Personal computing hardware for linux in 2023


By personal, I mean consumer-grade, non-enterprise hardware.

This is a quick note on choosing where to spend money: laptops, desktops etc.

RAM limitations on consumer grade computers

The industry has settled on certain limitations on ram for certain form factors.

RAM limitations are because of 2 factors:

  1. Number of ram slots available for upgrade
  2. CPU support for larger capacity ram sticks


Laptops cap out at 64gb ram. But too many laptops have one stick soldered in. So you get only one empty slot, in which you can add a maximum of 32gb (if your processor accepts it).

Eg: My thinkpad has 8gb soldered, and only one stick is available for upgrade.

Not all processors accept a 32gb stick

Most consumer laptops' processors top out at 16gb per stick. If your processor doesn't accept a 32gb stick, upgrade the processor. The extra money is completely worth it.

Eg: My laptop's processor supports 32gb sticks. So, I've put in a 32gb stick, totaling to 40gb of ram (8soldered + 32 upgraded).


Consumer processors cap out at 128gb ram. These are with 4 sticks of 32gb each. To go beyond 128gb, you need to go with the server grade processors, which are damn expensive.

The current way to exceed 128gb on a budget is to use the cloud for bursty workloads.

If you need more than 128gb on a consistent basis: either cluster your computers, or up your budget. But you don't need this advice if you have exceeded 128gb. You already know your stuff.

Laptop WiFi modems for linux

Intel laptops are fine, AMD laptops will have problems because they ship with Realtek modems. Realtek's linux support SUCKS.

If you use ubuntu, don't expect the modem to work on LTS versions (until the next LTS comes). You'll have to stick to the latest release of ubuntu, and move on to the LTS release that comes in the future. Expect a lead time of 1 year for the driver to start working.

Intel laptop

If you buy an intel laptop, you'll end up with an intel wifi-bluetooth modem.

Linux drivers will work out of the box. Intel is great at upstreaming drivers to the kernel.

AMD laptop

If you buy an amd laptop, you will most likely end up with Realtek. So, most probably your linux kernel won't have the drivers.

You can still solve the driver issues with something like:

But your best and most painfree option is to swap out the Realtek modem with some intel modem: exchange from some other laptop, or buy a new intel modem.

Realtek modems are inferior. Random WiFi drops, singal strength issues etc. Find a way to get rid of the realtek modem, and replace it with an intel modem.

Installing intel modem on an AMD processor? Don't buy a CNVi interface intel modem

Also, not all intel modems work with AMD laptops.

Some intel modems use the CNVi interface. Don't buy them. It is a proprietary protocol, and only works with intel processors. They will not work with your AMD processor. These CNVi ones are the modems that have names like AX2*1. Eg: AX201, AX211 etc.

The normal ones like AX200, AX210 will work well with your ryzen laptop. I recommend AX210 (in 2023). Order the modem from some place like mouser etc. (product link)

(Don't go by the product images. Check the datasheet. You most probably want a 2x2 modem that fits in a M.2 slot.)

Replacing the modem on Thinkpads doesn't void warranty. It is considered a user replaceable part. I'm not sure about other laptops.