I've Been Running The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U + Ubuntu 20.04 As My Main System

Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 17 July 2020 at 10:08 AM EDT. 58 Comments
For about one and a half months now I have been using the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U as my main laptop paired with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. It's been working out very well for not even being the top-of-the-line AMD Renoir SKU. Here is some additional commentary for those thinking about one of the new AMD laptops with Linux use.

Back in May I picked up a Lenovo IdeaPad 5 in order to deliver AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Linux benchmarks. This laptop for just over $800 USD came with a Ryzen 7 4700U, 16GB of RAM, 1080p display, 512GB NVMe storage. The performance of the Ryzen 7 4700U as an 8-core part with 2.0GHz base clock and 4.1GHz boost has been quite good and better than the Intel Whiskeylake Core i7 Dell XPS laptop I had been using as my daily driver. The Renoir graphics are also quite good for desktop use-cases.

While originally buying the laptop for AMD Renoir Linux testing due to a good deal, I was (and remained) decently impressed with the build quality of this Lenovo IdeaPad with never owning an IdeaPad model before but many ThinkPads over the years. I was impressed with the build quality of the laptop enough and the Ryzen 7 4700U performance that after my initial Linux testing I decided to make it my main laptop to replace the Dell XPS.

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5 build quality has been fine albeit especially during these pandemic times the vast majority of the time this laptop is connected to my KVM setup in the office. But with that said, driving a 4K display over HDMI with the Ryzen 7 4700U with Radeon Vega graphics has been working out fine. At least for my workflow of using GNOME Shell and keeping open Firefox, Thunderbird, GNOME Terminal, Gedit, and other applications, the Vega performance has been fine at 4K. This should get even better come GNOME 3.38 this autumn given all the performance optimizations on the GNOME side, but already it's fine. The occasional YouTube video also works without issue. Obviously though the performance would come up short if expecting to game.

On the CPU side, the Ryzen 7 4700U eight-core mobile processor has proven to make a noticeable difference compared to an Intel Core i7 Whiskeylake and I have no complaints about the performance for heavy web browser usage with Firefox and Chrome, Thunderbird always running for mail and RSS, frequent GNOME Terminal usage, editing photos within GIMP for articles, writing articles in Gedit, coding in Gedit and GNOME Terminal, etc. During Phoronix Test Suite test profile development is also code compilation and other demanding tasks, though usually for the very heavy workloads I am doing that on the dozens of other systems around.

While originally I hoped to buy a Ryzen 4800/4900 series laptop, the budget has sadly not allowed, and the Ryzen 7 4700U has proven to be plenty capable out of this laptop I originally didn't even intend to use for more than just frequent benchmarking. Similarly, there is the Ryzen 5 4500U with the Lenovo Flex 5 where I continue to be working on new Linux tests about daily (more interesting tests there slated for publishing next week).

As my main system, I have been using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. With Ubuntu 20.04, as outlined in the earlier Ryzen 7 4700U, the main change needed is to upgrade the kernel for working accelerated graphics and battery reporting. I am using Linux 5.7 with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on this laptop and it's been working out very well. I will be upgrading to Linux 5.8 shortly as there are some performance benefits.

Previously on my main system I was using Intel's Clear Linux. But when it came to transitioning to a new laptop, given Clear Linux divesting sort of from the desktop (albeit still supported) and other internal reorganizations that have happened within Intel, didn't instill much confidence in continuing to use it as my daily driver. While prior to Clear Linux I've been a longtime Fedora Workstation user, I have been quite happy with how Ubuntu 20.04 shaped up and all the work Canonical has been pouring into GNOME, so I decided to return to that as my daily OS. It's been working out well and no complaints. We'll see if that keeps up or if I move to Fedora Workstation whenever it comes time to move to a Renoir+1 laptop.

So all in over one month after moving to a Lenovo IdeaPad with Ryzen 7 4700U running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, I am quite happy with the laptop itself, the performance out of the Ryzen 7 4700U, and Ubuntu 20.04 for that matter as my daily OS these days. This IdeaPad has even been probably the cheapest laptop I've used as my daily system at least in many years if not ever yet the performance with the Ryzen 7 4700U has been great, the build quality of the laptop is good enough when being predominantly in the office attached to a keyboard and 4K display, and the Linux support is there if using a new enough kernel. This is also the first time in more than one decade my main laptop has been AMD powered. As for using Ubuntu again as the OS on my main production system, I am very happy with how Ubuntu 20.04 LTS turned out.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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