Framework has announced a new addition to its lineup of modular, repairable laptops – the Framework Laptop 16. However, this framework is far from a larger version of the Laptop 13. It takes the idea of modularity to the next level, adding a number of new expansion systems that can be customized to your heart’s content – especially those that require more powerful graphics.
Before we get to those neat expansion systems, though, let’s take a look at this design. The two-tone design takes the best of an Alienware gaming laptop and the MacBook Pro, while still feeling totally fresh. I dig it.
The big feature of the Framework Laptop 16, though, is the ability to swap out the discrete GPU. The framework has always supported the ability to upgrade your system every year (or whenever you want), but discrete GPUs were never an option – and for good reason. This has been an engineering challenge that no one in the industry has understood. But Framework claims to have a solution with its new Expansion Bay System.
These completely independent modules can be swapped out separately from the mainboard, allowing you to upgrade your graphics year after year. The framework did not specify which brand or model of discrete graphics would be supported.
The expansion blocks definitely go beyond graphics. As a proof of concept, the company also designed a dual-M.2 riser card that could allow for up to 16TB of storage, or an external GPU enclosure that could plug into any compatible laptop.
The magic of the framework’s approach is its open-source mindset. Allowing the developer community to take these modules to the next level, the sky’s the limit on what can be added or customized to these laptops.
A really interesting addition to the Framework Laptop 16 is the ability to customize the keyboard. Torn between adding or not adding a number pad, the company opted for a modular keyboard that could support a centered standard keyboard or one with a number pad. You can also choose to slot the number pad on the left as both the keyboard and touchpad can be moved to make room.
Beyond just keyboard additions, the framework showed some other possible use cases for these modules, including adding a secondary screen, scroll wheel, or an LED matrix. In theory, these various parts will be available in the Framework Marketplace, where the company sells upgrades and third-party accessories for its laptops.
The Framework Laptop 16 also includes a wider range of ports, with three expansion cards on each side as well as a new audio expansion slot (or add several) to relocate the headphone jack.
It’s an exciting moment for the startup company, which is attempting to upend the traditional business model and upgrade the cycles of the rest of the tech industry.
Beyond the Framework Laptop 16, the company also announced upgrades to Intel 13th-gen mainboards as well as its first AMD option, the Ryzen 7040 series. In the new prebuilt configuration sold by the company, Framework has also made some changes to the system, including a new matte display, a higher-capacity 61-watt-hour battery, louder speakers, an option for a transparent bezel, and more. Some are included.
Pre-orders for the Framework laptop upgrade begin today, though AMD models won’t be available until the third quarter of this year. Intel 13th Generation mainboards will be available in May, starting at $849 for DIY models and $1,049 for fully configured models.
The Framework Laptop 16 will open for pre-order sometime this spring and will be shipped “in late 2023.”