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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).

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Old 02-23-2020, 01:13 PM   #1
Basslord1124
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Laptop brands/suggestions and hardware to avoid...


So I've got a budget of about $500 for a new laptop. I was wanting to know if there were any brands or hardware to avoid in terms of compatibility. And then of course any brands/hardware you would recommend. I've been using Linux Mint Cinnamon edition on both my old Samsung and Toshiba laptops and it does well. As long as I can exceed my current hardware specs I should be fine (I'm sure it'll exceed them).

Current specs:
1.6Ghz Quad Core CPU
4GB RAM (6GB on the Toshiba laptop)
500GB HD

I'm generally a long term-er with a computer...meaning I will keep it til it gives its last breath. I will probably still even use my current old ones even after I get the new one.

Uses will be web browsing, audio/video editing, little bit of CAD work, some office work, and probably some other general uses. Appreciate any help anyone can provide. Thanks!
 
Old 02-23-2020, 01:21 PM   #2
Timothy Miller
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Avoid Broadcom wireless. I personally don't like the hoops that must be jumped through to get the dual GPU setups working (Intel iGP + Nvidia GPU), some people do like them, however, so that's more of a preference than anything else.

If you want decent battery life, then avoid Ryzen mobile, good performance, the more recent kernels work fine, the iGP works GREAT and crushes most of the competition, but the battery life under linux is at best underwhelming as of this point.

I'm a big fan of the Dell Latitude line. Usually fully Intel so that everything just works. And usually available with good LCD's. Generally not a fan of HP due to their unreliability with their Bios implementation, and often not having an upgrade option in linux (requires Windows in many models). All Dells and most Lenovo's support flashing without Windows. Not sure about other than those 3.

Biggest thing to watch is the LCD. There's no excuse for modern laptops to have less than 1080P LCD on them. There are sub-$300 laptops that have extremely high quality QHD displays, so obviously they're simply NOT that expensive anymore.
 
Old 02-23-2020, 02:31 PM   #3
Basslord1124
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Thanks Timothy Miller for a good start on some things to look at and/or avoid. Anybody have any experience with ASUS?...been a long time fan of ASUS products. My wife has an ASUS touchscreen/laptop which is nice but she runs Windows 10 on it.
 
Old 02-23-2020, 05:30 PM   #4
Minux1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
Avoid Broadcom wireless. I personally don't like the hoops that must be jumped through to get the dual GPU setups working (Intel iGP + Nvidia GPU), some people do like them, however, so that's more of a preference than anything else.

If you want decent battery life, then avoid Ryzen mobile, good performance, the more recent kernels work fine, the iGP works GREAT and crushes most of the competition, but the battery life under linux is at best underwhelming as of this point.

I'm a big fan of the Dell Latitude line. Usually fully Intel so that everything just works. And usually available with good LCD's. Generally not a fan of HP due to their unreliability with their Bios implementation, and often not having an upgrade option in linux (requires Windows in many models). All Dells and most Lenovo's support flashing without Windows. Not sure about other than those 3.

Biggest thing to watch is the LCD. There's no excuse for modern laptops to have less than 1080P LCD on them. There are sub-$300 laptops that have extremely high quality QHD displays, so obviously they're simply NOT that expensive anymore.
The subject laptop was a Lenovo ThinkPad X140e and it has a Broadcom wifi card.
Lenovo ThinkPads in my experience co-operate very well with just about all Linux distros.
Of course with the exception of those sporting Broadcom wifi hardware.
Installed Linux Mint v19.2 XFCE (64 bit) on the X140e and NO wifi.
Overwrote the Mint installation on the X140e with Peppermint v10 and the wifi worked.
Sometimes a little distro juggling is in order if at first you don't succeed.
 
Old 02-23-2020, 05:56 PM   #5
syg00
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Given there history, I avoid Lenovo completely, the prior post notwithstanding. I also favour Intel especially for the wifi. - and I avoid latest-and-greatest AMD (Ryzen) chipsets as they can take a while to get in-kernel support right.
Broadcom used to be more of a PITA, but are better supported these days - now RealTek, which seem to be in everything external (at least) are the problem child. They advertise as "Linux compatible" but are years behind current kernels with the driver they offered.

As for ASUS, I never had an issue with them, but haven't bought one in a couple of years. Grab a liveUSB image and run that on your wifes kit - that'll tell you how well that model at least is supported. Should work just fine, including the touch screen.
 
Old 02-23-2020, 08:29 PM   #6
frankbell
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I've had good experiences with Dells (once I understood how to get Broadcom working, as Dell favors Broadcom for their lower-end machines), Samsung, and Asus. Many of the members of my LUG favor Lenovos (but not the Yogas, which sometimes can be problematical).

Generally, you will be okay with Intel inside. I've bought several machines from native Linux vendors, and one thing they've all had in common was Intel inside.
 
Old 02-23-2020, 11:22 PM   #7
astrogeek
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I too, am long-termer, I generally run a system that does useful work for me until it asks to be retired (aka, fails in some terminal way).

I also get most of my hardware second hand, the last new laptop I bought was about 2005, recently retired and replaced by another of similar vintage and model - just swapped out the drive and changed a few configs.

Both of those and most of my other really useful laptops have all been Toshiba. I have had really good luck with Slackware GNU/Linux on assorted Toshiba hardware and can't remember being unable to make something work, or even having unusual difficulty. I have had one fall off a rental car rooftop (in my briefcase) and had standing water in the keyboard due to a roof leak, and keep on ticking with minor TLC! I like 'em!

(The one I am typing on has a BIOS bug which I recently discovered can lead to overheating, fixed by warm boot, but that aside... I'd buy another).
 
Old 02-24-2020, 01:51 AM   #8
beachboy2
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Basslord1124,

You might also consider buying a used Lenovo Thinkpad like the T420:
https://www.brianlinkletter.com/leno...-linux-laptop/

Extract:
Quote:
In the past five years, computer performance has been “good enough” for most activities. Open-source software, such as Linux, runs very well on older computer hardware and provides all the newest features and security updates. Today, most people may be well served by a computer that is four or five years old. These older, used computers are very inexpensive to purchase.

I am very pleased with the performance of my used Thinkpad T420 laptop when running Ubuntu Linux. In two or three years, I will upgrade to a Lenovo T450 or X1 Carbon when those models are close to the same US$200 price point that the T420 is at today.

I may never buy a new laptop computer again.

Also T480 @ Arch Wiki:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php..._ThinkPad_T480
 
Old 02-24-2020, 05:21 AM   #9
fatmac
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Usually, something at least 6 months old, design wise, anything newer may well have driver issues until someone has the time to write them.

All mine date from between 2008 & 2018, mainly Celeron based, 1.1~2.6GHz, single, dual, & 4 core; with 2/4/8GB ram.

(I have computers from Toshiba, Acer, MSI, & Lenovo.)
 
Old 02-24-2020, 09:28 AM   #10
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what do you want to use your laptop for? gaming, video editing, just checking email?
ebay I get 15,000 to 25,000 dollar used looks like new "old" laptops for ~100 dollars. US. the wifi card, is the only thing that most have to worry about, and NVIDIA which takes a little extra setup from what I've seen, and newer tech, that Linux has not had the time to catch up on coding the drivers for.
so two or three or older is a good choice.

but look around and make sure the laptop you want is capable of adding to it later. is it upgradeable and what part of it is?

is the RAM soldiered to the board, or can it be swapped out, and what is the MAX ram it can hold? do I need that much ram?

what about the rest of it?

RAM, hdds, pcie, nvme, m.2. USB ports, 2.0, 3.0. 3.1, A type, or C type, firewire, etc...

can the video card be swap out on laptop, some have that. others you got a get a different MotherBoard. even CPU's on some can be swapped out. and the older CPUs can be a low as 20 to 40 bucks US.

pick up a 150 $ laptop got some extra left for upgrades if needed. not that I work for Ebay but that is my shopping station for Laptops and hdds , ram, etc...

Last edited by BW-userx; 02-24-2020 at 09:31 AM.
 
Old 02-24-2020, 04:00 PM   #11
Minux1
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Most of my computers are garbage dumpster/curb rescues or eBay cheap-outs < $100.
If I screw up and they go up in smoke (either figuratively or for real) not a big loss.
I keep a fire extinguisher handy.
 
Old 02-24-2020, 04:49 PM   #12
rokytnji
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Since used intel chromebooks have gotten cheap and easy to convert operating systems on the newer models < minus arm cpu chromebook limitations/hassles >. My IBM T430 laptop with I5, 12 gig of ram doesn't get fired up much anymore < cost me 200 bucks way back when used, Windows 7 enterpise>.

Chromebook runs just as fast and is lighter. Chromebook also retired my older single core atom touchscreen netbooks.

Desktops I get for free. So beggars are not choosy. 50 bucks for a acer c720 with 4 gig of ram on ebay about every single day.
Just make sure and pick a used one with a decent battery.
 
Old 02-26-2020, 10:23 AM   #13
Basslord1124
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All right, thanks for the help so far everyone. Haven't picked out one yet but it's definitely at least giving me some ideas on where to start.

1st off, wife's laptop is an Asus Q525UA...unfortunately I don't know the exact specs except that it has a 2TB HD. She got it last year around this time and paid about $1000-$1100 for it. If I can, I'll try and get its exact specs and "maybe" live test a distro with it. She is hot and heavy into her last semester of school with it right now so she might growl at me if I try to take it from her and use it for my geeky stuff. It'd give me a chance to see ASUS support and Linux...I really have no interest in a 2 in 1 laptop like hers is, I'd be ok with just a standard laptop.


Couple options I am considering...
1) If I go with ASUS, maybe a custom VivoBook kinda like this one:
https://www.newegg.com/p/1TS-001A-00WD8

2) A few Dell Latitude choices:
https://www.newegg.com/p/1TS-000A-09M82
https://www.newegg.com/p/1TS-000A-088P1

I was thinking on some of the cheaper ones I can use the extra cash to purchase a bigger HD or SSD to upgrade it some. Even thought of doing the same for some of the cheaper Lenovo models I looked at. I would definitely prefer at least 500GB-1TB of storage since I work with video files.

Really here at work, we primarily get Lenovo laptops. From the early days of getting T60/T61/R60/T40/G530 up to T510/T520/T540/X1 Carbon and so on. All have run some form of Windows and been pretty solid aside from the usual stuff like hard drive replacements. They're easy to work on too.

I don't have a problem with getting a refurb just b/c I can work on it myself if something happens. But I do have a few questions on refurbs that I am unsure of...
-Do refurbs come with new batteries?
-What about fan wear on a refurb? Does a refurb get a replacement CPU fan?

These really aren't deal breakers to me, but just something I am curious about.
 
Old 02-26-2020, 10:32 AM   #14
Timothy Miller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basslord1124 View Post
I don't have a problem with getting a refurb just b/c I can work on it myself if something happens. But I do have a few questions on refurbs that I am unsure of...
-Do refurbs come with new batteries?
Factory refurbs (done by the OEM) will if the battery doesn't detect as still being above a certain % life (every OEM has a different percent, and some replace regardless. 3rd party refurbs are hit and miss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Basslord1124
-What about fan wear on a refurb? Does a refurb get a replacement CPU fan?

These really aren't deal breakers to me, but just something I am curious about.
Generally, no, unless it's showing signs of having issues.

A comment on the laptops you're looking at, if you look at ones just a LITTLE newer, you'll see a huge increase in battery life. The Broadwell and newer processors got SIGNIFICANT improvements on battery life from Haswell (of course, that's the ONLY thing they really improved upon generation to generation until Kaby Lake Refresh). But obviously battery life may not be all that incredibly important to you, in which case this makes little to no difference.

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 02-26-2020 at 10:36 AM.
 
Old 02-26-2020, 10:42 AM   #15
Basslord1124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
A comment on the laptops you're looking at, if you look at ones just a LITTLE newer, you'll see a huge increase in battery life. The Broadwell and newer processors got SIGNIFICANT improvements on battery life from Haswell (of course, that's the ONLY thing they really improved upon generation to generation until Kaby Lake Refresh). But obviously battery life may not be all that incredibly important to you, in which case this makes little to no difference.
Interesting...I didn't know that. I may look into that and see what I find.

Battery life isn't super important to me and knowing me it will stay plugged up a lot BUT every now and then it's just nice to unplug the cord for a little more freedom.
 
  


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