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Best Laptops for Ubuntu [2020 Review]

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While Ubuntu is a versatile OS, it does not support every hardware available. You might, therefore, buy a laptop only to realize that it is not compatible with this operating system. To save you the trouble of buying the wrong device, we have compiled a reliable list of the best laptops for Ubuntu.

Our Top Laptops for Ubuntu

After doing plenty of research and testing, we have identified the following laptops to be the most compatible with the Ubuntu operating system. 

Brand
Best Overall
Dell XPS 13
Best for the Money
2018 Lenovo Business Laptop
Best Cheap Pick
HP Notebook 15
Product
Dell XPS 13 - 13.3" UHD InfinityEdge, 8th Gen...
2018 Lenovo Business Laptop PC 15.6" Anti-Glare...
New HP 15.6" HD Touchscreen Laptop Intel Core...
Processor
1.8 GHz core_i7
2.5 GHz core_i5
1.2 GHz apple_ci3
RAM
16 GB DDR3
8 GB DDR4
8 GB SDRAM
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
Dell XPS 13
Product
Dell XPS 13 - 13.3" UHD InfinityEdge, 8th Gen...
Processor
1.8 GHz core_i7
RAM
16 GB DDR3
Rating
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
2018 Lenovo Business Laptop
Product
2018 Lenovo Business Laptop PC 15.6" Anti-Glare...
Processor
2.5 GHz core_i5
RAM
8 GB DDR4
Rating
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
HP Notebook 15
Product
New HP 15.6" HD Touchscreen Laptop Intel Core...
Processor
1.2 GHz apple_ci3
RAM
8 GB SDRAM
Rating
Price

Best Overall Laptop for Ubuntu: Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 - 13.3' UHD InfinityEdge, 8th Gen...

Dell partners with various Linux developers like Canonical (Ubuntu), Red Hat, and SuSE. For this reason, its laptops are compatible with most Linux distributions. We believe the Dell XPS 13 will be a great home for the Ubuntu operating system.

The Dell XPS 13 is compact, light and durable with a beautiful carbon fiber frame. The only downside you might notice are the few connectivity options, having one USB-C and 2 thunderbolt ports. A workaround for this can be getting an adapter if you have many peripherals to connect.

You can open up the laptop with only one hand, which is super helpful in some situations. Power it on and you are destined to be blown away by the 4K Ultra HD (3840 * 2160) 13-inch screen. Its near bezel-less 16:10 aspect ratio touch screen is highly sought after by graphic designers. The infinity-edge touch display is bright and has remarkably good color accuracy.

The keyboard’s sizable keys are spaced out well, have excellent travel, and offer speedy typing. The trackpad, on the other hand, looks great and is relatively large for a 13-inch ultrabook. When it comes to sound, you won’t be disappointed with the 2 watts speakers (most other laptops have 1.5 watts) on the XPS 13.

Performance-wise, this laptop will run most Linux software without any lags in performance. Thanks to its 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor. It also has a stalwart GPU that allows it to handle most hardcore tasks and games that are compatible with Ubuntu. Under the hood, the Dell XPS 13 packs two fans for a more efficient thermal process. 

Unfortunately, the 16 GB RAM go soldered onto the motherboard, so you can’t replace or upgrade it in case you need more. 

On the brighter side, you can upgrade the super fast 1 TB solid-state drive (SSD) storage. This is a generous amount of space so it is unlikely that you will need more. However, in case you download a lot of Linux distributions and other files you can easily upgrade the storage.

What We Like 

  • Gorgeous design and carbon fiber finish
  • Fingerprint sensor for login
  • Infinity edge display: great for entertainment
  • Anti-reflective screen, gorgeous from every angle
  • 2 fans for high thermal conductivity

What We Don’t Like

  • Slightly expensive
  • You can’t replace the RAM chips
Dell XPS 13 - 13.3" UHD InfinityEdge, 8th Gen...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7 8550U Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.0 gigahertz)
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133 megahertz; Recycle friendly: 90% of the laptop’s parts can be easily recycled or...
  • 1TB PCIe Solid State Drive

Best Laptop for Ubuntu for the Money: 2018 Lenovo Business Laptop

2018 Lenovo Business Laptop PC 15.6' Anti-Glare...

Lenovo laptops have invariably attracted admiration from the Linux community due to their compatibility with the Ubuntu distribution. The laptop manufacturer has shipped a number of their PCs and servers with Ubuntu or Red Hat distributions. This 2018 Lenovo Business Laptop is one of the most compatible with the famed OS. 

The 2018 Lenovo Business Laptop targets individuals who need a reliable notebook for work. You can easily install Ubuntu and take advantage of distributions that are vital to boosting business productivity. This way, you can avoid all the bloatware that comes with other operating systems.

The laptop is light and feels great to the touch. The full keyboard is well spaced out and comfortable to type on.

When it comes to ports, Lenovo did quite a number on this laptop: which is fantastic for the business environment. It’s got 1 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0 ports to connect multiple accessories and peripherals. This makes it a better option than the Dell XPS 13 if you mostly depend on peripheral connections. 

The laptop comes with a massive 128GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB HDD storage. This is more than enough to download as many Linux distributions as is necessary plus other pertinent software. While the Core i5 processor looks like an unfitting companion for such staggering storage, it still does a great job of making the laptop super fast.

The touchscreen display offers exemplary brightness levels, and colors are satisfyingly  accurate. However, it’s not 4K and might be a turn off a turnoff for people looking for more display power. On the bright side, you will get longer battery life and your vision won’t take a toll from looking at the screen for too long. 

What We Like 

  • Anti-glare 15.6 inch touchscreen display
  • Full keyboard with number keys
  • Loud dual speakers
  • Has numerous ports and connectivity options
  • Great for a business environment
  • Long battery life to last you the whole day

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit bulky
  • Body looks plain
2018 Lenovo Business Laptop PC 15.6" Anti-Glare...
  • Powerful 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U mobile processor Smart quad-core, four-way processing...
  • Impressive 12GB DDR4 system memory for basic multitasking Adequate high-bandwidth RAM to smoothly...
  • Stunning 15.6-inch resolution 1366x768 HD touchscreen for high-quality images and fine detail....

Best Cheap Laptop for Ubuntu: HP Notebook 15

New HP 15.6' HD Touchscreen Laptop Intel Core...

The HP Notebook 15 is quite a beauty and comes with remarkably good specifications for its price. It’s very sleek, has a beautiful contrasting color design on the body, and the cooling system is inconspicuous. The laptop features an HD touchscreen display, multimedia card, 2 USB 3.1, 1 USB 2.0, and an HDMI port.

A lid fabricated with rubber on the bottom side gives the ergonomic full-sized keyboard a bit of lift, making it comfortable to type on. What’s more, the 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor can comfortably handle the Ubuntu OS in addition to other software.

The laptop ships with 8GB RAM and 128 GB SSD storage, both of which you can upgrade.

The integrated UHD graphics card drivers install seamlessly in Ubuntu and any other Linux distribution. This in combination with the large touchscreen display and crisp audio makes for a memorable experience when playing games or watching videos.

The New HP laptop is a great performer: everything from booting to opening applications is a breeze. The lithium battery life is also excellent and can last for an inordinately long time at maximum brightness. 

All things considered, this HP laptop will satisfy your needs even though it doesn’t cost much. It boasts of alluring aesthetics combined with a great display, comfortable typing, and powerful audio.

Unfortunately, a notable downside to this laptop is configuring it to dual boot into Linux due to the UEFI firmware. You will have to press F9 to change the boot sequence from Windows to Linux every time you power it on.

That being said, if this downside is not a deal-breaker for you, this is a good model to run Ubuntu if you’re short on budget.

What We Like 

  • Long-lasting lithium battery
  • A full keyboard that’s comfortable to type on
  • Affordably priced
  • Elegant design and lightweight
  • Convenient USB-C charging

What We Don’t Like

  • Does not have a DVD drive
  • Hard to replace the battery
  • Troublesome dual boot setup
New HP 15.6" HD Touchscreen Laptop Intel Core...
  • 15.6 in HD WLED touchscreen (1366 x 768), 10-finger multi-touch support.
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i3-1005G1 1.2GHz up to 3.4GHz.
  • 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2666MHz, 128GB SSD, No Optical Drive.

Best Portable Laptop for Ubuntu: ASUS ZenBook 13

ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop 13.3' FHD...

Asus claims that the ZenBook 13 is the most compact laptop in the world. This somehow rings true since you can hardly find a lighter laptop with similar premium features.

The ZenBook 13 consists of a near bezel-less 13.3-inch full HD (1080p) display, with an impressive 95% screen to body ratio. This notebook packs an 8th gen Intel Core i5 processor with 256 GB SSD drive and 8 GB of RAM.

The slim chassis and smooth edges will make it feel at home in your hands. Thanks to the small form factor. However, despite its small body, the ZenBook 13 offers a decent selection of ports, including HDMI, USB-C, and a micro SD card reader.

You can prop up the left hinge at an angle when you open the lid. This way, the fans situated underneath it begets improved airflow and sound from the downward-firing speakers are enhanced. Coincidentally, or by design, the upward prop offers you a pleasant typing position on the responsive keyboard.

The keys are well spaced out, and you can type comfortably for long sessions. The smooth glass surface trackpad is highly responsive with accurate tracking. 

You might have missed the number keys on the keyboard, you can switch the touchpad to work as a numeric keypad for speedy data entry. The numeric keypad functions just as well on any Linux distro, with a simple update on drivers.

What We Like 

  • Sleek and lightweight
  • Fast charging technology (49 minutes for 60% charge)
  • SD card reader to transfer data
  • Wide viewing angles with no color shifting from the sides
  • Impressive, long-lasting battery life

What We Don’t Like

  • No optical DVD drive
  • Loud fan when running intensive applications
ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop 13.3" FHD...
  • 13.3-Inch wide-view Full-HD Nano-edge bezel display; A specially designed 50Wh lithium-polymer...
  • Latest 8th generation Intel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.4 GHz)
  • Fast storage and memory featuring 256GB SATA SSD with 8GB LPDDR3 RAM

Factors to Consider When Buying a Laptop for Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great alternative operating system, offering an exemplary, versatile, and powerful computing experience. Here’s what you need to look out for when buying a new laptop to use the Ubuntu OS.

A computer with an installed Ubuntu software

Value for Money

Some manufacturers offer their laptops with pre-installed Linux operating systems. In turn, this reduces the price, since you won’t bear the additional cost of Windows or macOS and the costly proprietary software like MS Office. Besides, there is free alternative open-source software like LibreOffice for Linux, which offers the same features as MS Office.

Almost all Linux distros, including Ubuntu, are free. While the installation process for Ubuntu is straightforward, other distros like Arch Linux have many nitty-gritty configuration options. As a beginner, start off with distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint if you want a Windows-like environment, or Elementary Os as an alternative to macOS.

Hardware 

Granted that Linux distros like Ubuntu are reasonably flexible, the computer you install it in needs to meet some standard specifications. Make sure the laptop meets all the hardware requirements to run Ubuntu smoothly. All the laptops in this review go above and beyond the recommended prerequisites.

At the time of writing, the notable recommended minimum system requirements for the latest Ubuntu (17.04 LTS) are; 2 GHz dual-core processor, 25 GB free hard-drive space, and 4 GB RAM. 

LTS stands for Long term support, which means the flavor of Linux is maintained for many years (sometimes up to 10 years) with security updates, even after a new version comes around.

Size/Form Factor

If you are looking for a portable laptop, then a smaller screen might be the way to go. Smaller laptops like the Asus Zenbook 13 has a 13.3-inch screen, is light, slim and offers decent battery life. These factors make it ideal if you’re a regular traveler.

A larger screen gives you more real estate to work with, especially when using screen-reliant Linux distributions. You won’t have to scroll too much to see everything. It is comfortable to look at, and the higher the resolution the better. 

CPU

Woman typing in her laptop

The central processing unit (CPU) executes every command, from simple tasks like browsing to harder ones like gaming. The more powerful the processor, the more expensive the laptop will be as it performs better. 

You need a sturdy CPU in order to fluidly run Ubuntu. For this reason, we recommend you go with a laptop at least Intel Core i5. If you are on the lower side of the budget, you can settle for an Intel Core i3. 

RAM

RAM (random access memory) allows you to work with more data at the same time. Operating systems like Windows and macOS take up a lot of RAM while running their unsurmountable background processes.

Fortunately, Linux distros like Ubuntu are quite lean, meaning it can perform better with the same RAM as that in alternate OSes. 4 GB RAM is a good baseline for most modern computers.

Storage

Storage is an important consideration when using Ubuntu since you will be downloading a lot of Linux distributions to work with. You can probably get away with a standard hard disk drive. However, if you are willing to invest, we recommend you go with an SSD that is much faster. 

Compatibility

Hand scrolling through a laptop

Unfortunately, some hardware isn’t compatible with Linux. An example of this is Nvidia graphics cards, which contain proprietary drivers, giving the user a hard time configuring them on Linux. All the laptops in this guide have either integrated or AMD graphics cards, which are natively supported on Ubuntu.

Lucky for you, Linux is quite malleable, with a massive community behind. You can check on the Ubuntu forum for solutions in case you encounter any compatibility issues. In most cases, you can troubleshoot the issues with certain features or hardware on your laptop.

Additional features

Laptops nowadays come with many constituents such as touchscreen functionality, fingerprint readers for enhanced security, and much more. While such features may work out of the box on pre-installed software, that’s not always the case when you choose to alter your operating system.

You may have to get additional driver software, which is incompatible with some OSes. Fortunately, Ubuntu natively supports many of the earlier mentioned features. You may have to painstakingly download and install additional drivers to get the novel features to work in other distros.

Conclusion

We hope this guide will help you buy the best laptop for Ubuntu. Make sure to closely work with our recommendations so you don’t end up buying a laptop that is incompatible with this operating system.