Framework announces 16-inch laptop with an upgradeable GPU
Framework’s first major annoucement event brought three new major updates to the laptop company’s lineup, with the future looking very modular.
Opening the event with a bold claim that Framework might be the only laptop company to grow in the last year, Nirav Patel, CEO of Framework, led the brief showing of three new massive updates to the company’s roster.
The first major upgrade comes with Framework putting out a new motherboard with an integrated 13th generation Intel CPU. It’ll be available in three different configurations, including an i5-1340P, i7-1360P and 1370P variations.
In our review of the 12th generation chip and continued use of the Framework laptop, we found that the i7 chips were the sweet spot for a powerful laptop for some light gaming or extensive work projects.
Patel also acknowledged that Framework had remained silent on the issue of a lack of an AMD option. However, with the launch of the Ryzen 7000 CPUs, as well as the 7040 series for laptops, they’d be offering a new unit to accommodate it.
There was no announcement on what Ryzen CPUs they’d be using, but Framework will not be including a Ryzen 9 option at this time.
It also seems that until a workaround is found, the new motherboards will not be supporting DDR5 on Intel, while AMD’s latest CPUs only support DDR5.
Framework specs and price
|Processor||i5-1340P||i7-1360P||i7-1370P||Ryzen 5||Ryzen 7|
|Speaker||Speaker Kit – 80dB||Speaker Kit – 80dB||Speaker Kit – 80dB||Speaker Kit – Original||Speaker Kit – Original|
|Hinges||Hinge Kit (2nd Gen) – 3.5kg||Hinge Kit (2nd Gen) – 3.5kg||Hinge Kit (2nd Gen) – 3.5kg||Hinge Kit (2nd Gen) – 3.5kg||Hinge Kit (2nd Gen) – 3.5kg|
Both Intel and AMD versions of the laptops will start at $849 for the DIY version and $1049 for a prebuilt option. Previous mainboard upgrades have cost between $499 and $699, but we’re yet to see if this will be the case due to the website being down at the time of writing.
With the 13th generation update, this also marks the first time Framework is Thunderbolt certified going forward. This allows them to officially support external GPUs and other Thunderbolt hardware without the caveat of it being over USB-4.
New battery and matte display
To take on these new power-hungry chips, Framework will be launching a new battery to increase it to 61 watts. This and the matte display that will be hitting the company’s marketplace soon, are the first major non-motherboard upgrades so far.
As the configuration is a key part of the Framework branding, the company is also going to allow customers to choose bezels, keyboards at purchase, and better support for Linux out of the box.
Framework partners with Cooler Master
Framework will also be partnering with Cooler Master to bring a $39 enclosure for those removing motherboards, creating an entirely new PC that can be mounted via VESA. This fight against e-waste is also coming to the outgoing batteries and monitors, which support will be provided over Github in an open-source fashion.
Framework announces 16-inch laptop
The headline event was actually a whole new Framework laptop. Patel announced that they’d be launching a 16″ version, which supports up to six modules rather than four. Bizarrely, the laptop will not include a headphone jack, and Framework’s replacement option is another module with a headphone jack onboard.
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They joked that you could have up to six headphone jacks if you so wished.
It’s presumed that the mainboards available on the Framework 13 will be supported and used in the 16, but the larger laptop comes with a trick up its sleeve.
In the press release, Framework states that “we’re delivering on a dream that many have given up on: upgradeable, modular graphics in a high-performance notebook.”
This has been attempted before, with companies often giving up on the idea of a more lucrative option. Alienware and Dell were the most recent attempts, with the laptop being discontinued not long after.
Graphics cards coming in the future
The Framework 16 will have an expansion bay onboard, which can support an independent discrete GPU, or “graphics modules”. None were announced today, but you could speculate that lower-end cards like the RTX 4060 could see a release in the future.
These modules will be also backed up by possible enclosures, which were shown off in a proof of concept image.
Patel pointed out that the slot is a PCIe slot, and can support up to 16TB of additional storage over it. Framework is developing a “dual M.2 SSD card” that can house NVMes for this particular upgrade.
Most exciting is that Framework is setting the 16 apart from its smaller brother, with the “Input Module System”. This would allow creators to develop their own keyboards or peripherals to slot into the place of the built-in one. So far Framework has announced that an optional numpad will be coming, powered by the Raspberry Pi Pico’s 2040 chip.
Framework 16 and 13 release dates
Framework plans to launch the 16-inch laptop later in 2023, and the 13-inch Intel is available for pre-order today, alongside the AMD option. These are set to start shipping in May.