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December 3, 2017

The best Linux laptops you can buy

by John_A

Hunting down the best Linux laptops is nowhere near as overwhelming as seeking out the ultimate Windows-based PC. That’s likely due to the smaller number of manufacturers that actually support the open-source platform. HP and Dell are your primary well-known outlets, but there are a few others outside the spotlight offering shiny Linux-flavored gems that are tasty as well.

What you’ll find when investigating the best Linux laptops are an assortment of operating systems including Ubuntu, Elementary OS, and a few other lesser-known Linux distributions. Most of the laptops you will discover are based on Intel processors, and if you’re lucky, discrete graphics chips that support high-quality Linux-compatible games.

To help weed through all the options, we provide our favorite Linux-based laptop, and solutions ranging from premium to budget-friendly computing. If you’re worried about security and privacy invasion, we list a laptop just for you as well. You can’t go wrong with this batch, and if you’re on the market for high-dollar extreme gaming, we link to a few examples for your grazing pleasure.

Our Pick

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition ($849+)

Out of all the Linux-based options you can find, Dell’s XPS 13 is a well-rounded solution for both the general customer and the enterprise market — in fact, it’s been at the top of our list of best laptops for years. It sports what Dell calls an InfinityEdge display, which translates into a screen with borders measuring just 0.20 inches thick. The design is complemented by a thin and light form factor measuring between 0.3 and 0.6 inches thick, and weighing at least 2.7 pounds.

The processor options consist of two seventh-generation Intel Core chips, and you can configure the laptop with up to 16GB of memory, depending on your starting point (there are four). As shown below, all FHD configurations do not support touch-based input while the QHD+ version is your only touchscreen option. Other notable features include a Thunderbolt 3 port, PCI Express-based storage options, and support for enterprise-class security.

Screen size:
13.3 inches
Resolution:
1,920 x 1,080 (non-touch)
3,200 x 1,800 (touch)
Processor:
Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel Core i7-7560U
Graphics:
Intel HD Graphics
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Memory (2 slots):
Up to 16GB LPDDR3 @ 1,866MHz
Storage:
1x 2.5-inch SSD up to 128GB or
1x PCI Express SSD up to 1TB
Audio:
2x speakers
Connectivity:
Killer Wireless AC (Up to 867Mbps)
Bluetooth 4.1
Ports:
2x USB-A (Gen1)
1x SD card reader
1x Headphone jack
1x Thunderbolt 3
Battery:
60WHr
Camera:
720p webcam
Dual array microphones
Operating system:
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Dimensions (in inches):
11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33 to 0.6
Weight:
2.7 pounds
Color:
Silver
Rose Gold
Starting price:
$849

The best premium Linux laptop

System76 Oryx Pro ($1,499+)

If you’re looking for a high-dollar experience, System76 serves up its Oryx Pro in two flavors: 15.6 inches, and 17.3 inches. Both versions have enough horse power to serve as a Linux-based gaming machine sporting seventh-generation Core i7 processors, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 graphics chips. Of course, if you want to go extreme, System76 serves up the bulky Serval WS and Bonobo WS laptops, the latter of which can play host to dual GTX 1080 graphics chips.

As the specs show below, the 15.6-inch model supports FHD and UHD resolutions while the 17.3-inch model only supports FHD. The screens are backed by Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 630 component in its processors in addition to the stand-alone GeForce GPUs. Even more, the Core i7-7820HK is an unlocked processor, enabling Linux gamers to overclock its speed for higher performance. Other notable features include USB-C ports (Gen1), a Mini DisplayPort output, and Thunderbolt 3 support on the 17.3-inch model.

15.6 inches
17.3 inches
Resolutions:
1,920 x 1,080
3,840 x 2,160
1,920 x 1,080
Processor:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
Intel Core i7-7820HK
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Memory:
Up to 64GB DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
Storage (up to 9TB):
2x M.2 SSDs
2x 2.5-inch HDDs (7mm)
Audio:
2x speakers
Stereo microphone
GTX 1070 models: Sabre headphone amplifier, HiFi DAC
Connectivity:
Wireless AC
Bluetooth
Ports:
2x USB-C (Gen1)
3x USB-A (Gen1)
1x SD card reader
1x Gigabit Ethernet
1x HDMI
2x Mini DisplayPort
1x Microphone jack
1x Headphone jack
1x S/PDIF
2x USB-C (Gen1)
3x USB-A (Gen1)
1x SD card reader
1x Gigabit Ethernet
1x HDMI
2x Mini DisplayPort
1x Microphone jack
1x Headphone jack
1x S/PDIF
1x Thunderbolt 3
Battery:
60 WHr Li-polymer
Camera:
1080p Webcam
Operating system:
Pop! OS 17.10
Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS
Dimensions (in inches):
15.2 x 10.7 x 0.9 (GTX 1060)
15.2 x 10.7 x 1.1 (GTX 1070)
16.4 x 11.3 x 1.2
Weight:
5.50 pounds
7.05 pounds
Color:
Black
Black
Starting price:
$1,499
$1,599

The best Linux laptop for security

Purism Librem ($1,399+)

If you’re looking for a security-focused Linux laptop not manufactured by Dell, the Librem models are a good choice. For example, these laptops include physical switches to completely disable the built-in camera, microphone, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi components. They also rely on the open-source Coreboot firmware, which replaces the typical and proprietary BIOS/UEFI installed in other laptops. You can neutralize the controversial Intel Management Engine on these laptops too.

Outside the security aspect, both models are based on Intel’s sixth-generation Core i7-6500U processor, and Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 520 component. The larger model provides a few additional ports, but both laptops are generally the same feature-wise. Purism plans to offer an 11-inch model based on Intel’s Core M-5Y10c in the near future with a smaller list of connectivity options.

Screen size:
13.3 inches
15.6 inches
Resolution:
1,920 x 1,080
Processor:
Intel Core i7-6500U
Graphics:
Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory (one slot):
Up to 16GB DDR4 @ 2,133MHz
Storage:
1x M.2 SSD up to 2TB
1x 2.5-inch SATA 3 SSD Up to 4TB
Audio:
2x speakers
Connectivity:
Wireless N
Ports:
2x USB-C (Gen1)
1x USB-A 2.0
1x HDMI
1x SD card reader
1x microphone/headphone combo
1x USB-C (Gen1)
2x USB-A (Gen1)
2x USB-A 2.0
1x HDMI
1x SD card reader
1x microphone/headphone combo
Battery:
Up to 9 hours
Camera:
720p 1MP camera
Operating system:
PureOS
Dimensions (in inches):
12.75 x 8.62 x 0.70
14 x 9.6 x 0.86
Weight:
3.3 pounds
4 pounds
Color:
Black
Black
Starting price:
$1,399
$1,599

 The best budget Linux laptop

Alpha Litebook ($249)

For laptop seekers on a budget, Alpha’s Litebook costs a mere $249. It’s powered by Intel’s quad-core Celeron N3150 processor for mobile launched in early 2015, and the chips integrated HD Graphics component. It’s an older chip, but that can be expected with laptops in the $249 price range. The memory and storage options are small too, although your best bet storage-wise may be the 500GB hard drive with a built-in 32GB SSD.

Otherwise, this laptop provides a decently-sized screen with a FHD resolution for the price. It’s powered by the popular Elementary OS platform, so you should experience zippy performance due to the lightweight platform. The Litebook provides both ethernet and Wireless N networking, as well as a handful of ports for outputting video and connecting peripherals. You can’t do any high-fidelity gaming on this solution by any means, but it should be great for general use, streaming video, word processing, and so on.

Screen size:
14.1 inches
Resolution:
1,920 x 1,080
Processor:
Intel Celeron N3150
Graphics:
Intel HD Graphics
Memory (one slot):
4GB LPDDR3
Storage:
120GB SSD or
500GB HDD or
500GB HDD Hybrid with 32GB cache
Audio:
2x speakers
Connectivity:
Wireless N
Bluetooth 4.0
Ports:
2x USB-A (Gen1)
1x Headphone jack
1x Ethernet
1x Micro HDMI
1x Micro SD
Battery:
Up to 9 hours
Camera:
720p Webcam
Operating system:
Elementary OS
Dimensions (in inches):
13.5 x 9.3 x 0.64 inches
Weight:
2.9 pounds
Color:
Black
White
Red
Price:
$249

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The monstrous ROG G703 Asus laptop could easily chew through your PC games
  • Push your PC to the max with the best graphics cards for gaming
  • The best laptops under $500
  • Thin and light cage fight: Dell XPS 13 vs. Microsoft Surface Laptop
  • AMD CEO shows off first laptop packing a Ryzen-branded chip at Best Buy




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