I’ve been looking at replacing my aging “couch” laptop, my main driver.
My current laptop is a maxed-out Lenovo SL410, which I got for $800 USD about 8 or 9 years ago. Thing has run like a champ, has the best CPU it can handle (Core2 DUO T9600), maxed out memory, and a SSD. However, it’s showing its age, especially when browsing the Internet with more than a few tabs open.
I’m looking for a replacement with a few main concerns in mind: I want it to run Linux, specifically, Linux Mint, without issue, I want an i7 processor, a bunch of RAM, fast disk, and other future-proofing options. I expect the new laptop to last another 5-10 years. I’m less concerned with weight, materials, etc. For me being in Canada, the current exchange rate to USD is around 1.30, which adds about 30% to the prices, plus paying Canadian taxes when it crosses the border, so that’s not ideal.
After much consideration, I’ve decided to buy a System76 Lemur.
System76 Lemur (lemu7)
The Lemur has a 14″ screen, same as what I have, but has a higher resolution (1080p). Has option of a latest-generation i7, option of NVMe SSD, option of second SATA disk, a USB3 port, and USB type-C port. Has HDMI and VGA outputs (even though it’s aging, VGA is still good nice to have). Other important items to me include a Gigabit Ethernet port, SD card reader, and good keyboard layout.
Best of all is the Linux support on everything… not that I had a lot of problems with my current laptop, but looking at other laptop options that were all designed for Windows, there’s always something that doesn’t quite work right. Price is reasonable, clocking in at $1136 USD configured the way I want, plus $88 USD shipping.
On the negatives side, fewer USB ports that I would prefer, audio ports are split into separate jacks for Headphone/Mic, instead of a combined port. Intel Graphics 620 is a bit underpowered (would have preferred a discrete card, even though I don’t intend to do much gaming), but I’m not willing to spend the amount needed to get to that level.
Compared with System76 Oryx:
My main concern here was price. At $1700 USD for the same configuration (except an older generation processor), it was way too pricey. Only significant difference is a discrete graphics card.
Compared with System76 Serval:
For my config on this one, price clocked in at $2098, and offers few advantages over the Oryx.
Compared with Lenovo Thinkpad E470:
HDMI is the only video output (no VGA), single-plug for headphone/mic, no NVMe disk options, but has a discrete graphics card. This is a fair trade-off, but it came down to future-proofing, price ($1264) and Linux support.
Compared with Lenovo Thinkpad X260:
This one was way too expensive. I’ve had other X-series Thinkpads before, and they’re great machines, but this was just a terrible option. For $2119, I get an old generation processor and graphics card, and a 500GB 7200RPM disk. The main advantage of this system is the multiple and large batteries that make it ultraportable.
Both are way too expensive ($2874 for the P and $2182 for the S). Though the S had a touchscreen, they both had old generation processors. Where the S had option for SSD, it also had ram soldered on. The P has a 500GB 7200RPM disk. That’s mighty expensive for those disadvantages.
Compared with Lenovo P50s:
Still pricey ($1845) for an old-generation processor and 500GB 7200RPM disk.
Compared with Lenovo X1 Carbon:
This one is built to be a thin ultraportable. It’s so thin that there isn’t even room for an Ethernet port. Most everything is soldered in and not upgradeable, even the SD card reader is micro. For $2081, that’s just not what I’m looking for.
Compared with Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition:
This one had a reasonable price ($1349), but featured a smaller screen, no external monitor options, a weird keyboard (no pageup/pagedown?), and maxes out at a current-generation i5 processor, and had one option (8GB) for memory.
Compared with Apple Macbook Pro:
Despite the long lineup of laptops I’m comparing against, this one is by far the most expensive, at $2299, and least featured. No video out, no USB, no headphone port, no Ethernet. The only ports are C-type Thunderbolt, so everything I would want to plug in would need an adapter dongle. For all that inconvenience, it doesn’t even have an i7 option, maxing out at an i5 processor. That’s not even to mention the keyboard layout.