I recently reviewed the Framework 13 and in case you haven’t read that review, the whole premise of Framework is around upgradeability, so the entire laptop can be upgraded including everything from the mainboard which houses the processor to the battery, speakers and more.
As part of the review process, I upgraded the mainboard from the 12th gen Intel processor to the new 13th gen Intel processor, and obviously that left me with a spare mainboard to use, but in typical Framework fashion, nothing goes to waste, so I was able to easily put it into use in the Framework x Cooler Master mainboard case giving me a second PC to play with.
The build on this one was super simple and made even easier by a fantastic guide on the Framework website. After setting the mainboard to standalone mode whilst it was still in laptop, I simply unscrewed the 8 screws holding the top part of the case on, and then placed the mainboard inside.
All I had to do was then place the Wi-FI chip to give me Wi-Fi access (you can also get Ethernet access through a expansion card that I’ll get into in a bit) as well as the audio chip to get me a 3.5mm port out of my case, but both of these are optional steps. Just like with the Framework 13, the memory and SSD of your choosing both get installed into the mainboard.
As long as you follow the steps and look at the variety of photos on offer, it’s pretty hard to go wrong and it’s a super rewarding building experience once you pop that case back on and power it on.
The actual case has a super sexy translucent design, and a super clever stand system. a rubber stand goes into one of the VESA mounts on the back to cleverly display your case, and there’s also four VESA mounts as well as included screws that sit in the stand to attach it to the back of a monitor.
Just like with everything else that Framework has designed, it’s a super slick design and feels futuristic with your mainboard and LED lights peeping through.
As with Framework 13, the case uses an expansion card system. There’s four USB-C slots where you can mix and match expansion cards ranging from USB-C/A, MicroSD, ethernet, audio, HDMi or DisplayPort.
I gushed about this system in my review and it’s just as fantastic here, especially given you can share them between devices, although I did notice that the colour differences did stand out a little more here.
The power button is on the front of the case, so you have easy access to turn it on and whilst there are holes in the case for air circulation, it was fairly quiet whilst in general use.
Whilst you’re probably not going to be doing any hardcore gaming on this mainboard, it’s great for day to day productivity or creating a media server, and honestly, just giving your mainboard a second home is super worth it.
Again, this entire process just cemented why Framework is one of the most exciting tech companies, and committed to their cause of providing consumers with a choice and minimising waste through giving your tech a prolonged life.
The Framework x Cooler Master case is a fantastic way to give your old mainboard a second life. It's super easy to build in, looks fantastic and comes with a number of mounting options.