Linux Noob and Laptop Recommendations


#1

I’m new to TOP and am just at the installation phase. I’ve been using a work laptop (different type of job) and have not had my own for a few years. I want to get a new laptop (new to me) so I can personalize and run my own OS for studying without messing up my flow on my work laptop. It seems like Linux will be the way to go but I want to make sure I have the right processors as well. From what I’ve read, Linux needs less to run than Windows which could mean a lower processor which could mean lower price (did I mention I was on a budget?) From research a couple months ago I also read that the best processor for coding is Intel i3 and up, is this still where I should be aiming? I did find an inexpensive chromebook but it seems it is at the absolute lowest it’s the HP Chromebook 14. Also if dual-booting is the route I take how does that affect the processing power of the laptop? Any thoughts or suggestions will be so immensely appreciated. Thanks


#2

You can’t go wrong with a used ThinkPad. I’ve used a new-to-me ThinkPad T420 for about as much of The Odin Project as i’ve completed, and for programming it’s been super effective. You can find these bad boys (and some of the newer models, or the thinner X variants) on Ebay for like around $250 from a reputable refurbisher. I got mine for $250 from a Microsoft certified refurbisher with Windows 10 pro already installed on it and working (not anymore lol it’s all Linux now :DDD)

The most popular, most modular and most affordable versions of ThinkPads that I can quickly find right now are the T420, X220, T430 and X230. I see them right now for about $150-250 USD. They usually have an i5 in them, and the CPU is an M-series so it’s not one of those gimped U-series ultrabook low voltage pieces of trash, and they’re socketed so if you really want to you can even shove an i7 in there, but mind the heat. With an extended 9-cell battery (~$70 if you want to be sure it’s genuine Lenovo) i get anywhere from 6 to 9 hours of working time on my T420 running Artix Linux.

You’ll probably not find anything Intel below an i3 these days, so for people to say you need “at least” an i3 is like saying you need “at least” a computer, lol. I would recommend going for at least an i5, because you’re going to be running a browser, Discord for TOP help (basically another browser, thanks electron), and your code editor with multiple files open at once, and the little step up in performance will make that a non-issue. Don’t waste your money on a chromebook, those are cheap little ChromeOS-running internet-surfers you gift to your granny, especially considering what you can get for the same money used these days. Also IIRC Chromebooks run on ARM processors, the support for which on Linux I’m not sure about (never used ARM) but you can have good expectations for support on more common hardware like an Intel i5.

If you insist on keeping a Windows installation, dual-booting is the best-for-performance way to go as far as having Linux and Windows on the same machine. The second-best alternative is to just have Windows and then run Linux inside a virtual machine, but that basically means running an OS on another OS on a computer, so it will be less performant. Best to run whatever OS right on the metal.

As for Linux requiring less system resources than Windows, that is generally true, but sometimes it takes some configuration. On my T420 this was pretty much an out-of-the-box feature of Linux; same story on my HP Spectre X360. But on my ThnkPad X1 Extreme gen 2, I had to alter my boot script to set my GPU power settings to “auto” instead of “on”, and before i discovered this, Linux was giving me about 2-3 hours of battery life, but after the fix i get about 5-7 hours depending on what i’m doing, which is a little better than Windows at 5.5hrs on this machine. If you decide to go with my suggestion of an older model ThinkPad, particularly if it has no dedicated GPU, you’ll probably see automatic lower power consumption running Linux like I did. And even if not, there are comprehensive and powerful tools available on Linux that let you have extreme control over your power usage (compared to windows, where you basically only have a little slider from “best battery life” to “best performance”, who knows what it’s really doing lmao)

Anyway welcome, and don’t forget to join the Discord server here https://discordapp.com/invite/hvqVr6d


#3

Thank you! This is really helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to type this all out. I was trying to lean away from Thinkpads just because my boss at work insists on buying them to save money for the company but I am always having to run in behind him and reset everything so coworkers can use them. (which isn’t the computer’s fault) but I’m biased. :sweat_smile: I’ll give those another look. My only other concern with the Thinkpad is the size. I did rule out the Chromebook after a little more reading. One website read them to filth for coding and programming lol. Again, this has been a great read, thanks


#4

I recently got myself a mid-range dell xps 13 strictly for coding. It has an i5, 8 GBs of RAM, and a 256 GB ssd. And it wasn’t as pricey as the latest and greatest but works great for coding. After installing Xubuntu on it, the battery life is great. I haven’t actually measured it because whenever I’m out, it more than lasts.