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The Best Linux Laptops to Power Your Workflow

Eric Elliot

Home » Technology » The Best Linux Laptops to Power Your Workflow

Linux laptops provide freedom, customizability, and privacy that appeals to programmers, developers, and privacy-focused users. With so many options now available with Linux pre-installed, you can be selective and find the perfect laptop to match your needs and budget. This guide will walk you through the top picks to help you discover the ideal Linux laptop.

Dell XPS 15 – Best Linux Laptop Overall

If you want a premium Linux laptop that can handle anything, the Dell XPS 15 is the best overall choice. The variety of configuration options let you customize the Dell XPS 15 to suit your exact needs. Choose up to an 13th generation Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, 8TB of speedy solid-state drive storage, and a powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card.

The stunning 15.6-inch display is available with either a sharp 1920×1200 resolution LED panel or a vibrant 4K OLED panel with amazing colors and contrast. For ports, you get two Thunderbolt 4 ports to connect external displays, charge mobile devices, or transfer large files quickly from external drives. Battery life is decent at around 10 hours of mixed usage. The only drawbacks are the high price at maxed out configurations and lack of fast charging capability.

HP Omen 17 – Best for Gaming

Linux-compatible games are becoming more prevalent, so a powerful gaming laptop like the HP Omen 17 lets you play top titles. It packs an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, 13th generation Intel Core i7-13700HX processor, and 16GB of RAM for incredible frame rates. The 17.3-inch 1440p screen has a 165Hz refresh rate to prevent stuttering and screen tearing during action scenes.

With a 1TB solid-state drive, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3, you’ll get blazing fast load times and low-latency wireless connections. One of the best parts of the Omen 17 is the respectable 5 hour battery life, which is impressive for a gaming laptop. The high price is the main drawback, but overall this is a superb Linux laptop for gaming enthusiasts.

Acer Swift Edge – Best Display

Creative professionals who use Linux for design, video, and photography will appreciate the Acer Swift Edge’s stunning OLED display. The 16-inch 4K screen provides incredible clarity and a wide color gamut covering 100% of DCI-P3 for precise color reproduction. With a tall 16:10 aspect ratio and slim bezels, you get more viewing area.

Powering the visuals is an AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor you can overclock up to 4.7GHz and Radeon integrated graphics. Weighing just 2.5lbs, the lightweight magnesium-aluminum chassis is easy to carry around. Battery life is a long 11 hours for a 4K laptop. Downsides are the limited port selection and lack of SD card reader. But overall, it’s a fantastic Linux laptop for creators.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 – Most Affordable

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a Linux-compatible laptop. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 costs less than $500 while providing a great experience. The AMD Ryzen 5 7530U processor and 8GB of RAM can handle everyday tasks with ease. The 15.6-inch 1080p anti-glare display prevents eyestrain, and the 512GB SSD ensures fast boot and load times.

Despite the low price, you still get impressive battery life at around 12 hours. Port selection is limited without Thunderbolt support, and the screen could be brighter. However, if your budget is tight, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 provides amazing value without cutting too many corners.

Asus Vivobook Pro – Longest Battery Life

If battery life is your priority, the Asus Vivobook Pro runs for a crazy long 14.5 hours on a charge. The 15.6-inch OLED screen gives you vibrant colors and contrast, plus it’s Pantone validated for color accuracy important for creative work. An AMD Ryzen 7 6800H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card provide plenty of power for video editing, 3D modeling, and more.

At just 3.5 pounds, the Vivobook Pro is lightweight and portable. Other highlights include 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, fingerprint reader login, Wi-Fi 6, and USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The lack of 4K resolution and a touchscreen are the main drawbacks. But if you want a Linux laptop with exceptional battery endurance, the Asus Vivobook Pro delivers.

How to Choose the Right Linux Laptop

With so many options, it can be tough deciding which Linux laptop is best for you. Here are some tips:

  • Beginners should choose an affordable, mainstream laptop from a trusted brand. Used and older models are great for learning without a huge investment.
  • Programmers and developers need processing power, RAM, and storage to code, compile, test, and run demanding applications smoothly.
  • For design and creative work, focus on display quality, color accuracy, and graphics capabilities. Aim for a great screen, GPU, and lots of RAM.
  • Gamers should look for high-end dedicated graphics cards like Nvidia RTX or AMD Radeon GPUs that can handle modern games.
  • If you’re on a budget, look for respectable specs like 1080p displays, SSD storage, 8GB RAM, and i5 or Ryzen 5 processors that provide good value.

Consider processor family, RAM, storage, screen size, resolution, graphics card, battery life, and ports as you shop. Identify the features most important for your needs.

Top Linux Laptop Brands

Some of the best laptop makers that sell models pre-installed with Linux or fully compatible with Linux include:

  • Dell – XPS, Precision workstations, Alienware gaming
  • Lenovo – ThinkPad, ThinkBook, IdeaPad
  • HP – ProBook, Zbook workstations, Omen gaming
  • System76 – Entire lineup designed for Linux
  • Acer – Aspire, Swift, Spin convertibles
  • ASUS – Zenbook, Vivobook, Chromebook Flip
  • Framework – Modular, customizable laptop
  • Tuxedo Computers – German seller focused on Linux laptops
  • Slimbook – Spanish company dedicated to Linux laptops

Sticking with these major brands gives you the assurance that Linux will work seamlessly out of the box. Be wary of less reputable manufacturers.

Key Considerations for a Linux Laptop

Here are some important factors to evaluate when choosing a Linux laptop:

  • Linux distro compatibility – Some models work better with different distros. Do research to ensure full support. Popular options include Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux Mint, and Arch Linux.
  • Processing power – Look for latest Intel or AMD processors with at least 4 cores. More cores help with multitasking and intensive applications.
  • RAM – 8GB is the minimum, while 16GB or higher is better for advanced users. Make sure it’s upgradeable.
  • Storage – Solid-state drives (SSD) are much faster than hard disk drives (HDD). Get at least 256GB of SSD storage, or larger capacities for big files.
  • Graphics card – Integrated GPUs suffice for basic tasks, while dedicated Nvidia/AMD cards handle gaming, video editing, 3D modeling, etc.
  • Display – Resolution, size, panel type (IPS, OLED), refresh rate, and color gamut impact visual quality.
  • Battery life – More than 8 hours is ideal for productivity on the go. Charging speed is also worth considering.
  • Ports – Look for USB-C/Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, HDMI, SD card reader, and headphone jack based on how you’ll use the laptop.

FAQs About Linux Laptops

What is Linux exactly?

Linux is a free, open-source operating system. There are many different versions (“distributions”) such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, etc. It offers an alternative to Windows and macOS with more customization options.

Can I run Linux on my Mac?

Older Intel-based Macs can run Linux. New M1 and M2 Macs currently have limited compatibility, so you’ll need to use a virtual machine.

What are the downsides to Linux versus Windows/MacOS?

The learning curve is steeper, since Linux is less user-friendly. Software compatibility can be an issue, as most applications are made for Windows and macOS.

What are some good cheaper Linux laptop options?

Used business laptops like Lenovo ThinkPads and HP ProBooks make great budget-friendly Linux machines thanks to their durability and upgradeability.

Can I install Linux on my current Windows laptop?

Yes, you can install Linux alongside Windows in a dual-boot setup, or completely replace Windows with most laptops. Just back up your data first!