First, these are the specs I got:
- OS: ubuntu 12.04
- Screen: 14.1 inch [1366 x 768]
- GPU: On board Intel HD graphics 4000
- CPU: 3rd gent Intel Core i7-363QM processor
- Memory: 8 GB dual channel DDR3 @ 1600MHz
- Hard Drive: 750 GB 7200 RMP SATA II
- Optical Drive: 8x DVD+-R/RW
- Wifi: Intel Centrino 1030-802.11 b/g/n
- Ports: HDMI out, VGA out, 2 usb 3.0, 1 usb 2.0, ethernet
Now, on to the review! Let me first say, if you are looking for an all out Linux only laptop or desktop solution, system 76 is an awesome way to go. Everything for me has worked extremely well.
The hardware is pretty good. Not as good as a mac book or ultra thin windows laptop, but decent enough. The body is made of plastic but looks like a metallic brush was applied All in all, decent looking but a bit “plastic” feel to it. Keyboard is nice but it isn’t a chicklet style which seems to be the most popular these days. The touch pad is um… okay. I have used better. I usually plug in a mouse anyways so that isn’t a huge deal for me. Screen is decent. Not as good as a retinal display, but a good “average” laptop screen.
As far as support and everything just working, this has been the best Linux experience Everything just works. Plug in HDMI, immediately goes to my screen. Click the suspend button on the laptop, goes to suspend mode no problems. If you want a Linux experience to just work with your hardware, this is the best way to go. System 76 even has its own driver that pulls in other drivers and makes sure all of your hardware keeps on working. A fantastic touch. As far as speed is considered, Ubuntu 12.04 and this laptop are awesome. Super happy with the responsiveness and Ubuntu. I suppose Windows 7 with this hardware would be pretty sweet too.
Downsides, and there are a few… I am not sure if Ubuntu is ready for a basic user. Even though this laptop comes super close to supporting a below basic user, there could be small issues here and there. This isn’t the fault of system 76, this is simply issues with Linux. For example, I have had some minor issues with pulseaudio quitting on me. This has happened a few times in the month that I have had it. Not a huge deal, I can restart it via the terminal. However, a new user may not know how to do this. Also, you don’t get a lot of hardware to choose from. Basically for the laptops you only have 3-4 different ones to choose from. Not a lot of options for hardware. If you wanted an 11 inch laptop currently you are out of luck. At this point the laptops only come with Ubuntu. Not a huge deal as most Linux distros should work. It may not be “officially” supported by system 76. However, all the components they choose are very Linux friendly so hopefully you would be just fine installing other distros.
So I suppose it comes down to this, should you buy something from system 76? Well, if you know how to install an operating system, then yes, you can easily handle something from system 76. This maybe one of the best Linux experiences you can ask for. If you are unsure of Linux and installing an operating system, this becomes harder to recommend when compared to something familiar to most basic users like windows 7. If it came down to Windows 8 or system 76 and Ubuntu, I would choose system 76 and Ubuntu.