What You Should Know About Military Grade Computers

Military-grade computers aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill devices; numerous salient features set them apart. The first thought that that comes to mind is ‘ruggedness.’ Also referred to as ‘Mil-Spec PCs’ and ‘Rugged COTS (Custom off The Shelf),’ they are designed to survive harsh environments and withstand rough use; needless to say, coping with butterfingers, should be a walk in the park.

‘Military Grade Computer’ however, is not a term to casually throw around, it is a tag that has to be earned. To be certified as one, there are well-defined standards that have to be met. Read on to find out what makes a Military grade computer stand out in a crowd.

What are Military Grade Computers?

Only those computers that meet a certain set of standards and pass a well-defined set of validation tests are classified as military-grade computers. To be certified as a Military grade computer, the device should be tested as per the MIL-STD 810G standards. In addition to this, there are other standards like MIL-STD 901D, MIL-STD-167, and MIL-STD-461.

The standards include numerous testing protocols that range from drop tests, immersion tests, and vibration tests, all the way to ballistic shocks and explosive atmospheres. These tests are designed to validate the suitability of the device to function onboard military vehicles, aircraft, ships, and submarines. As such, they aim to replicate relevant operating conditions through numerous tests that simulate situations like explosions in the water next to a submarine.

How Tough are They?

Military-grade computers must be able to endure extreme temperatures, shock, and vibration, and should be resistant to dust and water. They should also have electromagnetic shielding to make them resistant to electromagnetic pulses. As such, the structure of the devices may use special materials and employ advanced manufacturing techniques to achieve the required levels of toughness.

These days, a significant number of flagship phones boast of IP certifications, offering dust and water resistance. Military-grade computers go way beyond this. The ruggedness of such devices is not skin deep and transcends physical strength and endurance. Every component of such a device is specifically designed to conform to the laid-out standards, from high brightness LCD displays to military rackmount keyboards, which are designed specifically for military use, such as for simulation. Of course, not every test criterion has to be met, but the ones that the device conforms to, have to be explicitly mentioned by the manufacturer. Needless to say, such a device would easily be able to cope with a spilled coffee or a drop from the table.

What Are They Used For?

You guessed it right! Military based applications. But that is not their only calling. Military-grade computers find use in various other fields, where a little something extra is required. They are often employed in remote locations like oil rigs, where service may be difficult, and the environment, unfavorable. They are also used in aviation and aerospace industries, where the equipment may be subjected to sudden pressure or temperature fluctuations or high amplitude vibrations and shock. Owing to their resistance to dust and physical abuse, they are often used on construction sites and factory floors.

What are Their Distinguishable Features?

In addition to the regular features that are found on most consumer-grade computers, military-grade computers can boast of having a variety of features specific to their application, like circular connectors, hot-swap power supplies, hot-swap fans, custom peripherals, high brightness displays for sunlight viewing, custom connectors, and built-in handles and straps.

How Expensive are They?

Military-grade computers are justifiably higher priced than their counterparts. Considering that they utilize stronger materials, more capable hardware, and go through ardent testing, a significant jump in price is to be expected. But one can find such computers in a variety of price ranges. Not all military-grade computers meet all the standards set by MIL-STD 810G. A large number of computers that are marketed as such, meet only some of the standards. 

Consequently, the cost depends on the intended application. The more standards the device meets, the more expensive it would be. Although some manufacturers supply mass-produced military-grade computers, they are often custom-built and tailored to meet the customer’s requirements. This further drives up their cost.

Military Grade Computers are generally heavier, bulkier, and more expensive than the average computer, and probably not the right choice for an average Joe. This is because they are designed, and purpose-built for specific applications. Applications, that would bring a regular consumer grade device down to its knees. They offer extremely high reliability and can operate in extreme conditions. If these conditions, however, remind you of your workplace, you could not go wrong with one.