Laptop for Linux and Ardour

Greetings from Finland!

Any recommendations for an audio laptop? I have a desktop PC at home already.

Budject around 1k, I have been checking Dell XPS 15 though…

Idea was to have a mobile workstation for mixing on headphones and mobile recording. Only for recording on Ardour, an old laptop works just fine, I have experience on this. But for mixing, battery life, performance and the screen could do better.

Is it possible to achieve a proper setup with just the laptop and the headphones without an external audio interface? I am prepared to invest on new mixing headphones at the same time.
Currently using ATH M50X, but they are more suitable for tracking perhaps.

Hello Kakku,

“Is it possible to achieve a proper setup with just the laptop and the headphones without an external audio interface?”

  • I just want to say something about this. Most prefabricated sound chips aren’t that great neither in A/D nor in D/A transformation. You can use internal sound for mixing but many would say that they are not sufficient for recording. There are very good and small external audio interfaces. Graham Cochran for just made a video last month where he explains what he uses as mobile studio. It’s called “How To Mix On Headphones (My Mobile Mixing Rig)” you might find this video helpful though he uses a Mac. He has a small focusrite audio device, similar to the one I use with ardour on linux.

Best wishes,

P.S. Atm I’m in a comparable situation like you, want to spend 700€ for a new laptop for recording with ardour. Am leering more for Lenovo (they sell laptops without windows), might look into dell though.

Here is one laptop line that ships with Ubuntu:

Also, I would recommend researching compatibility with the audio interface you’re interested in with the laptop you are looking at. I was using a “Dell XPS 15” myself (from roughly 2010-2011) with a Roland Duo Capture and Ardour with no problem. When I upgraded my interface to a Focusrite 18i20 the laptop wouldn’t have it. Something about that models USB 3.0 ports. So I had to build a desktop in order to use the interface.

Laptop models change frequently, so my advice is just find one that works with Linux. Just pick a model and google it with the word ‘Linux’ and you may find some reports. The first google hit for Dell XPS 15 is from somebody who says the laptop is problematic with Linux.

Motherboard audio may or may not work properly with Ardour. A safer bet would be to buy an external USB device that is “USB Audio Class Compliant”. This means it works also with Linux. There are some very small ones available.

And greetings from Helsinki to you too :slight_smile:

there is a custom linux laptop in collab with manjaro

that looks pretty cool to me and they seem to be very open on the specs and parts, so you can ask them about the audio stuff.,

It's almost impossible for anyone to answer this. Chipsets can vary inside laptops even with the same model name, and that can change everything. See for an understanding of the many factors that can cause a computer to be good for audio work or not.

That said, you can certainly "achieve a proper setup" with a laptop and headphones, but the external audio interface improves quality and flexibility.

Get a dell. They even have ubuntu pre installed if you order from them. I got a inspirion 15r, came with windows. Deleted soon as i turned it on…werks flawless. so does my steinberg ur22mk2.
Acer werks good too…stay away from hp. never had one that would werk with linux from factory

I got advice to try out the Lenovo ThinkPad machines when I was in that situation … somebody who works with Linux a lot said that he experienced few problems with these. Since I just followed his advice, I haven’t tried anything else.

same here, using 2nd hand thinkpadas since T40 / t41, now i have a x220 which works great. they are comparably cheap on the 2nd hand market.

I’m currently using a Thinkpad 13 2nd Gen. as mobile device.


  • Intel i7-7500U
  • 8 GB RAM (you can get more if you need)
  • 512 GB NVMe SSD
  • 13" Full-HD Display

But i’m looking forward to the Thinkpads A-Series (AMD-Chipsets). AMD-Chips have better support on linux and are less expensive than comparable Intel chips. Maybe have a look on an Ryzen 5 typed processor combined with 8-16 GB of RAM (depends on the use of fx/ virtual instruments).

Best regards,


My work laptop is a Thinkpad W541 that runs RHEL 7. It’s a very nice machine, but I’ve never done audio work on it. All the hardware is fully supported, though.

My home laptop is an old Thinkpad X1. This week was the first time I tried to record anything; so far so good using the only USB interface I had lying around (a Zoom B2.1u bass effects pedal).

The only bad thing about both Thinkpads is the battery life; it’s not great on the W541 and it’s atrocious on the X1.

The W541 is a notebook designed as workstation. Therefore it’s more powerful than other ones. Usually Thinkpads have the best batterlife compared to other brands with the same specs (except of Apples Macbooks). A big plus is the possibility to get additional batteries with more capacity.

The T Series Notebooks usually have an internal and an external one so you could switch the external one without the need of restarting your notebook. That’s something really nice and unique.