A note on model numbers (for Toughbook nerds)

Posted by Ed Lasher on 14th Jul 2014

If you’re a Toughbook nerd (I use that as a term of endearment), or if you just like to do thorough research before buying, you might be inclined to decode the long form model number to determine a laptop’s specifications. The seven letters and digits following the short form model number (CF-30, CF-19, etc.) contain all kinds of information about the computer’s generation, hardware specs, operating system and country. While we do display the full model numbers of each computer we sell (check under the description in the product page), we’re going to ask that you take that information with a grain of salt.

Let’s take, for example, the  CF-30 non-touchscreen Intel Core Duo 1.66 GHz, our base model CF-30. The full model number is CF-30CTQAZBM. Let’s break that down. Those of us familiar with the Toughbook line have a general idea of what a “CF-30” is, but what about those other letters?

  • C indicates that it is a first generation, or mk1 unit.
  • T means that it originally came with a 1000 nit touchscreen. This is where things get mixed up. Unfortunately, because of driver compatibility issues, the touchscreen on this unit will not consistently function with Windows 7. This means that our CF-30CTQAZBM laptops come with a 1000 nit non-touchscreen (twice as bright as standard CF-30 non-touchscreens). It’s a trade-off, sure, but a necessary one. It also factors into the computer’s low price.
  • Q means that, new, out of the box, this computer had 512MB of RAM. We’ve upgraded it to 2GB.
  • A indicates that there are no integrated options. We add Bluetooth capability.
  • Z: no WWAN.
  • B means it runs Windows XP. We upgrade all our Toughbooks to Windows 7.
  • M: Sold in North America.

By now you can see that relying on the full model number alone paints an inaccurate picture of the computers we sell. The CF-30CTQAZBM we sell is way better than it was when it first came out. You can get a little info out of model numbers (we obviously can’t change when it was manufactured or what in what country it was marketed), but we really recommend that you read the specifications provided before you start running product numbers through your magic decoder ring.

Additionally, on the rare occasions when we run out of stock of a baseline model, we’ll ship out a slightly better version of the same laptop, so it’s possible you’ll get an entirely different long form model number (and a more powerful computer!). Don’t worry, though. Swap-outs only go one way. We’ll never — ever — ship you a downgrade from what you ordered. Expect only pleasant surprises.


The big table of Toughbook models

Although much of a Toughbook's model number becomes more or less meaningless after refurbishment, the "mark" (MK) can't change. That is, an MK1 will not become an MK2 and vice versa. Once you've determined a Toughbook's mark, you can find out a lot about the laptop, including what kind of processor it has, how old it is, etc.

The full model number of any Toughbook is "CF-" followed be nine characters. With the exception of the oddball CF-50 and CF-51, a Toughbook's mark always correlates with the third character after the "CF-": CF-31 Axxxxxx, CF-19Rxxxxxx, etc.

Here's a big table to help you figure out the mark of most Toughbooks (last updated Jan 6, 2021):

Toughbook Model MK1 MK2 MK3 MK4 MK5 MK6 MK7 MK8
CF-18... B D / E F / G / H K / L N / P
CF-19... C / D / E F / G / H / J K / L / M / N / Q R / S / T / V / W A / B / X / Y / 7 0 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 5 / 6 / 8 / 9 Z
CF-20... A / B / C / D E / F / G / H
CF-28... 1 2 3 / S
CF-29... C / D E H / J L / M N / P
CF-30... C / D / E F / G / J K / L / M / Q
CF-31... A / B / C / D / E / F / G / H J / K / M / N / P / Q / R S / U / V W / X / Y 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 6 / 7 / 8 / 9
CF-33... A / B / C / D / E / L / M / N / P / Q / V / W
CF-50... W / Y A / B / X D / E / F / G xxxxD / Jxx xxxxExx
CF-51... xxxxA / H / Q / B / J / Rxx
xxxxC / K / D / Lxx xxxxE / M / F / Nxx
CF-52... A / B / C / D E / F / G / H / J M / N / P / Q / R S / T V / W
CF-53... A / D / E J / L / M / N / P / Q / R S / U / V / Y / Z / 1 2 / 3 / 4 / 7
CF-54... A / B / C D / E / F G / H / J
CF-55... A / B / C
CF-C1... A / K B / L
CF-C2... A C
CF-F9... K
CF-H2... A / B / C F / G P / Q / R / S
FZ-G1... A / B / C F J / K / L / M / N P / Q / R / S / T U / V / W
FZ-M1... A / C D / ECD / EAF / F / ECF G / J / HCJ

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