For a long time, laptops have always had a certain weakness that’s absent from their desktop counterparts, the lack of modularity. One soldered part goes kaput and the whole laptop will need to be replaced; that frustration with the current engineering for laptops led to the creation of the Framework Laptop. It appears they’ve come a long way since Framework is now introducing a modular gaming laptop, the Framework Laptop 16.
Okay fine; technically, laptops are modular if their RAM isn’t soldered and if they have extra storage slots, but those two components hardly contribute to gaming performance. They’re not as important as the GPU or the CPU for gaming– something you can replace in a desktop if you want to improve its gaming performance.
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What Framework wants to do with its modular gaming laptop is give users the chance to replace the CPU and GPU once the components become outdated or once a specific component breaks.
Back when we covered Framework with their Framework Laptop 13 model, they were just starting out with their modular work laptops which weren’t meant for gaming at all. Now, they’re inching ever closer to the dream of fully modular laptops which are also capable of gaming with the Framework Laptop 16.
What Is the Framework Laptop 16?
Basically, it’s a bigger upgrade from Framework’s Framework Laptop 13 model and it’s meant to be a high-performance 16-inch notebook. It’s about as customizable as the Framework Laptop 13 with a long list of modular features from the screen to the trackpad and everything in between (CPU and GPU included).
Compared to the Framework Laptop 13, the Framework Laptop 16 comes with two additional features apart from the bigger form factor and display. It also has a fully reconfigurable input deck (for the keyboard) and of course, the upgradeable graphics module (GPU).
It’s the second new feature that’s the game-changer.
Imagine being able to keep a laptop indefinitely without buying a new one, opting to only upgrade the outdated parts to suit your specific needs. This translates to significant long-term savings for laptop users.
And it just so happens that gaming hardware is one of the most frequently-replaced or upgraded machines on the planet.
How Did They Do It?
Quite clever in fact. To be more specific, the graphics module is not crammed into the mainboard along with the CPU because it’s simply too big.
What they did was create the module separately as an added layer to the laptop itself. And since GPUs put out a lot of heat as a waste product, the graphics module for the Framework Laptop 16 also came with its own two radial fans.
This graphics module is then attached to the bottom of the laptop through a PCIE connector. Granted, this will increase the thickness of the laptop given the additional cooling system and the GPU bulk itself. However, since it’s fully modular, you can detach the graphics module if you don’t need it or if you want to travel light for work or other activities.
Such engineering practically makes the Framework Laptop 16 two laptops in one. A light work laptop and a heavy and bulky gaming laptop all in one, able to transform at your whim.
To put things into perspective, no other mainstream laptop can do this yet (or no manufacturer wants to). The closest mainstream counterpart would be those external GPUs from Razer, Asus, and other gaming companies that typically connect via Thunderbolt.
Those devices are heavy, bulky, and unsightly. Some of them are the same size as a small ITX gaming PC as well; you might as well just buy a desktop PC instead since it’s cumbersome to take such external GPUs everywhere, which is also why there’s such a small market for them.
Now– thanks to the Framework Laptop 16, laptops have finally evolved and advanced to match the level of modularity of their desktop counterparts. Such a development, boldly speaking, is the innovation that the laptop industry needs and has been missing for decades.
Specs & Price?
Here’s the sad part, the Framework Laptop 16 is not available yet. Currently, Framework has only made an announcement and a commercial for these devices.
Thus, specifications, apart from the 16-inch form factor and display, haven’t been announced yet. That will come later once the laptop is available for pre-orders in Spring 2023 if their timeline has no delays.
Meanwhile, Framework promised a shipping date of late 2023, possibly early 2024 depending on the number of pre-orders and other circumstances.
For that matter, there is also no price yet at the time of writing, but to to help readers get a gauge on estimates, the Framework Laptop 13 ranged from $750 to $1,050 (USD) so it would be fair to expect the Framework Laptop 16 to go anywhere from $1,400 to $2,000 maybe more depending on the specifications of the modular CPU and the modular GPU as well as other additions.
Considering the modularity, the ease-of-upgrade and repair, as well as the philosophy behind the Framework Laptops, that price is most likely a steal for a lot of gamers. Most mid-range to high-end gaming laptops cost that much these days. Of course, it could also be more expensive compared to that estimated price range due to the more niche market, but it’s hard to tell at this point.
All that’s left is to hold our breaths and wait as this laptop innovation and engineering marvel unfolds in the coming months. Fingers crossed.
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