OPINION: Laptops are expensive, some extortionate. The Framework represents a ray of light in a tech world that tries to force you to upgrade your device every year. New 16-inch model has laptop games in its attractions.
Most tech manufacturers like to tout their environmental chops, but you know what will go a long way there and help consumers get the most value out of their devices. Offering reliable and affordable device upgrade programs. That’s the Framework deal, and now, after proving its worth with several generations of 13-inch upgradeable laptops, it’s moving on to something more sophisticated and attractive.
The innovation in question is Framework Laptop 16. It builds on what went before with the smaller Framework laptop. it’s upgradeable motherboards, memory and storage, swappable ports, swappable keyboards, and more. It’s a great idea, aided by some reasonable prices, such as £449 to upgrade to a 13th Gen Intel Core i5-1340P, or £19 each to switch between HDMI and MicroSD expansion cards.
And it works because the Framework has proven itself to be true to this mission as it has done so for several years. We’ve seen several other manufacturers, like Alienware’s Area-51m (via The Verge ), make promises to the world and quickly fall short.
Now, the Framework Laptop 16 fills the shoes of upgradeable gaming laptops that haven’t made this vision a reality, albeit in a much more pointed style than a behemoth like the Area-51m. The new 16-inch model will add graphics expansion cards to the Framework’s repertoire, and I’m very excited.
The new addition is called the Expansion Bay System, and it will bring swappable GPUs to high-performance laptops. You will be able to plug in the graphics module without having to change anything else on the laptop. Graphics chips are expensive, and gaming laptops with dedicated GPUs are expensive, so the idea that you can completely upgrade your gaming experience for much less investment than it would take for a brand new product is a win-win for consumers and the environment.
An improved graphics module will certainly be the highlight, but the 16-inch laptop will have more on its plate thanks to its larger dimensions. A less attractive addition is the increase in six of the four swappable port modules by 16 inches. What’s really cool is what you can do with the bottom half of this device. Not only can you choose to have the Numpad module or not, but you can also choose which way the Numpad goes. This also applies to the trackpad, with modular dividers meaning it can sit in the centre, left or right. As a neglected lefty, Framework, you are a good person.
A huge caveat should rule our collective excitement here, but I’m hopeful. The framework has yet to announce who it will work with on these graphics cards, Nvidia, AMD or otherwise. The manufacturer is well equipped in the processor department, currently offering Intel and AMD variants there. As such, I do not yet have pricing for the modules or the complete Framework Laptop 16 system. These key factors remain up in the air, but Framework has a history of fair pricing so far. From what I know, pre-orders open this spring, with shipping slated for late 2023.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing opinion column where we delve into the world of PCs, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.