Linux laptop vendor Slimbook updates its ranges
Fresh lick of paint for KDE Slimbook, Slimbook ProX, and Slimbook Executive models
Another vendor has refreshed its Linux laptop lineup for the summer, and some of the new models look strangely familiar.
Last week we covered the new Pulse G2 laptop from Germany's Tuxedo Computers. Close behind it are new models from several other vendors of Linux laptops with very similar specs.
In an unusual move that provides the FOSS project with additional funding, the KDE organization sells hardware under its own brand. A notable example is the KDE Slimbook, and it just launched two fourth-generation models of the Slimbook IV.
The specs of the Slimbook IV are much like those of the Tuxedo Pulse G2: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPUs, with eight cores and 16 threads. The CPU clock speed varies between 1.8GHz and 4.3GHz according to load, and there's 8MB of cache. The onboard Vega8 GPU runs at up to 1.9GHz.
The machines have two DDR4 SODIMM slots, and can take up to 64GB of 3,200MHz memory, and also have two M.2 slots for up to 4TB of NVMe storage. They have both onboard Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6 for a maximum speed of 2.4Gb/s, plus Bluetooth 5.2.
They have four USB ports: one USB C 3.1, which can power the laptop, or act as a DisplayPort and drive two screens, plus two USB 3.1 type A and one USB 2 type A, and an HDMI 2.0 port. They have a big 11.6 x 7.2cm trackpad, with hidden buttons and built-in palm rejection, and a 720P webcam.
In fact the main difference between the Pulse and the Slimbook seems to be the size: there are small and large Slimbooks. The smaller model has a 14-inch screen and a 47 Watt-hour battery and weighs a kilo; the larger, a 15.6-inch screen and 92.6 Wh, plus a microSD card reader, and weighs a kilo and a half. Both screens have a matte finish and a 1920 x 1080 resolution.
If you buy the KDE-branded version, the machine ships with KDE Neon preinstalled, with KDE Plasma 5.25 on Wayland, installed on the latest Ubuntu LTS version (that's 22.04, and by the time 24.04 is released, we're sure the hardware will have been refreshed once or twice).
The KDE Slimbook IV is sold by the eponymous Spanish vendor Slimbook, which also offers the same hardware under its own ProX brand.
In this guise, it's available with the company's own distro, Slimbook OS, or one of two Spanish educational distros, Lliurex or MaX – all of which are Ubuntu-based. You can also pick plain vanilla Ubuntu, Debian, Pop!_OS, Fedora, Mint, Manjaro or openSUSE.
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The base spec is 8GB RAM provided as a single DIMM and a 250GB SSD, which costs €999.95 ($1,003.03) for the smaller model and €1,049 ($1,052.23) for the larger one.
Aside from the lower-resolution screens, the specs sound so similar to the Tuxedo model that we suspect they might be based on the same underlying OEM hardware.
Our thinking is Tongfang F-series hardware: the smaller machine being the model IDF, and the larger machine the IDG.
Slimbook offers Intel-based models too, which have also just been refreshed. The SlimBook Executive has a Core i7-2700H, from the 12th-generation Core HX series that The Reg looked at in May. Again, there are small and large models: the 14-inch has only onboard Iris X graphics, but the larger 16-inch machine also has an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti discrete GPU, as seen in recent Microsoft Surface models. Both have HiDPI screens: 2880 x 1800 for the smaller model, and 2560 x 1600 for the larger.
The machines both come with two USB-C ports and two USB A ports, all USB 3.2 spec. One USB-C is also a Thunderbolt 4 port, which can also charge the machine, and the other can also handle DisplayPort 1.4 duties. With an onboard HDMI 2.0 port as well, you can have four displays: built-in plus three external.
Both have Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, but don't have Ethernet ports. The smaller machine has only one M.2 slot for an NVMe SSD, but uses the space for a larger 99Wh battery; the larger machine has two M.2 slots, but only an 82Wh battery. That means a smaller weight difference: 1.25kg versus 1.5kg.
We suspect that the underlying OEM for the machines is Clevo in Taiwan, but we haven't been able to identify which specific models.
Interestingly, the machines offer facial recognition via Slimbook Face (Spanish-language link) – something that previously we've only heard about in Linux Deepin 20.5.
It seems that the AMD models are at the economy end of the range, and the Intel ones are the higher-end kit. The latter come with 16GB of RAM and 500GB SSDs, and prices start at €1,299 ($1,232.79) for the smaller model and €1,599 ($1,603.92) for the larger. ®