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GammaTech DURABOOK SA14

Attractively priced semi-rugged 14-inch notebook with high-performance Intel "Skylake" 6th generation Core processors, good connectivity, and numerous customization options
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer; photography by Carol Cotton)

The GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 is a modern laptop solution for customers who need more durability and ruggedness than consumer notebooks generally provide, but still at an affordable price. GammaTech also sought to make available a product that could easily be adapted to a wide range of applications and environments. Right upfront: the starting MSRP of the DURABOOK SA14 is US$1,698, which is about twice as much as that of a consumer notebook, but only about half as much as a dedicated vertical market rugged notebook. The comparatively low price certainly makes it attractive. But where does this DURABOOK fit in and what can it do?

At RuggedPCReview.com, we're often asked what laptop is best for challenging jobs. Almost always, the answer is "it depends." Unlike consumer notebooks which generally live sheltered lives in homes, offices, and perhaps a trip or two, rugged and semi-rugged computers may encounter a very wide variety of conditions. Those conditions can range from mild (like use in a field office) to demanding (such as use in a vehicle) to extreme. Consumer-grade hardware is inexpensive but may break. Extreme costs extra and generally means compromise in weight and features.

Deciding on the right notebook for a job can be like choosing between a costly, hardened offroad vehicle or a less expensive standard SUV. The folks at GammaTech USA know that and have always offered a full range of rugged, semi-rugged, and durable systems that do the job without breaking the bank. As of spring 2017, those offerings are the ultra-rugged DURABOOK R8300, the durable DURABOOK S15AB (see our review), and the DURABOOK SA14. The SA14 is heavier and feels tougher than the larger S15AB but how suitable is it for GammaTech's intended markets in "military, field service, transportation, public safety and utilities sectors"?

The DURABOOK SA14 — overview

The GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 is an almost full-size notebook with a 14.0-inch wide-format screen. It measures 13.5 x 9.65 (without the handle) x 1.85 inches and weighs about 7.5 pounds, making it thicker and quite a bit heavier than a standard consumer notebook. The design is purposeful in a no-nonsense sort of way, without any needless bling and trim. The look captures this DURABOOK's mission of providing mobile computing power in a package significantly tougher than any consumer laptop.

All the conveniences and features of a consumer notebook are there: a very legible full-size keyboard, a large and reasonably quick hard disk (ours had an optional super-fast 256GB solid state disk), a DVD super multi drive, a wealth of card readers (PC Card, SD Card, Smart Card, SIM), enough memory (up to 16GB of state-of-the-art DDR4), and plenty of onboard connectivity both wired and wireless.

GammaTech always offers your choice of late-model Intel processors. For the DURABOOK SA14, customers have their choice of no fewer than four 6th generation ("Skylake") Core i5 and i7 chips. Our review unit came with the entry-level (for the SA14) 2.3GHz Core i5-6200U dual-core processor.

The DURABOOK SA14 has a magnesium alloy chassis, very solid display hinges, protective corner bumpers, and it feels exceedingly solid. All ports and card slots are behind protective doors. Note, however, that this is not a fully sealed machine. Its IP53 ingress protection rating means it can handle spills and some rain, but there are ventilation slots at the bottom. That's what semi-rugged means, a good deal of protection for most use scenarios, but not total immunity to the elements.

Design, look, and feel — subdued elegance

Below you can see the GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 from the top and all four sides. The heavy magnesium alloy chassis means the computer doesn't flex and twist like standard plastic consumer laptops. The body of the SA14 is a very dark matte gray, the top of the LCD case is a dark matte silver-gray with a designated logo area (GammaTech machines often sell in rebadged versions). The top of the LCD case is contoured to add extra stiffness.

The DURABOOK SA14 nicely projects the tough tool-for-the-job look popular among most semi- and fully rugged notebooks. The heavy-duty LCD hinges offer good resistance when opening and closing the computer. When you close the lid, two small metal knobs fit into receptacles on the main body, securing the LCD case in place when in closed position. To open the notebook again, you push a spring-loaded lock.

Ports and connectivity are located on the left and right sides, and the back of the computer. The ports on each side are located behind a single cover that protects against physical damage and also provides a good degree of protection against dust and liquids.

The two pictures below show a more detailed view of the left and right side of the DURABOOK SA14.

On the right side, from left to right, you can see the main battery compartment and then a large I/O block that includes a PC Card Type II slot, an SD Card reader, a USB 3.0 and a USB 3.0/eSATA combo port, an RJ45 LAN jack, and, above them, a Smart Card reader.

On the left side, from left to right, are the unit's super multi DVD reader/writer, two USB 2.0 ports, and the microphone and earphone jacks.

On the back of the machine, again from left to right, is the heat exchanger, then a Kensington lock slot, a standard HDMI port, a VGA port, and a legacy DB9 RS223 serial port.

Below you can see how the DURABOOK SA14 provides easy access to its interior via a large removable bottom plate. Embossed labels on the outside show what lies underneath: mSATA, WWAN, WLAN, DDR and CPU. The cover is held in place with eleven small Philips head screws, so passing rascals could not just pop open a cover and abscond with plug-in modules. Note that the cover has a good number of ventilation slots where water can easily get in. Remember, this is a spill-resistant laptop, but not a sealed one!

Once the cover is removed, you can see the copper heat tubing that removes heat from the processor to the heat exchanger/fan assembly. Good thermal management is crucial in notebooks designed to be used in a variety of operating temperatures, even with today's much more efficient and cooler-running processors.

Since the SA14's thermal management systems were initially designed for much hotter-running standard voltage processors, they should have no problem at all in keeping things cool with the cooler-running chips in the updated machine. That means the fan in this new SA14 doesn't come on nearly as often, and the machine will be able to stay longer at turbo clock speeds under heavy load and when it gets hot.

One could argue that switching to much more efficient processors that require much less cooling would have been a good time to cut some size and weight off the SA14 platform, but redesigns are expensive and may obsolete existing docks and peripherals.

Above the fan are two SODIMM RAM slots. Our review machine came with a single 8GB Samsung stick. The right lower corner has a compartment reserved for an optional expansion module. Our review unit came with a ublox NEO-M8N concurrent GNSS module.

A great feature of the M8N is that it can track up to three of the four available GNSS systems concurrently, those being GPS (the US system), GLONASS (the Russian version of GPS), the European Galileo, and the Chinese BeiDou. The ability to track three of those systems means potentially triple the number of available satellites, making for quick starts, very good accuracy, and superior coverage.

Above the expansion area is a compartment that contains two PCIe slots. One is used for WiFi (an Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Bluetooth 4.2 in our unit), the other for optional WWAN (ours had a Sierra Wireless AirPrime MC7355). Both have prewired antenna leads. The compartment also contains a SIM card slot, and you can also see the externally accessible SD Card slot.

The hard drive is located inside a black plastic box that fits flush into the recessed compartment on the upper left. While the base SA14 comes with a 500GB or 1TB rotating hard disk, ours had an optional 2.5-inch 256GB Transcend solid state disk (see product page) with a SATA III 6Gb/s interface.

The assembly is designed to quickly be removed from the laptop (which is sometimes a requirement in some enterprise and government settings). The disk caddy is locked and unlocked via a friction lever. It is not likely to come lose unintentionally (in fact, it took a bit of force to pry it out).

We didn't dismantle the SA14 further, but just by removing the module compartment cover you can see the magnesium alloy chassis of the SA14. While many mobile devices have strong but rather flimsy looking metal chassis or subframes, the one in the SA14 is thick and sturdy and solid as a tank. This is one very tough machine inside.

Keyboard and touch pad — pleasant

The DURABOOK SA14's keyboard is full-scale and has 86 keys. The key design is standard notebook (as opposed to the "chiclet" style keys often found in rugged machines) and the keys are black with white letters, numbers and symbols. Functions are indicated in blue.

The keyboard has a blueish-white backlight that's activated via one of the function keys. It nicely outlines individual keys and lights up the white main and shifted key labels, but not the blue function labels.

Below the keyboard is the unit's touch pad. It is a properly sized and flush-mounted affair with a slight frame so your fingers feel the extent of the pad, and with two large and very responsive mouse buttons in front of it. along the right side is an integrated scroll area with a slightly different texture. The touch pad is very responsive and easy to use, but it can't be operated with gloves on (though it does pick up through some materials, like suede).

There are four buttons above the keyboard. The triangular one to the left is the stealth mode button that can be configured to instantly turn off the screen and all lights, or it can be set to night vision mode where the screen is just barely visible. Next to it is the desktop key, then a programmable function key, and finally a wireless on/off key.

Performance — excellent

The ideal rugged laptop is tough, powerful, handy, and has excellent battery life. In reality, it comes down to finding the right balance between speed, size, weight, battery life and thermal management.

When GammaTech first designed the original SA14 a few years ago, they decided to go for the highest performance available at the time. That meant standard voltage processors that needed a fan to keep the CPU and ancillary electronics cool, and a large battery to enable acceptable battery life even with 35 watt maximum CPU power draw. With the latest version of the DURABOOK SA14, thanks to Intel's rapidly advancing technology GammaTech was able to switch to ultra-low voltage processors with a maximum power draw of just 15 watts. Without giving up performance!

DURABOOK SA14: Processor options
PROCESSOR COMPARISON Core i7 Core i7 Core i5 Core i5
Model 6600U 6500U 6300U 6200U
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
Base Clock Speed 2.60 GHz 2.50 GHz 2.40 GHz 2.30 GHz
Turbo Speed 3.40 GHz 3.10 GHz 3.00 GHz 2.80 GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts
Smart Cache 4MB 4MB 3MB 3MB
Graphics base speed 300 MHz 300 MHz 300 MHz 300 MHz
Graphics max speed 1.05 GHz 1.05 GHz 1.00 GHz 1.00 GHz
Intel vPro Yes No Yes No
Intel TSX-NI Yes No Yes No
Intel SIPP Yes No Yes No
Intel Trusted Execution Yes No Yes No

And it's not just a switch from standard voltage to ultra-low voltage processors; it's also a three generation jump forward from Intel's third gen "Ivy Bridge" all the way to sixth gen "Skylake" technology. The top processor option is now the Intel Core i7-6600U, with the also available Core i7-6500U just a bit slower, but without certain integrated Intel technologies that some customers may need. GammaTech also offers the mid-range Core i5-6300U and Core i5-6200U, which also differ in speed and certain Intel technologies. To view the full spec table for these four dual-core CPUs, see here.

What may make a difference in certain applications is the availability of four special Intel technologies (vPro, TSX-NI, SIPP, and Trusted Execution) included in the i7-6600U and i5-6300U, but not in the i7-6500U and i5-6200U.

  • The extra security and manageability capabilities of vPro, especially, are required in many enterprise deployments.

  • TSX-NI (Transactional Synchronization Extensions New Instructions) helps make parallel operations more efficient via improved control of locks in software,

  • SIPP (Stable Image Platform Program) allows deployment of standardized, stable image PC platforms for at least 15 months, and

  • Trusted Execution technology provides security capabilities such as measured launch and protected execution, and may thus also be an enterprise requirement.

To see what kind of performance the latest DURABOOK SA14 can bring to the party with its advanced "Skylake" Intel Core processor, we ran our standard benchmark suite, Passmark Software's PerformanceTest 6.1, that runs about 30 tests covering CPU, 2D graphics, 3D graphics, memory, and disk and then computes scores for each category and an overall PassMark score. We also ran our second benchmark suite, CrystalMark, for confirmation and additional information.

For comparison and to provide an idea where the new SA14 stands, we included benchmark results of the original SA14 we tested four years ago, GammaTech's own S15AB durable laptop, Dell's ultra-rugged Latitude 14 Extreme laptop, and the latest generation of Getac's semi-rugged S410 and ultra-rugged B300 notebooks.

The results are as follows:

GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 Benchmarks and Comparisons
PERFORMANCE COMPARISON GammaTech GammaTech GammaTech Dell Getac Getac
Type Notebook Notebook Notebook Notebook Notebook Netbook
Class Semi-rugged Semi-rugged Durable Fully-rugged Semi-rugged Fully-rugged
Model SA14 SA14 S15AB 14 Extreme S410 B300
Year tested 2017 2013 2016 2015 2016 2017
Processor Type: Intel Core i5 Core i7 Core i5 Core i5 Core i7 Core i7
Processor Model 6200U 3520M 5200U 4300U 6600U 6500U
CPU Speed 2.30 GHz 2.90 GHz 2.20 GHz 1.90 GHz 2.60 GHz 2.50 GHz
Turbo Speed 2.80 GHz 3.60 GHz 2.70 GHz 2.90 GHz 3.40 GHz 3.10 GHz
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 15 watts 35 watts 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts 15 watts
CPU Mark 4,115.5 4,162.3 3,536.7 3,522.0 4,841.7 4,577.3
2D Graphics Mark 417.6 594.4 518.4 474.7 525.5 490.2
Memory Mark 1,252.8 1,234.8 1,430.4 1,144.1 1,416.7 1,335.3
Disk Mark 3,888.5 694.2 3,655.5 3,984.6 727.3 2,916.0
3D Graphics Mark 430.9 455.2 462.8 484.3 336.8 564.6
Overall PassMark 2,224.6 1,622.7 2,071.6 2,078.4 1,821.7 2,195.8
ALU 43,828 55,163 41,280 42,120 51,255 48,741
FPU 43,500 52,406 37,524 39,941 54,658 51,552
MEM 43,185 46,309 44,983 43,971 38,245 58,244
HDD 37,626 6,853 40,383 42,880 10,170 33,772
GDI 13,538 18,200 17,033 16,050 17,500 est 17,007
D2D 5,478 2,568 6,735 14,219 6,500 est 6,194
OGL 12,303 7,090 8,184 32,989 16,000 est 15,246
Overall CrystalMark 199,458 188,589 196,122 232,170 194,328 est 230,756

The benchmarks show a number of things:

First, although the latest generation DURABOOK SA14 uses much more efficient processors with a thermal design power of just 15 watts instead of 35 watts, and even though our latest review unit had the low-end of available processors and our old review unit had the fastest available chip, the new model is still faster than the old one. In the overall PassMark testing, which is more relevant to typical multi-processor operation, the new SA14 was a very noticeably 40% quicker overall!

Second, again and again we see that newer generation Intel processors may not necessarily be much faster and their clock speeds have hardly changed over the years. What has changed dramatically, though, is their efficiency. Performance levels that used to require power-hungry standard-voltage chips can now be done with much cooler-running low-voltage chips. Graphics performance, amazingly, hasn't changed nearly as much as one'd expect, given Intel's marketing messages.

Third, and we cannot emphasize that enough, the type of mass storage installed can make a huge difference in overall performance. In our benchmarks, solid state disks consistently outperform rotating media by large margins. SSD prices have come down a lot, but they are still higher than those of conventional hard disks, especially at higher capacities. So we now have this frustrating situation where SSDs are so much quicker and more desirable, but they usually come in low storage capacities to keep system prices acceptable, just when we need more and more storage space.

Power draw and battery life

What does all of this very significant performance mean for the SA14's battery life? Competing semi-rugged laptops such as the Getac S410 or the Panasonic Toughbook 54 have modestly sized primary batteries to keep weight low, and both offer optional secondary batteries. The SA14, on the other hand, comes with a beefy 87 watt-hour battery that weighs over a pound all by itself to begin with, and the optional smaller 31 watt-hour secondary battery is only available if an SA14 comes with mSATA mass storage and leaves the hard drive bay available for a second battery.

As is our standard procedure, we used Passmark Software's BatteryMon power management benchmark utility to measure the GammaTech laptop's power draw under various operating conditions.

First we set the Windows 10 power options to "Balanced" and display brightness to its lowest setting (0%). That way we saw an idle power draw of 5.9 watts. We then cranked the backlight up to 50%, and draw increased to 6.6 watts. Then we cranked brightness all the way up to 100% and saw 7.5 watts.

Next we set the Windows 10 power options to "Power Saver" and display brightness at its lowest setting (0%). That way we saw an idle power draw of 5.8 watts. We then cranked the backlight up to 50% and draw increased to 5.9 watts. Then we cranked brightness all the way up to 100% and saw 6.4 watts.

GammaTech SA14 Power Draws (at idle)
Backlight level Lowest (0%) 50% Maximum (100%)
Power Saver 5.8 watts 6.5 watts 7.4 watts
Balanced 5.9 watts 6.6 watts 7.5 watts
Max Performance 6.4 watts 7.1 watts 8.2 watts
Finally, we set the tablet to "Max Performance." At the lowest brightness we saw an idle power draw of 7.4 watts. At 50% brightness draw increased to 7.5 watts. And at the maximum standard brightness setting, electric draw reached 8.2 watts.

What do those power draw figures mean in terms of projected battery life? The beefy Li-Ion battery of the SA14 has a capacity of 86.6 watt-hours. Dividing that by the 5.8 watt minimum observed draw would indicate 15 hours of battery life with the system staying awake the whole time. That's significantly more than GammaTech claims. In the maximum performance settings and maximum brightness, theoretical battery life would still be 10.6 hours.

So by leaving the original SA14 hardware platform unchanged even though with the switch to ultra-low voltage processors they could have switched to a smaller battery and dropped some weight, the SA14 now has more standard battery power than the direct competition.

As always, real world mileage will vary. Minimum draw in a test lab is not an accurate predictor of actual battery life. However, it appears that the power management of the 6th generation "Skylake" Intel Core chips works very well indeed. Combine that with Windows 10's good power management, and this updated SA14 is far more power-efficient than the original despite vastly increased performance. GammaTech's claim of 8.5 hours should easily be possible, and more via the optional second battery that goes into the hard drive bay (for units equipped with mSATA solid state drive). Do keep in mind, though, that power settings do affect clock speed.

Display — bright and great reflection control

The DURABOOK SA14's display measures 14.0 inches diagonally and it uses the still popular 1366 x 768 pixel format that translates into a wide-format 16:9 aspect ratio. That works well for running legacy professional software applications that were usually designed for the 1024 x 768 XGA display standard, and there's extra room on the side because the SA14 screen is 30% wider. The wide format display gives the DURABOOK a contemporary look compared to some of the popular rugged notebook lines that still use the old 4:3 aspect ratio for backward compatibility reasons.

GammaTech literature describes the SA14's screen as "brilliant" and the official brochure lists the display as sunlight readable with anti-reflective coatings and an enhanced-brightness LED backlight. The specs state a 500 nits brightness rating for the sunlight-readable display. Optical coatings and enhanced brightness, of course, are the current recipe for outdoor/sunlight viewability.

As is, what we can report is that the DURABOOK's display is indeed nice and bright — brighter actually than the 500 nits rating suggests — and bright enough for almost all outdoor use. Its surface is semi-matte, eliminating most of the reflection and glare common to most of today's consumer notebooks, and there seems to be a degree of anti-glare applied to it.

The horizontal viewing angle is quite wide. There are no horizontal color shifts, but the picture gets milky when viewed from the left side. The vertical viewing angle isn't nearly as good, with significant color shifts as the viewing angle veers away from straight-on.

For a comparison, we chose another full-size notebook that we often use around the office, and even work on outdoors, with good results — my personal 2011-vintage 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro. It's similar in size to the DURABOOK and its display has an excellent, and well deserved, reputation.

The first comparison pictures below shows the two machines outdoors on a bright and sunny early afternoon day in mid-March. Both display backlights were cranked up to maximum brightness. Both screens are bright enough to be readable, with the DURABOOK significantly brighter. The MacBook's glossy screen shows strong reflections, whereas the DURABOOK display doesn't show any reflections.

Below, the two computers are viewed from a slight angle. The DURABOOK screen is unaffected whereas the MacBook display is almost totally overcome with reflections.

The third comparison picture below has the two machines facing the blue sky with some clouds. Here again, the Macbook's screen becomes nearly mirror-like whereas the DURABOOK is brighter and remains perfectly readable, without any reflections.

Overall, we have a strong preference for displays with near perfect viewing angles from all directions (like IPS displays have). The DURABOOK display doesn't offer the superior viewing angle of an IPS display, but its very solid reflection control and near-perfect degree of matteness make it very usable for outdoor work nonetheless.

And a word about resolution: while wide-format 1366 x 768 is good for watching video, in an era of retina displays and smartphones with full 1920 x 1080 resolution, it's actually rather coarse for a 14-inch display. Those working with dense, complex applications may wish for higher resolution, and we wish GammaTech offered a 1920 x 1080 option.

Ruggedness — probably exceeds specs

The name "DURABOOK" certainly invokes connotations such as "tough," "durable," "reliable," etc. Unfortunately, there are no standards on what exactly defines "rugged" or "semi-rugged" or even "durable" or "business-rugged" or whatever else the industry has come up with. Even the often cited MIL-STD-810G really only describes the procedures for a variety of environmental tests. What it means is that the terms are quite elastic. GammaTech refers to the DURABOOK SA14 as "durable" and "semi-rugged" while the decidedly less rugged DURABOOK S15C is described as "rugged." Such inconsistency can be confusing to potential customers.

As is, GammaTech really only claims resistance to drops, shock, and spills, and describes the design limits in some detail.

For drops, testing is conducted in modified accordance with the procedures described in MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure IV. Drops are from a height of 36 inches onto 2-inch plywood over concrete. The machine is then dropped four to six times with the display closed and unit turned off. After each drop, the machine must be able to boot. That is only marginally impressive impressive compared to the four (and higher) foot drops onto concrete some of the ruggeds can do, but it's in line with some of the other semi-ruggeds on the market.

GammaTech also states shock and vibration resistance in testing similar to MIL-STD-810G, Method 514.6, Procedure I, Category 4, Fig 514.6C-1 which simulates traveling in a truck on a highway for 1,000 miles, compressed into 60 minutes. In addition, also adherence to integrity exposure as shown in Fig.6E-1 in the same section, as well as ASTM4169, Truck Transport, 11.5.2 Random Test, Assurance Level II (ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials. The D 4169 standard sets tests and requirements for strength, durability and protective capability of packaging. Level II stands for medium test intensities and is most commonly used).

On the sealing front, GammaTech claims alternately IP5X and IP53-level protection. The "5" means protection against dust, with limited ingress permitted, and the "3" means protection against water spray spray up to 60 degrees from vertical. GammaTech supplied a splash/spill test document that describes how a deciliter of water can be spilled onto the keyboard, with the machine running.

The operating temperature range, which in the original unit was listed as an unimpressive 32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, is now a far more impressive -4°F to 140°F (-20°C to 60°C). This means the laptop can be used virtually anywhere.

As we've found in prior tests of DURABOOK computers, if you dig a bit deeper into GammaTech's materials and origin, past the official specs, you'll find that the machine offers quite a bit of vibration protection (as is evident from looking at its insides with all its shock absorption and magnesium construction) and that it's really tougher than the few supplied specs might lead one to believe. And Twinhead, GammaTech's corporate mothership in Taiwan, has decades worth of experience making rugged computers — and not just semi-ruggeds, but also fully rugged and ultra-rugged ones. Twinhead is where the late General Dynamics Itronix notebooks came from, and also the tough and rugged GammaTech R8300.

So as far as we're concerned, the DURABOOK SA14 is definitely one tough machine, and a durable one. It's exceptionally sturdy and exceptionally well made. The machine deserves more detailed ruggedness specs, and perhaps they are available somewhere. Keep in mind, though, that weight is an issue: it's easy to make a handheld so it survives an 8-foot drop. With an 8-pound notebook, that's a different story.

Summary: The GammaTech DURABOOK SA14

The GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 is a semi-rugged, super-solid notebook computer designed to be substantially tougher and more durable than standard consumer notebooks, but without the high cost of a fully rugged model. It's a very trust-inspiring, albeit rather heavy, machine with a bright, reflection-free 14-inch wide-format display, good connectivity, good battery life, and excellent performance.

The starting price of the DURABOOK SA14 is amazingly low compared to fully and even most semi-rugged laptops, around US$1,700 or so for a bare-bones machine. DURABOOKs are built-to-order and available with in the usual wide range of configurations that can quickly drive up the price.

Despite its low starting price, the DURABOOK SA14 is a very good performer. The 2.30GHz Intel Core i5-6200U processor in our test unit is the low end of the four processors available for the SA14, and the laptop still scored excellent overall benchmark results. Between the powerful 86.6 watt-hour standard battery and the very good power conservation of Intel's 6th generation processor technology, battery life is more than sufficient.

The DURABOOK SA14 has a bright 1366 x 768 pixel wide-format display that remains usable outdoors with virtually no reflection and glare. There is a resistive touch screen, but we'd have liked to see a higher resolution (like 1920 x 1080 pixel) display option.

While it's not immediately obvious from the modest ruggedness claims, the DURABOOK SA14 is an exceptionally solid and very well made machine. Its magnesium alloy chassis should hold up for a long time, and there is plenty of shock-mounting as well as plenty of internal protection. However, while the unit can handle spills onto its keyboard and such, it is not waterproof (open cooling vents to inside on side and bottom). Examine ruggedness specs to see if they match your requirements.

Overall, the DURABOOK SA14 with its wide-format display and efficient Intel 6th-gen Core processor options is a good deal for anyone who needs a high-performance, highly configurable notebook that is significantly tougher than standard consumer laptops and should hold up well in daily use.– Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, March 2017

GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 Specifications
Status Added 4/2013, full review 07/2013, full review 6th gen 03/2017
Product type Semi-rugged notebook computer
Processor Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i7-6600U with vPro
Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i7-6500U
Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i5-6300U with vPro
Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) Core i5-6200U
CPU speed Core i7-6600U: 2.60GHz (max Turbo Boost speed 3.40Ghz)
Core i7-6500U: 2.50GHz (max Turbo Boost speed 3.10Ghz)
Core i5-6300U: 2.40GHz (max Turbo Boost speed 3.00Ghz)
Core i5-6200U: 2.30GHz (max Turbo Boost speed 2.80Ghz)
CPU Thermal Design Power All 15 watts
OS Windows 7 Professional, Windows 10 Professional
Graphics Controller/Chipset Intel HD Graphics 520 with max. 32GB video memory, or optional AMD MXM module with dedicated 2GB Graphics (either optical drive OR AMD MXM mdoule)
Memory 8GB to 32GB in two 204-pin DDR4 SODIMM sockets
Display type Transmissive TFT with 8-step adjustable backlight; optional 500-nits sunlight-readable with Night Vision mode
Display size and resolution 14.0"/1366 x 768 pixel WXGA with stealth mode
Digitizer/Pens Resistive single touch
Keyboard 86-key, optional waterproof keyboard
Storage 2.5-inch 500GB/1TB SATA hard disk with exclusive HDD quick-release feature
Multimedia Pocket DVD Super-Multi
Slots 1 x SDHC Card, 1 x Smart Card, 1 x ExpressCard 54 OR 1 x PC Card Type II
Housing Magnesium alloy chassis
Temperature -4° to 140°F (-20° to +60°C)
Humidity 5 to 95% non-condensing
Vibration MIL-STD-810G, Method 514.6, Procedure I + ASTM4169, Truck Transport, 11.5.2 Random test, Assurance Level II
Sand and Dust IP5X
Explosive Atmosphere NA
Enclosure Class IPX3
EMI NA
Shock: Functional MIL-STD-810G, Method 514.6, Annex Cat. 4, Fig. 514.6C-1; ASTM 4169, Truck Transport, 11.5.2 Random test, Assurance Level 2 (Operating)
Shock: Transit Drop MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure IV (26 3-foot drops to plywood over concrete)
Certifications FCC, DOC+ FCC ID, CE
Size (inches) 13.5 x 9.65 x 1.85 inches (342 x 245 x 47 mm)
Weight 7.48 pounds (3.4kg) as tested with 9-cell battery and 2.5-inch SATA HDD
Power 9-cell 11.1V, 7,800 mAH 86.6 watt-hour Li-Ion ("8.5 hrs."); optional hot-swappable second 6-cell 5,200 mAH battery ("9-12 hrs with two packs")
Camera 2.0 megapixel webcam
Wireless Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 8260 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Bluetooth 4.2, optional GPS, optional Gobi5000 4G LTE WWAN
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0/eSATA, 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x RJ45, 1 x DB9 RS232, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, audio in/out, dock, optional fingerprint scanner
Price Starting MSRP US$1,698
Contact GammaTech
Website DURABOOK SA14 page
Brochure DURABOOK SA14 brochure
Warranty 3 years DURABOOK standard warranty
Contact GammaTech USA, 48329 Fremont Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538, 510-492-0828