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Framework Laptop, one year on

So, why a framework

This laptop was meant to be an auxiliary laptop, for writing on the couch. I'm an Apple main user, and knowing macOS has helped my career. But I'm also very pro Right to Repair, and those two things are butting heads right now. So the Framework laptop seemed like the obvious choice, being Very Repairable.

How is it to use?

It does what I need it to do, which is to say run Obsidian, Scrivener, Typora, and web browsers. As I said when I first got it, Framework had the gall to ship their low end laptops with Windows Home. The fucking temerity. It looks like they since have stopped doing that and are shipping with the Chromebook OS on it. Which is worse, to be honest. I'm sure this is a cost thing. I still think it sucks. Not that Windows Home has impeded me in any sort of way. Like I said, my needs are pretty straight forward. It does those things.

What gets me is how much it runs the fan on something like browsing the web, or even on start up. I'm not doing anything that processor intensive! I even have the power scheme set to prioritize energy efficiency over performance. But sometimes, even when it's sitting asleep, it spins the fan up like it's about to take off. I make sure it's properly ventilated and everything!


- the screen hinges are really weak, and the screen is prone to flopping the full 180 degrees when you're moving the laptop around with the screen open. Framework sells replacements on their website, but that's not the point; this shouldn't have been an issue from the start.

- The trackpad is fickle, resting my hands on either side of it in certain ways can result in the trackpad cutting out completely. I've checked the cables to make sure they were seated correctly, which they were.

- These two points go with my this point: The laptop feels a little flimsy.

- On the other hand, the keyboard is nice, and I don't struggle with it or notice using it, which is how it should be.

- Battery life is fine. A year out, with Firefox open, it shows 61% left, or 3 hours and 9 minutes of usage as of writing this.

- the power cable has split and frayed twice. This came from normal usage, and has rarely been in my bag. I will admit I am rough on my things, but this isn't anywhere close to that.

Second Thoughts

So six months in, I sort of realized I would have been happier with a MacBook Air. It feels more solid, I generally like using macOS more than Windows, and I like a broader selection of applications on the platform (for what I do anyway). My favorite laptop ever was a refurbish 2015 MacBook Air I spent some Apple credit on and got for about $400. That thing was a workhorse. I traded it in for credit towards an iPad Pro and I regretted it for a while. And for all of the shit that Apple (justifiably) gets, I rarely if ever heard the fan run, and that power cable survived four years of more rigorous usage.

All of that being said, when it counted, Framework lived up to its promise: You can actually repair this thing. Last year on a trip, I had a freak accident where a can of soda exploded in my bag and hit the motherboard. I aired the laptop out, but it definitely wasn't the same after; it had trouble booting and staying on off of power, the trackpad got *worse*. I resigned myself to dealing with it.

Last week I caved and ordered a replacement motherboard. It was an expense I didn't want, but it was worth it. Using the standard issue Framework screwdriver that comes with each laptop, I replaced the motherboard without fuss. I even used their repair guides to make sure I was putting the screws back in the right places. I also upgraded the RAM. It took me about 20 minutes.

Final thoughts

Would I recommend Framework to people? I'm not sure, to be honest. The quality issues on the little things make a big difference. Things that shouldn't be an issue are. This is their first generation laptop, so maybe these issues have been worked out. I would hope so.

But Framework lived up to its promise. I needed to make repairs, I made repairs, no fuss or resistance. *That* goes a long way for me. It gets the job done. This is really what I want from it. So, overall a positive experience.


19 June 2023