So, I’ve recently purchased the following laptops:
In order to test them as budget machines for open-source game development.
Both are capable of running four threads in parallel, and are clocked at just under 2 GHz.
At first, I tried to load PC-BSD onto the ASUS, just to evaluate it as an operating system before dedicating one of these new machines to it. Interestingly enough, after “installing”, the operating system failed to boot. It turned out that PC-BSD’s installer failed to install a bootloader to the master boot record of my hard drive. /facepalm
At this point, I simply decided to load Debian 8 “Jessie” onto each laptop, and things have been smooth sailing ever since. Even though these laptops’ specifications may seem low (the ASUS machine, especially), both iGPUs run OpenGL pretty smoothly, and I have yet to encounter a problem with their audio capabilities either.
The only thing the ASUS machine is lacking is a backlit keyboard. Besides that, both machines are lightweight, and have been running my suite of development tools (LMMS, Audacity, GIMP, Blender, & Eclipse CDT) without any complaints. It’s amazing what you can buy for less than five-hundred dollars.
There’s also this Acer machine here, which I have yet to purchase. Due to the fact that it has a Haswell CPU/iGPU, instead of an IvyBridge one like the ASUS, you may want to purchase it instead. I purchased the ASUS because I wanted something entry-level and bottom-of-the-barrel in the iGPU department. The iGPU inside of the ASUS is an Intel HD 4000, whereas the Acer laptop has an Intel HD 4400. The Acer machine also has a larger amount of internal storage (500 GB vs 320 GB).
Regardless of your preference, all this proves is that you don’t need to break the bank in order to get an efficient Linux machine. The added benefit of these minimalist laptops is that they also boot up much faster due to their lack of hardware complexity. I’ve noticed boot times much shorter than on my old Lenovo (which had more components, as well as a discrete graphics card that was never used).
I hope this inspires you to economize! 🙂