Framework an Upgradeable Laptop

Any thoughts on this? There is a video about a reinvention of the upgradeable laptop by startup Framework Ltd. It’s launching. It’s made by ex computing engineers eg from Apple . The oculus team are in it as well. It’s in presales registration.

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  • The intent is commendable and great to see a focus on user-upgradeable and replaceable parts. However, the execution in this first model leaves a lot to be desired so suggest waiting for the next one.

    In particular, not convinced on the balance of very few ports. Having to choose 2 card slots to only have 2 ports on the side instead of conventional multiple ones doesn't feel right. Even worse if you pick a non-port card.

    • +1

      However, the execution in this first model leaves a lot to be desired

      In particular, not convinced on the balance of very few ports

      One thing then.

      Having to choose 2 card slots to only have 2 ports on the side instead of conventional multiple ones doesn't feel right. Even worse if you pick a non-port card.

      You get 4 USB-C ports, you can add whatever expansion cards you want to them.
      You could even add

      You start with a lot to be desired and then claim one small point. Worse, your solution is "wait till the next version" while the whole point of the laptop is you don't need to.
      There is nothing stopping you from making you own, buying a 3rd party, or in future from Framework an adapter that comes with 2xUSB-C ports.

      You are too used to the disposable trash from Apple et al.

  • +3

    Yeah Linus invested in the company…

  • Appreciate the insight so next model then might be worth watching out for. I thought it might be around for a long time since it’s designed for upgrade. If you guys have spotted some problems others will too hence they may have v2 quickly.

    • +1

      one problem that i can see is that if they go out of business because this isn't profitable enough, or for another unforeseen reason, how will you get upgrades / replacements for those modular pieces that use USB C on the outside in the future? they look custom made.

      • +1

        That's very true but then it's just a normal laptop! Just make sure you buy all the accessories you need at the start.

  • he talks about how it is not only upgradeable but not a "thick, flimsy, 2010 looking piece of crap" but i don't get why everyone hates the thick and chunky laptops. from all the ports, to the dvd drive (remember those?), to how they felt so nice and solid, even the look is much better in my opinion than these paper thin laptops that we get these days. it's not as if it is that much harder to lug around.

    if this laptop was actually like that rather than a macbook clone (in the looks department) i would buy it in a heartbeat. but there is no dvd drive, only the capability of 3 different ports as you will need 1 for the storage unless there is some inbuilt that i missed.

    i hope they drop the ultra thin form factor for their next iteration, it is so limiting when it comes to performance and i just can't see this really being as good as an old modular laptop that is thicker, you can still buy old used thinkpads and upgrade them yourself, they even have dvd drives. you can probably buy other brands too, i just know about the thinkpads.

    • +4

      There’s a reason Apple dropped DVD drives. They’re big, slow, mechanically fragile, and carry a minute amount of data compared to even a cheap SD card. If you really want one you can buy an external one quite cheaply.

      • +1

        i've had 2 different laptops of my own with disc drives and 1 that i shared with my sibling when i was a child, none of them ever broke, even the ones that we used when we were kids and rough with stuff. maybe they are slow, but you can still use them to rip and burn DVDs and CDs. an SD card reader seems to be a bit of a rarity on laptops these days. you can get m-discs that are up to 100 GBs (possibly larger, couldn't find any from a 20 sec search but maybe they exist) and they are designed to last up to 1000 years, whereas SD cards are designed to last around 10 years.

    • +1

      You can not be serious about the DVD drive?! What on earth would you use it for?!

      • ripping and burning DVDs & CDs. i had to even buy an external enclosure for my DVD drive because my desktop doesn't have a slot for it. it's cheaper and easier to buy a CD than it is to buy all the different songs separately online and I can rip 4k discs and then have that movie wherever i want it, without having to carry around a bunch of dvds, i can just put it on my phone or have a dedicated drive that i take with me on trips that has all my movies as most modern tvs have usb ports.

        i can even take a bunch of movies and burn them onto 1 big disc for my parents (not good with technology) or if i'm going somewhere that doesn't have modern tech. M-Disc is also a good way to store data as it apparently lasts up to 1000 years, whereas SSDs will start to fail probably around 6 years and HDDs will most likely start failing 10 - 15 years, they can last longer but it will probably be at most 25 years before they will start failing.

        • +3

          I mean everyone else used to do that too, 20 years ago….

          • +1

            @Presence: i know streaming is what everyone does but i prefer to have all my stuff downloaded in case of internet blackouts and for the higher quality. streaming is still worse quality than a disc of the same resolution because streaming services use a lower bit rate than discs of comparable resolution.

    • I think I will bring up an extreme example from early 2000s. I had a Compaq laptop. Those things weighed around 10kg~15kg when I was carrying everything I needed for the laptop in the laptop bag.

      I do remember this because I had to carry it into an airplane. The laptop bags were massive as well, because of how bulky the laptops were. So I think they would have been some of the laptop bag's weight, along with how massive the power bricks were back then. I don't think, though, it's fair to say they weren't that big or clunky.

      Something more modest like ThinkPad T420 was around 2.36 kgs for the laptop, though I think people are split on ThinkPads made by Lenovo.

      • i think that is fine, it would be a niche product for sure, but 10 - 15 KGs is not that much and a nice bonus is that you will become stronger just from carrying it.

        i actually have one of those old massive laptop bags, it has space enough to carry several laptops comfortably, probably more if you don't mind putting a couple in the same compartment and running the risk of scratching them.

        • +2

          If you have to carry something around, I think portability is a feature?

          I think you are romanticising the past a bit too much. I hate travelling while rugging around things that I don't have to rug around. It doesn't mean I can't, I had far worse in my life. That doesn't mean it's not a waste of energy.

          • @iridiumstem: i'm not, i just don't see any issue with carrying around 15 kgs if it provides more functionality and repairability. it's really not an issue unless you have bad joints or something as you will build strength from carrying around the weight until you are strong enough that it's even less noticeable, basically just easy exercise.

            obviously if someone has joint issues or some reason why they can't carry around stuff like that then fair enough, but the average person could probably do with a bit more exercise.

            • @Alasdair: I served in military. I volunteered and worked in a warehouse. I've lost a lot of that muscle, but I genuinely don't think you can say I am below the average in terms of strength at least.

              Portability is a feature, why should someone carry around something big and bulky? Functionality? Is VGA port and DVD drive something you need in every day trip? Most things can connect to USB-C anyways, so carry around a dongle and an external DVD player. Repairablility? If it opens up, can be disassembled and reassembled easily and if you can source the parts, that's repairabililty there. iFixIt gave them repairability of 10.

              I can kinda see why someone would complain about heat dissipation aspect, because air moving around and whatnot. For that, I think a good fan, with carefully designed cooling system and the ability to maintain the function of the heat dissipation system is good enough. Things overheat half the time because of the dust build up, if I can clean those up easily enough, I see no problem on my end. Not to mention, it is not like bulky things cannot overheat, PCs do overheat too if you don't maintain them.

              ThinkPads were great in that regards because they were a laptop for businessmen designed with repairability and such in mind, it wasn't because they were bulky.

              • @iridiumstem: I would just prefer added functionality, I don't care if it weighs more because of it. More ports = good for me.

                • @Alasdair: Hey, whatever floats your boat. I can't tell you how many ports are the optimum number of ports. I don't see myself needing anything beyond 2~3 USB-C + USB-A ports, HDMI port and an ethernet port (which I sincerely sincerely doubt I would use) + USB-C Dongle for anything that's weird, but that's my usage case. If I didn't have a laptop and wanted to really push for a PC replacement, what I would've liked would've been different.

                  You asked why people didn't like thick and chunky laptops, it was because they were heavy and bulky. Many people don't need a lot of ports for what they'd do on the move. Size didn't necessarily meant that the laptop was decent either. Most of them were made out of plastic, which cracked or broke in parts. Laptops from that era overheated. Again, there are good manufacturers who used what they had well enough to not have an issue, i.e. IBM and their ThinkPad. That was not because it was bulky, but because they knew what they were doing.

                  All that said, I think you were really pushing it with 10kg~15kg being light tbh. That is above 10% of someone's weight easy that they'd need to lug around.

  • +2

    TBH, I think it's just a fad that will soon die out. This is not a new concept. Companies like Dell and Lenovo have done this before only for manufactures to drop support as they weren't popular. Phone Block was another company that designed a modular and upgradeable phone which didn't really go anywhere.

    • Can you tell me which models of dell and Lenovo did this?!

      • Alienware Area-51m. It's not fully modular but has an upgradeable GPU. My old Dell Latitude from 2006 had an upgradable CPU and GPU. In reality no one is going to upgrade their I/O on a regular basis. USB C is pretty future proof. If you need ports like Ethernet and Smartcard, it's only a $20 addon from Dell's website.

    • I thought you were talking about Project Ara for a minute there and was going to say that they were a startup bought-out by Google, so no surprise it didn't go anywhere…… but I then learnt when finding that link that they were always part of Google; and Project Ara isn't what you were talking about anyway.

  • +1

    To be honest, I am happy about a laptop that I can pull apart easily without messing around too much.
    That alone would make my life easier with cleaning the fans out.

    If they allow parts to be easily sourcable and easily replacable, even better.
    Though I think the expansion cards feel slightly gimmicky and the replacement mainboard is kinda something we'd need to see what they do with the mainboard.

  • I was reading the comments and there seems to be three types of users. All appreciate portability is important however one with low weight and another that doesn’t mind higher weights for specific bulky features. An important thought was whether the company will survive and get support from manufacturers . It appears the point of difference is the use of modular upgrades. If the modular upgrades were dumped by the manufacturer for a bigger case that can be upgraded to lightweight choices or larger heavier choices like a DVD drive would this be the solution? I suspect if this occurred and the company failed the parts could still be upgraded without relying on modular upgrades . That brings me to think these laptops are already sort of out there when I was checking a few years ago. Maybe they failed I’d have to look.

    • +1

      Dell had Alienware Area 51m R1 which had replacable CPU and GPU (and implied upgradability to some extent). Then Area-51m R2 came along and you couldn't upgrade the GPU nor CPU to what was released with R2.

      It does sound like CPU is more of what Intel has done with the 10th generation CPU, GPU might be an issue with Dell though.

      • I did find some old references and these reminded me they still come with motherboards and you spec them up from there

        I’m getting the feeling this framework is just a slight tweak of what’s been tried in the past. Maybe the QR code’s on the modules with a good engineering team created the buzz.

        This review sort of shows maybe where this will all land with the same outcome in big brands found for niche users

        • +1

          That is interesting, hmmm.

          It did sound to me that how Framework wants to address the whole upgradability issue is by replacing the entire motherboard. I am somewhat doubtful of it happening but I think it's at least plausible.

          Though I kinda see that as a bonus more than actual feature that I'd bank on. A user upgradable CPU and GPU on laptops is at least not common and even someone as big as Dell couldn't pull off.

          I think well documented repair and upgrade procedures and easily accessible options to repair parts are the more realistic option. Talking about recent ThinkPad for example, they've whitelisted what LCD panels could be used to replace the older panel. I had a TN panel on my ThinkPad T460 and I replaced the LCD panel with what Lenovo used for S series (I like T series better, because it's better built).

          I think if Framework goes, here is what we used, here is what can be used and here is a list of LCD panels we believe would work and here is where to source them, that for me is enough. I think that's what Framework is really trying to push for as their sales point.

          • @iridiumstem: I think you are correct. In the end. iFixit and other sites will judge . The community will try its best to solve the upgrade problem . If framework get in on the act the community will like the product and it will gain momentum support and suggestions.

            • +1

              @Bootit: I think it's so refreshing to see a manufacturer who is all for that. I think that's where the excitement is from. I cannot say whether they are just using this whole "rights to repair" as a marketing ploy and nothing more, like how Dell was using upgradability as a gimmick above.

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