Fanless PC: which DE should I use?

Hello, I bought a fanless MSI Cubi N 8GL PC (Intel N5000, 8GB RAM, 256GB NVME). Now I’m trying to find the best DE for this PC. I want to use it as a normal PC and also as a mini home server 24/7.

This is why I have these doubts about the DE:
-GNOME: I would like to use it because it’s the default Fedora desktop, but I’m scared about the huge amount of RAM used and the lower performance on low-end devices than the others DE. I would also need a lot of extension to change it as I’m used to work.

-KDE: It seems to be the best DE at the moment: pretty lightweight, with tons of features and with a “standard” UI. I’m not sure to chose KDE because it’s hardly integrated. I got many problems in the past months because when a component broke, the whole system had huge problems.

-XFCE/MATE: These are the DE I’m used to use. With the last updates and the KDE improvements they are no longer so lightweight as in the past so, maybe, I’m using “old” DEs without many modern features and not having such a big advantage in performance and RAM usage

I’m not considering other WM/DE because of the lack of some features. What do you suggest?

I guess nobody can take that decision for you. Three desktops, one choice. It’s all depending on your needs and preferences.

It all depends what you want to run on top of Gnome. I think Gnome will run just fine on your machine, assume it needs 2 GB of RAM, you still have 6 GB to give to other apps.

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Gnome and KDE have slimmed their memory utilization down over the last couple of years. Conversely, XFCE has increased memory usage during the conversion to gtk3.

My advice is use the DE you prefer to use and then adjust settings as needed accordingly. You have plenty of RAM and a fast HD so your bottleneck is probably going to be graphics performance. I think any of them will perform fine out of the box but if they don’t you can always scale the effects back.


Thanks, I wasn’t sure the RAM usage is really aligned nowdays (except for GNOME which is a bit mor hungry). I understand this is not the main problem these days.

So I think I’ll choose KDE or MATE. The first one because it’s more modern and complete, the second because it’s been my default desktop for years. Hoping that KDE won’t collapse after 2 days like happened in my last experience with it :slight_smile:

Anyway I’m still interested in the opinion of someone who has a fanless PC (or a Intel N5000) and maybe has tested more DEs. I don’t know if the behaviour could be different than a normal PC.

Thanks both for your tips!

I ran plasma on fanless laptop with 4GB of RAM and an N4000. It was a solid experience. I think you will find the same thing with any DE though.

As a side note, even though I don’t prefer gnome, iit is uses far less resources than it used to. Of course, if you load it up with extensions that may change.

Thank you for reporting your experience! Glad to see that this kind of PCs can run it well.
I’ll start with one DE (I still have to chose) and then switch to another one if I’m not satisfied. I think it’s the only thing I can do :slight_smile: Thanks