Framework laptop in the test: More durable than others

Framework laptop in the test: More durable than others

A calculator for upgrades and repairs

Fairphone led the way: Users could replace broken smartphone components and keep cell phones alive longer. Now a laptop supplier is following suit. US startup’s ultrabook framework Can be configured and repaired by the user. Memory, connection, battery and co can be exchanged with little effort. Means little effort: Components are easily accessible – a little technical skill is still required. Framework calculator is sold on the provider’s website – as a ready-made laptop or as a kit. Depending on the equipment, it costs between around 1,000 and 2,000 euros.

Assemble the components as you wish

Before buying, you can choose, among other things, how powerful the processor is and how big the storage space needs to be. We tested the cheaper basic model with an Intel i5-1135G7 processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and 256 gigabytes of internal SSD storage. It costs €1,070, including the USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, and microSD card reader connections we’ve chosen.

Four slots for your choice of connection

interchangeable. You can use the so-called expansion cards to determine your own connections and replace them during operation. © Stiftung Warentest / Ralph Kaiser

Ultrabooks have four slots into which so-called expansion cards can be inserted. They are simply clicked without tools – this can be done even during operation. Some cards have one connection each, this range includes USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, micro SD card readers, or DisplayPort. With other cards, the memory can be expanded up to 250 gigabytes or 1 terabyte. The cost of a connection is between 10 and 20 euros, a memory expansion is up to 160 euros. Cards can be purchased individually – depending on what you need.

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Only the camera got weak in the test

In everyday use, the calculator is simple. It works fast and has a nice display with very high brightness and a resolution of 2256 x 1504 pixels. Its camera, like that of many laptops, is bulky and provides some fuzzy images. However, the quality is good enough for video calls. The battery is passable, lasting about eight hours when playing videos. The small, compact Ultrabook weighs only 1.3kg and is perfect for mobile work.

Useful instructions – but mostly in English only

Framework offers online spare parts and more useful Instructions To exchange components, partly in the form of short videos. One small drawback: these instructions are in English only, the only brief instructions included with the notebook are in German.

Requires some technical skills

The concept is aimed at technically experienced people who are already screwed on one or the other device and not on all. Little expertise is required, otherwise components can be easily damaged. To get in, you’ll need to loosen five screws on the back of the laptop, and the keyboard cover is also magnetically attached—everything is secure and stable. A suitable screwdriver is included in the scope of delivery.

Components can be easily exchanged separately

Framework laptop in testing - more durable than others

Opening The laptop can be easily opened to remove components like memory, fan, battery, etc. © Stiftung Warentest / Ralph Kaiser

We Tried It: The RAM and internal storage were relatively easy to install and remove. Incidentally, they are standard components that can also be purchased from other suppliers. We needed a little more finesse for the battery: After opening it, it could only be loosened with a strong tug—it was a bit stuck. In addition to memory, connections and battery, the display, fan and cooling unit, motherboard, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, webcam, fingerprint sensor and more can be changed.

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Conclusion: Exciting tool for those interested in technology

Framework Laptop works reliably and sets an example for the environment. Their concept ensures a long service life, as broken parts can be easily replaced. However, the target group is more technically experienced laymen. Furthermore, no one knows how successful a start-up will be in the long term and how long it will exist. We hope that other providers will take an example from the framework.

Tip: You can find many more mobile computers we tested in our database.

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