Looking For A New Laptop! Recommendations?


Apr 5, 2021
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I made the swap over to Linux a couple of years ago, now. I bought a $500 used Dell laptop and set it up with Mint. I was on a Chromebook and I put Mint on that after setting up the Dell, but I have no sound other than bluetooth. It also locks up if you open too many tabs, so it has been a bit of a pain. The Dell is having Keyboard issues, so I would like to get into something new and trouble free.

I have looked around and most anything I can find set up with Linux is well out of my price interest. I don't game, so $4k is WAY beyond what I am interested to pay. I would like something thin. 13-14 inches. Good battery life, and under $1500. I am leaning towards buying something new and installing mint. Just wondering what would be recommended for compatibility?

I do a little bit with GIMP, the odd word document, but I mostly want it for entertainment. Browsing, online courses, movies, etc. Which is why anything over $1500 just doesn't make sense.

The XPS 13 seems to be my splurge choice. Any one know of, or using, anything comparable with a lighter price tag? This comes in at $1700 Canadian.

BaseXPS 13 (9315) Processor12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1250U (12MB Cache, up to 4.7 GHz, 10 cores) Operating SystemUbuntu® Linux® 20.04 LTSVideo CardIntel® Iris® Xe GraphicsMemory 32 GB, LPDDR5, 5200 MHz, integrated, dual-channelLCD13.4", FHD+ 1920 x 1200, 60Hz, Non-Touch, Anti-Glare, 500 nit, InfinityEdgeStorage 1TB PCIe NVMe x2 Solid State Drive OnboardHeadset Adapter USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter WirelessIntel® Killer™ Wi-Fi 6E 1675 (AX211), 2x2, 802.11ax, Bluetooth® wireless cardPower CordPower Cord (US)Primary Battery3 Cell, 51 Wh, integrated Color Choice Umber Keyboard Umber Backlit English Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader FGA Module No FGADocumentation/DisksDocumentation, English/French w/ QR CodeSystems ManagementIntel® vPro Technology Essential Management FeaturesE-StarEnergy Star LabelPackagingShipping MaterialProcessor BrandingIntel® Core™ i7 vPro Essentials Processor LabelPower Supply45W AC Adapter Type-CRetail InformationDell.com, OrderApplication SoftwareUbuntuHardware Support Services1Y ProSupport for PCs NextBusinessDay OnsiteService after RemoteDiagnosis-for business

Any input is greatly appreciated!

If you are in the United States you might take a look at System76. They have one option with a 14 inch display. Lemur Pro (Edit, just saw that you are in Canada.)

The user MurphCID over at the Linux Mint forum owns one and has a review.

I do not own one so I cannot comment on the quality. I do own their Launch Heavy keyboard and love it.

Good Luck
Do you want New [latest] if you do then look out for one that can be supplied with Linux installed, the biggest problem with cutting edge machines is the lack of cutting edge drivers,
I would recommend a refurbished machine of 3 to 5 years old. Most popular for linux users are Dell [I have a very old [13 yrs] Del Inspiron [ I had to replace the keyboard when I got it cheap 5 years old when I refurbished it myself], another popular brand with members are Lenovo, both are well supported
I picked up an MSI Modern 15 on sale for like $800. Everything works with Linux, as far as I can tell. That was like a year and a half ago, so I too will likely be shopping for a replacement soon.
I'm not worried about cutting edge. I just want reliable. I'm handy enough to change hardware, but not smart enough to know what my options are. I would change out my keyboard if that is my issue on the dell. It was released in 2018, so it can't be older than 5 years.

The keyboard went haywire in Mexico, then was ok for a while after I got back, and now it is typing ASDF and logging me in as a guest before I can sign in.

Is a replacement a feasible option? The Dell is a 4742 with 125 ssd and 1T hdd. 8GB ram and it honestly is more computer than I need. I was going to try and reinstall Mint, cause I have no idea about these things, and when I went live there was no trackpad input, so that is when I decided suck it up and get a new one.
I was thinking about getting a newer Lenovo, I have one for the business and it is my oldest computer. I bought it in '15 and it's still running, even with windows on it.
The keyboard went haywire in Mexico, then was ok for a while after I got back, and now it is typing ASDF and logging me in as a guest before I can sign in.
Sounds like you may have picked up a nasty, pull the Hard-drive then using a ISO pen-drive [mint is fine] run live and check out if the keyboard and everything else is working normally, if its still playing up, you may have picked up a bios/firmware bug.
If its ok put the Hard-drive back in boot it and save your work/files to a separate pen-drive. Do a full clean install of Mint, then before reinstalling your files run a virus screening.
Just had another thought.. Before you resort to the above.
Disconnect the power supply and any other cables, Switch on the machine, when it boots to mint press and hold down the power button for 60 seconds [this should purge the bios] then re-boot and test the keyboard
If it seems ok open a terminal and run
sudo apt update && apt --fix-missing
then run
sudo apt install -f
and finaly
sudo apt update && apt upgrade
And re-boot
Is a replacement a feasible option?

Yup. Especially with a used Dell of that age (and that model, it's fairly common from my Google search). you should find a replacement for as little as $30.00 USD. Try eBay, more so than your traditional shops.

Long before buying a new laptop, I'd try fixing that one. It sounds like a hardware issue with what you said and it's worth trying to replace it. I don't know that resetting will help, but that's always something one should try first.

Then, you may want to read and look around...

Replacing a keyboard requires taking apart the device, and that can be tricky. Fortunately, someone has already taken your device apart and shared how. Just do some searching and you'll find it. It will also be similar to other models from the same vendor.

I once had an alcoholic laptop and it'd drink too much every time. I replaced the keyboard so many times (three replacements, so four total) that I could strip it apart in just a few minutes and the whole process was certainly less than ten minutes. That laptop was quite a lush. It drank quite a bit of wine and at least one beer. I don't think I should be blamed for the laptop's alcoholism.

There might also be a technical manual for your laptop, available to download at the OEM's site. This seems to be less and less common, probably because we're not really expected to effect repairs on our devices, but that's a conversation for another day.

You shouldn't require more tools than the appropriate size screwdriver, typically a Phillips-head screwdriver. Sometimes screws are hidden under things like the rubber pads and sometimes taking it apart can require some trickery. I strongly urge you to look up this information before trying to take it apart yourself. It will save you time and energy. It will also mean you're less likely to break things - either by accident or by frustration.
I replaced the keyboard so many times (three replacements, so four total) that I could strip it apart in just a few minutes
I have done several Dell's Luckily [un like most makes] Dell keypads can usually be accessed from the top,by removing the cover plate above the key pad, removing the 3 cross head screws at the top of the pad, and carefully lifting and unclipping the pad, just be careful of any very thin wires to the touchpad below the keypad
I have done several Dell's

Yeah, Dell's are usually pretty repair-friendly if they're from a certain era. Their really thin stuff is glued together if I understand the complaints correctly. The model I took apart multiple times (the alcoholic laptop) was a bit more complicated. You had to remove some of the screws from the rear and there was a bezel that needed to be slid upward to unlock it. Then you could access the screws to remove the laptop, reach the ribbon cable below, and reverse the process with a new keyboard.
Yeah, Dell's are usually pretty repair-friendly
I remember doing a Acer that particular model took me 2 hrs to swamp out the keypad. by the time I got to it,I had the mother board and over 130 screws and other components on the table.
over 130 screws

That sounds tedious, and not in a good way. At least we can easily take pictures as we go along. When faced with something like that, I have a neat tool. It's basically a whiteboard with sunk-in sections that are magnetized. You organize your screws/fasteners as you take them apart and you can label them as you go. One of my kids gave it to me years and years ago. I've never seen another one, but it can be pretty handy if it's a big project.

If I'm doing something like tearing an engine apart, I use baggies and handy stickers - matching A with A, B with B, AA with AA, etc... That way I know where to put the wires and hoses when I reassemble it. Modern stuff is so much more complicated than it used to be.
130 screws and other components, our dining table was awash with dishes plates and saucers for each component and next to it the screws, the wife wasn't happy [neither was I, she made me wash them all up]
the wife wasn't happy

LOL I can imagine she was not. These days, I have a room in my basement that I call my lab. It's where I do things like that now. I don't spend nearly enough time down there, but it's where I keep all my electronics tools, except for the subset of tools I have out in the garage. The digital soldering station is in the house, but it's just a fairly plain soldering gun in the garage. (I like to solder and shrink wrap where appropriate. It's better than wire nuts, I think.)

I have an obscene amount of tools, some of 'em pretty specific. Like, do you want to remove the weird cam shaft bearings in a Saab 99? I have the tool for that. Need to replace the IMS bearing in a 911? Yup, I've got the tool for that! I should get a reflow oven, or maybe make one out of a toaster oven.

(There's a break in IMSA for a safety car.)
one of the last true SAAB's before they were taken over by GM [then shut down after only a couple of years] I used to enjoy driving the 93 & 95 [I use to work for GME fleet services]
I also was one of the few insured to drive the Holden Ute [sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Maloo R8 LSA, with a Chevy V8 boosted to 544PS and 671Nm of torque. With a supercharger, full race tuning and bigger Brenbo racing anchors.] 0-60 in under 4.5 and top out in excess of 155 mph
one of the last true SAAB's before they were taken over by GM

Don't forget the 900 series! I have a pair of Saab 900S Turbo examples set up for rally racing. I should probably stop calling them a pair as only one is really in operable condition. The other one needs a bit of work and a fairly large dent removed from the front end.

One of the worst parts about losing Saab is that I can no longer tell one of my favorite jokes. (Saab's had a unique position in the US. This may not make sense outside of the US.)

Q. What do you call two yuppies that get into a car accident?
A. A Saab-story!

Ha! I crack me up!

I miss Saab, but we probably should take this to off-topic or to PM.

The thread is ostensibly about replacing or repairing a laptop, specifically the keyboard. OP hasn't responded since yesterday, so let's wait and see how they respond. Hopefully, they won't find the idea of replacing a keyboard to be all that daunting. If they do, they can likely take it to a repair shop. I doubt that'd be all that expensive (if it's just labor costs).
I don't game, so $4k is WAY beyond what I am interested to pay. I would like something thin. 13-14 inches. Good battery life, and under $1500.
Man alive... How the other half lives, huh? You're looking to spend as much on a single item as I've probably spent during my entire computing "life" over the last 30-odd years!

Everything of mine has been re-purposed hand-me-downs, from family members who know nothing but Windows and are clueless when it comes to changing anything major. So they buy new, with Windows pre-installed, and just want to dump the old one. What's a geek to do, eh?

Take it off their hands, naturally! :D

I'll echo others here. You can find some very decent second-hand refurbs under the $500 mark, 'cos 'puters are like cars; once you drive 'em out of the showroom, they depreciate like crazy.

Of course, you CAN go the 'boutique' route if you want to - System76 are certainly good - but nothing on God's green earth would ever persuade me to pay their kinda prices.

At the end of the day, it has to be your choice, of course. We can only advise.

Mike. ;)
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