and some more (MNT Reform, Slimbook, Juno Computers, …)
Now I wanted to gather some opinions from the Framework Community, to see some arguments for or against these laptops, including Framework 13.
As for my goal:
I am starting my Master’s in Computer Science soon and want to upgrade my machine. Mainly because running Linux on my Surface Book 1 is too cumbersome now, and as I feel like a laptop is my most valuable personal physical thing currently, I want to find the best on possible.
I’d like to have
a lightweight laptop, as I am carrying it every day everywhere
powerful enough for my coding task and projects in the future
ports to connect to a beamer for teaching purposes, without forgetting my adapter
good compatibility with Linux
not too niche, such that I can find answer online
I hope this topic might be also be useful for people looking for a similar thing like me
I also like to buy from a manufacture that values open-source, transparency, customization, modularity, right to repair, sustainable, …, instead of the usual big companies.
Pretty much every laptop llisted outside of Framework is a Clevo Rebrand with either some customization or coreboot. All of them are linux friendly. MNT Reform is not a laptop anyone would consider a daily driver.
Purism is a scam. If it is in stock you may get the product you paid for, if it is not…good luck. Look up librem 5 controversy. Also the hardware is extremely outdated at this point.
Really the smartest choice is a Framework unless coreboot is a must have for you. Whether the 13 or 16 fits your needs better is up to you. Personally the 13 is sufficient for pretty much any computing task, and any that it might not be heavy ML workloads I offload to a server. Bought two Framework 13’s (12th gen) and they are both running flawlessly. One with Fedora 38, and the other with Ubuntu 22.04.3LTS.
Upgraded to a Matte screen on mine (love it), and waiting for the BIOS update so I can get the better battery. Usually run with 4 usb-c adapters and get great batery life (8-11hours).
This kind-of works with the Tuxedocomputers Stellaris gen3 that I have BUT they use Tongfang motherboard and all components. And Tongfang is a huge corporation. So by buying from somebody like System76 or Tuxedocomputers you’d be buying from some kind of good ol’ large corp.
I wanted to change my keyboard from ISO to ANSI and it simply doesn’t exist. The seller of the laptop said no, my local repairman said no, even a similar brand said no. The parts don’t exist.
Edit: Schenker, XMG, CyberPowerPC, System76 all use either Clevo or Tongfang chassis. Some use both.
Edit2: After looking into this model from Juno Computers I can see that hinges are somewhat similar in design from my Stellaris (ok, this is a stretch): Saturn 15" v5 - Juno Computers UK - Linux Laptops
So this could be from Tongfang too, but not sure.
MNT Reform seems to me as more of an experiment or a toy
than a practical work machine, and at a very high price.
That’s not derogatory – I own multiple Pine64 products.
The System76 Lemur is attractive.
It has a bigger battery and lower weight than the Framework, plus open firmware.
I already own a 5-year-old Galago, and was satisfied with it.
However, once I specced an apples-to-apples comparison,
the System76 ended up at a higher price despite its weaker processor.
I also looked at the Juno Nyx, but I don’t remember why I ruled it out…
maybe the lack of ANSI keyboard, or the 36W battery?
Basically it came down to Framework beating the competition on price.
The final decider for me was the release of blank and clear keyboard layouts –
which are a big UX improvement for everybody who doesn’t use QWERTY.
Contrary to many of the other opinions you’re likely to get here,
swappable ports and upgrad- and repairability were only sugar for me.
You’ll clearly get responses that are highly biased towards Framework here. Based on that, I’ll try to take a different approach.
System76, Tuxedo, and Starlabs have by far better Linux support than Framework. Their main selling point is great Linux support. System76 and Tuxedo even have their own distros, and all of them officially support multiple distros, not just Fedora and Ubuntu.
MNT is probably Linux only, but it’s awesome. For example, it allows you to replace each cell of the battery. As someone previously mentioned, it’s not quite ready to be a daily driver, though. Additionally, it features a mechanical keyboard and trackball, and the pocket version has an orthogonal keyboard.
Framework running Linux was a second thought. I’m glad that they now officially support Linux, and I think they are doing a great job in this regard.
For me it came down to a couple of factors 1) Key travel I was unable to verify it for the Starbook but I was able to verify it for the Framework 13. Coming from a T480s I wanted a good keyboard and the travel on the Framework pretty much matches that of a T480s, and based on using it for nine months now it was a good pick. Very similar feel. 2) 1920x1080 16:9 aspect ratio…if it had been a 16:10 it might have carried me over, but 3) Framework is completely modular the Starbook is not. I have never found a laptop to be completely unrepairable or to have difficulty getting parts, what I have never seen before is a guranteed upgrade path. I can run out right now and grab a new motherboard, drop it in and keep everything else. 4) While I like a black laptop…I hate anodized finishes, the process involved is not very environmentally friendly and the longterm wear on anodized finishes just is not where it would need to be. 5) Coreboot…yeah it almost pushed me the other way…but we may still get it in the Framework.
So yeah I think StarLabs have a great product but overall it was not that hard of a decision for me. The fact that they moved away from Clevo is something that should help them in the long run.
I had a 10th gen i7 Lemur Pro from System76 until a month ago. The good: amazing battery life (usually > 20 hrs), great screen, fast, flawless software support, very light, configurable keyboard The fine: keyboard and trackback was alright, case was easy to scratch/chip, first time I needed repairs it was quick/painless The bad: speakers were just terrible The ugly: second time I needed service for the same failure took 6 WEEKS, returned with missing screws and without the power adapter, they told me I was mistaken The sad: it’s completely dead now, and my AMD Framework hasn’t announced when it ships yet.
I think I got a lemon and their support is not great, but I don’t think that’s most people’s experience. I still bought their expensive Launch keyboard even after the second time the Lemur failed. I don’t think I’ll buy another Clevo based laptop though…
We have two Gen 11 FW13s (Batch 1 and I think Batch 3). I’ve run Pop OS! and Fedora on mine in addition to Windows (first 10 and now 11).
If you want to tinker or if swappable components/customized port loadout is very important, I think the Framework is the best choice. I wouldn’t trade my 13 for any of those, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had issues. I had to do some tweaking in Windows to deal with power and sleep drain issues, my CMOS battery still frequently runs down (after I replaced it but still forget to connect it to AC power frequently), and I still occasionly experience a disconnect on the USB port where my 1TB storage module is connected.
That said, if you’re going to use it as your primary machine (so it doesn’t sit around for a week or two unattended at a time), your experience may be much different. I used mine as a primary computer with an eGPU for about a month (under Windows, not Linux) and I had no real problems. The biggest issues I’ve had under Linux have been with the AX210 adapter, but those have disappeared as kernel versions have marched forward.
As far as coding performance, I’m not building X Window or Chromium-sized source trees, but even the Gen 11 i5 is adequately powerful. I have 64GB of RAM, plenty of storage, and the convenience of being able to switch port layout around is a big plus for me. I also really like the 4:3 ratio for the display but that feels like a personal preference.
If you want a laptop that is cutting edge, performant, and made to last, then Framework is the only choice.
All of the other brands are clevo rebadges, with designs falling in line with mainstream laptop design. IE: not really repairable, and not meant to be upgraded.
The MNT Reform is a GREAT laptop but it is not about performance in the same way that the Framework one is. Its open source hardware approach requires many concessions. I have one. I really like it. You could use it as your daily laptop, but your workload needs to conform to this. The design on the Reform is top notch. 90s Thinkpad is pinnacle design.
Regarding the Linux support comment: Framework has not one but two really knowledgeable Linux experts working for them.
All of the cutting edge hardware (camera, fingerprint scanner, thunderbolt, keyboard, touchpad, lid sensor, etc.) are all 100% supported under Linux. I don’t really see how Framework’s Linux support is anywhere behind other Linux laptops?
When you factor in that your system is made to be repairable, upgradable, and to last as long as you want, I don’t see how any other laptop can really win, unless form factor or feature set are super critical.
And that’s what stopped me from buying a Tuxedo Laptop. I couldn’t get an ANSI keyboard.
In terms of a laptop with a dGPU, the only option left with a 16 : 10 screen was the Oryx Pro from System76, but that maxed out with an RTX 4070; not good enough for me, and the screen was 1920x1200, not high resolution enough.
Framework was literally my only option left. I even tried to install Linux on TWO different 2023 Windows laptops and neither had working speakers in Linux, so they went back.
I have 2560x1440 and I run at 1.75 scale factor which is about 1462px, so smaller than 1920. I don’t need such insanely detailed resolution. I’d like 16:10 screen instead of my 16:9 though
Also I don’t suggest picking up a laptop with nvidia card or you have to make sure that you can fully run the internal graphics with external monitor (I assume you don’t buy the laptop for gaming).
I am buying it mainly for programming, though I do game on the side (using Steam).
I did want Nvidia GPUs for DLSS, not necessarily 3, but for the feature in general, CUDA, and OptiX, (the latter two for Blender, which heavily benefits from OptiX on RTX GPUs), but the right laptop for me doesn’t 100% exist at the moment. Framework just happens to be by far the closest.
I almost bought the Bonobo 17 from System76, but a delay to the initial pre-orders and the lack of a 16 : 10 screen option killed it for me.
Not to mention this lack of options might be why Linux still is barely above 3% of desktop market share; there’s WAY too few 16 : 10 options in 2023!