Kyle Nazario

Frontend web developer

System76 Gazelle mini-review

Work bought us System76 Gazelle laptops. Quick thoughts after six months of use, coming from a MacBook Pro user:

  • Chiclet keyboard feels nice to type on

  • Plastic fake brushed-metal case is 🤮

  • Battery life is about an hour, almost unusable away from a charger. If I were spending my own money on this laptop, this would be a dealbreaker.

  • Built-in display sucks. It’s allegedly matte, but still has incredibly high reflectiveness. 1080p resolution and just okay LCD color reproduction

  • Fan noise is a serious issue. I made the mistake of un-muting myself on a video call while the fans were going and other people on the call immediately muted me. They thought I was in a wind tunnel.

  • Webcam quality is low. Video calls with an open window behind you mean you will be washed out by backlighting

  • Performance is great. Runs a bunch of simultaneous headless Chrome browsers in Docker and completes our unit test suite pretty quickly.

  • The trackpad is truly horrendous. I use tap to click on my MBP, and I had to turn that off on the Gazelle real fast. Palm rejection is nonexistent - had false clicks every 15 minutes. That is not an exaggeration.

  • Keyboard is backlit

  • USB-A, HDMI, ethernet means it’s easy to use it as a desktop

  • Built-in speakers sound tinny and low-quality

  • Large and clunky, but weight isn’t bad

I’m torn: Ubuntu and GNU/Linux generally are excellent developer environments, but the laptop hardware is horrible. It feels like the $600 Windows machines my friends used in college.