TL;DR: I have a neurological disorder (dyspraxia) that makes me, among other things, very clumsy and absent minded. How durable would you say the FW is, vs ThinkPad X1 and MacBook 14?
Details: I’ve gone through 2 ThinkPad X1 Carbons in 4 years. The first one had screen damage (replaceable but very difficult) and then the traces in the keyboard gave out due to flexing (soldered to the motherboard). The second one kind of still works but the USB-C charging ports only work if you hold the connector JUST so (USB-C soldered to motherboard and difficult to replace). I eventually moved to a MacBook 14, but I don’t love the OS X experience and like to support open source when possible. So you can see why I’m attracted to the FW laptop, since I could replace these parts for a fraction of the cost of a new laptop.
My main concern with FW is the durability. I drop my laptop fairly regularly, sometimes when its plugged in (I think this is what did in my USB-C ports on the 2nd X1). Of specific concern is the replaceable port slots; I imagine that would require a new mainboard. Everything else I’m likely to damage looks easy to replace (screen, keyboard, hinges).
I did a search on the forum and it seems like most people don’t have issues, or have positive experiences with the durability. Since I’m especially hard on my things, I wanted to double check and see what people thought. Thanks!
This is not the case with framework. If you damage a port on the expansion card, the main board is protected. You only replace the expansion card.
For hard use on the keyboard, I have let one of my young relatives bang quite hard on the keyboard for minutes at a time with no ill effects. It is probably possible to damage the key caps with longer term use. The keyboard itself is a project to replace (so many screws), but you can get a replacement input cover for a very easy repair at a higher cost.
As for drops: I have dropped my framework many times on wood and tile and it is still working and has minimal cosmetic damage. That said, I have to open it up and reseat the display cable behind the display sometimes (after a drop), which is a bit of a nuisance. I’ve seen some gnarly bends from drop damage on this forum, so frequent hard drops may lead you to replace the top or bottom cover
This is a thin and light laptop, so I wouldn’t expect the case itself to be super tough. HOWEVER, Framework sells the thicker CNC top cover, and I believe this greatly improves the durability of at least the lid, but when closed probably provides rigidity to the case as a whole.
The MAIN benefit is that your ports are protected due to the expansion cards, and that the system as a whole is made to be repairable and upgradable.
I’d say that this would be a good candidate for you that is going to cost you less in the long run, potentially.
My wife has dropped her framework 13 three times onto hard stone flooring. There is no scuffs or scratches that I can see as she has a dbrand skin on it. I didn’t see any deforming on hers as well. It fell from a desk height.
I don’t think it will do well from much higher up though, but it will at least be repairable.
From the way you describe your condition, a thin and light may not be the right model for you. These devices are delicate and while they may survive 4-5 (or even 10) accidents, they will eventually fail.
You ought to go for a rugged laptop that can survive drops, spills, shocks, etc. simply because they are designed to be abused. Have you considered something like a Dell Latitude 7330 or a Panasonic Toughbook? The Acer Enduro Urban N3 may be another good choice. Of course, none of these are thin-and-light laptops.
The CNC top cover is standard on new FW13’s (both Intel and AMD). Only the first FW13’s 11th gen Intel had the original top cover. (I don’t know what you will get if you order a 11th gen at the moment though. If they are available at all that is.)
The way I see it, this is a fantastic device for people who frequently damage their laptop, but need more performance than a cheap Chromebook can offer. The key here is repairability, not durability. Some MacBook repairs, such as screen replacement, can cost almost as much as the device itself, due to poor modularity and intentional sabotage of third-party parts. And modern thinkpads are not much better, as you yourself testified (very difficult replacement).
As someone who worked in “desktop” support until very recently, I can assure you that replacing parts on the Framework is much easier and more economical than any other modern thin and light (and indeed just about any other modern mobile device). Even some typically challenging repairs, like keyboard and screen replacement, are accessible to amateurs, as long as the official guides are followed. I myself have performed both of these repairs on my Framework and was pleased with the affordability.
Repairability is what makes owning a Framework so financially viable (especially for parents and a clumsy individual like myself). The money that would typically be spent on a replacement laptop could instead be spent on several part replacements, plus a motherboard upgrade. Due to the Framework’s modularity, repair will very seldom involve a motherboard replacement.
This is basically what I thought… BUT I wanted to make sure it wasn’t fragile enough that I’m constantly spending $$$ every month to fix it. If it’s, say, as durable as the Carbon X1, but way more repairable, that’s a huge win for me. Additionally, it sounds like the inner ports are well protected and unlikely to be damaged if, say, it was dropped plugged in.
Just wanting to give my experience, I dropped my FW13 (original panels and all) about 2ft on to a concrete floor and, while it’s still 100% functional, it left a sorta nasty bend in the casing. It should be fairly easy to fix, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I didn’t expect it to survive that fall without any scratches but the casing bent a lot easier than I thought. Also, with the bend, it still hasn’t had any issues being crammed in to my backpack with ~30lb on the other side of it for the last 3 or so weeks (no screen issues or anything from uneven pressure.)
I’ve dropped or bump many many times, and I’ve only had a dent in the cover be bad enough that it pushed the screen a bit, and with any other laptop I’d have to just be okay with it or get a whole new one, but I just opened it and bend the bump back, and fixed. Same with when I got the new AMD mainboard, I managed to snap a bit of the audio board, so my lid sensor also broke, but I ordered a new one and fixed.
My FW still has bumps and little bends, but it works flawlessly.