Review of hardware durability and repair (1.5 years)

Can’t claim any of that but the difference between a pre-2013 Thinkpad and pretty much any laptop post that year is night and day in terms of rigidity and durability. In my opinion it stems from the fact that 10 years ago we had different niches and specialized brands. Now it’s all one niche and everyone wants in which results in no choice.

2 Likes

@Frankie_Wild True but I want to compare what is available today - I realize there are many downward trends in computing. But are any modern performers as durable as the modern ThinkPad? Perhaps, but yes it might matter less now (especially since they all have NVMes).
I’m not sure if it was 2013, but I think they were manufactured in Japan back then, which is obviously a culture more appreciative of quality over quantity.

Thinkpad was not all about durability it was more about IO. If you are aiming for full ruggedness the mainstream series are Dell Rugged and Panasonic Toughbook. They don’t fit the previous niche of 25-30mm height machines though.

Now there I’d have to disagree. Those are rarer laptops, more expensive, harder to find parts, and how much more durable are they really? So in actuality, buying two proper laptops and if you drop one just switching out the NVMe is way better than one of those durable laptops - and 2 would still fit in less space!

2 year 2 month update - it’s still going strong and haven’t dropped it for a while.

Keyboard
However, the keyboard finally needed to be replaced as the left alt key quit working. This was an arduous replacement. I stripped two screws and am left somehow with a few extra. In any case, keyboard works again. Took around 5 days to receive.

Power Cable
Also, the power cable which was replaced also frayed. Not as bad as the original quite yet, but definitely will not be buying another.

Bezel
And finally, the edges of the bezel seem to be coming off. Not really sure what to do about that.

1 Like

Also, I accidentally deleted a 3 month update on this link covering power switch and overheating:

Would be handy if a mod could restore it.

My understanding is that the “MIL spec” rating the ThinkPads always advertise is the bare minimum to be considered for military use.

It is great to have and showcases more time spent on engineering and reliability.

1 Like

Done!

2 Likes

That’s a battered laptop! :open_mouth:

3 Likes

This happened to me around above the webcam, and I was able to glue it back with Gorilla Glue; it’s holding up and worked pretty well.

Also a while before that, both top edges of my plastic bezel cracked (I wasn’t easy on them and sometimes caught myself pulling the corners as sort of a fidget toy, lol. Also took the bezel off a lot). I tried using the E6000 glue I had which didn’t work at all. I also tried to jankily plastic solder it which ended up terribly. Then I tried using the Gorilla Glue I had, and that worked well – that’s how I discovered that that works, and a bonus is that the Gorilla Glue seemed to make those edges even sturdier. Though FYI there’s a bit of extra Gorilla Glue glue on top of the bezel that I’ve been meaning to sand off.

There are probably better options, but it’s nice knowing I have a DIY solution in my pocket in case of further breakage.

(batch 1 11th gen)

1 Like

I am also seeing some damage to the bezel around that location, probably from opening the laptop. Though I never used anything other than my fingernails to do that, so it seems like Framework is not using a very sturdy material for the bezels.

Purchased my 11th gen in Sept '21, so pretty close to the OP. I’m terrible to my laptops and the Framework gets abused. I’ve dropped it at least 5 times(maybe less than 10), traveled much to hot & wet places (Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Belize, Grenada) as well as places with sidewalks to bang against (France, Japan). I opened it many times (replaced the hinges, replaced the power button I trashed while replacing the hinges, switched to the CNC cover, replaced the webcam module). I use it 4-6 hours daily.

The laptop is in surprisingly good condition. My keyboard is pristine, though I’m a chocolatier and frequently have to scrub chocolate from it. I don’t see any significant dents or dings. The bezel looks fine. I’m honestly not sure how it’s managed to hold up so well.

My Shop laptop is a Thinkpad X1 Carbon, and I don’t really understand the hate. Sure, IBM-era TPs were built like tanks, but the Carbon’s been solid for years. When I had an issue with the battery, their support team was top-notch. The machine is finally getting flaky, but it outlasted previous Dell and ASUS laptops by years. Nonetheless, I like my Framework and won’t be going back. I have an AMD batch 6 coming and plan to replace the aging Carbon with my 11th gen motherboard in a Coolermaster case.

Life goes on.

8 Likes

My Shop laptop was a Thinkpad X1 Carbon. I retired it after years of solid service, and replaced it with a CoolerMaster FW 11th gen mainboard when I upgraded my laptop to AMD.

The laptop of Theseus has a 2.75 year update.

  • 2021-08 - original laptop batch 2
  • 2023-02 - replaced touchpad due to crack from drop
  • 2023-02, 2023-09, 2023-10 - replaced power cable. The power cables really suck, so I bought a braided one that has broken yet.
  • 2023-05 - replaced ram. The original 16GB stick had some bad bits. :frowning:
  • 2023-09 - replaced keyboard. The alt key stopped working and it was pretty worn.
  • 2024-03 - replaced bezel
  • 2024-03 - upgraded to matte screen

I guess the only original parts left are the case, the motherboard, battery, and the fingerprint reader.

There were tons of keyboard marks on the original screen. It didn’t need to be replaced as it was still functioning just fine. But the bezel, well, I’m really not sure what is up with the bezel. It seems to be peeling in very odd ways.

As a comparison, my 2013 or 2014 macbook air which had a much more rigid top cover also had keyboard marks. I think it is probably unavoidable given the way it’s been used and packed. I’ve bought a microfiber cloth to put between the keyboard and screen and hopefully that will help.

This laptop has been likely dropped between 15-30 times by now. I think I managed to drop it three times in an hour last week while it was being balanced on a speaker with a short ethernet cord while trying to fix a router. In short, I’m not really worried about dropping it.

Shipping
I placed the order, was thinking of adding some more stuff, but they ended up putting it in for shipping within 3 hours of business opening (ordered on Friday night, and it was shipped noon on Monday).

I wasn’t going to pay for extra shipping, so I guess Framework will have to wait to get more money from me. @TheTwistgibber I do admire the quick shipping time, but maybe just a few hours slower next time. :laughing:

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Years Laptop TCO / year Notes
2011-2016 Macbook Air $460 Sold the first one after two years for $500 to buy the second one. Unfortunately, the last Macbook Air screen broke on a 3-foot drop and would cost $500+ to repair. So no more Macbook Air. :frowning:
2016-2021 Used Thinkpad X200s and X230 $300 2/4 X230’s still work and 2/3 X200 still work
08-2021 to 04-2024 Framework 13 (with screen upgrade) $513 1878 Cdn → $1410 USD @ 1.33 exchange
08-2021 to 04-2024 Framework 13 (only repairs) $420 1538 Cdn → $1155 USD @ 1.33 exchange

Depending on how you look at it, the Framework 13 is a year or so away to having same longterm TCO of a used X230 after being repaired and upgraded, while being much, much nicer hardware. Although, some of the parts seem flimsy (power cord, bezel, keyboard), I doubt another modern laptop would have lasted 6-18 months.

Crossing fingers till the next update. :crossed_fingers:

1 Like

Dude, I’m glad you are using the heck out of your Framework, but I really have to agree with this:

Do you know how much easier it would be for you to maintain a laptop if you treated it better? All this effort could be GREATLY minimized if you were just a little gentler with the thing. I mean, when I saw how your power cables frayed the way they did, I’m just thinking, how on earth did that happen? Are you playing tug of war with them or something?

I think as a case study, the laptop has fared really well given the harsh treatment it has apparently endured so far. Thank you for sharing!

Don’t mind me either, while there are certainly things you shouldn’t do with a laptop, there is no real right or wrong way to use one.

6 Likes

Jesus, thanks for stress testing the thing I guess.

5 Likes

HI 1165 2y 1m

Hardly dropped or banged around. It only travels for two days a month in a backpack with padding.

At home I use the provided cable in a permanent placed power source (12V) and for the last year have a braided cable for travelling.

Use 4 to 5 hours day, 6 hours the first year.

Work with soil, wash hand,s do not use finger nails to open. Open from designed bevel at front.

No problems yet so this post is a bit off topic :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I should probably make a blog post about this, it really is a case study. Anyway, the amusing thing is that I’m not really being harsh with it…I’m just not especially dainty either. Here are some photos to compare of other laptops that I’ve used for 2+ years.

2014 Macbook Air

  • Keyboard - As you can see the paint is worn straight off the mac keyboard after 2-3 years, but the Framework keyboard is completely wrecked after 6-9 months. I do think that the Framework keyboard was a one-off bad paint job though.

  • Screen - The Air top cover is much more solid, but still had small keyboard marks which are tough to see. The spacebar did make a mark that is visible but not easily noticeable. The Framework lid on earlier batches was…bendy to say the least and the screen was definitely marked up.

  • The microphone quit working also which was a common problem with that model.

  • The left usb port is bent and unusable.


image

Thinkpad X230

The only damage the X230 sustained during its use is that the Thinkpad Logo somehow fell off the keyboard rest. I have an external thinkpad keyboard that is also immaculate. The thinkpad lids have no give to them at all, so the screen has zero marks.

Framework part durability

The keycaps on the replacement keyboard haven’t developed any issues yet.

The top cover got reinforced a year later, etc. so it definitely needed an upgrade.

But let’s be honest, Framework 13 is certainly is not a tank like the X230.

It is very easily and cheaply repairable though and much nicer hardware.

Never had an issue with Thinkpad charging cables either…nor magsafe cables. When I’m out in very rural areas in villages, there are definitely no desks or sometimes even chairs. So you either work cross-legged or lying down. The framework cable simply could not sustain literally adjusting my position like 3-4 times / day which hardly even twisted the cable. However, it was 40 degrees with no AC for about two months, so I’m very happy at how the laptop fared.

So other than the drops and getting a padded bag, I’m really not sure how to be gentler.

I mean, do you wrap the laptop in a blanket and kiss it good night? :laughing: :heart_eyes:

So in my opinion:

  • Durability: Thinkpad > Air > Framework
  • Repairability: Framework > Thinkpad > Air

And even if the parts wear out a bit fast than the Thinkpad, I’d rather have the Framework because of the nicer screen, faster cpu, and better battery life.

It has survived 3-years of 10+ hour daily use, has spent 500+ days away from home, been dropped 15+ times, and operated in 40 C weather with no AC for weeks at a time.

So if it works for me, it will definitely be fine for everyone else.

6 Likes

We may have somewhat different definitions to what harsh means in this context but I do know a few powple with similar definitons XD.

On that part the frameworks has a major upside, replaceable ports that take the abuse so the mainboard doesn’t.

The x230 truly was a tank, I do wish the framework was that form factor with modern performance but the market just wants thin and light today.

My point about stress testing stands.

Now if only they finally released the case cad so someone can design a beefed up case for it XD

I think that your environment is probably more to blame here than the way you are using it, although I will add that I think I have dropped ALL of my laptops over the years less times than you’ve dropped just this one.

I just try to take care of my laptops, but I’m not ridiculous about it. I mainly just don’t drop them and don’t put them in harsh situations. That is really it. I guess that is my secret.

1 Like