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You can replace everything but the kitchen sink on this modular laptop

Framework Modular Laptop
Framework Modular Laptop (Image credit: Framework)

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.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

7 Comments
  • Awesome concept! I like how they managed to make it not bulky. The ability to swap processors is also a plus.
  • Pretty cool. I personally wouldn't expect to much from upgrading mobo's and cpu's (afaik these plans almost always get cancelled a year or two later) but it is still nice that so many other components can be repaired / upgraded while having some modern features like a 3:2 screen. I would say it will compete with stuff like Elitebooks, Thinkpads, Latitudes and/or certain Clevo(/Eluktronics etc) laptops, depending on its price. Sadly it is not 2-1 laptop, than it would have been unique.
  • They address that issue (plans changing) in the article. I would say it's already unique, even without being a 2 in 1. Perhaps that could be an option down the road, though.
  • Upgradeable laptops could be the future of laptops, and basically be console-killers.
  • Looks super cool. I usually don't buy gen 1 products, but I almost want to just to support the idea.
  • I guess this is cool. But remember when MKBHD thought Google's modular phones were the future? Phones don't even have replaceable batteries anymore. The market very clearly does not want modular devices. Consumers want devices you wholly replace every few years. That's as true for smartphones as it is for laptops. And it's even more true as devices get more powerful and innovation continues to slow.
  • The Idea is good but just as below comments its not working.
    Today I have a MXM upgradable laptop from MSI, msi gt63 titan 8sg.
    You should think, oke that's easy upgrade or repair it in a breeze.
    It would be if parts where available, there is a nice blog about it.
    Notebookreview has nice blog around it with success stories successful-mxm-gpu-upgraded-laptops.
    But the way I usually do is after 2 years is sell it for 50% of the price and make someone happy with it.
    The MXM cards are about 50% of the price of a new laptop, so it doesn't matter for your pocket.
    Recycling is the focus of these product and that will not change.