The 3 Best Cheap Linux Laptops to Buy in 2018
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Linux often gets associated with being cheap. It’s a bit unfair, but it’s true that you can save some big bucks if you buy a computer with a free operating system. So how inexpensive can you go? Check out these best cheap Linux laptops to save money.

Yes, you can install Linux on just about any computer out there, so the need for a dedicated machine is difficult to understand. It’s all about drivers though, as there is plenty of hardware that doesn’t play nicely with Linux drivers, and so you have a dysfunctional component. A dedicated Linux machine will never make you face that problem. However, it’s up to you to decide whether you need a Linux laptop or desktop.

If you want a bigger screen, you should look at our roundup of the best cheap desktop Linux computers The 5 Best Cheap Linux Computers to Buy Today The 5 Best Cheap Linux Computers to Buy Today Here are several cheap Linux computers you can get that come pre-installed with user-friendly operating systems. Read More . But if the portability of a laptop is more important, then read on.

1. Pinebook 64

  • Operating System: Ubuntu 16.05 MATE
  • Screen: 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS screen
  • CPU: 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A53 processor
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB internal storage (with microSD slot up to 256GB)
  • Connectivity: 802.11bgn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 10,000mAh lithium-polymer battery

Can a $99 laptop actually be any good? Turns out, the Pinebook 64 is. Recently, we took a long, hard look at this device and we came out impressed.

This is a laptop that concentrates on portability more than performance. In fact, it’s not that great to use for multitasking or other heavy tasks. But the Pinebook 64 gets the job done for web browsing, basic multimedia playback, and word processing. There’s not much more you can expect at this price, of course.

The Pinebook 64 also supports other Linux-based operating systems, as well as Android-based operating systems. So if you don’t like Ubuntu MATE, you have other options.

To know more about the Pinebook 64, read our detailed Pinebook 64 review Pinebook 64 Review: $100 Laptop That Isn't Terrible Pinebook 64 Review: $100 Laptop That Isn't Terrible It's a $100 laptop that runs Linux – it obviously isn't going to replace your MacBook. But it's not actually as bad as we thought it might be. Read More .

2. Alpha Litebook

  • Operating System: Elementary OS
  • Screen: 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) screen
  • CPU: 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N3150 processor
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Storage: 120GB SSD or 500GB HDD
  • Connectivity: 802.11bgn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 4-cell lithium-ion battery

The Alpha Litebook is one of the newest Linux-ready laptops on the market and has got a few mixed reviews so far. But the basics hold up: it’s cheap at $249, gets the job done, and delivers what it promises.

The Litebook ships with Linux Elementary OS Want to Install Elementary OS? 7 Reasons Why You Should! Want to Install Elementary OS? 7 Reasons Why You Should! Elementary OS has developed into a compelling computing experience in 2017. Wondering if it's time to make the switch from your current Linux operating system? Here's why the answer is Yes. Read More , one of the most beautiful distributions available. It’s all about making Linux look pretty and easy to use for anyone. Elementary OS also includes several of its own apps, while Alpha has added a few of its favorites like the OnlyOffice suite, AppArmor, and so on.

You can choose between a 120GB SSD or 500GB HDD, but we strongly suggest you go with the SSD. It increases the battery life of the Litebook by a couple of hours at least, but you might still need some tips to lengthen that battery life 7 Simple Tips to Improve Your Linux Laptop's Battery Life 7 Simple Tips to Improve Your Linux Laptop's Battery Life How can you squeeze more time from your battery and enjoy a truly portable Linux computing experience? Read More . Plus, the SSD makes the laptop lighter and safer to carry around.

3. System76 Lemur

  • Operating System: Pop!_OS 17.10 or Ubuntu 16.04
  • Screen: 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS screen
  • CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-7100U processor
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 120GB SSD
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 4-cell lithium-ion battery

For some time now, System76 has been one of the best places to buy Linux laptops and computers. It has a wide range of notebooks, the cheapest of which is the portability-focused Lemur 14.

Unlike many of the other Linux laptops, this comes with a powerful Intel Core processor (up to a Core i7, too). Similarly, the memory and storage can be purchased in different amounts. The laptop is also decked out with all sorts of connectivity ports, including HDMI, DVI, USB Type-C, and regular USB. And yes, that screen is matte, yay!

System76 has designed its own fork of Linux, called Linux Pop. You can either choose that to come pre-installed on your computer or go with simple Ubuntu.

While it’s not exactly cheap, System76 offers a great monthly payment scheme. Pay $70 per month to take home the Lemur right away, or pay the full amount up front for a $100 discount. Not bad, eh?

Things to Keep in Mind

No matter which of these three laptops you pick, make sure you use the right Linux distribution for you The Best Linux Operating Distros The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More . Without that, you will end up hating Linux on a laptop, and it’s an unfair judgment.

Here are a few other tips to remember:

Check out some more of the lightest laptops The 7 Lightest Laptops in 2019 The 7 Lightest Laptops in 2019 Laptops are crucial when you need to work from anywhere. Here are the lightest laptops that won't weigh you down. Read More if these don’t cover what you’re looking for.

Explore more about: Back to School, Budget, Buying Tips, Ubuntu.

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  1. Gaby
    January 24, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Based on this article, I went looking to buy an Alpha Litebook or System76 Lemur 14. Could not find one ANYWHERE. Not new, not used - Nada. So based on other recommendations I'm looking at Lenovo. Not much point recommending laptops that aren't available....

  2. Captain Prax
    June 21, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Unrelated to this article, this is general feedback on the accessibility of web content. It is bad form to apply both link and heading tags to the same text. When a visually-impaired person uses a screen reader, they will often browse content by heading structure. When selecting a heading from the heading list, they are typically taken to that heading in the page. If a link tag is also added, selecting from the heading list activates the link, taking the user to the link instead of the heading on the page, and they miss the page content entirely. It's frustrating for both blind users as well as content creators.

  3. Shaw Lim
    May 30, 2018 at 5:00 am

    "The need for a dedicated machine is difficult to understand." - It's not that difficult. I'd rather pay for a dedicated machine because I don't want my money paying for a Microsoft tax. Microsoft supports causes I don't believe in.

  4. Tom
    March 14, 2018 at 2:54 am

    Stay as far away from Alpha as possible - they're a bunch of thieves. Ordered my Litebook in October 2017 and didn't hear anything for 3 months. Tried emailing, calling, no response.

    Turns out I wasn't the only one getting shafted.. their own forums started getting flooded with angry customers who hadn't heard anything, couldn't get a refund and couldn't even get a response from anyone at the company. Pretty soon the forum admin(s) started deleting all "WHERE THE F@#$ IS MY LAPTOP???" threads (without replying to a single one, of course).

    After 5 months I was finally able to get my money back through my bank, which was the only positive thing in this whole experience.

  5. dearg
    January 25, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Buy an old Thinkpad x220 or x230. Nothing yet surpasses these devices in pure practicals - sadly.

    • JR Namida
      November 18, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      768 vs 1080 resolution screen makes that a poor choice, in my web surfing opinion.

  6. Mike
    January 19, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    My best advice: Windows 10 with 4+G ram and i-something processor. Dual boot Linux. Be fast, fun and productive - no matter what happens. Some days only Cinnamon will make me happy, other days, i want desktop versions of things like Keep and OneNote etc. Plus, one side repairs the other when the chips are down.

  7. dragonmouth
    January 19, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Laptops with Linux pre-loaded, being niche products, command a premium price. If you go low price then you compromise on the performance. I find it cheaper to buy a Windows laptop and replace Windows with a distro of MY choice. I pay less for more performance.

  8. Priswell
    January 13, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I've migrated entirely to Linux and have bought my last several computers from System76. I've been quite happy. I wouldn't say that they are "cheap", but you get at least your money's worth from them, and Linux is already installed.

    • Mark
      January 14, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      I don't see how you get your moneys worth though. I mean you could literally buy the parts yourself and build it cheaper. I liked the idea of it until just now after specc'ing out a few different options and the prices just don't add up.

      I mean if it works for you, great! But I can't personally justify those prices just because it has Linux? The base laptop is crazy expensive compared to something similar with Win 10.

      I don't know. Seems more cliche' and name dropping to me.