Best Lightweight OS For Low-End PC & Laptops

Do you have a low-end PC that is running extremely slow right now? Your oldest Windows computer is too slow to start, and you are looking for a Windows 11 or even Windows 10 alternative? If yes is your answer, we have some of the best lightweight OS for low-end PCs and Laptops. Below, we list the 15 best light OS based on the April 2024 updates. First, review those lightweight OS for old laptops, computers, and desktops.

Top Picks (Top 5 Light OS For PCs & Laptops)

Position Name Quick Word
1 Lubuntu Fast, Lightweight Ubuntu
2 Xubuntu Elegant, Efficient OS
3 Linux Lite Simple, Lightweight
4 Manjaro XFCE Modern, Versatile
5 Arch Linux Minimal, Customizable

Lightest Operating System for Old Laptop and PC

As we all know, the latest Windows 11 has many animations and effects, and running on most Windows 10 devices is a bit heavy. Because of this, Microsoft even restricted the new Windows 11 to some high-end hardware devices.

Moreover, most older laptops have 32-bit; hence, running the latest Windows on those devices is difficult. However, there is no doubt that Linux always offers the best experience, even on a low-end PC. So here, we will list some small and lightweight OS in the Linux Platform for a better experience.

The following are the best lightweight and smallest operating systems based on Linux for your old Laptop and PC. We added CloudReady to this list as an excellent choice if you use your low-end PC primarily for browsing. The following selection is based on the essential usage need that gives a new life to the old PC.

The best OS for Gaming is not considered the primary criterion in the review. Instead, the best OS is for Daily Usage, Productivity, Browsing, Streaming, etc. Older 32-bit systems can also be considered the best OS for 32-bit laptops and PCs.

1. Lubuntu – Best OS For Low End PC

Lubuntu is a lightweight, fast operating system for low-end PC users. You should try it now if you have 2 GB RAM and an old-generation CPU. Lubuntu uses minimal desktop LXDE for smooth performance; all the applications are very lightweight.

Therefore, all the users can easily use Lubuntu OS without any issues. It is the preferable OS used by low-end PC users worldwide. Since most old Windows PCs are incompatible with the latest Windows 11 OS, it can be considered a good and diminutive Windows OS alternative.

It comes in three installation packages. You can choose the desktop package if you have less than 700MB RAM and 32-bit or 64-bit choices. For installation purposes, you only require 64 MB of RAM. In most situations, 128 MB of RAM is the best requirement.

Here are some of its key features

  • RAM: 512MB (128MB min)
  • 32-bit & 64-bit
  • Fork-Ubuntu
  • CPU: Pentium 4 or Pentium M or AMD K8
  • Window Manager: LXDE, Openbox

In Short: Lubuntu is a lightweight, energy-efficient variant of the Ubuntu operating system that uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, making it faster and more suitable for older and less powerful hardware computers.

Get Lubuntu

2. Xubuntu – Best Free Operating System for Laptop and Desktop

Xubuntu is really perfect and highly recommendable for your low-end PC. It is a plug-and-play operating system that can quickly run with minimum resources. If you are a basic user with a low-end PC, Xubuntu has a pre-built package allowing you to run everything you need.

Using Xubuntu, you can easily use a web browser to go online and access office applications, email clients, and media applications to handle all of your photos and videos. Your daily tasks will be done smoothly without any issues and run perfectly on your low-end PC.

Here are some of its key features

  • RAM: 1024MB (512MB min)
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

In Short: Xubuntu is an elegant and easy-to-use operating system that comes with the lightweight and configurable Xfce desktop environment, offering a modern look and efficient daily usage, while being suitable for older laptops and pcs.

Get Xubuntu

3. Linux Lite – Best Linux for Low-End Laptop

Another lightweight OS for your low-end PC is Linux Lite. As the name says, Linux Lite is super-light and can run on low-spec PCs. It is based on Ubuntu’s LTE version, which guarantees long-term support. In addition, Linux Lite is an XFCE-based OS.

The OS has helpful software like Libre Office, Thunderbird, VLC, etc. You can also download thousands of Linux-based apps from the software center. Linux Lite will give your old PC a new life.

Key Specifications of Linux Lite

  • RAM: 1024MB (512MB min)
  • CPU: 1.5GHz (700MHz Min)
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

In Short: Linux Lite is a beginner-friendly, lightweight Linux distribution with a customized Xfce desktop with some pre-installed apps for day to day use.

Get Linux Lite

4. Manjaro XFCE Edition – Smallest Operating Systems For Laptops

Manjaro is another Linux-based operating system with different desktop versions, including KDE Plasma, GNOME, XFCE, and MATE. However, the XFCE desktop will be faster and less resource-using type. So, if you have a PC or a laptop with 2GB or less RAM, we recommend using the XFCE desktop, which can increase the PC’s speed.

Key Specifications of Manjaro XFCE Edition

  • RAM: 512MB
  • CPU: Pentium
  • Minimum 30GB Disk Space Receomemdned

In Short: Manjaro XFCE Edition is a user-friendly, stable, and lightweight Linux distribution based on the XFCE desktop environment, offering a modern look, efficient daily usage, and compatibility with a wide range of hardwares.

Get Manjaro XFC

5. Arch Linux – Lightweight Operating System

Arch Linux is another lightweight Linux distro. This distro has minimal GUI elements, making the OS and PC perform fast. Since the GUI setup is minimal, some people may find it difficult to configure it. Apart from the basic configuration, the rest are done using Shell commands. However, you might not find it difficult if you have used Linux before.

Key Specifications of Arch Linux

  • RAM: 128MB min (256 MB RAM)
  • CPU: i686-based or x86-64
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

In Short: Arch Linux is a minimal, user-centric, and up-to-date GNU/Linux distribution, allowing users to build their system with minimum required components.

Get Arch Linux

6. Zorin OS – A Good Choice as a Windows Alternative OS

Zorin OS is a multifunctional Ubuntu Linux-based OS and the best OS for an old laptop. It is specially designed with a unique look and features. Zorin OS is the best choice if you are a newcomer to Linux. The users can trust its rock-solid performance, dependability, and support.

As we have already mentioned, Zorin OS has a unique style and features. It provides unique programs like Background Plus and Web Browser Manager. You can use Zorin OS with the operating system you are currently using, and if you need to run Microsoft Windows programs with Zorin OS, you need the help of PlayOnLinux and WINE.

In March 2024, Zorin released the latest version, Zorin OS 17.1, with a more refined look and feel. It looks closer to Windows and Mac combined.

Highlights of Zorin OS

  • RAM: 64MB Min
  • CPU: 400MHz Min
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

7. Bhodi Linux – Lightest OS For Linux Lovers

Like other Linux distros, Bhodi Linux is an excellent and lightweight Linux distro. The OS is super light and is updated regularly. Bhodi Linux uses a different e-desktop environment, Moksha. Bhodi Linux only has basic apps like File Manager, Text Editor, etc. You can install all other apps according to your preference.

Key Specifications of Arch Linux

  • RAM: 512MB (128MB min)
  • CPU: 1GHz (500MHz Min)
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

8. PeppermintOS – Light OS for Old Laptop

Peppermint Linux is another Ubuntu LTE-based Linux distro. The OS comes with basic apps only, making it lightweight and working faster on low-end computers. The desktop environment used is Peppermint Linus LXDE, a Lightweight X-desktop environment. Since it is based on Ubuntu LTE, you will get long-term support.

Key Specifications of Peppermint Linux

  • RAM: 1024MB (512MB min)
  • CPU: Intel x86
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

9. Raspberry Pi OS Lite – Best OS for Laptop and Desktop

Raspberry Pi OS Lite is almost like the Debian operating system. It’s an image-based OS; instead of a desktop, it boots to a command line. Raspberry Pi OS Lite needs only a low amount of RAM and CPU usage.

Here are some of the key features of Raspberry Pi OS Lite

  • Kernel version: 5.10
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

10. Elementary OS – Mac OS Like Linux Distro

Elementary OS is another excellent Linux distro based on the Ubuntu LTS. The OS is small and powerful. The most important highlight of Elementary OS is its UI. Unlike the other Linux distros, Elementary OS looks more polished and resembles the look and feel of Mac OS. If you are looking for a low-end OS and, on the other side, need a much-polished UI, then Elementary OS is the best choice.

Here are some of its key features

  • CPU: Intel i3
  • 64-bit

11. PopOS – Pop!_OS

PopOs is another excellent operating system for low-end PCs. It comes under the Linux family and runs on the latest GNOME interface. In addition, PoP OS is based on the newest Ubuntu and was launched in 2017. If your PC or laptop is older and won’t work perfectly with Windows, you can try PopOs, as it works smoothly without any issues.

Here are the key features

  • Kernel Type: Monolithic (Linux kernel)
  • 64-bit

12. NimbleX – Fastest OS for Old Laptop

NimbleX is a small but lightweight operating system for your low-end computer that can boot from the network, CD, and even flash memory (USB pens or MP3 players). However, you should understand that it runs only from a USB, CD, or network and does not require installation.

Using this low-end PC operating system, you can easily browse the web with Firefox, chat with your friends with the Kopete multi-protocol IM application, use DC++, download torrents with Transmission, and much more. Unfortunately, NimbleX is not actively developing, and we have seen no updates in the past few years.

Here are some of its key features

  • RAM: 256MB
  • CPU: Pentium II
  • 32-bit & 64-bit

13. CloudReady – ChromeOS For Super Light PC Experience

Even though the above list is based on the Linux operating system, we can consider CloudReady too for a super-light PC experience, especially for those who use the computer mainly for browsing. CloudReady is a ChromeOS alternative developed by a company called Neverware.

CloudReady’s primary motive is to provide the same ChromeOS experience to unofficial Google ChromeOS devices. The good news is that Google acquired Neverware and officially offers a near ChromeOS experience to any device.

Since ChromeOS is super lightweight and developed especially for browsing, you will see an excellent improvement in the performance once CloudReady is installed. Many users complain that the Chrome Browser takes 5-10 seconds to open on a normal Windows machine.

This is not the case with CloudReady. The browser opens instantly on CloudReady. If you wish to use your old computer mainly for browsing purposes, consider CloudReady. However, for heavy usages like video editing, photo editing, and other programming-related activities, CloudReady won’t be a good option.

14. Chrome OS Flex

Chrome OS Flex is a lighter version of the original Chrome OS for any PC. Currently, Chrome OS is available only for selected OEM devices, and you cannot install the official Chrome OS on any other device. Now, Google has come up with a lighter, free version of Chrome OS called Chrome OS Flex, a Google-modified version of Cloud-ready.

With the existing CloudReady feature, Google rebranded it to be the same as Chrome OS Flex and offered it free for all other devices. Since it is a lighter version, some features like APK support are unavailable with Chrome OS Flex. However, Chrome OS Flex offers low-end computers a light and seamless PC experience.

Are they the Best OS for 32-bit Laptop

You may know that most old laptops are 32-bit systems, so many users ask which is the best for a 32-bit laptop. Currently, most open-source developers have stopped supporting the 32-bit version of the operating system and concentrated only on the 32-bit versions.

However, some of the latest stable versions of the smallest operating systems still work on 32-bit systems. So, if not working on your 32-bit laptop, you need to use the older version of the 32-bit OS.

15. Ubuntu Server – Light Server OS (Bonus OS For Special Purpose)

You can use the Ubuntu Server OS to convert your old laptop or PC to a lightweight PC to perform server-related functions. Since the Ubuntu Server OS doesn’t have GUI, it is extremely lightweight and works smoothly on almost all old computers.

Conclusion

These are the smallest and most lightweight operating systems for your low-end PC. They allow you to handle your daily tasks without bugs or issues. Choose any of the operating systems mentioned above by considering your overall requirements.

7 thoughts on “Best Lightweight OS For Low-End PC & Laptops”

  1. Had you taken even a few minutes to actually check out the distros you listed here you had noticed that almost all distros have dropped the support for 32 bit hardware. If you dive a bit deeper you’ll notice the date when it was dropped, and you’ll be embarrassed 😀

    Reply
      • How secure will that be though, to use distros that will not be updated any more? I want to keep old equipment that still works out of a landfill, but be able to use it in a work environment.

        Reply
        • Yes, it is always safe to update the OS always, so always recommended to use those getting regular updates. However, in some cases, to run the old system, we need to use the old stable version of the OS.

          Reply
    • I just went on the lubuntu website, and there’s a “download x86” button right there on the homepage. I’m downloading it now for my Acer Aspire One Netbook.

      Reply

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