Linux on the desktop is a thing to behold. It’s not only incredibly powerful and secure, but it’s also flexible enough to become exactly what the user needs. And although you can successfully run Linux on just about any type of desktop machine (running lightweight Linux distributions on older hardware), to really get the most out of modern-day variants, it’s best to have hardware up to the task.
Linux doesn’t require nearly the hardware needed to run Windows 11 or macOS, but why not give the open-source operating system extra power, so you can run more applications and services. So, why not send your money to companies that support open source in return?
Which desktops are best suited for the task? Let’s take a look at the five best options you have for 2021.
Truth be told, the System76 Thelio could take all five slots here. It’s that good. But not only is the Thelio desktop powerful enough to do anything you need, but it’s also a work of art. The designers have gone out of their way to create a desktop computer you do not want underneath your desk. You’ll want your Thelio sitting on top for everyone to see. Aesthetics aside, the Thelio is a beast of a machine. Even better, you can select which Thelio is best suited for the job at hand. You can go with the base Thelio (which includes AMD Ryzen CPUs, up to 64GB of RAM and 48TB of storage), the Thelio Mira (which includes Ryzen or Core CPUs, up to 128GB of RAM, up to two GPUs, and up to 56TB of storage), or the Thelio Major (which includes Threadripper or Core-X CPUs, up to 256GB of RAM, up to two GPUs, and up to 88TB of storage). The Thelio desktops have a unique cooling system, crafted specifically to keep the machines running very cool without any noticeable noise. These machines start at $1,199 (Thelio), $1,399 (Thelio Mira), and $2,999 (Thelio Major) and can be specced exactly as you need. Each machine ships with System76’s own Pop!_OS (based on Ubuntu) and is built such that everything works seamlessly and effortlessly. It also helps that System76 has an amazing support staff. So, should something go wrong, they’ll be there to help you.
Lenovo ThinkStation P620
Lenovo has been tossing in serious support for Linux and open source for a while now. Starting in 2020, the company began certifying its entire line (minus the IdeaPad) to run on Linux. This was huge, especially for any business that requires (or prefers) the support of a big company to back their products. Of the Lenovo Line, the ThinkStation P620 makes for an outstanding Linux workstation. The base machine ships with an AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3945WX, 16GB of RAM, an NVIDIA Quadro P620 with 2GB of onboard memory, a 256GB M.2 Gen 4 PCIe SSE drive, and ships with Ubuntu 20.04. The base price of the P620 is $1,936.62, but you can shoot the cost to the moon by adding an AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3995WX to add a whopping $10,675 to the base price. The ThinkStation includes a three-year, on-site warranty to ease your mind.
ThinkPenguin Pro 12 GNU/Linux Desktop
If you’re on more of a budget, you should consider the ThinkPenguin Pro 12. The base machine starts at only $549 and ships with an Intel 2-Core Celeron G5905, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB NVME SSE drive, and a one-year limited warranty. For video and audio, the machine includes a built-in Intel H470 Express chipset and a high-definition Realtek ALC887 chip. You can bump the Pro 12 up to an intel 10-Core i9-10900 CPU, 128 GB of RAM, and a 4TB NVME SSD and even purchase different support options (such as mail-in service, OS installs, networked peripherals, upgrades/repairs, OS media and phone support. The fully-specced machine can run up to $2,612.33 (without additional support options).
MintBox Mini 2 Pro
If you’re looking to pare down your desk, you might consider a tiny form-factor machine, such as the MintBox Mini 2 Pro. This device was created between Linux Mint and CompuLab. Its tiny case is all metal and passively cooled (so it’s completely silent). When you purchase a MintBox Mini 2 Pro, 5% of the proceeds go to Linux Mint. So if you’re looking for a way to help support the developers of Linux Mint, this is a great way to go. For $349, you get this tiny machine packed with a Quad-Core Intel Celeron J3455, 8GB of RAM, a 120GB M.2 SATA SSD, Intel 8260AC 802.11AC + BT 4.2, and Linux Mint 20. The Mini 2 Pro includes two USB ports, an HDMI port, a mini DP port and two RJ45 jacks. It might not be a powerhouse, but it can serve myriad purposes and will run like a champ for a very long time.
Created by Juno Computers, the Brutus 5000 is another small form factor machine, but one that allows you to customize the internals a bit. The base machine ships with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX with eight Cores, Radeon Vega integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD and Ubuntu 20.04. The only options you can configure are RAM (up to 64GB) and storage (up to 2TB), which will bump the cost from $1,285 to $1,897. The Brutus 5000 includes two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, one DP port, two RJ45 jacks (2.5 and 1G), and a headphone jack. The chassis for the Brutus 5000 measures 5.87 inches x 5.71 inches x 1.57 inches. This is a great option for those looking to cut back on clutter, but need a bit more horsepower than what the MintBox Mini 2 Pro has to offer.