Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition at Amazon"The clear top choice for those who want a stylish, powerful, and lightweight laptop with Linux."Runner-Up, Best Overall:Lenovo Lenovo T490 at Lenovo"All the trappings you'd want from a solid mid-range laptop, no matter which OS you fancy."Best Splurge:Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon at Amazon"Known to work pretty well with Linux, plus they're built like a tank."Best Apple:Apple MacBook Air 13 at Best Buy"Beautifully designed and features relatively powerful hardware."Best Design:Acer Swift 3 at AmazonBest Versatile:Lenovo Lenovo E15 at Amazon"A rock-solid workstation for using at home or away."
If you're someone that dares to be different, then one of the best Linux laptops are a perfect way to embrace this open-source OS with a portable form factor. Linux is an operating system that many consumers, businesspeople, and developers swear by. It may not have the same support that the other big operating systems have, but it's still a very capable, not to mention free, operating system. There are at least a few laptops out there that come with Linux pre-installed, but your options are limited. The fact is that the majority of major computer manufacturers simply don't build laptops with Linux — but the trade-off is that there's plenty of room for smaller companies, many of which are quite good.
However, there are still a handful of big name options that support the Linux OS, like our top pick, the Dell XPS 13 at B&H, or the super-slick Acer Swift 3 at Amazon.
If you're new to this strange new world of penguin-based operating systems, make sure to read our basic guide to the Linux OS before diving into our collection of the best Linux laptops.
Best Overall:Dell XPS 13 Developer EditionBuy on Amazon
The Dell XPS 13 is already considered one of the best laptops out there, period, and the fact that it's available with Linux too makes it the clear top choice for those who want a stylish, powerful, and lightweight laptop with Linux.
Under the hood, the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition has a lot to offer. The base model comes with an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. That's more than powerful enough for the Ubuntu 18.04 build that it comes with. The computer can, however, be customized to include an Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The base model's 13.3-inch display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, though you can upgrade it to a 4K display. Weight-wise, the computer is only 2.67lbs.The 6 Best Places to Buy a Laptop in 2021
Runner-Up, Best Overall:Lenovo T490Buy on Lenovo
The affordable and versatile laptop from Lenovo provides all the trappings you'd want from a solid mid-range laptop, no matter which OS you fancy. This slim, matte black 14-inch laptop weighs in at just 3.4 Lbs and is just .7 inches thick. While the T490 is somewhat diminutive in stature, it remains a remarkably powerful and robust laptop, tested against a dozen military-grade service checks to ensure that it can withstand even the most extreme conditions.
In terms of specs, the T490 features the latest 10th gen Intel CPU can provide speeds up to 3.9 GHz and is backed up by 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256 GB SSD for excellent multi-tasking performance. the T490 also has some of the most impressive battery life on our list, capable of operating for over 16 hours without needing to be topped off. The laptop includes a variety of standard port options, such as USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI, but also features a MicroSD card slot for quick storage expansion.
While Lenovo does offer a variety of configurations based on your specific needs, whether you need a better processor, more RAM, or more spacious storage, our preferred configuration makes the T490 one of the more affordable options on this list, regardless of your OS of choice.
Best Splurge:Lenovo Thinkpad X1 CarbonBuy on AmazonBuy on Lenovo
You don't necessarily have to buy a laptop that has Linux pre-installed. Alternatively, you could buy a Windows laptop and install Linux on it, though we recommend that only to those who know what they're doing. If you want to simply buy a Windows laptop and then install Linux on it after the fact, then we recommend the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Why? Lenovo's ThinkPad line of laptops are known to work pretty well with Linux, plus they're built like a tank.
Under the hood, this mightyThinkPad features a 10th Gen Intel processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of solid-state storage, which is more than enough power for running Linux or practically anything else your heart desires. The display on the device should be big enough, too, at 14 inches, and it's a beautiful IPS touchscreen as well.The Best Laptop Deals of 2021
Best Apple:Apple MacBook Air 134.5 Buy on Best BuyApple MacBook Air (2018) Review
Just because a laptop doesn't come with Linux pre-installed, that doesn't mean that you can't install Linux on it yourself. MacBooks are loved for their great design and powerful hardware, and there are plenty of guides out there on how to install Linux on your MacBook, though it's something we only recommend to those who know what they're doing. If you're interested in this, we recommend the new MacBook Air, which is beautifully designed and features relatively powerful hardware.
Spec-wise, the base model of the new MacBook Air comes with an Intel Core i3 processor, coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. Apple has adopted modern ports for the laptop too — you'll get two USB-C ports and a headphone jack. As you would expect from a MacBook Air, the 2018 version is nice and light, with a thickness of 0.61-inches and a weight of 2.75lbs.The 9 Best Laptops of 2021
Best Design:Acer Swift 3Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on Microcenter.com
This compact and versatile 14-inch Laptop from Acer provides a solid Linux platform and workstation. The Acer Swift 3 boasts a slick, all-metal construction while weighing in at just over 3 Lbs. and under an inch thick.
This notebook has all the features and conveniences you would expect from a top of the line notebook, including 10-hour battery life, a variety of port and connectivity options including USB-C and HDMI. The Swift 3 also sports an integrated camera and fingerprint reader for added security.
Under the hood, our recommended model of the Swift 3 comes equipped with a 10th gen Intel CPU, capable of up to 3.7Ghz, as well as an ample 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD for plenty of storage space and snappy responsiveness.
Best Versatile:Lenovo E15Buy on AmazonBuy on Lenovo
The latest iteration in Lenovo's venerable E-series of Thinkpads, the 15-inch E15 laptop is an excellent choice no matter what OS you're inclined to use. The FHD anti-glare panel is supported by an integrated Intel 620 UHD graphics processor, and while the panel is limited to 1080p, this processor is capable of supporting a 4K external monitor.
This version of the E15 has opted for a 10th gen Intel CPU, allowing for processing speeds of up to 4.2 GHz. Combine this with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256 GB SSD and you have a rock-solid workstation for using at home or away. The E15 also features some extensive connectivity options which include a trio of USB-A ports, as well as HDMI, USB-C, and ethernet connectivity.Final Verdict
Dell's XPS 13 remains one of the best choices available for Linux laptops. But if you want an Apple alternative that's an incredibly capable platform for the Linux OS, the MacBook Air is your best bet, both powerful and affordable with all the signature Apple design flourishes you expect from Cupertino.