Linux Mini PC: Best Mini Computer Compatible With Linux

Best Mini PCs Compatible with Linux

A man is using a Linux-based mini PC

Table of Contents

Mini PCs are gradually taking over from conventional desktop computers, as their compact size and low power consumption are attractive to lots of consumers. While Windows remains the most-used operating system for mini PC owners, more and more people are beginning to work with Linux nowadays.

What is Linux

Linux is the best-known and most-used open-source kernel in the world. It is a set of software that directly manages a PC system’s hardware and resources, including the processor, graphics card, memory, and storage, and allows users to run different applications.

In fact, most of us are in touch with Linux on a daily basis, whether we are aware of it or not. For instance, Android, the operating system that dominates our smartphones, tablets, wearables, as well as smart cars, is based on Linux. But in terms of computing, we normally talk about traditional Linux-based distributions.

How is Linux different from other operating systems?

Linux is, in many ways, very similar to other operating systems. It has a point-and-click graphical user interface, which allows its users to install and run software programs, including internet browsers, word processors, video players, photo editors, and so on.

But unlike Windows or macOS, where you can simply use GUI to make the operating system perform intended tasks, Linux requires its users to enter command lines for most duties, making it more difficult for starters to get used to.

Also, different distributions of Linux may give you completely different user experiences or “feel.” Some of them look like Windows, some of them look like macOS, and others may feel like nothing you have seen before.

What are the advantages of Linux?

Linux comes with many benefits. First and foremost, it doesn’t cost a dime. Since the Linux Kernel is open-source, you can download and install just about every Linux distribution for free. Second, Linux has amazing hardware compatibility, it runs on many different platforms, including PCs, tablets, smartphones, TV boxes, ATM machines, drones, in-flight entertainment, and so on.

In fact, it’s hard to find hardware that isn’t compatible with Linux. Third, Linux offers strong support for developers. Its source code is viewable for all people, and it also supports all of the major programming languages, including C, C++, and JavaScript. Developers can use these languages to build compatible and reliable apps in various disciplines. Finally, Linux is incredibly stable.

Compared to other operating systems, it’s much less prone to crashes. That’s why major cloud providers all use Linux as the operating system of their servers. Even Microsoft chooses Linux to power their Azure Cloud Computing Services instead of their own Windows Server OS.

How to install Linux on your PC?

There are dozens of Linux distributions available on the internet, but it’s best for you to start with a well-known distribution as it has a larger user community that can help answer questions when you get stuck. Popular ones include Elementary OS, Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu.

Once you’ve picked the intended Linux distribution, visit its official website, and download the installer and ISO files. Some Linux distributions are compatible with many different platforms, so you might be asked to choose the right installer and ISO file for the device you want the operating system installed on.

Best mini PCs compatible with Linux

You can install Linux on any computer, from the tiniest handheld PCs to the bulkiest server towers. But if you are interested in getting a mini PC to run Linux, these will be our top recommendations.

GEEKOM Mini IT11

Product Highlights

  • Intel 11th-gen Core processor (i5-1155G7 / i7-1195G7, 4 cores, 8 threads)
  • Iris Xe Graphics
  • 16GB DDR4-3200 memory (dual-channel, upgradable to 64GB)
  • 512 M.2 NVMe SSD (upgradable to 2TB)
  • 2.5-inch SATA3 SSD/HDD (up to 2TB)
  • Dual USB4 ports
  • WiFi 6 & Bluetooth 5.2
  • Price: $549 (i5, 16GB, 512GB) /$649 (i7, 16GB, 512GB)

The GEEKOM Mini IT11 is a NUC-sized PC built around Intel Tiger Lake processors. It comes with expandable memory and storage, plenty of ports, superb networking, and is preinstalled with licensed Windows 11 Pro. Since it accepts two internal storage devices, you can choose to install any Linux distribution and dual boot it with Windows 11. Intel is known for its open-source drivers and amazing support for various Linux-related projects, so you won’t be encountering any compatibility issues when running Linux on the GEEKOM Mini IT11.

Beelink GTR5

Product Highlights

  • AMD Ryzen9-5900HX (8 cores, 16 threads)
  • Radeon Vega 8
  • 16GB/32GB DDR4-3200 memory (dual-channel, expandable to 64GB)
  • 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD (upgradable to 2TB)
  • M.2 SATA SSD (up to 2TB)
  • 2.5-inch SATA3 SSD/HDD (up to 2TB)
  • WiFi 6E & Bluetooth 5.2
  • Dual 2.5Gbps Ethernet
  • Price: $649 (32GB, 500GB)

With an impeccable AMD Ryzen9-5900HX octa-core processor, the Beelink GTR5 is one of the most powerful small form factor PCs out there. Although the computer ships with licensed Windows 11 Pro, you can easily install any X86-compatible Linux distribution on it. As the machine supports as many as three drives (two M.2 SSDs and a 2.5-inch HDD/SSD), it’s even possible for you to triple boot Windows and two Linux distros.

Intel NUC 11 Pro Kit

Product Highlights

  • Intel 11th-gen Core processor (i5-1135G7 / i7-1165G7 / i7-1185G7)
  • Iris Xe Graphics
  • M.2 NVMe SSD (up to 2TB)
  • 2.5-inch SATA3 SSD/HDD (up to 2TB)
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • WiFi 6 & Bluetooth 5.2
  • Price: $549 (i5, barebone) /$669 (i7-1165G7, barebone) /$899 (i7-1185G7, barebone)

The NUC series has been around for more than ten years, and it remains to be the best-selling mini PCs in the market. The NUC 11 Pro is, in many ways, identical to the GEEKOM Mini IT11, but with slightly inferior SoCs. However, the dual Thunderbolt 3 ports give the NUC 11 Pro Kit amazing expandability, you can even connect the computer to external graphics cards. Being an Intel product, The NUC 11 Pro Kit is perfectly compatible with the entire Linux ecosystem, and supports multiple Linux distributions.

Apple Mac mini, M1

Product Highlights

  • Apple M1 processor
  • Octa-core GPU
  • 8GB/16GB LPDDR4 Memory
  • 256GB/512GB/1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • WiFi 6 & Bluetooth 5.0
  • Price: $899 (16GB/256GB) / $1279 (16GB/1TB)

The Apple Mac mini is very different from other mini PCs on our list, as the Apple Silicone M1 SoC is built upon the ARM architecture, instead of the X86 architecture. The Apple ecosystem is known to be extremely closed, but that doesn’t stop developers from porting Linux to Apple Silicon Macs. Now you can install the alpha build of the Asahi Linux distro on the 2020 Mac mini and enjoy the speed of that powerful Apple M1 processor. However, you need to be aware that the Asahi Linux program doesn’t get any support from Apple, and its operating system is still an early build with many bugs waiting to be fixed. If you really want to fully experience Linux, the Apple Mac mini should not be on the top of your list.

GEEKOM Mini IT8

Product Highlights

  • Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8279U (4 cores, 8 threads)
  • Iris Plus 655 Graphics
  • 8GB/16GB DDR4-2400 memory (dual-channel, upgradable to 32GB)
  • 512 M.2 NVMe SSD (upgradable to 1TB)
  • 2.5-inch SATA3 SSD/HDD (expandable to 2TB)
  • WiFi 5 & Bluetooth 4.2
  • Price: $369 (8GB, 256GB) /$439 (16GB, 512GB)

The GEEKOM Mini IT8 rocks a relatively old Intel Core processor, but it still packs enough power to run many different Linux distribution operating systems and apps smoothly. With two drives under the hood, this mini PC can also dual boot Linux and Windows, making it perfect for those who need the functionalities from both platforms.

GEEKOM MiniAir 11

Product Highlights

  • Intel Jasper Lake Celeron N5095 (4 cores, 4 threads)
  • UHD 605 Graphics
  • 8GB DDR4-2933 memory (dual-channel, upgradable to 32GB)
  • 256GB M.2 2280 SSD (upgradable to 1TB)
  • WiFi 5 & Bluetooth 4.2
  • Price: $229 (8GB/256GB)

The GEEKOM MiniAir 11 is an affordable mini PC built around the Celeron N5095 processor. Even with a piece of relatively modest silicone, this mini PC still performs quite well running basic everyday computing tasks in Linux. If you don’t play graphics-intensive games or take care of complex productivity duties, the MiniAir 11, with its $229 price tag, is an ideal mini PC for new Linux users.

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GEEKOM offers a variety ofmini PCs for differing needs, Visit us online to find out more about how our portable computers can meet your gaming needs without the high power consumption or large footprint of a traditional gaming tower.

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