Product test

Testing Framework: the last laptop you’ll ever want to buy

Philipp Rüegg
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook

Put an end to unnecessary electrical waste: Framework wants to be a laptop for eternity. This is made possible by its design, which is purpose-built for easy repairs and upgrades.

The Framework laptop actively wants to be taken apart. And that’s exactly what it’s designed for. Usually, you can hammer away at your laptop’s keyboard for two to four years before it taps out. And logically, warranties usually expire at exactly this point. If you need repairs after that, you can usually just buy a new unit right away for the same price. Not with Framework. With this laptop, developers are actively opposing our throwaway society.

The modular design allows maximum flexibility in repair and is designed to avoid unnecessary electrical waste. The concept even convinced YouTuber Linus of Linus Tech Tips fame, leading him to invest over $200,000 in the company. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much money to play around with. Nevertheless, my fingers were itching to try out the device. As it isn’t yet available outside the US, I imported the Framework laptop. Let’s see if it really is the last one I’ll ever have to buy.

What is Framework?

Framework is a 13.5-inch laptop that can be configured almost entirely, apart from the size. This flexibility might not sound unusual for processors, RAM or storage. Framework’s special feature is its four freely selectable modules. These so-called «Expansion Cards» can easily be installed or removed without having to open the laptop. You can choose between Displayport, MicroSD, USB-C, USB-A, HDMI or additional storage – no matter in which combination. I opted for two USB-C, one USB-A and one HDMI.

The modules fit like a glove, but are still uncomplicated to remove.
The modules fit like a glove, but are still uncomplicated to remove.

Framework is also modular on the inside. If you choose the cheaper DIY variant, you’ll have to install the components yourself. To do so, loosen five Torx screws with the included screwdriver and put the RAM, SSD and Wi-Fi card in their designated places. Unsure what goes where? No problem, the instructions, including colour-coded screws, come supplied by the manufacturer from the offset – on the inside of the laptop.

The most important parts are labelled.
The most important parts are labelled.

You can also access the manufacturer’s video instructions via the printed QR codes. However, this is hardly necessary, since all important components are written in large letters. Aside from the Wi-Fi module, where I had to connect two cables to the right pole, I never got stuck. The solution there is also obvious. Its cables are black and white, just like the arrows by the connectors. Even inexperienced users should be able to assemble it; otherwise there’s always the complete version.

Use the QR codes to find explanations and instructions.
Use the QR codes to find explanations and instructions.

I haven’t had to repair anything yet – unfortunately, I almost want to say. Framework wants you to tinker with it. Almost every major component is clearly labelled, including warnings such as «remove this cable before taking out the battery». Nothing is glued on unnecessarily either. Screws are used everywhere, so everything can be neatly fastened again. The team behind Framework has taken all the terror out of handling a laptop.


There are three Intel CPUs, SSDs of different speeds and sizes, and the amount of RAM to choose from.

Processor- Intel i5-1135G7 (8M Cache, up to 4.20 GHz)
- Intel i7-1165G7 (12M Cache, up to 4.70 GHz)
- Intel i7-1185G7 (12M Cache, up to 4.80 GHz)
Graphics cardIris Xe Graphics
Display13.5-inch, 3:2, 2256 x 1504 pixels
Wi-Fi- Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 vPro
- Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 No vPro
Storage- WD Black SN850 NVMe, 500 GB to 2 TB
- WD Black SN750 NVMe, 250 GB to 2 TB
RAM8 GB to 64 GB DDR4-3200
Connections4x, freely selectable from HDMI, Displayport, USB-A, USB-C, microSD and storage
Dimensions- 1.3 kg
- 15.85 mm x 296.63 mm x 228.98 mm
Battery55 Wh
Webcam1080p 60 fps

I equipped my model with the Intel i7-1165G7, 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB WD Black SN850.

Spare parts and mods freely available

Spare parts or upgrades for Framework can be found on its Marketplace. Sound card, fingerprint reader, heatsink, touchpad, it seems the complete kit is available. More precisely, will be available soon. Most components say «coming soon». As far as I can tell, this is stock isn’t proprietary, meaning it can be obtained from other sources.

Virtually every single component can be reordered.
Virtually every single component can be reordered.

My model was shipped with a US keyboard layout. Different coloured ISO variants are to follow soon. There’s also a DE variant, a Swiss model isn’t yet available. Framework only delivers to the USA for now.

But with the launch of their Marketplace, Framework announced that third-party manufacturers will soon be able to offer their own hardware and modules. An expansion card with a network connection or an SD card reader is conceivable. The possibilities are endless.

Hardware quality

What’s most surprising: Framework’s modularity isn’t at the expense of its design. It’s neither thick nor unsightly. Simultaneously it isn’t as thin as high-end devices from Dell, Lenovo or Apple. However, it looks neat with its techy logo. And once third-party manufacturers deliver alternative display frames, you can even impress others with this cheeky look during your daily commute if you’d like.

Tidy and neatly labelled.
Tidy and neatly labelled.

There’s also nothing to complain about in terms of quality. No creaking allowed. I didn’t discover any sharp edges either. However, there are signs that this is a new model. For example, the touchpad didn’t react properly in the beginning. Clicks didn’t register it at all. However, I immediately found help on the Framework page. Turns out, it can happen that the touchpad won’t fit snugly. The solution? Press down firmly once in the centre of the touchpad. Since then, it has worked flawlessly.

This fix didn’t bother me much. It fits into the DIY ethos of Framework. It isn’t surprising that the first thing you have to do is download a driver package from the manufacturer’s website. Something that usually isn’t necessary with conventional notebooks.

What about performance?

During everyday use with Photoshop, Audition, browsing, etc., Framework shows no weaknesses. That would’ve surprised me, given the installed components. To assess performance a bit more factually, I tested the CPU and GPU using Cinebench R23, Geekbench 5 as well as 3DMark. This allows for a good comparison of single- and multi-core performance, also in terms of cooling power.

Geekbench Single-Core1541 points
Geekbench Multi-Core5082 points
Cinebench R23 Single-Core1446 points
Cinebench R23 Multi-Core4858 points
3DMark Night RaidTotal: 15,567 points
Graphics score: 18,305 points
CPU score: 8425 points

Results are within the expected range. Framework is certainly no high-flyer, but its performance matches its price. In Cinebench, Framework is even ahead of the Surface Pro 8, as equipped with the more expensive Intel i7-1185G7 in this review by our colleague Martin Jud. The laptop isn’t designed for graphically intense work or games; the integrated Iris graphics card isn’t sufficient for that. In this category, Framework is even almost 20 per cent behind the Surface Pro 8.

Acoustically, it became immediately noticeable during full load through the benchmarks. The fan spins at full speed, which is well audible. It’s definitely a bit louder than my Surface Laptop 3 when it suddenly howls for some unknown reason. At least Framework doesn’t produce an annoying whistle, instead simply sounding like a small table fan fighting the summer heat. It’s quiet to silent during normal use, but these audible events do happen just a bit too often.

Room for improvement

On the whole, there’s little to criticise about Framework. The build quality is solid, the keyboard is comfortable to type on, the display is bright enough and the trackpad is generously sized. The latter always worked precisely after the mentioned fix. In contrast, the fingerprint sensor doesn’t always operate so cleanly. I often had to enter my pin again and again. The webcam isn’t compatible with Windows Hello, so there’s no option for a visual unlock. In turn, it and the microphone have a physical deactivation slider. Exemplary.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that my Framework regularly fails to boot. Its power button lights up, but the screen remains black. Only after switching on and off several times does the Framework logo signal that it’s now working. I still haven’t managed to find out why. There’s an LED on the side of the device that gives out Morse code style status messages. According to it, everything is working fine. Going by tips on the manufacturer’s website, it could be the RAM. But even there I couldn’t find any problems with different programs. Either it’s an assembly model or some component that won’t work cleanly. In any case, my research didn’t give me the impression that the problem is widespread.

Verdict: more than a gimmick

Framework keeps its promise. You get a well-equipped laptop at a fair price (in the US) that you can configure and repair almost freely. Five screws to remove the lid and I’m looking at the tidiest laptop I’ve ever seen. Every important component is labelled and has QR codes that take you directly to how-to videos. Ingenious! The concept using mobile modules for the connections is just as ingenious. It offers maximum flexibility without noticeable drawbacks.

Framework isn’t the fastest, most compact, or quietest laptop on the market, but it’s arguably the one with the longest lifespan. Webcam broken? Order yourself a new one for $29 and replace it yourself. And if the laptop is too slow for you after a few years, you can even replace the entire motherboard including CPU and GPU.

However, my model is still plagued by a few teething problems. A device that doesn’t boot every time is unacceptable.

Visually, Framework isn’t anything special.
Visually, Framework isn’t anything special.

Framework isn’t a fat lump, despite its modularity and repairability. From the outside, it looks just like an ordinary laptop. Inside, it’s a small masterpiece of engineering. Most components can be replaced in just a few steps. Hopefully other manufacturers will take a leaf out of their book. Pressure in this regard seems to be increasing.

What Framework has come up with here is neither a concept study nor a beta product. If you like to do things yourself or if the environmental aspect is important to you when buying a laptop, then there’s hardly a better product than Framework at the moment.

Framework is currently available exclusively in the USA. However, an expansion to Europe is in the works according to the manufacturer. We’ll inform you about any change in availability for digitec.

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Being the game and gadget geek that I am, working at digitec and Galaxus makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop – but it does take its toll on my wallet. I enjoy tinkering with my PC in Tim Taylor fashion and talking about games on my podcast To satisfy my need for speed, I get on my full suspension mountain bike and set out to find some nice trails. My thirst for culture is quenched by deep conversations over a couple of cold ones at the mostly frustrating games of FC Winterthur. 

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