Keyboard comfort? Comparison to other laptops?

I’m in the market for a new laptop and the framework ticks all the boxes (well almost… AMD would be my preference, but I see why they’ve gone with intel for now. Tempted to wait, if they stick with intel, for the new Alder Lake chips and DDR5 RAM though. Also a matte screen, though I can add a screen protector).

But one thing I can’t get a sense for is the keyboard on the Framework laptop. I type a lot (PhD student, one more year till defense yay!) between data processing and writing and I’m a female with small hands, small even for a female. I swear my hands look like they belong to a child. I went to the local best buy and was trying laptops and many keyboards were simply too wide to be comfortable typing on them. Wide meaning the space between each key was wider and the horizontal jump from key to key was wider. Notably, the Dell and Asus laptops felt wide. Even the Lenovo Yoga keyboard felt too shallow and wide where I was dropping typing speed. The best keyboard fit I found was in the HP Sectre and Envy lines (which I think are the same dimensions) and the ever popular Lenovo Thinkpad. I realize that many keyboards seem to be made with average male hands in mind (and peripherals too. Finding a decent mouse that isn’t huge is a struggle) but I’d like to be comfortable typing.

Can someone who has a Framework laptop in hand describe the keyboard in comparison of other laptops? I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

Also, apologies if this is in the wrong section of the community forums. Let me know and I’ll retag appropriately.

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You mention the HP Envy and HP Spectre lineup, I’m not certain how they compare individually to the Framework laptop, or the size of laptop you tested - it’s possible the 15" and 13" models of each of those two have different key spacing.

However, if you’ve tested an HP Elitebook 840 (their 14" model) the Framework laptop’s keyboard is almost exactly the same overall size (clearance betwen keys), with what is in my opinion superior individual key feel. I may be wrong, but the latter observation feels like it’s due to the Framework’s keyboard having keycaps which stick a little bit further out of the frame than the HP’s - this means that as you touch type, your fingers can much more readily tell when they’re in a position where they can press down on the keys. It feels more assured typing on that keyboard than on the Elitebook. With that I’d hand the “small hands typing test” (no pun intended) win to the Framework over the HP, given the improved tactile feedback.

I have above average hand span for a guy, but my girlfriend also has tiny digits, and she had zero complaints typing on the keyboard. That being said, she’s also accustomed to typing on a full size mechanical keyboard for home computing, so take our word with a grain of salt.

I usually don’t have an opinion on keyboards. I’ve been using a Lenovo Thinkpad notebook keyboard for the past couple of years, and that was fine for me. However, when I started using my Framework laptop, I remember distinctly noticing that the keyboard was very comfortable. However, I also have larger hands, so my experience may be different than something with smaller hands. :slightly_frowning_face:

Thanks for the responses guys. @Frosty I was trying out the Spectre and Envy 13" and 14" model keyboards. I think the 15" was wider from what I noticed. My normal keyboard at home is a 10 keyless cherry blue keyboard, which is what I type the fastest on, but for obvious reasons I would never want to bring something like that to my office. I think I would be murdered pretty quickly. I’ve found that with full sized mechanical keyboard, even if they’re wider, the actual jumps between keys laterally is smaller than many laptops with chiclet keyboards. Maybe it’s just a feeling rather than a full on measurable fact though. Regardless, your comments are very much appreciated. Thanks!

@Daniel_Schulte Thanks for your response too, knowing that people who have experienced the ThinkPad keyboard extensively and gone to the Framework laptop and haven’t seen a drop in comfort seems like quite a positive thing for the Framework keyboard.

No problem.

I think two of the big factors for mechanical keyboard being comfortable to type on for me, my girlfriend, and possibly yourself is the key travel, and the keycap sides poking up so distinctly from one another. These lend themselves to a much more distinct tactile response, and the keyboard kind of tells your finger by touch that it’s ready to be pressed. On that front the Framework keyboard is quite good in my opinion, there’s a definite positive feedback when typing quickly, and the keycaps are also stable enough that they’ll depress even if you just barely hit the corner of the key. Because of that I can pretty easily maintain what I would estimate to be 110/120+ wpm on the framework laptop. That’s easily faster than most of my typing ever needs to be, since I haven’t written a long document in ages. I’m sure that if I was to spend more of my time on the laptop, I’d get faster. On my desktop with fancy $200 keyboard, I hit 140ish at my very best.

In terms of tactility and feedback, I find the Framework keyboard to be among the best of the current laptops out there–virtually identical to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s, but bested by a ThinkPad T14 (which has ~1.8mm travel and more scooped keycaps). My Dell Latitude 7480 with its ~2mm travel is also noticeably better to type on. OTOH you would notice the shorter travel/feedback compared to Framework’s on laptops like the LG Gram, Dell XPS, non-ThinkPad Lenovos, etc. So overall for the Framework I’d say it’s not the best, but still better than most.

It sounds like you’re more concerned with key spacing though. I’d say the Framework has pretty standard spacing, basically identical to the ThinkPads and Latitudes. However I bet the reason you like the HP layout is because their keyboards are spaced slightly smaller than normal.

Here’s a Photoshop file I created to help with visualizing layouts when I was shopping for a new laptop, maybe it’d be useful for you too: Photopea | Online Photo Editor

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Man I didn’t even think about doing that. That’s brilliant. Sounds like overall Framework has a good compromise on the key travel depth. Some laptops I was trying felt comically shallow. I’ll have to think about whether the slightly smaller spacing on the HP is even worth considering an HP laptop. I wasn’t a huge fan of their build quality on the Envy line. The Spectre was really nice, but I genuinely don’t need a touch functionality or pen and I don’t really want to pay extra for features I’m not really interested in.

@eilry I will say that if Framework’s upgradability/reparability is what drew you in initially, HP’s Elitebook offerings definitely put up a good fight. The 830/840/850 are very solidly built, have 2 RAM slots, great port selection, relatively easy to disassemble/repair, a top-tier (water-resistant) keyboard, and have AMD variants (835/845/855). Though you would be giving up the 3:2 screen and some performance (thermals aren’t as good).

The main issue is they’re very hard to come by if you’re in the US, and you’ll be waiting many months for a customized one direct from HP.

@feesh I did look at the elitebook, and yeah it was definitely something I considered, along with Lenovo’s offerings. But with a small formfactor laptop, 16:10 or 3:2 is much more appealing, especially when writing code. It just, is easier to read.

But also, HP/Lenovo are large companies that don’t care about a single order. I think the main draw with framework is also supporting a future ecosystem and a company that has a grasp of what “right to repair” could and should look like. Granted, this is also the danger with framework. If the company folds, downstream upgradability is gone for mobo/CPU.


So I am coming from a 15" laptop (falcon Northwest TLX) which uses a an off the shelf chassis. I really didn’t mind that keyboard, and wrote my master’s thesis on it without any issues. The difference between that keyboard and the one of the framework I am physically typing on is marginal, other than getting used to some different key layout. As far as key spacing. The horizontal gaps on the framework laptop seem about the same as my previous device. No significant issue here, although admittedly I could uses a little more room. Vertical spacing is less than the previous machine, I have found no real drawback to this for my typing speed. I pretty quickly learned to deal with the half height arrow keys and the function keys seem logical. Overall I picked up the keyboard on the Framework quite quickly. I am missing my numpad, but those are very hit or miss on 15 inch devices let alone a 13.

It has been a few years, but I used to daily drive Lenovo Yoga devices. The keyboards on those were pretty good IIRC. But l seem to remember not having good tactile feel.

Now I am no typist, I am close to touch typing but not quite, and I type rather heavily. My use-case on the framework falls squarely into the computer science realm, so most of the time typing is very busty and I do not need sustained wpm. I have pretty standard male hands, maybe a bit on the thinner side, but not much. A broken finger injury of the past does not seem to be getting in my way on the framework.

Idk if any of this helps, but good luck!

@Skye_Leake That does help thanks. I’m also not really a continuous type, unless I’m typing up my paper drafts. I tend to do best by writing drafts by hand and then typing them up, which takes care of the first draft and second draft quick edit. That’s when I really notice a ill-fitting keyboard.

My code comes out in bursts. Slow… slow painful bursts. I’m a scientist, not a computer scientist but I need to process data. Bless Rstudio for existing. And packages. And stackoverflow.

Main thing is when I’m on a laptop keyboard that is too large for me for many many hours, my hands get fatigued faster than a keyboard that fits nicely. I got used to typing without the numpad so I’m not concerned about it, but it definitely is a nice thing for long data entry.

I did end up ordering a laptop with an eye on upgrading to a ryzen MoBo down the line, but for my computational needs currently, I’ll be just fine on the current Intel architecture. I do kind of hate that I’m buying into the final version of the chip design and not waiting for the massive upgrade the intel chips (should) be getting next quarter but I was also unsure if framework even gets access to those new chips, since I’m sure most of the large companies have already had their orders in. The switch to DDR5 also makes buying DDR4 RAM right now mildly painful haha.

Yes, but a ~$400-500 USD upgade in 3 years or so sounds a WHOLE lot better than a $1500 upgrade. :grimacing:

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oh absolutely! And far more sustainable. E-waste is a nightmare.