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Framework Upgradeable Laptop Gets its First Swapout

I never thought it was possible to upgrade a laptop … but here it is!

Taken from Engadget … Framework launched last year with the promise of building laptops that you could upgrade yourself with little more than a screwdriver and some patience. Now, 12 months after making its debut, the company is shipping out its first round of upgrade kits to keep those machines up to date. It’s a good start, as the outfit makes good on its pledges to make a modular, repairable machine and to bring existing users along with any future tweaks to the system. After almost breezily swapping out a first-generation mainboard for its replacement, I can say that we’re getting close to a brand new era for computing.

In order to show off how easy it is to upgrade, Framework sent over its 2021-era model, which was powered by an 11th-generation Intel Core chip. In the package, but in a separate box, was a brand new 12th-generation (Alder Lake) Intel Core chip attached to a mainboard. The idea, put simply, is that you can pull out the mainboard which holds the CPU and I/O, while preserving pretty much everything else. The existing RAM, SSD, WiFi card, battery, audio gear, screen et cetera, can all be reused until they break or otherwise need upgrading as well.

Upgrading or replacing any component inside Framework’s chassis requires you to use a Torx T5 screwdriver (included in the box). Naturally, replacing the mainboard is the most involved upgrade you can make since it requires you to pull apart everything else to gain access to it. Thankfully, Framework produces iFixit-style guides for you to follow, and every component is either color-coded or labeled. And there are QR codes on each unit which link to tutorial videos and support pages to help you get where you need to go.

The company announced earlier this year that it would offer a trio of new mainboard options catering for different budgets. $499 gets you a 12th-generation i5-1240P, while $699 gets you an i7-1260P. If you are eager to live on the cutting edge at all times, and have the cash to spare, you can opt for the Core i7-1280P for $1,049. That’s steep, but the argument goes that buying a whole new laptop would cost you more. That said, I don’t expect users to go mad for these annual upgrades, but more likely look for a new mainboard every two or three years to keep up to date.

As for the upgrade process, I have, not necessarily a gripe, but a couple of things that are worth flagging. If you are coming to this as a novice, you’re going to take far longer than the 15 minutes promised in the how-to guide. With practice, you’ll get faster, but I think these guides need to be a teensy bit friendlier to the unenlightened amateur. Similarly, I’m not a big fan of ZIF connectors, which require you to gently slide in a ribbon cable no bigger than your fingernail into the necessary fixing. Especially since they’re small, and I’d be worried that one mis-timed sneeze would wind up costing you $699 of your own money.

Read tge rest at Engadget


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