I’ve been following Framework for over a year at this point, since LTT posted their first video about it. Ever since, I’ve been planning to make it my next laptop.
In May 2022, I was chatting on Discord, speculating on when Framework was going to launch 12th Gen. Since I was expecting them to announce in a month or two, and my LG Gram was starting to fall apart, I said that I would order on day one when they opened pre-orders.
Eight days later, Framework announces and opens pre-orders, so I placed my order.
Here is my config:
- DIY Edition Core i7-1260P
- 2x16 GB DDR4
- 512GB Crucial NVMe SSD (I provided this myself, removing it from my old laptop)
- No OS (I’ll get to this)
Framework is a relatively new laptop manufacturer focusing on highly repairable, upgradable, and customizable laptops. Their founder and CEO, Nirav Patel, was also a founder at Oculus.
Framework’s current product is a thin-and-light Intel-based laptop, featuring one M.2 slot, two DDR4 SODIMM slots, and a 3:2 13.5” display.
The Pre-Order Process
The pre-order process is relatively simple.
- When you place your order, they take a $100 refundable deposit, and send you a Pre-Order Confirmation email.
- When the month of your batch comes around, you’ll get a Batch Confirmation email reminding you to ensure your payment data is accurate.
- A couple days before they charge your card, they’ll send you a “Preparing your Order” email.
- When they charge your card, you’ll get a “Payment Complete” email.
- Once they ship your laptop (a couiple days after they charge you), they’ll send you a final email with tracking.
Shipping is handled via FedEx, which isn’t amazing. My order was delayed by a few days sitting in a FedEx hub, but thats out of Framework’s control. Having spoken to Framework staff about it, shipping is handled through a third-party logistics provider who has contracts with FedEx for better rates, and they have no say in changing the provider beyond switching distributors.
Some batch one (12th Gen) units did have some delays at customs which lasted a week or two. Framework said that it was a paperwork error with their Third Party Logistics provider, and got it fixed. Mine was unaffected by these issues, however.
There were also some delays caused by unexpectedly low production capacity. The delays were sorted quickly and Framework is now in-stock, orders shipping within 5-7 business days.
Since I went with the DIY edition, I had to install the m.2 drive and RAM myself. The rest of the laptop, including the Mainboard; Wifi Card and antenna; and display, comes pre-assembled for import reasons. The process is super easy, especially when you follow Framework’s guides.
All you have to do is loosen five srews using the included screwdriver, then carefully lift the input cover (which is still being held down by magnets), being careful not to rip the one ribbon cable used to connect the keyboard, trackpad, and fingerprint sensor to the rest of the laptop. From there, you can insert the RAM and M.2 drive, before reseating the input cover and screwing it back in.
Of course, there’s the option to buy a pre-built machine based on one of their selected configurations to avoid assembling yourself.
Framework has said that they intentionally built their laptop with Linux compatability in mind, using existing components which already have good support from the Linux kernel. This is also a nice perk of the DIY option - I didn’t have to pay for a Windows 11 license that I’m not going to use.
Framework also published a long list of supported distros, including setup guides for most of them, which walk you through any configuration changes you need to make (other than battery life tweaks, which I’ll get to later).
Their commitment to Linux is only growing, as they recently hired Matt Hartley as Linux Support Lead.
I went with Ubuntu, which has been my go-to since I started using linux. It was a simple process, too. All I had to do was install it as normal, make a couple minor configuration changes, per the install guide, and then I could get to work installing my software, custom theme and icons, and uninstalling Snap, most of which was tmost of which was taken care of automatically by my Ansible playbook.
If you go with a pre-built Framework Laptop, it comes pre-installed with Windows 11.
Out of the box, the battery life is pretty sub-par getting only 5-6 hours on average. I’ve heard that its decent on windows, but I can’t verify that because I have not installed windows on my Framework. With some configuration and tweaking, however, I’ve managed to get up to 9 hours of battery out of it, depending on the workload.
I plan to write an in-depth battery life guide for the Framework laptop at some point in the future.
The Framework Laptop comes with four USB-C ports that are Thunderbolt 4 Certified as of the week of writing.
They’re not ordainary ports, however, they’re located within Expansion Card bays. Expansion cards are adapters that lock into these slots and enable you to customize your IO. I have x2 USB-C (these are simple passthrough cards because plugging into the internal USB-C ports is inconvenient), x2 USB-A, and one spare HDMI port which I keep in my bag in case I need it.
I would recommend that people who plan to leave expansion cards plugged in purchase the USB-A and USB-C cards only, as DisplayPort, HDMI, and MicroSD cause excessive battery drain due to current firmware restrictions.
Storage expansion cards, which are small USB-C SSDs, are also available.
The community might just be my favorite part of this laptop, which I know is a weird thing to say. I am an active member and volunteer moderator in the Framework Discord Community, as well as lurking the subreddit and Forums.
Not only are there tons of knowlegable people who can fix your issue for you, but the communities are incredibly inviting and welcoming.
There is also a pretty large maker community forming around the Framework laptop, from 3D designers making cases to amature electrical engineers designing expansion cards and even alternate mainboards. There’s also a community forming around modifying the Framework Laptop’s EC, or Embedded Controller’s firmware which handles everythning from the boot process to the keyboard.
I maintain the community Framework Awesome List which has links to many of these makers and what they’re working on.
The Framework Laptop feels incredibly well-built. Fit and finish is great. It’s reassuringly heavy without being difficult to carry.
The expansion cards are the onlt place that I notice any cosmetic issues. The metal doesn’t quite match perfectly, so if you’re looking closely you can see the difference. The tolerances are just a little loose, meaning that there are uneven gaps between the cards and the chassis.
These are nitpicky details, however, and I don’t notice them unless I’m looking for them.
Repairability, as I mentioned, is the best you can get in a laptop. Just about every component has a QR code on it linking to the replacement part, and a repair guide available for it.
People have criticized Framework because they don’t have replacement batteries available. While they are not available on the website, they can be purchased through customer support. This is because they have to manually generate shipping lables due to restrictions on shipping lithium-ion batteries.
iFixit has given them a 10/10 for repairability, upgraded to an 11/10 via Twitter when they announced their upgrade kits, which allow users to upgrade the mainboard from 11th gen to 12th gen without replacing other components.
Framework’s support team is second to none. I had a minor issue with my laptop after I upgraded my RAM, and I got a response in less than 10 minutes. According to Kevin Crawford, head of global customer experience at Framework, customers can expect a response within one business day.
While some people have expressed frustration about the amount of troubleshooting that Framework support walks you through, their approach makes sense and is much better than any other customer support that I have dealt with. They’re trying to diagnose what the real cause of the problem is to avoid wasteful unnessesary hardware replacements. Their fast response times also mean that going through these steps isn’t too much of an inconvenience.
Stated Crawford in an online post, “We’ll do our best to make it right. Just please come in with the right mindset and a willingness to troubleshoot with us. We’re humans on the other end of the line, and we personally did not cause the ailments that you might be experiencing. We’re here to help!”