Recommendation for quiet laptop (low/zero fan noise)

I recently started a new job and fortunate to receive a $5k hardware budget. I’ve been using an Intel NUC (mini-pc) with i5-8259U (4 cores) +32GB + NVMe SSD. Its snappy but the fans are constantly spinning and I’d really love to gift my ears some silence. I figure better airflow and more cores and new processor architecture would help.

I run 5-6 appVM’s + 4 sysVM’s and do mostly front-end dev, no heavy compiling or processor intensive work. My research has led me to a Thinkpad P1 gen 3 with i7-10850H (6 cores) but its got no entry on the HCL so I’m a bit nervous about that, would rather go with something tested.

Does anyone use a laptop that compatible with Qubes that is mostly quiet? i.e. you can’t notice fan noise 95% of the time?

i5-8259U (4 cores) +32GB + NVMe SSD

Very sensible.

Thinkpad P1 gen 3 with i7-10850H (6 cores)

Out of my own experience and also watching the HCL reports as they flow
in I would highly recommend to NOT go for the newest laptop with the
latest processor etc.

The older your hardware gets the better it will be supported by Qubes
OS. Concretely: if you are planing to run R4.0.4 I would recommend to
look for something that was around and on the market when Fedora 25 was

The processor won’t make that much difference. Make sure it has Vt-d and
at least 4 cores and you are fine. 32 GB is very sensible and I wouldn’t
recommend going lower (had it before and miss it now that I am limited
to 16). That and a fast SSD with plenty space.

ThinkPad’s are a good choice most of the time, but again … if you buy
something that’s to new expect some issues. It’ll work great in 3-4
years though :wink:

This is of course just my opinion.

I have a 10th gen intel processor and it worked perfectly (i’m using R4.1 but R4.0.4 worked as well), I believe there has been some issues with 11th gen however.

Did you try something like this?

sudo xenpm set-scaling-maxfreq 0 1600
sudo xenpm set-scaling-maxfreq 2 1600

sudo xenpm disable-turbo-mode 0
sudo xenpm disable-turbo-mode 2

(adjust it for your number of cores)

How so? Qubes does not have the GPU acceleration, so the CPU will do all the heavy lifting. I think it’s critical to have a faster CPU for that reason.

How so?

In comparison to 16+ GB RAM and SSD.

CPU will do all the heavy lifting

Sure, if you are doing graphic intensive things like scientific work,
gaming etc. For (my) normal use, it makes a difference but nowhere as
dramatic as having enough RAM and a fast SSD.


Well, I cannot even watch Youtube 720p videos at 60 fps on my i7-6500U @ 2.5 GHz, whereas any relatively modern phone can do this.

Really? I know users with an i5-2520M who don’t have this problem.

Ok, thanks @unman, I will try to investigate. Javascript-heavy websites are very slow, too.

That is strange. The last 3+ years I have been working on a ThinkPad P51
with a i7-7820HQ, 32 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD. Needless to say this was a
very good experience from a performance perspective. Over time it was
supported better and better. I don’t own this machine (it’s my employers).

Recently I “downgraded” to a ThinkPad T430 (with Heads) which is maxed
out at 16 GB and I put a 2 TB SSD in there. Ultimately I will put a
i7-3740QM in there, but it’ll take another week or so until it arrives.

So for the last week and until the new CPU arrives I am using this
computer with a i7-3520M (2 cores only). Do I feel a difference? Of
course! But the machine is usable and the other day I drove a Netflix
show fullscreen on my 4K monitor. Looked smooth.

Caveat: all my qubes are hand-tuned debian-minimal based, as I suspect
the setup @unman is speaking of is too. That might make a difference,
but I would expect that more to show in RAM usage.

In any case, I don’t disagree with you. Get the fastest processor you
can for your budget/constraints – I do too! I wanted to simply point
out that RAM and SSD is even more important and that if your CPU/chipset
is not yet well supported in Fedora 25 all that power won’t help when
basic stuff is giving you trouble.

By the way: going to the almost 10 year old T430 was amazing. Everything
works out of the box. Even switching to the 4K monitor when docking
while running (never ever got this to work with the P51).

Great discussion! :slightly_smiling_face: I also found the answer to a question of mine, thanks for the recommendations.


@vik2, Hi! I saw from your post you were led to the P1 gen 3 (my research led me to this device as well!). Were you able to run Qubes on this device so far?

Yes, I purchased the P1 gen 3 and found it runs excessively hot and noisy with Qubes. It almost never idles in a state where I can barely hear it, there is always a very audible whirr and as soon as I do anything e.g. open a browser tab it spins up and whines like a small jet.

There appears to be major bug preventing Xen from being able to properly manage power states on any Intel processors since Haswell - I can’t understand why more people are not complaining about it - CPU Frequency Scaling Broken · Issue #4604 · QubesOS/qubes-issues · GitHub

So I’ve given up trying to find a laptop that operates relatively quietly (e.g. like most do in my experience when running Windows OS) and am now using an old desktop.

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agreed. thinkpad p5x based on xeon and 64-128gb ram can run everything. its best laptop for qubes 4.1

Hi @zack - I’m interested in what you’re agreeing to. And are you saying the p5x with xeon and 128GB ram is able to run Qubes without much fan noise?

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In fact, the matter of fan noise lies only in how much power the OEM put into CPU. For example, HP ProBook 445 series with AMD Ryzen 5000 processor are thought to be cool and quiet, because their CPUs are set to run under 15W of power consumption. However, Lenovo Thinkbook 14 (also ryzen 5000) can be set to run under 25W. Higher TDP means increased performance, but shortened battery life and more noise. It’s only up to your choice. Do you want to occasionally run heavy work like scientific computing?
BTW, Ryzen 5800u/5600u is really a good choice for Qubes. I have 5600u with my Thinkbook 14, which can run Qubes without any difficulty. Shortcuts for microphone, volume and screen brightness works well. They have 8/6 physical cores, and it’s an advantage when Qubes intentionally disables SMT/HyperThreading.

Based on the HCL the Thinkbook 14 and 15 requires 4.1 which is an alpha release and does not work well with 4.04.

I’m still waiting for a laptop that can run qubes 4.04 without significant noise levels. I still have a burn mark on my hand from the right fan outlet on a thinkpad 490 where my mouse hand used to idle, sometimes not realizing how hot it was getting. I do no computationally heavy workloads, I use basic productivity software and a browser with lots of VM’s (10-15 including NetVM’s).

x230 with thinkfan installed and tuned.
It helps if you have ensured that the fan is clean, and good quality
paste applied, but on the x230 that isn’t particularly difficult to

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Maybe but I just can’t manage with 16GB ram.

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I am also looking for low/zero fan noise laptop to run Qubes OS. If you know one for sale, please ping me a message!