A common complaint about modern laptops is that they’re essentially sealed boxes with no user-serviceable parts inside. A new tech startup, Framework, wants to bring the DIY vibe back to portable PCs with laptops that encourage tinkering and upgrading.
Laptops used to come with removable batteries at least, and sometimes they’d have upgradable RAM, storage or even GPUs. Today, that’s the rare exception to the rule, especially with companies such as Apple integrating batteries tightly into the design — MacBooks are essentially laptop-shaped batteries with tiny bits of computer wrapped around them. Many manufacturers now also solder RAM and storage directly to the motherboard.
The Framework Laptop is a 13.5-inch system that the company says was designed to, “empower you with great products you can easily customize, upgrade, and repair, increasing longevity and reducing e-waste in the process.”
In this case, that means an expansion card system, socketed storage and RAM and a (hypothetically) replaceable main board and central processing unit. Also, “high-use parts like the battery, screen, keyboard and color-customizable magnetic-attach bezel are easy to replace, with spares available directly through our web store.”
It sounds like a great idea, at least on paper, and the four accessory bays can choose between housing inserts for USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, MicroSD, extra storage or even a dedicated headphone amp.
The base system will weigh just under 3 pounds and be 15.9mm thick. Other key specs include:
- 13.5-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio 2256×1504 display
- 1080p 60fps webcam
- 57Wh replaceable battery
- 11th Gen Intel Core Processors
- Wi-Fi 6
- Up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and 4TB of storage
The Framework company was founded by Nirav Patel, one of the early members of the Oculus team dating back to its Kickstarter days, and later the company’s head of hardware. Pricing, exact specs and availability details for the Framework Laptop line will be forthcoming, with an expected launch this summer. Three base models will ship with Windows 10 Home or Pro, and a DIY edition will let you install your OS of choice — yes, even Linux.