Building PCs has been a thing for as long as I’ve been alive but as far as laptops go, you’ve often been restricted to what you buy with even common upgradeable such as storage and memory being locked away. When you’re purchasing a Framework laptop, the promise couldn’t be any further than this.
Absolutely everything from the mainboard to the display to the bezels to the speakers to the battery to the hinges and almost every other component can be upgraded or replaced by the user, and that’s exactly what I did this week taking my 12th Gen Intel processor to a 13th Gen courtesy of a mainboard upgrade, but also upgraded all the components as well.
If I’m being honest, I had been putting this off for a while, just because I thought it was going to be a lengthy and scary process, and whilst it took up a lot of my attention, it was a super consumer friendly experience and everything worked as expected upon boot. This is largely thanks to Frameworks incredible guides that work you through the process with each part having its own QR code that walks you through the process as well.
That’s not where the customisation ends though. Framework has incorporated an ingenious expansion card system where you can swap out your ports as you see fit. There’s four ports that you can swap out with USB-C/A ports, an ethernet port, HDMI, DisplayPort, or even more storage. Without doubt, this is one of the best tech advancements I’ve ever seen. Not only is it great for repairability, but it means you can swap these out on the fly with literally no repercussions.
There was something insanely special about upgrading my own laptop, and then being able to check out each improvement that I made. If you’ve ever built a PC, you know what the sense of accomplishment is like when you first boot it up, and this was maybe even more special as this is a device that you can take with you.
Before I get too much further into the process, this is Framework’s entire mission statement. It’s to not only reduce waste but to allow you to take your Framework laptop with you through life and upgrade the components as yearly improvements hit the market. So far, they’ve made good on this promise offering new mainboards, new components and even partnering with Cooler Master to release a mini PC shell to use your own mainboard in (more on this soon).
If you’re buying a Framework laptop, you can either purchase it all pre-built or a DIY version which allows you to bring your own OS and you will need to install your SSD and memory onto the mainboard yourself, which is super easy.
A screwdriver comes included and then it’s just five screens on the underside of the laptop that then slides and flips over to reveal the internals. Whilst most people probably won’t be upgrading all of their components like I just did, I’m super glad I had that experience as I got to see the improvements first-hand that didn’t require the purchase of an entirely new laptop.
The Framework 13 has a taller 13.5-inch display with a 2256 x 1504 resolution which is great for coding or web browsing than a regular 16:9 display. I went from a glossy display to matte which was honestly a big improvement for me as I prefer to work in light and bright spaces. I changed out the standard black bezel for a fancy orange one which literally magnetically snaps on and off.
The laptop has a fingerprint reader for unlocking as well as a fantastic 1080p webcam that can be turned off with a physical switcher, and the same goes for the microphone as well.
The keyboard can also be changed out but it’s also just a joy to type on with a good amount of responsiveness and bounce to weed out the typos that I tend to make with a lot of other keyboards. The trackpad is also really responsive and great to use.
As far as the overall build quality of the laptop shell, it feels fantastic and it’s super lightweight to throw in a backpack to continue writing or sending emails on the go. I will admit, the design is a little bit basic, but that’s why I prefer to customise the bezel to give it that extra pop of colour.
Whilst the older battery left a little bit to be desired, between the bigger 61wh battery, firmware improvements and the 13th gen Intel processor being less power hungry, you’ll now happily get a full day out of the Framework 13.
I didn’t have a huge issue with the older hinges, but the new ones definitely provide more stability and allow you to go through that whole range of motion between close and totally flat without feeling like the screen might fall back or forward. Again, it just gives me appreciation for Framework rectifying parts and allowing people to upgrade if they want to.
The new speaker kit also gives volume a bit more oomph. They’re still not the best speakers in the world, but it’s a noticeable improvement on the original ones that shipped with my 2022 model.
As far as the new 13th gen Intel i7-1360P processor, it’s great for general use and productivity as well as some light gaming, but if you’re wanting to do more intense gaming, you should definitely look into the new AMD option that goes up to the 7840U which is the same chip found in the AYANEO 2S (also similar to the ASUS ROG Ally/Legion GO) which will provide excellent gaming performance, or look at the soon to be released Framework 16 that takes customisation further with an upgradeable GPU slot.
In terms of initial outlay, you’re definitely paying more than if you were to buy a one for one product in another laptop, but you’re paying for that customisation and peace of mind that you can upgrade and improve as the years roll on without having to fork out thousands for another laptop.
All-in-all, the Framework 13 isn’t only one of the coolest products that I’ve seen in the last few years, I’m happy to go on record and say that Framework is one of my favourite tech companies to watch at the moment. They’re just doing things differently and are a breath of fresh air in the computing space.
The Framework Laptop 13 is an incredible product for multiple reasons. It provides an upgradable and hugely customisable laptop that functions well as an everyday device that you can take into the future with minimal waste.