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The Framework Laptop is fully modular — and it looks incredible

Launched by the team that founded Oculus, the Framework Laptop takes an entirely new approach to an Ultrabook laptop.

On the surface, with its attractive machined aluminum shell and sleek design, the Framework Laptop looks similar to a MacBook Pro or a Surface Laptop. Underneath the surface, however, Framework’s modular laptop concept brings a host of innovations to the notebook market, including the ability to upgrade many of the laptop’s internal and external components, and not just the memory and storage.

Now you won’t have to throw away your current laptop when things are running slow. At least, that’s the idea.

Framework Laptop

In addition to standard upgrades, like the SSD and RAM modules that can be replaced on some Windows notebooks today, you will also be able to upgrade the ports, Wi-Fi module, screen, keyboard, battery, and even the entire motherboard with each successive generation of silicon released by companies like Intel.

The caveat is that you’d have to wait for Framework to create a board to accommodate the new processor inside the laptop’s housing.

In terms of ports, Framework claims that the laptop comes with four bays, and you can choose modules to outfit the laptop with your own configuration of USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, microSD, ultrafast storage, a high-end headphone amp, and more.

“Our Expansion Card system makes adapters a thing of the past, letting you choose exactly the ports you want and which side of the notebook you want them on,” Framework said of the notebook’s modular port design.

Components like the display, battery, and keyboard can be replaced directly with components from the company’s web store.

You’d think that giving users this level of serviceability would turn the Framework Laptop into a bulky, hacked-together Frankenstein notebook, but that is completely not the case here. The laptop comes in at 0.62 inches thin and weighs just 2.87 pounds. That means it’s both thinner and lighter than the MacBook Pro.

The modular concept that Framework is using on its notebook allows this laptop to not only be highly upgradable and serviceable but also keep aging electronics out of landfills.

“Most consumer electronics devices are disposable one-offs by design. The single best way to reduce the environmental impact of electronics is to make them last longer. In addition to enabling longevity, we’re focused on improving sustainability across the life of our products,” Framework said. “The Framework Laptop is made of 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) aluminum and an average of 30% PCR plastic. Our packaging is fully recyclable, with no single-use plastics, and all of our product shipments are carbon offset.”

Other features include a 13.5-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio display with a resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 pixels that comes with an FHD webcam with hardware privacy switches. The 13.5-inch, 3:2 screen gives this laptop similar dimensions to Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 3.

The Framework Laptop has a keyboard with 1.5mm of key travel, and configurations include 11th Gen Intel Core processors, Wi-Fi 6E support, up to 64GB DDR4 memory, and upwards of 4TB of Gen4 NVMe storage.

This modular notebook is expected to launch this summer, though details about pricing are not immediately available. Framework claims that a DIY tinkerer’s edition will also be available, allowing people to fully customize the laptop to their liking and needs.

“It’s time for long-lasting products that respect your right to repair and upgrade,” the company added. “We’re bringing this philosophy to notebooks this year, and to additional categories as we go. We chose an ambitious mission and assembled an incredible team to deliver on it, bringing experience from the founding team of Oculus and design, engineering, and operations across Apple, Google, Lenovo, and more.”

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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