Framework’s newest modular laptop is the one I can stick with for years – TechCrunch

Framework has been expanding its footprint in the laptop space over the past few years and we feel the time has come one of their modular laptops a look. This latest generation is good enough that I feel it can be my daily driver, the gate swapping system is simple enough for kids to use and if you don’t mind continuing to participate in the company’s ecosystem company, you’ve had upgrades for years without having to throw away more than the bare minimum.

If you’re not familiar with the Framework, the company makes laptops and parts with two goals in mind: sustainability and repairability.

The repairability section is a breath of fresh air for someone like me who’s been using Apple’s proprietary laptops for the past 10 years – good devices for sure, but forget about repairs or upgrades they. Framework models are built from the ground up to be repaired, whether it’s swapping out bad RAM, replacing a keyboard, or adding a port (new or old).

That contributes to the sustainability aspect, because instead of buying a brand new laptop every few years, you keep the old one and just swap out the part you need. Less waste of electronics, less waste of cash.

Latest Framework Notebook Includes the following standards:

  • 13.5-inch 2256×1504 display (3:2 aspect ratio)
  • Battery 55 Wh
  • Webcam 1080p
  • fingerprint reader
  • 1.3 kg, 16mm . thick
  • 3.5mm . headphone port

You can specify the memory, RAM and of course the processor, from i5-1240P to i7-1280P, with integrated graphics.

Out of the box, the laptop looks pretty ordinary – that’s a compliment, I feel. The gray soft brushed aluminum (50% recycled) and the gear logo are tasteful, and the overall shape is inexpensive and familiar, although it lacks the “premium” feel of the MacBook Pro (which comes largely from the build quality). The unibody architecture of the MBP excludes easy fixation).

Open it up and you have the now-familiar black bezel and black-on-silver keys, the current default style for mid-range and high-end laptops.

But you immediately notice that above the screen there are some small switches next to the camera and microphone. These security switches completely remove the device from your system’s perception – they are more than just a cover. It’s the kind of kill switch I’ve always wanted to have in my devices and here it’s implemented very well.

Image credits: Framework

Turning them on and off actually unregisters them in the OS (in my case Windows 11) and they pop up as soon as you click them again. It’s like plugging and unplugging a USB peripheral (maybe more or less how it works inside the box). My only caveat is that the switch is a bit hard to navigate back and forth, which is probably for the best as it would be very annoying if you accidentally hit it repeatedly.

The rest of the laptop’s basic items are as expected: the screen is good, if the resolution is rather unusual, and the entire bezel can be swapped out for different colors if you want to fly the flag. his quirky (or just an orange one). The fingerprint reader, which acts as a power button, works perfectly for me.

Image credits: Framework

The keyboard is advertised as having a longer travel distance (1.5mm) than other keyboards and that is indeed true, although far from having the functionality of a mechanical keyboard or anything similar. It’s a perfectly good laptop keyboard, and if you tend to bottom out when typing on shallower keyboards, this could be a nice upgrade.

I just had a serious hardware problem and that was the power cord. It’s hard, ugly, and bulky. I’d happily sacrifice a port for a custom magnetic power connector or pay extra for one

Hot-swappable and cold-repairable

Open Framework Notebook for Elements. It’s actually upside down right now, which I realized after taking the picture. Image credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

Where the Framework sets itself apart from the rest is in its hot-swappable side ports. When you order the laptop, you also order as many ports as you want, from USB-C to USB-A, Micro SD, Ethernet, HDMI, and up to terabytes of removable storage. The only port the laptop is born with is a 3.5mm headphone adapter.

Image credits: Framework

Miniport devices are essentially standalone USB-C adapters, so they don’t register as additional devices or anything like that (except, of course, that they’ll mount as drives. disk in case a card or drive is inserted). They lock into place quite securely – you can feel it also safely, but how often do you need to change them?

As someone who has refused to upgrade my Mac for years because of their port crap, this is the best of both worlds. I can plug in the power on the right or left side, swap out the Micro SD while I’m doing it, and keep the HDMI in case. Flexibility is great to have, although I would have preferred a full-size SD for camera work. Hopefully more is being worked on, but they already cover the main use cases and of course my existing adapters still work.

When it comes to the internals, it’s a bit different from the usual DIY computing style. When putting together a desktop computer, I buy a standard ATX motherboard and choose my components from a wide range of compatible parts. Non-standard parts tend to be motherboard-specific or for things like dual GPU setups or liquid cooling.

With the Framework, there is a mix of standard parts (e.g. internal SSD) and device-specific parts, like the mainboard and sound module. So, if you intend to make this laptop mainstream within the next 5 years, you have to agree with the idea of ​​Framework as your primary supplier. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – but some people appreciate being able to order a part and trade it in.

However, the truth is that although the old DIY method of building and maintaining computers isn’t quite here, the spirit certainly is. You may not be able to choose between MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte for some parts, but you can still easily replace them, even tweaking them to your liking. I think this allows for a satisfying medium between the completely do-it-yourself but buggy and clunky laptops that hardware enthusiasts tend to get stuck with and the nicer, but barely noticeable ones. upgradeable that most end up with.

The framework isn’t necessarily trying to make people who are already wild for DIY more advanced – this is about appealing to people who want a little more flexibility and reusability but can’t find it in the frameworks. common equipment.

QR code links point you to alternative information, instructions and other information. Image credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

From my limited research on the inside, I think anyone comfortable enough to open it will be fine with partially moving out. It’s really close to the entry and has the instructions put into the parts, easy enough to look up and follow. All you need is the included screwdriver, which also has a useful magnet:

Looks big but not big. Image credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

I always steer clear of PC laptops because of the fact that Apple products are in many ways built to last – my old 2012 Air is running Zorin and loving life. I’m not sure I’d be able to do that if I had a 2012 Acer (though as usual it’s not the year, it’s the mileage).

But the Framework suggested to me that there was a real reason to switch to their approach (although it certainly wasn’t the Windows 11, which the review device came with, although you could choose others) ). Trying to be a little more ethical about buying stuff is a good thing, but I also love the idea of ​​buying something that will actually last 5-10 years, not just become increasingly obsolete.

At $819 for the lowest configuration, it’s not the cheapest laptop on the market, and you can almost certainly find one with better specs for a similar price if you observe. But if you think of that money (and another $50-100 for ports, etc.) from now on, that starts to make more sense. . Plus, you’re supporting a company that’s doing more than talking about the right to repair and reduce e-waste.

If I were to enter the market for a non-Mac laptop, the Framework would be my first stop. I hope that in the future they will offer more models and other options for customization to keep costs down or to suit special builds.

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