What you need to know
- Framework announced a new modular laptop today.
- The Framework Laptop is upgradeable and lets you swap out its ports, memory, batteries, screen, and more.
- The Framework Laptop should be available for preorder this spring.
Unlike their desktop siblings, laptops aren't very upgradeable. On many of the best upgradeable laptops, you can swap out the storage or RAM, but there are limits on what you can replace. A new company called Framework just announced the Framework Laptop, a fully upgradeable thin-and-light laptop. Framework hasn't announced pricing or full specs for the laptop at this time, but it should be available for preorder this spring and start shipping in summer.
The Framework Laptop is a 13.5-inch device designed for a 3:2 screen with a 2256x1504 resolution. It has a 1080p 60fps webcam and a 55Wh battery. It runs on an 11th Gen Intel Core processor and supports up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and 4TB or more of Gen4 NVMe storage.
Those specs look respectable for any thin-and-light laptop in 2021, but the standout feature is the upgradability of the laptop. You can upgrade or customize the laptop's ports, storage, memory, Wi-Fi, mainboard, battery, screen, keyboard, and bezels.
"Along with socketed storage, WiFi, and two slots of memory, the entire mainboard can be swapped to boost performance as we launch updated versions with new CPU generations," says Framework.
The ability to swap out all of these creates a rare level of repairability and customization in the consumer laptop space. For example, if you want more modern ports, you can swap in a USB-C port. If you rely on DisplayPort, microSD, or HDMI, you can pop those in as well.
"Our Expansion Card system makes adapters a thing of the past, letting you choose exactly the ports you want and which side of the notebook you want them on," says Framework in its announcement post.
In addition to making the laptop fit specific needs, this design also makes repairs much easier. If you crack your screen or break your keyboard, you can just order a replacement and put them in yourself.
This setup should also reduce waste, as people can replace specific components rather than an entire device. The Framework Laptop is made of 50% post-consumer recycled aluminum and an average of 30% post-consumer recycled plastic, which also reduces waste.
The Framework Laptop will be available in different configurations running Windows 10 Home or Pro. If you prefer to put it together yourself, you can also get the Framework Laptop DIY Edition.
Framework isn't the first company to create a modular laptop, but it has a unique approach that makes it stand out. Framework also appears committed to the idea.
"Other companies, they put it out there, and someone internally decided, 'Eh, we're going to focus on something else this year,' and shut down the project," Framework founder Nirav Patel told The Verge. "This is not something we're dabbling in. It's not a side project for us that someone thought was interesting. This is the core of our company."
We'll have to wait until the laptop launches to see how it holds up in real-world use.