Any committents to length of body support?

For the Framework 13, we have already seen generation upgrade paths where you can swap in a new mainboard into an existing body. Has there been any communication about A) do they plan to do something similar with the 16 and B) if so, any commitments (or even just “this is what we hope will happen, but we might not be able to make it work”) about how long they will go with maintaining the same body?

Basically, do we have any idea if we can expect to be able to just buy a new mainboard for the next decade? Or is this a situation where they made it work, but there is absolutely no promise of continuing to do so in the future?

This is a good question. I really hope someone from Framework comments on this. Is there a statement of any length of commitment for the FW13 and FW16 form factor and interoperability?

I was under the impression that the FW13 and FW16 will become a standard form factor that all future motherboards and other parts will use for the foreseeable future (like AT in the 90s, and ATX in 2000 to the present). Form factors will change only when needed just like on the desktop realm. As a PC enthusiast, I loved that about the PC industry. I wanted that for laptops too ever since I had to buy one. This is why I bought into Framework, even though it cost more than a comparable laptop from Dell or HP. I’m really wanting to buy into a form factor that will become a standard going forward.

Your post reminds me that it’s foolish to rely on that. And it is a good idea to ask what their plans are for the FW13 and FW16 as a form factor STANDARD and not just a product ecosystem.

TL;DR I want a long lifetime of support for the chassis and more iterations thereof, at the same time.

I am not sure that the paradigm should revolve around the case being immutable whilst all the guts are replaced over time.

Because, when you consider it, the metal case is the easiest thing in the whole unit to recycle. Printer circuit boards and semiconductors, AFAIK, have to be made from virgin materials every time whereas aluminium can be smelted and reused infinitely. I see it as more important that the electronics should have the longest service life. The case remaining compatible is a means to that end, not because the case itself is the major investment of resources.

I refer to current threads requesting different features not in the current laptop such as deeper screen aspect ratio, and my own request for one able to accommodate a mechanical keyboard. Slightly different chassis might be needed to accomodate these things.

So imagine Jack, a video editor, and Jill, a screenwriter. Jack may want a more powerful computer to keep up with the latest processors, and the largest hard drive, whereas Jill values a good keyboard and that deeper screen to better fit the page onscreen. So Jill might buy the internals of Jacks machine to match with a case whose form factor is different and can accommodate a mechanical keyboard. Clearly they both have different needs and the laptop chassis might be optimised for both these use cases but the parts compatibility remains the defining factor. By making more iterations of case the electronics can enjoy a longer service life.

I think a better metaphor is that the laptop chassis is like a bicycle frame. Jack and Jill may both run racing bicycles on the weekend, and Jill may have a better tier of Shimano “groupset” which is the name for the mechanical (and often electronic or hydraulic) parts that make a bike into a bike rather than just a frame with wheels on. If Jill buys a new bike she might decide to sell Jack her old one so he can upgrade from his current “Tiagra” to the superior “Ultegra” groupset on Jills old bike. Jack would not, however, simply ride Jills bike as is, because it is probably the wrong size. This is possible because bike frames tend to have standardised interfaces meaning you can buy one knowing that your Shimano, Sram or Campagnolo groupset off another bike will fit.

As it is for bikes, I think the same for laptops. I think that Framework should look to become the Shimano or Campagnolo of laptops, and build their “groupset” of motherboards and expansion cards and all the rest of it, with the chassis being the bike frame. So more diversity of chassis please, since they only need to remain compatible with the parts already in circulation!

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The following is entirely speculation, so feel free to consider it the ramblings of a mad internet denizen.
Back in one of the original FW live streams, Nirav was asked about doing a second chassis iteration for the FW 13, and his answer was something along the lines of “10 years is a good number”.
More recently, he did a podcast with Sustainability Now and one of his comments made me think they’re now aiming at a 7ish year cycle for the lifetime of a FW13. That last part is almost entirely speculation, so please go listen to his podcast if you want the source info.
I believe FW 16 mainboard upgrades have been confirmed. I don’t know if it’s written anywhere, but the marketing head did an AMD event where she commented that the FW16 would have upgradable CPU.
Finally, for a bit of extra credit speculation, one of their devs did a linux event recently where he showed a slide of “potential upcoming features” (possible worded differently) which I would bet one shiny nickle are the actual features they’re working on for the 13 but that he simply didn’t have the authority to confirm it.
I hope you enjoyed the speculation. I quite enjoy it, and I agree that a formal comment / commitment from the FW team would be preferred.

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I don’t know if there’s any sort of official communication to this, but I believe that’s the core philosophy of the Framework laptop: using the same laptop generation after generation, just upgrading and replacing parts as needed.

I would imagine the only reason that you’d have to replace the laptop shell is if tech changes come around that they simply cannot fit onto the same mainboard design.

At least for the FW16, GPU changes shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as the expansion bay was designed with expansions of different heights and lengths in mind. Though, ideally, you can just buy a new GPU and keep the same shell (seeing how the Marketplace now has separate listings for the shell, the GPU, the fans, etc).


Yes, that’s definitely the optimal outcome, but given how small a company they are (and likely to remain so for the near to mid-term future), they probably aren’t going to be able to both support old chassis and develop and support new chassis (as in…multiple versions of the 13" and/or the 16"). They are probably going to have to pick what to prioritize.

Keeping the exact same form factor so that new 13" mainboards are always compatibile with the original chassis is probably not long term realisitc. I’m sure that some feature is going to eventually come along that is both A) important/valuable enough that it can’t be ignored and B) isn’t compatible with the old form factor. When that happens, they are probably going to have to do something like a 13v2 or something, and unless they are a much bigger company at that point, I’d imagine that there won’t be any further upgrades for the old 13v1. But it would be nice to know what their view on the lifetime of the chassis is. 7-10 years (as has been mentioned by others in this thread) seems pretty reasonable to me.

It is here that other businesses can get involved and create chassis to accommodate the (well documented) framework groupset. This is the “missing middle” that can make or break Framework’s groupset of motherboard, ancillary components and modules as a de-facto standard.

These aftermarket chassis do not need to be such high quality, or as versatile as the default one, but if they fulfil a niche they will find their own customers.

Framework has previously highlighted homemade creations that reuse their hardware. I would say that lauding the “hardware hackers” or “maker community” may be good but will only get you so far. They may produce very instagram-worthy creations that show off the repurposing of Framework stuff, but a middle tier of smaller manufacturers (between Framework and the maker community) is needed to create that same value for the rest of us.

I feel like changing the design of the body kind of defeats the purpose of repairability/upgradeability. I don’t need the latest hardware all the time. I just bought the most recent 13" AMD and I intend to run this machine for the next 5-10 years without any changes other than repairs. If I get to that point and find out I need a whole new frame when it comes time for a real upgrade, I’m gonna be pretty bummed.

In reality, electronics are only getting smaller, so I fail to see how they won’t be able to almost definitively keep the body shape practically forever.

I agree with you on the internals, but 10 years is a long time in tech. Who knows what technology will come around or go mainstream? There could be some incredible new port that just won’t fit into the footprint of the FW Chassis. Or even more basic: Materials and laptop design make some huge evolution and suddenly FW would be the only company still making those old school medieval laptops.
I urge them to squeeze as much life out of the current chassis as they can, but I can definitely see a future, where it just doesn’t make sense to hang on to the same design.
But for you specifically, you could hopefully still buy the last motherboard for the old form factor and get another 5-10 years, if you don’t need the power. After 15 years or something, i think it’s fair to discard (and recycle) an old laptop chassis.


I can see where you’re coming from to a certain extent but I’d suspect it’s highly unlikely a new port would take up more space than any of the existing ones. As technology gets better, ports will only get smaller.

I can also see the point of view of the chassis becoming outdated. But let’s be honest, the chassis is already pretty outdated. Lol I guess it could be nice to have a sleeker design though. :racing_car:

Your right though, I’d most likely buy the latest mainboard I could at that point and then run that another 5-10 years.

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I’d go so far as to argue that the expansion cards are that incredible new port. On a personal note the only reason that I do not own a Dell XPS is that when I was shopping around for a new laptop the XPS had no USB-A ports when I needed just one for my wireless mouse, and I am not going to dongle in a 1cm mouse receiver. Otherwise being particular in how I needed to set things up I needed a charging port on the left hand side. I like larger screens so the Framework 13 wasn’t suitable but the Framework 16 is that perfect mix of everything I need and want.

As for how long they will support different bodies my guess would be that they want to for as long as possible. For both the 13 and 16, but my guess is especially for the 16, there was a lot of cost into the R&D of the laptop body but once all of that is done you are essentially cost-saving on your generational iterations that can just change out motherboards, speakers, screens, batteries, etc. Even knowing the form factor and port placement that the motherboard will need can simplify parts of the designing stage.

Once they move to a new body that is going to be another entire round of R&D into it, another round of setting up the tooling for production, of working with a current or new partner for the manufacturing, of training staff on the process of assembly, etc. Staying with a body for a long time is good for the planet, good for repairability, good for our wallets, and good for Framework’s wallets.

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