Potential Project: Mainboard Handhelds (FrameHub/Frame-deck)

I’ve seen people talk about touchscreen tablets, but after the coolermaster case got released it made me wonder about what are some of the obstacles to making an open Switch/SteamDeck-like machine?

A ‘Framedeck’ if you will for a portable PC that maybe has a minikeyboard at the bottom or split a thunderbolt port into a connector for buttons & two joy-con ports that can be attached to the sides in a similar fashion to the Switch.

The module possibilities would be pretty interesting for sure.


Sounds like a really cool form factor. In fact, just make the joycon-alikes connect via two USB-C each, spaced to be aligned with the expansion card slots.

To really create the ultimative frame-deck, modularize the inputs with the new 16 inch rail system.

How about making it a giant 3DS?
Main screen just like laptop as top cover and then one input rail below for joystick modules (self advertisement) and a small keyboard or a secondary screen.

You could connect a USB 2.0 hub to one USB-C for the input rail and route the other 3 to standard expansion card slots at the back (DisplayPort, Ethernet and charging).
Their default position would interfere with hand placement.

And you need the battery for a mobile device. That would definitely go below the Mainboard. Probably the expansion card slots would go there too.

Hello everyone! So after i learned about how the framework mainboard could run as its own PC basically, and because of the size, it could possibly be like a steam deck. Though, one thing would be needed. A graphics card. Could you attach a laptop graphics card to the mainboard? Of course this is more of a wet dream, (because im poor lol,) and would this be possible?

have a good day

You would need a Thunderbolt to MXM adapter. You could also use the board from one of the Sonnet RX 5500 pucks or Lenovo’s GTX 1050 dock. You’ll also need a custom heatsink and probably a pair of those glove shaped ice packs to deal with the heat… if you can hold it at all; it’ll be like 8cm thick.

That being said, a Frame Deck with an MXM GPU does sound like a pretty cool idea and I would love to see someone pull this off however impractical it may be.

[edited for clarity after merge]

I think water cooling would be overkill. Air cooling should be sufficient. maybe a couple of 120mm fans?

According to Wikipedia, the Steam Deck is 298x17x49mm. I’m not sure how big the fan is but it definitely isn’t 120x25. If the Frame Deck just used the integrated graphics, why not just use the same cooling solution as the Laptop 13? That way it could be much thinner and lighter and still support eGPU via Thunderbolt.

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I too am interested in building something like this, running either WinesappOS or ChimeraOS to play games. Will probably use a Ryzen 5 board for lower power draw, methinks.

On another note, with how long the FW13 Mainboard is, perhaps you could edit a CAD model of the Steam Deck and widen it to fit the Mainboard, then build up from there with a larger screen…

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This video is Chinese with out substitle, it might could inspire a lot.
He use a Honor Magicbook 14’s motherboard (Ryzen5-3500u/8g Ram) to bulid a custom gaming handheld. Use an Arduino Pro Micro to simulate an X-input xbox controller and design the PCBs, bought a 7-inch 1024*600 IPS screen with Driver board, design and 3D printed the case and put them together.
Framework 13’s motherboard size is about 230x115mm, smaller than Steamdeck. Although the integrated GPU is kind of weak, but in low-reslution, run some small game should be okey.

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Amd mainboard to the rescue XD

That’s a good point- perhaps the FW13 mainboard has a chance, then.

Huh, that’s a neat idea. I assume something similar with a pen display like the huion kamvas could be used for a portable drawing computer. It’d be quite thick, but if you have the board it’d only be the cost of the printed housing and the pen display itself. A normal drawing computer with an i7 and 16gb ram can cost about 1700 USD. A decent pen display might cost around 300 USD

Maximum DIY could be just double sided taping the coolermaster case to the display and some velcro too for the pen. Though, all that would be needed is some structure to latch the 3d printed case, or the CM case, to the back, something for the USB cable (angled cable could work nicely), and something to hold the pen.

God dahm that’d be nice. A portable drawing tablet with upgradable ram, SSD, configurable ports, and up-gradable chip? Honestly, it’d be worth it for me to buy a board on it’s own, the case, and the pen display. I’d kinda feel bad unless I bought a refurb/resale though.

Another idea would be to buy the steam deck controller parts from iFixit and to see if the controls can be recognized as a steam controller in steam input if running something like ChimeraOS… I forget if the controller boards have their own interfaces or if they rely on something from the Steam Deck’s motherboard though.
This and a FW13 MB + Bat.


I am part of several handheld communities and they would definitely love to see something like an upgradable handheld.

In another post, did I already suggest to contact a company like Cooler Master, and ask them if they wanna make the shell for such a device.

I would be all in.

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I’ve toyed around with the idea of a Framework mainboard handheld for about a year, but on and off in design and planning it. I have a 3D printable design still a work in progress, but I’ve done tests with a few parts already.

What I have used is the 1135G7 mainboard, battery and a 7" 1200p screen from AliExpress. Use a HDMI expansion card to connect on one of the right side ports, with a slim FPC cable for HDMI connecting the display. This brings the total combined width to ~285mm. The biggest problem with the mainboard is its width- it is both too wide to have any room for a custom battery without making it ridiculously long, or thick (like a power wart sticking out from the bottom). I would like to keep it under 300mm long if possible, as close as possible to the size of the Steam Deck.

So, I just made it easier for myself and use the Framework laptop battery. It is very slim, and I have managed to flip it over and lie on top of the mainboard, for a profile under 15mm in thickness. Concerns about heat start to come up with the board and battery touching each other, especially since it covers the fan from one side. From my tests, the CPU and iGPU do pretty well and never went over 70C on loads. However, you do have to be mindful about not setting it flat against your table/desk because that will completely obscure the fan (it will throttle to 200Mhz when it overheats).

Additionally I have used a Teensy LC for a USB input device as the controller (haven’t added the thumbsticks yet). The Teensy and display are both powered using a second USB-C port.

Probably won’t go all in on trying the 3D printed design first, may just start a proof of concept with the parts sandwiched between two MDF panels.


Have you guys given though about not using a usb for the display and instead connecting it directly to the eDP port? The eDP port has touchscreen capabilities, the issue would be getting a cable that connects the pins right.

There are other posts in this forum speculating how to go about it, so there is more people interested.

I personally want a framework 2 in 1 tablet, so touchscreen is a must and size is also important.


+1 for a framedeck SBC. Size approximating the lattepanda with top amd APU’s. Have partners work with you on cooling and have design files for makers to create their own cases / thermal / power management.

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This kind of project seems very fun, and solve many issues that say the ROG ALLY have or even foreign brand like GPD, which designs are nice but i trust less in term of support.

A couple of usability issue come to mind adapting the framework as a handheld :

  • The cooling system might be too weak/noisy for sustained period of time, unless capping the system at 15w all the time.
  • Battery, seems harsh, as the board is already pretty wide, some sacrifice would be required ?
  • Ports, i only need 2 usb c port on my handheld, one for charging and the other if say video output is necessary. Need to relocate the ports with full speed support (usb4/thunderbolt) for practival reasons. Adding in a secondary ssd slot might be doable on one of the internal usb c ?

It really seems a doable project, the external case could be printed in 2 layers (one structural and a nicer polished one)

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Are you sure? I thought the touchscreen interface was exposed on a different mainboard connector (as a USB 2 interface).