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.

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.

LXQt

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

LXDE

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

Xfce

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

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

Cinnamon

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

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