Every year, the same laptops get updated and, in most cases, they’re simply refreshed with the latest chips from Intel, AMD, or Nvidia. If you purchased the previous model, there is not much you can do but look on in envy at the more powerful new versions while waiting until it’s time to upgrade again.
Unless you purchased the Framework Laptop.
Bursting onto the scene last year, the Framework Laptop is a DIYer’s dream device: a modular notebook that can be manually upgraded, not replaced. It’s essentially a functioning Lego kit: an entirely user-serviceable laptop with swappable parts.
Today, Framework is introducing a new Framework Laptop with a few key upgrades, including 12th Gen Intel Core processors. Before you panic, Framework is keeping its promise to early adopters who purchased its first-gen model by making a swappable Intel 12th Gen mainboard available to all customers, new and old.
That means you can remove the 11th Gen Intel mainboard from your old laptop and install the 12th Gen model, much like you would on a desktop. This way, you get a significant gen-over-gen performance boost without buying an entirely new laptop. As for the specific Intel processors, the Framework Laptop now supports Intel Core i7-1280P, i5-1240P, and i7-1260P CPUs.
Not only is Framework making a 12th Gen CPU module available, but it listened to customer feedback and revamped the top cover, making a more sturdy version using a full CNC process instead of aluminum forming. Again, owners of the first-gen Framework Laptop can buy the more rigid cover ($89) and upgrade their system without having to buy an entirely new one.
If you want to give your laptop a performance boost with Intel 12th Gen and make it more structurally sound by installing the reinforced lid, Framework is selling an Upgrade Kit that combines the two. Framework also previewed an Ethernet expansion card made using a Realtek RTL8156 controller. It supports 2.5Gbit along with 10/100/1000Mbit Ethernet and will be available later this year.
This is really the moment early adopters have been waiting for, and proof that Framework can make good on its promises. By making individual components available to customers, the company eschews a tradition held by most tech manufacturers to sell products to customers and forget about them so those same customers can purchase a similar product a few years later.
The question now is whether giving customers the choice to buy parts is a financially viable strategy. I sure hope so. Then again, if I ask myself whether Framework Laptop owners should actually upgrade to 12th Gen Intel chips, the answer is: probably not. I assume most folks are just fine using the previous-gen chips. However, in a few years from now—assuming Framework is still doing its thing—it might be time to upgrade.
Those who do want to upgrade might need to act fast. Framework Laptops with 12th Gen Intel Core processors are available today through a batch pre-order system requiring a $100 fully-refundable deposit. Mainboards with 12th Gen Intel Core chips, the top cover, and the upgrade kit are now available for waitlisting on the marketplace. You can find full pricing details in the chart above. The first batch of new laptops as well as the new Marketplace items start shipping next month.