[RULES OF THUMB] Will my computer run Zorin OS?

I have noticed an increase in the number of questions about moving from Windows 10 to Zorin OS in recent months, and expect more as users with computers that are not eligible for Windows 11 consider moving to Zorin OS.

Many of the questions ask "Will my computer run Zorin OS?" in one way or another.

This short "rule of thumb" guide is intended to provide simple, non-technical guidance to users of relatively new (2015-2019) Windows 10 low-end or entry-level laptops, desktops and AIOs (e.g. Intel Celeron/Pentium and AMD Athlon CPUs, in each case running onboard graphics, typically equipped with 4GB of RAM and a 64/128 GB HHD or SSD) that are not eligible for an upgrade to Windows 11 because the Celeron/Pentium/Athlon processors predate 2018 and are not supported for Windows 11.

Although observations in this guide may have some applicability to older (that is, pre-2015) computers, older computers may present issues (e.g. compatibility with outdated hardware) that are not addressed in this guide. Similarly, newer or more powerful computers may present issues (e.g. issues with discrete NVIDIA/AMD graphics cards) that are not addressed in this guide.

This guide is not intended to be comprehensive, but instead offers a bit of practical advice as a starting point.

(1) Zorin OS has two basic desktop environments: (a) Zorin OS Core/Pro, based on Gnome, and (b) Zorin OS Lite, based on XFCE. Zorin OS Lite (XFCE) is less resource hungry than Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome) and Zorin OS Lite (XFCE) usually offers better performance on computers with lower specifications than Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome).

(2) Whether your computer is low-end or high-end, your computer's performance running Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome) is likely to be somewhat better than your computer's performance running Windows 10. The difference will be more noticeable on low-end computers than on high-end computers.

(3) Whether your computer is low-end or high-end, Zorin OS Lite (XFCE) will run faster than Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome). The difference will be more noticeable on low-end computers than on high-end computers.

(4) If your computer now runs Windows 10 with performance that is acceptable to you, your computer will almost certainly run Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome) with performance that is acceptable to you.

(5) If your computer seems sluggish when running Windows 10, your computer may also seem sluggish using Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome). Zorin OS Lite (XFCE) is less resource hungry than Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome), so if your computer's performance using Zorin OS Core/Pro (Gnome) seems sluggish, you should consider using Zorin OS Lite (XFCE) instead.

(6) Zorin OS (and Linux in general) will not miraculously transform your computer into what it is not. If your computer is low-end (that is, designed to handle e-mail, light browsing, word processing and spreadsheets, but nothing particularly resource-demanding) moving to Zorin OS (and Linux in general) will not change that -- your computer will still be best suited for e-mail, light browsing, word processing and spreadsheets rather than resource-demanding graphics and games. Zorin OS (and Linux in general) will not turn a house cat into a jaguar.

(7) If you are using a laptop, expect that your laptop will drain your battery faster using Zorin OS (and Linux in general) than it did running Windows 10. The reasons for this are technical, but are related to the way in which OEM's fine-tune laptops to take advantage of Windows-specific battery-saving technology. Experience differs, but expect that your battery life using Linux out-of-the box will be about 75% of that using Windows 10. The Linux kernel has been adding technology (in cooperation with Intel and AMD) to lessen the difference, but the difference remains.

(8) I suspect that users moving from Windows 10 to Zorin OS (and Linux in general) are best off running out-of-the-box for several months, setting up your desktop the way you want it but getting used to Linux before tinkering too much with the system. Zorin OS (like most major Linux distributions) is designed to work well out-of-the-box, and it does so. Linux is a complex OS, and tinkering before you know what you are doing is as likely to create problems as it is to solve them. Learn to walk before you try to run.

(9) The Zorin OS website "Help" section has four topics ("Install Zorin OS", "Activate Graphics", "Install Apps" and "Play Games") that are particularly useful for users migrating from Windows 10 to Zorin OS. Similarly, this Community Forum is organized into categories ("Installing Zorin OS", "General Help", "Hardware Support", "Tutorials and Guides") that will likely provide useful information for you. Please take a look at these resources before diving in feet-first in a misguided attempt to figure everything out by yourself.

(10) If you run into problems using Zorin OS, or just want advice, this forum is a good resource. The Community Forum is populated by a number of very experienced Zorin/Linux users who are happy to offer help and advice. Almost always, that advice is well-grounded and will be helpful.


Can we get a sticky on this thread?

I'm only new to the Zorin OS community, less than 24 hours, andt I have to say my experience so far with the advice being offered is genuinely refreshing and amazing. This post is a perfect illustration of that.

Ironically, it is about the only one I feel able to offer a contribution. For me, there are 2 key issues to keep in mind when comparing performance differences between OS's and apps:
1. How much RAM does you have in your PC?
2. Do you have a mechanical Hard Drive or an SSD?

Budget and old PC's typically only have 4gb of RAM at best and / or use old mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDD). My rule of thumb (especially for Windows) is to double the minimum amount of RAM specified.

So, if you only 4gb of RAM, you are likely to be better off trying Zorin OS Core (2gb min) or Lite (512kb) than Windows 10 (4gb min) due to their respective memory usage.

In a similar fashion, if you only have a HDD, but also have USB 3.0 ports, using a portable USB 3.0 SSD as your boot drive is likely to give better performance than the old HDD. (Although getting a SSD installed internal is obviously even better!)

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Hello DbJones! I totally agree. I'n these modern times, (2021) computers now come with quad core CPUs as standard. If they are super budget class, they will be a core I3 model, which is usually seen in 13" netbooks.

Bare minimum SPEC is 6GB now. You will find however, your average 15" business machine is going to have Core I5 CPUs with at least 8GB of RAM.

Midrange gaming machines in the 15" size will have 6 core I5 CPUs and at least 16GB of RAM. Their going to have either 1650, 2060, or 3060 graphics.

High end machines like mine in the 17" class are 8-Core I7 CPUs, 32GB to 64GB of RAM. They have either 3070's or 3080's for graphics.

Top of the line, well that's going to be a 12-Core or more I9 CPU, with 64GB to 128GB of RAM, and a 3090 graphics GPU.

Basically, all the machine SPECS I've listed here, will run any Linux OS no matter how resource hungry it is. But it up think your going to run Zorin OS 16 on a dual core with 2GB of RAM, you'll be sadly mistaken about a great many things lol.

Glad you are enjoying your stay. :slightly_smiling_face:

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