Linux may not be the most popular operating system, but if you wish to customize your computer to match your needs perfectly (and don’t mind learning a little minor programming), there’s nothing that can quite match a laptop that runs on Linux. Not only does Linux give you access to more tools, but it’s also far less prone to potential viruses than a Windows machine. And with multiple distributions to choose from, you can usually find a version that’s practically ready made for you right out of the box.
HotRate has scoured the internet in search of the best laptops for Linux users. We’ll start by outlining 10 of the best Linux laptop models, then we’ll provide you with information so you can identify the most important specs on your own.
- 10 Best Linux Laptops for 2020
- Linux Laptop Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Linux Laptops for 2020
1. Dell XPS 13 9360 13.3″ Laptop
The Dell XPS 13 is a laptop that sits right in the middle of the road in terms of specs. It's not going to wow you in terms of performance, but it's not going to disappoint you in any major way either. The 7th gen Intel processor isn't exactly cutting edge, but it's more than enough for the needs of users looking for productivity. And the fact that there are a varied number of ports on the Dell XPS 13 means that it's future proofed for compatibility with most of your devices.
And in a rarity for laptops at any price range, the trackpad on the Dell XPS 13 is actually very good. If you find yourself struggling with your current computer and feeling the need to invest in independent peripherals, you'll find a lot to love from the Dell XPS 13. It may be a bit pricey, but it's a very efficient piece of machinery.
2. HP 17 Business Laptop
It's rare to see a laptop that actually comes built with Linux in mind, but the fact that this HP laptop does lets you know that it really means business. But the first thing you'll notice about this laptop is just how much screen you get. The full 17 inch display doesn't offer the best resolution, but it does provide you with plenty of space for running dual windows side by side. If you're trying to customize some pretty complicated screens, this laptop is accommodating.
Aside from that, this is a laptop that's all about business. The combination of an i5 processor and 16 gig of RAM get the job done. There may not be a discreet graphics card, but that's just in keeping with the design sensibilities of this model: boring but sensible, and focused squarely on the no nonsense needs of discerning professionals.
3. Acer Aspire E 15, 15.6″ Laptop
Need a laptop on a budget but not willing to sacrifice on the fundamentals? Fortunately you don't have to. The Acer Aspire E 15 might not offer the best specs on a laptop, but it does offer specs that well exceed the asking price of less than $500. It may only offer an i3 processor, but sometimes more power simply isn't necessary with a laptop, and the efficiency of Linux will allow you to squeeze more juice out of it than you might get with another operating system.
And that slightly more limited comes with an advantage to the battery life as well. You can expect over half a day of usage on just a single charge. This may be a cheaper laptop, but it doesn't sacrifice in terms of resolution. The Full HD display allows you to watch movies and TV the way they were intended.
4. Apple MacBook Air 2018
This version of the MacBook Air may be a few years out of date, but it still holds up pretty well. The real advantage here is that you can get the great build quality and strong external hardware Apple is known for without having to pay a premium on a laptop where you won't even be using the macOS. That includes the notably bright and crisp Retina display and two reliable Thunderbolt ports.
In terms of specs here, the quality for the price is actually pretty strong. The i5 processor draws from Intel's eighth generation of Core hardware, and the built in speakers can actually pump out some pretty solid quality sound. And this workhorse can keep on chugging all day thanks to the promise of a 12 hour battery life. And with Touch ID, you have a more convenient method for keeping all of your information safe.
5. ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop
The Zenbook falls comfortably into the category of a "go anywhere, do anything" laptop, and that versatility makes it one of the best Linux laptops available. It isn't the best at any one thing, but it can do just about anything well. The eighth generation Intel Core i5 offers reasonable performance for even pro users without having to spend a fortune, and the capabilities here are strong enough that you can install a Developer Edition and still feel comfortable.
And this laptop is fundamentally designed to go with you just about anywhere. The aluminum body is sturdy while still being incredibly lightweight, and ASUS has done a great job of keeping the dimensions small while still providing users with a decent amount of space to work with. In addition to the traditional HDMI and USB ports, it comes with a micro SD card reader for easy data transfer.
6. Lenovo ThinkPad E570 Laptop
The Lenovo Thinkpad has arguably become the name to beat for pro business laptops, and that fits hand in glove with the Linux operating system. The fact that this laptop comes with Windows 10 Pro included means it's already an ideal fit for a dual boot operating system design, providing you with high levels of security and efficient productivity regardless of which operating system you decide to use for any given project.
And it doesn't skimp on the specs either. While we normally recommend against investing in a seventh generation Intel Core, the price to power ratio here is some of the best around. Add in the extra efficiency that comes from running a Linux machine and the decent eight gigs of memory, and that generational discrepancy is more or less negated anyway.
7. Samsung Chromebook Pro
The biggest criticism of Chromebooks is the fact that, well, they run on Chrome. But that's not as much of an issue if you plan on using it for Linux anyway. If you want a lightweight coding rig and aren't in need of serious processing power, the Samsung XE510C24-K01US is one of the best Linux laptops you'll find. The fact that it's refurbished gives you a little more value for your dollar, but this would be a great deal even new.
Where this laptop especially soars is in its two in one design. It can transition easily between tablet and laptop modes,and the screen looks bright and crisp while also being visible from practically any viewing angle imaginable. For our money, this may be one of the finestChromebooks on the market, and a great fit for more active users with less demanding needs.
8. ASUS VivoBook S15 Laptop
As the name might suggest, the VivoBook by ASUS is lively. That's reflected in the playful silver blue design with yellow accents and the sleek features that make it look as much like a fashion accessory as a piece of hardware. But beneath its tantalizing good looks and the extraordinarily cheap price tag, it's the hardware itself that makes this one of the best Linux laptops we've come across at HotRate.
That includes an eighth generation version of the Core i5 processor and a respectable 8 GB of RAM. The keyboard is fully backlit for viewing in darker conditions, but it also feels great underneath the fingers. But the coolest addition here is the ScreenPad. It allows you to transform your track pad into a secondary screen. It's an innovative and well implemented solution that we're surprised more manufacturers haven't started incorporating into their designs.
9. CHUWI LapBook Pro 14.1
Chances are that you've never heard of CHUWI. That's okay, but their LapBook Pro is definitely worth paying attention to if you're looking for the best Linux laptops on a budget. While the hardware here is far from the top we've ever seen, they do a great job finding the balance between hardware specs and really making everything sing without having to hike up the cost. It's not the most powerful laptop you'll find, but it's a real treat the cost.
And what it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in other ways. The battery life on the LapBook Pro is well above average, and the Type-C USB port can be used for both power and data transfer. Plus, the inclusion of dual band Wi-Fi means that you'll retain a consistent internet connection just so long as there's a decent signal nearby.
10. Star Lite 11″ Laptop
Star Labs has constructed an Ultrabook that's custom built for Linux users. It even comes with Mint pre-installed. The fact you can get this for under $500 means that you can't exactly expect an Intel Core i7, but the lack of gaming options on Linux mean an Intel Core i7 won't do you much good anyway. Instead, you get an efficient and lightweight machine that's great for the more mundane tasks that tech professionals regularly need to perform.
And despite that low price tag, some serious love has clearly gone into the build of this model. The screen may be small, but it delivers quality high resolution, and the Pentium processor provides some relatively powerful performance for less resource heavy users. The SSD hard drive isn't the largest, but it's over-provisioned to let you get the highest transfer speeds possible.
Linux Laptop Buyer’s Guide
We’ve talked a lot about laptops here at HotRate, and whether you’re looking for the best gaming laptop or the top laptop for video editing, you’ll find the resources you need to understand the important features and specs for laptop when you search our site. With this guide, we’ll focus our attention on the specific needs of Linux users, so you can understand the benefits of Linux and recognize what specific qualities to keep in mind.
Linux falls behind both Windows and macOS in terms of popularity, so what makes Linux laptops an appealing choice for so many customers? The biggest advantage is flexibility to your needs. With Linux distro options ranging from system76 distro pop OS to Ubuntu Linux, it’s easy to install Linux on your computer and get the results you need. And unlike Windows, Linux won’t get into your way and pressure you into making use of features or software you don’t want.
That said, readers are often nervous that they’ll need to understand advanced coding techniques if they want to make the most of Linux, but that’s increasingly less true. Versions like Pop OS by system76 and the uber popular Ubuntu Linux are both pretty beginner friendly, and they provide you with all the basics you could expect from an operating system without even having to step foot in the terminal. The option is there if you decide you want more advanced control over your laptop, but installing Linux on laptop models doesn’t require you to be a pro.
How to Pick the Best Linux Laptops
For the most part, shopping for the best Linux laptops isn’t that different from shopping for any other laptops. Hardware, as ever, is king here. You’ll want to look at what’s available and make a new generation Intel Core your top priority. Whether you should then turn your attention to the RAM, the graphics card, or the quality of the SSD or HDD will really depend on what you need to use a Linux laptop for. You can look to our other guides to the best laptops to better understand the priorities you should look to when shopping, but we’ll cover the basics here.
- The CPU or central processor is essentially the brain power of your Linux laptop. A better processor means faster performance. An Intel Core i7 represents pro level use cases, but plenty of users will like the more middle of the road i5 just fine. An i3 represents entry level performance.
- RAM is the short term memory of your Linux laptop. A decent amount of RAM can assist your CPU greatly and provide you with quicker loading times. But RAM shouldn’t be a huge priority when shopping, as it’s pretty easy to replace.
- The GPU determines how fast laptops can render graphics. The best Linux laptops don’t necessarily need a strong graphics card, but if you’re seeking out the best Linux laptops for gaming, you’ll want a model with a discrete graphics card like a NVIDIA GeForce rather than one that shares RAM with the CPU.
- Storage capacity determines how much space you have for your files and software. An SSD is common and usually the best option, but some Linux laptops will use an older HDD for more space at slower speeds. But like RAM, it’s easy to add in additional storage, and their available in the form of a more portable format like an SD card reader.
Choosing a Linux Distribution
Windows and macOS employ a one size fits all solution, but Linux is built around the philosophy that every user is unique. There are a ton of different distributions out there. So whether you’re looking to stream music and movies, make the most of your NVIDIA GeForce and Intel Core i7 setup for gaming, or hop into developer edition and get to work at coding, there’s a distro ready for you. And you can usually customize any system to better suit your needs.
We’ll cover some of the more popular distributions below, but you’l want to check your laptop model carefully to make sure it supports the version of Linux that you choose.
- Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution for a reason: accessibility. Not only does it offer an interface that’s very friendly to new users, but its Luubuntu spin can provide a significant boost to weaker hardware.
- If you’re looking for the highest level of privacy you can get, Tails can provide it. Linux is a risk adverse OS in the first place, but Tails packages a higher level of security in a friendly navigational interface, making it a top choice for enterprise level work.
- Looking to get involved in video or audio production? Linux has a solution. Ubuntu Studio offers a whole host of features that you’d otherwise only find in expensive software, making it something of a developer edition for editing pros.
- Elementary OS is one of the best looking operating systems around, and it can easily give Windows of macOS a run for their money. In addition, it includes tons of customization options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Linux OS is Best For a Laptop?
Any of the standard Linux distributions built for the needs of casual users should work with a laptop. Ubuntu Linux , Debian, and Pop OS by system76 are some of the favorites, but getting the Developer Edition is one of the best choices you can make if you’re involved in writing code.
Which Laptop is Best For Ubuntu?
There’s no best Linux laptops for Ubuntu. As a general purpose Linux distribution, Ubuntu is a solid choice for users just getting started. Instead of focusing on the best “Linux” laptops, you should pay attention to the available hardware specs and features that are important to you.
Can I Install Linux on a Laptop?
You have the same options for installing Linux as you would with a traditional desktop computer. You can either replace your existing operating system with Linux, or you can dual boot it on a Windows or Mac machine using a thumb drive.
Which Laptop is Best for Dual Boot?
The main prerequisite to look for when trying to dual boot is finding a laptop that already comes programmed with the second operating system you want to use. Since Linux distributions like Pop OS by system76 are free, you should look for a system that comes with macOS or Windows already installed.
If you’re looking to buy a machine that can run Linux like a pro, you’ll find it on this list, but that’s just scratching the surface of what HotRate has to offer. Whether you’re looking to purchase a camera or an expensive watch, some extra RAM or computers for gaming, our website can provide you with the support and experience you need to find the right products for you.