How to Select a Laptop for Arch Linux?
When selecting a laptop for Arch Linux, the first thing you should always do is to check the ArchWiki and see if the laptop already has its own page. If it does, you can learn what works and what doesn’t work and decide if the laptop is worth it to you.
It’s also a good idea to search the Arch Linux Forums for any useful information about the laptop. The chances are that at least a couple of Arch users who already own it shared their experience with others or asked the Arch community for help when trying to get Arch Linux to work on the laptop.
If you can’t find any useful information, you should make things easier for yourself and select a laptop with hardware components that are known to be compatible with Linux in general. It used to be that Intel and Nvidia hardware was the only way for Linux users, but that’s no longer the case. AMD has really stepped up its game, offering reliable open-source GPU drivers and value-oriented CPUs.
As long as you avoid latest-generation hardware and do a very basic compatibility check before you confirm your purchase, you should be good to go.
Top 7 Best Laptops for Arch Linux
Most laptops can run Arch Linux just fine, but which laptops are the ultimate Arch Linux machines? Luckily for you, we already know the answer, so all you need to do is choose from our list of the top 7 best laptops for Arch Linux and enjoy your favorite operating system on a piece of hardware that can make all Windows and Mac users green with envy.
Dell XPS 15 7590
The new Dell XPS 15 7590 is a sleek workhorse with 4K InfinityEdge IPS display capable of achieving up to 500 nits of brightness, which is more than enough for working outside even during the sunniest days of the year. Instead of an integrated graphics card, the laptop comes with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5, so you can expect to play virtually all modern games at medium to high details in Full HD.
Other components you can find under the hood include the 9th Generation Intel Core i7-9750h CPU, 1 TB PCIe SSD, 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and a 6-cell battery that can keep the laptop running for a long time. Even though we expect all 15-inch laptops to offer great connectivity options, the Dell XPS 15 7590 still managed to surprise us with a full-sized HDMI 2.0 port, two USB Type-A (Gen 1, USB 3.1), one USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3, x4 PCIe), and a full-sized SD card slot.
As far as compatibility with Arch Linux goes, you can see what works on the laptop’s ArchWiki page. In short, the Dell XPS 15 7590 is fully compatible with Arch Linux except for the fingerprint reader, whose manufacturer (Goodix) doesn’t provide any Linux drivers nor documentation. A few developers are attempting to reverse-engineer the Windows driver, but there’s no guarantee that their work will lead anywhere.
Dell XPS 13 9370
The latest iteration of Dell’s popular ultrabook features an Intel Core 8th Generation i7-8550U processor, 16 GB of memory, 512 GB PCIe solid-state drive, the Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics card, and a gorgeous InfinityEdge Touch display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
The laptop ships either with Windows or Ubuntu, but it doesn’t matter which version you go with because there are only minor differences between them. Some Arch Linux users have experienced issues with the webcam, which seem to be related to the webcam’s firmware. Those who are affected may contact Dell to have their webcam replaced with a webcam that uses Linux-compatible UVC 1.0 firmware.
Apart from this, the Dell XPS 13 9370 works flawlessly with Arch Linux and delivers a formidable performance while being elegant.
HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 is a stunning 2-in-1 laptop with ample processing power and enormous versatility. Its compact size makes it perfect for students who don’t want to spend their days hauling a heavy laptop, and its convertible design ensures that switching between leisure and productivity is as simple as flipping the vibrant 13.3-inch Full HD BrightView touchscreen around.
You may be surprised to find out that this great looking laptop packs several useful privacy features that we would like to see all manufacturers implement. For example, there’s a physical hardware switch that allows you to turn off the webcam (which works great with Arch Linux), so you can be 100% sure that nobody is watching you without your explicit permission. There’s also a function key that lets you mute the microphone and keep your real-life conversations private.
The z Intel Core i7-8650U quad-core processor performs great without consuming too much power, allowing the laptop to run up to 22 hours on a single charge. You can purchase the HP Spectre x360 with up to 16 GB of LPDDR4X memory and up to 2TB PCIe SSD storage. After you install Arch Linux on the laptop, make sure to visit its ArchWiki page and configure the audio driver to activate all four speakers.
Lenovo ThinkPad T470
Linux users have always had a soft spot for Lenovo’s ThinkPads. These productivity-oriented machines are engineered for heavy daily use, and they’ve been battle-tested by generations of programmers, system administrators, and STEM students. The Lenovo ThinkPad T470 is a well-rounded and relatively affordable laptop that’s perfect for someone who doesn’t intend to play AAA games or store hundreds of gigabytes of multimedia.
Arch Linux runs great on the T470, the only exception being the fingerprint reader. At the moment, the fingerprint reader doesn’t work at all, but this may change very soon considering how many Linux users use and love this laptop. The Arch Linux Wiki page about the T470 contains several helpful tips that make it possible to enjoy this rugged and capable laptop to its full potential.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 6)
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 6) is the best ultrabook from Lenovo you can buy. It has an 8th-gen Intel Core processor with integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 1 TB SSD PCIe. Lenovo sells the laptop with four different 14-inch displays: Full HD without touchscreen, Full HD with touchscreen, 1440p with 300 nits, and 1440p Dolby Vision and 500 nits. The last display mentioned is definitely the most impressive of the bunch, but the Full HD with touchscreen is the most sensible choice.
The compact laptop has a webcam with a physical cover, a connector that allows the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon to connect to the ThinkPad Pro Dock, Lenovo’s signature TrackPoint, Bluetooth, microSD card reader, and Dolby Audio Premium speakers with impressive bass and excellent loudness. All these components work great with Arch Linux, but there’s currently no support for the fingerprint reader with anti-spoofing technology and NFC.
You may know that the 6th generation isn’t actually the newest version of the laptop. Unfortunately, the newest version comes with the Fibocom L850-GL wireless module, whose support is non-existent at the moment. The good news is that an official driver and a reverse-engineered driver are in the works, but it may take some time before they are available.
HP Envy x360
The HP Envy x360 is a powerful convertible with 16 GB of memory, the Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics card, 1 TB SATA hard drive for storage, 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 solid state drive for the operating system, an Intel Core Intel i7-10510U processor, and a 15.6-inch full HD micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch-enabled edge-to-edge glass IPS display.
HP laptops, including the company’s convertibles, are known to work great with Arch Linux, and the HP Envy x360 is no exception. Just make sure to use the latest version of Linux kernel and always read the release notes of important system packages before updating.
The only major downside of the HP Envy x360 is its below-average battery life, but even that can be somewhat solved with certain Linux power-saving features and perhaps a small power bank.
ASUS ZenBook UX333
Asus knows how to make impressive ultrabooks, and the ASUS ZenBook UX333 proves it. Holding the title of the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop (the ZenBook UX333 is smaller than an A4-size paper), this jewel of a laptop puts the latest MacBooks to shame with its frameless NanoEdge display, ErgoLift hinge, and NumberPad touchpad.
We appreciate that Asus decided not to include a 4K display, choosing a Full HD display instead, which is more than enough for a laptop of this size. As a result, its average battery can keep the ZenBook UX333 running for a reasonable amount of time, although you can expect it to get your through the entire day on a single charge.
What you can expect, however, is reliable performance thanks to an 8th generation Intel CPU, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 1 TB of PCIe SSD storage. You can even get the laptop with a low-cost dedicated graphics card capable of light gaming. The ArchWiki says that all components work fine, but the latest Linux kernel doesn’t support the battery charge threshold feature, which limits charging to prolong battery lifespan.