I want to be clear that this is my honest opinion and I’m sharing this to help any potential buyers gain insight on this laptop.
Let me just begin by saying that this laptop is great! I’m writing this review from my framework right now and it’s flawless! I’ve had only a few minor issues with setting up the laptop.
First, I know many people may be wondering what the battery life looks like. I’m switching from a 2017 MacBook Air, battery life started at about 6 hours or so but deteriorated to 2 in these final months. I can’t describe the freedom of having a battery that lasts for a while before needing to charge. On top of that, charging is pretty darn fast, especially considering the size of the charging brick (which I believe is a GaN brick, if I remember correctly), it’s a huge plus for portability and charging procrastination. Of course, the wonderful cherry on top is that I can replace my battery at any time for ~$50 if my battery ever dies and it takes about 5-10 minutes to do that.
In terms of overall system performance, it’s hard to say. I only started with 8 GB of RAM which would be fine on a MacBook but I quickly realized it won’t be enough to handle any decent game on Linux (and likely Windows as well). Before Cities Skylines crashed, the game appeared to be running smoothly. The crashing was a result of a lack of RAM and not the processor, I’ll update this review as soon as I get more RAM.
Currently, I’m still waiting for my NVME drive to ship and am using an external SSD to carry me through the next couple of days. I’ve installed Ubuntu LTS, which is officially supported, and haven’t had any major issues with it. For the Framework especially, I’d recommend sticking with Gnome for your desktop environment as the touchpad gestures are absolutely incredible. I tried KDE on Ubuntu, but found it poorly optimized for the Framework and a significant contrast from the KDE experience I was hoping for. I will say, KDE offers a lot more configuration options than Ubuntu’s Gnome, so that could be a plus if you want more freedom to control your system.
Now that I’ve discussed what I like, there are some things that I hope the Framework team can help fix:
First, I forget how much I miss the smooth scrolling experience on Mac. Even with “natural scrolling”, things still feel blocky. I don’t have that ability to just quickly go to the bottom of a web page because the page doesn’t continue to scroll after my fingers have left the touchpad. This is something that can significantly affect how a user perceives the responsiveness of their system.
Second, I’ve been having trackpad issues where the system basically just doesn’t refresh the screen until I move the mouse in some way, even the mouse doesn’t go to its “current” position until I move it in a different direction. I took apart the computer and messed with the trackpad connection to the keyboard, it seems to have fixed the problem so far.
This is a slight annoyance, but the function keys are a little out of whack on Ubuntu. The brightness adjustment keys don’t work, but the volume does. Since Linux is a little different in how it handles hardware compatibility, it’s not as simple as on Windows where you just install the drivers. However, you do have the advantage of out-of-the-box compatibility, even with officially unsupported distros because the drivers are baked into the kernel.
Why I think you should get a Framework
Despite my minor inconveniences, I have to say, this laptop has surpassed my expectations and has left me a permanent Framework fan.
Unlike other laptop makers, Framework puts the customer first. They look at what a laptop buyer wants, not at how they can exploit them. Every design choice was clearly made with careful thought and unparalleled dedication to you, the user.
Imagine having the ability to choose what ports you have every morning. Imagine replacing your old battery in 10 minutes instead of running it to the repair shop where you’ll have to pay a enormous sum of money and time to get it fixed. This is the power of user-first design, it gives you ownership of your electronics. With that, I can confidently recommend this laptop to anyone even remotely interested, no matter your skill level or abilities. This is a laptop that you can either decide to take apart or treat as a normal laptop, both still result in cheaper service in the long run and you likely won’t regret the decision to invest in one of the most innovative computer companies in the world.
I figured out the function key issue, turns out there were some drivers that needed to be installed. Consult Framework’s GitHub for more info, but it’s super easy to install, just a quick copy-paste and enter.