Review of hardware durability and repair (1.5 years)

Bought the 11th Gen DIY edition back in August 2021 and it has run without any issues. Have been using it for 8-12 hours of use everyday and travelling extensively.

Case

Have dropped the laptop probably more than 5 times, but less than 10. Small damage to the case and on the most recent drop it also cracked the touchpad.

Touchpad

Ordered replacement on Thu Feb. 22, it shipped out on Fri Feb. 23 and arrived on Monday Feb 26 (USA). Did not affect usability luckily, so I replaced it today in about 15 minutes.

Keyboard

Longtime thinkpad user, had no issues adjusting to the feel/depth. Also, the touchpad/trackpad is nice enough that I actually am starting to like it better than the trackpoint. I’m a heavy cli/keyboard shortcut user, so the only time I would use the trackpoint was to have to point/click/drag with some precision and the trackpoint was a bit harder sometimes.

Keyboard is pretty beat up now though. Not sure if I got a set of bad paint or something on my batch. Doesn’t bother me or functionality, however, I do get a lot of comments as to what is wrong with my keyboard.

Fan

It started making a bit of noise after a bit of a year and travelling thru India. Lots of dust, etc. Just removed the heat sink and cleaned out the fan and hopefully that will stop. Most of the time it is running silently.

Also, I couldn’t figure out how to remove the fan independently of the heat sink. Luckily, had some thermal paste on hand.

Wifi

Perhaps it is because I’m using a Atheros QCNFA222 which has open firmware for linux, but the reception seems to be less than what I would hope. Could also be antenna locations, but no way for me to know.

Power cord

This one is a bit irritating. I travel a lot and it’s a nice laptop with a duct-taped power cord. A nicer GaN charger that does both phone and laptop at the same time would be wonderful.

Firmware

I’m too scared to upgrade the firmware.

Comparison to 2012-2014 Macbook Air

I had Macbook Airs for a few years from 2012-2014. There was some wearout on the keys, but not as extensive as the framework laptop.

The Airs survived quite a few drops as well, and had some dings, etc. However, one time one of the usb ports got bent out of shape and I couldn’t plug things in. No idea how that happened.

And after not using my last one for 5 years, I took it out to consider installing linux on it. It dropped about 1.5 feet off a coffee table and the screen shattered. Apparently, $600 to repair that, so not going to happen.

Also, after about a year of use I would go in and get the battery replaced under warranty. No issues with the battery yet.

Conclusion

The wear and tear on the keyboard and power cord do seem like they are a bit worse than they should be compared to regular laptops. However, the laptop has seen extensive use and quite a few drops, but has kept on working.

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That is really interesting about the keyboard. Thankfully these can be fixed easily, but I do believe the QC on some of these should be better.

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Dude get yourself a replacement cable. I got an anker cable a few months ago when my framework one wore out on both sides and it seems to be much more durable so far. As a bonus, it’s not angled 90 degrees, something I always disliked about the framework one.

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If the damage to the charger is from regular wear and tear, Support may replace it if you can prove that it was falling apart like that while it was under warranty. There were lots of reports of early cables fraying more than expected. (see other thread here). If they refuse (which they might, no way to really tell unless you ask) I would also recommend an Anker cable, I’ve been using one for years and it is still in like-new condition.

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Heh, I already ordered a replacement when I was fixing the touchpad. Those anker braided cables do look pretty good though.

I might ask about the keyboard wear and tear actually. That really seems rather unnatural. I type a lot, but never have I seen this with other laptops.

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Thanks for sharing this durability review. I would definitely contact support about the cable and the keyboard wear doesn’t seem right.

Personally I will be avoiding Anker after the Anker owned Eufy security camera controversy Anker’s Eufy lied to us about the security of its security cameras - The Verge and their response to the discovery.

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I’ve had my FW for only a month less than OP and haven’y noticed any wear on the keycaps at all. Been typing a decent amount at uni.

That keyboard wear is most definitely not normal, I have the same use time but my keys are pristine (aside from one with a broken ‘scissor’, but that wasn’t from normal use, that was from testing keycap replacement). Do you use hand sanitizer often? I’ve seen the alcohol eat away at everything plastic.

+1 on Anker (actually didn’t know about their stake in Eufy, I’ll look into that). The equivalent has these weird rose gold end caps, but I’m willing to compromise that bit of aesthetic to keep a fully silicone cable, and it’s held up for longer than the Framework cable did at this point. Also, it had two straight ends, and my magnetic charger (thanks community for an amazing printable expansion card!) is a 90, so now it’s less awkward to use.

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5 posts were split to a new topic: Anker/Eufy security camera scandal

No hand sanitizer.

Now that I look at them more carefully, some of the paint on the keys is a bit bubbly. The laptop was running in some pretty warm temperatures for a few months (35-45 degrees), so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

Worn keycaps? Ask to see the users finger nails! Not all of us are nail biters!

I keep my nails trimmed short but I have very hard nails and I have been known to wear out key legends pretty quick on certain keys as to the angle of finger and nail to keycap.

As I don’t use my Framework much it’s not been an issue.

Six hours a day for 12 months, no sign of wear on the keyboard, no damaged to the cable which is moved to a new supply at least twice a day

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I have had my 11th and 12th gen laptop (upgraded) for a bit more time than you. Yet all of my peripherals and the laptop itself are pristine. I travel with my laptop on occasion but not often. I think what all this shows is just how different heavy use can be for everyone.

Do I think we got two different products? Nope. It is all about the environment and usage. Highly subjective, but the impact of which is very real.

Thank you for your report!!

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@TJ1 Thanks for the review. It definitely seems like this Framework Laptop has been excessively loved.

We don’t have any known QC issues with keyboards wearing like you’ve shown here, and I think I’ve only seen a singular report of any kind of wear going down to the bare keycap on a single key. We do sell just the keyboard as a replacement, and that could be a great option to restore it to its former glory. HERE is the link.

On the cable, yes, please contact Framework Support. While you are out of warranty, if it was constantly splitting, we’ll get you a new cable.

As for dropping the laptop between 5-10 times, stuff happens, but let’s try to get that number down to a more manageable level. :slight_smile:

The laptop definitely has seen battle, and we’re glad it’s still working for you!

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In another update, the laptop has survived another 3 months.

Survived Issue 1: May

Likely overheated the laptop, there was a shutdown and it had extremely slow speeds after that. Thought the ram or ssd had issues, but resetting the mainboard worked. Also, updated the firmware and had to struggle to get the drive booting again since bootloader was affected.

Survived Issue 2: June

Dropped my bag not so gently and dented the power switch. Power would no longer turn on. There is a plate at the bottom of the power button that needs to make contact (once you open the inside). Luckily, I carry the screwdriver with me when I travel and an enterprising friend bent the cover back into shape with some pliars. The laptop has sustained another scar, but is still functioning.

Ongoing

I actually bought a new cable when I replaced the touchpad, however, that one has also split. Definitely does not stand up to my usage patterns.

My guess is that it is actually heat related. Various keys have formed bubbles on the paint and eventually, they will scrape off. I contacted support since it mostly happened within the first year, but since I didn’t report it within the warranty time, no replacement.

Indeed, let’s not jinx it. :innocent: :sweat_smile:

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Happened to me on an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. My understanding is that it happens because there is nothing to stop the hot air from reaching the keyboard when it circulates within the chassis. A plate that separates the keyboard from the mainboard should fix it although at the cost of thinness. I am attempting this here: Converting Framework 13 to a FrankenPad

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It would be nice if we had a way to quantify how much ThinkPad’s “military spec” durability is actually helping. This has been my main reason for buying them. The laptop working when I open it when I’m traveling to some place that doesn’t have parts for it (and would never have parts for frame.work either, cuz, you’re on the road y’know) - is paramount. So I always hedge in that direction.

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Anecdotally, I’ve found this to be a common feeling among IT support people.

Does Framework warranty their firmware updates? And what if the computer’s out of warranty?

I deploy updates for an org, with peace of mind that the <1 per thousand each year bricked by a BIOS or other firmware update are all covered by OEM warranty.

That said we don’t internally support stuff when warranty runs out; everything gets extended, then everything (should) get replaced. I’d hope the brand accepts responsibility for borking a mainboard via FW update, even if it’s out of warranty. “You broke you fix” cuts both ways. Framework has a great thing going with parts replacement but mainboards are still hundreds of buckaroos each.

Might not seem important on personal equipment, but those firmware updates can be important even then.

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I work at a repair shop and there is nothing left of Thinkpad anymore. 7 out of 10 refurbished Carbons are with permanent keyboard imprints on the screen. It’s all about having the ability to switch cases based on needs. Ultrabooks suit only a category and all other categories are left out of the boat at the moment.

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@Frankie_Wild So the “military spec” claims are dumb? And as long as we don’t spill drinks on the KB they aren’t actually more durable/robust? Hard to know as this issue is tricky to measure or build reliable statistics on.