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February 25, 2024
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Framework Laptop 13 review: problems fixed, for a price

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Framework has launched a 2023 model of its 13-inch modular laptop computer. And people, it’s precisely the identical because the 2022 mannequin.

Okay, so, I imply, that’s not fairly true. There’s an AMD possibility now, however I don’t but have that one to evaluation. I’ve been testing the pre-built Intel mannequin, which features a thirteenth Gen Core i7-1360P. The battery can be bigger, coming in at 61Wh. There are a pair different small issues in regards to the chassis. There’s a brand new matte show possibility and a brand new speaker system. However I’m going to let you know proper now that utilizing the 2023 Framework Laptop computer 13 feels precisely like utilizing the 2022 Framework Laptop computer. The experiences are principally equivalent.

And that’s principally good. Final 12 months’s laptop computer was positive. It wasn’t my favourite factor on this planet, with a bit extra of a flimsy and plasticky construct, to not point out a plain look, than you typically see at this worth level, nevertheless it was positive. Framework has at all times struck me as an organization that’s extremely plugged in to what its prospects need, and issues like ease of restore and upgradability are possible extra vital to them than a premium construct.

Nonetheless, a number of the perks that final 12 months’s chassis introduced stay. The brilliant, 2256 x 1504, 3:2 show is a singular discover. The audio system are glorious. The laptop computer is sort of transportable, weighing just below three kilos. However most significantly (to me, a minimum of) is that Framework mounted the most important grievance I had about its laptop computer final 12 months. The battery life was once dangerous. And reader, now it’s good.

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My favourite facet of the Framework laptop computer has at all times been the port choice. Particularly, you choose the ports for your self, slotting 4 enlargement playing cards of your selection into the deck. What enjoyable! I went for a USB-C and a USB-A on all sides as a result of I’m boring like that, however Framework has “re-optimized” the HDMI and DisplayPort enlargement playing cards for the 2023 mannequin so as to allow the system to remain in decrease energy states, so you may choose these if you happen to’re feeling adventurous. (MicroSD, audio, ethernet, and storage enlargement are additionally accessible.)

There’s the acquainted gear.

I can also’t heap sufficient reward onto this 13.5-inch, 3:2 show. The additional vertical house feels roomy for multitasking, and I respect how a lot textual content I can see at one time whereas I’m writing an extended draft (like this one). I additionally favor the brand new matte display screen because it kicks again much less glare than final 12 months’s shiny one did — however the good factor in regards to the Framework is that you could choose the one you need. Bezels may be personalized in a variety of colours — black, white, and orange at present, with inexperienced, purple, purple, and translucent on the best way. Look, I’m not a DIY particular person. However give me a purple bezel, and I could haven’t any selection however to purchase this.

The touchpad continues to be clean with a straightforward click on. I’ll observe that it’s the one a part of the chassis that actually will get smudged; after every week or so of use, it had a really seen blob within the center. The keyboard, which is properly backlit with satisfying journey and click on, had a neater time staying clear. I do nonetheless want that you might customise the touchpad, equally to how one can customise the keycaps, however Framework does a minimum of promote cables and kits for it, so you may substitute it if it ever breaks (or simply will get too gross).

The ports are the identical on the opposite aspect, minus the headphone jack.

The brand new audio system are an enchancment. The place they delivered considerably skinny audio final 12 months, this 12 months’s mannequin sounds a lot fuller, simply filling a big room at maxed quantity. My measurement didn’t fairly hit a median of 80 decibels (which was what Framework claimed we’d see), however the audio system got here fairly shut. Consumers ought to observe that the brand new audio system look like particular to the Intel mannequin of the Framework 13; AMD programs will proceed to have the unique package, and Framework says it’s “tuning the audio circuitry.”

The remainder of the video name expertise stays completely acceptable. The 1080p, 60Hz webcam continues to supply a considerably grainy however typically positive image. No points with the twin microphones, both. Each the digital camera and the microphones have a {hardware} privateness change within the high bezel, which is useful — although I’ll nitpick that they’re an equivalent shade of black to the bezel round them, which might make them annoyingly laborious to distinguish. I actually shined my telephone’s flashlight on them a pair occasions as a result of I didn’t fancy feeling round.

I typically can’t actually see this emblem both.

Inside, the Framework’s efficiency is robust. You may configure the system with principally no matter mixture of specs you need, after all, however I acquired the Efficiency prebuilt unit, which is priced at $1,469 and features a Core i7-1360P, 16GB of reminiscence, 512GB of storage, and the 61Wh battery. That’s on the expensive aspect — the Dell XPS 13 has the identical specs with a barely much less highly effective Core i7 going for simply $1,099 as of this writing — however it can save you a bit of cash you probably have some elements mendacity round and might swap them right into a DIY package your self.

Personally, if I had been searching for this, I’d most likely go for the Core i5-1340P / 8GB / 256GB Base mannequin — besides that it has a considerably smaller battery, and you can’t improve that battery with out upgrading the processor to a Core i7, even if you happen to go for a DIY package. (There are apparently difficult meeting line causes for this; it’s been an entire factor.)

The 1360P I’m testing is greater than sufficient for my Chrome-based workload, and I by no means received any warmth or fan noise whereas I labored in my dozens of Chrome tabs and another apps, typically with Spotify streaming overtop. Actually, nothing I did made the followers spin up, even on Battery Saver mode. It’s a a lot quieter expertise than the Dell XPS 13, that’s for positive. Even some gentle photograph work in Lightroom was pleasantly speedy.

Extra energy than I want inside right here.

My benchmark testing is at present nonetheless in progress, and I don’t have the total suite prepared for this evaluation, however I hope to have the ability to report that later at present. Suffice, for now, to say that this Efficiency Framework construct needs to be greater than sufficient for anybody doing commonplace workplace and leisure duties. My workload clearly wasn’t giving the Core i7 something near a exercise. Even gentle photograph enhancing was pleasantly quick.

After which we come to the happiest shock this Framework laptop computer introduced. Okay, so it shouldn’t even have been a shock. Framework, as I discussed, outfitted the Efficiency system with a 61Wh battery, whereas 55Wh was accessible in final 12 months’s mannequin. (The latter can be what comes with the Base mannequin, as famous above — it’s truthful to imagine that one could have a shorter lifespan than this Efficiency configuration.) It additionally claimed that we’d see a “20 to 30 p.c battery life enchancment throughout a variety of real-world use instances.” Nonetheless, you by no means know with these claims, and I’ve definitely been burned earlier than. So I’m thrilled to report that I averaged 9 hours and 12 minutes of steady use from this system. That’s one of many longest lifespans I’ve seen from an Intel laptop computer in… I don’t even know the way lengthy. Some time. It’s nice.

All in all, an improved bundle.

I had principally two considerations in regards to the Framework Laptop computer I reviewed final 12 months. Its repairability was each enticing and admirable, however the brief battery life and skinny audio simply made it a tough promote for its worth. I suppose Framework’s market analysis should’ve uncovered comparable complaints as a result of they mounted each issues huge time. That principally leaves the generic, plasticky feel and appear as the one actual knocks on this system — and people, after all, gained’t be issues for everybody.

These adjustments make the Framework appear to be a way more enticing buy subsequent to one thing just like the XPS 13 than it was final 12 months. That XPS is gorgeous and durable in methods the Framework is just not. However the Framework has plenty of different benefits over it now, upgradability apart: It has a greater display screen, a greater port choice, higher audio, a a lot quieter and cooler chassis, and higher battery life. In fact, the Framework can be a great deal dearer, which I suppose is a good reminder that even in a world the place each firm beneath the solar is pushing sustainability as a core component of their devices, true user-repairability nonetheless has a worth.

Pictures by Monica Chin

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