After using and playing with a few Framework 13’s for several months now, I have identified a handful of things that could be improved upon. While rather long, this isn’t intended to be a “Framework sucks” post, I just want to point out all of the issues I’ve encountered so that Framework can address them. If the issues aren’t pointed out, then they’ll never get addressed.
The laptop can be quiet but it can also be noisy as well. Creaking when opening/closing the laptop can be caused by the adhesive on the display cable, the antenna cables, and the webcam cable due to loosening of the adhesive over time, and then hinges themselves can make noise. I fixed this initially by removing the adhesive altogether but then used some stronger double-sided tape which also seems to have done the trick. For the hinges themselves, I just replaced them.
I’ve also had two instances where the pegs in the middle of the keyboard that are supposed to clip into the bottom (between the motherboard and battery) started making noise; in this case I’ve swapped around input covers or replaced them entirely which fixed or lessened the problem.
It looks like the bottom cover is made out of pressed/formed aluminum when it could be CNC’d like the new top cover; I imagine that doing so and making it a bit thicker around the hinges would solve the screen wobble that is regularly complained about. When you remove the screen and hinges, it’s apparent that the area the hinges attached to have a lot of flex to them, which contributes to the springiness of the attached screen. The hinges themselves don’t appear to be the problem.
Another problem with the bottom cover is the quality of some of the inserted screw threads. I’ve managed to strip out the bottom motherboard screw on three bottom covers (i.e. the insert became detached from the plastic it was inserted into). If the bottom cover were CNC’d like the top cover, these standoffs would be made entirely of metal which should eliminate that problem altogether.
Lastly I’ve received a couple bottom covers with audio boards that apeared to have corrosion on the exposed copper areas of the board, particularly around the screw holes. The boards appear to fully work, however, so it could just be a cosmetic issue, however I wouldn’t expect a new part to look that way.
As mentioned above, I’ve had an issue with the pegs that attach the top cover to the bottom cover in the middle of the machine make noise when pressing in that area. This could be resolved by replacing those pegs with screws or potentially just removing them altogether. I had thought about cutting out the corresponding catch on the bottom of the board to remedy the issue before I ultimately decided to swap the input cover.
The trackpads have also been inconsistent. I’ve received a couple input covers with trackpads that had mis-clicks (i.e., clicks that didn’t register). Additionally, most trackpads I have all have different click feels and different tones when clicked.
When the laptop is opened at 180 degrees, the very bottom of the screen bezel lifts off the top cover, which makes it make a creek or clack when being closed from that position. Every single one of my Framework 13s exhibit this issue.
A bezel without the webcam and audio cutouts would also be nice. This would be useful for people that rarely if at all use the webcam or microphone and would just prefer not to have it. Yes you can remove the board and just not have it, but having a bezel that just doesn’t have the cutout at all would be nice. This would also help the small number of people that regularly go into federal courthouses or other places that don’t allow devices that have any kind of recording functionality.
Other than some creeking as mentioned above, I’ve received one brand new set of 4.0kg hinges that were crooked, and no amount of adjustment would make the top cover line up properly with the bottom.
That said, I think the requirement for “opening with one hand” that some people have is kind of rediculous for this kind of laptop. It’s very light compared to other machines and I would much rather have a stiff/ridgid hinge than one that can be opened with a single hand. Laptops like MacBook’s that can be opened with one hand have a significantly heavier base and therefore they can have both a more ridgid hinge and allow one handed opening.
Allow the use of CR1220 batteries; I imagine this could be accomplished via a motherboard jumper, or even a bios setting, where the user could indicate whether the RTC battery is rechargeable or not. While I understand that the ML1220 batteries are more “environmentally friendly” since they’re rechargable, and that they’re not needed for normal operation, when using the board without an attached battery it would be nice to be able to keep the time using a battery that’s easily sourceable.
The Cooler Master case has no power indicator. Since the power indicator is part of the keyboard case, and there’s otherwise no LED on the motherboard that indicates whether the power is on, then there’s no way to tell if the motherboard is on or off in the cooler master case without checking a display that it’s connected to or possibly looking at whether the fan is spinning. A small board that attaches to the keyboard connector with an LED on it, or just an on-board indicator, would be nice.
The AMD version of the Framework 13 and Framework 16 only have two fully functional Thunderbolt/USB4 ports; while there are diagrams that show what can go where, it ruins being able to put any port anywhere you want. With the AMD versions, you have to now think about what you need or want in advance rather than just plugging in anything you want. Need to hook up two thunderbolt devices? Well, you probably have to move your charger now becuase it’s probably plugged into one of the rear slots like most people do. Need to hook up a display? Better hope that the only port availble isn’t the front right port. Yes you can move things around but again it’s more to think about rather than just plugging anything in to any port.
Some cables appear to not be purchasable separately, including the display cable and the webcam cable. Yes the display cable comes with a screen and the webcam cable comes with a top cover, but it would still be nice to be able to purchase them separately if you happen to have a damaged cable.
The T5 tip of the screwdriver is relatively fragile and appears to be slightly smaller than 5mm. I’ve outright broken a couple of them and have twisted a few others. And no I’m not hulking down on screws, I’m applying what I would consider a reasonable amount of torque to the scews. Other T5 screwdrivers I have don’t have this issue.
A DDR5 Intel option would be nice, as well as an Intel option for the Framework 16. I do have preorders pending for both the AMD version of the Framework 13 motherboard as well as a preorder for the Framework 16 DIY, however I’ll likely cancel them when the time comes due to the Thunderbolt issues with the AMD versions. I still have them open though in case I change my mind, especially given how backlogged the Framework 16 is now.
When the battery is disconnected, the bios forgets the last position of the function key lock. I personally like to use the function keys normally and require the FN key to be held down to do things like adjust volume, but the default is to use the media keys without the use of the FN key and I have to remember to re-enable the function lock after I disconnect the battery for whatever reason. Yes this is a minor detail, however it could be remidied by making this an option in the bios instead of just remembering the last position it was in.
I’ve previously tried to send in a support ticket via emailing email@example.com directly rather than using the online form, and it appears that those emails have just been blackholed. It would be nice if this worked instead of requiring us to use the form to submit tickets, especially when the intention is to attach images.
Lastly, I’m disappointed that the Framework 16 is only available in an AMD version and I hope an Intel variant is available soon. Additionaly, I’m disappointed that the non-gpu expansion card does not have any additional connectivity on it; even if the intention is to have the community fill in the space, something like a dual nvme expansion could have come with it which would have put it on par internal connectivity wise with other laptops like Dell’s Precision 7-series line (less the gpu).
While I only use the USB-C passthrough expansion cards, I very much appreciate that they exist. I always worry about damaging ports on other laptops, and I don’t really have to worry about that with these. They attach ridgidly enough to where I imagine you could completely destroy the expansion card port and have the port on the motherboard unscathed; just replace the expansion card and you’re good to go. Some manufacturers used to put the power cord specifically onto a separate board, however this has gone the way of the dodo with USB-C ports.
The screen resolution is just right for me to use at 100% scaling (i.e. no scaling).
The size and weight of the Framework 13 is perfect.
The lack of a dedicated GPU is a plus for me; I want the laptop to last as long as possible on the go, and not having a GPU at all makes this less complicated. If I need the extra power of a GPU, I can easily plug in an eGPU to get that extra power.
The keyboard feel is good; I’ve previously had some mushy keyboards from the likes of Dell and HP, however the Framework 13 genuinely feels nice to type on. Please don’t change this.
Replaceable RAM great. Even if RAM chips never died, it’s always possible that higher capacity RAM comes out in the future, and most processors can handle RAM capacities greater than their official specification. Soldering RAM down makes it nearly impossible to upgrade later or replace it in the event a chip goes bad.
While I’ve had numerous issues with the laptop described above, I still love and support what Framework is doing, and that’s why I’ve just dealt with these issues instead of trying to get support to remedy the situations for me. Right now, Framework makes the only laptop that ticks all the important boxes for me. I hope that Framework continues down the path that they’re on and that they’re going to be around for a long time to come.