My next Linux work station

My Criteria 

CPU: Speed and Cores are very important to me with compiling code and editing video on a daily basis. Ideally I would like a Xeon processor with hyper threading
but this looks unlikely so an i7 model would do the job.

Memory: Due to the reasons listed above I need at least 16GB ram with the room to upgrade to 32GB would be a nice to have (let’s not go Apple and lock ourselves to just 16GB).

Size: With moving around and travelling a lot I need a maximum laptop (screen) size of 15.6inchs. Weight and laptop dimensions will need to be considered here also. I would prefer a 15.6 as I find the smaller screens hard to work with especially at 4k resolutions.

Screen: As above, up to 15.6inch would be my maximum for portability and I could get away with using a 1080p display. If there is an option for 4k this would be a bonus.

Support: With moving/travelling a lot, a solid warranty is important to me. Something that will offer local support in the EU and the USA would be ideal.

HDD/SSD: A single SSD would be fine for my use case, I will accept a 256GB model but 512+ would be nice.

Linux: It has to support Linux out of the box, obviously 🙂

So now we know what I’m after its time to weight up my possible options.

Entroware – Athena

– Can be up-gradable to 64GB ram!
– Choice of Ubuntu MATE or Ubuntu Unity
– Good choice of dedicated graphics cards (970M 6GB, 980M 8GB)

– No Xeon CPU option
– Only using dated Skylake CPUS
– No 4k option
– No M.2 option
– Starting weight of 2.6KG!
– A chunky height of 25.4mm
– Not the best looking laptop in the world
– Support is only available in the UK, outside of the UK you have to pay for postage even if the fault is covered under warranty

System 76 – Oryx Pro

– Option of a 4k display (see cons)
– Upto 64GB ram
– M.2 SSD options 🙂
– Kaby Lake i7 options
– Choice of 3 graphics cards
– Good looking system

– Only option is Ubuntu
– No Xeon options
– You must pay for upgraded graphics card at a cost at $349 to have the option of a 4k display (+ $149 option)
– Support is USA only, if your system breaks whilst anywhere else there is no option of local repair and YOU have to pay postage even if the fault is with their hardware.

Dell – Precision 5520

– 7th gen Kaby Lake processors
– Xeon processor option (E3-1505M v6)
– 4k display option (without the need for extra upgrades elsewhere in the system)
– Upto 32GB ram (see cons)
– M.2 SSD options 🙂
– Global warranty, were ever you are, you’re covered
– Very good looking system
– Unbelievable 11.1mm in height
– A feather weight 1.78KG

– Only one GPU option
– Upto 32GB is enough for me but the other systems offer upto 64GB this could give poor future proofing
– Only offers Ubuntu
– Costly options compared to the other systems


At this point I would have like to of done a side by side price comparison but its difficult due to a number of factors:

– Not all systems can have the same spec
– Some systems are using older generation hardware
– Value add such as a global warranty can’t be quantified in the price

So I have speced and priced the systems as close as possible to each other the specs and prices are below:

It’s worth noting the Entroware has no option for an M.2 SSD. Dell and System 76 both have M.2 options, both have NVMe options which I have not selected due to the price gulf between M.2 drives and the standard 2.5 SATA entroware is using.

No additional drives, high capacity batteries or extras were selected.

All prices are USD as off 21/02/2017 a conversion rate of 1.24 was used for converting GBP to USD.

System 76 – Oryx Pro Entroware – Athena Dell – Precision 5520
CPU i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz) i7 6820HK (2.7GHz) i7-7820HQ (2.90GHz)
Memory 16GB DDR4-2400MHz 16GB DDR4-2133MHz 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
Display 15.6 Matte 1080p 15.6 Matte HD LED IPS 15.6 UltraSharp IPS
Graphics GTX 1060 (3GB) GTX 970M (6GB) Quadro M1200 (4GB)
HDD 500GB M.2 SSD 500GB SSD (none m.2 – see notes*) 500GB M.2 SSD
Warranty 1 Year (Customer has to pay postage outside USA) 1 Year (Customer has to pay postage outside of UK) 1 Year Global
Weight 2.49 KG 2.6 KG 1.78 KG
Height 24.9mm 25.4MM 11.1MM
Price $1677 $1728.97 $2083.50 (no tax included)

The Oryx Pro seems to offer the best overall bang for buck when you’re configuring the system to a low spec but becomes very costly when upgrading to a 4k display.

The Entroware is pretty much maxed already so leaves no room for upgrade.

The Dell is certainly the most expensive by a long way but offers a cheaper upgrade path to a 4k display than the Oryx Pro.

When it comes to size and looks the Dell wins hands down, its less than half the height of the other two systems and is a fair bit lighter whilst also offering a Xeon processor.

At the moment I’m leaning towards the Oryx Pro but the having to pay for the warranty returns is really putting me off. The Dell seems to tick most of the books but comes at a premium, with the hope the workstation would span 5 years is it worth the investment?

Have I missed anything that I should also consider?

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