People sometimes ask for recommendations for laptops to get for using with Mixxx so I figured it would be good to write some guidelines. There is no need for an expensive laptop to use Mixxx, but there are a handful of issues to beware of when shopping for cheap laptops. I think the most important guidelines for shopping for a laptop for DJing are:
- Avoid Chromebooks. It is possible to run normal native Linux applications in Chrome OS but they don’t have access to USB devices. It is not necessarily easy to install a normal Linux distribution on a Chromebook, even for experienced Linux users.
- Avoid eMMC storage drives. These are soldered onto the motherboard so they cannot be replaced and they are typically too small to be suitable for DJing with only 32 - 128 GB. Although they use similar technology to solid state drives, they are generally much slower than SSDs. Lots of cheap laptops have eMMC drives now so do your research on what you are considering to buy.
- Get a solid state drive (SSD) with at least 512 GB to have plenty of space for your music library, operating system, and whatever other data you need. You can get a cheap laptop with a small SSD or a mechanical hard drive and get a bigger SSD separately from the laptop. This will often end up saving money compared to getting a laptop that comes with a bigger SSD. SSDs are quite cheap nowadays. You can get a 512 GB SSD for ~$60-70 USD or a 1 TB SSD for ~$100 USD (either M.2 or SATA, check which interface your laptop uses). Replacing a mechanical hard drive in an old laptop with an SSD will make it run way faster (this matters far more than CPU speed or RAM size). Don’t worry about the speed of the SSD; even the slowest SSD is way faster than any mechanical hard drive and more than adequate.
- 4 GB of RAM is fine for using Mixxx, but I’d generally recommend at least 8 GB if you don’t want to worry about how many browser tabs you have open. The RAM in laptops is usually upgradeable, but sometimes it is soldered onto the motherboard.
- CPU speed isn’t really important unless you will be contributing code to Mixxx and recompiling Mixxx regularly. Even a midgrade Intel Core i5 CPU from 2011 works fine.
- Any screen resolution 1366 x 768 (HD) or above will work for Mixxx. I’d generally suggest 1920 x 1080 (1080p) or higher for better visual quality. Only the cheapest laptops have 1366 x 768 screens anymore. Touch screens are nice but not necessary. I personally suggest a 14 or 15 inch screen size, but that’s a matter of personal preference and you could use Mixxx on a 13 inch laptop.
- GPU speed is not important for Mixxx. Intel or AMD graphics integrated into CPUs work fine; there is no need for a separate GPU for Mixxx.
New laptops meeting these guidelines start at prices around $400 - 500 USD. These have small HDs/SSDs which could be replaced with a larger SSD for a total cost ~$450 - 550 USD. You may have luck finding a good deal on a used laptop, but it may take some work to find one that meets these guidelines.
I’m not putting recommendations for specific laptops here because the market changes very quickly. The best deal today will likely not be the best deal in 6 months.
If you are looking for laptops that come with Linux, System76 sells laptops with free coreboot firmware preinstalled. Dell, Lenovo, Entroware, Tuxedo Computers, Juno Computers, and Laptop With Linux sell some laptops with Linux preinstalled as well but they don’t use coreboot firmware.