[Text Review] Honest Librem 15v4 Review from old Macbook Pro User and Alternatives!

Hey Guys,

I want to tell you my Pro and Cons on the Librem 15v4. I read a lot of thinks about the notebook, but no one of this could give me a good compare so what i can expect. So this is my Opinion:


  • Good 4K Display-Panel with 93% sRGB and 72% AdobeRGB -> nearly the same like my Macbook Pro 2015. I think the Macbook Colours are little bit better but maybe because of the glossy panel, but than brightness man, so dope better than the Macbook and the mate is a great choice. If you want best colour gamut you can’t compare it to the Razer Blade 4k Panel (This is looking amazing, but brightness little bit to low). Don’t buy a OLED Panel because all notebooks out now can’t handle the power they need. The Color and brightness change with every image -> So no System76 AdderWS

  • The Touchpad is sick! I was really sceptical, but it’s pretty good! The click-sound i love it. Louder than a macbook but still nice! Maybe not if you want to use it in a University but yes. Little more press in the lower corner and harder to click. But i didn’t expect a macbook touchpad :slight_smile:

  • The Keyboard is really nice! But for my opinion the macbook keys from 2015(not the new one) are better little bit, nut the keyboard is better than the Razer blade keys

  • Hardware switches (Really physical hardware switches!!!)

  • PureOS is lightweight and pretty clean. The Gnome-App-Store got only the free purism repository with open source apps.

  • Lot of ports for connectivity

  • Quality of the device build with no logo goos Design, but the ports are not accurate

  • Very light and easy to carry, not slim like the macbook but nice

  • PureBoot with LibremKey and Encryption


  • PureOS:
    -The Gecko Firefox Browser Clone is really crap, download the iridium browser or Brave and install Https Everywhere, ublock, Privacy badger, Cooke Autodelete, NoScript Extensions.
    -If you want to use full disk encryption you can only install PureOS with manual partition and you shouldn’t use luks for the swap storage! After the system update you can’t boot in your system.
    Problem in this post: [Help + Workaround] Encrypted Drive won't boot after System Update | PureBoot | Librem Key | Cryptsetup | Busybox | Initramfs
    -You can only use the bluetooth if you download close software for the card, the problem is you can’t download only bluetooth drivers, you get the close wifi drivers too… Use better a bluetooth dongle from think penguin, technoethical etc
    -PowerManagment: Last time i watched youtube and the battery was on 13% and black screen system crash because of i think normal linux problems with standby and batteries
    -Don’t change the language of the device with the terminal -> possibility to crash and you can’t use the system anymore.

  • GPU:
    -“The desktop replacement” -> I think not, gaming works in 720p with low settings, nothing more to say
    -4k Playback is possible with Waterfox Browser on youtube but the wifi is to bad to handle the data^^. Some frame drops but okay. With PureOS Browser forget it haha So 4k Display is useless in the most cases only drawn battery, better to set resolution to 1080p works for all things better, only 4k for sharp desktop use and gimp maybe and vlc 4k mkr movies.

  • Bad Wifi:
    -Don’t go far away from your router the wifi module can’t handle long distances!

  • The Notebook is to long because NumPad & Display-Bezel: Numpad is really useless for most users and than the display bezel could be smaller

  • Build Quality: Power supply cable not fit well and wobbling and ports are not accurate. Fun Fact: The Librem 15v3 got the same case and you can remove the sticker on the bottom with the “version 4” and now all people think you have a 15v3 :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Easy to change ram, hdd and wifi card

  • LED is inside! So if you don’t want to use your notebook, but want to check if its full, you must open it and can’t see it by the way only if the notebook is open…

  • 3-4 hours battery life with 4k Display full brightness, compare the my old macbook 2015 with at start with 8-9 hours normal use

  • the device is a little bit to loud! my macbook is complete silent if i don’t start a video or do heavy work, not the librem with that low cpu

  • speakers are not so bad but compare to Razer blade and macbook no good choice

  • Price: Tell me why i should pay for only a 4k display option 600 Euro more and a litte bit better cpu?
    -Lenovo ThinkPad L570-20J8001MGE with the same cpu you can buy for 200 USD + 100 for a 4k Panel + 300 for all other components (I’am gentle, i think the hardware is cheaper) + 150 for research + 250 win = 1000
    I think 1000 USD for this device would be okay and 800 for the Librem 13 and 500 for the librem phone
    -The System76 Galaga Pro and Darter Pro cost around 1000 Euro and its okay, with Coreboot ME Disabled (little bit more bits closed code on system76 system), you can install PureOS if you want :wink: replace the wifi card to a Atheros one. You get a 4 core cpu and thunderbolt 3 so u can use egpu -> That’s a desktop replacement!!! No 4k Display but useless most of the time. The price for this is okay
    -You pay them money for i think work for the librem 5 and other privacy thinks, its okay but the notebook is i think 500 USD Worth but you pay triple!

Display: 4/5 -> Good for work 72% Adobe RGB but not for graphic designers
Hardware: 2/5 -> Not really powerful: bad 4k playback, no thunderbolt 3 for egpu, no bluetooth
Build Quality: 3/5 -> Trackpad, Keyboard, case dope but power cable, batteryLED-Position, ports position bad
Design: 4/5 -> Black no logo and nothing is bad
Battery: 3/5 -> Okay but not very good
Privacy: 4/5 -> Free Wifi card, best IME disabled option out there, Coreboot, switches, pureOS, Browseraddon
Price: 1/5 -> for this hardware with this price not very well

3,5/5 -> Not very great notebook, but most of the time okay/accpetable. So the notebook is between okay and good. Only buy it if you don’t need a notebook with power for normal use like watching 1080p videos with lags, office and email surfing and so stuff and need extra security with Librem Key with encryption for journalist for example. It’s the only notebook with Coreboot, more private Hardware / Software and a good looking design! Thats the only reason to recommend this thing, for all other people go to system76, they was the second but now there offering better systems only change the wifi and the change the os, i recommend ParrotOS https://parrotlinux.org or use PureOS :wink: For privacy a old lenovo x200 libreboot or a opteron with D8/16 board Coreboots are the only better choices.

Advice: If you buy a Librem Notebook don’t upgrade it with stuff. You can get this parts everywhere cheaper, best way is to buy used upgrade parts. And for second storage a HDD and no SSD is total enough only if you hate the clicking noise from reading get a ssd. If you need help, i can tell you how to open your librem and upgrade with new installation of the OS.

If you want a better notebook for a better price with Coreboot, ME Disabled (little bit more bits closed code on system76 system), and thunderbolt 3 for egpu and you should only change the wifi to Atheros and use ParrotOS like above (But they looking like shit clevo made notebooks, star LabTop is nice looking but only ME Disable(Same here purism got more parts killed) not Coreboot) :

The cpu not so good like in system76 systems, but also thunderbolt 3 and better choice for people in Europe but no Coreboot only disabled IME:

If you searching for a Linus Computer with free Software this is to mention:

EGPU for Linux and the trouble:

And if you want to now what’s the difference between librem notebook versions (TPM = Trusted Platform Module for gps security)


i wish for future revisions that the monitor back-panel has a latch or a secret-mini-trap door in order to see the serial number and identify properly the display panel used inside so we can more easily know what to replace if necessary and know the right specifications … just like you can with a desktop monitor …

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that’s what the EDID is for! :slight_smile:


well, their hardware costs are a lot lower since they are using what are basically off-the-shelf Clevo designs. If they added hardware killswitches, their costs would go up considerably as well. Also consider they just refreshed their lineup with the 10th-gen SoCs, whereas the v4 Librems are nearing the end of their cycle.

that said, it’s good that other vendors are jumping aboard the coreboot train, it’s good for the ecosystem and good to give consumers more choices.


EGPU for Linux and the trouble:

An interesting comparison with the Macbook and Razer.

Purism laptops do cost a lot, but you are paying for the custom design of the motherboard and case, small-scale manufacturing, maintenance of a custom Linux distro and Coreboot port, plus helping to finance Purism’s other projects (Librem 5 and Librem One). Because Purism doesn’t sell that many laptops, each unit has to be priced higher to pay for these extra costs.

You have to ask whether the unique features of the Librem 13/15 are worth it to you:

  1. Hardware kill switches
  2. Only recent laptop (that isn’t a Chromebook) with Coreboot (although System76 is about to launch laptop models with Coreboot)
  3. Custom Linux distro designed for security with 100% free software.
  4. System with 99.98% free software (there are only 6 binary blob files in Coreboot, that are 0.8 MB in size after running me_cleaner on the Intel Management Engine)
  5. Neutralized Intel Management Engine (90%-92% of code replaced with zeros)
  6. CPU configured to allow unsigned BIOS/UEFI.
  7. One of the few companies committed to the ideals of the Free Software Foundation and promoting user rights.
  8. Only laptop with Heads, and Librem Key to detect tampering.
  9. TPM
  10. Only one of the x86 Linux laptop sellers which is doing custom manufacturing, instead of using a base model from Clevo.
  11. Slim form-factor with easily replaceable RAM, HDD/SSD and WiFi/Bluetooth.

If these features matter to you, then the Librem 13/15 is worth it, but you probably aren’t the average consumer if you want these features.


I was going to comment on this saying a lot of what you just said, but I think you said it far more diplomatic. Kuddos!

i mean so that we can verify against the EDID …

Thanks for the long text.

First i think with this points you describe the average consumer of the old Lenovo x200 Notebook with 100% open source on it. All the things is in this notebook, only not a librem key but i think there are good alternatives there. You can buy this on tecnoethical and a lot of other companies in the web. Or flash it by herself. This notebooks are perfekt for this “type” of people. For real hacker, nerds, privacy people, journalist etc…

Second the Librem notebooks claim the be easy to use for normal people to giving them there rights back. You got a nice looking website, marketing that want to get all people in for more freedom, privacy & social responsibility. But all we know linux and there different distributions are on a good way to get more attention. And more and more not tech persons are interesting in this kind of notebooks. We also know a linux notebook isn’t so easy to use and configure like the new companies want to tell us.

But first small-scale manufacturing ins’t true. my razer blade and my macbook are smaller. The clevo notebooks and other notebooks these days with a for example gtx 1050 are way smaller! In all other facts about the price you are right. But the question is should you pay them for that? ich think no one need the librem one because of nextcloud. In my case its okay because i want the librem 5 and the things like the librem key, but the price is really to high, because they can’t compete with the other premium brands. in my opinion system76 giving you a lot for the price only shitty clevo cases but thunderbolt 3… please purism…

And now to your points:

  1. Yes that’s a good think! But i don’t know how they work. If the really plug of the hardware or the power supply perfect, if its more software sides. i don’t know tell me how they work the switches!
    2.The System76 launched 2 Coreboots, links are in my text. A recent notebook with old bad hardware to mention :wink: Only a little bit better than my lenovo x200.
  2. Ja that’s right, but there are many on the market, that’s not a feature of purism, i can use a lot of others with gnome desktop. It’s a good way to make a distro by yourself, but be true it’s only debian with gnome with some tweaks.
  3. If you want a notebook with 100% software use a D16 Workstation and/or a lenovo x200
  4. Intel Mangement Engine can be disabled in a lot of notebooks now and a lot of companies do this, its possible on a lot of hardware. Purism was the first to do this in a modern notebook but that’s it.
  5. Can’t tell about that and if this is in other notebooks to? So what’s so special about that and why i need this? is Purism the only one with that?
  6. That’s right :slight_smile: but a lenovo x200 is better for this joke :wink: that’s we i like purism and the librem 5 is the biggest step in modern smartphone rights!
  7. That’s a good reason to buy the notebook for example journalist or gives like Snowden
    9.TPM, tell me what this thing is for and it’s so special that you can’t find it in other notebooks?
  8. That’s true, i told you it’s nice design, a good reason to buy the notebook!
  9. Ram, HDD/SSD and Wifi/Bluetooth can be replaced in many many notebooks today. Okay not from apple :wink: but a lot of windows notebooks got this feature. They see people like this and want it, so they do it razer blade too. It’s not really so special. the same with replace the battery. Thats really not the modern standard in smartphone but you find a lot of high end phones with this feature too :slight_smile: not free software but yeah. it’s a plus and a good feature and i want this but not sooo special.

So if you the total tech guy get a lento x200 and you’re good. if you like modern design, want good hardware and you thinking more and more about ethic things like privacy the librem should be for you and easy to use. But it’s a long way for purism and other companies to get to this point that normal people can use your notebooks.

PS: The guy who sold my my Librem15v4 told me that he sick of all companies that track him and he found in the web purism. They look easy to use and nice like a modern notebook, so why not buy it? The problem the device is not ready for a casual person how they claim there notebooks/services. The guy was not a tech guy, don’t want to spend the hole day to set it up and now the notebook is mine, good for my bad for him because he use a macbook again now.

-> So Purism notebooks need better hardware, better battery, lower prices (or high prices if they make real premium product in the future and the PureOS should be easier to use. And better browser with more browser extensions :slight_smile:
Than they can reach there goal in the future that normal people want there notebooks. Don’t get me wrong i want so much open source things like possible but if a company don’t want to share there code, that’s there right of them so do so. Every artist also got the right for the own work. But you should have the easy decision to chose and get a notebook that is good as the others with windows or linux only with little disadvantages you accept. For all other people buy a x200 or a workstation d8/d16.

So i can recommend the librem notebooks but you will have a lot of trouble and disadvantage for a high price you this device isn’t worth.

do you have a reason to distrust it?

we fully cut the power, and use ACPI to notify the OS that the device is no longer attached. One of the things that required customization with our board design

nobody else ships a laptop with the ME disabled (HAP bit) and neutered (firmware regions cleared). Everyone else does only the former (or a variation thereof).

yes, but one has to start somewhere, and we’re continually making it easier and easier, even for older devices.

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You are my guy :slight_smile:

So you mean systme76 make only the cleaner_me flash nothing else? and not the firmware regions?

Nice to now with the hardware switches

Thats true :slight_smile:

no - ME Cleaner doesn’t work on newer SoCs with ME 12.x (8th-gen CoffeeLake and newer). On older ME versions, ME Cleaner can both set the HAP bit and clear firmware regions – that’s what we do for the v1-v4 Librems. For ME 12.x, there are other disablement techniques, but do not involve modifying the firmware in any way (HAP bit or ME firmware).

Okay and system76 does what then?

So only on Librem 15v4 & and 13v4 you do this? so it’s not a good idea to get a librem15v3 or 13v3 in sale?

they have coreboot send a msg to the HECI controller asking it politely to turn itself off – basically the same command used to temp disable the ME so it cane be updated.

13v1/2/3/4 and 15v2/3/4 all use the HAP + firmware clearing disablement. I was just using the current models as an example for comparison. Edited my earlier post for clarity


personally no but i know that many reviewers check the back of the display panel in order to confirm the manufacturer and the id and for the audience who hasn’t yet bought one and can’t EDID yet …

Okay that mean the system76 notebooks are only say to the IME: “Please go to sleep and don’t make an update” and the intel answer:“for sure i do this ;)”

you can trust it because the panel looks a little bit less good than my macbook pro with 80% aRGB and the purism 72 aRGB and believe me the brightness is amazing! Trust me :smiley:

there are other specs to consider such as uniformity and the uncalibrated specs don’t matter that much … what matters is if you can keep gama 2.2 @ 120cd with 6500k white point @ more than 1000:1 contrast ratio after a hardware calibration/profiling report. anything less is crappy for my graphics work with RGB .

if you get above 8bit per channel then things become very expensive and you also need a dedicated monitor.