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When you think military, mental pictures of steaming jungles, arid deserts, and frigid tundras come to mind, members of the military are subjected to rigorous training to be able to survive in these environments.

Anything that accompanies them on these journeys needs to be able to survive tough conditions too. This includes their computers.

What is meant by the term “military-grade”?

To start out, a distinction needs to be made. Military-grade does not mean “rugged” or “durable.” These terms are often used in the marketing of computers that may not meet standards that will make them usable in a military setting.

Military-grade computer equipment will carry an ML-STD-810G designation. These are light industrial computers, and when you see this on a computer, you immediately know it has passed certain tests for toughness in the field.

A computer hoping to be called military grade must pass several tests.

Temperature

The computer must be able to withstand wide variations in temperature. It must be able to operate in freezing temperatures as well as high temperatures of deserts without a loss in function.

The tested range is between 33 and 71 degrees celsius. The computers must also be able to survive sudden temperature drops and increases.

Humidity

Humidity exists when there is a high degree of moisture in the air. These conditions aren’t just uncomfortable for humans. They can also cause important components in computers to rust over a short period. Military-grade computers must be able to withstand humidity.

Sand and dust

Sand and dust particles are extremely small. Given wind conditions in the environment, they can easily end up inside computers at a base camp, where they can cause the machines to malfunction.

Military-grade computers have special casings that prevent sand and dust from entering them.

Water immersion

Occasionally on missions, military personnel may have to travel through water. Because they are carrying their gear on their backs most times, any computer equipment they have should be able to withstand a good soaking.

Water immersion tests often involve putting the computer into vats of water and exposing it to sprayed water at varying intensities to simulate rainfall.

Shocks and drops

Military-grade computers can expect to be parachuted out of planes as well as be placed near areas where there are explosions. In each case, they should be able to stand up to the shocks such activities produce.

Sun exposure

When you expose a regular computer to direct sunlight, after a few hours, you may begin to smell its components heating up. Repeated exposure to this kind of treatment will cause them to malfunction.

When testing for the military-grade designation, a computer must survive exposure to direct sunlight for 3 to 7 days.

Salt

Salt causes rusting of components. A military-grade computer needs to be able to stand up to the tough conditions of operating near the sea if necessary.

Air pressure

Similarly, computers used by the military must be able to function in all sorts of altitude and depth conditions.

Security

Because military operations often involve the transfer of sensitive information, their computers need to be built in such a way that it’s harder for malware to damage their hardware and for them to be hacked.

Should you get a military-grade computer

The best answer to this is, “it depends.” Ultimately, what type of computer you buy will be determined by the use you plan to put it to.

The vast majority of us will never work in conditions required by members of the military. Therefore, most of us won’t need these features. However, if your job takes you to certain environments regularly, you should think about investing in a military-grade computer. 

People who work as research scientists might find a military-grade computer useful since they often work in hostile environmental conditions. Filmmakers may benefit from these types of machines as well since movie crews operate in a variety of locales as well.

Construction and factory workers may also benefit from a military-grade computer as their work environment is filled with moments where computers are dropped all the time.

People who work in fields where they deal with sensitive information all the time may benefit from the added security features of a military-grade computer.

Budget is an important consideration. The special features of a military-grade laptop mean that it costs more than the average laptop. If you have the need for these features and can afford it, by all means, go ahead and purchase one.

The military computer needs to be a cut above the average one because of the conditions it has to function in. Get one if you believe you have used it for this specialist piece of equipment.