System76 Lemur Pro Review

System76 Lemur Pro is an extremely portable Linux laptop whose form factor is lovable to most of the programmers out there, but does it pack that punch? Is the Battery life any good? Got more questions? Here is its in-depth review.

Buyers who wish to go for a machine that is based on Linux often show interest in Chromebooks due to the form factor and extended battery life capabilities. Although ChromeOS power these machines, users can still miss out on a more genuine Linux experience. For those who happen to agree, the new Lemur Pro by System76 might get some heads turning.

Lemur Pro Laptop review
Lemur Pro Laptop review

System76’s Lemur Pro is a laptop that fully supports Ubuntu and Pop!_OS and comes with high-end hardware that can even give Windows or macOS-based machines a tough time. Unlike other Linux-based devices in the market that are labeled as ‘developer edition,’ Lemur Pro has been solely made to cater to the requirements of Linux fans and programmers.

System76 Lemur Pro Laptop Review

Like all the reviews we publish at FOSSLinux, there is no what-so-ever influence of the manufacturer on this review. The opinions described here are solely that of FOSS Linux Reviewer.

Configuration Options

The makers have also given buyers the complete freedom to choose the specs for their machine. So, before we delve deeper into Lemur Pro, let’s see the specifications that are able as of when this article is written, and the configuration FOSSLinux bought for review.

Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS desktop
Pop!_OS desktop

First of all, buyers would have to choose the operating system of their liking from two options: Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS (64-bit) with full disk encryption, and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (64-bit). Although you can’t go wrong by opting for any of these operating systems, we decided to go with Pop!_OS, as full disk encryption caught our interest. Pop!_OS was reviewed in-detail earlier.

Processor

Now, you will have to choose your preferred processor. The options you have include an i5-10210U processor with four cores and eight threads and 4.2 GHz max processing power and an i7-10510U processor with the same number of threads and cores, but 4.9 GHz max processing power. We went with the i7 processor, and we’d recommend you do the same if you aren’t running low on cash, and performance is the crucial factor.

RAM

We maxed out the RAM by going for 40GB of DDR4, because its finally the RAM that matters the most for multi-tasking needs. However, there’s no stopping you from choosing any of the other options, which include 8 GB, 16 GB, and 24 GB of RAM. As for the OS drive, buyers can opt for either a solid-state drive or NVMe with different storage spaces and read/write speeds. We went with a 500 GB NVMe (with Seq Read @3,500 MB/s and Seq Write @3200 MB/s) as this is a mid-range option. If you have high storage demands, you can also opt for an additional M.2 NVMe drive. We don’t, so we didn’t choose one.

Other Hardware

For just a few bucks, you can also make the upgrade to WiFi 6 + Bluetooth. Nonetheless, we consider the ordinary WiFi + Bluetooth to be just enough, which also happens to be free of charge. Then comes warranty where buyers can opt for either 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year Limited Parts and Labor warranty. If you don’t make rough use of your device, you should go with a 1-year warranty—just like we did.

When it comes to assembly service, buyers have the option of the 3-Day Rush Assembly service, which makes sure that the in-stock items are assembled and delivered to you within three business days. Since we can wait, it made sense to go for regular assembly service.

Accessories

Other than these options, System76 also offers additional displays, accessories, and laptop bags to go with your Lemur Pro system. If you plan on opting for the same configuration as ours, the laptop is going to cost you $1,692, or $105 per month (in the form of installments).

Design

Although you could expect to get the same performance as the current MacBook Pro from this laptop, what’s truly surprising is that Lemur Pro still weighs less. The weight of this laptop is so little that even the new MacBook Pro or the Pixelbook Go would seem heavy. More specifically, this laptop by System76 weighs less than 2.2 lbs, which becomes even more impressive when you consider the high-end hardware it accompanies.

Another thing that might catch your attention is the clean design as you open the laptop. Despite the computer using an Intel processor, the company’s logo is nowhere to be found. The makers didn’t go overboard with the branding either since you’ll only be seeing one System76 logo on the device’s lid. Absolutely zero labels inside.

Clean Inside
Clean Inside

What might bug die-hard Linux fans would be to see a Windows logo on the keyboard of their Linux machine. However, Lemur Pro is not your ordinary ‘developer edition’ of an essentially Windows-based device. So, there’s good news in that System76 has ditched the Windows key, and its place is taken by the “Overview” key.

The makers have also attempted to make you step out of your comfort zone by placing the power button on the right side of the laptop. Considering this, it might take a while for you to retrain your brain into making your hands always reach for the laptop’s right side when switching it on.

Plus, instead of increasing the bezel size, the makers added the webcam and microphone in a small bump that you can find right above the screen—the bump doubles as an edge to open the lid with only one hand – smart design.

Lemur Pro Camera Bump
Lemur Pro Camera Bump

The bottom of the laptop has raised rubber pads for venting off heat. However, there are no vents on the base; hence I had no problems in having the computer directly on my lap. Together with how light this laptop is, I’m impressed at its portability.

Lemur Pro - No vents Design
Lemur Pro – No vents Design

Build Quality

The laptop isn’t just a treat to look at as its magnesium (with a dash of aluminum) body also makes for one sturdy cover in case you ever happen to drop the laptop on the floor. Besides, we didn’t catch any visible gaps or imperfections in the device either, which makes it apparent that makers have put extra attention into its build quality.

Lemur Pro Fit & Finish
Lemur Pro’s excellent Fit & Finish

Another noteworthy feature of Lemur Pro is its 14.1-inch 1920×1080 FHD display that comes with a matte finish. Although the screen size is impressive, to say the least, what makes this display even better is it offers the right colors and brightness even when outdoors, which seems to be lacking in a significant number of laptop displays out there.

If you plan on using this device for programming or writing purposes, its backlit keyboard could be quite a draw. Sporting a chiclet-style layout, Lemur Pro’s keyboard can be fun to type on all thanks to its design, which makes it easier for you to travel and return. Plus, if you’re making the shift from a Dell or Lenovo device, you’ll love how its keys can be pressed with just a light touch. This is not targetted as a multimedia laptop, and so you won’t find the multimedia keys. Accordingly, if you don’t set up custom keybindings, it would be impossible for you to use your keyboard for playing or pausing media.

As for the trackpad, Lemur Pro features one which has no buttons and feels like Precision glass; however, we’re not genuinely sure since the website has no mention of it. Apart from being multi-touch, its trackpad provides top-notch performance that can be compared to that of the likes of MacBook or Pixelbook. I felt the trackpad is better than the Pixelbook Go.

Hardware

You’re going to have a hard time if you look for pure Linux-based laptops in the market that also accompany top-notch hardware. However, one such machine is right in front of you in the form of Lemur Pro by System76.

If you’re not on a budget, the best possible thing to do would be to max out the configurations of this device. Accordingly, you’d be able to get one of the best processors out there right now in addition to plenty of RAM and storage space. In terms of its graphics card, there’s only the built-in graphic card in the form of Intel UHD Graphics, which can get the job done—unless you’re planning on doing some heavy-duty gaming or video editing.

When it comes to the ports of this device, Lemur Pro offers two USB 3.0 Type-A, USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, and a microSD card reader as well.

Lemur Pro Side View
Lemur Pro Side View

Lemur Pro Left Side Ports
Lemur Pro Left Side Ports

For connecting external monitors, the sported HDMI and USB 3.1 Type-C with DisplayPort 1.2 should do the trick. Also, buyers can choose to go for WiFi 6 for even better connectivity.

In terms of its shortcomings, I felt the audio is slightly on the muddy side due to its average stereo speakers. The mic is excellent; my friend had no trouble what-so-ever listening to me in a Zoom test meeting. The 720p webcam of this device is mediocre to the point that you’ll have to get an external webcam if you can’t do with low quality in low-light conditions.

Performance

If you’ve opted for the same configurations as we did, you are bound to get optimal performance from Lemur Pro. Courtesy of its 10th Generation i7 processor coupled with 40 GB of RAM and 500 GB of NVMe storage, you are going to be left amazed by how fast your machine will run.

I experienced this right from the start as your computer takes almost no time to boot. That’s due to the CoreBoot feature. For those new to CoreBoot, it is a replacement for your BIOS / UEFI with a focus on boot speed, security, and flexibility.

Besides, programming would seem a lot more comfortable since you’ll be able to work with multiple tools at the same time and that too, without having to worry about the system experiencing lags.

With this machine, the makers have attempted to build the ultimate Linux-based laptop, which can be seen from its open-source firmware. Accordingly, Lemur Pro features CoreBoot open source firmware which not only enhances the device security but also contributes to faster booting time.

Battery Life

Another critical aspect of any laptop would be its battery timing. When it comes to this machine by System76, its battery lasted for 13 hrs on a full charge, which makes it the perfect laptop for those who like carrying out their tasks without having their computer be attached to a charging cable at all times. My testing involved using the Chrome browser for the entire period along with the GIMP image editing tool that I use every day for making images for my articles.

There is a power saver setting as well that can give you additional battery life; however, that will come at the cost of processing power. Accordingly, this setting would be a better fit for those who just want to do simple tasks without going too hard on the battery.

Pop_OS Power Settings
Pop_OS Power Settings

I noticed that the fan was a bit brash at times, and the bottom got a tad hot. However, System 76 was apparently working on it, and they rolled out a firmware update to the fan, and this immediately fixed the issue. So, if you are facing abrupt fan speed increase, just do a system update, and you should be fine.

Final Thoughts

Lemur Pro besides Pixelbook Go
Lemur Pro (Left) besides Pixelbook Go (Right)

Let’s face it: there aren’t that many Linux-based laptops out there that feature high-end hardware on top of an advanced Linux experience. System76 has taken advantage of this market gap by releasing Lemur Pro. Apart from being a trustworthy competitor to Linux-based machines, this laptop by System76 also gives a tough time to devices powered by other operating systems. There’s no doubting the performance of this machine and the all-day Battery life with ultimate portability. Lemur Pro comes with onboard graphics, so the message is clear that it is targetted towards programmers and for lighter multimedia editing needs. So, if this laptop has impressed you enough, you can get Lemur Pro with your preferred specs from its official store.

Zohaib Ahsan
Hi! I'm Zohaib Ahsan, contributor to FOSS Linux. I'm studying computer science, I’ve learned a thing or two about operating systems that are based on Linux. This has made me join FOSS Linux where I can share what I have learned with the rest of the world. Not to mention — some major tea is going to be spilled as well — as I share with you the latest developments in the world of Linux.

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