I was lucky enough to get in Batch 1 of the FW 16 pre-orders. I’m really stoked for this laptop. It will be the first I’ve ever bought as I’ve always built my own desktops… With that information alone, you can probably gather why this laptop’s so appealing among all of its great and consumer-oriented features.
I first learned about Framework after the 13 came out but didn’t closely follow until the 16 was announced, so I don’t actually know how the very early adopters’ experiences were in terms of support and recourse if faced with notable issues which are fixed in future batches.
Taking an example from the electrical issues that were caught and fixed in the 13" AMD board (Framework sent out information last month). Let’s say, hypothetically, you had some issue on that kind of level (assuming it can’t be fixed by the end user) and you already had it in your hands.
If the product is still usable but it’s a significant problem which gets fixed in later batches, what would happen in this sort of case?
Is it anybody’s guess at this point in time, or were there any cases like that with the FW 13 when it first came out?
This is by no means an attempt to scaremonger or suggest anything about Framework, especially with their evident transparency, proactivity and willingness to ensure people get everything they paid for and more. I’m getting it in any case but this thought crossed my mind more than once. It’s also well known that other much larger laptop manufacturers have issues with their laptops which they either refuse to address or simply don’t do anything to fix it, whereas Framework seem to step up to the plate. I’ve heard people (not on this forum) speak about these sorts of things and just reduce the issue to “early adopter’s tax” or something along those lines.
Any thoughts appreciated. I’m pumped for it but thought I’d sound this out rather than sit on it until receiving the laptop.
Personally I don’t think it’s unique to Framework other than Framework’s business model being one of the few laptop manufacturers with a preorder system. It’s not directly comparable, but the meme in the video game community is “never preorder/ wait for user reviews.” If you preorder you just have to accept the possibility, on some level, of being a bug tester, though problems are generally experienced by a minority of users. Your main recourse is to either be patient and wait for potential firmware fixes or initiate a return / warranty claim, as is the case with other manufacturers with problems.
Aside from the RTC battery issue on 11th gen which is resolved by upgrading the mainboard or specialized repairs, most of the problems were eventually resolved directly by firmware (excess battery drain with expansion cards aside, I still think this requires a hardware swap in some cases). I experienced a couple issues with my Batch 4 11th Gen Intel Framework and had to wait at least a couple months to resolve one with a BIOS / firmware fix. There will always be a nominal percentage of users with any new product who will experience issues, and I don’t think it’s reductive in any way to call it “early adopter tax” in my opinion. A mature product line will almost always be superior to the initial units and the people who jump on things without any information or hesitation sometimes have more money than sense (raises hand).
I’ve preordered an AMD mainboard fully anticipating the possibility of quirks in the first batch of a new product line. If you want to feel extremely confident in a purchase you should always gravitate to more mature product lines. Frankly until they grow enough to offer units in stock on launch, we’re all early adopters in a sense.
That’s really well put - thank you.
With video games or any software in general, there’s always some peace of mind that it can be fixed remotely because it’s software. If the laptop happened to have issues which were going to be fixed, even months later, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel beyond the understandable frustration.
I did hear that they advised on how the RTC battery issue could be fixed without swapping the mainboard, although down a more specialist route for sure. I haven’t heard about any other major issues that weren’t fixed, so definitely a relief (and kind of remarkable for a first product).
One thing which eases concerns is that they have no doubt developed even more expertise and experience since conception, and will probably even have learning to take away from developing the AMD 13" board which could translate to the 16" board (although I’m strictly talking about the use of the AMD platform as I’m sure they’re still very different beasts in other ways). I’m saying this like I really know about this stuff but I really don’t, it’s just kind of semi-educated hand flailing, really.
Yeah, I’m expecting quirks as well. I just hope that whatever quirks come up can be fixed, even if it takes a while.
Definitely expect early quirks. Feel free to look into the Realtek codec/Tempo codec debacle that went down in the early batches of 11th gen if you’d like some historical data on what might happen.
“Early adopter tax” is real, but it’s just something to be aware of. I went with Batch 6 on my purchase, and I’m happy to say that I avoided the early adopter issues with a pretty good margin. I expect similar results or better now that the release process is pretty dialed in.
Definitely agreed on all points and I concur my experience with support in response to problems has been stellar and enough to keep me as a return customer.
And to add to this in terms of recourse for problems, Framework’s business model is much preferable to my past experience with hardware issues on a design level - something akin to the RTC battery issue in 11th gen Intel. Sent one Lenovo device for in-warranty repairs 3 times and the issue came back every time because it was a design issue.
At least with Framework I have the possibility of a hardware swap down the road or a qualified repair shop making the modifications with better availability of schematics, without needing to buy an entire new laptop as with other manufacturers.
I didn’t manage to find anything about people reporting the issues but will search more. However, I did see some update posts from Framework fixing whatever the issue was… Not sure how long it took them from discovering the problem but looks like they did well.
Hopefully later batches will get to avoid major issues overall… Will definitely make it worth the wait if they occur.
About the assembly / quality issues, that sounds like a pain. I’d feel confident to sort cables and paste but the expansion card sounds like a pain. Good to hear Framework squared it though. I suppose a nice trade off of them putting all of the work into modularity is they don’t get entire laptops returned so much.
Yeah, I bet dealing with other manufacturers is no fun at all. It definitely sounds like Framework stand out there. I’m so keen to be able to keep this machine for as long as possible and, instead of it getting old and cumbersome, it can be totally refreshed - awesome!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with this stuff. Definitely sounds like they’ll have it covered, even more so than most other companies.
First off, I want to say that Framework’s team is taking great care to find the biggest issues in testing, and their team has grown quite a bit since the original 13" launch.
Also note that there were no electrical issues in early batches that were changed in later ones. The Realtek/Tempo Audio issue was caused by pandemic part shortages, but both versions worked. The thermal paste was resolved in manufacturing and users were told to re-paste their coolers if they had issues (with guides being on the site for how to disassemble the laptop to do so). If the flex connector that @DHowett is talking about is what I think it is, it was the connector between the keyboard cover and the mainboard, which needed reinforcement with a small bit of tape that was shipped out to affected users to install (I did this one myself, and it was very simple), and changed in manufacturing. Finally, the 1tb expansion card required a thermal pad, and they were sent out to users, with a guide made up to instruct users on doing the fix (also fixed in the manufacturing process).
I have not seen any issues from early batches that make the device unusable, but if there ever was one, Framework makes sure that their users get working devices.
As for your question about issues where the laptop is still usable, but a change is made to resolve something, if it doesn’t affect your use of the device, then Framework does not want to replace usable hardware. You will be welcome to purchase a replacement if you do not like how it works, but it is unlikely that you will get a replacement for free.
The other situation to look at is the 11th gen RTC battery. In that situation, Intel caused the issue with a bug in their processors. While it did not affect the use of the laptops, it did inconvenience a lot of users. Framework has been providing replacement batteries to those who need them, and are finishing up a small PCB that will soon replace the battery to resolve the issue. This PCB is being provided to affected users for free as an alternative to a replacement battery.
The takeaway is this. If you have an issue with your computer, historical evidence shows that you should contact support, because Framework will do everything they can to resolve your issue.
They worked, but the Realtek codec had “quirks”: ie, large battery drain with Realtek’s drivers which was only solved by uninstalling the driver and reverting to Windows’s generic driver, and some weird audio popping/beeping (admittedly the latter had some crossover with tempo).
It is a bit hard to say for sure how they would respond and it depends on if it’s a hardware or software fix but previously the hardware based issues have been addressed with a fix you have to execute yourself or find someone to execute them for you (RTC, HDMI, these are not easy despite their single wire simplicity) you cannot send the laptop back for repairs or reworks only warranty claims and no warranty will not cover a failed rework.
Software fixes (BIOS updates for CVEs, missing features etc.) are taking a fair amount of time but seem to be mostly happening and with some additional investment in staffing hopefully improving that support and the communication around it too.
I do not believe Intel is responsible for the design flaw with the RTC system, their silicon bug has a chance of being trigger by the failure of Frameworks RTC system. ie Frameworks RTC system has to fail first for Intels silicon bug to potentially occur. That is what I understand from Nirav’s full post on the subject here but I believe the relevant part is below.
First you need low voltage from the RTC circuit which is actually what prevents the laptop from powering on without power input and then if plugged in and not powering on the silicon bug has occurred.
I thought the Realtek chip was not affected by the constant static and the chirp from the chip entering and exiting power saving? Tempo chip certainly has these problems
This is more my concern if it has clear deficits over later batches. I wouldn’t really care about having to buy an updated expansion card, some thermal paste or something like that as it’s reasonable and actually lends to the machine’s modularity. Inspired by the Realtek / Tempo audio issue, if that happened to be caused by hardware and it wasn’t patchable, that would be exactly the sort of thing that would break it for me… Again, that’s fiction at this point but would be a clear example of what sort of issues I wouldn’t happily sit on if they occurred. Be-Far mentioned that some issues were still present after fixes… I use my computer for audio production tasks so that would be a biggie (mind you, I use an external audio interface so perhaps issues like that can be worked around).
Framework obviously fixed the issue and all was made good, and I’m sure they were excellent in acknowledging and fixing it. I suppose my post is based on the hard end of ‘what if’.
Yeah, this does circle back to the fact that Framework can and will offer solutions even if you can’t do it yourself. Thinking about it, I think I would even be happy to be prescribed the solution and be able to take that to a specialist… Not ideal, but I bet it’s a lot hotter than what other manufacturers would offer.
That’s no doubt something that’s going to help big time, even if it’s just staff using the product before rolling them out to users. On my search around posts about issues, I saw a post from Framework prior to the first-ever laptops going out and they were quite explicit about having their staff thoroughly test the product. I bet with what is probably a lot more staff now, testing within the company will be even better.