When I started this journey I call My Linux Life, I did a ton of research and everyone said I would get the best performance out of Linux if I went with AMD CPU and GPU. As they are fully open source supported and perform better than Intel and Nvidia. Which is what I built my desktop rig with. The performance from my desktop is absolutely amazing and I have very little issues gaming!
So I had to raise an eyebrow when my only options for this laptop was Intel and Nvidia. But System76 clearly know what they are doing over what I know. I may have been in the tech business over 20 years, but I’m no engineer or developer. When it comes to Linux, I’m only a novice. I’m getting a lot of education and the learning experience so far has been nothing short of a blast! 😁
So I ordered my Gazelle 17″ shortly after I sold my Acer Nitro 5 to my boss. As I said before, I spent about $500 more than I normally would spend on a mid-range laptop. Now that I’ve had a month to play with it. The i7-12700H seems to be well worth the extra scratch.
- Linux Mint Cinnamon 21
- 4.7 GHz i7-12700H (up to 4.7 GHz – 24 MB Cache – 14 Cores – 20 Threads)
- 16 GB Dual Channel DDR4 at 3200 MHz (2 x 8GB)
- 1 TB PCIe Gen3 Up to Seq Read: 2400 MB/s, Seq Write: 1950 MB/s
- 4 GB RTX 3050 Ti w/ 2560 CUDA Cores
- 17.3″ Matte Full HD 1080p (144 Hz)
- Multicolor backlit keyboard with numpad
- WiFi 6 + Bluetooth 5
You can watch videos of others opening their System76 laptop. I won’t bore you with all that. The packaging is clever and reusable. Top notch!
Unfortunately my first experience on boot up with a screen very green in hue. This struck me with a bad feeling. I should’ve screen-capped it with the Pop! OS, but I didn’t think of that until after I realized I’d never take to the desktop environment and moved to Linux Mint as my choice. (More on that later.)
But the screen was green! Like overly green.
Thanks to Cinnamon Spices (Brightness and Gamma Applet) tool to adjust the colors to get them as close to the ones my desktop has. Maybe a bit red now, but I keep tinkering until i’m happy.
OK, I’ve been using computers since Windows 3.1. When Windows 95 came out I really got comfortable with the layout. Though I always hated how new software would just throw a folder and icons that were not neatly organized. All Programs would get out of control or people would decimate the desktop with icons because the start menu looked over stuffed with nonsense. About the time Windows 98 came along, I figured how to organize and remove useless short cuts and folders from the All Programs menu. I wish I had a screenshot of it, but I removed all shortcuts except the ones to launch the specific programs organized in logical folders. Icons I removed were such as the uninstall or website shortcuts or ones to open settings. It was organized neatly like this:
- CD Burn
- Desktop (mostly desktop utilities)
- Security Tools
- Windows Accessories
And using that same layout for nearly 20 years after. Including Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 using Classic Shell or now known as Open Shell.
So when I looked for a Linux Distro, I fell in love with Cinnamon.
I mean look at this menu! It’s like it was made just for me! And yes, those are the games I’m playing 😁
Yes I know you can install Cinnamon on Pop! OS. But even they warn you it could be problematic. Plus it looked oddly clunky when I tried it. I’m sorry System76, I just feel more comfortable with Linux Mint.
If the color wasn’t bad enough, the sound is even worse. My iPhone 14 has better speakers than this thing does. I’ve heard vintage AM car radios with better quality. They really cheaped out on the speakers. Unlike the color, you can’t really fix this. Short of throwing money at some Bluetooth speakers or headphones.
Thankfully it’s not all bad news. The performance for everyday laptop work and gaming is very very good! Like almost as good as my desktop good! I don’t have benchmarks or fancy info, but I have the laptop setup exactly as my desktop is. I can play all my games just fine.
The lighted keyboard is very nice, I’m slightly disappointed I can’t control it dynamically with software, but still nice. Feels good and works fantastically.
The Battery Life
I know it’s a gaming laptop, so battery life isn’t great. You can watch a movie under 2.5 hours long or casually surf the net. I wouldn’t game on battery. The only laptop I’ve ever owned that I could game with on battery is my Macbook Pro I had in 2010. I played World of Warcraft for 8 hours straight! On battery!!
To test this laptop, I turned the keyboard lighting off, set the display brightness to 50% and let YouTube music videos run with auto-play turned on. While I gamed on my desktop 😉
I do like this laptop, despite it’s shortcomings. Though I suppose I could press the issue on the color being so far off, but hopefully that won’t pose a problem. I mostly don’t press the issue as everything else works and I don’t want to pay shipping for this issue. It does everything I need to do and if I want music or movies, it’s Bluetooth speakers or my headset.