Buying a New Cheap Laptop: the MacOS vs Windows 10 vs Linux Choices

My elderly iMac died. I didn’t use it much anymore, but it was holding down the fort in my seldom used home office controlling the elderly printer and scanner, while providing me internet access when I’m in the room. I put my Macbook Pro in the office as a temporary fix, but now I have need of it.

All this is to say, I should replace the dead iMac with something inexpensive. I think I will buy a cheap laptop for this instead of a desktop so I don’t have to spring for a screen and keyboard and mouse. The question then is: What OS should this new laptop be? Can I get something for under $400?

macOS: Apple makes a great laptop and a great OS. I have moved away from it due a little bit to price but also because of Apple’s walled garden. To be fair, the walls are far lower in the macOS garden than they are in iOS. Still I already have a good Mac laptop so I will give give macOS a skip this round.

Windows 10: I know very little about it and have never used it. Which makes me want to try it. By far the best bang for the buck is in the Windows 10 laptop market. With free Prime shipping on Amazon I can stay well under my miserly $400 budget. Quality is always suspect at this price. I’ve eliminated HP products from consideration because I’m still in a snit over what HP did to webOS It would be kinda cool to have 3 laptops each with one of the three major operating systems on it. My worry with Windows 10 is that the OS will be too “needy” constantly needing my attention for long updates. This can be annoying when a computer sits unused for a couple of months and then requires massive updates before use. I’m at a point in my life where I want to keep things simple, easy, fuss free and Windows has never been that.

Linux Laptop: A good, new, top shelf Linux laptop is not cheap. You can easily get up into Macbook prices. I know, I have one, I like it but it was not cheap. There are, however reputable companies that buy up overstock name brand Win. laptops, erase Windows and install Linux and then resell them. I’ve had good experience with and I can get a bare bones Linux laptop from them with the newest Ubuntu LTS version installed and tested for just under $400. Ubuntu has their share of updates but I’m guessing nowhere near as many or as big as some of the Win 10 updates I have heard about. Linux can be a bit boring, it does not have all the flash-bang and bright features one expects from the commercial desktop OS’s, but there is something to be said for being quietly competent and rock solid stable.

So there it is: narrowed down to cheap Windows or cheap Linux in a laptop that won’t be used that often. I’m leaning towards the Linux even though the hardware is less and the price slightly higher just because of ease of use.

PS: It occurs to me I need to field test my Mac laptop’s battery to see if it is healthy and how long it lasts since it’s been awhile. If the Mac’s battery is dying then it will replace the iMac at the desk and I’ll get a more expensive, and smaller, Linux laptop than outlined above to replace it.

Brad Enslen Micro Blog @bradenslen
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