We were first made aware of Framework’s modular laptop concept a couple of months ago, joining a long tradition of attempts to make swapping components in and out of your portable computer nearly as easy as with many desktops. Some of these never make it off the drawing board, so it’s encouraging to learn that Framework just announced that it is accepting pre-orders for its laptop, with an expected delivery date starting as early as the end of July.
As laptops become increasingly difficult to upgrade (especially Apple MacBooks) and even battery replacements sometimes requiring a visit to the repair shop, Framework offers a potentially refreshing alternative, with buyers having the ability to switch motherboards, RAM, storage, the keyboard, and more. Currently, you won’t be able to swap out the screen, but it does include a 13.5-inch display with 2256×1504 resolution, and Framework is working on hot swappable bezels in different colors.
Framework is providing two options for pre-ordering: a fully assembled version starting at $999 and a DIY version for $749. Either way, the base configuration includes an Intel Core i5-1135G7 Tiger Lake processor, with the assembled model shipping 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The DIY version allows you to either add your own memory and/or storage, or you can select up to 64GB of memory and 4TB of storage. You then customize either edition with expansion slot options such as USB-C ($9) and HDMI ($19).
Unfortunately, given supply chain issues, the base configuration will actually ship after the Core i7-1165G7 and i7-1185G7 models, which Framework estimates shipping at the end oi July, whereas the Core i5 systems won’t ship until August. The assembled i7-1165G7 model doubles the RAM and storage for $1,399, while the assembled i7-1185G7 includes 64 gigs of memory and a terabyte of storage for $1,999. (The DIY configurations start at $1,049 and $1,449, respectively). One key drawback to the Framework is that it does not provide the ability to add, or upgrade to, an internal discrete graphics card, which means you have to rely on Intel’s Iris Xe integrated GPU, though that choice does help keep the laptop at a svelte 2.9 pounds.
You do get a screwdriver no matter which Framework laptop you choose, as the company promises that it’s the only tool you’ll need for any future updates you might attempt. While things look promising for Framework to ship its systems, it is offering a $100 refundable deposit on any order, which lets you cancel your order at any point with no risk. For more thoughts on what a successful modular laptop could mean to the industry, take a look at fellow ZDNet contributor Ross Rubin’s musings on Framework.