5 best laptops for military CAC reader (2021)

We listed Macbook Air M1 as the best laptop for military CAC readers. Read more below to find out why. In case, if you’re in hurry, take a look at amazon for further process.

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 from finding a laptop.

Army officers are often confused while choosing the best laptop for military cac reader.

In order to get rid of them from the dilemma we are here with reviews of 5 best laptops for military use which comes 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 really well in terms of easy smart card setup and all of the other additional things. Moreover, a MacBook comes with a 2k Retina display for streaming, a powerful processor for the smoothest experience, and a gpu for little gaming at an affordable price.

5 Best Laptops For Military CAC Reader 2021

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 laptop. Unlike our top choice which is MacBook Air M1, it doesn’t have ports limitation and doesn’t require any extra USB hub to plug in your CAC reader to the device.

It’s available in silver color 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 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. Because if you look at the other laptop they offer RAM of DDR3 which is far slower than DDR4 ram.

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 let you communicate with your friend or family members during the pandemic. 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 Type:Laptop
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
Warranty:One Year
AC Adapter:65W
Camera:720p Webcam
Keyboard:Backlit keyboard
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 the perfect device you should go with.

This is an inexpensive laptop that comes with 6 variety of colors such as Blue, brilliant black, indigo blue, jet black, pale gold, rose gold, rose pink, and snowflake white. In our test, we asked few united states army officers, and most of them had picked the white and jet black variants.

It comes with an Intel Celeron processor which is quite good for running simple apps, doing online classes via Google Classroom or Zoom, and streaming youtube videos or Netflix shows.

How this laptop performs better in streaming? Although this one doesn’t feature an FHD display like Acer Aspire 5, the 720p display of HP 14 inch HD Laptop with 220 nits brightness is way more enough to enjoy streaming in the nighttime at military base camp.

This laptop is packed with 4 GB of DDR4 Ram with a bandwidth of 2400 MHz. The more bandwidth of a ram helps to run all of your software, CAC-based applications smoothly.

The only downside here you will show is the storage type. If we compared this laptop with our previous budget laptop for military CAC reader which comes with a 128 GB SSD storage drive, this laptop falls far behind in comparison since it’s included a 64 GB of eMMC (Embedded Multimedia Card) storage.

This type of storage is generally used inside of cheap Android, Windows, and Chrome OS tablets and laptops. The eMMC type storage is much slower than SSD but it won’t impact your setup while using CAC reader software.

PC Type:Laptop
PC Series:HP H_002dx_BP
Processor:AMD 3000 Series Mobile Processors (Base Clock 1.2GHz, Max Boost Clock Up to 2.8GHz, 4MB Cache, 14nm CMOS, 2 Core, 2 Threads, 100°C Max Temperature).
Memory:8 GB of DDR4 SDRAM 2400 MHz
Storage:256GB 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
Warranty:One Year
AC Adapter:80W
Camera:720p Webcam
Keyboard:Backlit keyboard
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:Up to 6 hours battery life
Additional Information:Dimensions: ‎‎‎‎12.76 x 8.86 x 0.71 inches
Approximate Weight: 3.2 lbs

ASUS VivoBook 15

ASUS VivoBook 15 is an ultra-thin and lightweight notebook that comes with better spec at an affordable price scale. If you wanna taste the whole portability of a laptop and carry a lightweight laptop that can be used for 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 comparison between Acer aspire 5 vs ASUS VivoBook 15. Before we make a move let me give you a spoiler, in this comparison the winner will be ASUS VivoBook 15 but to know the reason look at the below.

Both laptops included an FHD display of 15.6 inch but ASUS VivoBook 15 has got some advantages due to its NanoEdge bezel. So wider screen is better for streaming, designing, and content creation.

Acer Aspire 5 comes with 8 GB Of ram with 2444 MHz where ASUS VivoBook 15 has the same amount of ram inserted but with 2666 MHz and also available one extra slot to upgrade your ram as up to 16 GB. 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.

Moreover, it has powerful processor than Acer, more USB ports than Acer, and also the plastic materials are more sturdy and feel premium than Acer Aspire 5. The only downside here you will see is the case of an ethernet port which doesn’t come with RJ45 wired LAN.

PC Type:Notebook
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
Warranty:One Year
AC Adapter:77W
Camera:720p Webcam
Keyboard:Backlit keyboard
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


MacBook Air M1 is the best value for money laptop from Apple to date. This laptop is packed with plenty of amazing features which will also make you feel to transfer yourself from windows to Mac.

Unquestionably windows contain easy functionality to use with a CAC reader but 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.

In MacBook air, you gotta see a 13” 2k retina display with a resolution of 2560-by-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 setup your smart card, you can experience the best streaming whenever you will find some free time.

It comes with Apple’s fastest processor called the M1 chip which builds in Soc technology where the chip included 8 GB RAM, 8 Core CPU, 7 core GPU, 16 neural engines, and more functionally than you could imagine.

The magic keyboard comes with extra magic that makes it super easy to use. In case if you wanna make some notes or documents, you can do it comfortably using this MacBooks keyboard. Also, the 256 GB of SSD included storing your data and provide the smoothest experience for every software you wanna use in your daily life.

This is a great laptop for military CAC reader but it has some downfalls too. The main cons of this laptop are 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 Type:MacBook
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
Warranty:One Year
AC Adapter:30W Fast Charge
Camera:720p Webcam
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 wanna 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 facilities. It’s very fun and easy to use while creating the design, editing content, streaming videos, and more.

The 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 mode as 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 wants a laptop not only for cac reader but also contains more value to make your day and night a lot easier then 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
Warranty:One Year
AC Adapter:77 W Fast Charger
Camera:720p Webcam
Keyboard:Backlit keyboard
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

FAQS 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

Maybe your USB drivers are jacked

Your Activeclient install isn’t working properly because of a registry setting or another program on your computer

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?

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 common access card. In the United States military, these cards also know as the DoD smart card which is the standard identification for active duty uniformed Service personnel, Selected Reserve, and DoD civilian employees.

What laptops does the army use?

Most armies like to use the toughest laptop. Those who prefer portability usually choose a laptop with a built-in smart card reader. They don’t need any heavy spec machine, a laptop that is capable of web browsing, emailing, streaming and little gaming would be far enough for their casual and professional use.

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 content writing.

Among so many options it can be tricky to choose the best laptop for military ca 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, there 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 ca-friendly laptop. Besides being used for smart card setup, it will work great in terms of complex photo editing, Cricut crafts, streaming, and other graphics-optimized processes because this is the notebook that is made with all types of reliability in the budget segment.

Last, of all the Lenovo Flex 5 we listed on our list especially for premium users who want a value for money laptop that can be used in prettier way than they think.

Many army officers demand a gaming laptop, but in order to get them, you have to spend a little more penny. A gaming laptop is the best way to get a portable powerful spec house at an affordable price range.

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