Lemur Pro by System 76
A light, sleek ultrabook that can be upgraded with up to 40GB of ram and 4TB of storage, the Lemur Pro has the potential to be a multimedia beast. That is, if you can handle Linux. It runs a GNOME-based distro called PopOS by System 76, which is pretty flexible and capable. And if you find it’s not your cup of tea, you can always install Windows.
- Light and Powerful
- Pretty and bright Matte Display
- Fragile stereo speakers
- Polycarbonate hinges are a bit too flexible
Have you ever seen a laptop that came with Linux* pre-installed available in a retail store?Or even widely available online for that matter? A few popular PC brands offer a model or two, but those often come as variations of Window’s devices (and even then have minimal driver support). In comes a US computer maker by the name of System 76, with ambitious goals of changing the status quo with a full catalog of Desktops, Laptops, and more. We were lucky to get our hands on one over at our review lab: the Lemur Pro 14” ultrabook.
The Lemur Pro was designed as a featherweight yet powerful device that’s optimized for optimal battery life -providing wire and worry-free work on the go. It can be configured to come with up to 40GB of DDR4 RAM and 4TB of NVMe storage. Like all of System 76s’ devices, it also comes with System 76’s own Open firmware with coreboot, providing an auditable full stack open-source platform for those who desire such assurance. It also runs System 76’s very own flavor of Linux called PopOS.
System 76 ships it’s laptops in unassuming white boxes with the companies’ logo emblazoned on the top lid, symmetrically placed at the center. It’s when you open the package and you’re greeted with a quasi-graffiti-geek-chic design that looks like it’s fresh out of a Star Wars meets Parliament Funkadelic mash up. I fell in love at first sight. This is the type of personality and anti-corporate flavor that I applaud in electronic gadget packaging.
The build of the Lemur is well built, with no unusual creaks and snaps when handling the device and it doesn’t easily bend – although the hinge does seem a bit flimsy. The 14- inch matte display is bright, sharp and has great viewing angles. Where I was left disappointed, was when one of the speakers blew out as I began testing recording sessions and adjusting audio latency with JACK.
Most of the material of the build is Polycarbonate, and is durable and resilient to dings and cracks. It also has a blingy resin mixed into the material that causes the laptop to twinkle in the light. I think it adds flair to an otherwise unitarian design.
|Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS (64-bit) with full disk-encryption|
System76 Open Firmware (coreboot, EDK2, System76 Firmware Apps)
System76 Open Source Embedded Controller Firmware
|Processor||4.9 GHz i7-10510U (1.8 up to 4.9 GHz – 8MB Cache – 4 Cores – 8 Threads)|
(Up to 11th Gen Intel® Core i7-1165G7: Up to 4.70 GHz – 12MB Cache – 4 Cores – 8 Threads)
|RAM||24 GB DDR4 at 2666 MHz (8GB+16GB)|
(Up to 40 GB DDR4 @ 3200 MHz)
|Primary SSD||500 GB NVMe Seq Read: 2100 MB/s, Seq Write: 1500 MB/s|
|2nd SSD||1 TB NVMe Seq Read: 3,500 MB/s, Seq Write: 3,300 MB/s|
|Expansion||1× USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 1× USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C / Thunderbolt™ 4, MicroSD Card Reader|
|Networking||Intel® Dual Band Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5|
|Video Ports||HDMI, USB 3.2 Type-C w/ DisplayPort 1.4|
|Audio||Stereo Speakers, 1× Headphone/Microphone Combo|
|Camera||1.0M 720p HD Webcam|
|Dimensions||12.64″ × 8.5″ × 0.61″ (32.1 × 21.6 × 1.55 cm)|
|Weight||2.4 lbs (1.09kg)|
For it’s size and weight, you’d be forgiven if you took the Lemur for some type of disposable Chromebook – but it’s no slouch. I installed and ran every compatible multimedia program available, from graphic design and music production to video editing – and the Lemur Pro ran any project in every app without so much as a stumble. I also ran Steam games flawlessly, though there’s not many AAA games available for the Linux platform. The power and capability is there if you need it – but there’s no dedicated graphics, as the graphics card is integrated. As far as creative tasks are concerned, I was able to run Bitwig Studio, Reaper, Davinci Resolve, and a host of Windows programs using app called Crossover. We’ll cover that process in a creative workshop for those who’d dare embark on the adventure of creative workflows using Linux.
All in all, System 76 has managed to succeed in what so many other companies before them has failed to do: offer an easy to use, open-source laptop running their own Linux distro – without losing any of the power and customization Linux is known for. As far as the Lemur Pro goes, it’s definitely a powerful ultrabook with long battery life and a decent, upgradable build. Had it not been for the right speaker going out, I would have received a minimum of 4 stars in every category. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to seeing what System 76 does with their hardware in the near future.