Disassembly was well thought out and extremely easy. The included Framework screwdriver with its Torx T5 was all that was required.
The 4 captive screws and the 1 “pusher” screw is a brilliant arrangement, the cover popped off easily, I flipped it over and slid it halfway down the internals, covering the battery as recommended. The keyboard and touchpad cable is folded and split so it expands this way without putting tension on the cable or connector.
Installing the M.2 drive and the memory was easy. I was not overly familiar with the SODIMM latching mechanism arrangement but it seemed idiot-proof: the memory could only go in one way determined by the notch and the retention mechanism not only held the module down by the top but also firmly in place against the socket by the holes in the module and tabs in the retention mechanism.
The only part I had been warned about and dreaded was the wireless card installation. Yes, it was tricky. I was very careful not to damage the tiny connectors by pushing them down at an angle and the wires were stiff enough to twist the connectors so they wanted to go down this way. I had to pull a fair amount of slack out of the wires to ensure they were coming in from the bottom to avoid the cable torsion pulling off the connectors. Finally they both snapped into place. I routed the wires carefully and had to redo this several times. Placing the retention bracket with the wires in place behind it was tricky and took several attempts.
Perhaps I pulled a bit too much slack out of the white wire but it does clear everything and the connector is definitely oriented towards the bottom.
A final inspection to ensure everything was well-seated and I closed the lid and tightened the screws.
I plugged my Ventoy drive in containing various Linux installation media. I plugged the power in - an orange LED indicated it was charging properly. I pressed the power button which lit up. The screen did not turn on but I was led to expect memory training would take a few minutes. After 15 minutes and no screen, I realized something was wrong, held the power button down to power down and powered up again. This time I noticed the boot code LED was flashing a sequence of green and red LEDs. That LED flashes by very quickly. I could not be sure if it was red on “DDR initialized OK” (bad but not the end of the world) or “Internal display initialized OK” which would be very very bad.
I opened it up again, checked all connections and checked the display connection very closely. I couldn’t find anything. When I sealed it up again and tried booting (no dice) I thought it might be a bad stick of RAM and removed one. With one stick removed it finally booted up. Just before declaring I found one bad RAM stick I reinstalled it and it booted up!
Without detecting a valid OS boot drive it immediately took me to a first boot menu as expected. It saw the Ventoy drive fine but would not boot from it. After several attempts I put the Linux Mint “edge” install media in an old USB thumb drive and it booted fine from that. I installed Linux Mint very easily - the edge ISO contains a 5.11 kernel that allows the wireless card to work out of the box. I documented the rest here.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard is good, decent travel, nice and clicky, a bit of a soft landing. My older laptop, an MSI GS30-2M Shadow, has a keyboard that is almost as good, but the keys are smaller and have a harder landing. My corporate laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad E560, has a lighter spring feel and a harder landing as well but similar travel and “clickiness”. So the Framework keyboard is good but not the very best thing about the laptop. However I very quickly got used to the split arrow keys. They work fine, no problem.
What I really like is the trackpad. It’s much better than my other two laptops. It’s larger, and the surface is incredible to the touch. It’s glass so it’s very very smooth and silky-feeling, yet hard. It should be very durable. The plastic touchpad surface on both of my other laptops is wearing shiny and slightly sticky which feels awful to the touch compared to the Framework.
This is a great idea and I do not find that “only having 4 of them” is a detriment. I was able to use exactly what I need, nothing more and nothing less. I kept it simple and have installed two USB-C modules and two USB-A modules, one of each on each side. This way I can charge the laptop from either side, have one high speed USB-C port available for data transfers and two USB-A ports available. Perhaps I should trim it down to 1 USB-A port but I still have many more USB-A peripherals than USB-C peripherals. The USB-A port worked perfectly with my old thumb drive for installing the OS and the USB-C port works fine for charging and docking.
Speaking of charging, the official Framework charger is excellent and I’m glad I got it. It is incredibly small and light. The included USB-C cable is nice and long, the wires are very heavy gauge and the cable is tough. The right-angle connector means that it doesn’t stick out as much from the laptop as it would otherwise.
I don’t find the glossy screen much of a problem except for taking photos of it with it off for review purposes. I just put on a light background and the light from the background washes out most reflections. The 3:2 aspect ratio is nice, it makes the screen seem much larger than it is - the 16:9 screen in my 13" MSI GS30-2M Shadow seems positively tiny by comparison.
Scaling was a bit of an issue but I got it to work as outlined in my Linux Mint thread.
The screen is very bright, clear and sharp, due in no small part to its lack of a diffusing anti-glare coating which many have gotten used to I believe. I have no problems with colour balance and have tweaked it using Redshift colour-adjusting software as mentioned in my Linux Mint thread.
Size, Weight and Construction
Its size and weight make it very easy to carry. The 3:2 screen means there is lots of real estate for large keyboard keys and a huge trackpad. It’s deep for its size. It’s not as wide as my MSI laptop but a little deeper.
The aluminum chassis is very rigid and very solid. The fit and finish is excellent, I do not see the keyboard cover lifting or any gaps and the screen bezel is firmly held in place with no gaps.
Performance and Cooling
I’ll cover benchmarking in another thread but the executive summary is that the Intel Core i7-1165G7 is fast. Single-core, it often approaches my 105W TDP desktop AMD Ryzen 9 5900X.
When the CPU is pushed hard, the fan makes itself known for sure, but it’s mostly blowing air I’m hearing. It doesn’t spool up all that quickly and it’s not whiny.
The temperature tops out at 82°C. It can stay there continuously so it seems to be throttling at that point. One core can attain 4.7 GHz and all cores can briefly attain 4.1 GHz, exactly according to Intel’s specifications, but long term they will settle down to about 3.8 GHz. I did see a brief spike to 95°C with one core at 100% before thermal throttling and cooling brought it back down.
I have not tested this extensively yet but it seems good to me. I’ve used it on battery almost every night, mostly web browsing. In about 3 hours it goes from 100% to about 70%. My software is reporting it still has 4 or 5 hours remaining. I’ll take that with a grain of salt but I see no reason this laptop should not get 6 hours + on a charge. Maybe not 8 hours.
In short, I am THRILLED to have this laptop. It feels well and truly MINE and to be able to get into it with not only the permission but the assistance of the company behind it is wonderful. I am very eager for future upgrades. Perhaps not the very first upgraded motherboard released but maybe 5 years from now when several CPU generations have led to significant improvements.
My MSI laptop is still somewhat relevant but only because it was so fast at the time that it’s still competitive today. It was more expensive than the Framework. Had I not spent as much as I did on it, it would be about as competitive as my budget corporate laptop, which is newer than the MSI but much slower. It will be a while before the 1165G7 is severely outclassed, but it’s fantastic knowing there’s the possibility of upgrading the laptop while keeping the rest of what’s great about it, and costing less than a whole new one.