Entroware Apollo: After a year

imag0351
Entroware Apollo-1000 during Heat test. Although the power cord is plugged in, the power supply is disconnected from the wall plug (as made evident by the off AC led in the case).

The most followed posts in this blog  were the ones reviewing the Entroware Apollo laptop I purchased. The reason is that it is hard to find detailed information about Entroware models. I have been using the Apollo-1000 model for a little over a year. It is the only computer I have, so I use it everyday. I though that a report of how this laptop behaves after a year would conclude the review, giving to interested people a feeling of how this computer ages. So, here I am giving to you my impressions.

Mechanical stability

Well, I have used the laptop on my desk most of the time. I did few occasional aircraft – train trips with it (also run to catch a train with the laptop in my backpack, protected by a sleeve) but nothing really serious. The laptop is pretty much pristine. The screen closes correctly, all the sides flush with the rest of the case. The LAN port, which is probably a fragile part, is still 100% intact (but I pretty much never use it). Touch-pad and keyboard are pristine as well (even though they took some rage after me committing stupid coding mistakes in my projects…). I only had to tighten the screws on the backplate once and when I opened the laptop to have a look at the interiors I was surprised to find it very clean inside, although it was something like over 6 months I already owned the laptop. Given that I clean just the exterior with a vacuum cleaner (gently) and a soft tissue, I would say that dust appears not to be a problem.

Battery Duration and Power Consumption

This is tricky to measure as it depends on what is being done with the computer. I used the utilities PowerTOP and stress to try to give a picture.

First, PowerTOP was calibrated with the laptop on battery use:

powertop --calibrate

after the calibration ended I left PowerTOP running and collecting information for 5 hours. As the laptop was pretty much just idling during that phase, I never needed to attach the power supply. Then I kept on using my laptop as always for a week before to charge it to 100% and run the following tests. Each test was run with the laptop recharged to 100% to supply a read of run time.

Test 1: low power idling

For this test I configured the laptop to consume as little power as possible. All peripherals were disconnected, the laptop set in Airplane mode, the touch-pad and audio disabled and the screen backlight set to the minimum value (but still turned on). The results show a discharge rate of 7.04 W and a remaining time of 6:49 hours.

conservative

Detailed PowerTOP report.

Test 2: Stress test

Wireless connectivity was then resumed and backlight set to maximum. Also, touch-pad and audio were turned back on as well. The system was then tested by spawning 4 processes (one for each of the 2 threads of the 2 cores) to push them to 100%.  Moreover, the ram was filled by 4 workers of 2 GB each, forcing the swap file to be written.

stress --cpu 4 --io 4 --vm 4 --vm-bytes 2048M

In this hard stress configuration, the power consumption was 18.5 W, the remaining time dropped to 2:32 hours.

extreme

Detailed PowerTOP report.

Test 3: normal usage

In this case, I just set up a normal user case scenario, with just Firefox streaming a YouTube video and Thunderbird running in the background. Wireless connectivity, touch-pad and sound were all on and backlight was at a minimum (as I always use it, I am not a fan of bright lights in my eyes). Power consumption and remaining time appear to be similar to the Test 1 results.

normal

Detailed PowerTOP report.

Conclusion

I always use the laptop by completing 80% – 20% discharge cycles. That means that I run on battery until 20%, then I recharge until 80%. Exception is when I use the laptop a lot of hours, like on weekends. In that case I charge from 20% to 100% and then I run always on AC. To save power, I just installed TLP on my Arch box. All of this seems to have preserved the battery well. Usually, it takes around 4 hours to discharge from 80% to 20% (but it can be as low as 3 if using the RT kernel). I usually code Julia, C++ and Faust programs during that time; or record music, watch videos, play games and browse the internet. The duration I experience appears to be in good agreement with PowerTOP results, that seem to suggest that a battery duration of 4 to 6 hours can be reasonably expected by the laptop running on normal tasks.

Note: download the PowerTOP reports and then open them with a web browser.

Heating

In this video you can see a simple test of the laptop heat dissipation.

Starting from base temperature, the laptop is stressed in order to raise it. It should be noted that the test was performed right after the previous power consumption tests, so base temperature is higher than what usually is. Still, it is evident that the temperature is never problematic. The laptop case never felt warm during the test. It happens to feel it warm after prolonged use, like when I play video-games like Satellite Reign for an hour or more, but it is never properly hot. The fan runs at full speed when the load is high, but the noise is still a quiet mid-low frequency hum which is easily masked by ordinary daily noise, such as traffic or neighbours. The maximum temperature reached was less than 60 degrees Celsius and the cool-down process after the stress phase ended was quick, a sign that the heat dissipation of the laptop is still properly working.

Responsiveness

Well, this is mostly a software thing I think. I totally think that my Arch Linux is as snappy and fast as the day after I installed it. Boot is very fast, 25 seconds including the 4 seconds GRUB screen.

Boot time

Between 25 and 30 seconds, including 4 seconds where GRUB waits.

Note on on-board audio

Glitches with headphones-speakers switching could happen. This should solve them on Apollo-1000 units: create the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf with the contents:

options snd-hda-intel model=laptop-amic

Conclusion

I am very satisfied with this laptop. I believe it was worth the money and I am glad to own one. I think it passed its first year with flying colors and I think I will stick with Entroware products from now on, as they appear to be exactly what I like from a pc: simple, sleek, unbranded, well designed and realized, Linux friendly. I hope these reviews I produced will help people deciding whether an Entroware machine is good for them.

Other Entroware Apollo Reviews on this Blog:

Entroware Apollo: a killer Linux laptop with excellent Pro Audio capabilities!

Entroware Apollo – More details

Entroware Apollo VS Mac Book Air

 

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