Chromebook Framework review: The best repairable laptop of the future


pros

  • Arguably the most ethical laptop on the market
  • Surprisingly rigid build quality
  • Port customization is bar-free
  • Extended software support with ChromeOS

Defect

  • Speakers may sound muffled
  • If only this had a touch screen..
  • Battery life is just enough to use comfortably

We see that a lot in the tech space: Companies paint themselves as masters of sustainability, saving Mother Earth. one charger is bypassed at a time. In theory, yes, that cuts down on e-waste and abandoned cables. But then you see the mass of cardboard and plastic wrap that brands ship their products into and wonder if the sacrifice was worth it.

The framework, as young people like to say, is built differently. It’s one of the few companies I’ve seen that really goes beyond fully recycled boxes and charger-free packaging and creates a product that’s practical, purposeful, and ethical. In the full support of Right of Motion CorrectionFramework calculators are modular, meaning you can swap out parts, components, batteries, etc. at any time.

You can find all the customizable parts, assembly tools and user manuals on the official website, with transparency at the heart of your business.

While the Framework has previously sold models with Windows 11 and BYOOS configurations (bring your own OS), its latest offering is here. Google’s ChromeOS taste, a simple yet ever-evolving experience that I’ve been testing for the past week. And while the device is not best laptopI can’t help but admire the Framework’s commitment to making it one of the most sustainable futuristic computers on the market, if not the most sustainable.

Also: 5 Best Chromebooks

specifications

microprocessor Intel 12th generation i5-1240P
Display 13.5-inch 3:2 IPS LCD (2256×1504) at 400 nits brightness
size 296.6x229x15.9mm
smack 8GB
Warehouse 256GB, 506GB, 1TB
Front camera 1080p 60 fps
Battery 55Wh
connection Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C, USB-A, DisplayPort, HDMI, microSD, Ethernet
Operating system ChromeOS
Color Silver

Design how?

If you’ve seen a Framework laptop before, the design of the Chromebook version should come as no surprise. In fact, the hardware on the ChromeOS model is practically identical to the other two models the company sells, and I have no complaints. It has a sleek, solid design with brushed silver all over. The matte treatment is enough to hide fingerprints and smudges while still feeling as soft and polished as other $1,000-plus laptops.

The only difference between this model and other Framework models is the standard Chromebook icon on the front cover.

Frame Chromebook cover

There’s not much to complain about in terms of the Framework notebook’s interface. Perhaps a matte black option?

Jun Wan/ZDNET

Speaking of which, the laptop lid has a small flex in the center point, something in common with those made of plastic, although it’s not heavy enough to warrant any worries about throwing stuff in the bag. batch or long-term durability.

In fact, once you open the lid — you can do this without holding the bottom half — you’ll be amazed at how solid the machine feels. From the satisfying tactile keys that don’t show any signs of wobbling to the touchpad that’s solid and confident, the Framework has clearly been built with care and attention.

Also: Best Black Friday laptop deals: Up to 65% off

The only major complaint I have with the base-level hardware is the speakers that come from the keyboard. Audio output can be muffled and requires a fine dial of 65% to 75% before you start hearing the life of a sports crowd or a musical performance.

Chromebook Frame Keyboard

The keys have 1.5mm key travel that is significantly deeper than in a traditional laptop.

Jun Wan/ZDNET

In the end, the 3:2, 2256×1504 display on the Framework Chromebook is vibrant, very bright, and pixel-sharp, which I was pleased to see considering all the other aspects included in my product checklist. in this particular review. Viewing angles on the glossy panel are also surprisingly consistent. I want to compare the color reproduction on the Framework screen with the color reproduction of Dragonfly Elite HP, another Chromebook that I reviewed just a few months ago, and another Chromebook that I have come to appreciate very much. The only thing that keeps the previous version down a notch is the lack of touchscreen support.

Review: HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook has no such good business

Customize the frame

Really the only reason you should consider a Framework laptop, let alone the Chromebook version, is customization. Almost every part of a laptop can be replaced by hand, including the IO ports, battery pack, memory, and even the magnetically attached bezel around the display. That means you won’t need keys, adapters, or the whole other thing assembly center to make your working machine…work.

Framework uses an Expansion Card system, a removable port reader that plugs into the device’s four bays via USB-C. What’s on the other end of the Expansion Card is up to you. Perhaps you want an Ethernet slot to connect your Chromebook to local networks, or a microSD card slot for faster file transfers, or even an optional DisplayPort to connect your laptop to your computer. an external monitor. It’s all personal preference and the Framework will give you the option to mix and match during the checkout phase.

Also: Slow internet at home? This adapter turns your unused coax cable into Ethernet

Chromebook IO . Frame

This is the interface of the USB-C Expansion Card.

Jun Wan/ZDNET

The coolest part about this input-output freedom is that you can always swap Expansion Cards. Let’s say you’re on a business trip: Perhaps you’ve traded a DisplayPort slot for an Ethernet slot for more reliable internet access from your hotel. The use cases are different and the Framework is built for that.

Also: SSD vs HDD: What’s the difference?

Then there are modifications below the surface; The RAM, SSD, battery pack and more can be replaced after removing some of the latches underneath the laptop. This plug-and-play system is essentially Legos for adults and, like classic toys, is designed to last for years. If a part fails or you need more storage space, fast part swapping brings new life to the Framework.

Chromebook QR Code Frame

Each component has a QR code that links to its product page and instructions for use.

Jun Wan/ZDNET

The company makes it easy to find the exact ingredient you need by labeling each ingredient with a QR code. Scanning it not only directs you to the specific product page, but also displays the corresponding repair guide for further assistance. It’s attention to detail that you don’t often see in other manufacturers.

Also: With Samsung’s Self-Repair program, you can repair your broken screen the way you want

How does it handle everyday tasks?

In addition to the hardware, the ChromeOS experience on the new Framework is as expected. It’s a neat, resourceful, and easy-to-learn operating system that continues to expand in features month after month. There is a stigma that Chromebooks are too minimal due to their lack of support for professional apps and services like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro. However, unless such programs are essential to your workflow, you won’t find yourself missing them when using your laptop to browse the internet, stream movies and shows, and even Cloud gaming.

The Chromebook frame has been disassembled

Disassembling the Framework took less than five minutes.

Jun Wan/ZDNET

The laptop is powered by a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1240P processor, which, combined with 8GB of RAM, makes Chromebooks completely through everyday tasks and processes. My typical workflow includes rotating between 7-9 tabs — more when researching Black Friday Deals — with Spotify streaming in the background. I also did quite a bit of Lightroom editing (for Android), including the high-res product photos in this review, and didn’t experience any hiccups or lag.

Ultimately, this is a Chromebook, so the benefits and limitations of the operating system are as clear as day. If you prefer Windows but still want the highly customizable nature of the Framework, then vanilla pattern is the way to go.

Also: Five reasons Chromebooks are the perfect laptop

Framework inside Chromebook

A single cooling fan is found inside. It is audible when the workload is heavy but not enough to disturb the user.

Jun Wan/ZDNET

Battery and charger

That brings me to battery life, an area where Chromebooks are known to excel due to the efficiency and bloatware-free nature of the software. To my surprise, the Chromebook Framework wasn’t the battery champ I expected. It has a healthy 55Wh cell that powers the device, but even then, my laptop lasted about 6 to 7 hours before it needed to be charged. That means on a typical workday, I need to plug in the charger an hour or two before closing time.

Framework packs a modular 60W charger (surprise, surprise) in the use case GaN technology to keep cool and compact. It’s a nice transition from a part of a macbook pro charger which I use often and sit comfortably in my backpack for travel.

Also: This fast charger is also a USB and HDMI port

bottom line

I love the Chromebook Framework. It’s one of the few tech products I’ve reviewed this year that truly sounds like a consumer-first gadget and is made by a company that truly cares about the environment. I also happen to fall into the “non-professional” category of users, which makes the ChromeOS experience more than enough for my day-to-day work.

With one starting price $963The Chromebook framework is competing in rough waters, especially as the holiday season approaches when every manufacturer (including Apple) is laptop discount left and right. However, if you want a machine that saves you from having to use hardware protection, a hub and access to your local tech support, get years of software updates then and effectively represents a movement to improve the planet, the Chromebook Framework is the best option available.

Alternatives to consider

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