2013 Holiday Shopping Guide For Linux PC Hardware
For those doing processor upgrades, I highly recommend any Intel "Haswell" CPU. Intel's fourth-generation Core processors are phenomenal with Linux. Phoronix tests have shown using the latest code yields a very nice (and fast) experience on Linux when testing numerous CPUs and checking in on their HD / Iris Graphics. Haswell is very exciting and I really like the power efficiency and performance improvements made over Ivy Bridge. More information can be found from the Linux processor reviews.
I haven't been looking at too many different, new motherboards this year but overall when it comes to high-end PCs I continue to be happy using ASUS or MSI motherboards. If on a budget or just looking for a more basic motherboard, I remain quite happy with the many ASRock and ECS products around. Any motherboard with a modern Intel or AMD chipset should be in pretty good shape for key Linux support. For more details see my Linux motherboard reviews.
If looking at Linux laptops or ultrabooks, System76 and ZaReason continue to be the most Linux-friendly. However, their hardware comes at a premium and the build quality isn't as always as nice as say Apple or Lenovo systems. I'm going to be buying some new laptops/ultrabooks in the next few days so check back in December to see my latest reviews, which will likely be some new Lenovo, Dell, and/or ASUS hardware. You can also see the other Phoronix computer reviews.
The latest Apple MacBooks sadly aren't too Linux friendly and I wouldn't yet get any Bay Trail Atom systems... Due to using 32-bit UEFI firmware right now on the initial Bay Trail netbooks/ultrabooks/tablets, the Linux experience is crap. I already regret buying the ASUS T100 Bay Trail as Linux is crap on it unless jumping through hoops. After my latest efforts in monkeying with the UEFI on the hard drive, I now get a corrupted screen at boot, can't get to the UEFI firmware setup, and it's not booting off USB. So for all intensive purposes, the system is basically bricked.
Should you be buying a new disk drive this holiday season, I certainly recommend going for a solid-state drive (SSD) if the price permits. I didn't find too much out of saving money and using a SSHD hybrid drive on Linux unless you need lots of storage capacity. For other random hardware recommendations, I remain a big fan of Razer input devices but have also been adding more Logitech keyboards/mice lately in my office. If you're looking for any beautiful PC cases or other accessories I would recommend SilverStone as their products are truly great and with each of their products I generally have a great time using them and become quite fond of their excellent engineering and build quality.
If you are looking for an ARM development board this year, my recommendation would certainly be with the ODROID-XU or going for a Linux-friendly Chromebook that sports Cortex-A15 processors. On the tablet side, my current tablet of choice is the 2013 Google Nexus 7 and running Android.
Have any other Linux hardware shopping questions? Ask away in the forums or @MichaelLarabel on Twitter. Beyond the information shared in this article and the many Phoronix articles, you can also find other Linux PC component information at OpenBenchmarking.org. If you appreciate all the Linux hardware information that is published on Phoronix seven days a week and 365 days a year -- or you wish to make our holiday better around here -- please consider getting yourself a great gift of a Phoronix Premium subscription, which was recently upgraded. PayPal tips are also welcome and much appreciated since many times we're often buying hardware and other components needed for the Phoronix.com Linux hardware testing.
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