Low power Framework Laptops

I run Ubuntu, use Chrome for reading/research, VSCode for coding and writing. I don’t watch movies or game, just read and write lots of text. I have to use Zoom/Teams/Meet for meetings and watch educational videos. I need a system that can:

  1. Run for atleast 8 hours without being plugged in once
  2. Support 64+ GB, ideally 96 GB RAM (hopefully dual channel). I don’t want to go into discussions why I need this much RAM and will ignore comments probing this detail.
  3. Don’t care much about cores as most systems nowdays have atleast 4, which are more than enough for me (I don’t watch movies or game, just read and write lots of text)
  4. Support 3 21" monitors @720p or 1080p (I don’t watch movies or game, just read and write lots of text)

I currently use a Dell Precision with 96GB DDR4 RAM and a 12 core i7 but the battery lasts 2 hours without being plugged in once, pulling in anywhere from 24W - 60W, averaging 0.5 - 0.8 kWh/day depending on 8 - 12 hours usage/day.

I am hoping a low power Framework Laptop can atleast halve that consumption - please let me know if this is unrealistic.

The 11th gen seemed to have a lower power i5 option but the 12th gen seems to have traded that off for pretty power hungry processors


i. If I want a low power Framework Laptop, is the 11th gen my only bet?
ii. Any idea if the 12th gen will have a lower power CPU option that consumes at least half of the 20-28W TDP range the current 12th gens offer? (I understand the TDP isn’t an accurate metric, but what is then?)
iii. Are there better options other than a Framework Laptop that I can use that would fit this requirement?

I am very electronics savvy and can build a system from PCBs if needed (although I highly prefer complete products that work Out of box)

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Same, I’d like to see battery life competing w/ Macbooks…

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Under typical usage (browsing, coding) the general feedback is 5-7h of battery life under Linux. Throw in Zoom/video watching and it’ll definitely be on the low end of that range, possibly lower. IMO guaranteeing 8h+ would be tough.

For a personal anecdote on my 11th gen running Windows: Chrome+Sublime Text+Discord audio call+YouTube video I’m seeing about 11W average battery drain which is about 5h. This is in line with your request of (your Precision)/2.

Monitor support is no issue especially at those low resolutions.


i. Preliminary reviews show that 12th gen ultrabooks on average have worse efficiency and battery life than 11th (especially on idle), though Framework claims it’s not an issue on their units. The TDP for both generations are basically the same.

ii. The TDP of 30W in the 12th gen units is the sustained power draw under maximum load. You will not see this power draw in day-to-day usage unless you’re gaming, running benchmarks, or doing heavy code compilation. In 12th gen there is the U SKU which has a TDP of 15W, but I don’t think Framework will offer this. You can also limit the TDP and boost behavior yourself.

iii. With a focus on battery life, most laptops with a lower-res display and larger battery capacity would work. AMD processors would also be more efficient. Since you need 2 SO-DIMMS that narrows your options to:

  • HP Elitebook 845/855 G8/G9 (I’ve seen the 845 G8 with 400-nit display as low as $700 recently)
  • Dell Latitude 5420/5520 with 63Wh battery
  • Dell Inspiron 7620 with 87Wh battery
  • XPG Xenia 14
  • Thinkpad T480 with slice battery for total of 96Wh (if you’re ok with used and 8th-gen Intel)
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I hate Macbooks for the closed ecosystem but the M1 is top notch for portability.

I would buy your configuration in a heartbeat.

11W average draw is practically 1/4th my draw.

Can you share some details about your 11th gen?

Do you remember a few links discussing this? Were they here?

Sure this works. I love my Thinkpads. CARRY a Thinkpad T430 myself on long trips. Unfortunately it can support max 16GB DDR3 (vs. 64+ GB, ideally 96 GB RAM that I need), or I would have absolutely used it.

The only 11th gen Framework left in-stock is the 1185G7 DIY. That’s a big premium to pay IMO. I have a Batch 1 1165G7 with a custom power profile set up (mostly to minimize fan noise) that keeps the CPU from boosting or sustaining full TDP. Generally happy with battery life but I don’t use it on battery too often.

This is based on battery benchmarks from external notebook reviews.

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Windows has good CPU support and power handling.

Let me ask around here to see if anyone else has suggestions about power handling on Ubuntu

So as you progress through the options it says “Sold out” Will check

@amoun This is for US, not sure of other locales. I assumed US based on OP’s time zone in another post.

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You’re correct. Continental US and happy to buy someone’s used 11thgen

My Dell 9360 (i7-8550U, 65WH battery) can last up to 10/12 hours, if I want to squeeze it (e.g. turn down brightness, etc).
I also have a 66WH Dell power bank, so I can in theory extend it up to a day if I really needed to.

64GB is … doable, with framework. I doubt whether you will actually need it, however.

You can change the resolution of external monitors in system config. At least, in Windows.

Although by that point its probably better to ask if it is better to have a 24 inch 1440p monitor so you can fit more stuff onto one screen rather than having the need to split them between three?

I believe they have discrete graphics. Which will suck back a lot of power even if you are not using it. Also depend on the config the battery can be woefully small. That CPU is also desktop-spec and also use a lot of power.

Yeah the P series isn’t the most power-friendly. But this is to suffice people that want a bit more oomph, since the U series have half of the P core (and thus will be less efficient when cranking up as it must clock higher to do the same amount of calculations. Although the E cores are still pretty strong.

There isn’t really a market that ask for low-power systems with a huge amount of memory. You can try to get a netbook and stuff the highest capacity RAM into it.

If you want the power bank I can considered sell mine. However I also think Dell is probably still making them, so you can get those as well.

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You won’t get 96GB ram in a dual channel config. for dual channel your options are 64GB or 128GB regardless of the system because the RAM modules need to be matched. So-called ‘hybrid’ dual channel with unmatched modules doesn’t hold a candle to real dual channel. Your question here needs to be whether or not Framework supports 64GB modules. If not you’re limited to 2x32GB.

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my current laptop is a “Hp Laptop 15-dw1083wm” With a Pentium 6405U.

It has 2 DDR4 SODIMM slots so you can in theory equip it with 64GB. It come with a 720p 15 inch screen.
You can only equip it up to 64GB because that is the max amount supported by the CPU.

Depend on your exact config it may come with a 2.5 inch or a m.2 2280 SATA SSD. Regardless it have a SATA port and a PCIe port (that is not accessible from BIOS, meaning you cannot boot from it). That PCIe slot might be intended for Intel Optane solution, however, again, depend on the exact config it might be configured as such or not.
The motherboard has a slot for discrete graphics, however it is usually unpolulated, depend on the price.

All sounds good however the battery is very weak at only 47WH, so it can maybe run for 6 hours but don’t expect any better. But it is low power

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A couple of things:

  1. There’s always the additional external battery USB-PD option.
  2. You can lower to TDP down to, say, 8w…for longer battery life.
  3. You can tell Windows to use less cores:

If only an Ubuntu guru here shared the same level of details here :slight_smile:

You can turn cores offline:

Going with the assumption that you can work will less processing capability for text entry.

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Sure - that’s my usecase. Appreciate the link - and if a tool that changes those system parameters more easily comes to mind, please let me know

You can also pass kernel parameters at boot time:

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True on all counts. I didnt’ travel as much when I purchased the Precision. Now I travel very frequently.

Although it’s an i7, the TDP is in the 10W - 15W range (Intel Core i78550U Processor 8M Cache up to 4.00 GHz Product Specifications) - which is half to third of the TDP of the i7s the 12th gen Frameworks are shipping with

Unfortunately, I tried to order the 11th gen with the low power options and they are all sold out.

The only one is stock are the power hungry i7 and in that case I would rather get the power hungry 12th gen, but I won’t - instead choose a lightly used T480


Also, when you’re on the go, can you get away with just using the integrated GPU? Disable your Quardo?

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