Each desktop has its own strengths and weaknesses. Usually picking a desktop is a very personal preference based on features, looks, and other qualities. Sometimes, what you pick for a desktop is limited by hardware constraints.

In this article, I will show you the most popular desktop environments and its resource usage. I have a KVM virtual machine with 4 vCPU, 8GB RAM, and  32 GB NVMe storage.

GNOME

Gnome Desktop Environment is one of the best and popular desktop environments in Linux. GNOME isn’t a lightweight desktop environment, it’s not a good choice for old PC or laptops.

gnome

KDE

KDE is one of the best-known desktops and is the desktop with the most potential customization. You may also refer it as the “Plasma” desktop. KDE is not a lightweight system.

kde

LXQt

LXQt is a lightweight Qt desktop environment. It has comparatively low resource requirements.

lxqt

LXDE

LXDE is an extremely light desktop environment that focuses on high performance and low resource usage.

lxde

Xfce

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources.

Xfce

MATE

MATE is a fork of GNOME 2 created when GNOME 3 was announced and some users wanted to keep the traditional GNOME 2 interface going

mate

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is the default desktop environment for a flavor of Ubuntu known as Linux Mint a fork of GNOME 3

Cinnamon

Results

I have a clean installation of each desktop environment and now take a look at Ram usage from high to low.

  • GNOME
    736 MB Memory used
  • KDE
    633 MB Memory used
  • Cinnamon
    631 MB Memory used
  • MATE
    540 MB Memory used
  • Xfce 
    453 MB Memory used
  • LXQt
    400 MB Memory used
  • LXDE
    235 MB Memory used