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Undoubtedly, one of the best factory-ready Linux laptop models you can buy right now is the Dell XPS 13. It is all the Ubuntu fans are talking about right now, and for good reason too! Nonetheless, there are a number of other pre-installed models from System76 as well as Windows laptops that run the best Linux distros. Whether you should skip the best for one of those is a choice debate.
So why should you opt for a pre-installed Linux based laptop instead of a dual-boot system with Windows? Well, everything works better when the hardware and software both are designed to work together from scratch. That is if you are willing to give up the liberty to jump between your Fedora and Windows 10 if you want a specific software.
Best Linux Laptop Choices in 2021
Buying yourself the best Fedora or Ubuntu laptop isn’t much different from a Windows variant. Initially, you are looking for all the same features: higher RAM, greater and faster storage with SSD, more power in the GPU and processor, etc. What you will need to compare our top picks are your requirements. You don’t need to overkill, too.
Keep in mind that getting a good Linux distros running doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to buy an expensive machine too. Linux can run quite well on cheap models too. Which is why you will find a number of lesser-known manufacturers selling their own laptops. Additionally, more mainstream companies are not as focused on the OS as Windows.
Getting yourself a pre-installed Linux machine that also competes on looks with Windows and Mac laptops is always nice. But the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition takes it a step further. Not only is it packed with the best Linux distros in the form of Ubuntu 18.04 OS, but also the most powerful hardware components.
However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. For a price ranging between an average $900 and a hefty $1600, you can choose from 8GB and 16GB RAM and a super-fast SSD of choice up to 256GB, 512GB and even 1TB. There is also a strong i5 Kaby Lake-R processor to match the DDR3 RAM.
When you crank it up you will see optimization and tailoring aspects aligning seamlessly for you. It takes just a few seconds to compile the kernel and you are good to go. Apart from being the best at most of all this, the Dell XPS 13 is also the first InfinityEdge Linux laptop that boasts a gorgeous 1,920 x 1,080 FHD.
Thanks to the InfinityEdge, the Dell laptop is also one of the best looking models with only a few millimeters of bezels. But then again, you will have to spend more on this than you’d do on a System76 laptop, and definitely the insanely cheap Pinebook 64 below.
Other than the XPS 13, Dell Precision M3800 Developer Edition is also a good choice if you’d want to stick to a mainstream company.
- Processor: Intel Core i5 1.6GHz Kaby Lake-R (Turbo 3.4GHz)
- RAM: 8GB – 16GB RAM
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Display: 13.3″ FHD InfinityEdge Anti Glare
- Operating System: Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS
- Battery: Up to 19 hours
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Great design with InfinityEdge
- High end hardware components
- Pre-installed and optimized Ubuntu distros
- Not the greatest customization
- Not a budget choice
System76 Oryx Pro Pop OS 17.10
If you thought the 32GB offered by most of these laptops is humongous, think again. One of the most popular System76 laptops, the Oryx Pro offers up to 64GB of DDR4, 2TB SSD, 6GB GTX 1060 and even a choice of screen sizes.
One of the prime reasons why most of us want to move to Linux is the level of configurations possible. Here’s another System76 laptop that does it better than most. The System76 Oryx Pro is one beast of a device that not only packs the versatility of a pre-installed Linux distro but also the greatest choice in components.
On technical grounds, there’s hardly another pre-installed Linux distros laptop that would offer such power. But it is also true that in order to get your hands on its high-end specs you will need to spend big bucks. It is more expensive than the System76 Galago Pro above, but the hardware also gets better.
Thanks to the vast array of choices being offered, we think that the System 76 laptops are soon going to have a monopoly over the Linux computers market. Even Pop!_OS 17.10, the Ubuntu distros, also helps keep it lightning-fast if you are not paying for the 2TB SSD.
On the flip side, though, you will find the laptop digging into your thighs. Because the laptop is the heaviest of this lot at 7.05 lbs. To put things in perspective, this is almost three times as much as the slimmer laptops above.
- Processor: Intel Core i7 quad-core (Turbo 3.8GHz
- RAM: 8GB – 64GB RAM
- Storage: 1TB – 2TB SSD
- Graphics: 6GB GTX Geforce 1060 – 1070
- Display: 15.6 or 17.3-inch
- Operating System: Ubuntu Pop!_OS 17.10
- Battery Life: Up to 5 Hours
- Weight: 7.05 lbs
- Up to 64GB RAM
- Great choice of components
- Choice of screen size
- Expensive product
- Heaviest of the lot
Serval WS is one of the most powerful laptops available from the System 76 brand. This laptop skips on looks and goes in for the kill when it comes to raw performance power. It is thick mean and people will forget some big brand names when they see the specs being offered on this laptop.
It comes in two variants depending on screen size, one 15” and other 17”, and both have a similar design, a bulky body and two cooling vents on the back for enhanced cooling and improving performance power. With System 76, you get the benefit of making your own laptop, by that we mean you can adjust the specs according to your needs and budget.
In processor you have options to choose between a 9th Generation i5, i7 and i9, these processors have pretty decent clock speeds and boost speeds on them. The 15” display laptop comes with an FHD while the 17” one offers a 4K display.
If you call this a gaming laptop, you would not be wrong, as this system can run any title that is available on Linux due to being armed with an RTX series NVIDIA card. You have the option of choosing between a GeForce RTX 2060, 2070 or 2080, so rest assured you can play any game in all its glory with ultra-specs enabled. Not only that, but this laptop can render faster than most systems out there making it an excellent choice for those who have rendering work.
Moving this thing is a tough job, it weighs well over 7lbs, but this is designed to stay on your desk and it is as powerful as a desktop but more mobile. Still carrying this thing around can be a problem since it does not have a lot of battery life and is not as portable as other laptops.
Other than the bulky and heavy design and short battery life, we do not think you can find a more powerful Linux laptop in the market. If you can look over the aesthetics of the laptop which are intentionally done this way to prefer performance overlooks, you will not be disappointed.
- Processor: Intel Core i5, i7, i9 9th Generation (K-Series Processor)
- RAM: 64 Dual Channel DDR4 RAM
- Storage: Up to 12TB Total Including SSD and 2.5” Drives
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, 2070 and 2080
- Display: 15” FHD and 17” QFHD
- Operating System: Pop!_OS 19.10 (64-bit), Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS (64-bit), or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (64-bit)
- Battery Life: Up to 5 Hours
- Weight: 15” 7.5lbs and 17” 8.6lbs
- Very Powerful
- Friendly OS
- Great Memory and Storage
- Heavy and Bulky Design
- Short Battery Life
Purism is totally about digital security and protecting your data and Librem 13 Version 4 is totally built on those principles. Ultra-portable as they call it, it’s a 13” laptop, which has some good specs.
Purism does not have a lot of products in their line, just like System 76, you can only purchase their laptops on their own site. They are powered by a 7th Generation Intel i7 7500U series processor, which is kind of outdated as currently laptops are being powered by 10th Generation Intel processors.
In the RAM department, you can get from 8GB to 32GB DDR4 Memory, so you can customize that based on your budget and needs. In graphics, you do not get any options other than the Intel integrated one.
They have a kill switch for your camera and mic, which enables you to be sure you are not being watched or heard by hackers or any unwanted guests. If you feel like you are being heard or listened to by someone, feel your privacy is being interrupted by someone, just use the kill switch. There is also one for radio hardware in case you think you are on a rather unsafe network.
The laptop’s components are carefully chosen to promote security and freedom as much as possible. You get a backlit keyboard, a stylish slim and ultra-portable design. In the storage you have up to 2TB SSD and 2TB 2.5” HDD, so you have a total of up to 4TB storage space depending on your budget.
Lastly, the laptop is meant for those who have important business-related data on their laptop that they need and also want to keep secure. It is not meant for gaming or any other graphics-heavy task.
- Processor: Intel Core i7 2.7GHz 7th Generation (Boost Speed 3.50 GHz)
- RAM: 8GB to 32GB Dual Channel DDR4 RAM
- Storage: Up to 4TB Total Including 2GB SSD and 2GB 2.5” Drives
- Graphics: Intel Integrated HD Graphics 620
- Display: 13” HD
- Operating System: Pure OS
- Battery Life: Up to 9 Hours
- Weight: 3.08lbs
- Very Portable
- Security Features
- Slim and Sleek Design
- Outdated Hardware
- Low Performance
Getting a premium treatment for a smaller price tag is almost always too much to ask. But not with the Acer Aspire E 15. This gorgeous piece of hardware is originally a Windows 10 laptop that comes with great dual-booting stability.
The first thing you want in laptops with Linux as well as Windows is larger storage for both the operating system loads. In the Acer Aspire E 15, you will get a gigantic 1TB, but it is not the more loved solid-state drive. For those of you who want a custom laptop with choice of user experiences, go no further.
Indeed for a price that is much less than the previous two models we tested, you shouldn’t demand a metallic body. So you’ll get a plastic exterior which isn’t really a turn on, and the speakers also manage to disappoint. But we consider those cosmetic aspects that shouldn’t outweigh more pressing matters like specs and performance.
For anyone who wants to build a laptop, the Acer Aspire E 15 is just the right machine as you can upgrade the storage and RAM when needed. Do not worry about the core i3 processor though. Even with the 6GB RAM it can work at high speeds.
The fact that you will not be missing out on any software whether it runs of Windows or Linux should also make you ignore how it is one of the heaviest models of our list. And the biggest too as it has a large 15.6 inch screen.
- Processor: Intel Dual Core i3 2.2GHz 8th Gen (Turbo 3.4GHz)
- RAM: 6GB – 32GB DDR3 RAM
- Storage: 1TB HDD
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD LED-lit
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS
- Battery Life: Up to 13 Hours
- Weight: 5.27 lbs
- Not as expensive
- Best for dual-boot setups
- Upgrades and choices
- Low quality plastic
- Subpar speakers
- Bulky and heavy
Linux Laptop Buyer’s Guide
Buying a Linux laptop is exactly the same as buying any other laptop as far as hardware choices are concerned. SSD is still better than HDD, more RAM is always a yes. A 7th or 8th gen processor will do the trick too. But all this should match your needs too! Do not buy an expensive model because it has a better GPU when you don’t need it.
A distro is an operating system that is based on the Linux Kernel, and you get multiple options to choose from. While Ubuntu is the most popular, there also is Fedora that is almost good. Additionally, you can get something more specialized as the Pop OS too. But generally speaking, they only differ in matters like desktop environments, software packages, or specific use priorities that each distribution has.
Unlike Windows OS, there are only a few mainstream companies selling laptops that are made for Linux. But since Dell has had an “on again, off again” thing with Linux since 1998, they are still the most mainstream company that makes pre-installed Linux models. Other than this, you could opt for the cult favorite System76 laptops too.
What exactly is a Linux Distros?
You’d be asking this question if you are a novice. Distro, or distribution as it is officially called, is any operating system based on a Linux kernel. There are tons of choices you can make but the pick of the best Linux laptop is Ubuntu, with Fedora, Arch Linux, Lubuntu and others following.
Why should I choose a Linux Distros over Windows or Mac OS in my laptop?
For starters, you’d be ditching the mainstream OS versions for the added customization and tailoring available to different distros. Additionally, the Linux kernel is more uptight in terms of privacy and security. In short, it focuses more on the grit rather than the cosmetic elements, allowing it to be more active in terms of upgrades and stability improvements.
Is it better to buy a pre-installed Linux laptop than a dual boot setup with a compatible Windows laptop?
In all honesty, the quickest and simplest way to jump to Linux is a laptop with a pre-installed Linux OS. This also comes with the added benefit of greater compatibility between the components and the distros. And in many cases like System76 models, offer the same at a cheaper rate.
In a dual boot setup, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds and be able to switch between OSes if needed by certain software. But it won’t be a made for Linux laptop!