We listed the Macbook Air M1 as the best laptop for military CAC readers. Read more below to find out why! If you’re short on time, take a look at amazon for the best deals.
If you’re working at the Department of Defense in the United States, you usually have a unique DoD smart card for multi-factor authentication. In order to use that CAC, you need two types of devices, a CAC reader and a laptop.
Purchasing a CAC Reader is relatively easy when finding a rugged laptop.
US military personel are often confused while trying to choose the best laptop with a CAC reader.
In order to solve this dilemma, we are here with reviews of the 5 best laptops for military use! These come with capabilities to set up your common access card, works well with AKO, enterprise, and are best to use for web browsing, emails, writing and steaming.
We all know a fact that for CAC use the Windows laptop is the way to go. But mac also performs well in terms of easy smart card setup. Moreover, a MacBook comes with a 2k Retina display for streaming, a powerful processor for the smoothest experience, and a GPU for little gaming laptop at an affordable price.
Best Laptops For Military CAC Reader 2023
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
This is the best-selling laptop of the Acer series. Acer Aspire 5 Slim is a very budget and CAC-friendly rugged laptop. Unlike our top choice which is MacBook Air M1, it doesn’t have port limitations and doesn’t require any extra USB hub to plug in your CAC reader to the device.
It’s available in silver which gives it a plain and simple look. The display of this Acer Aspire 5 is 15.6 inches which is a Full HD IPS Display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This display is 2.3 inches bigger than the Macbook Air but doesn’t offer a 2k resolution.
It comes with 4 GB of DDR4 Ram which is quite rare to see in this price range. If you look at the other laptops they have, they are equipped with DDR3 RAM which is far slower than DDR4.
Also, the most interesting part here it is equipped with a 128 GB fast solid-state drive which makes your CAC reader software smooth and fast to use. On the other hand, if you are gonna buy a laptop under $400 then you will see so many laptops come with HDD that’s super slow and cheap compared to an SSD.
It also contains a 720p HD webcam which is an added bonus. Moreover, it provides 7.5 hours of battery life which is perfect for military use.
Finally, it has 4 types of ports including a USB Type-A port to connect your CAC reader to the laptop effortlessly.
|PC Series:||Acer Aspire 5|
|Processor:||Acer Aspire 5 Mobile Processor (Base Clock 2.6GHz, Max Boost Clock Up to 3.5GHz, 4MB Cache, 14nm CMOS, 2 Core, 8 Threads, 105°C Max Temperature).|
|Memory:||4 GB of DDR4 RAM (Can be expandable up to 32 GB)|
|Storage:||128 GB Solid State Drive which can be upgraded with an M.2 or SATA drive|
|Benchmark CPU Score:||Average 3964, Single Thread Rating: 1860|
Cross-Platform Rating: 6238
|Graphics:||Radeon™ Vega 3 Graphics (3 Core, 192KB Cache, PCIe 3.0)|
|Display:||15.6 inches full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS display|
|Communications:||Wifi 5 and Bluetooth|
|Operating system:||Windows 10|
|Ports & Slots:||1 USB 3.1 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 1 HDMI port with HDCP support.|
|Battery:||Up to 7.5 hours battery life|
|Additional Information:||Dimensions: 14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches|
Approximate Weight: 3.97 lbs
HP 14 inch HD Laptop
Are you looking for the best HP laptop for a military CAC reader? The HP 14 inch HD Laptop is a fantastic device based on your needs.
This is an inexpensive rugged laptop that comes in a simple solid black color.
It comes with an AMD Athlon processor which is quite good for running simple apps, doing online work, and streaming any type of video or show you can think of.
How does this laptop perform better while streaming? Although this laptop doesn’t feature an FHD display like Acer Aspire 5, the 720p display of the HP 14 inch HD Laptop with 220 nits brightness is more than enough to enjoy streaming whenever your schedule allows..
This laptop is packed with 16 GB of DDR4 Ram with bandwidth of 2400 MHz. The more bandwidth helps to run all of your software and CAC-based applications smoothly.
Another upside here you will see is the storage type. If we compared this laptop with our previous budget laptops for a military CAC reader that come with a 128 GB SSD storage drive, this laptop pulls ahead in comparison since it’s included a 512 GB solid state drive storage.
This type of storage is a massive upgrade from what is generally used inside of cheap Android, Windows, and Chrome OS tablets and laptops.
|PC Series:||HP Laptop|
|Processor:||AMD 3000 Series Mobile Processors (Base Clock 2.3GHz, Max Boost Clock Up to 3.2GHz, 1MB Cache, 14nm CMOS, 2 Core, 2 Threads, 100°C Max Temperature).|
|Memory:||16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM 2400 MHz|
|Storage:||512GB SSD + 64GB embedded Multi-Media Card (eMMC) flash memory|
|Benchmark CPU Score:||Average 2584, Single Thread Rating: 1469|
Cross-Platform Rating: 4597
|Graphics:||AMD 3 Cores Radeon Graphics Card|
|Display:||14″ HD (1366 x 768) Micro-edge display (220 nits, 45% NTSC)|
|Communications:||Wifi 5 and Bluetooth|
|Operating system:||Windows 10|
|Ports & Slots:||1 X USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C; 2 X USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A; 1 X AC smart pin; 1 X HDMI; 1 X headphone/microphone combo; 1 X multi-format SD media card reader.|
|Battery:||3 Cell Lithium Ion Battery|
|Additional Information:||Dimensions: 12.76 x 8.9 x 0.78 inches|
Approximate Weight: 3.2 lbs
ASUS VivoBook 15
ASUS VivoBook 15 is an ultra-thin and lightweight notebook that comes with better specs at an affordable price. If you want to taste the whole portability of a laptop and carry a lightweight rugged laptop that can be used for a CAC reader, then this is a perfect option for under $400.
It comes with 15.6 inches Full HD NanoEdge bezel display with a remarkable 88% screen-to-body ratio. Despite having a NanoEdge bezel display the ASUS VivoBook 15 didn’t compromise with the camera. This device is equipped with a 720p HD camera in order to do video conferencing, online classes, live streaming, and more.
Now let’s see some comparisons between the Acer aspire 5 and the ASUS VivoBook 15. Before we make a move let me give you a spoiler, in this comparison, the winner will be the ASUS VivoBook 15. Read below to get all the details!
Both laptops included an FHD display of 15.6 inch but the ASUS VivoBook 15 has got some advantages due to its NanoEdge bezel. So the wider screen is better for streaming, designing, and content creation. Can’t beat those intel uhd graphics!
The Acer Aspire 5 comes with 8 GB Of ram with 2444 MHz whereas the ASUS VivoBook 15 has the same amount of ram but with 2666 MHz. Also available is one extra slot to upgrade your ram up to 16 GB more. This will make your CAC software much faster.
Also, both are packed with 128 GB SSD but in the case of Asus it has some edge since the solid-state drive here used was the Nvme model which is faster than normal SSD storage.
Moreover, it has a more powerful processor than Acer, more USB ports than Acer, and also the plastic materials are more sturdy and feel premium than the Acer Aspire 5. The only downside here you will see is the case of an ethernet port that doesn’t come with RJ45 wired LAN.
|PC Series:||ASUS VivoBook 15|
|Processor:||Intel i3-1005G1 (Base Clock 1.20GHz, Max Boost Clock Up to 3.40GHz, 4MB Cache, 14nm CMOS, 2 Core, 4 Threads, 100°C Max Temperature)|
|Memory:||8 GB of DDR SDRAM|
|Storage:||128 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive (Extra slots available)|
|Benchmark CPU Score:||Average 5209, Single Thread Rating: 2286|
Cross-Platform Rating: 8639
|Graphics:||Intel® UHD Integrated Graphics Card|
|Display:||15.6 inch Full HD (1920×1080) 4-way NanoEdge bezel display|
|Communications:||Wifi 5 and Bluetooth 5|
|Operating system:||Windows 10 with S Mode|
|Ports & Slots:||1 USB 3.2 Type-C, 1 USB 3.2 Type-A, 1 USB 2.0, and 1 HDMI|
|Battery:||Up to 5 hours battery life|
|Additional Information:||Dimensions: 14.1 x 9.1 x 0.78 inches|
Approximate Weight: 3.75 lbs
Apple MacBook Air Laptop
The MacBook Air M1 is the best value from Apple to date. This semi rugged laptop is packed with plenty of amazing features and its sleek design which will also make you feel like making the switch from Windows to Mac.
Unquestionably, windows contains easy functionality to use with a CAC reader but the mac operating system is much simpler than that. Both OS doesn’t require more than 30 minutes to set up and also available guidelines in militarycac.com on how to set up quickly.
With this fantastic laptop, you have a 13” 2k retina display with a resolution of 2560×1600 at 227 pixels per inch. On the other hand, finding a 2k display in this price range in a windows laptop is like finding a blue moon in the sky.
Besides setting up your smart card, you can experience the best streaming whenever you find some free time.
It comes with Apple’s fastest processor called the M1 chip which builds in Soc technology where the chip includes 8 GB of RAM, an 8 Core CPU, a 7 core GPU, 16 neural engines, and more functionally than you could imagine.
In case you want to make some notes or documents, you can do it comfortably using the MacBooks “magic” keyboard. Also, the 256 GB of SSD included is great for storing your data and providing the smoothest experience for every software you will use in your daily life.
This is a great semi rugged laptop for military CAC readers but it has some downfalls too. The main cons of this laptop are that it comes with only 2 thunderbolt type- c ports and 1 earphone jack. In order to run your CAC reader machine, you have to buy a USB hub that included a USB type-A port.
|PC Series:||MacBook Air M1|
|Processor:||System on Chip (SoC) Apple M1 chip; 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores;16 core neural engine.|
|Memory:||8 GB of RAM (Can be expandable up to 16 GB)|
|Storage:||256 GB Solid State Drive which can be upgraded up to 2 TB|
|Benchmark CPU Score:||Average 15110, Single Thread Rating: 3767|
Cross-Platform Rating: 9970
Cpu Benchmark Position: #3
|Graphics:||M1 Chip Integrated 8 Core GPU|
|Display:||13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Retina display with IPS technology; 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch (400 nits)|
|Communications:||Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1|
|AC Adapter:||30W Fast Charge|
|Keyboard:||White Backlit keyboard|
|Operating system:||Mac Bigslur OS|
|Ports & Slots:||2 Thunderbolt 4 port|
|Battery:||5000 mAh, Up to 18 hours battery life|
|Additional Information:||Dimensions: 13.41 x 11.97 x 0.61 inches|
Approximate Weight: 3 lbs
Lenovo Flex 5
Do you want to use a 2 in 1 laptop with your military CAC or smart card reader? Lenovo Flex 5 is the perfect laptop for you. It’s a laptop that can be used as a tablet because the keyboard is detachable and the display features touch screen capabilities. It’s very fun and easy to use with its sleek design while creating, editing content, streaming videos, and more.
This rugged laptop is based on the operating system Windows 10 and is also available on Windows 10 pro. The build quality is sturdy and dependable. Inside the box, you will get a digital pen to use while editing, designing, and using other software.
The 14″ FHD display comes with a thin bezel that is soft and comfortable to the touch, with a durable paint that creates a better user experience. In tablet mode, you can stream on a big screen instead of relying on a medium-sized display like premium original tablets which comes at a higher price range with less functionality.
It’s available in 4 types of modes. Laptop mode for everyday computing, Tent mode for sharing things, Stand mode for binge-watching, or Tablet mode for more intuitive interaction.
This is packed with an AMD processor called Ryzen 5 4500U which is more powerful than any other CAC friendy budget laptop in our product list. Also, the combination of 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB SSD is unbeatable compared to other touch-based laptops.
If your budget is over $500 and you want a laptop not only for a CAC reader, but also for more everyday use and value, then the Lenovo Flex 5 would be worth considering.
|PC Type:||2 in 1 Laptop|
|PC Series:||Lenovo Flex 5|
|Processor:||AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor (Base Clock 2.3GHz, Max Boost Clock Up to 4.0GHz, 8MB Cache, TSMC 7nm FinFET, 6 Core, 6 Threads, 105°C Max Temperature)|
|Memory:||Dual-channel 16 GB of DDR4 SDRAM (3200MHz)|
|Storage:||256 GB NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive (Extra slots available)|
|Benchmark CPU Score:||Average 11225, Single Thread Rating: 2469|
Cross-Platform Rating: 18,356
|Graphics:||AMD Radeon Integrated Graphics (6 core GPU, 3 MB Cache)|
|Display:||14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touch display|
|Communications:||Wifi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2|
|AC Adapter:||77 W Fast Charger|
|Operating system:||Windows 10 with S Mode|
|Ports & Slots:||2 USB-A, 1 USB-C, and an HDMI port|
|Battery:||Up to 10 hours battery life|
|Additional Information:||Dimensions: 12.66 x 8.56 x 0.82 inches|
Approximate Weight: 3.63 lbs
FAQ’s Of best laptop for military cac
What’s the reason if my laptop doesn’t work with the CAC reader?
In case if your laptop isn’t working with your CAC reader there could be these reasons behind it such as
Your USB drivers might be broken
Your Activeclient install isn’t working properly because of a registry setting or another program on your computer
With most laptops, antivirus can cause serious issues with CAC access.
So what’s the solution?
Reinstall and update your USB drivers.
Download CCleaner and check for registry faults.
Another option, open the start menu, type “cmd” and hit the ENTER button. When the command-line interface prompt shows, type SFC and check if it shows any faults.
Also, you can visit militarycac.com to read their FAQ and troubleshooting posts regarding this issue.
What laptops are compatible with CAC readers?
Regular laptops that come with a USB Type-A port are compatible with the CAC Reader device. Also, if any laptop has only a thunderbolt port, you can purchase a USB hub that’s compatible with your laptop and smart card reader.
What is a military CAC card?
CAC stands for a common access card. In the military, these cards are also known as the DoD smart card which is the standard identification for active duty personnel, reserves, and DoD civilian employees.
Conclusion: Which is the best laptop for CAC Reader?
Each laptop mentioned in the list can be used for military CAC reader. Also, the specs are truly amazing for browsing, streaming, emailing, and much more.
Among so many options it can be tricky to choose the best rugged laptop for a military cac reader. There are several options like overall best, budget, and premium available.
If you want the best laptop for military CAC reader, smart card reader, and other cores, then we would like to suggest you purchase the Apple new Macbook M1 Air which comes with the best processor, powerful GPU, and faster SSD to handle your official software. Also, this is the utmost best choice for apple lovers.
The ASUS VivoBook 15 is the best inexpensive cac-friendly laptop. Besides being used for smart card setup, it will work great in terms of complex photo editing, streaming, and other graphics-optimized processes because of how the notebook is made with all types of reliability in the budget segment.
Last but not least, the Lenovo Flex 5 we listed is especially useful for premium users who want a value for money laptop that can be used in a prettier way than they think.