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Best Linux Distro for AMD Processors

If you‘re an AMD user looking to get the most out of your processor with Linux, you‘ve come to the right place. The combination of a powerful AMD chip and a lightweight Linux operating system can provide an incredibly fast, stable and customizable computing experience. But with so many distros to choose from, finding the best match for your AMD hardware can be a challenge.

In this guide, we‘ll explore the advantages of running Linux on AMD processors and highlight the top distros optimized for peak performance on Team Red‘s silicon. Whether you‘re building a gaming PC, workstation or general-purpose desktop, discover which flavors of Linux will unleash the full potential of your AMD-powered system.

AMD Processors and Linux: A Powerful Combination

In recent years, AMD has surged back into the CPU market with its high-performance yet affordable Ryzen and Threadripper processors. Boasting excellent multi-core performance, high clock speeds and advanced features like simultaneous multi-threading (SMT), AMD‘s latest processors provide outstanding bang for your buck.

What makes AMD processors particularly well-suited for Linux is their open-source friendly architecture. AMD releases detailed documentation and source code for its hardware, making it easier for the Linux community to write drivers and optimize the operating system for Team Red‘s processors. The latest Linux kernels offer excellent support for modern AMD platforms right out of the box.

In contrast, rival Intel has often lagged behind in releasing source code and documentation, forcing Linux developers to reverse-engineer support. While Linux support and performance on Intel processors is still very good overall, you‘ll generally find better "plug and play" compatibility with AMD hardware.

Key Factors to Consider

Before we dive into the top AMD-optimized distros, let‘s go over some of the key factors to weigh when choosing a Linux distro for your system:

Performance: How well the distro takes advantage of your AMD processor‘s capabilities. This includes multi-core scaling, clock speed optimization, and support for AMD-specific instruction sets and extensions.

Stability: The overall reliability and "rock solid" factor of the distro. For a production system or daily driver PC, you generally want to prioritize stability over being on the absolute bleeding edge.

User-friendliness: How easy the distro is to install, configure and maintain, especially for Linux beginners. Some distros focus on simplicity with polished UIs, while others offer more granular customization options for power users.

Hardware compatibility: How well the distro works with the rest of your system‘s components, including GPU, RAM, storage drives, and any peripheral devices. Good hardware support means less time fiddling with drivers and configs.

Software availability: The breadth and freshness of the distro‘s software repositories. You want a good selection of up-to-date packages for your favorite applications and development tools.

With that context in mind, let‘s explore the cream of the crop Linux distros for AMD systems:

Pop!_OS: Built for Speed

Developed by Linux PC maker System76, Pop!_OS is a relative newcomer that has quickly gained a following among performance enthusiasts. Pop is based on Ubuntu, so it offers a familiar, user-friendly experience on top of a rock-solid foundation. But what really sets Pop apart is its emphasis on performance and power-user features.

Out of the box, Pop ships with an array of optimizations and tweaks to boost performance on high-end systems. It includes the latest Linux kernel with built-in support for AMD Zen 2 and Zen 3 processors, along with updated Mesa drivers for peak gaming performance on AMD GPUs. Pop also makes it easy to install and switch between AMD and Nvidia graphics drivers.

On the desktop environment front, Pop uses a customized version of GNOME that offers advanced tiling window management features for productivity hounds. Other nifty additions include auto-updated firmware, full-disk encryption by default, and a minimalist app store for one-click software installs.

All in all, Pop!_OS provides one of the snappiest, most polished experiences you can find for an AMD-powered system. It‘s an excellent choice for gamers, content creators and developers who want to squeeze every ounce of performance from their hardware without sacrificing on usability.

Manjaro: Arch Made Easy

Manjaro is a user-friendly version of Arch Linux that aims to offer the best of all worlds. You get the cutting-edge software, speed and customization of Arch without the complex installation and setup process. Manjaro features a polished, graphical installer that auto-detects your hardware and provides a selection of preconfigured desktop environments to choose from.

Under the hood, Manjaro uses its own software repositories that lag slightly behind Arch‘s rolling releases. This allows the Manjaro team to test updates for stability before pushing them out to users. You still get the latest Linux kernels, drivers and software packages—just without the rough edges.

For AMD users, Manjaro offers first-rate hardware support through its Hardware Detection tool. It automatically installs the optimal open-source drivers for your AMD processor and graphics card, along with firmware updates as necessary. The Manjaro repositories also include the latest Mesa drivers for best-in-class gaming performance on AMD GPUs.

The flagship edition of Manjaro ships with the Xfce desktop environment for a lightweight, responsive experience even on older AMD hardware. But you can also install Manjaro spins that use KDE, GNOME or a variety of tiling window managers to suit your workflow.

If you‘re an experienced Linux user who likes the idea of a rolling release distro but doesn‘t want to invest the time in setting up Arch from scratch, Manjaro is tough to beat. It delivers excellent, up-to-date AMD hardware support while still maintaining a beginner-friendly approach.

Fedora Workstation: Cutting-Edge Yet Stable

For users who want to ride the latest open-source innovations without sacrificing stability, Fedora Workstation strikes a great balance. Fedora serves as the testbed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, prioritizing new technologies and a first-class GNOME desktop experience. But it also undergoes rigorous quality assurance testing to provide a stable platform for work and play.

Fedora has consistently led the pack in supporting the latest AMD hardware at launch. It was one of the first distros to ship with full compatibility for Ryzen 5000 Series processors and the AMD Radeon RX 6000 family of graphics cards. The Fedora kernel and Mesa packages are tuned for top performance on AMD platforms.

On the desktop side, Fedora Workstation provides a polished, streamlined experience that "just works" out of the box. It includes productivity essentials like LibreOffice while giving you the freedom to install thousands of additional packages from the massive Fedora repositories. And with each new release, you can expect thoughtful UI tweaks and performance optimizations to the GNOME environment.

While Fedora is popular among developers for its vast selection of programming languages and tools, it‘s also a great choice for students, creators and general desktop users. Its mix of cutting-edge tech, AMD hardware compatibility and commitment to open source make Fedora a compelling option for any AMD-powered system.

Ubuntu: Reliable and User-Friendly

No list of Linux distros would be complete without mentioning Ubuntu. As the most popular desktop Linux distribution, Ubuntu offers unparalleled software support, an active community, and a polished experience suitable for everyone from beginners to power users. And while it may not be the absolute fastest Linux distro available, Ubuntu provides rock-solid reliability and compatibility.

On the AMD front, Ubuntu maintains excellent support for both older and cutting-edge Team Red hardware. It includes the latest open-source AMD graphics drivers out of the box, with an easy toggle in the software update settings to switch between stable and development branches. Ubuntu‘s HWE (hardware enablement) kernels also backport the latest features and fixes for new AMD processors into the current long-term support (LTS) release.

Ubuntu favors stability and simplicity over being on the absolute bleeding edge. Instead of a rolling release model, there‘s a new version of Ubuntu released every six months, with long-term support versions maintained for five years. This predictable release cycle is ideal for users who prefer a "set it and forget it" approach over constant updates and changes. Enterprises can also purchase commercial support from Ubuntu‘s parent company, Canonical.

While vanilla Ubuntu ships with a customized GNOME desktop environment, there are a variety of official "flavors" to suit every taste. Kubuntu and Xubuntu provide lightweight, responsive desktop experiences powered by KDE and Xfce respectively, while Ubuntu Studio is chock full of creative tools for audio and video production.

All in all, it‘s hard to go wrong with Ubuntu on an AMD-based system. You get a user-friendly, widely compatible distro with no shortage of support resources. And if you stick to the LTS releases, you can enjoy a stable, predictable experience for years to come.

Arch Linux: Maximum Customization

Finally, we come to Arch Linux, the ultimate distro for DIY enthusiasts and power users. Arch follows a rolling release model and adheres to a "keep it simple" philosophy, giving you complete control over your system from the ground up. You won‘t find any preinstalled software or GUI configuration tools here—just a command-line interface and a mountain of documentation.

What Arch lacks in user-friendliness, it makes up for in customization. You can fine-tune every aspect of your AMD system to your liking, from the kernel version and module selection to compiler optimizations and RAM timings. Arch‘s official software repositories are also supplemented by the Arch User Repository (AUR), an enormous collection of community-maintained packages.

The vanilla Arch kernel and drivers are patched to provide optimal performance on the latest AMD Ryzen and Radeon hardware. And since Arch uses a rolling release model, you can enjoy these optimizations as soon as they‘re available upstream—no waiting for a new distro release. For users who don‘t mind reading through wiki pages and spending time tinkering under the hood, Arch provides the leanest, meanest Linux experience for AMD systems.

Fair warning for beginners, though: Arch is not for the faint of heart. Installing it involves following a step-by-step guide to bootstrap the system from the command line, manually partitioning your drives and configuring each component. Even after you get it up and running, maintaining an Arch system requires a certain level of Linux know-how and a willingness to fix things when an update goes sideways.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, Arch will give you the best possible performance on your AMD system along with complete control. It‘s overkill for most users, but the customization can‘t be beat. There are also more user-friendly Arch-based distros like Manjaro that aim to give you the best of both worlds.

Optimizing Your AMD Linux System

Whichever distro you choose, there are a variety of tips and tricks to optimize your AMD Linux system for peak performance:

Keep your kernel, drivers, and firmware up to date to enjoy the latest performance enhancements and bug fixes. Opt for the latest stable Mesa drivers for best open-source graphics performance on AMD GPUs.

Use a lightweight desktop environment or window manager to devote more system resources to your workloads. For gaming and intense graphics work, consider using the X11 display server over Wayland for the highest frame rates.

Take advantage of utilities like CoreCtrl and Radeon Power Profile Daemon to monitor and adjust your CPU and GPU frequencies and voltages. Many AMD chips leave additional performance on the table at stock settings.

Consult the documentation for your specific AMD CPU or APU to discover additional tweaks, like adjusting Infinity Fabric clocks and routing PCIe devices to the optimal slots.


There‘s never been a better time to be an AMD user on Linux. From high-performance flagships like the Ryzen 9 5950X to efficient APUs like the Ryzen 7 5700G, AMD‘s latest processors provide incredible Linux performance at competitive price points. Pair them with a lightweight, optimized distro, and you‘ll have an incredibly powerful system for gaming, content creation, and software development.

While there‘s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for the "best" Linux distro, the options covered here should give you a strong foundation to start from. Beginners and users who prefer a polished experience should check out Pop!_OS or Ubuntu first, while experienced users craving maximum performance and customization may prefer Arch or Manjaro.

Ultimately, the beauty of Linux lies in the freedom to choose your own path. Don‘t be afraid to experiment with multiple distros to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences. With an AMD processor at the heart of your system, you‘ll enjoy a responsive, powerful, and joyful Linux experience no matter which distro you choose. So grab an installer image, make a live USB, and start exploring!