Tech companies have a well-deserved reputation for failing to deliver on their promises to produce gadgets that are modular and upgradeable. Everyone was naturally a little bit suspicious when Framework introduced their entirely upgradable thin and light laptop a year ago, including interchangeable ports, bezels, and even (gasp) mainboards. This was due to the fact that Framework’s laptop was both thin and light.
You really never know with these kinds of things, as I mentioned in my analysis of the device that came first. Regardless of how well the laptop performed, a significant portion of its worth was dependent on the degree to which the manufacturer would continue to maintain it. Framework assuaged our concerns by assuring us that it will make available to owners of laptops not only replacement parts, service guides, and a centralized marketplace, but also future generations of Intel CPUs. And we sat there and waited to see whether or not it would.
So, it’s been (almost) a year since we last spoke. And Framework did it. It was successful in every way.
The company has recently introduced a new model of its laptop that is equipped with processors from the 12th Generation of the Intel family, and it has begun distributing these models. The fact that it is also launching a 12th Gen mainboard that owners of the unit from the previous year can utilize to upgrade to is possibly even more interesting. And the company did, in fact, publish the repair manuals and set up the marketplace, where there is a whole variety of items that you can buy there. In addition to this, the company published the repair guides.
Despite the fact that the new Framework laptop is ordinary as a piece of hardware, it is commendable because of what it stands for. Framework is dedicated to the right to repair and has shown its support by making financial contributions to the cause. That is a fact that should be celebrated in light of the fact that this market has been burnt so many times.
FRAMEWORK LAPTOP (2022) SPECS AS REVIEWED
- 13.5” 3:2, 2256 x 1504 display
- Intel Core i7-1260P (4.7 GHz, 4+8 cores)
- 16GB DDR4-3200
- 512GB Gen4 PCI-e NVMe storage
- 4 x user-selectable expansion cards, 3.5mm headphone jack
- 60W high-efficiency GaN USB-C
- 2 x 2W speaker, 2 x microphone with hardware privacy switch
- 1.5mm key travel backlit keyboard
- 1080p 60fps webcam
- WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
- 11.68 x 9.01 x 0.62 inches (15.85mm x 296.63mm x 228.98mm)
- 2.87 pounds (1.3kg)
Aside from the processor, the only other major alteration to the design of the new edition that Framework made was to its cover. This cover was made by the firm after they made the transition “from an aluminum forming method to a full CNC process.” That makes sense. I have to admit that this cover, which seemed so fragile to me a year ago, now seems much more firm; there is still some flex, but it is much less noticeable.
The alloy that makes up the lid is now pre-consumer recycled in 75% of its production. According to Framework, the company is “looking for post-consumer sources.” There are a variety of additional recycled materials utilized throughout, such as post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics that make up 70 percent of the included screwdriver, 50 percent of the keyboard, and 30 percent of the battery respectively. Other recycled materials are also included. (At this point, these are numbers that every manufacturer yells about their products, but I’d rather see them than not see them.)
People who are updating their systems can take advantage of the fact that the company has published reference designs that detail 3D-printable casings and stands they can use to repurpose their existing motherboards. I’m not sure how many people will actually follow through with this, but I certainly respect the fact that the company is urging customers to keep their old components rather than throwing them away.
The third new feature is that Framework is meant to be releasing a new ethernet expansion card in the near future as an available port option; however, the sticker that says “coming soon” is still present on the card. (Just like with the model from the previous year, this Framework model gives you the option to choose between four different ports. My final configuration included one USB-A port, two USB-C ports, and a microSD card; however, I had the option of using a variety of different ports, including HDMI. The only restriction is that you must choose at least one USB-C port, as the laptop can only be charged through this type of connection. In this day and age, laptops equipped with ethernet are practically unheard of, with the exception of really powerful gaming rigs; therefore, this public service announcement is directed toward everyone who is disappointed by the disappearance of these laptops.
The chassis has retained its superior qualities throughout. It is possible to upgrade it indefinitely; everything on it, from the bezels and keycaps to the fingerprint reader and the bottom cover, can be replaced.
You can get replacement parts from Framework’s online marketplace if you are looking for them. A ghost town the year before, this place is starting to look fairly decent this year. Everything from the mainboards to the RAM to the speakers to the heatsinks to the displays, touchpad wires, and webcam modules are all available for purchase. You will find a QR code on each component that you order; when you scan this code, you will be taken to documentation that includes helpful guides and replacement components.
It appears that pre-built PCs and DIY kits will not be available until at least the beginning of August, however Framework has informed me that you should be able to place an order for mainboards today and that they will ship this month.
My primary issue with the most recent Framework has not been addressed. Because this chassis is held together with T5 torx screws, you won’t be able to open it up using a standard Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws. It will be less of an issue for previous Framework users because they will already have the screwdriver for Framework, but it may still be more difficult to locate replacement screws due to this change. The previous year, Framework mentioned to me that it employs Torx screws because, in comparison to Phillips screws, they do not experience the stripping troubles that can arise.
However, in the great scheme of things, this repairability fantasy is a reality – there is a good reason why iFixit gave it a rare 10/10 rating.
Therefore, that concludes the upgradability. How would you rate the most recent version of Framework as a laptop? It’s all good. It works out perfectly.
The device has a thickness of 0.62 inches and a weight of 2.87 pounds, making it tiny and light enough to take around without any problems. It hasn’t picked up any fingerprints or smudges during my testing time, despite having a relatively unremarkable appearance (though the gear logo on the lid is really endearing). There is an option for an orange bezel, which might perhaps make the design more interesting; nevertheless, I wish that you could also buy a lid in the same color. (Also, the bezels in orange and gray cost an additional ten dollars compared to the black ones.) At least it is not completely covered in branding; on the left side of the hinge, it says “Framework,” but this is only a subtle decorative touch.
The display has a size of 13.5 inches, a resolution of 2256 by 1504, and a 3:2 aspect ratio, which happens to be my personal favorite aspect ratio. This provides quite a lot of vertical space. In my tests, it reached a maximum brightness of 444 nits, making it suitable for usage both inside and outside. It does reflect some glare, but nothing that made it difficult for me to work when the brightness was set to medium.
In another section, there is a webcam that has a resolution of 1080p, which is not as unusual as it was a year ago. The speakers are typical of those found in laptops; the loudness is decent but not particularly impressive, and the bass can be heard but has a tinny quality to it.
The keyboard is unobtrusive and has a mushier feel than a clicky one; as a result, I was able to complete my typing test with nearly no typos despite having slower typing speeds than usual. It is possible to place an order for replacement keyboards in a variety of languages and layouts, which may come in handy if you frequently switch between languages and cultures.
The 4.5-by-3-inch touchpad operates without any problems, including palm rejection, thanks to its smooth surface, quick click, and dimensions. The keycaps come in a variety of colors, including those that are transparent and have a very unique appearance; nevertheless, I really wish you could also alter the color of the touchpad. The marketplace presently lists replacement touchpads as “coming soon” for their availability.
The 12th-Generation Core i7-1260P from Intel is what makes all of this possible. This processor is also featured in some of the most sleek and lightweight laptops now available, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Book2 Pro. It has 12 cores, with four dedicated to performance and eight dedicated to efficiency.
In addition to the 1260P, I decided to purchase a pre-built Framework unit with 16 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) and 512 gigabytes of storage space. This combination costs a total of $1,449 and is anticipated to ship sometime in August. There is also a model with a Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of random access memory, 256 gigabytes of storage, and a price tag of $1,049. This model will begin delivering in September.
The DIY kit, which has a starting price of $819, is far more adjustable, and it offers a wide variety of options for both the SSD and the memory (as well as the option to leave certain parts out if you already have your own). After playing around with the different configurations available on the site, it appears that the cost of a DIY kit is often comparable to that of a prebuilt product with comparable specifications.
Framework for the accessibility of laptops
Every user has various requirements for their gadgets, which means that something that is incredibly accessible to one person might not be available to another person at all. In light of this, I have made an effort to gather in this section information that may be useful to impaired users who are thinking about purchasing this product. This material may or may not also be found elsewhere in the review. If there is information that you would like to see that I have left out of this post, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
FRAMEWORK LAPTOP (PRE-BUILT)
- The dimensions of the letter keys are 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches, and there is a gap of 0.5 inches between each key. All keys are illuminated. An indicator light can only be found on the Caps Lock key. The size of the power button is 1 inch by 1 inch. The keys for the volume are 1.5 inches by 1 inch. The keys have a dark background with white lettering, and it takes a modest amount of concentrated pressure to depress them.
- During my tests, the speakers attained a maximum volume of 79.3 decibels and had a maximum average volume of 73.6 dB.
- The Framework laptop comes in at an overall weight of 2.87 pounds.
- On either side, the user has the option of installing two ports of their choosing. The jack for headphones is located on the left side of the device. The laptop is charged through the USB-C port, and, depending on the arrangement that you choose, it can charge from either side.
- One hand is all that’s needed to lift the lid. Flattening it out is possible, but going any further is impossible.
- The display has a size of 13.5 inches with a resolution of 2256 by 1504. During my tests, the brightness measured at 444 nits, and the contrast ratio measured at 1360:1. There is not an option for a touchscreen.
- The touchpad has dimensions of 4.5 inches by 3 inches and is compatible with precise gestures.
- During setup, you will need to insert ports into the sides of the device, power on the device, and navigate through a number of options.
- Fingerprint logins are supported on the Framework Laptop, but facial logins are not supported.
- Windows 11 comes with its own specialized menu for accessibility.
- Windows 11 comes equipped with its own screen reader by default (Narrator). It is compatible with screen readers developed by other parties, such as NVDA, developed by NV Access, and Jaws, developed by Freedom Scientific. On the website of Microsoft, you can get a complete list of the software that is compatible.
- Both voice typing (which can be accessed by pressing Windows + H) and speech recognition can be toggled on and off with Windows + Ctrl + S in Windows 11.
- Toggle color filters such as inverted, grayscale, red-green, and blue-yellow by pressing Windows + Ctrl + C. Other color filters include red-green and blue-yellow. Toggling contrast themes requires pressing Alt, Left Shift, and Print Screen simultaneously. Under Personalization, you can also access the default Dark Mode as well as colors of your own.
- The color of the caption as well as its size can be changed, and it will show near the bottom of the screen.
- Using Microsoft’s PowerToys, the layout of the keyboard can be altered. Sticky Keys is a feature that is supported. There is a keyboard displayed on the screen that you can use.
- In the Touchpad Settings menu, you may make changes to the size and speed of the pointer, and you can even remap the gestures.
- Windows 11 has capability for eye control using eye trackers that are external.
- The Snap Layout feature was added to Windows 11 and may be accessed by moving the mouse pointer over the Maximize button on any open window.
In terms of my performance in the actual world, I didn’t encounter any major issues too often. This was my primary mode of transportation for work and consisted of approximately a dozen Chrome tabs, frequently with a stream or YouTube playing in the background, as well as a number of other applications that occasionally performed downloads. When I pushed the gadget through a lot of motions while it was on energy saver mode, the bottom of the device became hot, but I never felt the heat in the keyboard. Neither did I notice any noise from the fan when I was working (though I certainly heard it while benchmarking). The Framework is low-key, lightning-fast, and completely chill when put to use in situations like these. It was also not difficult to import multiple photographs at once into Photoshop and make edits to them all at once.
Having said that, if I were required to utilize Adobe’s Premiere Pro or Media Encoder on a regular basis, this would not be the computer that I would choose. Premiere stopped up a couple occasions, and I was getting the spinning wheel whenever I tried to export anything. The apps were notably slower and less responsive than they would be on machines with more processing capacity.
FRAMEWORK LAPTOP (2022) BENCHMARKS
|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 Pro||285|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1920 x 1200, lowest)||32|
The Framework achieved an average of 32 frames per second on Shadow of the Tomb Raider during benchmark testing. While this is not the frame rate you would want to have while actually playing the game, it is better than what we saw from the M2 MacBook Air and is even slightly better than the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro. It fell short of the Air (not to mention the Pro, which is also around the same price) in the majority of the other synthetic benchmarks that we tested, and in several instances, it fell short by a significant margin. However, it is definitely demonstrating an improvement over its 11th-Generation predecessor, the Core i7-1165G7, with which we’ve seen laptops with poorer performance, such as the Dell XPS 13 from the previous year and the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s. In several of these tests, it even competes favorably with the MSI Prestige 14 Evo, which is equipped with Intel’s most advanced Core i7-1185G7 processor.
However, the battery life of all of those other laptops is significantly superior than what this one offers. This is the one category in which it is defeated. Only roughly five hours and twenty minutes of continuous work was possible on this machine for me when the screen brightness was set to approximately 200 nits and the Battery Saver feature was enabled. This is not a good option for people who are skinny and light. It is less than half of what I get out of the MacBook Air (which is only $170 more than the Framework for comparable specifications), and it is close to half of what I get out of the greatest thin-and-lights that are currently available, such as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
These devices are not only more portable than the Framework, but they also sport two of the most well-built chassis that are available on the market for laptops. It is also important to point out that more energy-efficient gadgets use less energy, and I would think that this would be a key part of the sustainability mission that Framework has made such a central component of its branding.
I really wish there was a way for me to rate Framework, the brand of laptop, and Framework, the company, in a different way. My opinion is that Framework, the company, is demonstrating an admirable vision and an achievement in terms of reparability that has never before been seen in the thin-and-light space. I have come to the conclusion that the Framework Laptop, which is the primary item that I am tasked with evaluating in this context, is priced somewhat steeply in comparison to the features that it possesses.
My head has been spinning trying to figure out how to best square these facts. I have finally arrived at the following conclusion: The ability to repair causes expenses. When it comes to the Framework, having a long battery life is the most important factor. On the other hand, they can also be found in a wide variety of guises across the board. Customers won’t have any trouble finding other products in the same price range that are comparable to or superior to it in practically every category (and double its battery life). The fact that I feel this way makes it difficult for me to provide a general recommendation, despite the fact that I adore the Framework.
Nevertheless, Framework has never asserted that any of these features constitute the organization’s unique selling point. The company has not always guaranteed that its products will have the most attractive chassis or the highest quality speakers available on the market. Instead, it has repeatedly conveyed to us that a stringent ecology that prioritizes repairability will soon be established. It is delivered there, and the company is placing its bets on the fact that there is a demographic of customers who care more about that ecosystem than everything else that is described in this review. At that moment, contrasting this device with other laptops in the same category as it appears relatively irrelevant to the discussion.
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