Those lucky enough to have already received their Framework laptop: I know it is a bit early for a full on review, but maybe you could give your own take on some aspects discussed in this forum and the professional reviews so far. I’d be particularly interested in your opinion of the touchpad, keyboard and screen. Thanks in advance!
Yes, tell us what you think!
could be very important for me
Got mine yesterday, installed Ubuntu 21.04 and have been playing around on it a bit.
Screen: Love the 3:2 aspect ratio. I’m used to 16:10 on my desktop so having a portable laptop that still has plenty of vertical space is great. Viewing angles and colors are decent. Brightness seems good though I haven’t tried it outdoors yet.
I’d prefer a matte finish. Resolution is a bit odd, I’m currently trying 1.75 scaling.
Keyboard: Much more tactile than I was expecting (in a good way) but it’s a bit noisier than I expected if I’m just typing away. Key travel feels nice.
Touchpad: Hardware seems good, on par with the better ultrabook touchpads I’ve tried at work. Not as smooth as a Mac, but I think that’s more the OS/driver rather than a fault of the hardware.
Expansion cards: Like the video reviews have shown, they certainly will not fall out by accident I wish the release button had a more positive action, because even when holding it down it requires a fair bit of force to get the cards out.
Disassembly: The disassembly/assembly process really is as easy as promised. I love not having to worry about plastic clips holding stuff together.
Fan: The fan curve seems to prioritize temperatures over noise under load but I haven’t tested it extensively. At idle/web surfing it’s silent.
These are just some random thoughts so far.
Thanks for your thoughts, that sounds promising! Regarding the screen: Is it so reflective that the increased color accuracy isn’t worth it or are your priorities just not on the latter? And is 1.75 scaling comfortable? I will probably use Ubuntu myself once I get one, so I’m very interested in the scaling
I like to have both accuracy and matte (or semi-matte) finish. My desktop monitor is a Dell Ultrasharp U2415 for example.
I’m not doing any color sensitive work on the laptop though, my dislike for the glossy is mainly for usability in bright environments.
My eyesight isn’t the greatest so 1.75 scaling is a good balance of text size and information density. On Ubuntu 21.04 with the default Wayland it maybe isn’t perfectly crisp at that scaling, but it’s hard for me to tell.
@Jason_Hottelet After further use, I’m finding that Firefox does not work well with Ubuntu 21.04’s Wayland fractional scaling. The main issues are that some add-on popups are sized incorrectly so they aren’t fully visible, some browser menus unnecessarily have scrollbars when there’s still vertical room, and dragging bookmarks is fiddly.
Switching to xorg fixes those so that’s what I’ll be using until either Firefox or Wayland updates with better fractional scaling support.
I’ll go. I’d like to preface this by saying that I think this is probably the best linux/windows laptop I’ve used, and I’ve used the Dell XPS13, X1 Carbon/Yoga, and X1 extreme.
- The framework team. It’s really exciting to see leadership on the forum, checking and debugging compatibility of the latest Linux kernel/system libraries with the hardware.
- The keyboard is extremely nice, I had an X1 extreme for awhile which has even deeper travel (prior to returning to a macbook pro), and I would say the keyboard is comparable in terms of typing comfort, and it has that similar soft touch plastic that makes typing on it very comfortable. the keyboard itself doesn’t get too warm even when the system is under load, except near the top function keys. Some of the keys squeak a bit when you press them in the right direction.
- The touchpad is excellent, it’s larger than I expected (bigger than my 2014 MBP touchpad), smooth, and about what you would expect for a modern glass trackpad. With a bit of fiddling in wayland/application settings, the experience on linux is surprisingly decent, but you will still miss macOS drivers if that was what you were used to.
- The screen is sharp, the colors are accurate, and going back to a 16:10 display would be hard.
- The laptop (base) feels extremely sturdy while being light, it’s hard to go back to my (old) macbook as the framework feels nicer to use
- The charger is smaller than I expected, I believe it’s a gallium nitride charger and my laptop chargers very quickly (on the order of 1-2 hours)
- The fan has a nice tone, it’s not shrill, so even when it is running the sound is not disruptive. I think I would prefer a multi-fan option (I’m sure this would make repairability harder) or some sort of vapor chamber option (ditto) to help tame modern processors.
Framework related cons:
- The battery life is not quite what I expected. I’m optimistically getting 7 hours on linux (Fedora 34) at 5% brightness with power-profiles-daemon/power-saver mode now though, which I think I can live with. Of note, I have the AX201 vPro, 32 gb ram, the 1167g7 model, and an sn850 1 tb SSD. I’ve heard the sn850 drive and the vPro version of the wifi card are a bit power hungry, so I may try swapping them out.
- The screen is very reflective, moreso than my macbook pro. I’d be surprised if you could use this in direct sunlight
- The screen is still pretty bright on the lowest brightness setting.
- The screen hinges are tight but the screen still wobbles, this is probably due to the taller aspect ratio of the screen. I can see the screen shimmer a bit due to wobble as I type.
- The alignment of the screen bezel relative to the frame is a bit crooked, it’s not noticeable unless you look very close though
- The speakers are not great, they sound echo-ey and hollow. This is compared to a MBP which has very good speakers though. I think I’d prefer if the laptop was slightly wider to accommodate top facing speakers. I don’t know if it’s possible that a subsequent hardware update can improve the sound without redesigning the chassis.
- The positioning of the rear screws on the back of the case is as such that if you open the laptop past 120 degrees (~120 degrees is required to access the inside of the laptop) you will push the screw into the soft metal of the lid. I feel like this is a bit of an oversight, as it’s not easy to remove these screws completely (they are meant to stay in the bottom of the case, so you don’t lose them [although now I wonder how easy it is to replace the screw I likely started to strip]). If the screws were moved 1 or 2 mm this would not be an issue at all.
- The magnets that secure the keyboard deck were very hard to remove, so much so that I worried that applying enough force to pull of the magnets would result in me accidentally hitting the metal keyboard tray into the screen. Also, the screw that “pushes” the bottom right corner up in order to provide access feels like you’re stripping it, it’s not clear that it’s fully unscrewed. The instructions now warn you about this (Thanks for the update framework!)
- The retention clips for routing the wifi cable were ineffective due to a week adhesive and continued to come off during installation.
- Due to the positioning of the fan and intake vent, the laptop can get hot on a bed/pillow.
- The click of the trackpad is very loud. (side note: I’d prefer a haptic touch option like macOS)
- The timer for the power button is extremely long in the firmware, making it hard to know if the laptop is failing to shut down. The framework team has said they will fix this in the firmware.
- The power button can get hot due to a driver issue, but this will likely soon be fixed in most distros.
- The microphone wasn’t working on my unit, but the framework team was very responsive about addressing this.
- The expansion cards wobble a bit, even when firmly in place.
- The expansion cards are a bit plastic-y, there’s a visible plastic ridge that seems to exist to allow for users to use as a grip point but I feel like it breaks the lines under the case. The release button also feels a bit wobbly.
More linux-ey cons (but notable for users not considering using Windows):
- The touchpad acceleration as mentioned varies per app, it takes awhile to tune it to something reasonable
- I haven’t been able to get the fingerprint reader working with SDDM yet
- The (hardware) right click isn’t working for me (I tried disabling ps2 emulation)
@Michael_Lingelbach thanks for the feedback! I updated the DIY Edition Quick Start Guide to note that the bottom left fastener doesn’t come out all of the way.
On the power button, we’ve found that if there isn’t a driver loaded, the fingerprint reader goes into a mode where it burns a lot of power. We’re working with the module maker to find a solution for this, but in the meantime, we recommend using a Linux distro that has libfprint 1.92.0 or newer to put the reader in the normal running mode.
@nrp Thanks for spearheading a great launch I’m really impressed with the laptop, and how proactive you all are being with notifying users on the state of linux drivers for everything (I forgot to add that to my pros, but that oversight will be fixed soon).
For anyone else on Fedora 34, here’s how you pull libfprint 1.92 from rawhide:
dnf install fedora-repos-rawhide dnf --disablerepo="*" --enablerepo=rawhide --releasever=35 install libfprint
@Michael_Lingelbach So you’re telling me I can’t just trigger a click action by sharply putting a finger down like on a Macbook or newer Windows Laptops?
If you mean tap to click, then on Ubuntu 21.04 at least it works.
Along the bottom edge there is single-finger left, right, and middle tap to click and physical click. As a heavy user of the middle mouse button on desktop I’m finding the middle tap/click very intuitive and useful.
Two-finger tap for right-click and three-finger tap for middle-click works as expected, as does two-finger scroll. Pinch to zoom does not work out of the box, but I think that can be enabled with additional software.
Edit: Well, of course after I say this the right and middle tap to click quit working Physical click works so not sure what happened.
You can enable tap-to-click in linux, my comment was that the touchpad has a deeper hinge than I was expecting (if you don’t use tap-to-click), and that it’s somewhat loud (I’d guess about 150% the volume of my 2014 MBP, which also has a hinge). post 2014 macs have done away with the hinge in favor of a motor that provides haptic feedback, so the touchpad does not actually move. FWIW, pinch to zoom works fine for me, but it depends on the application if you are using Wayland. Firefox Wayland (you need to install this separately) works fine.
phew, I was worried there for a second. Thanks for your review!
A quick followup question though: Could you tell us if (and by how much) battery life improved after you installed libfprint 1.92 and enabled deepsleep (assuming you haven’t already done the latter)?
Personally I would be interested in a review from someone using Windows. Performance and hardware support is just going to be better. Power management on Windows is light years ahead of Linux in most categories.
In particular I’m interested in being able to modify the fan curve. I prefer more noise and less heat.
One other note on that. It is definitely way too long at the moment. I believe the timer is something like 12 seconds. We’re going to shorten that in a firmware update.
Thanks again for all of the other feedback. We’ve filed a bunch of it in our internal issue tracker for future product improvements.
Just received the laptop this afternoon and hope sharing some early impressions might be useful to some people. Overall I am incredibly pleased with the laptop, this is an excellent product on its own merits as it is at the moment, and anticipating further upside - which I would say seems likely from the interactivity of the Framework team here - is exciting!
Briefly my hardware details and outline of setup steps:
- DIY i7-1165G7, 2x16GB memory, SN850 500GB SSD, AX210 non-vPro
- with the benefit of Community reviews - #7 by Michael_Lingelbach and the updated guides, opening up the laptop and installing the hardware was trouble-free. One slight freestyle was putting an extra crimp in the black wire connecting to the Wifi card to try and keep its metal tip from contacting the white wire’s tip, although not sure if that actually matters
- ran Linux Mint Xfce 20.2 from a thumbdrive, installed to SSD, upgraded kernel to 5.11.0-25 along with headers, modules, and modules-extra (as Debian based Linux on the Framework Laptop - #11 by Anita_Lewis), with which Wifi and the trackpad just worked
Echo all of @Michael_Lingelbach 's pros. Coming from a Thinkpad x201 the typing experience is smooth sailing, and the touchpad is smooth/responsive/accurate. The fan seems to engage at a pretty aggressive temperature but even then in non-media use essentially never needs to engage, and when it does it does not run loud. Screen is simply gorgeous, yes on the more reflective side but at least in my office and home office not to the point of causing any problems; in theory a sample pack of matte protectors should be coming in soon and might have one that takes a little of the glare edge off. Did a video call on which the camera and microphone performed very well, if anything a bit better than a Logitech C920. The speakers performed well for the purpose, everybody sounded clear.
On the other hand, at least so far have not had as much trouble with the cons, knock on wood. Maybe this is something distribution-dependent, but I got a pretty decent run out of the battery - about six hours of web browsing, then installing Miniconda and a few environments within it, then compiling three releases of Octave (my laziness not wanting to avoid deprecated methods, so instead just keep several releases around), and the battery was only down to 20%. Only spent about fifteen minutes streaming video from Youtube though, so maybe media is more harsh on the battery. The base heats up a bit but never to the point of feeling uncomfortable. Have been compulsively checking on the power button for heat but even though the driver is not installed (not particularly bothered not having a fingerprint sensor) it hasn’t yet gotten to be noticeably warm.
So not terribly useful for the Framework team in terms of possible to-dos, but a definite vote of confidence in the laptop. Hope everybody’s experience is as good!
Here’s my review with lots of comparisons to an X1 Carbon Gen 9:
TLDR returning the X1
@feesh great review!
@feesh Nice review! What’s the Shift+Caps+X shortcut?