Modular laptop maker Framework now lets you buy just the mainboard (for upgrades, DIY projects, or standalone use)
The Framework Laptop is a notebook computer designed with modularity in mind. Not only can you buy expansion cards that let you swap out a USB port for an HDMI port or additional storage, but all the internal components are designed to be easy to remove, replace, and in some cases, upgrade.
Now Framework has begun selling mainboards, offering a simple way to upgrade the processor of a Framework Laptop you already own. But thanks to open source documentation and some optional accessories, you could also skip the laptop shell altogether and use a Framework Mainboard as the foundation for a mini PC or other products.
At launch, there are three Framework Mainboard options available:
- Intel Core i5-1135G7 mainboard for $449 (currently on sale for $399)
- Intel Core i7-1165G7 mainboard for $699 (currently on sale for $549)
- Intel Core i7-1185G7 mainboard for $799 (currently on sale for $799)
These are the same processor/board options that you have if you’re buying a full Framework Laptop, but at lower prices. This means that if you bought a laptop with a Core i5 processor, for example, and want to upgrade to a Core i7 chip, now you can. And if Framework sticks around long enough, maybe you’ll be able to buy upgrade boards in the future that let you replace an 11th-gen Intel Core processor with a 12th-gen or later chip (or maybe even an AMD processor).
While you could probably buy a full laptop for those prices, that’s kind of beside the point here because, unlike most laptops, each of these boards can be used to upgrade or repair an existing Framework laptop or as a standalone device.
Each Framework mainboard is a 295 x 229 x 10mm (11.6″ x 9″ x 0.4″) computer with dual heat pipes, a fan, support for PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage, two sticks of DDR4-3200 memory, and four USB4 connectors for expansion cards.
Framework says you can use the mainboard as a standalone computer by plugging in a power supply and using Expansion cards to add ports for a display, mouse, keyboard, or other accessories. You can also pick up an optional laptop bottom or top cover kits from the Framework Marketplace if you want to essentially build your own notebook. And the company has released CAD designs and electrical documentation under a Creative Commons license, which should help folks design their own covers, mounts, or other accessories that will let you, for example, mount the computer to the back of a display.Continue Reading