Looking for a lightweight, long battery, large RAM laptop. Recommendations?

Hi! I’ve been running Qubes on a Librem 14 for 1,5 years now and I am pretty sick of the hardware so I’m looking to upgrade.

I would like to run Qubes on a new laptop that is lightweight and has a decent battery life and preferably is pretty durable. I would strongly prefer 64 GB of RAM so that I can comfortably use as many qubes as I want without having to feel constrained or laggy. 32 GB might be fine if I need to trade something off.

My use-case for the laptop is as a daily driver and I would like to travel and take the laptop out in the city with me, which is why it being lightweight and having a good battery life is one of my requirements.

I’ve previously used thinkpads and I love their keyboards and overall they seem to be quite good.

My budget is ~$3000

Any recommendations?

What makes you sick in Librem 14?

Lightweigth and good battery. No, choose one. Especially in case of Qubes OS that spends battery twice as fast as other OSes.

Old Thinkpads are not your choice - slow CPU, bulky, heavy and require battery replacement.

New Thinkpads worth consideration. They are not perfect, but I like that:

  • Some of them still support S3 suspend (sleep) even on modern CPUs like Intel 12-Gen, suspend works in Qubes OS but not on all kernels and models,
  • Some of the have Wifi that works perfectly in Qubes OS, survives suspend and works as a separate PCI device, that allows to use it in sys-net without involving sys-usb.
  • Keyboard and thinkpoint are connected via something like PS/2, not USB. This allows to avoid any problems in case sys-usb is not acting well.
  • Screen size can be decent, including 16x10 ratio. Not sure if high DPI option is an advantage for Qubes OS as it renders a lot of stuff using CPU and extra-high resolution should be battery consuming and heating. Maybe consider something like 1080p-1440p, not 4k.
  • Memory size: you should check before buying, but on some models it can be 32+16 GB or 32+32 GB. Seems enough for most cases.

I have Thinkpad T16 Gen1 and mostly satisfied with it. It is about half of you budget, so, maybe you should choose something more expensive and advanced.


What makes you sick in Librem 14?

I’ve had several issues with it. It will randomly turn off, the battery won’t charge, it’s super bulky, the battery life is quite short (this might be partially due to Qubes), it is pretty vulnerable to water both in air or on hands which makes me nervous about bringing it outside in nature. I do however really like the spirit of Purism and I really like that you can fairly easily swap stuff out in it and it’s pretty cheap.

Lightweigth andgood battery. No, choose one. Especially in case of Qubes OS that spends battery twice as fast as other OSes.

Ah, that’s a shame. In that case I think I’d like to do some medium tradeoff on both.
If I could get a battery life of 5 hours with Qubes I’d be satisfied, if I could get 8 hours I’d be ecstatic. I’m not sure how you should quantify suspend but I’d also like to be able to suspend my Qubes for 24 hours and not have the laptop die.
If I could get a laptop the size and weight of the Thinkpad T14 I’d be satisfied, if I could get something like a Thinkpad carbon I’d be ecstatic.

What do you think about those tradeoffs? Is it too ambitious to look for my satisfying requirements? Is it possible to find at least one of my ecstatic requirements and satisfy the other?

I have Thinkpad T16 Gen1 and mostly satisfied with it. It is about half of you budget, so, maybe you should choose something more expensive and advanced.

What’s your Qubes battery life?

Also I’m by NO means committed to thinkpad, it’s just a non-librem alternative that I’ve used (with Fedora not Qubes) and liked the hardware of.

Did you try to update the EC firmware?

Did you try to update the EC firmware?

I have updated it like a year ago, I will try updating it again.
EDIT: but I would still like to replace my Librem and am still looking for suggestions! :slight_smile:

I do not use it on battery than much, and when I do it can be not representative, because it can be doing nothing for hours or the opposite - load full CPU by unpacking process or something.

But T16 has 2 options for batteries - I have the small battery option, but there is much bigger one, that will be your choice (but a bit heavier, of course).

If you used it when IBM was owning it, then it can be a different thing. Now it belongs to Chinese company.

I forgot to say that with thinkfan tool I was able to make my Thinkpad silent in idle in Qubes OS, not a case for default Qubes OS installation. That made me happier.

One negative side I have: very quiet electric noise (coil whine), that I hear because fans are silent.
But I also had it on my brend-new Macbook Pro Retina (in GNU/Linux), so, it is not a real defect, of course.

5~6 hours of battery life is reasonably achievable, but 8 hours seems to be quite unattainable. With Ryzen 6800U or 7840U and a 70Wh+ battery, it may be possible to have 8 hours, but I can’t tell for sure. And battery life depends heavily on your workload.

This is not that hard. Any laptop supporting S3 sleep should be able to do this.

Do you have the recent version Librem 14 with 64 GB Ram, 10th gen Intel and 4 cell battery? Just asking because there are crucial differences regarding different versions. Otherwise I was thinking about the Framework, but read about poor battery life issues. Maybe this thread might be helpful. There are recommendations for the NovaCustom, P52, P50 and the T480.

Yes, I believe so. I bought mine around 1.5 years ago with 64GB RAM, the biggest battery and whatever processor was available at the time.

Model name: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-10710U CPU @ 1.10GHz

I’ll have a look at the thread, thanks :slight_smile:

What is the opinion of an external battery?

I have never used an external battery. I think as long as you can have a good battery life without it and it’s not too clunky it seems like a great deal!

Do you have any recommendations for laptops+externals?

The T480 has an external battery, the standard battery sits flush in the chassis, and you can get an extended battery which is slightly larger.

It can also be fitted with an extra internal battery, which according to Lenovo gives a total battery life of 18 hours. With 2 batteries, you can hot swap the external battery as long as you have power on the internal battery.

That sounds really good, I’m noticing that at the moment the T480 is out of stock on the Lenovo website and I doubt I’ll be able to find customizable resellers. If anyone have any other recommendations in the meantime I’d love to hear them! :slight_smile:

I do not own a Librem 14. I know some of them are designed to allow battery charging through the USB-C port, which I guess an external battery could be plugged into.

I bought a cheap external battery from Amazon, which allows me to plug in the standard three wire plug used for mains. Not sure If I might be causing a problem later with the computer.

The charger is rated for 19 volts. My local computer store guy said that if I was going to plug a battery directly into that port, I should be very careful to match that voltage.

I am not competent to give suggestions. Might try the manufacturers, Librem, website.

Although I have a Sleep Apnea machine and I notice cpap.com sells batteries for medical devices, and their website mentions which batteries can be taken on airplanes.

But I do not know the wisdom of using a clipped DC wave through the plug meant for mains, for computers.

What little I know.

T480, I know that you previously suggested only getting one with the eighth generation processor. Other Options you might suggest.

There are still several options to choose from.
The T480 versus the T480 S?
Two different screen resolutions?
The used ones I see are 16 GB RAM.
The Lenovo site says the T480 maximum is 32 GB for the T480?
and T480S is 24 GB?
I see postings of folks who claim to have installed 64 GB of RAM, and it works. I am not clear what the RAM specifications, speed, and so on, should be.

Any insight you might have would be appreciated.

It can use 2x32 GB 2400MHz DDR4 memory modules, but it was never officially sold with more than 2x16 GB.

The T480s has 8 GB soldered memory, the max will be 40 GB (8+32)

You want the model with the 1920x1080 or 2560x1440 IPS display.

I prefer the T480 over the T480s, the s model typically has worse software support and the soldered memory, I don’t think it’s worth it with slightly smaller form factor being the only advantage.

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If the Purism Librem 14 is not working for you, even with a maxed out RAM configuration, consider consulting this list of community-recommended computers.

Remember that the Librem 14 is the only laptop among this list that has hardware kill switches, so you will need to adapt your security practices with the other options.

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It is not that useful to my opinion. It has:

  • a bunch of outdated Intel Gen 3 old models that are hard to buy new, have 16GB limitation and cannot even play youtube without frame drops,
  • NovaCustom certified, probably a good choice that looks similar to modern Thinkpads from technical point.
  • Purism 14 v1, that the topic-starter already has.

So, if one does not consider buying NovaCustom, the list is not that useful at the moment.

I would add a bunch of modern Thinkpads (Intel Gen 12 and AMD maybe). Even without coreboot some of them are good for Qubes OS; coreboot is not something obligatory.


Is Coreboot an important factor?