I just completed the classic HDD to SSD upgrade on an older Acer laptop. While it was a breeze once I got inside and the screws were Philips heads, opening the chassis cost me a lot of patience and nearly some fingernails as well.
That experience made me realise that while my belief that any laptop is repairable if you’re skilled enough may still hold true, the ease of that repair matters significantly. I hesitated to put the chassis back on (without the screws) in order to test the new drive because I knew that prying it off again would make me scream in anger and pain. The title is also my tldr: I can’t wait to have my Framework so I can easily service my laptop.
Would now be a bad time to recommend the various opening picks and spudgers that ifixit offer!? They have saved me a significant portion of my sanity!
I actually own a small assortment of those, just didn’t have them on me (wasn’t expecting to meddle with a device this weekend). I guess if I used them, it would have been an adequate amount of work for a once-in-the-lifespan opening. But when squeezing the partially quite thin plastic chassis around the ports I couldn’t help but think “This will break if you do it two or three more times”.
Helped me to understand why Framework chose the top opening design: you really can’t go another route if you want an easy opening and the chassis bottom is angled. I wish it weren’t so there’d be space for a larger battery, but I guess they didn’t want to sacrifice thinness and speaker performance. My Macbook Pro 2015 has good, diagonally downwards/sideways firing speakers in a uniform chassis though, so maybe there’s room for improvement in the future. Wouldn’t it be cool to just buy a new bottom chassis and a new battery instead of a new laptop?
In fairness, Dell seems to have managed it - my Latitude 7390 had a nicely curved plastic base that I removed dozens of times in the 3 years I had it to clean the machine out. It had clips but I managed not to break them (but that is NOT an excuse for Framework to start using them!) That said the keyboard-out-first but retained with magnets definitely seems like the better policy and probably puts a lot less pressure on the hinge and other key components when working on the machine.
Opening up a machine is really something that should be done with relative frequency - it’s the only way to properly clean it of dust build up and keep it performing properly. Any manufacturer that makes that task hard really doesn’t care about their customers at all Acer for example, who on my wife’s previous laptop had a keyboard-out-first design, but put the fan under the mainboard - so it was impossible to get at to dust it without disassembling the entire machine
I’m excited too. I’ve challenged myself to save up for the cost of the Framework laptop in 6 months time. I’ve been buying used laptops for the past 10 years; upgrading them to get them up to the fastest they can run. While it’s a hobby I enjoy, it would be nice to have a new laptop with current generation parts (and that orange bezel!). I love tinkering and upgrading things, so it’ll be great to have a laptop that I could fix whenever and wherever.