Panasonic Toughbook CF-54, First Take: A semi-rugged laptop for field-service pros

  • Editors' rating
    Not yet rated

Not everyone needs all of the protective features offered by a fully rugged laptop, but there are some situations where a greater degree of protection than is found on a standard laptop is welcome. According to Panasonic, field service engineers specialising in indoor maintenance and repairs is one use case.

Panasonic's semi-rugged Toughbook CF-54, newly equipped with a 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core i5 processor, replaces the Toughbook CF-53, which we reviewed way back in October 2011.

There are three models on offer that share a range of core specifications, with some variation including around storage, RAM, and the 14-inch screen:

Entry Model
Intel Core i5-7300U vPro processor, Windows 10 Professional, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 14-inch 1,366 x 768 pixel non-touch screen

Mid Model
Intel Core i5-7300U vPro processor, Windows 10 Professional, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen

Premium Model
Intel Core i5-7300U vPro processor, Windows 10 Professional, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen


The 14-inch Toughbook CF-54 runs on a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and weighs 1.9kg, although this will rise if you customise the system with optional add-ons.

Images: Panasonic

Top ZDNET Reviews

The Toughbook CF-54 officially becomes available in August, and at the time of writing Panasonic had not finalised pricing. However, I found the Mid Model online at a starting price of £1,389 (ex. VAT).

Its semi-rugged status makes the Toughbook CF-54 quite sizeable (345mm wide by 272mm deep by 29.8mm thick) and heavy, with a starting weight of 1.9kg -- which will rise as customisations are added to the two flexible configuration areas. One of these is a bay that can accommodate a second battery, a smartcard reader or a PC card instead of the standard DVD drive. The other is a configurable port that can be used for a second RJ-45 LAN port, d-GPS, or an additional USB port.

You can also add 4G LTE to the standard configuration, select different hard drive/SSD capacities, and upgrade the RAM to a maximum of 32GB. The standard ports and connectors are three USB 3.0, HDMI, RJ-45 LAN, nine-pin D-Sub (True Serial), and VGA ports, plus an SD card slot. These sit in small groupings under hinged covers that protect them from damage by dust and liquids (although we could not find a formal IP rating among the specifications).


The CF-54's ports and slots are protected by hinged covers.

Image: Panasonic

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 benefits from a magnesium chassis, with magnesium plating used on all four of its sides. The lid and base sections are kept tight shut with a sizeable clasp to help the laptop stay shut during the rigours of transportation in tough environments. The lid section has the characteristic Panasonic Toughbook silver styling and sports a honeycomb effect that provides good protection from knocks. Panasonic says the Toughbook CF-54 will survive drops of up to 76cm (which is equivalent to the height of an average desk).

The keyboard and (relatively small) touchpad are both spill resistant, while Panasonic's characteristic carry handle is solid and easy to grip, and tucks away neatly when not in use.


Image: Panasonic

Panasonic says battery life is up to ten hours. If the configurable bay is used to house a second battery, claimed longevity rises to 17 hours. Hot-swap capability means you can slot in a new battery without closing the Toughbook CF-54 down.

Lighter and more compact than the Toughbook CF-53, Panasonic's new semi-rugged CF-54 offers a solid, up-to-date choice for professionals requiring a well-protected laptop for moderately challenging field service work.

Read more reviews


Packaged Quantity 1
Bundled Services Toughbook Preferred
Built-in Devices HDD heater
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5 (6th Gen) 6300U / 2.4 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel Smart Cache, Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Intel vPro Technology
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Technology DDR3L SDRAM
Speed 1600 MHz
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1080 (Full HD)
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features Direct Bonding technology, anti-glare, anti-reflective
Type LED
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.6 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Hard Drive
Spindle Speed 5400 rpm
Type HDD
Capacity 500 GB
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Sound Speakers
Type keyboard, touchpad
Features electro-static touchpad, multi-touch touchpad, programmable buttons, spill-resistant, volume control
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Bluetooth Class Class 1
Wireless Controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Navigation none
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
CPU Type Core i5
Processor Number i5-6300U
Generation 6
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.4 GHz
Capacity 3220 mAh
Technology lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 9 hour(s)
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory SD Memory Card, SDXC UHS-II Memory Card
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces Dock
Headphone/microphone combo jack
3 x USB 3.0
Memory Card Reader Yes (SD Card, SDXC UHS-II Card)
Brand Panasonic
Product Line Panasonic Toughbook
Model 54 Lite
Packaged Quantity 1
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 500 GB
Rugged Design Yes
Dockable Yes
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Diagonal Size 14 in
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.1, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.1x
Wireless NIC Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
Case Material magnesium alloy
Integrated Options HDD heater
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip
Features "Always On" USB port, USB rapid charging port, administrator password, anti-shock hard drive, anti-vibration, auto-sensing, auto-switching, drop-resistant, dust-resistant, handle, hard drive password, shock-resistant, system password
Compliant Standards ACPI, AES, IP51, IP5X, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, MIL-STD 810G, RoHS, Section 508
Included Accessories power adapter
Theft/Intrusion Protection security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Security Slot Type Kensington security slot
Dimensions & Weight
Width 13.6 in
Depth 10.7 in
Height 1.2 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Physical Characteristics
Weight 4.21 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Pro
Type Drivers & Utilities, Panasonic Dashboard, Panasonic Recovery Partition
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 520
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type engineering service, recycling, technical support
Service Included consulting, parts, parts and labor, phone consulting
Location on-site
Full Contract Period 3 years
Response Time 2 days, next business day
Delivery & Returns Charges delivery and returns charges by manufacturer
Service Availability (Hours a Day) 24 hours a day
Service Availability (Days a Week) Monday-Sunday