We tend to stick with Android and some iOS coverage, but occasionally we go out on a limb with Linux devices. I’ve been a Linux nerd for almost two decades now, and the opportunity to review a dedicated laptop made for my favorite desktop operating system was too much to pass up. Slimbook has allowed me a full month with the Executive 14 laptop and it’s been a blast.
The Executive 14 laptop is a well-built and lightweight machine. The chassis is compromised of magnesium alloy that makes for a strong tensile strength while also keeping down the pounds. It will make you pause on how light the laptop is, but magnesium has a similar durability to aluminum. It strikes a great balance of weight and being able to take the beating of daily use.
The right side of the Executive 14 houses a barrel charging port, HDMI, USB-A, and USB-C with power delivery and data. The left side is similarly equipped with another USB-C, USB-A, full-sized SD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo.
The bottom of the laptop seems to be made of the same magnesium alloy material as the rest of the laptop. You see a full-width grill above the branding and serial info that allows for ample heat dissipation. There are two more perforated spots on each side for the audio speakers. Last, you have four very sturdy and tacky rubber bumpers that work great to keep the Executive 14 steady while in use on a desk or table.
Predictable with the name, the Executive 14 comes with a 14-inch matte display pushing a full 4K resolution and 400 nits. The antiglare 2880×1800 panel strikes the perfect balance of crisp colors and contrast without the glossy finish of some laptops always distracting you. It has a 90Hz refresh rate with a 1500:1 contrast rating.
Just above the sensor is the camera array. This houses the webcam and IR sensors for facial recognition. Both are hidden well in the housing and work well. The webcam can be a little grainy in lower lighting, but it’s on par with other laptops.
Keyboard and trackpad
One of the “keys” to a good laptop is the keyboard and trackpad performance. Slimbook has a very compelling build here that I found to be very good. The keys are spaced well, have good travel, and are easy to type on. I did have an issue wrapping my head around the alternate ISO English keyboard, but that’s not the fault of the company as they focus on European sales.
I would love to see a more US-minded ANSI option for this laptop though to curb this. While your muscle memory will give in over a few days, having the left SHIFT key and right ENTER nowhere near most US-based laptops will throw you for a loop. I was easily able to adjust to the ENTER, but never got the hang of the SHIFT.
The keyboard is also backlit for those nights on the couch. Finally, the Holy Grail of all Linux users: the Super Key. Yes, Slimbook has taken the initiative to make this Linux-friendly on the Executive 14 laptop. You get a cute little Tux key.
The Slimbook’s trackpad is well done too. I had zero issues using this glass trackpad. You have a big surface to point, click, and swipe. The unit supports the latest gestures found in the Ubuntu-based software and performed just as you’d want a high-end trackpad to perform.
For those outside the Linux world, you may have a bit of a learning curve with the Slimbook Executive 14. However, the Slimbook OS is very intuitive and similar enough that even a novice could get through the setup and use this device in no time. You will have familiar software like Firefox web browser, email clients, and office suites after you get going.
Linux enthusiasts will be even more at home with the Slimbook. The company’s operating system is a lightly altered version of Ubuntu that I’d bet anyone in the Linux space has used and feels very comfortable with. Slimbook has added a few suites of additional software to the base Ubuntu builds.
First, you get Slimbook Face. This allows you to have “Windows Hello” type login facial recognition on the Executive 14. There’s a dedicated app in the setup process that walks you through onboarding your scan and after this, you can simply log in and use elevated privileges with just your face in place of typing your passwords.
Other tweaks include some performance tweaks and a great app to control the Intel CPU mode. This lives as an applet in the top panel but has a drop-down or full UI to manipulate how much power you are utilizing from the chipset. It’s a nice addition for power users to get to see and change how the machine performs.
Other Linux variants are more than welcome as well. Slimbook has a great open-source history and I’ve been able to successfully run all my favorite distros with zero issues. I installed Fedora, Ubuntu proper, Arch, and openSUSE during my testing with little to no jarring disabilities compared to the default Slimbook OS.
Speaking of performance… I found the Slimbook Executive a joy to use in daily tasks. The Intel i7 12700H has 14 cores capable of 4.7GHz and cuts through anything I’ve thrown at this Executive 14. My review unit from Slimbook has an Iris X 4K graphics card engine, but the sibling 16-inch variant can be equipped with even more power from an NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti.
It’s safe to say that anyone from casual web browsers to a full-on Linux power user will be fine with the performance of the Slimbook Executive 14. This laptop has ample power and allows the user to have it while it’s needed without destroying the portability of our next segment.
One of the lines off the spec sheet that immediately jumped out to me was the 99 Watt-hour battery pack. Just to put this in perspective, the HP Dev One we reviewed last year was only a 55Whr unit. This is an exceptionally large battery cell and I couldn’t wait to see how it compares.
Not surprisingly, more battery equals less charging. The Slimbook Executive 14 consistently got me 10-plus hours of screen time. I’m not a power user by any means, but I’ve used this exclusively as my laptop during the testing and it outlasts anything in my house. I may have had one instance with long YouTube sessions it didn’t reach the double-digit hour mark.
When you do need to charge it up, there are multiple ways to top off the battery banks. You can use the barrel charger in the box, but that’s so 2015. No, we live in the age of the USB-C era and Slimbook has included power delivery on both USB-C ports on the Executive.
Charging maxes out at 90W with fast charge from the barrel charger or appropriate USB hardware. I found this method charges the laptop back to full power in about an hour. Using my older 65W Dell USB-C charger dropped this closer to two hours.
The Slimbook Executive 14 is a laptop built with the Linux user in mind. The company has succeeded in providing that market with a truly high-end experience for their favorite operating system with limited compromise. You get a premium build quality, superb battery life, and a 4K screen packaged with the open-source awesomeness of knowing Linux runs perfectly.
The last piece of the puzzle is pricing. The Slimbook starts at 1400 Euros which is roughly 1500 US dollars. This isn’t bad for the complete laptop package you’ll be purchasing. This makes the Executive more than compelling with the likes of any Dell XPS, Macbook, or Microsoft Surface. If you are in the market for a Linux-first laptop the Slimbook Executive 14 should be at the top of your list.