Why I chose frame.work 2/7/2022

Why I chose frame.work

I've bought many laptops over the years. Usually from established companies, but frame.work is... a little different.

If you aren't familiar with the brand, thats because its a relative newcomer to the laptop space. Founded by former occulus hardware employees frame.work has a simple mission--to stop e-waste by making every part of a laptop accessible and repairable.

Note that I don't say 'upgradable' because there are a few unknowns buying from a relative newcomer like frame.work.

While they have sold 6 'releases' of the frame.work laptop, there has yet to be any motherboard upgrades available. The machine ships with a tiger lake i5 or i7 depending on configuration which is (for obvious reasons) soldered to the user replacable motherboard. There is quite a bit of clamor for an amd version on the forums, and it would be fantastic if frame.work eventually considered arm, especially considering how much of their user base is running linux.

But for now, we have... tiger lake.

So, upgrades are questionable (currently), the performace per watt on tiger lake isn't nearly as good as your M1 mac, nor a comprable AMD chip, so why the heck did you buy this thing?

Its simple, I want to send a message to existing manufacturers that users can and should have access to repair and upgrade their own devices. I am voting with my money and supporting framework and their mission to enable right to repair for all users.

As many of the reviews have mentioned, all of the thin and lights out there constantly claiming that adding user removable ram, disks, etc will add 'size' or 'weight' are absolutely disproven by the frame.work laptop. The machine is roughly the size of a 13" macbook air (its actually lighter as well) only with a slightly larger 'chin' to account for the 4:3 aspect ratio display. The thickness of the actual base is roughly equivelant to the air as well, however the frame.work has a much more abrupt taper in the front which lends it a chunkier overall look even though the dimensions are comprable. However, given that the taper in question is likely to allow a single user replacable battery (vs having to remove separate cells like in the M1 air) I am quite happy with this tradeoff.

Its hard to state just what an awesome piece of kit this machine is. The 4:3 monitor lends itself well to software development (and browsing) allowing for more vertical space for text... which seems like it should be a pretty important consideration, that seems to have taken a back seat media display aspect ratios.

My only complaint with the display is that a matte option doesnt appear to be on offer, and based on responses on the forums they dont plan on offering even a matte replacement. The display itself seems like a relatively unique one that can also be found in a few chromebooks, so it may just be that nothing at this aspect ratio is available in matte. It seems like a miss for such an otherwise developer friendly machine however.

I really have very few overall complaints with the machine in general. It runs arch linux perfectly out of the box, even the fingerprint reader is supported. I chose the DIY edition, which allows you to pick and choose your own components and assemble the machine yourself. Sadly this process was all too easy, the internals are so well laid out that I wished I could have spent more time on the inside as I was getting it ready.

After two months of use as a daily driver, I have really only 2 small complaints about the hardware itself. First (likely due to the absurd amount of ram I dropped into this thing) it doesn't suspend very well. There is a known issue with most linux distros where putting it to sleep defaults to the infefficient s2 idle, its a kernel param away to get into the more efficient deep sleep mode. However waking from deep sleep takes an awkwardly long time. I haven't had a laptop in years that is as slow as resuming from suspend as the framework. Also the user replacable modules seem to drain power while they are plugged in regardless of the machine's state, causing quite a bit of idle drain. If you suspend a lot its worth swapping all of your ports to USB-C passthrough ports (or just removing them if you dont have the passthroughs) to get a much more reasonable battery life.

A second and admittedly much more minor complaint is that the screen hinge flaps around a bit. Its not noticable during actual usage for me, but while carrying the laptop or picking it up one handed the screen will occasionally flatten to its full 180 degree extension.

If you care about repairability, prefer to run linux (or windows I guess...) the frame.work is the clear choice. Its an investemnt in our sustainable repairable future.