The Best Linux Laptop: System76 Galago Pro vs. Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition


Linux PCs are often a do-it-yourself (DIY) venture. However, many vendors are starting to provide pre-built Linux laptops and desktops.

System76’s Galago Pro and Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition remain top picks among the bevy of Linux laptops on the market. Learn about both System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition in this head-to-head comparison!

Why Buy a Linux Laptop?

While you can purchase a Linux laptop, it’s simple to create your own with any of the countless Linux distributions (distros) freely available.

So why buy instead of build? A pre-built Linux laptop offers a computer that’s ready for use out-of-the-box. There’s no hassle of installing a Linux operating system and potential troubleshooting. Additionally, buying a Linux laptop from the right supplier affords tech support.

Dell and System76 (particularly the latter, as a dedicated Linux manufacturer with its own Linux operating system) provide fantastic support options. If you’re in the market for a Linux laptop or desktop, let’s find out which rig is right for you.

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Display

X Reasons to Buy the System76 Galago Pro Over the XPS 13 - System76 Galago Pro 2018
Image Credit: System76

One of the highlight System76 Galago Pro features is its screen. The Galago Pro HiDPI 13-inch display delivers lush visuals at a 3200×1800 resolution. There’s also a 14-inch 1080p IPS 14-inch screen alternative. The 14-inch IPS model now features a thinner bezel than its predecessor.

Dell’s XPS 13 Developer Edition boasts a 13-inch screen in full 1080p. Opting for 1080p means the Galago Pro yields a bit more screen real estate. As such, the HiDPI display found on the Galago Pro easily trounces the screen on the XPS 13.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: System Specs

Both the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro feature similar specs with a few key differences. At the core of both machines, you’ll find either an i5-8250u or i7-8550U. For RAM, the XPS 13 Developer Edition allows up to 16GB of DDR3.

Compare that to the Galago Pro’s available 32GB of DDR4. Because the Galago Pro uses DDR4 and as high as twice the RAM of the XPS 13, it’s a better machine. Notably, the XPS 13 can accept greater than 16GB of RAM. However, that’s the maximum you can order from Dell. Adding more requires purchasing the memory and adding it yourself.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Connectivity

With an increasing number of devices ditching ports, connectivity is key. The XPS 13 features a microSD card slot, headphone jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a USB 3.o PowerShare DC input with DisplayPort.

The Galago Pro rocks a microSD card slot, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, USB C with Thunderbolt 3 headphone jack, and microphone jack. Moreover, both laptops offer Bluetooth as well as 867Mbps wireless internet connectivity. Here, the two laptops are pretty close in specs.

Winner: Tie

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Battery Life

Image Credit: Dell

It’s battery life where the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition bests the Galago Pro. While the Galago Pro includes a 35.3WHr battery, the XPS 13 touts a whopping 52WHr battery. That packs in quite a bit more on-the-go power than the Galago Pro. Especially for a thin-and-light laptop engineered for portability, battery life remains a key consideration.

Winner: Dell XPS 13

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Build Quality

Since the XPS 13 Developer Edition and Galago Pro are premium laptops, both come outfitted with backlit keyboards. The XPS 13 is comprised of recycled ocean plastics for an eco-friendly design, whereas the Galago Pro chassis is aluminum.

The aluminum chassis on the Galago Pro tops the plastic body of the XPS 13. Nevertheless, its environmentally friendly construction makes the XPS 13 a sustainable PC option. Similarly, backlit keys lend a premium vibe.

While the XPS 13 is no slouch and you won’t confuse it with the extremely budget-conscious Pinebook, the Galago Pro wins with its brushed aluminum chassis.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: Options and Support

Both the Galago Pro and XPS 13 offer Ubuntu 18.04 LTS as an operating system choice. However, the Galago Pro also comes with an option of Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS, a Linux OS created by System76. It’s an Ubuntu derivative which differs from vanilla Ubuntu while providing a similar experience.

Overall, Pop!_OS from System76 is similar to Ubuntu but with a few key differences: fewer pre-installed apps, fantastic desktop support, a lush user interface, among others. Whereas the XPS 13 only offers Ubuntu, the Galago Pro comes with two Linux OS choices.

Furthermore, System76 specializes in Linux PCs and as such provides quality support. That’s not to say Dell’s support is inferior. But since System76 specializes in Linux PCs, its capabilities are better suited to troubleshooting issues. Furthermore, System76’s impressive lineup includes a wide array of machines such as the Gazelle. When it comes to Linux, they know their stuff.

Winner: System76 Galago Pro

XPS 13 Developer vs. Galago Pro: The Winner

Although the System76 Galago Pro and Dell XPS 13 are pretty similar in specs and build, a few key elements separate the two laptops. Notably, the two screen options. Essentially, the Galago Pro consolidated the System76 lineup so you may pick from two different screen options. Compare that to the Dell XPS 13 with its singular HiDPI screen choice.

Similarly, operating systems available on the Galago Pro include Ubuntu and Pop!_OS. The XPS 13 only comes with Ubuntu.

However, the XPS 13 bests the Galago Pro at battery life. In its review, ARS Technica found a middling three and a half hours of battery life. That’s not terrible, though for a lightweight laptop competitor to the Apple Macbook Pro and Dell XPS 13, it’s pretty measly.

Nevertheless, the Galago Pro delivers a performance wallop in a small form factor while allowing for expansion and user serviceability. It’s a rarity among laptops as a pre-built Linux machine, but also as a mobile rig which balances power with portability.

Looking for something more affordable? Check out the best cheap Linux laptops you can buy!

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