Electronics used to be simpler back then, computers included. If you purchase a computer, then you have the right to repair it or even upgrade it so you don’t need to purchase a whole one again in case one component goes kaput. The same cannot be said for gaming laptops, sadly.
In gaming laptops, or just about any other laptop these days, the most important and expensive components are all soldered and glued tight. Removing them will either void the warranty or completely destroy the laptop’s mainboard or motherboard.
Besides, there are no module laptop components for sale apart from the RAM/memory, storage, and sound card. The two most important components, the screen, the CPU, and the GPU, are soldered shut into the laptop itself. If they break or become cripplingly outdated, then you’ll be forced to purchase a new laptop. All the other working components are usually wasted.
Framework Laptops, however, aim to change this tradition.
What is a Framework Laptop?
A Framework Laptop is a model or brand of a laptop that introduces modularity to the laptop industry. This modularity extends beyond the RAM and the storage. With a Framework Laptop, you can replace a lot of the components such as the screen, the keyboard, and most importantly, the CPU.
The implications are far-reaching and more significant than it seems. For one, this lets consumers keep their laptops and only replace parts that are broken. In order to make this possible, the creators of the Framework Laptop took the initiative to source the manufacturing for the modular components.
Most of the components in a Framework Laptop are thus customizable, allowing their users a degree of freedom never before seen in bigger laptop brands and manufacturers.
The components you can upgrade and customize in a Framework Laptop are as follow:
- Mainboard/Motherboard (CPU included)
- Power Adapter
- Antenna Module
- Audio Board
- Bottom Cover
- Top Cover
- Fingerprint Reader
- WiFi Card
Now, compare that with a normal, mainstream laptop whose only replaceable parts are the RAM, Storage, and Audio Board. It’s easy to see who’s the clear winner here.
You don’t have to worry about the components breaking. You can replace them anyway; they’re practically the same ones being used by most laptop brands and models, only modular.
Framework Laptop Specs
When it comes to certain productivity tasks, Framework Laptops are no slouches. You can even use one for some light video editing with these specs:
- Max CPU: i7-1280P (Up to 4.8 GHz, 6+8 cores)
- Graphics/GPU: Iris Xe Graphics
- Max RAM: 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200
- Max Storage: 1TB
- Webcam: 1080p 60fps
- Display: 13.5 inches
- Battery: 55Wh
- Weight: 4.40 lbs/2 kg
The price can be a little steep for the specs. The top one using the 12th-Gen Intel CPU costs $1,049 though the base version (with lower specs) costs only $819.
Framework Laptop Limitations
Granted, there are some certain limitations with the current iteration of the Framework Laptop. For one, it only comes with a 13.5-inch screen and frame with a 3:2 display ratio. For many, this is rather small and might only be suitable for web and writing tasks.
Moreover, the list of available CPUs for it doesn’t look impressive enough to warrant the cost and price premium for modularity. Of course, these might change in the near future once the concept picks up or becomes more popular.
The default webcam is great though; it’s a lot better than what most $1,000 laptops offer.
A Big Win for Consumers
Why is the Framework Laptop a big deal for you? Because this laptop respects your right to repair and upgrade. Not having to buy a new laptop whenever a measly soldered component breaks or becomes outdated is always great for your finances.
Components for laptops (even the ones for Framework Laptops) are a lot more affordable compared to the laptop as a whole.
From the start, this is the Framework Laptop’s core philosophy. It’s a model or brand that understands how its consumers think and feel about the electronics they own. Some of the common laptop components that go first are usually the battery or the screen, and the Framework Laptop knows and acknowledges this, hence its inception.
Ultimately this kind of design leads to better savings for everyone, including the manufacturer. If you want, you won’t ever need to purchase another whole Framework Laptop since you can easily upgrade the specs.
Why don’t other brands do this?
The answer to that question is pretty simple. The logic is that the bigger brands’ profit margins could be bigger if the consumers are compelled to purchase a new laptop instead of upgrading one in the event that their old laptop breaks down per component.
Another conventional wisdom in the laptop industry is that repairable products should be supposedly heavier, uglier, and more expensive. Framework Laptop allegedly aims to prove this convention wrong or go against it.
Good Environmental Impact
There’s also another aspect of the current laptop industry that ought to be more alarming than consumer expense. That is the e-waste generated by laptops every year. This adds up to 50 million tons of e-waste every year (including smartphones and other electronics).
Apparently, the current rate of e-waste right now estimates an equivalent of around 1,000 laptops thrown away every second. The actual amount might be less or it might be more but it’s safe to assume that laptops’ anti-repair/upgrade designs and policies are contributing a lot here.
Not to mention the toxic waste that these laptops generate is also bad for the environment and the people. Laptops contain toxic chemicals and elements, much like most electronics. Recycling does exist, but apparently, most e-waste is just burned in landfills, sometimes through child labor.
So if anything, any solution that can help a lot in reducing e-waste is welcome. Framework Laptop might not be a direct or bulletproof fix for this, but by reducing the need for consumers to replace their whole laptop too often, it’s already contributing to the e-waste reduction.
Modular Mobile GPUs Aren’t a Thing Yet
Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room for those of you interested in gaming laptops. How good is the Framework Laptop for gaming? Not good, yet.
You have to remember that the concept and technology are still in their infancy at this stage. The first Framework Laptop was introduced back in 2021. It has yet to gain the mainstream popularity it deserves to become an industry standard.
There’s also another big limitation that we think deserves a separate sub-section. That’s the fact that the Framework Laptop relies on onboard or integrated GPU at its graphics component. These are never good for modern gaming (unless you play old or light games).
Also, due to its current size (13-inch category), the Framework Laptop will likely need another model to accommodate a discreet or dedicated GPU in its chassis. Because apart from occupying space on the mainboard, a dedicated GPU will also generate a lot of heat. This will necessitate another heatsink and fan module (of which the Framework Laptop only has one).
Gamers will have to wait and see
Granted, it seems that the Framework Laptop’s creators are still testing the market at this point. Their creating another bigger model that caters to gamers could depend on the support and demand for their initial product. Much like how custom-built desktop computers developed in the past decades.
Regardless, a GPU as part of the modular mainboard or CPU option/upgrade could be the final missing piece needed for the Framework Laptop to appeal to a wider audience. There’s also much to gain from such a design both for consumers and brands.
It’s just something that desktop PC users have been enjoying for several decades; so it shouldn’t be too far-fetched to expect something similar for gaming laptops. Hopefully, the Framework Laptop gain more traction and define the future of gaming laptops.