5 Rugged Laptops For Students (affordable)

There are many articles about the best laptops for college students. I wanted to find out what are some of the most rugged and affordable laptops for college students. That’s what this article is about, I researched and put together a list of laptops capable of standing up to the rigors of college life.

Many manufacturers make rugged laptops but these can get expensive, I wanted to focus on affordable and rugged. A laptop students could afford as well as one that would last. My picks are compact, lightweight and capable. They range from 11inch to 14inch displays and from around $400US to under $1000US.

Which laptop brands are the most durable?
I chose 5 laptops from Lenovo since I am most familiar with these already. Lenovo Thinkpads are tested against 12 military-grade requirements and more than 200 quality checks. These are all Thinkpad branded except for the Lenovo 300e which is still military-grade rated. Check out the Lenovo stress test video and the end of this article.

My Top 5 Rugged Laptops For Students

1) Thinkpad Yoga 11e Gen 5 (11″) laptop

I think the Yoga 11e is the best all around pick from my list of durable student laptops.
The display is built with Corning Gorilla Glass to protect against scratches. It’s a Yoga which means the display opens 360 degrees. It’s lightweight, portable and very affordable.

Thinkpad 11e

From Lenovo:
A class act, in and out of the classroom

  • Extra-durable design, this 11.6″ convertible Windows laptop
  • A flexible 360-degree hinge to use like a tablet
  • The 10-point multi-touch display
  • Lightweight and portable at less than 3.5 pounds
  • Battery life that lasts all day
  • Perfect for on-the-go learning in school and at home

Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e
Performance
Processor                                 Intel Core m3 or i5, Celeron or Pentium Silver
Graphics                                  Intel Integrates Graphics
Memory                                   4GB or 8GB
Storage                                    128GB eMMC or 128GB M.2 SSD, 256GB SSD
Design
Display                                    11.6” IPS HD Touch Display(1366×768) Gorilla Glass
Dimensions                             11.81” x 8.27” x 0.89”
Weight                                     3.4 lbs.
Keyboard                                Water-resistant
Durability Features                 Reinforced ports and hinges, rubberized bumpers,
Ports                                        1xUSB-C Gen 1, 2xUSB 3.1 Gen 1 1xHDMI Bluetooth5.0

2) ThinkPad 11e Gen 5 (11″) laptop

The Thinkpad 11e is available in two styles: Yoga and the standard laptop.
This laptop was built for education as it is both lightweight and durable.
It starts at 2.99lbs. and has rubber bumbers for protection. This is a nice upgrade from previous models and has a touch screen. For the size, I think the Yoga version is a better option.

From Lenovo:

Thinkpad 11e

Rugged yet lightweight for on-the-go learning.

  • Extra-durable design, this 11.6″ Windows laptop
  • Engineered to withstand the rigors of the classroom
  • A 10-point multi-touch display option
  • Lightweight and portable at less than 3 pounds
  • Battery life that lasts all day
  • Perfect for on-the-go learning in school and at home

Lenovo Thinkpad 11e
Performance
Processor                                 Intel Core m3 or i5, Celeron or Pentium Silver
Graphics                                  Intel Integrates Graphics
Memory                                   4GB or 8GB
Storage                                    128GB eMMC or 128GB M.2 SSD, 256GB SSD
Design
Display                                    11.6” IPS HD Touch Display(1366×768)
Dimensions                             11.81” x 8.27” x 0.86”
Weight                                     2.99 lbs.
Keyboard                                Water-resistant
Durability Features                 Reinforced ports and hinges, rubberized bumpers,
Ports                                        1xUSB-C Gen 1, 2xUSB 3.1 Gen 1 1xHDMI Bluetooth5.0

3) Lenovo 300e (2nd Gen) (11.6″) Laptop

This laptop was built for the classroom. It comes with a pen that stores inside, but you can also use a regular no.2 pencil. That’s right, a pencil won’t scratch the screen. It is water-resistant, durable and drop tested. The 2-in-1 design is clever and would prove to be useful in many ways inside the classroom. It has rubber bumpers and reinforced hinges and ports.

Lenovo 300e

From Lenovo: 
At the head of the class

  • A 360-degree hinge that accommodates 4 learning modes and Pencil Touch technology
  • 2nd generation 11.6″ Windows version of the Lenovo 300e (2nd Gen)
  • 2-in-1 laptop delivers a premium classroom experience
  • Durable features like a sealed keyboard, mechanically anchored keys, and drop-resistance
Lenovo 300e 2-in-1
Performance
Processor                                 Up to 3.1Ghz Intel Silver
Graphics                                  Intel Integrates Graphics
Memory                                   4GB or 8GB
Storage                                    64GB, 128GB eMMC or 128GB M.2 SSD
Design
Display                                    11.6” IPS HD Touch Display(1366×768)
Dimensions                             11.41” x 8” x 0.8”
Weight                                     2.9 lbs.
Keyboard                                Water-resistant
Durability Features                 Reinforced ports and hinges
Ports                                        1xUSB-C Gen 1, 2xUSB 3.1 Gen 1 1xHDMI Bluetooth5.0

4) ThinkPad E495 (14″) Laptop

Right away you notice the E495 is lightweight and compact size even though it has a 14″ display. The screen is bright and as usual the lenovo keyboard is easy to use. This is more inline with the Thinkpads I am used to. I prefer this larger display over the 11″ screens of some of the others, but then again it’s not a touch or a 2-in-1. The E495 might be the best pick if you are looking for a larger display and need a lot of memory.

From Lenovo: 

Thinkpad E495

Engineered for effortless productivity, anywhere

  • 14” Business laptop gives you intelligent, powerful AMD processing
  • Legendary durability and Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) safeguards your data
  • Multiple ports for multitasking
  • Options of dual-drive storage, FHD display, and integrated AMD Radeon™ graphics
  • Smart choice for business professionals on the move
Lenovo Thinkpad E495
Performance
Processor                                 Up to AMD Ryzen 7 3700U
Graphics                                  AMD Integrates Graphics
Memory                                   Up to 32GB (2 DIMM)
Storage                                    Up to 512GB SSD, Up to 2TB SATA HDD
Design
Display                                    14” IPS(1920×1080) or HD(1366×768)
Dimensions                             12.96” x 9.53” x 0.78”
Weight                                     3.87 lbs.
Keyboard                                Water-resistant
Durability Features                 Reinforced ports and hinges, rubberized bumpers,
Ports                                        1xUSB-C Gen 1, 2xUSB 3.1 Gen 1 1xHDMI Bluetooth5.0

5) ThinkPad L13 (13”) Laptop

This L13 model is supposedly aimed at the business market but it has everything a student might want for school. The 13″ touch screen is a nice size while allowing a still compact fit. Here’s why I like it: It is thin, has i7 Core processor, can be configured with 16GB memory, plenty of storage, and it’s tough as nails. I think you could carry this in a backpack quite nicely.

From Lenovo: 

Thinkpad L13

Powerful laptop, cost-conscious pricing

  • Powerful 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processing
  • Thin and light-13.3″ display
  • Solid-state drive (SSD) and DDR4 memory
  • Super-fast commuting
  • Robust security and privacy features
  • A rapid charging battery
  • Extremely portable for work or play

Lenovo Thinkpad L13
Performance
Processor                                 Up to 10th. Gen. Intel Core i7
Graphics                                  Intel Integrated UHD Graphics
Memory                                   Up to 16GB
Storage                                    Up to 1TB SSD
Design
Display                                    13” FHD IPS Touch
Dimensions                             12.26” x 8.62” x 0.69”
Weight                                     3.06 lbs.
Keyboard                                Standard and backlit
Durability Features                 Military Grade Tested
Ports                                        2xUSB-C Gen 1, 2xUSB 3.1 Gen 1 1xHDMI

What should I look for when buying a laptop for college?
I previously wrote an article on choosing the right laptop. You can read that article here.

First things to consider are your needs and your budget.
What are you looking for in a laptop for college? Do you also want to play games? If so, this will influence the power and performance you will be looking for and accordingly the price will be higher.
A casual user might only need a small lightweight laptop, while a gamer would most likely need a fairly powerful system with good graphics and memory.

What is the best size laptop for college?
This is entirely up to your preference. There are several choices these days including 2-in-1 laptops. For me, I like a larger screen, something around a 14″ display is right. But don’t overlook smaller convertable laptops, these also act as a tablet with pen abilities.

Bonus For Students

From Lenovo.com:
Lenovo has partnered with ID.me to offer Students and Teachers an extra 5% off sitewide.
College students who are over 18 years old and are actively enrolled as a college student, university student, community college or technical college student are eligible for the ID.ME discount.
Thinkpad Stress Test Video

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