The Best Linux Laptop: System76 Galago Pro vs. Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

Moe Long 22-06-2018

Linux PCs are often a do-it-yourself (DIY) venture. However, many vendors are starting to provide pre-built Linux laptops and desktops 7 Places You Can Buy a Dedicated Linux PC or Laptop Online Installing Linux on your desktop or laptop is easy. But can you just buy a Linux machine, straight off the shelf? Here are seven manufacturers doing just that. Read More .


System76’s Galago Pro and Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition remain top picks among the bevy of Linux laptops on the market. Learn about both System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition in this head-to-head comparison!

Why Buy a Linux Laptop?

While you can purchase a Linux laptop, it’s simple to create your own with any of the countless Linux distributions (distros) freely available.

So why buy instead of build? A pre-built Linux laptop offers a computer that’s ready for use out-of-the-box. There’s no hassle of installing a Linux operating system and potential troubleshooting. Additionally, buying a Linux laptop from the right supplier affords tech support.

Dell and System76 (particularly the latter, as a dedicated Linux manufacturer with its own Linux operating system) provide fantastic support options. If you’re in the market for a Linux laptop or desktop The 8 Best Linux Desktop Computers and Laptops You Can Buy Here are some of the best Linux laptops and desktops that you can buy today. Read More , let’s find out which rig is right for you.

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Display

X Reasons to Buy the System76 Galago Pro Over the XPS 13 - System76 Galago Pro 2018
Image Credit: System76


One of the highlight System76 Galago Pro features is its screen. The Galago Pro HiDPI 13-inch display delivers lush visuals at a 3200×1800 resolution. There’s also a 14-inch 1080p IPS 14-inch screen alternative. The 14-inch IPS model now features a thinner bezel than its predecessor.

Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition boasts a 13-inch screen in full 1080p. Opting for 1080p means the Galago Pro yields a bit more screen real estate. As such, the HiDPI display found on the Galago Pro easily trounces the screen on the XPS 13.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: System Specs

Both the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro feature similar specs with a few key differences. At the core of both machines, you’ll find either an i5-8250u or i7-8550U. For RAM, the XPS 13 Developer Edition allows up to 16GB of DDR3.


Compare that to the Galago Pro’s available 32GB of DDR4. Because the Galago Pro uses DDR4 and as high as twice the RAM of the XPS 13, it’s a better machine. Notably, the XPS 13 can accept greater than 16GB of RAM. However, that’s the maximum you can order from Dell. Adding more requires purchasing the memory and adding it yourself.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Connectivity

With an increasing number of devices ditching ports, connectivity is key. The XPS 13 features a microSD card slot, headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a USB 3.o PowerShare DC input with DisplayPort.

The Galago Pro rocks a microSD card slot, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB C with Thunderbolt 3 headphone jack, and microphone jack. Moreover, both laptops offer Bluetooth as well as 867Mbps wireless internet connectivity. Here, the two laptops are pretty close in specs.


Winner: Tie

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Battery Life

Image Credit: Dell

It’s battery life where the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition bests the Galago Pro. While the Galago Pro includes a 35.3WHr battery, the XPS 13 touts a whopping 52WHr battery. That packs in quite a bit more on-the-go power than the Galago Pro. Especially for a thin-and-light laptop engineered for portability, battery life remains a key consideration.

Winner: Dell XPS 13


XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Build Quality

Since the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro are premium laptops, both come outfitted with backlit keyboards. The XPS 13 is comprised of recycled ocean plastics for an eco-friendly design, whereas the Galago Pro chassis is aluminum.

The aluminum chassis on the Galago Pro tops the plastic body of the XPS 13. Nevertheless, its environmentally friendly construction makes the XPS 13 a sustainable PC option. Similarly, backlit keys lend a premium vibe.

While the XPS 13 is no slouch and you won’t confuse it with the extremely budget-conscious Pinebook 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 , the Galago Pro wins with its brushed aluminum chassis.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Options and Support

The Best Linux Laptop: System76 Galago Pro vs. Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition BestUbuntuAlternative PopOS 670x408

Both the Galago Pro and XPS 13 offer Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as an operating system choice. However, the Galago Pro also comes with an option of Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS, a Linux OS created by System76. It’s an Ubuntu derivative which differs from vanilla Ubuntu while providing a similar experience.

Overall, Pop!_OS from System76 is similar to Ubuntu Pop!_OS Has Arrived: How Does It Compare to Ubuntu? System76's Pop!_OS Linux operating system is available for download, and is also shipping as the default option on new computers from System76. Should you check it out? Read More but with a few key differences: fewer pre-installed apps, fantastic desktop support, a lush user interface, among others. Whereas the XPS 13 only offers Ubuntu, the Galago Pro comes with two Linux OS choices.

Furthermore, System76 specializes in Linux PCs and as such provides quality support. That’s not to say Dell’s support is inferior. But since System76 specializes in Linux PCs, its capabilities are better suited to troubleshooting issues. Furthermore, System76’s impressive lineup includes a wide array of machines such as the Gazelle. When it comes to Linux, they know their stuff.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: The Winner

Although the System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 are pretty similar in specs and build, a few key elements separate the two laptops. Notably, the two screen options. Essentially, the Galago Pro consolidated the System76 lineup so you may pick from two different screen options. Compare that to the Dell XPS 13 with its singular HiDPI screen choice.

Similarly, operating systems available on the Galago Pro include Ubuntu and Pop!_OS. The XPS 13 only comes with Ubuntu.

However, the XPS 13 bests the Galago Pro at battery life. In its review, ARS Technica found a middling three and a half hours of battery life. That’s not terrible, though for a lightweight laptop competitor to the Apple Macbook Pro and Dell XPS 13, it’s pretty measly.

Nevertheless, the Galago Pro delivers a performance wallop in a small form factor while allowing for expansion and user serviceability. It’s a rarity among laptops as a pre-built Linux machine, but also as a mobile rig which balances power with portability.

Looking for something more affordable? Check out the best cheap Linux laptops you can buy The 5 Best Cheap Linux Laptops to Buy in 2019 High-quality, affordable Linux laptops can be hard to find. Here are the best cheap Linux laptops available right now. Read More !

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  1. D
    June 23, 2019 at 2:14 am

    There are some comparisons that they missed in making, which I think are very important in laptops, and should be considered. Those are the touchpad, keyboards, and the audio quality/speakers. Does anyone have a comparison on these points?

  2. Jeremy
    June 26, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    This honestly comes across as being a very biased review. I love System76... but the XPS 13 and the Galago pro simply don't compete in my mind.

    The Galago is:

    - Thicker
    - Heavier
    - Over a full inch wider than the XPS 13.
    - A full inch deeper (Which results in it being taller when opened)

    These add up to a much bulkier laptop, especially for those of us that have to travel on airplanes frequently and need something that can be easily operated on an airplane seatback tray.

    How do you compare two "ultra light" laptops and completely fail to mention the size differences?

  3. Mickael
    June 23, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    First, my apologies for my bad english, it's not my first language

    I have a dell xps 13 2018, and I'm really surprised by what you wrote, have you tested the Dell XPS 13 ?
    Dell XPS 13 is made of aluminium and carbon fiber, dell use recycled ocean plastics for packaging not for the pc.
    And before I bought my xps13, I have read test of many linux PCs like Purism Librem 13, StationX Spitfire... and Galapagos pro.
    And I chose the Dell XPS 13 because many of this machines have Clevo based frame, and the sames problems : medium quality keyboard and trackpad, and especially short battery life for an ultrabook.
    Dell XPS have great battery life between 8h and 12h, depend to the use, and speed charge (~2h for full charge).
    Finally Dell ensure great support, for example I have the bios update directly on update manager of my fresh install of Ubuntu 18.04 (which work out of the box).

  4. dragonmouth
    June 22, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    One comparison omitted in the article is price.