DIY Customer Experience Walkthrough

I don’t know if this will be useful to anyone, but I thought I would give a very quick recap of my experience as a customer so far. IMO, feedback never really hurts. For context, I’m a US-based customer.

BUYING THE LAPTOP

  • I thought the store experience was pretty great. I never ran into any issues, and I really appreciated the documentation related to M.2 and RAM compatibility. I wound up buying the exact same components that Framework uses, I just got better Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals getting them a la carte elsewhere. Framework already earning goodwill with that approach!

  • Communication and updates were clear and timely. Honestly, this part of the experience went incredibly smoothly for me, and my compliments to the folks who designed it.

SHIPPING AND DELIVERY

  • I ordered on 27NOV, it shipped on 7DEC, and it arrived on 13DEC. Absolutely no complaints, and FWIW, FedEx has handled packages better for me this year than other vendors, and the tracking and updates from their side worked just fine.

  • Exterior packaging was in good condition; interior packaging was in great condition.

DIY EDITION ASSEMBLY

  • Overall, everything went pretty smoothly. There might be a trick to getting the backplate off that I’m not aware of: one of my corners is very “grabby” and I had to probe a bit with the spudging tool. Side note: thanks for the spudging tool! Side-side note: I also appreciate the retention screws staying with the backplate and not flying around my kitchen.

  • M.2 and RAM installed as easily as you’d expect. I know that’s basically adult LEGO, but it made me smile.

  • FIRST moment of frustration: getting that wireless card, particularly the leads attached was an absolute pain in the neck. I got through it ok, but it involved four hands, the spudging tool, a pair of tweezers, and about five tries. There was a hilarious / terrifying moment where the speaker magnet “stole” the tweezers. Again, all’s well that ends well, but if you ever want to find a way to improve this part of the experience, it might be worth a look.

  • SECOND moment of frustration: three of the four expansion card slots fit perfectly; one required persuasion. Also, removing ANY of them requires applying a surprising amount of force. From what I’ve seen on the forums, having one slightly uncooperative slot seems to currently be a bit of a thing. Just FYI.

  • Also, the DIY guide was honestly among the best I’d ever seen. Again, my compliments to your documentation person(s). There was an issue where the guides were unavailable for some weird HTTPS reason on the night of 16DEC, but that seems to have been resolved.

OS INSTALLATION / FIRST BOOT

  • As mentioned above, at this point the guide was playing hard-to-get and I was flying a bit blind, but I got through it ok. I already had my thumb drives with the Win10 media and the latest Framework drivers. I was also genuinely shocked (in a good way) by how “clean” of an install this was. You guys haven’t sold out in terms of bundling unnecessary software, and that makes me extra-happy to give you my money.

  • When the guide was back online this morning, I noticed that there was a note about updating the firmware on the SN850, which I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Again: I appreciate you guide-writer!

  • THIRD moment of frustration: I spent longer than I care to admit looking through the packaging and checking every sticking inside the laptop before I realized the Win10 key is on my account, and not enclosed or attached. Again, all’s well that end’s well, but you might want to check with your support folks and see if they get a lot of calls like that. It could also be just me.

FINAL THOUGHTS / ISSUES

  • My camera switch clicks solidly and has resistance; my microphone switch has almost no click and no resistance. I’ll probably reach out to your support folks later and see what can be done about that.

  • I see that your developers and engineers are active on the forum: please never change. There were several moments in my early research where that input gave me the confidence to pull the trigger on the laptop.

  • Overall, so far I’m very impressed with everything about this experience. Not sure if this write-up will help anyone seeing as you’re already into your sixth or seventh wave of delivery, but here it is regardless. And if it helps even one other person who can’t find their Win10 key inside the box, it’ll be worth it. :wink:

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UPDATE RE: DEFECTIVE SWITCH

  • I reached out to the Framework support team, and was able to talk with what seemed like a very informed and competent person who asked for some pictures / video of the issue. Once I sent that in, everyone agreed that it seems like the switch is actually defective, and it can probably be fixed by swapping the bezel.

  • They’re currently out of stock of bezels (not ideal, but I get it; in these wild times every store seems to be out of something). Every so often I get an update on my case from the Framework folks letting me know that they haven’t forgotten me, and they’re waiting for a restock so we can move forward. I do appreciate the occasional follow-up, so kudos there.

  • I’ll update again once this all gets resolved, but so far I’m still pretty pleased. It seems like everyone involved is working the problem as best they can.

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UPDATE RE: DEFECTIVE SWITCH

  • Having to backdate a bit of this since I forgot to do it at the time. Thanks for bearing with me.

  • I reached back out to the Framework folks about the replacement bezel on 24FEB, and they shipped one out immediately. I haven’t installed it yet since life and a few other issues got in the way, but I did want to say that once again, packaging and shipping seemed great.

OTHER ISSUES

  • There have been a handful of other issues that have started cropping up that are (hopefully) being addressed.

  • I started experiencing what seemed like unreasonably battery drainage when the laptop was completely powered off. Other folks have reported the same issue. There’s a thread here: Battery slowly drains when completely shut down . It seems like that will be fixed in BIOS 3.08.

  • There’s a blinking light issue if you enable the “don’t charge the battery to 100%” setting in BIOS. There’s a thread about it here: Blinking Amber Light (battery set to 100% charge limit) . It looks like someone committed a fix but no word yet when that will make it’s way to us.

  • My laptop suddenly started not turning on unless it has access to AC power; it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how charged the battery is (it happens when the battery has 97% charge). There’s a thread about it here: Laptop won't power on unless i plug in AC power . I’ve put in a ticket with the Framework Support folks, and that’s my highest priority (since obviously unless it gets fixed, my laptop isn’t really a laptop anymore).

We’ll see how those get resolved; fingers crossed!

UPDATE RE: NOT POWERING ON

  • After some back and forth with support, it was determined that we’d need to do a full reset of the mainboard. Again, my compliments to whoever wrote the Fully Resetting the Mainboard State article, it was clear and I was able to get through it without issue.

  • While it seemed like that did fix the problem temporarily, within a few days that laptop once again would no longer turn on unless it was plugged into AC power. When it did come back on, it was clear that the laptop was losing track of time completely. At this point Framework Support has determined that replacing the entire mainboard is the thing to do, and we’ve begun the process for that.

At this point, the customer support that I’ve received has been top notch, but we’re coming up on five months of issues. Hopefully the mainboard replacement does the trick.

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If it were any other laptop brand / company, that would be a below 3-star product rating. People have been too forgiving / biased.

Possibly, but I’m trying to be as charitable as possible when it comes to the Framework support model. If it had been any other laptop, I would have simply returned it and expected a working replacement. With Framework’s emphasis on repair-ability and modularity, I get that their support may take a bit of a different tack.

Now, you may have a point in one respect: around the same time I bought the Framework, I bought my wife a mid-tier Acer, and the first one came with an absolutely mangled USB port. We RMA’d it, got a replacement, and she’s been laptop-ing ever since while I’m still getting to know the guts of the Framework. It’s hard not to be jealous of the simplicity and speed of that solution some days.

Yeah, with repairability being a feature, I can see why some people would want to fix the issue they have with support from Framework. But let’s not forget that there are those who just need / want a functional unit with minimal friction. Also, the time-to-resolution for some of the issues are taking too long to reach the customers (cough: BIOS 3.08?)…if it’s even on the road map (cough: TB4 certification). Granted, it’s a gen 1 product…meaning it is expected to have issues…but the time it takes to even reach a resolution? That’s just off the chart.

The two Firmware Engineer spots are still empty.

I have also been having issues with powering on even after updating to Bios 3.07 . If a new replacement mainboard fixes that power issue then I guess that will be the route i’ll have to go down and most others.

UPDATE RE: REPLACEMENT MAINBOARD

  • Framework sent out a replacement mainboard right away. I was a little concerned about how easy it was going to be to swap out, but the relevant article ( Mainboard Replacement Guide - Framework Guides ) was quite good. As I said in my initial writeup for the DIY laptop, the most annoying component by far is the wifi card. If Framework ever comes up with a way to eliminate those two tiny wires, that would be a huge help.

  • I also swapped out the replacement bezel that I mentioned above. That totally fixed my switch issue, and it was far easier than I expected. It seriously took maybe three minutes. So kudos for that!

  • Unfortunately, my new mainboard has started to have the same problems with not powering on that I was experiencing with the old one. The symptoms are that it won’t start up without being plugged into AC power, and once it does eventually start up, the system clock will have lost time and you’ll see a historical date. It seems to me that something is happening to cause the board to click into the ‘safe to ship’ state where it cuts power entirely, and won’t boot off battery without the presence of AC power.

  • As far as I know, the only difference between the ‘old’ laptop with this issue and the ‘new’ laptop with this issue is the old one shipped with BIOS 3.06 and I had to upgrade it to 3.07. The new mainboard arrived with 3.07 already installed.

  • The only BIOS setting I’ve modified is the one that allows you to set the maximum charge level of the battery to something other than 100% in order to prolong battery life. I had set that to 80% on the old one, and I currently have that set to 80% in the new one.

  • I’ve reached back out to Framework Support. We’ll see how this goes.