Notebookcheck

Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 (i5-7300U) Rugged Laptop Review

Allen Ngo 👁, 10/05/2018

Tough guy. Strong in every aspect except one. The Toughbook CF-54 is one of the thinner and more portable rugged laptops in its size category to make it an excellent option for fieldwork. Unfortunately, a huge thorn prevents it from being the ideal companion for outdoor use.

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(Source: Computer Upgrade King)
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The Toughbook series is home to Panasonic's long line of rugged laptops dating back to 1996. Today's 14-inch Toughbook CF-54 Lite is one of the newest models available and also one of the thinnest in its family for improved portability. For this review, we'll be checking out its performance and how it compares to an average office laptop equipped with similar Kaby Lake CPU options.

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 features significantly more interfaces and connectivity options than the typical laptop. See the official specifications sheet here for a full rundown on what it offers. The base Toughbook 54 configuration currently retails for $1400 USD through CUKUSA.com. Lite, Prime, and Performance configurations are available on the CF-54 family.

More Panasonic Toughbook and Toughpad reviews:

Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM (Toughbook CF Series)
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 620, Core: 300 MHz, Memory: 1067 MHz, DDR4, 21.20.16.4821
Memory
32768 MB 
, DDR4-2666, 1066.7 MHz, 15-15-15-35, Dual-Channel
Display
14 inch 16:9, 1366 x 768 pixel 112 PPI, B140XTN, AUO2E3C, TN LED, Dell P/N: 6WM60, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCH
Storage
Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048, 1024 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Kaby Lake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo, Card Reader: SDXC reader
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 30.5 x 345.5 x 271.8 ( = 1.2 x 13.6 x 10.7 in)
Battery
33 Wh, 3050 mAh Lithium-Ion, removeable
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 36 Months Warranty, ruggedized
Weight
1.906 kg ( = 67.23 oz / 4.2 pounds), Power Supply: 537 g ( = 18.94 oz / 1.18 pounds)
Price
1400 USD
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

Panasonic advertises the magnesium-clad CF-54 as being the thinnest 14-inch semi-rugged laptop available while still conforming to MIL-STD-810G and IP51 standards. When compared to the 14-inch Dell Latitude 14 Rugged, the Panasonic system is indeed nearly twice as thin and twice as light for an overall size more similar to a traditional Alienware. Its textured surfaces are firm and rigid even towards the center of the keyboard where most other laptops often exhibit flexing. The 180-degree hinges are solid with absolutely no teetering when typing and lid twisting is at a minimum. Despite being much thinner than its predecessors, it doesn't appear that the CF-54 sacrificed construction quality along the way.

A notable weak spot is down the surface of the magnesium outer lid where slight flexing can occur when applying pressure. It's fortunately minimal and of no concern during use.

Connectivity

A few major ports are optional on the CF-54 including VGA, 4G LTE-enabled mini-SIM, and PC card. Our test configuration is the base model without these options for a more barebones experience. Port positioning could have been better as many of the ports are close to the AC adapter where cables will inevitably entangle. Meanwhile, no ports are along the left edge of our system.

Left: Removable 2.5-inch SATA III slot, Kensington Lock
Left: Removable 2.5-inch SATA III slot, Kensington Lock
Right: Wi-Fi toggle, 3.5 mm audio, SD reader, 2x USB 3.0, RJ-45
Right: Wi-Fi toggle, 3.5 mm audio, SD reader, 2x USB 3.0, RJ-45
Rear: USB 3.0, HDMI, Mini-SIM,
Rear: USB 3.0, HDMI, Mini-SIM,

SD Card Reader

The spring-loaded integrated SD card reader is very fast with an average transfer rate of almost 180 MB/s with our UHS-II test card. Moving 1 GB worth of pictures from our card to desktop takes about 7 seconds.

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SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
149.7 MB/s ∼100%
Dell Latitude 7490
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
146.29 MB/s ∼98% -2%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
136.2 MB/s ∼91% -9%
Getac S410
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
81.1 MB/s ∼54% -46%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
72.8 MB/s ∼49% -51%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
27.5 MB/s ∼18% -82%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
237.5 MB/s ∼100% +32%
Dell Latitude 7490
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
217.93 MB/s ∼92% +21%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
179.6 MB/s ∼76%
Getac S410
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
85.5 MB/s ∼36% -52%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
82.7 MB/s ∼35% -54%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
29.1 MB/s ∼12% -84%

Communication

The system utilizes an Intel 8265 module for WLAN and Bluetooth 4.2 as found on many modern Ultrabooks. We experienced no connectivity issues during our time with the unit. NFC appears to be unavailable on the CF-54.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Getac S410
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
650 MBit/s ∼100% +3%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
635 MBit/s ∼98% +1%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
630 MBit/s ∼97%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
624 MBit/s ∼96% -1%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
492 MBit/s ∼76% -22%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
197 MBit/s ∼30% -69%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
661 MBit/s ∼100% +32%
Getac S410
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
538 MBit/s ∼81% +7%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
524 MBit/s ∼79% +4%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
502 MBit/s ∼76%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
455 MBit/s ∼69% -9%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
223 MBit/s ∼34% -56%

Security

TPM 2.0, NIST BIOS, and a Kensington Lock come standard across all SKUs. For additional security, higher-end SKUs have a fingerprint reader and SmartCard CAC.

Maintenance

The bottom panel is secured by seven Philips screws and gives direct access to 2x SODIMM slots and both the WLAN and WWAN slots. It also gives access to the optical drive depending on the configuration.

Accessories and Warranty

Proprietary accessories are available that attach to the pins on the bottom of the laptop. Notable options are secondary battery packs and antenna for Verizon-enabled LTE and GPS.

A three-year limited manufacturer warranty applies.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard (~28 x 10 cm) keys are soft in feedback with relatively quiet clatter when pressed. The small Arrow keys in particular could have been larger as they feel even spongier than the main QWERTY keys. The three-level red keyboard backlight is a nice addition even though it is dimmer than the white backlight as found on most Ultrabooks.

Touchpad

The small trackpad (8 x 4 cm) is cumbersome to use especially for vertical scrolling because of its narrow dimensions. Fortunately, its smooth surface is rigid and responsive as one would expect. Windows does not recognize the trackpad as being Precision-enabled.

The small dedicated mouse keys are quiet and relatively soft in feedback. A firmer click would have been appreciated.

Display

Subpixel array (112 PPI)
Subpixel array (112 PPI)

The 768p TN display is very disappointing. Not only are colors extremely inaccurate out of the box, but both contrast and brightness are middling at just under 300:1 and 189 nits maximum, respectively. In comparison, the display on the Latitude 14 7414 Rugged can reach almost 1000:1 in contrast and with a brightness of nearly 500 nits. We spoke to a Panasonic representative who confirmed that the 768p panel is indeed relatively dim even at its maximum brightness setting. Panasonic offers an optional 1000-nit backlight for higher-end SKUs.

It's worth noting that the AU Optronics B140XTN panel on our Panasonic can also be found on the four-year old Rugged Dell Latitude 14 5404. Consequently, both models share similar display properties including contrast ratio and color reproduction.

Subjectively, colors appear washed out and overly blue because of the high default color temperature. There is a slight layer of graininess over the screen that makes onscreen content less sharp when compared to glossy overlays.

187.8
cd/m²
180
cd/m²
167.7
cd/m²
179.9
cd/m²
174.5
cd/m²
150.2
cd/m²
155.7
cd/m²
151
cd/m²
132.5
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 187.8 cd/m² Average: 164.4 cd/m² Minimum: 2.13 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 71 %
Center on Battery: 174.5 cd/m²
Contrast: 291:1 (Black: 0.6 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 12.05 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.2, calibrated: 4.34
ΔE Greyscale 14.8 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
56.2% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 35.7% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 1.4
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
B140XTN, AUO2E3C, TN LED, 14, 1366x768
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
Sharp LQ140K1, IPS, 14, 1366x768
Dell Latitude 7490
AU Optronics AU0223D, IPS, 14, 1920x1080
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
Manufacturer unknown, ID: TMA1200, IPS, 12, 2160x1440
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
ID: BOE06E8, Name: BOE HF NV150FHB-N31, IPS, 15, 1920x1080
Getac S410
CMN N140BGE-E33, TN PED, 14, 1366x768
Response Times
-29%
-50%
-19%
-39%
12%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
43.2 (16.8, 26.4)
43 (20, 23)
-0%
48.4 (27.6, 20.8)
-12%
30 (11, 19)
31%
46 (25.2, 20.8)
-6%
41.2 (21.6, 19.6)
5%
Response Time Black / White *
17.2 (11.2, 6)
27 (17, 10)
-57%
32.4 (18.8, 13.6)
-88%
29 (11, 18)
-69%
29.6 (16.4, 13.2)
-72%
14 (9.6, 4.4)
19%
PWM Frequency
200 (20)
685
2976 (91)
877.2 (99)
Screen
68%
73%
219%
114%
17%
Brightness middle
174.5
493
183%
328.2
88%
571
227%
558.2
220%
265.1
52%
Brightness
164
456
178%
305
86%
555
238%
528
222%
246
50%
Brightness Distribution
71
81
14%
87
23%
89
25%
92
30%
81
14%
Black Level *
0.6
0.53
12%
0.37
38%
0.11
82%
0.46
23%
0.58
3%
Contrast
291
930
220%
887
205%
5191
1684%
1213
317%
457
57%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
12.05
11.08
8%
3.82
68%
22.7
-88%
4.41
63%
14.24
-18%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
27.5
15.11
45%
5.58
80%
34.14
-24%
10.91
60%
26.66
3%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
4.34
3.5
19%
3.94
9%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
14.8
11.99
19%
3
80%
13.6
8%
6.6
55%
14.2
4%
Gamma
1.4 157%
4.03 55%
2.36 93%
5.51 40%
2.19 100%
2.03 108%
CCT
14529 45%
10872 60%
6962 93%
6998 93%
7615 85%
17152 38%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
35.7
36
1%
58
62%
42.5
19%
61.3
72%
38.7
8%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
56.2
56
0%
88
57%
67.02
19%
97.2
73%
61
9%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
20% / 52%
12% / 54%
100% / 179%
38% / 88%
15% / 17%

* ... smaller is better

Color space is only 56 percent and 36 percent of the sRGB and AdobeRGB standards, respectively, to indicate a budget panel. Results are not all that different from the displays of the Dell Latitude 14 and Panasonic CF-33 since color accuracy is not priority for these rugged laptops.

vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB

Further analyses with a spectrophotometer reveal an overly cool color temperature and a very inaccurate grayscale. Our calibration attempt fixes many of these issues and we strongly recommend applying our ICC profile above to get the most out of the display.

Grayscale before calibration
Grayscale before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
Saturation Sweeps before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
ColorChecker before calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Grayscale after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
Saturation Sweeps after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration
ColorChecker after calibration

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
17.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 11.2 ms rise
↘ 6 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 15 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (25.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
43.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 16.8 ms rise
↘ 26.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 62 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (41 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8933 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Outdoor visibility is very poor. The backlight is far too weak for comfortable use under sunlight or even shade. The 180-degree hinges do little to help against the narrow viewing angles.

Outdoors under shade
Outdoors under shade
Outdoors on overcast day
Outdoors on overcast day
Outdoors on overcast day
Outdoors on overcast day
Narrow TN viewing angles
Narrow TN viewing angles

Performance

Processor

CineBench R15
CineBench R15

The last generation Core i5-7300U is only 4 percent faster than the i5-7200U and 6 percent slower than the i7-7500U. In other words, the performance differences are so minimal that users are unlikely to notice the advantages in practice. In comparison, jumping between CPU generations will bring much larger benefits. As an example, upgrading from the i5-5200U to the i5-7300U would boost multi-thread performance by 34 percent.

Running CineBench R15 Multi-Thread in a loop shows stable performance from start to finish throughout. Very high Turbo Boost clock rates are short-lived as our Stress Test section below will show.

See our dedicated page on the Core i5-7300U for more technical information and benchmarks.

0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360Tooltip
; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø344 (340.23-352.17)
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Getac S410
Intel Core i7-8550U
163 Points ∼75% +30%
Dell Latitude 15 3590-K8JP
Intel Core i7-8550U
161 Points ∼74% +29%
Lenovo ThinkPad 25
Intel Core i7-7500U
146 Points ∼67% +17%
HP 15-da0405ng
Intel Core i5-8250U
144 Points ∼66% +15%
Average Intel Core i5-7300U
  (125 - 145, n=9)
140 Points ∼64% +12%
Lenovo ThinkPad A485-20MU000CGE
AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U
134 Points ∼61% +7%
Lenovo IdeaPad 720-15IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
129 Points ∼59% +3%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel Core i5-7300U
125 Points ∼57%
HP 250 G4 T6P08ES
Intel Core i5-5200U
108 Points ∼50% -14%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
65 Points ∼30% -48%
Teclast Tbook 16 Power
Intel Atom x7-Z8750
38.9 Points ∼18% -69%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Dell Latitude 15 3590-K8JP
Intel Core i7-8550U
572 Points ∼13% +66%
HP 15-da0405ng
Intel Core i5-8250U
568 Points ∼13% +65%
Lenovo ThinkPad A485-20MU000CGE
AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U
553 Points ∼13% +61%
Getac S410
Intel Core i7-8550U
498 Points ∼11% +45%
Lenovo ThinkPad 25
Intel Core i7-7500U
367 Points ∼8% +7%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel Core i5-7300U
344 Points ∼8%
Average Intel Core i5-7300U
  (328 - 369, n=9)
342 Points ∼8% -1%
Lenovo IdeaPad 720-15IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
331 Points ∼8% -4%
HP 250 G4 T6P08ES
Intel Core i5-5200U
257 Points ∼6% -25%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y
164 Points ∼4% -52%
Teclast Tbook 16 Power
Intel Atom x7-Z8750
133 (min: 112.75, max: 133) Points ∼3% -61%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
125 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
344 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
47.29 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

PCMark 10 benchmarks rank the CF-54 just 5 percent below the average Office laptop in our database. The smaller Toughbook CF-33 scores higher largely because of its primary SSD. Subjectively, performance is reliable if not a bit slow from the 5400 RPM HDD.

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 10
PCMark 10
PCMark 10 - Score
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3429 Points ∼44% +15%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Toshiba SG5 256GB THNSNK256GVN8
3329 Points ∼43% +12%
Average of class Office
  (803 - 4269, n=98)
3134 Points ∼40% +5%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048
2972 Points ∼38%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
2364 Points ∼30% -20%
PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
4029 Points ∼66% +3%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048
3906 Points ∼64%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Liteonit CV3-8D128
3655 Points ∼60% -6%
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
3542 Points ∼58% -9%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Toshiba SG5 256GB THNSNK256GVN8
3518 Points ∼58% -10%
Average of class Office
  (1169 - 4458, n=355)
3009 Points ∼49% -23%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3906 points
Help

Storage Devices

HD Tune
HD Tune

Two internal storage bays are available. The first bay is a convenient quick-release 2.5-inch SATA III slot near the front edge of the notebook. The second slot is an optional solution that requires addition disassembly. Our test unit is equipped with just a single 1 TB Seagate BarraCuda HDD with an average transfer rate of just under 99 MB/s according to HD Tune.

More benchmarks can be found on our table of SSDs and HDDs.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048
Lenovo IdeaPad 330-15ARR-81D2005JGE
Seagate Mobile HDD 1TB ST1000LM035
Dell G3 15 3579
Seagate Mobile HDD 1TB ST1000LX015-1U7172
HP 15-db0500ng
Seagate Mobile HDD 1TB ST1000LM035
Toshiba Tecra A50-C1510W10
Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 P50W-C-102
HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
HD Tune Transfer Rate Average
---
98.8
84.4
-15%
97.5
-1%
98.5
0%
102.6
4%
70.5
-29%
Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048
Transfer Rate Minimum: 18.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 137.8 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 98.8 MB/s
Access Time: 19.9 ms
Burst Rate: 156.3 MB/s
CPU Usage: 5.7 %

GPU Performance

3DMark 11
3DMark 11

The integrated HD Graphics 620 GPU holds no surprises. Performance is sufficient for 4H UHD video playback but it is otherwise unfit for video editing or gaming. To its credit, it is at least faster than the UHD Graphics 615 in the new Microsoft Surface Go. See our dedicated page on the HD Graphics 620 for more technical information and benchmark comparisons.

Panasonic also offers the Toughbook CF-54 with the discrete Radeon Pro WX 4150 for higher graphics performance.

3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance Combined
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
3965 Points ∼22% +131%
Lenovo ThinkPad 25
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX, 7500U
2975 Points ∼16% +73%
Lenovo Flex 5-1570 81CA000RUS
NVIDIA GeForce MX130, 8550U
2831 Points ∼16% +65%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, 7660U
2184 Points ∼12% +27%
Lenovo ThinkPad A485-20MU000CGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 8, PRO 2500U
1915 Points ∼11% +11%
Getac S410
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
1758 Points ∼10% +2%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7300U
1720 Points ∼9%
Average Intel HD Graphics 620
  (814 - 1811, n=132)
1359 Points ∼7% -21%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
Intel HD Graphics 520, 6300U
1239 Points ∼7% -28%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel UHD Graphics 615, 4415Y
1134 Points ∼6% -34%
Teclast Tbook 16 Power
Intel HD Graphics 405 (Braswell), Z8750
363 Points ∼2% -79%
1280x720 Performance GPU
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
4369 Points ∼9% +159%
Lenovo ThinkPad 25
NVIDIA GeForce 940MX, 7500U
2849 Points ∼6% +69%
Lenovo ThinkPad A485-20MU000CGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 8, PRO 2500U
2794 Points ∼5% +66%
Lenovo Flex 5-1570 81CA000RUS
NVIDIA GeForce MX130, 8550U
2592 Points ∼5% +54%
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i7
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640, 7660U
2493 Points ∼5% +48%
Getac S410
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
1766 Points ∼3% +5%
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
Intel HD Graphics 620, 7300U
1687 Points ∼3%
Average Intel HD Graphics 620
  (1067 - 1777, n=132)
1499 Points ∼3% -11%
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
Intel HD Graphics 520, 6300U
1369 Points ∼3% -19%
Microsoft Surface Go MHN-00003
Intel UHD Graphics 615, 4415Y
1257 Points ∼2% -25%
Teclast Tbook 16 Power
Intel HD Graphics 405 (Braswell), Z8750
408 Points ∼1% -76%
3DMark 11 Performance
1873 points
Help
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 54.733.528.9fps

Stress Test

We stress the system with synthetic loads in order identify for any potential throttling or stability issues. When running Prime95, the CPU can be observed operating at up to 3.5 GHz for the first few seconds before reaching a core temperature of 91 C. Thereafter, its clock rate stabilizes at a respectable 3.1 GHz and at a steady core temperature of 87 C. Running both Prime95 and FurMark throttles the CPU even further to just 1.4 GHz.

Running on batteries will not throttle performance. A 3DMark 11 run on batteries returns Physics and Graphics scores that are within just 1 percent of the scores when running on mains.

System idle
System idle
Prime95 stress (first few minutes)
Prime95 stress (first few minutes)
Prime95 stress (after 20 minutes)
Prime95 stress (after 20 minutes)
Prime95+FurMark stress
Prime95+FurMark stress
CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 3.1 -- 87
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 1.4 898 75

Emissions

System Noise

When idling, the system is silent save for the spinning mechanical drive near the front of the system. The main issue arises when higher loads are introduced. When running 3DMark 06, for example, fan noise can spike from as low as 30 dB(A) to 40 dB(A) before immediately falling back down to 30 dB(A). It's an annoying behavior that is more common on gaming laptops than on systems with ULV Intel CPUs like our Panasonic. The competing Getac S410 does not suffer from the same spikes in fan noise.

We can notice no electronic noise or coil whine from our test unit. The slight whir from the mechanical hard drive will be inevitable unless if configured with a SSD instead.

Noise Level

Idle
28.8 / 28.8 / 29.1 dB(A)
Load
31.3 / 40 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.3 dB(A)
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
HD Graphics 520, 6300U, Liteonit CV3-8D128
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
HD Graphics 620, 7300U, Toshiba SG5 256GB THNSNK256GVN8
Getac S410
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, CUKUSA 1 TB SATA SSD Q0526A
Noise
1%
-1%
-2%
4%
off / environment *
28.3
30.2
-7%
28.2
-0%
30.3
-7%
28.4
-0%
Idle Minimum *
28.8
30.2
-5%
28.2
2%
30.3
-5%
28.4
1%
Idle Average *
28.8
30.2
-5%
28.2
2%
30.3
-5%
28.4
1%
Idle Maximum *
29.1
30.2
-4%
31.4
-8%
30.5
-5%
28.4
2%
Load Average *
31.3
30.2
4%
31.7
-1%
30.5
3%
30.3
3%
Load Maximum *
40
31.7
21%
41.2
-3%
36.6
8%
33.3
17%

* ... smaller is better

Temperature

Rear exhaust
Rear exhaust

Surface temperatures are generally cool during low loads. The right palm rest, however, can be a few degrees C warmer than the left if the drive is being utilized. If under extreme loads, the right half of the notebook will always be warmer than the left due to the positioning of the processor inside. Surfaces never become uncomfortably warm for typing.

System idle (top)
System idle (top)
System idle (bottom)
System idle (bottom)
Maximum load (top)
Maximum load (top)
Maximum load (bottom)
Maximum load (bottom)
Max. Load
 26.2 °C
79 F
38.2 °C
101 F
34.4 °C
94 F
 
 26.4 °C
80 F
29.6 °C
85 F
31 °C
88 F
 
 26 °C
79 F
27.4 °C
81 F
29.8 °C
86 F
 
Maximum: 38.2 °C = 101 F
Average: 29.9 °C = 86 F
38 °C
100 F
35.8 °C
96 F
29.8 °C
86 F
35.4 °C
96 F
34 °C
93 F
29.6 °C
85 F
31.2 °C
88 F
28.4 °C
83 F
28 °C
82 F
Maximum: 38 °C = 100 F
Average: 32.2 °C = 90 F
Power Supply (max.)  36 °C = 97 F | Room Temperature 22.6 °C = 73 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 29.9 °C / 86 F, compared to the average of 29.4 °C / 85 F for the devices in the class Office.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 38.2 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 33.9 °C / 93 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 38 °C / 100 F, compared to the average of 36.4 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 27.1 °C / 81 F, compared to the device average of 29.4 °C / 85 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 29.8 °C / 85.6 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.3 °C / 82.9 F (-1.5 °C / -2.7 F).

Speakers

Pink noise
Pink noise

The integrated speakers lack bass as one would expect but are otherwise clear and free of static even when at the maximum volume. Very slight chassis reverberations occur near the speaker grilles.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2037.536.82534.835.2313532.34034.134.95032.533.36332.333.7803032.110029.129.212529.329.616028.428.320027.428.825027.928.431527.5324002638.650025.747.563024.852.580024.860.910002565.9125024.563.9160024.462.5200024.257.725002454.9315023.855400023.661.9500023.758.7630023.860.7800023.561.21000023.662.31250023.557.91600023.546.8SPL36.572.7N2.728.4median 24.5median 55Delta1.311.435.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoisePanasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VMApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (65.91 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 25.6% lower than median
(+) | bass is linear (5% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 7.8% higher than median
(-) | mids are not linear (17.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 4.3% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (7.9% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(-) | overall sound is not linear (36.7% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 97% of all tested devices in this class were better, 2% similar, 2% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 21%, worst was 51%
Compared to all devices tested
» 97% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 2% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 2% of all tested devices in this class were better, 2% similar, 96% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 2% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Prime95 initiated at 20s mark
Prime95 initiated at 20s mark

The system demands between 4 W and 7 W when idling on desktop depending on the brightness setting and about 36 W when under high loads. When running Prime95, we are able to record a maximum draw of almost 43 W from the small (~14 x 5.3 x 3.1 cm) 110 W AC adapter. Panasonic could have probably bundled a lighter and less capable AC adapter for better portability without affecting performance.

As shown by our graph to the right, power consumption is highest during the first few seconds of benchmarking before dropping due to limited Turbo Boost.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.19 / 0.58 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.4 / 6.3 / 6.5 Watt
Load midlight 36.3 / 38.3 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
7300U, HD Graphics 620, Seagate BarraCuda Compute 1TB ST1000LM048, TN LED, 1366x768, 14
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
6300U, HD Graphics 520, Liteonit CV3-8D128, IPS, 1366x768, 14
Fujitsu LifeBook U748
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Dell Latitude 7490
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
7300U, HD Graphics 620, Toshiba SG5 256GB THNSNK256GVN8, IPS, 2160x1440, 12
Getac S410
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, CUKUSA 1 TB SATA SSD Q0526A, TN PED, 1366x768, 14
Power Consumption
-64%
-1%
-4%
23%
-12%
Idle Minimum *
4.4
6.8
-55%
3.33
24%
3.1
30%
3.6
18%
5.6
-27%
Idle Average *
6.3
13.4
-113%
6.9
-10%
6.5
-3%
4.6
27%
7.9
-25%
Idle Maximum *
6.5
16.8
-158%
8.2
-26%
7.6
-17%
5.15
21%
8.4
-29%
Load Average *
36.3
35.2
3%
29.4
19%
43
-18%
27
26%
32.8
10%
Load Maximum *
38.3
36.3
5%
43.4
-13%
43.8
-14%
29.2
24%
34.3
10%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The removable Li-Ion battery is very small at just 33 Wh compared to 50 Wh and 97 Wh on the Fujitsu LifeBook U748 and Dell Latitude 14 Rugged, respectively. Consequently, users can expect a real-world WLAN runtime of just under 6 hours from the Panasonic compared to 9 hours or more from the aforementioned alternatives. Secondary battery packs are available to extend battery life.

Charging from near empty to full capacity takes just under 1.5 hours.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
5h 52min
Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM
7300U, HD Graphics 620, 33 Wh
Dell Latitude 14 7414 Rugged Extreme
6300U, HD Graphics 520, 97 Wh
Dell Latitude 7490
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, 60 Wh
Panasonic Toughbook CF-33
7300U, HD Graphics 620, 44 Wh
Samsung Notebook 9 NP900X5T-X01US
8550U, GeForce MX150, 75 Wh
Getac S410
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 46.6 Wh
Battery Runtime
78%
59%
35%
80%
-11%
Reader / Idle
1116
1810
WiFi v1.3
352
628
78%
561
59%
475
35%
635
80%
312
-11%
Load
91
127

Pros

+ red keyboard backlight is easy on the eyes
+ accessible SODIMM and wireless modules
+ full performance when on battery power
+ standard three-year limited warranty
+ thin and light for its rugged category
+ quick-release 2.5-inch SATA III bay
+ silent during low loads
+ fast SD card reader

Cons

- sharp jump in fan noise during high processing loads
- very dim display on base configuration
- small trackpad; soft mouse buttons
- port positioning could be better
- no Kaby Lake-R CPU options
- speakers could be louder

Verdict

In review: Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM. Test model provided by CUKUSA.com
In review: Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM. Test model provided by CUKUSA.com

Panasonic offers its Toughbook CF-54 in a very wide range of SKUs to better cater to specific use cases. While we can't cover each and every one, we can definitely recommend which ones to avoid and which ones to consider. More specifically, users intending to use the Toughbook CF-54 outdoors or in automobiles should absolutely invest in the 1000-nit 1080p display backlight option. Without this feature, the display will be too dim for most scenarios.

Additionally, if graphics performance is not a concern, then the Core i5-7300U configuration should be sufficient as there is minimal benefit between the i5-7300U and i7-7600U. The extras dollars saved would be better spent on a primary SSD for a more tangible boost in overall performance.

For future revisions, we hope to see Intel 8th gen CPU options as the older generations are beginning to show their age. Improved port positioning, more gradual fan noise changes, louder internal speakers, and customizable auxiliary keys can all contribute to an even more versatile machine.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-54G2999VM - 10/05/2018 v6
Allen Ngo

Chassis
90 / 98 → 91%
Keyboard
73%
Pointing Device
68%
Connectivity
45 / 80 → 57%
Weight
64 / 20-67 → 94%
Battery
87%
Display
70%
Games Performance
60 / 68 → 89%
Application Performance
88 / 92 → 95%
Temperature
93%
Noise
95%
Audio
40%
Average
73%
80%
Office - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Panasonic Toughbook CF-54 (i5-7300U) Rugged Laptop Review
Allen Ngo, 2018-10- 5 (Update: 2018-10- 5)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.