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  • About the Framework laptop

  • What we like

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy it?

  • Related content

Pros

  • Everything is replaceable

  • Lightweight

  • Great screen

Cons

  • Average battery life

  • New company

The Framework laptop is a shining blueprint for the Right to Repair movement.

About the Framework laptop

Here are the specs of the laptop we tested:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7
  • Memory: 16GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 display
  • Ports: 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB 4/USB-C, 1x SD card reader, 1x 1TB expansion card
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Battery: 55 Whr
  • Weight: 2.86 pounds
  • Dimensions: 0.62 x 11.69 x 9.01 inches
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

The Framework laptop is an ultraportable productivity laptop available in three pre-built configurations or a DIY kit. If you choose a DIY kit, you can choose to bring your own Wi-Fi card, operating system, storage, and memory. According to Framework, you can swap out the processor on your laptop with a replacement kit in the future. But for now, you can choose between the Intel Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7, and Core i7-1185G7 processor. You can buy the laptop with up to 64GB of memory and 4TB of storage.

What we like

You can replace everything on this laptop

A picture of the laptop's central processing board
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

Many of the Framework laptop's parts are off-the-shelf, like its solid state drive and CPU.

When was the last time you owned a laptop with a swappable keyboard? If you’re lucky, you can find modern laptops with swappable batteries, storage drives, or even memory sticks, but rarely can you swap the ports, screens, speakers, or fans without a deep understanding of how tech works. Framework changes that, making nearly every part of this laptop—even the screen bezels—swappable.

Accessing the inside of the laptop is incredibly simple. All you have to do is loosen the bottom screws with the included screwdriver (the screws stay attached to the bottom even when loosened), place the laptop on a surface bottom-down, and gently lift the keyboard cover off the laptop’s bottom. We strongly recommend reading the Framework laptop manual before cracking it open, as the process is different from other laptops; Many laptops can be opened from the bottom with a small Phillips head screwdriver, but the parts themselves tend to be permanently attached to the laptop’s mainboard.

While the Framework laptop isn’t idiot-proof, it’s easier than other laptops to mess with. When you open the laptop, you’ll see every major component has a QR code label on it that takes you to an online guide so even the least tech-savvy can try to repair the laptop themselves. If you need to buy replacement parts, you can contact Framework directly.

Sturdy and well-built

The keyboard and touchpad lay atop the bare processor board.
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The keyboard and touchpad are easily removable and replaceable.

Framework’s modularity would mean nothing if the laptop were unpleasant to use. Thankfully, that’s not the case. The keyboard is wide, the keys are deep, and they have the right amount of springiness and firmness. It’s easily one of the best keyboards I’ve used on a laptop. Meanwhile, the large touchpad is smooth and sensitive with plenty of space to glide on. The chassis, made of 50% recycled aluminum, is a sleek matte silver that fits right in with MacBooks and XPS laptops.

If you need a laptop for your daily commute, the Framework laptop might be a great choice for you. It weighs 2.86 pounds, has a total screen size of 14.75 inches, and is a mere 0.62 inches thick, meaning this laptop can fit in almost any bag. You can also leave your charger and dongles at home; the laptop charges via USB-C and its four ports (or Expansion Cards as Framework calls them) are swappable.

Framework bundles six different port types with its laptop: USB-C Thunderbolt 4, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.0b, DisplayPort 1.4, an SD card reader, and a 1TB expansion card that acts just like a flash drive. You’ll also get Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and a fingerprint reader with this laptop.

It’s a great multimedia laptop

A closeup of the webcam and microphone on the laptop's bezel
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The webcam and the microphone each have a dedicated killswitch on the bezel.

If you need a laptop that can handle back-to-back Zoom meetings with ease, then the Framework laptop will have you covered. Both its 1080p webcam and microphone are decent, with good colors and clear recording. If you need privacy, you can manually disable both with two shutters (one for the mic and one for the camera) on the laptop lid. Its speakers get reasonably loud (a little over conversation volume), although the sound is a bit tinny and distorted at higher volumes.

The Framework laptop really shines for productivity, though, thanks to its gorgeous 2K screen. The tall 3:2 ratio is great for split-screen multitasking, especially with how crisp and vibrant everything appears. The screen has over 450 nits of brightness, perfect for a sunny patio seat at a coffee shop. If you need a colorful screen for design work, you’ll be pleased to know that this screen has a full sRGB color gamut and 80% of the DCI-P3 gamut, which is better than most laptops at this price range.

Great productivity performance

An expansion card lies on the laptop's lid.
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The laptop comes with six distinct expansion cards.

We tested a Framework laptop with Intel’s high-end 11th gen Core i7 processor, 500GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of RAM. With these specs, it is no surprise that the laptop is quite fast. It performs on par with other similarly specced laptops in benchmarks and in real-world applications: powerful enough to handle heavy productivity tasks, although not the best choice for those that need a workhorse.

For web browsing, media playback, and Photoshop, the laptop will serve you well, and it can handle some film editing and light gaming on occasion. However, gamers and STEAM professionals should look for a laptop with a discrete GPU, like the Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition.

Compared to similar productivity laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro, the Dell XPS 13, and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4, the Framework laptop fares well, but it doesn’t beat the top ultrabooks.

We pitted the Framework laptop against its competitors in a Blender render using both the central processor and the graphics processor. The laptop took seven minutes 47 seconds to render the scene with its CPU. Similar Windows ultrabooks took anywhere between six minutes 24 seconds and nine minutes 6 seconds, and the Apple M1 MacBook Pro 13 took four minutes 58 seconds. However, the MacBook’s processors and memory are soldered to the motherboard, which means you can’t upgrade them later on.

Its GPU performance paints a similar picture. In the same Blender scene, the Framework laptop’s GPU took nine minutes 45 seconds to render. The other laptops with the Core i7 processor took between nine minutes 39 seconds and 10 minutes 38 seconds to render with the integrated GPU. Meanwhile, the M1 only took seven minutes 54 seconds to render.

The Framework laptop’s processor falls right in the middle of the pack: faster than near-identical ones, but slower than the fastest processors in this price range. All of these laptops are comfortably quick for light to medium creative tasks, although the more modular ones do take a performance hit.

What we don’t like

Battery life could be better

A picture of the underside of the touchpad
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The touchpad and keyboard are detachable without any fuss.

Perhaps the Framework laptop’s biggest weakness is its battery life. We’re growing used to seeing ultraportables with nine hours of battery life or more in our web-browsing test. (The M1 MacBook can last a whopping 14 hours.) While the Framework laptop’s battery life is not bad, at six hours 48 minutes it does fall behind other ultraportable laptops on the market. This is enough to get you through a workday, but you will be scampering to the nearest USB-C plug if you have to work overtime.

The expansion card system has some quirks

A picture of a bare expansion card port.
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

Even though the expansion cards connect via USB-C, the bare ports cannot be used with other devices.

This battery life becomes a bit of a problem when you realize the laptop functionally only has one USB-C port. Even though the four expansion ports connect via USB-C to the laptop, other USB-C devices are only recognized through the USB-C to the USB-C expansion port. If you needed to, say, charge your laptop with the only included USB-C expansion card but needed a second USB-C port, you’d have to connect an adapter to the USB-A expansion card to plug in your other peripheral.

While the laptop comes with one of each of the six expansion cards, you cannot purchase extras yet. Framework plans to have additional expansion cards—including new ones like a Hi-Fi audio card—available for individual purchase in the near future. It’s not a huge issue in the era of laptops with two total ports, but it can be annoying if you’re a peripherals addict like me.

The company is new

A closeup of the company logo on the hinge.
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

Framework was founded by PC industry veterans who wanted to make a laptop that exemplified Right to Repair's ideals.

While it’s clear that the team behind Framework is stacked with brilliant people, Framework is still a new company. If you plan on keeping this laptop for the long haul, there could be a point in time when Framework isn’t around to supply first-party replacement parts or services anymore.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if that happens. Many of the laptop’s parts are off-the-shelf components, so swapping for a new SSD or RAM should be simple. For the laptop’s unique parts, like its mainboard or keyboard, Framework has great documentation available. It’s possible repair shops and tech-savvy folk will engineer their own replacement parts and upgrades for the Framework laptop if you ever want to swap something out in a world without Framework the company.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely, you won’t find a laptop easier to tinker with

A screwdriver and cardboard box lie on the Framework laptop's lid.
Credit: Reviewed / Adrien Ramirez

The Framework Laptop even comes with an included screwdriver—the only tool you'll need to access the laptop's insides.

The Framework laptop is made for the curious among us, who aren’t afraid to unscrew a computer and shift some cables inside. It has a sturdy build, so it can last a very long time if properly taken care of—a task made infinitely easier with its modular design. Framework wants you to mess with your laptop so you can keep it going for years, all by yourself. And you will want to keep it alive because it’s a great laptop. The DIY version starts at $749 while the preassembled version starts at $999.

However, the Framework laptop may not be the best choice for you for a few reasons. With just under seven hours of battery life, you’ll be able to use it for a workday but not for overtime. The Apple MacBook Pro 13, the Dell XPS 13, and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 will give you a lot more battery life and at least as much performance as the Framework laptop. However, you will have to give up the user-friendly construction, as these laptops can be hard to repair on your own.

But the Framework laptop is built so you can easily avoid that while having a breeze repairing or upgrading your laptop. You have a lot of options out of the box for processor, memory, and storage, but you can easily go to a third party if you wish. We love the idea of a laptop that anyone can repair, and we’d love to see Framework grow to have workstations, budget laptops, 2-in-1s, and gaming laptops in the future.

Editor's Note: October 13, 2021

Good news! Framework launched its new marketplace today, where you can buy extra Expansion Cards, memory, storage and more. The company is also working on giving third-party developers the opportunity to sell their products on the Marketplace and establish a used and refurbished product storefront.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Adrien Ramirez

Adrien Ramirez

Staff Writer

@itsaramkat

Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he's usually wandering around Hyrule.

See all of Adrien Ramirez's reviews

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