Laptop purchase recommendations

My lab is in the market to purchase some laptops for stimulus presentation and would like some suggestions.

We would like to run Ubuntu (doesn’t have to be ‘preloaded’) and are hoping to be able to run high resolution video stimuli using PsychoPy, among other things. Are there any things that we should consider that others who use similar kinds of stimuli can tell us about (e.g. graphics cards, memory recommendations, etc.)? We are hoping to not have to spend more than $1000 (US) for a single computer if possible, but can be flexible if necessary.

Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

The two options I would recommend

  • Dell sells laptops with Ubuntu pre-loaded

  • System76 sells laptops with either Ubuntu or their PopOS (based on Ubuntu 18.04, but with a different yet very clean desktop environment).

Purchasing from these vendors will ensure all the proper drivers are installed. In terms of choosing between the two, Dell designs their own laptops and has a huge customer base as well as a strong reputation. System76 currently only sells sells generic white-box laptops that they tune the distributions for. On the other hand, Linux computers is the only thing that System76 sells and therefore their survival depends on supporting Linux, while Linux is only a small fraction of Dell’s sales.

Historically, I have used Mac laptops, but I can not abide with the current Mac keyboards, lack of function keys and lack of CUDA support, so recently upgraded to a System76. We team have been very impressed with the System76 hardware, driver integration and support.

Having said that, I would also make sure you really need a Linux laptop for this. In my limited experience Windows and Mac do a much better job of throttling the CPU/GPU which means they are quieter and have better battery life than a similar Linux laptop.


Our lab has had good experience with Dell and bad ones with System76 (specs look good, build quality is bad). Thinkpads are typically well supported, have good build quality, and excellent keyboards.