Framework startup designed a thin, modular, repairable 13-inch laptop


Enlarge / The Framework laptop computer actually appears slim sufficient on this studio shot. Notice the seams across the USB-C ports on the aspect—these are user-replaceable modules.

Framework

Laptops today are slimmer, sleeker, and lighter than ever—however their repairability and configurability are taking monumental hits within the course of. Framework is in search of to roll again the clock in a great way with its first product, the upcoming Framework 13.5-inch laptop computer.

Following the lead of corporations like Fairphone, the startup is concentrated on respecting customers’ proper to restore by constructing methods centered on modular design, with elements which might be simply configured, changed, and even upgraded.

Not some large block

Though Framework’s raison d’être revolves round modularity, the corporate clearly understands that it could’t sacrifice glossy, light-weight design if it desires to keep up a large enchantment. It describes its first product, the upcoming Framework laptop computer, as “just like a Dell XPS… skinny, not some large block.” The early product photographs and specs appear to bear that out:

  • 13.5-inch 3:2 display @ 2256×1504
  • 1.3kg (2.9lb) milled aluminum chassis
  • 15.9mm thick
  • configurable Intel Tiger Lake (eleventh gen) CPU
  • configurable Wi-Fi as much as Wi-Fi 6E
  • configurable RAM as much as 64GiB DDR4
  • configurable NVMe storage “4TB or extra”
  • 1080p webcam @ 60fps
  • 57Wh battery

Framework’s off-the-cuff comparability appears fairly cheap, with specs equal to or barely higher than these accessible on Dell’s XPS 13. It’s 0.1kg heavier and 1.1mm thicker than the XPS 13—however we do not suppose that is going to be a deal breaker for most individuals.

Modularity

You possibly can go a great distance towards making a laptop computer repairable by merely together with customary sockets quite than soldering every thing all the way down to the board. I have been personally pissed off with the latter apply many occasions this yr—soldered elements not solely forestall you from repairing laptops after they fail, however in lots of circumstances, they cease you from even configuring machines as you’d favor.

Framework pledges to cast off all of that—specs, product photographs, and even video shared with us in confidence present simply accessible sockets for RAM, storage, and Wi-Fi. The corporate additionally pledges to supply future motherboard swaps to permit for upgrading the CPU with out changing your entire laptop computer—though frankly, we’re a bit extra-skeptical about that declare till we see it in motion; it is troublesome to foretell how bodily layouts and thermal wants will change with total future {hardware} generations.

Past the usual sockets we used to anticipate from laptops, Framework will introduce the idea of configurable exterior ports. As a substitute of constructing the chassis with a particular port format, the machine has been designed with 4 bays that match what the corporate is asking “Enlargement Playing cards”—these provide USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, microSD, and even 3.5mm headphone ports. With this method, customers will be capable of resolve for themselves not solely what ports they want however which aspect of the laptop computer to place them on.

Lastly, the corporate pledges to make the Framework laptop computer user-serviceable by specializing in ease of substitute—and availability—of often changed elements, together with battery, display, keyboard, and bezel. The corporate additionally pledges to open up its {hardware} ecosystem to 3rd events, which can be capable of design, construct, and promote appropriate modules through a Framework Market.

Too good to be true?

Framework is promising an terrible lot in its very first product—”skinny as an XPS 13, repairable as a custom-built gaming PC” is a reasonably tall order to dwell as much as. We very a lot wish to imagine, however it’ll take a full Ars Technica teardown earlier than we’re utterly satisfied.

Though we’re skeptical, we’re hopeful—the fledgling firm does have a reasonably stable pedigree. Framework founder Nirav Patel was Oculus VR’s head of {hardware} from 2012 to 2017, and he was a Fb director of engineering past that. The corporate’s crew additionally contains design, engineering, and operations folks hailing from Apple, Google, and Lenovo.

The Framework laptop computer is anticipated to grow to be extensively accessible this summer time—and an organization consultant promised us a hands-on evaluation unit as quickly as one turns into accessible.



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