New, performant, light laptop advice

Hi folks!

Realizing how this same question is being repeatedly asked I spent a few days reading before posting here… now to complete the homework before letting go some coins out of the wallet I lastly have to ask the most reliable source I have in mind - the qubes community itself…

I am looking for a laptop please:

  • as light as possible and as compact as possible 14" or 15"

  • to run qubes, not graphic-heavy at all, no gaming, no photo-video editing, so I assume gpu has no priority.

  • cpu and memory should should not be limiting though, smooth running all standard VMs at once is a must.

  • higher screen quality is greatly appreciated, touch screen doesn’t matter.

  • battery life is not crucial.

  • storage size does not matter, I assume storage speed does, right?

  • budget is limited only with common sense - don’t pay for unneeded stuff.

I consider myself below average educated in this, but here is what I have in mind, correct me where im wrong:

  • Cpu - more cores = better? So amd is preferred?

  • Ram - more = better for unlimited VMs?

With the arrival of Windows 11, I guess a lot of people are going to want to switch laptops. So why not let yourself be tempted by a used Lenovo Thinkpad.
Personally, that’s what I’m doing at the moment.
For less than 500 $ / €, you can find i7s with 16gb of ram that work very well with Qubes.

In the future, I might be tempted by this:
https://system76.com/laptops/darter

Not sure if you have seen this: Community-recommended computers. You can simply choose the one with the largest RAM in it, ThinkPad P51 or Librem 14. The CPU in the latter is the fastest among all AFAIK.

Updated the title adding specifics and moved to User Support. Feel free to complain if it can be improved more

Sorry, I forgot to list the “new condition” in requirements. I don’t want used for 2 reasons - it may have hidden technical ussies from ex-user and aiming to used limits choice in general. But mainly I don’t want an increased risk of having to deal with malfunctioning piece. Not an option, period, thx for idea though.

Since this posted in qubes os forum, so i thought that you asking if it would work with qubes?
Well, newest hardware are always have bug in qubes, so if you want, you could check hcl.

Then, only Librem 14 fits your criteria it seems.

1 Like

P51 discontinued, and it’s not light/compact imo.

Librem 14 base price 1570, upgrade to 32 ram (enough?) brings price to 1858 which seems 20% above some competitors such as T14s G2. I assume Librem offers special security features that I’m not looking for and paying for them doesn’t feel right.

Ok, thx.

You can upgrade the RAM later, since this laptop is easily opened. 16 GB should be enough for a good start. You can also buy the lowest RAM and upgrade immediately by yourself for cheaper.

just grab a “gaming” branded laptop if you feel price is expensive.
with the same price as system76 / librem offer, you get additional powerfull gpu.

I did, hcl consists of older devices and I’m looking for fresh one. Like Gigabyte U4 UD or zenbook 14. Any word on these + qubes? 1 concern ram is maxed at 16gb

Intel 11th gen is known have a problem with qubes even the latest 4.1, you could find a workround if you have time to learn.

Take a look at
https://www.clevo.com.tw/clevo_prodetail.asp?id=1378&lang=en
and how to workround

It should fit to you want, but i can’t guarantee.

1 Like

Wow this is important, thank you very much!

This year I ran qubes on i5 8gb surface pro - had to switch VMs on and off constantly due to lack of ram, headach all way long, I even started to avoid using the tablet imagine? According to that I won’t risk with 16gb, only 32(stock or upgradable machine)

By the way would an amd r7 or 9 instead of imtel be good and keep me away from such hussle like the one you mentioned with i7 11 gen? Lenovo T14s G2 with amd 5850U and 32ram seems to match all I want if amd if ok with qubes.

By the way since the Librem 14 was brought up, I went through it’s documentation and concluded that it’s main security advantage is superior data protection in case of physical access, am I correct? And the separate physical key to allow hard reset is a headshot feature, i wish it would be available for all digital devices, supercool.

Came across Dell Inspiron 15 amd 5700u 32 ram, 1T nvme, price $1080. A little heavier than I want - 1.6 kg but screen 15.6 so makes sense. Now please someone has tried qubes on this hardware? I’m about to buy it now, lmk folks!

Edit: first search here pops up thread with similar devices and there issues. Waiting for that poster to clarify, but looks like Inspiron with amd 5700U is not compatible at all. T14s G2 with amd 5850U might work but with restrictions so I’ll pass on it too.

So only smooth way is to pick from hcl or librem 14? Someone advised System76, but that device is not available now. Any word on Tuxedo? Starlab? Any other exotic toys? Staying light and compact makes this search so hard… but for on-the-go life style I have to be mobile.

Consider the Lenovo Thinkpad X1E4 or P1G4 or other models in that size and form factor.

There’s also the Thinkpad X13 (Gen2), T14s (Gen2), T14 (Gen2) not to mention the yet to be announced new Lenovo models for 2022.

The HCL doesn’t cover a lot of the very newer hardware so you’ll have to do your own research and digging around.

Yeah, spent couple hours digging the hcl, many machines are outdated and/or far from top configurations. Wondering, why would a weaker option be picked for such heavyweight os? But whatever.

How reliable is the hcl? I saw some thread here stating machine from hcl behaved differently and poster gave up.

X13 parameters are just right for me, thx! Do you have any practical info on it’s compatibility with qubes? And afaik X13 has a 5g module, will it be functional with qubes?

You know the answer: mostly individuals telling their own experience.

1 Like

Librem 14 is the best and possibly only choice given your criteria. The built-in kill switches for microphone, camera, wifi & bluetooth are more than just “physical access” protection. The Librem Key offers tamper detection. And dip switches inside the laptop will allow for tamper prevention. Very lightweight. Fast. And very Qubes friendly. I have run Qubes on 6 different machines over the past few years. Easily the best of them all.

2 Likes