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The best laptop for automotive technicians is one that can withstand a lot of use, but it also comes down to how you use it. For an automotive shop you should get an external keyboard and a mouse. Cover the laptop keyboard so that you don’t get any materials stuck underneath the keys. You can also cover the external keyboard in plastic so that it will last longer. Also, take care to clean your hands if possible before using the computer, and always clean the computer at the end of the day. These simple enhancements will make the laptop go a long way.
The laptops below are good for an automotive technician. You most likely need to look up wiring instructions, schematics, and various parts. For this you need just a regular laptop. A 15 inch or larger would be best. You can also get an external screen for your shop which would make the laptop itself last longer as it can sit to the side with the lid closed.
List of best laptops for automotive technicians
The Panasonic Toughbook is our top pick.
See the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 (#ad) on Amazon.
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 – Top Pick
The Panasonic Toughbook is one of the best laptops for an auto shop. As an automotive technician you will be exposed to a lot of things that can break a laptop. The Panasonic toughbook has a great reputation among people who need something a little extra in the toughness department. The laptop is quite expensive, but in the long run it can be cheaper than other laptops if you have to switch those out more often.
The laptop comes with an Intel i5-75300U. This is more than enough CPU for a technician. It is dual core, something that is pretty standard on laptops.
There is also 16 GB of DDR4 RAM on this laptop. 16 GB is a lot of RAM. 8 GB is the new low end for mid-range laptops, and 16 is more normal on higher end. For the price I think 16 GB is to be expected. The RAM is also the DDR4 kind which is both faster and uses less power than the DDR3.
The laptop has a 1 TB SSD on board. This should be plenty of space for you. It is important that whatever laptop you choose has an SSD as it can handle movement a lot better than a regular HDD. A lot of shaking and moving can cause damage to a HDD and you do not want that in a shop as it is quite common.
See the Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 (#ad) on Amazon.
Dell Latitude 5424 Rugged
This is another great laptop for a shop where the laptop is exposed to a lot of wear and tear. The Latitude is not cheap, but it is a very good option. Dell is also a good company and the Latitude series has a good reputation for being rugged laptops.
The laptop comes with an i7-8650U CPU. This is a powerful CPU that should be able to handle anything an automotive technician can throw at it. You do not need anything better than this in the CPU department.
There is 16 GB of DDR3 RAM. For this price I would expect DDR4 RAM, and you might want to consider another option because of it. You probably won’t notice too much difference, but if you are going to keep the laptop for many years then you should get what is best for longevity. You are also not able to upgrade from DDR3 to DDR4 because the slots for the chips have different sizes.
The laptop also has a 500 GB HDD which is not optimal for a shop as it is not good for moving around while the laptop is on. For the price I would expect an SSD.
This laptop makes it onto the list despite lacking in both the RAM department and the storage because it is specifically built to be rugged. If you are not so worried about how much damage it can take then perhaps consider then ThinkPad.
See the Dell Latitude 5424 (#ad) on Amazon.
Lenovo ThinkPad E590
The ThinkPad E590 is a lot cheaper than the Thoughbook. The parts are almost as good, but it is not as extremely durable as the toughbook. This laptop is a great alternative if you are looking for something cheaper or your want to buy multiple for your shop. You might have many automotive technicians working there and this is a great entry point.
The ThinkPad is durable and is a well known brand in the business world. It is build to last a long time.
The laptop comes with an Intel core i5-8265U CPU. This is the same version of the CPU as the toughbook but it is a newer generation. The CPU is better than what you would get in the thoughbook, but I don’t think you would notice much if any difference in real life.
This laptop comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. This is quite a bit less than the toughbook but considering the large price difference this is really good. 8 GB should be more than what you need unless you run some complex resource demanding programs. 8 GB should be acceptable for you.
The SSD on this laptop is 256 GB. Some might find this a bit small, but for a work laptop this should be okay. Most programs will never reach 256 GB and there is always external storage if you need more space.
See the Lenovo ThinkPad E590 (#ad) on Amazon.
As an automotive technician you should take precautions to make sure the laptop will last as long as it can. Get an external monitor, keyboard, and a mouse. Then you can have the laptop shut away from where all the work takes place. Hook it up with some long cables and you should be good to go. Also clean the equipment at the end of the day to make sure there is no build up that could have been prevented.
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