Down the rabbithole

ekov @

Framework laptop: first impressions

In this article, I get into details of why I chose this machine. Jump to this section if you're only interested in my review of the Framework itself.

Until now, my go-to work/fun laptop was the 2015 Macbook Air. I’ve been through two of those, first an 11" one with 4GB RAM, then a 13" with 8GB RAM, both bought second-hand. The latter served as my work machine for the past year (I do frontend).

MBAs have by far been my favourite so far, and I’ve had my fair share of employer-issued Macbook Pros and Lenovo ThinkPads.

I loved my MBAs for various reasons:

But my beloved Air was getting old.

Looking for a replacement *

Admittedly, I’m no hardware geek, so I didn’t shop around much: the choice came down to a Macbook, a ThinkPad, or the Framework.

I was basically looking for my favourite MBA qualities, with 16GB memory, 512GB SSD, around 13". The requirements matrix looked something like this[2]:

Macbook Air Macbook Pro ThinkPad X1 Carbon Framework
Weight 1.29 kg 1.4 kg 1.13 kg 1.29 kg
Advertised battery life 15h 17h 16h "gets you through a workday"
Ports 2x USB-C 2x USB-C 2x USB, HDMI 4x anything you want
Keyboard not good not good good good
Price £1,249 £1,699 £1,862 £1,376

Based on this comparison, I was leaning towards the Lenovo X1 Carbon but very interested in the Framework. I knew I could trust a ThinkPad, the weight and battery life are both amazing, but the price difference was significant at a similar configuration, plus I fell in love with the right-to-repair approach[3].

So, how’s the Framework? *

Image from Framework website

First off, it gets noticed by people who follow this kind of stuff (cool gadgets, I mean). Decide for yourself if this is good or bad :)

But also, it’s a reliable laptop with a fairly comfy keyboard, acceptable (if not great) battery life[4], good performance, with lots of upgrade options.

What I love about it *

What could be better *

How about Windows? *

I’m ok with it. I live 95% of my screen life in the browser or the command line, and those are fairly OS-independent, thank the computer gods for WSL.

At first, the keyboard hotkeys drove me crazy, but I’m running an Autohotkey script that remaps keys so they behave like a mac, more or less. You can find various mac-like mappings on GitHub, or write your own.

Conclusion? *

I’m happy with my choice.

As always, please let me know if I’ve made a mistake or you have any suggestions.
Keep healthy, drink water, eat plants.

  1. I need at least two of them at all times, because I use an external keyboard and mouse. With MBPs, I always had to choose between charging and accessories, or use an external hub. ↩︎

  2. Prices are show for my preferred configuration. As for ports, I’ve only listed the ones I care about. Keyboard is purely compared based on my personal preference. ↩︎

  3. Framework have a Marketplace where you can get replacements for everything, and I do mean everything inside the laptop. Broken display hinges? You can buy them and replace them yourself (following their detailed repair guides) with the tool that comes in the box. ↩︎

  4. Sadly, it does not get me through a workday, but I only have to plug it in once. I’m still working on optimising battery life on Windows. ↩︎

  5. At the time of writing: USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, MicroSD, storage (up to 1TB per card), Ethernet. But it’s all open source, so future possibilities are endless! ↩︎

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