Framework Laptop computer (2022) evaluation: the repairability dream

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Tech corporations are infamous for promising modular, upgradable units and failing to comply with by. So, when Framework introduced its utterly upgradable skinny and lightweight laptop computer last year, together with replaceable ports, bezels, and even (gasp) mainboards, everybody was understandably a bit skeptical.

As I mentioned in my review of that original device, you simply by no means know with this stuff. No matter how good the laptop computer was, a lot of its worth hinged on how properly the corporate would proceed to assist it. Framework assured us that it might make alternative elements, restore guides, and a centralized market obtainable to laptop computer homeowners — and future generations of Intel CPUs. And we waited to see if it might.

Properly, it’s been (roughly) a yr. And Framework did it. It did all of it.

The corporate has announced a new version of its laptop with twelfth Gen Intel processors, and now it’s delivery it out. Maybe extra thrilling is that it’s additionally releasing a twelfth Gen mainboard that homeowners of final yr’s unit can use to improve. And the corporate did, in reality, publish the repair guides and put up the marketplace, and there’s a complete bunch of stuff on there that you could purchase.

Although the brand new Framework laptop computer is unremarkable as a laptop computer, it’s laudable in what it represents. Framework is dedicated to proper to restore and has put its cash the place its mouth is. After all of the occasions this market has been burned, that truth is value celebrating.

Processor apart, mainly the one design change Framework made to the brand new launch is its lid. The corporate has switched “from an aluminum forming course of to a full CNC course of” on this cowl. Truthful sufficient. I’ll say that this lid, which felt flimsy to me final yr, feels extra inflexible now — there’s flex however much less to talk of.

The lid can also be now manufactured from 75 % pre-consumer recycled alloy. Framework says it’s “looking for post-consumer sources.” Numerous different recycled supplies are used all through, together with 70 % post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics within the included screwdriver, 50 % PCR plastics within the keyboard, and 30 % PCR plastics within the battery. (These are numbers that each firm shouts round about each mannequin at this level, however I’m happier to see them than not.)

The Framework Laptop closed on top of a desk with a Verge-branded mug in the background.

Yep, appears just like the final one.

For upgrading of us, the corporate has additionally launched reference designs detailing 3D-printable instances and stands that individuals may use to repurpose their old mainboards. I’m unsure how many individuals will really do that, however I definitely recognize that the corporate is encouraging folks to not throw away their outdated elements.

The third replace is that there’s additionally alleged to be a brand new ethernet growth card coming as a port possibility, although Framework nonetheless has a “coming quickly” sticker on that. (You may choose 4 ports on this Framework mannequin, as you possibly can on final yr’s mannequin. I went with one USB-A, two USB-C, and a microSD however may’ve swapped in quite a few others, together with HDMI. The one limitation is that you must choose at the very least one USB-C since that’s how the laptop computer expenses.) Laptops with ethernet are mainly unheard of out of doors of enormous gaming rigs nowadays, so this can be a PSA to anybody who’s been bummed by their demise.

A user holds the Framework laptop beneath their arm in an office setting with the lid visible.

Took it for a spin across the workplace, as you do.

The very best a part of the chassis stays the identical. It’s endlessly upgradeable: you possibly can swap out every little thing from the bezels and keycaps to the fingerprint reader and bottom cover.

In order for you alternative elements, you’ll discover them on Framework’s marketplace. This was a ghost city final yr however appears fairly good this yr. All the things’s up on the market: mainboards, memory, speakers, heatsinks, displays, touchpad cables, webcam modules — the works. Every half you obtain has a QR code on it. Scanning that code brings you to documentation exhibiting related guides and alternative elements.

It appears like prebuilt computers and DIY kits are backed up till August on the earliest, however Framework tells me that it is best to be capable to order mainboards right this moment and that they’re delivery this month.

The left side of the Framework laptop ports.

Can’t have too many USB-C.

The right side of the Framework laptop with an office setting in the background.

Want I may’ve gone for extra USB-A.

My main gripe with the final Framework additionally stays. This chassis is held along with T5 Torx screws, which implies you possibly can’t pop it open with a daily Phillips screwdriver. This can be much less of an issue for prior Framework homeowners who have already got Framework’s screwdriver, nevertheless it nonetheless could make it extra of a trouble to seek out alternative screws. Framework advised me final yr that it makes use of Torx screws as a result of they keep away from stripping points that may give you Phillips screws.

Nonetheless, within the grand scheme of issues, this can be a repairability dream. It obtained a rare 10 out of 10 from iFixit for a motive.

The power button of the Framework Laptop seen from above.

Cute little lights across the energy button.

So, that’s the upgradeability. How is the newest Framework as a laptop computer? It’s high quality. It’s simply high quality.

At 0.62 inches thick and a couple of.87 kilos, the gadget is skinny and lightweight sufficient to hold round with out situation. It’s considerably plain trying (although the gear emblem on the lid is cute) however hasn’t collected fingerprints or smudges throughout my testing interval. There’s an orange bezel possibility that would probably jazz up the look, although I want you possibly can get a lid in an identical shade. (The orange and grey bezels are additionally $10 more than the black ones.) Not less than it’s not coated in branding — the hinge says “Framework” on the left aspect, nevertheless it’s an unobtrusive aptitude.

The show is 13.5 inches with 2256 x 1504 decision and a 3:2 facet ratio — my favourite facet ratio — providing fairly a little bit of vertical area. It will get loads vibrant for inside and out of doors use, maxing out at 444 nits in my testing. It does relax some glare however nothing that interfered with my work at medium brightness.

The left side of the Framework Laptop seen from the bottom.

Enjoyable, enjoyable ports.

The webcam of the Framework Laptop with the indicator light illuminated.

Bodily shutter for the digital camera as properly.

Elsewhere, there’s a 1080p webcam, which is now not the rarity that it was final yr. The audio system are commonplace laptop computer fare: quantity is appropriate however not wonderful; bass is audible however considerably tinny.

The keyboard is quiet and extra mushy than it’s clicky; I used to be a bit under my standard typing speeds however made nearly no errors throughout my typing check. Replacement keyboards might be ordered in a handful of various languages and layouts, which might be helpful for those who wish to swap forwards and backwards.

The 4.5 x 3-inch touchpad is easy, with a simple click on and no palm rejection points that I skilled. There are different-colored keycaps obtainable (together with clear ones that look very cool), and I want you possibly can change the touchpad’s shade as properly. Alternative touchpads are at present listed as “coming soon” on {the marketplace}.

The Framework Laptop angled to the right on a desk seen from the left side. The screen displays a light blue desktop background with a dark blue flower.

However catch that glare, although.

Powering all of that is Intel’s twelfth Gen Core i7-1260P, which is present in among the finest skinny and lightweight laptops in the marketplace together with Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 Pro. It’s obtained 12 cores, together with 4 efficiency and eight effectivity.

I opted for a prebuilt Framework unit with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage along with the 1260P, which costs $1,449 and is at present estimated to ship in August. There’s additionally a Core i5 / 8GB / 256GB $1,049 mannequin that’s delivery in September and a Core i7-1280P / 32GB / 1TB mannequin delivery in August.

The DIY kit, which begins at $819, is much more configurable with every kind of SSD and reminiscence decisions (in addition to the choice to go away sure elements out if you have already got your individual). After messing round with configurations there, it looks as if DIY kits are typically shut in value to prebuilts with comparable specs.

In real-world efficiency, I typically didn’t run into vital issues. I used this as a main work driver together with round a dozen Chrome tabs, typically with a stream or YouTube and a few different apps working within the background with downloads from time to time. The underside obtained scorching once I was placing the gadget by so much whereas on battery saver, however I by no means felt that warmth within the keyboard. I additionally didn’t hear fan noise whereas I used to be working (although I definitely heard it whereas benchmarking). For these types of use instances, the Framework is quiet, quick, and funky. Importing and enhancing a batch of pictures in Photoshop wasn’t an issue both.

That mentioned, this might not be my laptop of alternative if I had to make use of Adobe’s Premiere Professional or Media Encoder mainly ever. The applications have been noticeably slower and fewer responsive than they’d be on extra highly effective machines, Premiere froze up a couple of occasions, and I used to be getting the spinning wheel left and proper once I tried to export.

Framework Laptop computer (2022) benchmarks

Benchmark Rating
Benchmark Rating
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single 1465
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi 7990
Geekbench 5.3 Open CL / Compute 18058
Cinebench R23 Single 1476
Cinebench R23 Multi 7623
Cinebench R23 Multi 30 min loop 8085
PugetBench for Premiere Professional 285
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1920 x 1200, lowest) 32
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1920 x 1200, highest) 14

In benchmark testing, the Framework averaged 32fps on Shadow of the Tomb Raider (which isn’t the body charge you’d hope to have for those who have been really enjoying however is barely higher than we noticed from the M2 MacBook Air on the decrease preset). It did lose to the Air (to not point out the Professional, which can also be equally priced) in a lot of the different artificial benchmarks we ran — and fairly badly in some instances. Nevertheless it’s definitely exhibiting enchancment over its eleventh Gen predecessor, the Core i7-1165G7, which we’ve seen worse outcomes for in laptops like final yr’s Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo’s ThinkBook 13s. It even offers the MSI Prestige 14 Evo with Intel’s flagship Core i7-1185G7 a run for its cash on a few of these checks.

Two users seen in a camera utility through the Framework Latptop’s webcam. One smiles and one makes a peace sign.

Right here’s what the webcam offers you.

However there’s one space the place all of these laptops soundly beat this one, and it’s battery life. On this technique, I used to be solely averaging about 5 hours and 20 minutes of steady work with the display at round 200 nits of brightness and Battery Saver on. This isn’t nice for skinny and lights. It’s lower than half that I get out of the MacBook Air (which is only $170 more than the Framework for comparable specs) and near half of what I get out of the very best skinny and lights on the market, just like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

These merchandise are each thinner and lighter than the Framework and boast two of the best-built chassis on the laptop computer market. It’s additionally value noting that extra environment friendly units use much less power, and I’d hope that will be a big a part of the sustainability mission that Framework has made so central to its branding.

I want I may assign completely different scores to Framework the laptop computer and Framework the corporate. I imagine that Framework, the corporate, is displaying an admirable imaginative and prescient and a reparability achievement that’s by no means been seen within the skinny and lightweight area. I imagine that the Framework Laptop computer (which is what I’m primarily tasked with reviewing right here) is a bit costly for what it provides.

I’ve been wrestling with how finest to reconcile these details. Right here is the place I in the end come down: reparability has prices. Within the Framework’s case, battery life is the most important one. However they may also be seen in varied kinds throughout the board. Consumers could have little drawback discovering machines at its value level that match or beat it in nearly each class (and double its battery life). As a lot as I like the Framework, that truth makes me loath to situation a blanket suggestion.

However Framework has additionally by no means claimed that any of those areas are the Framework’s calling card. The corporate hasn’t persistently vowed to ship the prettiest chassis or the very best audio system in the marketplace. As a substitute, it has advised us time and time once more {that a} rigorous ecosystem for repairability is coming. It’s delivered there, and it’s betting that there’s an viewers who cares about that ecosystem above every little thing else talked about on this evaluation. At that time, evaluating this gadget to different laptops in its class appears considerably irrelevant.

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