Linux is free and more privacy-focused than other desktop operating systems like Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS. As it is free, open-source software, you can download and install it on any computer.
However, a dedicated Linux laptop will give you a better experience, with the hardware designed for your chosen Linux distro. As the operating system is available for free, many of these cheap Linux laptops are sold at more affordable prices than their Windows or macOS counterparts.
If you’re ready to put a penguin suit on your laptop, check out these best cheap Linux laptops to save money.
The best Linux laptop isn’t actually preloaded with Linux, and that’s a common trend you will find. The Acer Aspire E 15 is a Windows 10 machine, but one that is popular among Linux users for being fully compatible with Linux operating systems, especially Ubuntu.
An 8th generation Intel Core i3-8130u processor powers the machine, aided by 6GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD. The Aspire E 15 sports a 15.6-inch Full HD 1920×1080 pixels screen. There is no USB-C to be found, but you get plenty of standard USB ports, and even a DVD Writer—a rarity among laptops today.
A variety of users have tried different Linux distros on the Aspire E 15. In fact, go to the official forum of any Linux OS, and there will be threads about the Aspire E 15. All parts of the laptop work fine with the major distros, making it the best cheap Linux laptop to tinker with different variants.
Star Labs has earned a reputation for making excellent Linux laptops with a choice of different distros. The company previously released the budget-friendly Star Lite laptop, with the refreshed Star Lite Mk II available as of August 2019.
The Star Like Mk II is powered by a quad-core Intel Pentium N4200 processor and 8GB of RAM. It has a 240GB SSD, which is more flash storage than you would normally get at this price.
The laptop has an 11.6-inch Full HD 1920×1080 pixels IPS screen. If you buy the laptop from Star Labs own online store, you can choose between a matte or semi-gloss finish. Similarly, you can also choose between Ubuntu, Mint, or Zorin OS to be pre-installed on your new laptop.
The USB-C port doubles up as a charger for the 7-hour battery, and there are separate USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports as well. There’s even a backlit keyboard too.
If you want better hardware, check out the Star Labs LabTop Mk III, which has a faster processor, larger screen, and increased RAM and storage capacity.
Another Windows 10 laptop with great Linux potential is the Acer Aspire 1 A114. It is the cheapest laptop with a 14-inch Full HD screen and a decent enough processor to run Linux. Yes, there are other, cheaper laptops available with some variation of these specifications. However, this combination makes the Aspire 1 a great budget-friendly option to run Linux.
The dual-core Intel Celeron N4000 processor is capable enough for web development, basic media and work usage, alongside general internet browsing. The 4GB of RAM can be a bit limiting, but hey, you have to expect some compromises at a low price point.
The Aspire 1 A114 has been well received too. LaptopMag was surprised by the stylish profile and lightweight chassis. Then there was developer Michael Bethencourt, who recommends this as the best entry-level Linux laptop.
Pine64’s Pinebook Pro is one of the best cheap Linux laptops for hobbyists and tinkerers. This model is a follow up to the original Pinebook, but with some notable upgrades.
For starters, it packs a 14-inch Full HD 1920×1080 pixels IPS screen and is powered by a hexa-core ARM processor with 4GB of RAM. The 64GB onboard eMMC flash memory is pre-loaded with a custom Linux Debian operating system. There’s also a microSD slot for for you to expand the on-board storage.
The laptop is encased in a magnesium alloy case, and comes with USB-C as well as USB 3.0 ports. There are also stereo speakers, a Bluetooth 5.0 connection, and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect in a modern laptop.
The Pinebook Pro is best suited to hobbyists, or as a second device. This is because Pine64 attaches some conditions to its laptops. There is only a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty, as opposed to the usual one year warranty on laptops. Also, the company says it won’t replace or compensate you for issues like dead pixels on the screen.
It’s not confidence-inspiring, but if you’re okay with those compromises, it’s a good package overall.
Dedicated Linux laptops are great, but you can also consider Chromebooks. In 2019, Google announced that all newly launched Chromebooks will support Linux software. That’s great news for Linux and Chrome OS fans. This means affordable laptops like the HP Chromebook 14 can provide above-average Linux-compatible hardware at a bargain price.
At this price point, you don’t often see Full HD displays, but that’s exactly what the HP Chromebook 14 delivers. The dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 processor and 4GB of RAM are enough for most everyday tasks. That said, don’t expect to do any major photo editing or gaming on this laptop.
The reviewers at LaptopMag were impressed with the affordable Chromebook 14’s battery life, polished design, and Full HD screen. Other reviewers note that the laptop can sometimes get a bit too hot, and you’ll probably want to add more storage through the microSD slot. However, those are reasonably small trade-offs given the price.
The Best Cheap Linux Laptops
The devices we included in this roundup are some of the best cheap Linux laptops. However, there is another option if you don’t want to break the bank. Instead of a new unit, consider getting a refurbished laptop.
Dell and Lenovo have several high-end laptops pre-installed with Linux. If you opt for a refurbished model, you can get high-end performance at affordable prices. And, of course, if you can afford to spend more, you’ll get a better experience. These awesome Linux laptops are a great place to start.