Wow, I appreciate the work you have done for this posting! You have an interesting thread going here! I never knew about ruggedized laptops.
I apologize to you for one glaring omission on my part: my buddy isn't willing to depart from ATX motherboards and compatible cases; that is yet another way that Laptops lock you in - to a non upgradable processor, to non standard memory, to physically smaller hard disk drives, unique CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives, one video subsystem...
So maybe a fresh summary is in order.
1] ATX motherboard for processor upgradability and ability to use common expansion cards and common memory, as well as motherboard upgradability;
2] A case compatible with same ATX motherboards to allow standard disk drives, standard NICs, standard video cards.
I was aware that his ruggedness term was based relative to laptop, not relative to desktop PC; I didn't make that clear to this forum. He only needs to be a little more rugged than a common high end pc; the old original IBM AT case was about right as far as ruggedness is concerned.
I think he will eventually migrate toward the 2U rackmount style system you posted (Arista), with a drawer style keyboard/LCD display such as can be found at http://www.gorilla.net. That idea would branch into rackmount server hardware, for which there are a lot of hardware choices. Your pointing me towards that area is appreciated.
However - let this thread continue!!
How about the Macintosh Titanium G4 - is that fairly rugged? You gotta love the display on that thing!
I wonder if there might be any benefit to the market from generating a relatively crude "ruggedness" ranking of various PC enclosure methods?
We can all pretty much assume to put most plastic encased laptops at the bottom (but certainly not all are bottom)...
A few desktop cases are certainly *less* rugged than some laptops: my recent $20 desktop ATX case is merely "stamped aluminum foil", as far as I'm concerned - don't drop that fully loaded from more than a couple millimeters!
Compare that case as weaker than a Titanium G4...
Compare those as weaker than ruggedized laptops from say Niche Technologies...
and so forth.