I received my new Galago Pro a week ago. I’d been searching for a successor of my aged Lenovo Ideapad S215. That little notebook had almost everything I needed 3 years ago, and I bought it second hand for € 210. I like the size of netbooks 11-13 inch size is ideal for doing work and remaining portable. Unfortunately that segment seems to be dying. The 11.3” form factor has been flooded with cheap Atoms with undersized RAM and SSD options.
The middle category somehow locked down with 15.6 form factor. I looked around the market half year ago. It was miserable. As a DevOps engineer (or whatever is it called), my main operating system is Ubuntu. I was thinking of Dell XPS 13 or 15. The XPS 13 is a nice little thing, but I read that it has problems with some external ports available on Thunderbolt only.
The System76 Galago Pro
Then System76 announced Galago Pro. It seemed to have a decent size, full aluminum body. No compromise on the available ports and out of the box Ubuntu. One of the best thing is you can customize what’s inside, regarding processor memory, wireless adapter, m2 drive and 2.5 notebook drive. Everything, save the processor, is self serviceable and upgradeable if needed, without voiding the warranty.
It is a nice piece of work, full aluminum save the keyboard frame and the screen frame. You can proudly carry it among MacBooks, still it is not a unibody. My only complain would be the opening angle which is maxed around 120 degrees.
I’ve never had a notebook with HDPI screen so far and as a pixel fan I was excited about it. The screen itself is very good, large view angle, bright (I think one of the brightest display I saw so far). The colors are nice. It is glossy. I prefer matte, but a really good display.
My only complaint is that with this size a Full HD display would be much more useful. I work usually with one external monitor in the office, sometimes even at home. Though System76 created a nice extension which detects external monitors and sets the main resolution display and scale factor according to the current configuration. It would probably easier, cheaper to have a matte full HD screen.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I mostly create content with my computer, so good keyboard is really important to me. Galago Pro has an excellent keyboard, full size even the function keys are present and even works as function keys. There is plenty space for my wrists to rest. It has an excellent typing experience. Though I don’t like touchpads and using an external bluetooth mouse whenever it is possible, I was surprised how well it works on Galago Pro. It is actually a bit bigger than on m previous notebooks. There are only left and right buttons (no middle), but that’s Ok.
This is where Galago Pro really shines. It has on the left side a separate audio out and mic in jacks, power button, USB 3.1 port, and power input. On the right side. USB C Thunderbolt, USB 3.1 port, a mini display port. Full size HDMI port, an SD cardreader a full fise ethernet port and a kensington lock. There is a disabled SIM slot as well, though it is disabled. Maybe it will be available as an option in further models.
Performance and Battery Life
Both performance and battery life depends on your setup. It is sold with i5-7200U or i7-7500U processor and 4-32 GB DDR4 RAM 128GB-6TB disk configuration. Initially I had a 250 GB of SSD with 1 TB HDD. Well the battery lasted about 4 hours with that setup. I had to replace the disks with an 500 Gb NVMe Samsung EVO storage. I’m hoping better battery life experience from that, however it was not the reason for the change. 3.5-4 hours battery life is enough for me I usually work in one place near to power outlets. Telling the truth I never really had a notebook with longer battery life and I do not know that experience.
The system is quiet, until the fan kicks in. Unfortunately it could be noisy, but not noisier than my Office Dell 6440. There is a Clevo fan indicator applet on GitHub which I’ve tried and modified the code a bit, so I can set the fan to around 3000 RPM which provides a constant quiet buzz, avoiding the usual 4500-6000 RPM bursts. I’m still experimenting with that. I have to tell, that it is not disturbing in the office as the background noise is higher than this small fan would generate.
During the order System76 provided a nice experience. They responded quickly on my questions. It was really nice. I’ve checked their twitter channel a few times. They are doing a great job. Galago Pro provides excellent Ubuntu compatibility out of the box. Everything just worked without the need of checking the forums.
Without too much hassle I could replace my original drives with an NVMe storage. AFAIK System76 has not provided a disassembly guide yet, so here are the steps (if you do this, you do it on your own risk):
- With a(n expired ) credit card carefully remove the frame around the keyboard. I’ve started below the space, as that seemed to be the easiest.
- Lift the keyboard and detach it’s two cable from the main board
- Remove marked 3 screws with a screwdriver
- Turn the computer upside down and remove all the screws from the bottom
- The bottom cover can be carefully removed now.
Congratulations to System76 to put together a nearly perfect laptop for users like me. I think I’m going to happily use it for 2-3 years.