With three months of usage, I thought I would share an update regarding my experience.
Performance and Reliability
The specification of my Framework Laptop can be found below.
- Framework Laptop DIY Edition
- Intel i7-1185G7 4.80GHz (4C/8T)
- 64GB Crucial DDR4 PC4-25600C22 3200MHz RAM
- 1TB Western Digital Black SN850 NVMe (7GB/s Read)
- Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- 13.5-inch LCD Display (2256x1504 @ 60Hz)
- 2x USB4 (USB-C), 1x USB 3.2 G2 (USB-A), 1x HDMI 2.0b
Considering its relatively low-powered processor (Intel i7-1185G7 - 28 W), the Framework Laptop has been impressively performant for daily productivity and collaboration tasks.
For example, my common workflow includes the following applications:
- InSync (Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive)
- Google Chrome (Multiple Tabs)
- YOGA Image Optimizer
- Microsoft Visual Studio Code
- OBS Studio
- Microsoft Teams
All applications perform well (highly responsive), except for Microsoft Teams, which tends to “stutter” and severely impact battery life when the video is enabled.
It would be easy to assume this issue is unique to the Linux version of Microsoft Teams, but I have seen similar results with macOS and even Windows. Therefore, I have found accessing Microsoft Teams via the browser to be a better overall experience.
Regarding performance numbers, I did share a few benchmarks in my previous article. In short, all results (CPU, GPU, Memory, Storage) match industry expectations and I am pleased to report performance has remained consistent over time.
I have not seen any evidence of thermal throttling impacting real-world performance, even with an ambient temperature of 35+ degrees Celcius. This is impressive, considering the relatively small cooling solution.
Fedora itself runs amazingly well on the Framework Laptop! Outside of a few occasional application errors, the operating system has been “bulletproof”, with perfect hardware compatibility out of the box.
I rarely shut down the laptop, which over a week of work would usually highlight any software/hardware instability. To date, I have not experienced a full system crash.
The Framework Laptop is built extremely well. The actual build quality (materials and manufacturing refinement) does not compete with premium options (Apple Mac) but it is certainly high quality.
I have used the laptop from multiple locations, including home, work and travelling.
I treat the laptop with respect, but it has certainly taken its share of “bumps and clunks”, especially when travelling, where it is frequently thrown into my bag without a protective case.
In addition, I have disassembled the laptop multiple times, demonstrating the serviceable features to friends and coworkers. This is clearly “above and beyond” what would be expected as standard.
I have owned other laptops that have shown signs of wear and tear very quickly, including scratches and marks across the palm rests and ports, as well as dents on the top cover.
I am pleased to report that this has not been the case with the Framework Laptop, which looks as good today as it did when purchased.
Unfortunately, not everything is perfect…
The standard display hinge is weak and tends to wobble when typing (even on a solid surface). The display lid is also more flexible than most, which doesn’t impact daily usage, but makes the laptop feel less “premium”.
I suspect this is a required compromise to ensure the display is serviceable, making it more difficult to reinforce the bezel or cover the display with protective glass.
Thankfully, highlighting the power and flexibility of the Framework philosophy, the team have responded to these areas of feedback, with a new 4kg display hinge and a more robust CNC top cover. I will likely purchase both in the future.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the expansion cards, which are a huge selling point but can be very difficult to release (requiring a lot of pressure).
Ironically, the locking mechanism appears to be very small (a potential point of failure), therefore it is a little surprising how well they secure the expansion cards.
Overall, I have enjoyed using the Framework Laptop. When assessed as a total package, including the price, serviceability, performance and build quality, I would argue it offers a compelling value proposition.
With that said, it is worth acknowledging the strengths/weaknesses of the individual parts:
Display: Great resolution and aspect ratio. Image quality is average. However, my main complaint is the reflective nature of the display, which makes it difficult to use in certain lighting.
Keyboard: Perfect! Although subjective, the Framework Laptop has one of the best laptop keyboards I have ever used.
Trackpad: Good, but not great. Certainly not comparable to an Apple MacBook, but equal to most Windows laptops I have used, with good sensitivity, responsiveness and reliability.
Fingerprint Reader: Acceptable: A useful addition that is not as convenient as Windows Hello or as accurate/responsive as Apple TouchID.
Camera/Microphone: Acceptable. The camera and microphone are perfectly adequate for basic video conferencing, although not something you would want to rely upon for anything more professional.
Speakers: Bad. Maybe I have been spoiled by the latest Apple MacBook Pro or there is a driver issue with Linux (I have not tested Windows natively), but the speakers simply sound bad. Be prepared to use headphones.
The good news, each part listed above is independently serviceable. Therefore, just as we have seen with the new hinge and top cover, Framework could conceivably produce and sell individual upgrades.
For example, I would love to see them deliver a new display with an anti-reflective coating or a new high-resolution camera module.
This is completely viable with the Framework Laptop, something that would be almost impossible with any other laptop.
The last area to highlight is battery life.
This is a controversial area, as there are known limitations with the Intel 11th Generation architecture and Linux. Therefore, please recognise that your experience will be very different if running Windows natively.
As stated in my article “Framework and Fedora”, I was forced to switch the sleep state from “s2idle” to “deep”. This change results in a slower resume time, but it dramatically improves the battery life when sleeping.
With that said, battery life is still fairly average.
When sleeping, the battery percentage dropped by approximately 1.6% per hour, meaning a total of 14.4% overnight (nine hours).
In use, avoiding sustained “heavy” workloads, I would average around 6 hours of battery life, which could easily drop to below 4 hours with more demanding (Encoding, Development Builds) or less well-optimised (Microsoft Teams) workloads.
Even with its faults, I love the Framework Laptop!
Yes, I am biased toward the mission of Framework to produce a laptop that respects the consumer’s right to repair and upgrade.
However, even when reviewing in isolation of the overall mission, the Framework Laptop is excellent, delivering a “best in class” Linux experience.
What is next for my Framework journey? I have ordered the following two upgrade parts from the Framework marketplace:
I am most excited to see how the Intel i7-1280P (14 Cores / 20 Threads) processor performs, recognising the significant increase in core count and power.
This upgrade will also unlock my existing Intel i7-1185G7 mainboard, which I plan to reuse with the 3D printed Framework PC (Mainboard) case.
Stay tuned for updates.