Buy a Linux laptop: The TUXEDO Pulse 15 Gen 2 detailed review.

In the past decade, Linux laptops have grown in popularity, as have the emergence and activity of companies specializing in Linux hardware. Among these companies is TuxedoComputers, a German company that builds Linux devices of various categories. Today, in this article, we will thoroughly review one of the most prominent laptops of TuxedoComputers, the Pulse 15 Gen 2, after three weeks of use as my daily laptop.
 
Disclaimer: TuxedoComputers does not sponsor this article, meaning that the article will express my own experience with all credibility and impartiality.{alertInfo}


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Design & Build Quality

Starting with design and build quality, the Pulse 15 Gen 2's chassis is made of magnesium, making the laptop simultaneously light and solid. The device weighs a kilo and a half and has an elegant metallic look that does not attract fingerprints. In addition, the Pulse 15 Gen 2 is slim and compact. All these features make it ultra-portable and suitable for travel. It is also worth noting that magnesium is also less thermally conductive. Less heat means more battery life and more performance.
Image credit: TUXEDOComputers

What I don't like is the lack of colors option. This dark gray metallic color is nice, but people have different tastes, so I hope Tuxedo addresses that in their next-gen devices.

I/O ports

Image credit: TUXEDOComputers
 
As for the I/O ports, we find on the right side: a DC-IN port, one HDMI 2.0 that supports 4k UHD@60Hz and 2k FHD@120Hz, one USB 3.2 Gen2 Typ-A, and a USB 3.2 Gen2 Typ-C which supports DisplayPort 1.4, and Power Delivery of 20 V and 3.25A. On the left side, we have a Kensington Lock port, one Gigabit LAN RJ45, a USB 2.0 Typ-A, one USB 3.2 Gen2 Typ-A, a Headphone jack port (Headphone & Microphone), and a micro-sd Card-Reader.
Ports selection was good, and it would have been excellent if there was Thunderbolt support. What do you think? Do you find Thunderbolt necessary in a laptop of this type?

An excellent display!

Image credit: Linux-Tech&More

Now let's take a look at the display. The display is excellent. It is a 15.6inch 2k IPS panel that provides you with sharp colors, wide viewing angles, and a refresh rate of 165Hz to have a pleasant viewing experience.
On top of this, it is matte, anti-glare, and has a brightness of 350 nits which makes it suitable for outdoor work unless you want to work in direct sunlight on a very sunny day, then you may face some difficulties. But I don't know why someone would use their laptop in such circumstances!
Like all modern IPS displays, in some circumstances, such as working in a dark room at high brightness, you may notice bright areas along the frame, which is normal. In the past month, I only witnessed this phenomenon once or twice.
In this picture, I deliberately exaggeratedly highlight the phenomenon for illustrative purposes as you, in most cases, will not notice its presence, and therefore it will not affect your experience.
In short, the display is excellent.

Keyboard & touchpad

Image credit: TUXEDOComputers

After that, let's talk about the keyboard and touchpad.
Here we have a full-size keyboard with a white backlight. The keys are large, stable, and have an excellent pressure point, so you get correct pressure even on the edges of the keys. These characteristics enable the Pulse 15 to provide an accurate typing experience at a fast typing speed. However, due to the compact design, the keys travel is short, so if you have fat fingers, you may hit unintended keys by mistake.
Moreover, instead of the ugly Windows super key, you get the Tux super key.
Also, you can choose the layout that suits your needs from a wide range of ISO and ANSI common languages keyboards layouts, and you can even order the Pulse 15 with a custom or blank Keyboard layout.
For backlight brightness, you can disable the backlight or control its level, as it comes with two, using the special keys: Fn+Space.
I think you noticed that there is no Numpad. So if you, like me, like the Numpad and use it a lot, you may find it challenging to get used to its absence.
Except that, my experience with this keyboard has been pretty good.
But, the one I haven't had a good experience with is the touchpad. As I pointed out in the unboxing article, I could not use the touchpad for more than 15 minutes without making the skin of my fingers irritated. Of course, I would not have faced this problem if the touchpad was of glass. In addition, I do not know why it is not centered.
All this will not prevent me from doing it justice and saying that it is wide enough and precise. It has integrated mouse buttons and supports multi-gesture- & scroll-function.
Overall, you can say that the touchpad is acceptable.

Wifi & bluetooth

The review wouldn't be complete without talking about networking experience. The Tuxedo Pulse 15 comes with an Intel 200ax wireless network adapter card that supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. It also supports a maximum speed of 2.4 Gbps on the 5 GHz (160 MHz) band and about 574 MB/s on the 2.4 GHz band. My experience with Bluetooth was excellent, the connection is stable, and device detection is fast. On the other hand, I initially encountered some problems with the Wi-Fi. I suffered from frequent disconnections and slow internet speed. After many hours of troubleshooting, I was able to fix the problem either by updating the kernel to version 5.19 or making some minor adjustments to the router settings without updating the kernel. Other than that, the Wi-Fi connection was stable and fast. In conclusion, we can safely say that this laptop offers a good Wi-Fi & Bluetooth experience.

Webcam, mic & speakers

Now let's talk a little about the webcam, microphone, and speakers. And we start with the webcam, which has a resolution of 720p, 0.9 megapixels, and a refresh rate of 30 fps. The colors are natural, and in good lighting, you get good photos and videos, so you don't have to worry about the possibility of being the ugliest guy in an online meeting or conference, you won't be. In addition, you have an infrared camera that supports the Face Unlock feature via the howdy command-line app, for example, on Linux or Windows Hello on Windows. Unfortunately, Tuxedo OS does not have a Howdy GUI client to configure this feature, so I hope Tuxedo develops one as Slimbook does with SlimbookFace.
As for the mic, it's surprisingly not bad for a built-in mic. The recorded sound is natural and clear even with the mic picking up touchpad and keyboard clicks. Of course, it won't match studio mics, but at least you can count on it for simple sound recordings without worrying about your voice sounding bad. In short, the mic is decent.
As for the speakers, they are slightly above average. The sound is clear, there is no distortion at high volume, and the amount of bass is acceptable. But I will not hide from you that I expected the sound to be louder and better, especially on a laptop of this category. It is worth noting that the sound holes are in the bottom tray, so you may block them a little if you place the laptop on a soft surface such as a couch, for example.
Next, Let's discuss specs.

Specification

First, we start with the processor.
Image credit: TUXEDOComputers
 
The Pulse 15 Gen 2 features a performance-optimized Ryzen 7 5700U. Tuxedo pushed this processor's TDP to 35 watts, making Pulse 15 Gen 2 more powerful than competitors who rely on the default AMD TDP (10-25 watts). The Ryzen 7 5700U comes with eight cores and 16 threads with a maximum clock rate of 4.4GHz.
When talking about the processor, it is necessary to talk about cooling. The company uses an efficient and nondisturbing dual-fan cooling solution to cool this processor. The device is surprisingly silent in most normal usage scenarios. Bravo tuxedo!
Second, the memory characteristics. This laptop comes with 3200MHz Samsung DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 64GB, with 2 RAM slots. Also, you can configure the ram size from 8 to 64 before ordering.
Third, storage properties. Similar to RAM, Tuxedo uses NVME SSDs from Samsung, which significantly improves the performance of the Pulse 15 Gen 2. It is worth noting that the device has 2 M.2 2280 SSD slots that support up to 4 TB with the option to configure the capacity and type upon order.
Finally, let's talk about the graphics card. The laptop has an integrated 8-core Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics card with a maximum clock rate of 1900MHz.
Unfortunately, Pulse 15 Gen 2 does not have a dedicated GPU option, and you cannot use an external display card due to the lack of Thunderbolt support. That means you will be limited to the iGPU performance, which we will address later in this article.

Battery life

Image credit: Linux-Tech&More
 
When talking about laptops, battery life is an important criterion. The Pulse 15 Gen 2 features a 91 Wh battery that, according to TUXEDOComputers, can stand up to 18 hours in idle mode at minimum brightness, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off, and without the keyboard backlight. This statement prompted me to test the battery extensively for the past three weeks, and the results were as follows:
- Ten hours of looping YouTube videos over Wi-Fi at 50% brightness, 165Hz display refresh rate, and Bluetooth ON. If you decrease the brightness to 30% and the refresh rate to 40Hz, you get an extra hour and a half.
In typical usage scenarios that include browsing, word processing, watching some videos, and some productivity tasks at 50% brightness and 165Hz display refresh rate, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ON, the battery stands for 12 hours. The latter can last up to 14 hours if we enable power-saving mode, reduce brightness to 30%, and configure the display refresh rate to 60Hz.
These results are impressive and leave us with no choice but to say that the battery life on the Tuxedo Pulse 15 Gen 2 is excellent, as it provides two days of use at an average of 6 hours a day.
For battery charging, the laptop arrives with a 65W charger capable of charging the battery from 20 to 90 within one hour and a half while using the device. In addition, it can charge via the USB-C port. But in USB-C charging, the CPU is limited to a maximum of 25 TDP which means you will not get maximum performance.

My list of top USB-C PD chargers: 

In addition, I noticed that the charger emits a buzzing sound, which, after an investigation, turned out to be a normal electrical phenomenon. This sound may be annoying to some people, and it is worth noting that the sound intensity relates to your room temperature.
What do you think about the battery life of the Pulse 15 Gen2? Tell me in the comments.

Performance & Benchmark

Talking about battery life leads us to talk about performance. To evaluate the performance of the Pulse 15 Gen2, I used Geekbench and PassMark tools, and the results were as follows: 
Image credit: Linux-Tech&More
On the battery, the laptop got on:

Geekbench 5: 762 Single-Core Score and 5357 Multi-Core Score
And on
Passmark: 13,734 cpu mark score.
With the charger plugged in, the laptop got on:
Geekbench 5: 1251 Single-Core Score and 7394 Multi-Core Score.
And on
Passmark: 19,037 cpu mark score.
The performance-optimized Ryzen 7 5700U CPU delivers a powerful performance, making the 15 Gen 2 Plus an excellent choice for developers and business users.
On the GPU side, the integrated RX VEGA 8 GPU is suitable for simple and light graphics tasks. However, while I can say that this integrated GPU is better than the low-end dedicated GPUs, it still has limited performance compared to the mid-range dedicated GPU.
With the RX VEGA 8, the Plus 15 scored 137 points in the Blender performance test on the battery and 174 points on the AC power, surprisingly outperforming the i9-12900H processor, which got only 162 points.
In brief, this is not a gaming laptop. And if you allow me, I want to tell you, do not make games the focus of your life. Instead, learn and practice something that benefits you, and always remember that GPUs are not made just for gaming.
Do you want to subject the Pulse 15 Gen2 to more Benchmark tests? Tell me in the comments.

Configuration and Customization

No laptop will be a Linux laptop unless it offers configuration and customization options, which is what Tuxedo's laptops do, and the Pulse 15 Gen 2 is no exception.
Except for the processor and the display, you can configure and customize almost every part.
You can set the RAM size from 8 to 64 GB. Also, you can customize your storage by choosing the type of SSD (Samsung 980, Samsung 980 Evo Plus, or Samsung 980 Pro) and storage capacity from 250GB to 2TB, or even ordering the device without storage. The same applies to the second storage port.
In addition, you can choose the keyboard layout that suits you from more than 25 ANSI and ISO layouts with the option to request a custom layout or even a completely blank one. Yea, you heard me right. You can order the Pulse 15 with a custom or blank keyboard layout.
I wouldn't be wrong if I said that Tuxedo is far ahead on keyboard layout options over other Linux laptop manufacturers.
If you want the Pulse 15 without a wireless network card or you own one and want to use it instead of the intel AX200, the "without wifi & Bluetooth" option is there to fulfill your desire.
For the operating system, TUXEDOComputers has developed their own called Tuxedo OS, an Ubuntu-based distro with the KDE Plasma desktop. We'll discuss this in detail later in this article. In addition to Tuxedo OS, you can order the laptop with Vanilla Ubuntu, Kubuntu, or Ubuntu Budgie.
All of the above options are available with or without an encryption option. If the previous options do not suit you, the option "without Linux" is there. In the past three weeks, I have tried many distros such as Arch, Manjaro, and Fedora, and I have not encountered any compatibility issues.
Want to try Windows on this laptop? Scroll down to choose the Windows version you want: 10 or 11, with or without a license, as a virtual machine within Linux, or as a physical installation.
You can also risk and pay more money to get additional years of warranty, which I would never recommend because two years is more than enough. And I think you are sane enough to realize that the extended paid warranty is pure gambling and a waste of money.
As for the plug or the power cord, you have five options: EU, US, UK, CH, and IT, so, presumably, you won't need a plug adapter.
If you want the Pulse 15 to have your logo instead of the Tuxedo logo or not to have any logo, you can achieve this by using the chassis logo options provided by Tuxedo.
Image credit: TUXEDOComputers

Furthermore, an express assembling service is may also available.
Finally, You can send instructions about your device to the Tuxedo team using the comment box at the bottom of the configuration section.

Upgradeability

Image credit: TUXEDOComputers
 
Now let's say you bought the device, but after a while, you wanted to upgrade some parts or clean the fans. Is that possible? And if it is, is it easy?
Tuxedo Computers states that you can remove the lower tray and clean the fan without losing your warranty.
All you need is a screwdriver suitable for loosening the screws and a plastic card to open the clipped parts.
After removing the bottom tray, a quick look is enough to realize how easy it is to upgrade the Pulse 15. In addition to the RAM and the SSD, you can easily change the battery and the network card.

Bios & security

After this, let's talk about BIOS and security.
The pulse 15 Gen features AMI bios. It is stable and rich in features, including security features, but it is closed-source. Currently, there is no Coreboot option. Fortunately, the tuxedo team is working hard to make it available on their laptops as soon as possible.
From the bios interface, you can:
Do not change anything in the BIOS settings until you know what you are doing.{alertError}
  • Enable/Disable the webcam; 
  • Configure the keyboard backlight; 
  • Enable/Disable Wi-Fi; 
  • Configure ports power; 
  • Choose a performance profile; 
  • Configure some CPU features; Enable/Disable secure boot.

OS, tools & services

Now, let's boot in the OS. As mentioned earlier, the Tuxedo OS is based on ubuntu and uses KDE plasma as a DE. It is stable, customizable, lightweight, and optimized for TUXEDO-Hardware. It comes bundled with all the necessary tools to ensure you get an out-of-the-box experience. This include: 
  • Tuxedo keyboards;
"Tuxedo keyboards are kernel module drivers for keyboard, keyboard backlight & general hardware I/O." explains TUXEDOComputers.
  • TUXEDO Tomte;
"TUXEDO Tomte is a little helper that provides services, updates, and fixes for TUXEDO devices in the background. It does not send any information, telemetry data, or similar stuff out!" explains TUXEDOComputers.
  • Tuxedo-touchpad-switch;
"Tuxedo-touchpad-switch is a Linux driver that will trigger the touchpad-disabled-LED, formerly unfunctional under Linux." explains TUXEDOComputers.
And finally Tuxedo control center, an easy-to-use tool that helps you: 
  • Get a real-time overview of your CPU and GPU data; 
  • Choose a predefined performance profile; 
  • Create a custom performance profile; 
  • Control fan speed, Configure CPU frequency, set the number of logical cores, and many more.
The TCC is a valuable tool with plenty of configuration options that needs a dedicated article to explain all its features.
If your system fails, you can download the TUXEDO OS live ISO, which has a chroot tool to help you repair your broken OS. You can also use the included WebFAI USB drive for a Fully Automated Fresh Installation of one of the following distros: TUXEDO OS, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, OpenSuse, Xubuntu, Manjaro, elementary OS, Ubuntu Mate, and Ubuntu Budgie.
In terms of services, you get a free 10GB "myTuxedo" cloud storage registration code affixed to the last pages of the manual. myTuxedo cloud is a Nextcloud-based service that means you can use either the Nextcloud desktop app or the web interface to log in.
My experience with Tuxedo OS was excellent except for two issues. The first was the Wi-FI drop issue, which I described earlier, and the second was the broken suspend. This latter is not specific to TUXEDO OS or Hardware but affects all Linux distributions with NVME SSD.
To fix the broken suspend and system freeze after the laptop resumes, you should add The IOMMU=soft kernel parameter to your Grub configuration file.  
For more details, read "How to fix Suspend/Resume failures with NVMe drives on Linux." article.{alertInfo}

Price & Final verdict

Last but not least, The Pulse 15 Gen 2 price starts at €1,159 with 8GB RAM and 250GB SSD and goes up to €2,019.00 with 64GB RAM and 4TB SSD. The price is competitive. It is even lower than the prices of most other Linux notebooks in the same category.
The prices above include a 19% EU tax, which you don't have to pay if you're outside the EU, making the price significantly lower.{alertInfo}
In conclusion, the Pulse 15 Gen2 is a solid, ultra-portable, and powerful Linux notebook. It has an excellent battery life, a fast high-resolution display, and offers plenty of configuration and customization options. It hasn't a dedicated GPU, a thunderbolt port, and the speakers-mics-webcam experience can be better. Overall, The Pulse 15 Gen 2 is one of the best options for developers, business users, and any Linux user who needs a powerful multitasking laptop with excellent battery life. The Pulse 15 is worth what you pay for it.
 
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If you find Linux-Tech&More helpful, consider supporting it on Patreon or Liberapay. For supporting it via Paypal & Crypto currencies contact me.{alertIdea}
Djalel Oukid

Science teacher, PhD student, Master degree in Microbial biotechnology , Microbiologist, designer, video editor, podcaster & blogger. linkedin portfolio github

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