I'm a student who is a part of the study abroad Japan program. (Assuming I get accepted for the program) I'll be traveling to Mishima Japan over the summer.

I do a lot of technical work in Java (Netbeans IDE) making small programs and occasionally write mathematics papers for classes(LaTeX) and prefer to use the Kubuntu (Linux) OS. I would consider Kubuntu compatible hardware components in your decision process.

Given that the study abroad forces me to be very portable in my choice of laptop, my current 17" (Purchased about 7+(?) years ago)/heavy workstation laptop isn't my first pick.

Preferred Specs:

  1. Screen Size: 13-14"
  2. RAM: >=6GB (Either comes with 6GB or can be upgraded to >=6GB)
  3. HDD: >=250GB
  4. CPU/Graphics: I don't plan on doing any video editing (Maybe some light editing every once in a while to make a meme or something if possible), or gaming that isn't flash based and easy to run. This being said, the system shouldn't be laggy either.
  5. Battery life preferred due to traveling abroad, but I always have my chargers with me at all times, so this isn't a huge deal if it doesn't fit within the budget. Caveat: The plane ride to Japan from the US is 14 hours, and I'm not counting on the plane having an AC power supply, so having something that lasts about 1/2 way would be nice since I could use my phone at that point.
  6. Bluetooth Compatibility is a must, and it is preferred (But not necessary) that it have a 5GHz antenna on the WLAN module.
  7. A few USB ports would be nice, but that's about all I need. (I do almost all data transfer wirelessly and don't plan on having many peripherals or doing projector lectures anytime soon.
  8. Having a side-number section on the keypad is preferred but not necessary.
  9. Screen: I like watching HD videos

2-in-ones are ok so long as they have a "sturdy" (Like a normal laptop, not a thin wafer) keyboard.

My budget is $400-$500.

  • I would recommend a Thinkpad. You can replace the keyboard with a Japnese keyboard if you like while you are there.
    – William
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


I managed to fit most of your requirements with laptops ready to ship today in the US. Both laptops have Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac LAN cards, but are 15.6" laptops. Laptops with larger/smaller screens compromised price and/or specs.

I recall Netbeans sometimes being RAM usage heavy. Between the IDE, the OS, and any Browsers with documentation open, I think 8 GB would be a safer margin to prevent having to page to memory.

I also went around your HDD requirements and opted to recommend you laptops with 256 GB SSDs. This is because at this low end price range laptop manufacturers like to cut corners by giving you dirt cheap drives that will become irritating bottlenecks when trying to use your laptop (e.g. waiting 45 seconds for your browser to launch while your cpu only uses less than a quarter of it's processing power). The processors in these laptops are designed with lower TDP and have no discrete graphics cards, therby increasing battery life.

Lenovo Laptop IdeaPad 330 $424.99 + $2.99 Shipping


The AMD Ryzen in this laptop is effectively slower than the i7-6700HQ you can get in mid-higher end laptops during 2015/2016 by 10% according to avg benchmarks. In comparison to the Dell Inspiron (option 2) it is effectively slower by 17% according to avg benchmarks.

  • Ryzen 5 2500U (2.00 GHz)
  • 2 x USB 3.0 | 1 x 3.0 Type C
  • Up to 4.5 Hour(s) Battery Life

DELL Inspiron 15-5579 $499.99

Dell Inspiron

This laptop comes equipped with touchscreen if that's your thing. It also has a longer battery life and faster processor. The Inspiron has slightly worse USB options than the Lenovo. I leave it up to you to decide whether those specifications are worth the +71$ price tag.

Kubuntu Compatibility

A cursory glance at the Kubuntu OS suggests that it is just one of the many flavors or distros of Ubuntu. I believe the Linux kernel supports AMD64 (X86-64) architecture. You should be able to install Kubuntu over the existing Operating System with a boot key (usb). Pretty much all commercially available hardware is supported by Ubuntu, I'd be surprised if your average consumer laptop would cause Kubuntu to reject the installation.

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