System76 Gazelle Professional: Going a bit deeper

This is a continuation from yesterday’s post on the System76 Gazelle. I have now spent about 2 hours with my new Gazelle Professional today and wanted to report on the one issue most discussed on the Ubuntu forum for System76; the heat issue. Some users have commented that the left palm rest gets warm and others have said they did not see the issue. The second most discussed issue is battery life and I did a little bit of work on that as well.

Methodology:

  • Took temperature readings every five minutes for 60 minutes using the Smart Data readings (note: this is not reading the core temperature)
  • Took a battery life reading at 5 minutes and 60 minutes
  • Did not allow any of the three laptops to turn off the monitor (set to go off every 5 minutes – so I moved the mouse)
  • All three laptops we on battery power with no AC power attached
  • Both Lenovo laptops had Adaptive Thermal Management set to Balanced on battery

Here are the findings.

Lenovo W520 (Intel Core i7-2720QM)
Battery: 8:36
5 minutes – HD Temp:  28/82
10 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
15 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
20 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
35 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
40 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
45 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
50 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
55 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
Battery: 8:02
Rate 11.3 W

Lenovo T500 (Intel Core2Duo T9600)
Battery: 3:21 (3 year old battery)
5 minutes – HD Temp:  25/77
10 minutes – HD Temp: 27/81
15 minutes – HD Temp: 28/82
20 minutes – HD Temp: 29/84
35 minutes – HD Temp: 30/86
40 minutes – HD Temp: 30/86
45 minutes – HD Temp: 31/88
50 minutes – HD Temp: 31/88
55 minutes – HD Temp: 30/86
Battery: 2:36
Rate 19.6 W

System 76 Gazelle Professional (Intel Core i7 3720QM)
Battery: 2:11
5 minutes – HD Temp:  29/84
10 minutes – HD Temp: 33/91
15 minutes – HD Temp: 34/93
20 minutes – HD Temp: 36/97
35 minutes – HD Temp: 37/99
40 minutes – HD Temp: 38/100
45 minutes – HD Temp: 38/100
50 minutes – HD Temp: 39/102
55 minutes – HD Temp: 39/102
60 minutes – HD Temp: 39/102
Battery: 1:35
Rate 17.9 W

The conclusion from this one hour test is the System76 runs roughly 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the W520 and 16 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the T500. The left palm rest does get warm. I am a curious person so I wanted to get a bit of a look under the hood.

Gazelle Professional heatsink.

System76 Heat Cooling System

System76 Cooling System Fins

System76 Hard Drive Bay

I do not have a good picture of the Lenovo cooling system, but the first noticeable difference is that it uses a side exhaust vent and rear intake vent which avoids restricted airflow issues that bottom intakes have. The other issue is the Lenovo does not use a long heat bar to move heat away; the processor is in the corner of the laptops where the intake and exhaust vents are.

One last note… while using the System76 to post this the hard drive temperature rose to 44C / 111F. at the same time I had the Lenovo playing a really long video and the temperature only rose to 33C / 91 F.

In summary the cooling system on the System76 is not as well designed as those in either the Lenovo T500 or W520

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