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.
Top Linux Laptop Choices in 2019
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.
Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
Linux gets premium treatment!
There are very few mainstream companies making high-end laptops that come pre-installed with a Linux distro. Not the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition though. This one’s a beauty in looks and a beast in power!
System76 Oryx Pro Pop OS 17.10
64GB RAM and 2TB SSD Make it a Bomb!
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.
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
Dell XPS 13 has made a name because it is the best that Dell laptops offer to Linux geeks. But everything coming out of System76 is purely made out of love for the open source kernel. In all honesty, if you look at the specs of the Ubuntu laptop, you might say that XPS 13 is over hyped.
Nonetheless, points for design elements still go to Dell because the System76 Galago Pro isn’t as focused on the looks as it is on the hardware. Being a pre-installed laptop, whatever it packs feels made for the OS and you won’t find the Linux running smoother anywhere.
You will be hard pressed not to pick on System 76 for trying to look like a MacBook Pro, but the resemblance is there with aluminum finishes, lightweight and the slimmer edges. But who buys a System 76 for all that! There is a vast range of customization that will pull you in. For instance, juice it up with anything from 8GB to 32GB RAM.
It also has a newer gen processor and an i7 chip, so there’s that. If we were biased fans we might have skipped telling you that the battery life of the System76 Galago Pro is not comparable with the Dell XPS 13 as it offers a meager five hours only. But isn’t that the only downside?
- Processor: Intel Core i7 1.8GHz 8th Gen Quad-Core (Turbo 3.6GHz)
- RAM: 8GB – 32GB DDR4 RAM
- Storage: 120GB SSD
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Display: 14″ FHD
- Operating System: Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS (64-bit)
- Battery Life: Up to 5 Hours
- Weight: 2.87 lbs
- Great hardware choice
- Super fast 8th gen processor
- Sleek impressive design
- Mediocre battery timing
- Not as flashy as Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition
We have talked about a couple of high end products that cost much higher than the affordable image that goes with Linux. Nonetheless, here’s a choice laptop that will cost ten times less! The Pinebook 64 might not come from the most well reputed brand out there, but the Linux computer is the cheapest solution you will get.
Made with the intention of being the most affordable, Pinebook 64 costs a mere 100 bucks. But even in such a tiny price tag, you get the efficient Armv8-A architecture based Quad Core ARM Cortex A53 processor. The same processor that has been powering LeMaker HiKey and Raspberry Pi 3 since years.
Surprisingly, the manufacturer boasts of an HD display for its 14″ screen. But in all honesty, the display quality isn’t of the best quality. Same is the case with its keyboard quality, although the overall look of the laptop is very slim and takes very less space.
However, you will need a bigger storage than the basic 16GB you will get with the Ubuntu laptop. We would suggest you buy the 64GB variant instead. Now we are not saying you can alternate between this and the System76 model or the Dell XPS laptop. But it is a cheap machine to let you experience Linux OS.
- Processor: ARM Cortex A53 1.2 GHz 64-bit Quad-Core Processor
- RAM: 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
- Storage: 16GB eMMC (Upgradable up to 64GB)
- Graphics: Integrated
- Display: 14-inch HD Display with 1366 x 768 Resolution
- Operating System: Linux Distro
- Battery Life: Up to 6 Hours
- Weight: 2.7 lbs
- Cheapest route to Linux kingdom
- ARM Cortex A53 performs satisfactorily
- 14″ HD display
- Keyboard quality is low
- Battery doesn’t last the longest
- Limiting hardware components
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 a 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
One of the prime reasons why most of us want to move to Linux is the level of configurations possible. Here’s another System76 lptop 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 flipside, 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
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!