"Dumb" mainboard to allow NexDock style use of framework?

IDK if anyone here is familiar with the NexDock 360(https://nexdock.com/explore-nexdock/) but the basic concept is it’s laptop without a processor, mean’t to be plugged into an external device like a phone, steam deck, Nintendo switch, etc.

Since it has no processor it can be made for cheap, has good battery life, doesn’t need active cooling, and by extension it’s super thin and light. It’s basically a glorified USB-C hub + accessories masquerading as a laptop.

It seems to me that the framework laptop would be a good candidate to allow a similar use case with “relatively low investment” from the framework team. We would just need a new “usb-c hub” mainboard.

Would anyone else also be interested in this usecase? Thoughts?


The Raspberry Pi 4 can be used as a USB host and you can get HDMI adapters to run the display. You might be able to throw something together with parts from the Marketplace to get what you want.

I use my phone for Android Auto a lot and it gets pretty hot. Active cooling can be a good thing depending on the workload.

I like the idea of this. Certainly not an expert in PCB design but I don’t think it would be overly complex at least compared to a full mainboard. The only gotcha I can think of is the USB-C modules and how they are laid out. No clue if you could have them be as flexible as they are now.

As a Steam deck owner, I’m really tempted by this image

But I

  • Want to support Framework
  • Have the option of replacing the ‘dumb board’ with a real board if I end up preferring a real laptop at some point.

i’m surprised nobody has worked on something like this.

EDIT: a nice extra feature could be that it can fall back on like a raspberrry pi, if no device is connected. so you atleast have SOMETHING when no device is connected


Would be an upgrade to have a Framework NexDock, with the benefit of a better display. And possibly use the internal battery to extend run time, and add USB dock capacity too.

With how easy it is to take the keyboard off, you could probably make it so the phone gets put into the laptop chassis

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Alternatively, we can have a KVM module with the Framework and it can work as a laptop and as a Nexdock when we need it :stuck_out_tongue:

Just looked at the Marketplace, and from what they have available, a mainboardless Framework would need:
$99 Top Cover Kit
$179 Display Kit
$99 Bottom Cover Kit
$100 Input Cover Kit
($477 total of official framework parts)
$20 https://www.tindie.com/products/crimier/framework-input-cover-controller/
OR assumed >$20 Wanted: USB-C to eDP board to interface the Display Kit - #2 by Arya
So that’s at least ~$500 for a mainboardless Framework.
Compared to the $300 of a NexDock, that could definitely be acceptable to some people especially since you can always upgrade to a full laptop. The only roadblock is the USB-C to eDP board in progress, but other then that this is totally an option right now if you’re willing to assemble the components yourself.


@James5 you technically forgot the battery I think. which isn’t needed… but would be ideal. So you could charge the device at the same time