Tradeoffs of Refurbed 11th gen vs. New 12th Gen?

I’m looking for a new laptop, and I’m really enthusiastic about the philosophy of repairability and modularity the Framework embodies. I still have a decent desktop computer to use for serious tasks, so my needs for a laptop are just to be able to use it for basic web browsing, maybe a little light work when away from home, watching video, and for remote desktop sessions into other systems, so the current Framework gen 12 is probably a bit more than what I really need. Based on that, I was weighing the possibility of buying a refurbished 11th gen laptop instead. Either way, I would get the DIY version and would run Linux on it (maybe Mint with XFCE, but I haven’t really decided).

So my question is whether there are any gotchas with choosing a refurbished 11th gen that I’m not aware of. It sounds like performance is obviously better on the 12th gen and battery life is comparable either way (correct me if I’m wrong on that). Are there other drawbacks to the 11th gen, like known hardware problems, Linux driver issues, or anything else I should be thinking about? I’d appreciate insights from people with the hands on experience with and more extensive knowledge about these systems.

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The 11th gen should do you fine. The 12th gen is really all about the multithread power but the 11th gen is no slouch. Linux support should be even better, it’s had more time to catch up. 12th gen is a radical departure (differing cores with differing performance and ability) and there have been some teething issues, but 11th gen was fairly conventional and is now mature.

You get a full 1 year warranty should any issues arise, so you’re not missing out on that. And with refurbs, they are all individually and thoroughly tested - production units have quicker, more automated tests.

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It would be dis-ingenious to not point out a couple of hardware issues with 11th Gen

  1. It has a rechargable BIOS battery that lasts only 21 days when disconnected from power. The BIOS battery does not charge from the laptop battery, it only charges when plugged in.
  2. If you let the BIOS battery discharge completely, the processor might get into a state that prevents it from starting up at all. Then it needs you to open the laptop and do something Framework refer to as a Motherboard reset. This involves opening the laptop, removing the bios battery, unplugging the main battery, let it discharge, then put it back here are the official steps

Since you say it won’t be your daily driver, I would not suggest you go for an 11th gen. Go for a lower end 12th Gen.

As a daily driver, that’s plugged in all the time and taken off power ocassionally the 11th Gen is more than perfect.

I started a thread on this but it turned out my issue was a different h/w issue (that is being dealt with by Framework support). It does have links to all the BIOS battery threads

This is Framework’s official response on the BIOS problem (there won’t be a software fix/workaround for the 21 days thingy or ocassional m/b reset).

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Currently using an 11th gen refurb now. If you are budget conscious at all, it’s a no-brainer. It is my daily driver so the RTC battery issues don’t concern me in the slightest. I’m just glad I’m in the eco-system now and can upgrade when needed later down the line.

Given that the Chromebook edition comes with both 12th gen and Coreboot, it may be that the 11th gen might miss out on Coreboot but that is by no means a certainty.

There are some Linux distros that have better support than others. Fedora for instance has some of the best OOTB support but it isn’t the only recommended distro.

I’ve only had my 11th gen refurb for a few days but I have no complaints thus far.

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**** Opinion **** [Take it with a huge dump of salt]

If this trumps having a reliable laptop, go with a refurb 11th gen. It’s the raw-est 1st gen experience you can get. In my case, even though I like the aforementioned philosophy, I eventually hated my particular 11th gen Framework laptop…to this day (reworded). But you’re enthusiastic about the philosophy…so supporting Framework and Refurb is the way to go.

If you value your time, money, laptop usage experience…look elsewhere for now…until Framework can actually get their act together some combination of additional skills, experience, funding, staff…etc, to output some outstanding hardware. e.g. Their Chromebook journey with Google got them to improve the retimer implementation with additional knowhow, for example.

Framework is trying…trying to improve, trying to get better at what they do (design laptops)…but that effort doesn’t necessarily translates to great products…yet. Still on a learning curve. But I’m hopeful. So, if you want to support Framework, 11th gen is the way to go for now.

And Fraoch has a point…for anything to mature in the Linux land…you’re better off with n-1.

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@Fraoch @Second_Coming That’s a good point that generally Linux support will be best not on the bleeding edge.

@Sumit Thanks, that’s exactly the sort of information that I was looking for! I think I will likely use this laptop at least briefly most days, mostly for chatting, watching video, and the occasional web search outside my home office. Based on the current device I use for this, I would estimate that the laptop will typically get charged every few days, so that RTC issue sounds like it won’t be a problem except if I go on an extended vacation or something else exceptional happens. On the other hand, it does sound extremely annoying when it does come up, so even if it’s very rare it’s worth considering.

@Second_Coming Any specifics with other problems you see? Obviously, what tradeoffs one is prepared to accept is pretty subjective and personal, so specifics are very useful in figuring out if the issues you see would bug me.

Take a look over here:

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In that case I suggest invest in a good PD100 USB-C powerbank. Airplanes allow 27000mAh max. They won’t be cheap (about £80/- in my case), or light, but will still be cheaper than 12th gen over 11th gen refurb. Bonus, they give you around 4 hours extra run time :relaxed: (Ymmv)

I have an 11th gen that I use as my “travel” computer (it’s not my main computer). I’d been bitten by the BIOS battery charge thing a couple of times, but once I found out what was going on I just plug it in for a few hours once a week and haven’t had any issues since then.

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Umm… No?
Almost all of it is good… And BIOS Retimer fix is coming soon-ish?
That seems like a bit of a strong statement that I know a lot owners disagree on.

**** Opinion **** [Take it with a huge dump of salt]

And that’s fine. Not everything said has to have 100% agreement. Freedom to disagree.

I just know, for the 11th gen:

  • You may have some kind of RTC battery workaround / anxiety.
  • You may have some kind of Lid / cover bent /dent workaround / anxiety.
  • You may have some kind of LCD crack prevention / anxiety.
  • You may have some kind of USB connect / disconnect / dropouts prevention / anxiety.
  • You may have some kind of Fn Lock mental tracking.
  • You may occasionally wish the speakers were better and / or at least louder in some environment.
  • You may have some screen glare workaround (screen protector).
  • You may have sleep / wake completion, excessive heat while stuck getting into sleep issue.

And power to you if you’ve experienced absolutely none of the above.

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Absolutely. It’s just your first message gave the message that everyone will hate it after time, instead of that being your opinion!
Yes there definetly have been some issues I absolutely agree! But it is important to keep in mind that there is a selection effect here on the forums, most people who come here will be here because they have an issue that they need help with.

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These are very strong worded opinions where you have generalized what customers should expect from the quality of our products, which I assure you, is not based in reality for the majority of our Community. Assuming individuals will “hate” something and saying that Framework should, “…get their act together” is not constructive and is not adding value to the Framework Community.

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Let me reword that. Done.

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Some related sources / opinions:
(Love the laptop / idea):

Who is this for:

So, in summary (my interpretation), you’re not really buying the laptop for the laptop, you’re buying the laptop to support Framework, and the philosophy. There are sacrifices…that we now know of in hindsight. (I, personally lacked the foresight to foresee how it’s not for me)

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I think some important context in regards to this whole thread, is that the 11th gen Framework was and still is a 1st product for the company. They have had over a year to refine it, and the laptop I bought in the 2nd batch is definitely different from the one I own today, simply due to all the Firmware updates that have happened in that time.

This being said, I am close to the ideal user for the Framework. I use it daily for simple web browsing and video watching, in my home, with a charger nearby. It also isn’t my only computer, so if I ever had a problem with it, I have multiple backups. I don’t even use it for work, so I’m never doing critical tasks on it. Because of all these points, I love this computer. Is is perfect? nope, but I’ve never owned or seen a laptop that I’d consider perfect, so I don’t expect perfection from my devices. There will always be tradeoffs, whether it’s battery, power, repairabiliy, aesthetics, etc.

The important thing to me is that Framework as a company is doing an amazing job, even if they still need time to improve their craft. I am still amazed that the 11th gen laptops are still getting firmware updates, even after 12th gen is out and the chromebook is on the way, the fact that Framework support does an amazing job, and admits/corrects their mistakes when pointed out, and the fact that the company is still pushing repairability and upgradeability is commendable. I love coming on the forum almost daily to offer support to other users, and see all the cool projects being worked on because I want to see Framework succeed, and I think that even though progress has been slow and there have been lots of bumps in the road, I trust the company to keep up the good work.

As for the original question, its all very subjective, but I think that hearing the use case, the 11th gen will be a great deal, and shouldn’t be a bad option. It likely wont last as long on battery as you’d like, but maybe this retiming fix will help! It won’t have the rigidity of a milled casing, and that means that the screen is at more risk to break, but you can buy the milled top cover on the marketplace if you want, and the refurb comes with a 1 year warranty, so if you have any screen issues before that Framework will help you out. All the issues listed above have been reported on the forum, and could be a problem for you, but they also all have workarounds/solutions. Many were fixed in the 12th gen laptop, and many aren’t even issues in competing laptops, so it’s a good thing you came to this forum and asked for advice because now you are aware of the risks, but as others have said, you are unlikely to see ALL these issues, and if you do, Framework support is willing to help you fix them if they can. Look at the issues, and decide for yourself if the benefits outweigh the costs, and maybe the answer will be “wait for now and come back for Framework’s 13th gen, or even 14th gen model” but maybe the answer will be “I can work with what is already out there”. Choose what’s best for you, this is a user forum, so I don’t think that the vibe should be “you have to buy a Framework laptop even if it isn’t right for you” but I also don’t think we want to be bad-mouthing the company on their own site.

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8 months later how do I feel?

Very rarely am I in on day one (for UK issue I was) but…I wish I had waited and not let my excitement get the better of me.

I think the next release (13th gen?) could be a good one IF they up the strength of the screen assembly a bit more than even the refreshed version.

But at the time I really wanted to show support for something that as a small business and domestic IT support guy affects me day to day. In theory it’s amazing. In practice it’s still at least another 18 months away I feel.

I can feel myself moving the Framework on in a year. I usually keep my laptops till they fall apart or just become obsolete but I don’t feel this one will be for the long haul. We shall see.

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I appreciate all the additional perspectives. I still need to follow some of the linked content above to make a more complete judgement, but I think for my use case (where the Framework will not be my primary computer but will be used daily) I can tolerate some of the issues that have been a problem for others. And knowing that Framework is relatively new, I did expect there to be some bumps. Also, as a person who uses Linux as my primary OS, I’m used to accepting some amount of hassle to support what I consider to be a better model for computing. That said, I do want to get a laptop that will be a useful tool, and not a hobby project.

Mostly I was looking for any non-obvious differences between the 11th gen and 12th gen that might make the 11th gen significantly worse for my use case (especially gotchas involving Linux hardware support, which is a frequent issue with laptops). The RTC issue sounds pretty annoying, but probably won’t be a big issue for my use case.

I do see some issues around power consumption while sleeping, which would be a bigger impact to my use case (as I expect to use it in short spurts with a lot of time spent in sleep mode). My impression from quick skimming is that this can be mitigated through some settings changes (using deep sleep) and avoiding the addition of ports other than USB-A and USB-C (it sounds like the others seem to impact power consumption during sleep significantly). If that impression is accurate, then this sounds manageable.

The other I issue I see for my use is the sturdiness of the top lid, and that’s only because I have a bad habit of putting stuff on top of my laptop. I should, you know, just not do that, but knowing that habit it seems wise to maybe get the stronger lid. I realize that I could get the 11th gen refurb and replace the lid with the sturdier model (bought from the marketplace), but at that point the cost savings vs. hassle tradeoff for the refurb is getting worse (and honestly the price was not that big a factor anyway). So, silly as it may be, this may be what would push me to the 12th gen.

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I don’t feel this is a ‘tool laptop’. I’ve taken mine out on a few jobs and…I’m always aware it’s not as sturdy as my previous old Dell Lattiude bangers.

It’s more a coffee shop laptop really. Lovely device but maybe too lovely.

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Have not been following this thread, but did when I checked in at Reddit.

I can see from the posts here that Framework has not handled the problem wisely. A post here, a post there, the suggestion that you should just sell this and get rid of your problem by passing it on to another. I have not talked to support, but I see that has not been productive in terms of getting a resolution that works for 11 gen buyers who bought into the Framework concept from the beginning, as I did with an early DIY. Bad philosophy at the top of the Framework organization IMO.

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