.

View Now at HP


Like the HP ProBook, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon won’t be confused with the tough monsters from Durabook and Getac, but that doesn’t mean your business won’t appreciate the rugged features available in a conventional laptop. In fact, all ThinkPads are designed to pass 12 different MIL-STD-810G tests for durability.

While not as many as the 19 tests the ProBook has passed, ThinkPads also undergo 200 of Lenovo’s own quality checks. The result is that the X1 Carbon can handle spills, drops, extreme temperatures, and even zero gravity. Nonetheless, it manages to tip the scales at just 2.4 pounds, thanks in part to its carbon-fiber chassis. You still get powerful specs like 10th-generation Comet Lake Intel Core i5 and i7 processor options and a 14-inch display that has full HD resolution in the base configuration with an option to upgrade to a 4K version with 500 nits of brightness.

$1,763 at


Once known for its stereos and televisions, Panasonic has pivoted to other electronics categories, including — of all things — rugged laptops. Its Toughbook line is perhaps the best-known brand in the market, and the Toughbook 31 is one of its best-known notebooks. A beast that weighs over 8 pounds, the 31 seemingly has every rugged certification you can think of: MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, IP65, and even optional hazardous location certification.

One area where this Toughbook doesn’t match up well with its rivals is its 13.1-inch touchscreen’s resolution — an outdated 1,024×768 pixels — though it’s certainly bright enough outdoors at 1,200 nits. On the other hand, it does offer more RAM in its base configuration (16GB versus 8GB) than competitors, along with a Core i5-7300U CPU and 256GB solid-state drive. Panasonic throws in a handle to carry the magnesium alloy case, which it probably should, especially given the Toughbook 31’s hefty price tag. 

$4,115 at Panasonic


Panasonic extended the Toughbook lineup with its 33 convertible laptop, which currently goes toe-to-toe with Dell’s 7214 2-in-1. The display of the 33 is improved over the 31, as the 12-inch detachable screen has a resolution of 1,920×1,200 (WUXGA) while retaining 1,200 nits of brightness. 

Otherwise, this convertible Toughbook shares many of the 31’s features, such as the same components as well as MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461, and IP65 certifications, though the 33’s drop protection is 4 feet as a laptop and 5 feet as a tablet compared to the 31’s 6 feet threshold. The 33 has also been designed to work with the vehicle docks that are available for the 31, making it convenient to secure the laptop while working on the move.

$3,499 at Panasonic

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CES 2020: Razer Tomahawk gaming desktop stays small, powerful thanks to Intel’s NUC 9 Extreme


Razer Tomahawk

We reported the other day on Intel’s new NUC 9 Extreme, the latest Next Unit of Computing kit that allows desktop graphics cards to be used as part of it for the first time. It can work with the modular Compute Element to make swapping components in and out of a small form factor chassis easier. While Intel is prepping its Ghost Canyon NUC complete with a skull-adorned case, other manufacturers are free to build their own mini-desktops around the NUC concept.

Enter Razer, the gaming hardware company that graduated from producing controllers and other peripherals to also offering well-designed full-fledged PC systems. Though it’s had more success with laptops like the Blade family, it’s tackling the desktop realm with the Tomahawk, which will come as both a full PC as well as a standalone chassis. The Tomahawk will make use of the NUC 9 Extreme, but as is typical with Razer, it will deliver its own innovative design touches.

For starters, Razer forges the Tomahawk from aluminum with its sides crafted from tempered glass, allowing you to see the vertically mounted GPU like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. Cooling is facilitated by a vent at the top of the case, while the rear of the chassis opens up to allow the Compute Module to slide in and out. It still retains a compact footprint, however, sized in the neighborhood of the proverbial breadbox.

In addition to a full-sized graphics card, the Tomahawk can be configured with up to a Core i9 CPU and 64GB of RAM. Connectivity includes a pair of Thunderbolt 2 and HDMI ports and a half-dozen USB 3 ports. Thanks to the modular nature of the Compute Element, many components can be upgraded with ease. If you really want to build a system completely, Razer will be releasing the Tomahawk in a chassis-only version dubbed the Tomahawk N1.

Razer has announced that the Tomahawk Gaming desktop will be available sometime in the first half of 2020, but no pricing details were disclosed. Given Razer’s previous offerings, expect to pay a premium.

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CES 2020: Intel launches NUC 9 Extreme, NUC 9 Pro Workstation mini-PC kits


Intel NUC 9 Extreme 

Among the various forthcoming technologies and new products it presented in its CES keynote, Intel also presented its latest Next Unit of Computing (NUC) kits, which promise the best performance options that the mini-PCs have offered to date. In addition to a version that finally provides desktop-level gaming prowess in a NUC, there’s also a workstation edition available for the first time.

With the skull design on the side of its tiny chassis, the NUC 9 Extreme — also known as the Ghost Canyon NUC — is a successor to Skull Canyon and Hades Canyon NUCs. While those emphasized higher performance than what is typically expected from a small form factor PC, Ghost Canyon does them better in a number of ways. Intel says the NUC 9 Extreme is the first NUC that can accept desktop-sized graphics cards, thanks to a PCIe x16 slot, and comes equipped with a Core i9 processor, including an option for an unlocked version.

As is the case with all NUCs, the Ghost Canyon model includes the processor, but leaves the rest to the user (or third-party vendors building systems from the kit), who needs to supply RAM, storage, and discrete graphics to the unit. That can be made easier with the optional Compute Element, a more convenient, modular way to swap components in and out of the NUC. Other features supplied with the NUC 9 Extreme include a 500-watt power supply, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a pair of Thunderbolt ports and a HDMI 2.0a port. Though it can only accept graphics cards up to 8 inches in length, the Ghost Canyon NUC only takes up a mere 9.4×8.5×3.8 inches.

While clearly not as sexy as the Ghost Canyon edition, the NUC 9 Pro is notable for being the first workstation class NUC kit Intel has produced. It resembles the 9 Extreme NUC in a number of ways (500-watt power supply, support for desktop graphics cards, similar connectivity options), but rather than coming with Core i9 CPUs, the 9 Pro will be available with either a Core i7-9850H vPro or a Xeon E-2286M processor option. Other workstation-level features include support for Intel’s Active Management Technology and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) inclusion.

Intel has provided no specific pricing or availability details yet for the latest NUCs, but given that you’re getting legitimate desktop PC power in a device that can fit in your bag, expect to pay a pretty penny when they are finally released.

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CES 2020: NEC comes back to the U.S. with new LaVie laptops, all-in-one PC


NEC LaVie Home All-in-One

LaVie Z ultra-lightweight notebookOnce a fixture among the U.S. business laptop market, NEC bailed out of American retail a few years ago, choosing to concentrate on its home Japanese market instead. But as the new decade begins, NEC Personal Computers — a joint venture between NEC Corp. and Lenovo that’s been producing PCs since 2011 — has decided to venture once again into the U.S. marketplace with a trio of new systems.

The last time NEC launched a new PC for American buyers at CES was in 2015, when it rolled out the LaVie Z ultra-lightweight notebook. Flash forward five years, and it’s back with the LaVie brand. This time around, the laptops are called the Pro Mobile and the Vega, both sleekly designed and with premium price tags.

At under 2 pounds and just 0.62 inches thick, the Pro Mobile puts an emphasis on the mobile, thanks to materials like racing-car grade carbon fiber and magnesium lithium alloy. Despite the extreme portability, the Pro Mobile doesn’t compromise performance, squeezing in an Intel Core i7-8565U quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, 512GB solid-state drive, and a 13.3-inch full HD display into its Bordeaux colored chassis. At a $1,600 starting price, the Pro Mobile isn’t compromising on price, either.

That’s even more apparent with the Vega, which starts at $500 more than the Pro Mobile and is bigger and heavier (4 pounds) due in part to its larger 15.6-inch display. For the additional cost, you get increased performance from the beefier i7-9750H six-core CPU and the 32GB of Intel Optane memory, along with increased resolution from the 4K OLED screen. Other premium specs include Yamaha stereo speakers, two Thunderbolt ports, and Gorilla Glass back cover.

Keeping with the luxury pricing of the NEC laptops, the LaVie Home all-in-one PC is in the same range of an iMac rather than most Windows all-in-ones. Centered around a 27-inch full HD white screen, the LaVie Home features a Core i7-10510U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 3TB hard drive and 256GB SSD, and even a DVD rewritable drive. One thing it lacks is touchscreen functionality, which you might expect from a system costing $1,800. As with the laptops, the LaVie Home will be available starting in March.

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