CF 27 - The Toughest Of All The Toughbooks ?

Detailed Specifications

RAM Size

3.6 Kg
Pentium MMX 266


3.6 Kg
Mobile Pentium II 300PE
HW incompatibility w/ atheros based wifi cards
64/192? 64/320
£99 - £130
3.6 Kg
Mobile Pentium II 333


3.6 Kg
Pentium III 500




The Toughbook CF-27 is reputed to be one of the toughest of the series, and comes with a carry handle made from what appears to be the same magnesium alloy as the rest of the case. All known models originally came with the carry handle as standard, however some models are sold without the handle, as they were sometimes removed. The hard disk enclosure is the standard fare for the Toughbook series; A combination of gel block on the sides and bottom of the enclosure and foam padding on the top keeps the hard drive secure and absorbs any impact forces.

Technical Information

The CPU used in the CF-27 is a Pentium chip; the newer the model, the higher the clock speed. All models Have the CPU soldered directly onto the Motherboard, with no cooling attached to the face of the chip. Instead, the underside of the circuit board is perforated and coated in copper and what is assumed to be a thermal compound. A thermal pad presses up onto this 'mesh' when the motherboard is secured in the chassis, which in turn is attached to a block of copper approximately 30mm square. A heatpipe runs through the centre of this block, sinking heat away from the CPU. The heat pipe is attached at the other end to another, smaller, copper block, which rests upon the case, allowing heat to dissipate using the case as a large heatsink.

The CF-27 can be internally fitted with either a Floppy Disk Drive (FDD) or an optical drive, usually a CD-ROM drive. Older models come with an FDD as standard, while newer models are likely to come with a CD-ROM drive. Either device is situated inside the Media Pocket (MP) on the laptop, interfacing with the motherboard with what appears to be a proprietary connector. As such, changing from an FDD to CD-ROM drive will require either an official Panasonic Optical Drive or the circuit board that converts ATAPI to the proprietary connector to be sourced. The circuit board that connects to the FDD is incompatible with the standard ATAPI interface used on optical drives designed for use in laptops. It is also worth noting that, by default, Panasonic drives designed for the Toughbook are set to Master, while Most third-party Optical drives are by default set to Cable select. As such, to change from one optical drive to a third-party one, modification to the connecting circuitry IS required.

The connector for the AC Adapter is found on other laptops (including those outside of the Toughbook family), but it is of a relatively uncommon type. It is a variation on the standard barrel design, with an outer sheath being grounded, and an internal pin protruding almost to the end of the outer sheath carrying the positive voltage. As stated, this design is not as commonly seen as the "normal" barrel plug, which has an outer sheath, but a pin on the device to be powered protrudes into the plug, the opposite of what is used here.

The rated DC input of the CF-27 is 15.6 Volts at 3.85 Amperes; the factory charger will output this, but the laptop is capable of running with significantly different inputs. The circuitry is capable of running the laptop from voltages up to, and possibly above, 19V, and will draw less than 3.16A when Idle; it is likely that the circuitry can handle any input voltage up to 25V, although this should not be attempted except under great caution, as permanent damage is likely to occur. it is also worth noting that while the factory AC Adapter is capable of delivering 3.85A of current, it is unlikely that the laptop itself is capable of drawing this much current. The later models are more likely to consume more power, as with the higher clock speeds more current may indeed be required. Under extreme load it is likely that more than 3 Amperes will be required by the laptop.

There is a small Dip switch situated on the Toughbook motherboard, which appears to be present on all variants of the CF-27. It is unknown what the purpose of this switch is, but multiple users have reported changing the position of the switch and noticing no effect on the operation of the laptop.

Software Information

The CF-27 is easily capable of running most Windows releases (with the exception of Vista and 7), and easily capable of running modern Distributions of Linux and BSD, although the Earlier models may require patience while using an new operating system, due to the lower clock speed and onboard RAM.

The Graphics chips are manufactured by NeoMagic (except the Mk4 which has a Silicon Motion Lynx EM4 graphics chip), and are capable of displaying at a resolution of up to 1024x768. However, the monitor is only capable of displaying a resolution of 800x600. As such, under windows only a portion of the desktop is rendered when the resolution is set above 800x600. Moving the cursor to the edge of the screen scrolls around the desktop, similar to scrolling around a map in a real-time strategy game. It is unconfirmed if the same behaviour happens while running a Linux distribution, or whether the OS will attempt to force the screen to run at a higher resolution.

Some models of the CF-27 also have a touchscreen.

Due to the durability of the CF-27, it is often installed with engine tuning and, or GPS software. As such, these are often found bundled with pre-owned laptops sold on sites such as eBay.

I made a huge list of games that can be played on the Cf-27 and Cf-M34. I put it on this wiki. (list made by me, Richard Vermeulen on 6-1-2013) :


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Emulation on the CF-27 (Flickr Photoset)

CF-27 Internal Picturess

User Experiences

"I only have a Mark II, which I purchased on eBay for £99. It's an ideal machine for that money, the only real thing it is missing is built in ethernet. For that price I got a machine that worked well with a battery that was fried down to about 25 minutes of life.
The CPU (300 MHz) runs Win 2k and Linux at an acceptable pace if you are not in a hurry. It runs DOS at blinding speed if your are so inclined." - Previous Author

"My MkII runs Crunchbang Linux 9.04 at a good speed even in graphical mode. " - robinslit

"My Mark II runs Windows XP sp1. I upgraded it to 192 megabyte memory and a nice 30 gigabyte harddrive. I am even able to watch DVD's on it." - Richard Vermeulen


Toughbook CF-27 Drivers
NotebookReview Forum - Panasonic Subsection. Large amount of information on all toughbook models.
[Dead] Information on setting up Linux on CF-27
Even more information on setting up Linux on CF-27 (specifically, Slackware 10.1) [via]
The Debian Toughbook
[The DOS Toughbook

(Note: Dead links preserved because they may still be accessible via the Internet Archive.)

Purchasing on Ebay:
eBay UKeBay USA