The text below comes from a shooting script for the video above; it may not perfectly reflect the dialogue of that video.
It’s finally here. Framework has delivered on their promise to produce an upgradable laptop with the introduction of a new mainboard with Intel’s latest 12th Generation Core processors.
What’s more, we’re being treated to a new lid with increased rigidity. We’re going to run through the process of upgrading the mainboard to see if Framework managed to pull off their vision for a fully repairable and upgradeable laptop.
This particular motherboard has the 11th Gen i7 with 4 cores. We’re switching it out for the new 12 core i5-1240P. A huge upgrade! Normally an upgrade like this will have you replace a bunch of parts but thankfully Framework has made this process easy by publishing a step by step guide.
To get started with our upgrade we first need to remove all the expansion cards before we undo the 5 screws on the bottom cover.
Let’s flip the laptop onto its back and open it up. Lift the keyboard from the bottom right corner and use your finger to disconnect the touchpad cable. Once the keyboard is off we can disconnect the battery from the board.
Disconnect the speaker cable, audio board cable, display cable, webcam cable, the two wifi antenna cables, and we’ll go ahead and remove the wifi card while we’re here.
Next up, the RAM is removed by pushing on the release clips on either side of each module and a single screw holds the SSD in place, which slides out easily once released.
Moving on, remove the 5 screws holding the mainboard in place. Gently lift up the mainboard from the bottom edges and remove the component.
Past vs Present
Here’s a side by side comparison. These boards look exactly the same, it’s a good thing they’re labeled!
We did a similar comparison of the MacBook Pro 13” M1 and M2 boards and at the time we wondered if Apple had beaten Framework to the punch. Unfortunately, it turned out to have software compatibility issues with the trackpad, keyboard and Touch ID.
So far, Apple hasn’t addressed the cross compatibility problem though the folks at Asahi Linux Project have shown that the components can be made to work with each other.
Lid Replacement & Reassembly
To reassemble the Framework laptop all we need to do is to repeat every step in reverse but while we’re here let’s take a moment to admire the simplicity of replacing a screen and top cover on these machines.
Lay the screen flat and remove the magnetic bezel from the screen housing. Remove the four screws holding the display panel down and remove the component from the lid.
Undo the two screws holding the webcam module down and disconnect the ribbon cable before removing the component.
Then remove the three screws on each hinge and carefully separate the top cover from the main body of the laptop.
Here’s our new top cover and the reassembly is simple. Redo the three screws on each hinge, replace the camera module and redo the two screws and ribbon cable, and finally reattach the display panel and secure it in place. Add the magnetic bezel and you’re done with the screen.
We’ll go ahead and insert the new mainboard and secure it in place with the five screws we removed earlier.
Let’s reseat the SSD and RAM modules. And then reinsert the WiFi card and reconnect the two antenna cables.
We can now reconnect the remaining cables followed by the battery and the trackpad cable.
We’ll finish up by screwing the bottom plate back in place and reattaching the expansion ports.
Too easy. We just took an 11th Gen laptop and upgraded it to a 12th Gen laptop, and just for kicks we replaced the lid too.
While I love the repairability and upgradability of this device, the highlight of my experience is actually the replaceable ports, to which Framework is adding a brand new network adapter in the near future.
And then there’s Frameworks commitment to sustainability and open source development. While most manufacturers these days talk about all the ways they’re helping to reduce waste, it’s the niche market and smaller manufacturers that seem to be hitting the sustainability mark with repairable products.
By purchasing devices like this we are rewarding responsible corporate behaviour and sending a clear message to the market: this is what we want to see more of.