The 4 Best ARM Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now
With transistors already approaching their physical size limits, many would agree that ARM-based CPUs will soon replace x86-based CPUs. For this reason, veteran laptop makers and startups have started the race to develop and produce quality ARM laptops for the new market.
And since efficiency is the main advantage of an ARM-based laptop, pairing such an efficient processor with an efficient operating system like Linux is a dream come true for many tech enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for the best Linux laptop that uses a highly efficient SoC (System on Chip), keep reading below for a list of the best ARM Linux laptops you can buy today.
First on the list is a laptop from PINE64, a company that specializes in ARM-based computers. The Pinebook is a single board computer aimed at developers and DIY enthusiasts looking for an inexpensive ARM laptop that they can hack.
At just under a hundred dollars, the Pinebook comes with all the features of a modern laptop. What you get is a 1080p IPS display, two USB ports, 16GB eMMC storage with bootable microSD, stereo speakers, keyboard, and a single board computer powered by an Allwinner A64 processor and 2GB of RAM.
Equipped with low power consumption components, PINE64 has achieved a thin, light and silent machine with its Pinebook. Users will also be pleased with the laptop’s eight to 10 hours of playtime which you can charge through its dedicated charger or a 5V power bank.
With performance on par with a Raspberry Pi, the Pinebook isn’t something you’d want to drive around on a daily basis. That said, the Pinebook is a great machine for a variety of applications, such as setting up a server via SSH, testing and development, scripting, and as an educational tool for learning Linux and BSD.
The Pinebook currently supports many flavors of Linux, including Manjaro, Armbian, Kali, DietPi, Slackware, RISC OS, Android 6.x, and ASoC.
- CPU: 1.152 GHz quad-core Allwinner A64
- RAM: 2 GB DDR3 RAM
- Storage room: microSD and 16 GB eMMC
- To display: IPS panel 1080p
- Ports: 2x USB 2, barrel jack (charging), headphone jack 3.5
With many gaming and productivity software only supporting Windows, many people simply cannot use Linux as their primary operating system. Luckily, PINE64 again offers a budget option for an ARM laptop that you can use as a dedicated Linux machine, the Pinebook Pro.
Powered by a Rockchip RK99 SoC, the Pinebook Pro offers adequate performance for everyday Linux tasks while keeping the price low. Inside the SoC is a Hexa-core processor consisting of a 4-core Cortex-A53 and a 2-core Cortex-A72. The ARM processor is paired with a Mali T860 for its GPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and an M.2 NVMe SSD slot.
The Pinebook Pro features a magnesium alloy shell, 1080p IPS display, 1080p front camera, three USB ports (USB-2, USB-3, USB-C), a large trackpad, and a 10,000mAh battery.
If you plan to use the Pinebook Pro for watching movies, the USB Type-C equipped with this machine can output video with 4K resolution at 60Hz for better viewing experience. To ensure complete privacy, Pinebook Pro also comes with security switches for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, webcam and microphone.
With all the features built into this device and full community and manufacturer support, the Pinebook Pro is a compelling alternative for people looking for mid-tier laptops as a Linux machine.
- CPU: Rockchip RK3399 6-core (4-core Cortex-A53 and 2-core Cortex-A72)
- GPUs: Mali T860
- RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4
- Storage room: 64 GB eMMC, optional M.2 NVMe expansion
- To display: IPS panel 1080p
- Ports: 1x USB 2, 1x USB 3, 1x USB-C, Ethernet, HDMI, barrel jack (charging), 3.5 headphone jack
Offering a different kind of laptop experience, MNT Reform is a unique ARM-based laptop specially designed for those who value their right to repair and privacy.
MNT Reform does not follow the conventional ideas of a modern laptop. This machine is chunky, uses a trackball system, is powered by 18650 batteries, and comes without a microphone or camera. It runs on a Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, Vivante GC70000Lite GPU, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage.
MNT Reform features a 12.5-inch 1080p IPS display, Khail Choc Brown mechanical keyboard switches, trackball system, black anodized aluminum shell, and a programmable system controller with an OLED display.
What makes MNT Reform such a fun machine is its focus on repairability and full ownership of your device. This laptop is built to last!
With an aluminum body, replaceable batteries, a modular and intentionally simple design and complete documentation, you can easily upgrade, repair, modify and program MNT Reform.
MNT Reform comes with the latest Debian version and comes pre-installed with all the basic necessities such as Mozilla Firefox or Chromium (web browser), Evolution (email client), Libre Office (document, spreadsheet and presentations), GIMP and Inkscape (image editor) and Ardor (audio and music production).
- CPU: Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53
- GPUs: Alive GPU GC7000Lite
- RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4
- Storage room: 16 GB eMMC, M.2 SSD expansion slot, 32 GB microSD
- Ports: 3 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 type A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, barrel jack, 3.5 headphone jack
- To display: Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) 12.5″ IPS eDP display
Huawei has finally made its first ARM-based laptop that runs Linux natively! The Qingyun L410 is a modern laptop with the same form factor as a MateBook 14. This laptop is a business model designed to be a secure machine for handling various office-related tasks.
The Qingyun L410 is powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 990 SoC, the same SoC used in Huawei’s flagship smartphones. This SoC features an impressive Octa-core Cortex CPU and Mali-G76 GPU. The base model is configured with 8GB LPDDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD and comes with Huawei’s Unity OS by default.
Designed for use in enterprises and some government facilities, the Qingyun L410 is secure with its ARM-based SoC, pop-up 720p front camera and fingerprint reader. Users will also have no problem staring at their screen for long periods of time, as the laptop is equipped with a 14-inch 2K display in a 3:2 aspect ratio.
While you might consider Huawei’s Qingyun L410 the most powerful ARM laptop on this list, you might have a harder time finding one outside of China.
Another downside of this laptop is that you will have a hard time doing repairs. Unlike the others on this list, the manufacturer doesn’t offer you any documentation of the machine’s design, and extra parts and even donor cards will likely be rare.
- CPU: Octa-core Cortex (2x Cortex-A76, 2x Cortex-A76, 4x Cortex-A55)
- GPUs: 16-core Mali-G76
- RAM: 8 GB LPDDR4
- Storage room: 256 to 512 GB SSD
- To display: 14 inch 3:2 2K aspect ratio
Is an ARM laptop for everyone?
An ARM-based laptop has several advantages over x86-based laptops. Some of the biggest benefits include excellent battery life, lighter weight, slimmer form factor, and better durability, as software optimizations can unlock many RISC (reduced instruction set) benefits.
Although ARM processors will inevitably outperform x86 processors in the future, for now, ARM-based laptops aren’t going to beat the raw performance capabilities of x86-based laptops by any significant margin.
This means that an ARM-based laptop is currently not suitable for performance-intensive tasks such as video editing, gaming, and CAD (computer-aided design). So, for gamers, designers, and video editors, an ARM-based laptop won’t do.
However, ARM-based laptops are great for an on-the-go lifestyle. So whether you’re a writer, accountant, cybersecurity personnel, or developer, the long battery life, slim form factor, and lighter weight will suit your lifestyle just fine.
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