The best Linux laptops run smoothly—an experience that isn’t guaranteed when you install Linux on random computers. That’s because Linux can be customized for the hardware that it’s installed on.
This article lists the best Linux laptops that come with the open-source operating system preinstalled by the manufacturer.
Why Should You Buy a Linux Laptop?
Linux is an open-source operating system that you can install yourself on nearly any computer. So, why would you want to buy a specific Linux laptop instead?
Many laptops advertised as Linux devices normally come with Windows installed but have been tested and certified for some kind of Linux flavor. However, the devices in this list are purpose built with Linux in mind. This means that they will often run faster, smoother, and integrate better with the hardware than if you were to install Linux yourself.
There’s one downside to buying from small manufacturers: most purpose-built Linux laptops cost slightly more than those with Windows. Part of the reason Linux devices tend to cost more is that boutique manufacturers produce small numbers of product, which makes per-device costs more expensive. The exception to this rule is Dell, which actually reduces prices when you choose Linux over Windows.
Best Linux Laptop for Privacy:
Purism Librem 13
- Starting price: $1,400
- CPU: Core i7-7500U
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
- RAM: 8GB to 32GB
- Hard drive: 500GB HDD to 1TB NVMe SSD
- Linux version: PureOS
- Screen: 13.3-inch matte 1080p IPS
Purism’s Librem 13 is one of the best Linux laptops on the market for privacy. The crowd-funded company makes several laptops ranging in price from $1,300 to well over $2,000. All Purism computers include a customized version of Linux known as PureOS. PureOS is based on Debian, but with privacy and security modifications.
The Librem 13 laptop comes with a Kaby Lake processor and custom privacy and security modifications. Unlike most of the other Linux laptops, it comes with an open-source BIOS called Coreboot. It also features two physical buttons that disable the microphone and camera as well as all wireless features. In addition, it’s constructed from a black aluminum unibody chassis.
If you’re interested and want to find out more before making a purchase, check out our review of the Purism Librem 13.
Most Well-Rounded Linux Laptop:
System76 Oryx Pro
- Starting price: $1,700
- CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H (9th generation)
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 2060, GTX 2070, or GTX 2080
- RAM: 32GB to 64GB of variable refresh speeds
- Hard drive: 2 x M.2 NVMe SSDs (8TB maximum)
- Linux version: Ubuntu or Pop!_OS
- Screen: 16.1-inch or 17.3-inch FHD, matte finish
System76 is one of the most well-known Linux laptop manufacturers. Based out of Denver, Colorado, the company produces a range of desktop and laptop devices. They also happen to make one of the best overall Linux laptops—the System76 Oryx Pro. It balances performance and portability, weighing around 5.5 pounds while containing up to a GTX 2080.
In 2019, System76 introduced the Oryx Pro; a thin, high-performance notebook. The Oryx Pro’s specifications come closer to a workstation in power but in a slimmer and more portable package. But that performance improvement comes with a price. It costs a considerable amount of money.
Even so, the laptop packs a high-end 9th generation Intel processor which does not suffer from the performance problems associated with the security mitigations that damage performance on older Intel processors. It also includes a Turing GPU, which means its Tensor cores assist developers in creating machine-learning algorithms.
The company made its name in Ubuntu-based devices, but they now develop their own Linux operating system. While it is based on Ubuntu, it looks a lot like a mashup of Google’s Material Design and GNOME. However, while customizing your Oryx Pro at checkout, you can choose Ubuntu instead if you’d prefer.
Best Premium Linux Laptop:
ZaReason UltraLap 6440 i7
- Starting price: $1,000
- CPU: Intel i7-8550U
- GPU: Intel UHD 620
- RAM: 4GB to 32GB DDR4-2133
- Hard drive: 120GB M.2 SSD to 2TB NVMe SSD
- Linux version: any version of Linux
- Screen: 14-inch FHD Backlit LCD
The ZaReason UltraLap 6440 i7 is the perfect Linux laptop if you are on the lookout for something customizable and affordable. The device comes equipped with an Intel i7-8550U CPU and can support up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM. While the starting price of $1,000 only includes the baseline specifications, even that amounts to a powerful Linux laptop.
One of the UltraLap 6440 i7’s strengths is its customization. Unlike many other manufacturers, ZaReason will preinstall any Linux distro you choose. During checkout, the dropdown recommends the most popular Linux installations, but you are free to choose any you wish by specifying your selection in the customer notes.
Best Linux Laptop for Performance:
Dell Precision 5520
- Starting price: $1,480
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6820HQ
- GPU: Nvidia Quadro M1200
- RAM: 8GB to 32GB of DDR4 RAM
- Hard drive: 500GB SATA HDD to 1TB M.2 SSD
- Linux version: Ubuntu 16.04
- Screen: 15-inch 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge Display
Dell is one of the few mainstream laptop manufacturers to offer Ubuntu as a discounted alternative to Windows 10. That means that many Dell laptops can be configured at checkout as Linux laptops instead. If you’re looking for a high-performance Linux laptop, the Dell Precision 5520 might be what you’re after.
The Precision 5520 can be configured to ship with Ubuntu 16.04 preinstalled, and it even reduces the price of the standard Windows-based model by $100. The laptop comes with the Intel Core i7-6820HQ CPU and can support up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage configurations start at a 500GB SATA HD and range up to a 1TB M.2 SSD.
While many Linux laptops have reasonable displays, the Precision 5520 comes with an Ultra HD 4K InfinityEdge display. This makes it ideal for creatives looking to do editing work, or even those of us wanting to watch videos at high resolution. Overall, the Precision 5520 offers the best value out of all the Linux laptops mentioned here.
Most Affordable Linux Laptop:
Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
- Starting Price: $850
- CPU: Intel Core i3-8145U
- RAM: 4GB DDR3
- Hard drive: 128GB M.2 SSD
- Linux version: Ubuntu 18.04
- Screen size: 13.3-inch FHD InfinityEdge Display
The Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition employs a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber in its clamshell design. The combination of light, high-durability materials allows the XPS to weigh in at just 2.7 pounds. As with other Dell models, the XPS 13 is available as a Windows laptop, but can also be modified to come with Ubuntu 18.04 preinstalled instead.
While prices for the laptop start at $850, by adding additional features and hardware, you can easily configure the XPS 13 Developer Edition to cost almost $2,000. By any measure, it one of the most premium Linux laptops on the market.
Should You Buy a Linux Laptop?
If you’re looking for a new laptop, and just want to run a few Linux apps, consider buying a Chromebook or a Windows laptop. Both operating systems are now compatible with Linux apps and services. If you only intend to use Linux on occasion, this might be the best option for you.
However, if you need the highest level of security and privacy, a Linux laptop is for you. There are many Linux laptops on the market—some are customizable, while others are focused on performance and privacy. If you’d rather a Linux laptop that didn’t break the bank, you might want to check out the best cheap Linux laptops instead.
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