Framework's stunning new module showcases the future of sustainable computing

  • Framework just equipped its modular laptop with a new 120Hz screen, swappable CPU, and more.
  • Modularity means you never need to buy a new laptop again.
  • These computers are actually better than many non-modular machines.

Framework, a San Francisco company that makes upgradeable, ultra-repairable laptops, has just launched a new line of drop-in upgrades that really prove that sustainable technology is possible.

New components include a 120Hz screen, an improved webcam, and even a new Core Ultra chip. Combined with common spare parts like batteries and replaceable, user-configurable ports, Framework continues to emphasize that repairable hardware is not only possible, but actually desirable.

"Repairing devices reduces waste and saves energy and resources. It is also more cost-effective than buying new devices. Right to Repair gives consumers control over their devices, allowing them to replace parts themselves rather than having to rely on manufacturers." CEO Ozzy Akpek Smile Art Design, retail and e-commerce expert told Lifewire via email.

Restorability and sustainability are great ideas from an abstract perspective, but let's look at some concrete examples to see why it's very practical, satisfying, and much cheaper than other alternatives.

Let's say you have an iPad, and you actually use it for more than just browsing the web. The iPad is expensive, and you'll probably opt for the base model rather than pay Apple's hefty price tag for storage upgrades. I use my iPad to create music, and one thing I keep hearing from other iPad musicians is that they've run out of storage space.

The only solution for an iPad or any Apple MacBook is to buy a new one and sell the old one, or trade it in for a new one. Not only is this expensive and cumbersome, it's also bad news for the environment. Most of the carbon generation associated with a product comes from its manufacturing and transportation, not from its use, so replacement is pretty much the worst thing you can do.

Compared to laptops, you can upgrade storage, which is still possible in many models, such as Lenovo's ThinkBook T series. Just order a new SSD and replace it.

Now, take it to the extreme with frames. Not only can you swap and add storage, but you can also add RAM, swap out new expansion ports (such as USB-A and USB-C, Ethernet, HDMI, etc.), swap out webcams, easily replace new batteries, and more.

In a way, you never have to buy a laptop again because you can keep replacing parts. Framework's new parts illustrate this point.

"Now that I've had it for a few weeks, I love my new modular, repairable laptop from Framework even more: the lightweight keyboard is a dream, on par/better than the MS Surface I own," happy says on Mastodon Framework user Susan Kaye Quinn. "I'm willing to put up with a less-than-ideal product from a small company that's trying to actually develop sustainable products to reduce e-waste - right out of the box, this laptop is better than my previous laptop."

Repairs and replacements are necessary, but often what prompts us to buy new gear isn't that old gear is broken. It’s the lure of shiny new features. That's why Framework's new screen in particular is so great. It is a drop-in replacement for the 60Hz, 2256x1504 screen found in existing Framework laptops.

The new screen has a higher resolution of 2880 x 1920, is brighter, and has a 120Hz variable refresh rate, which means smooth animations and lower battery requirements. This is the screen Apple puts in the MacBook Pro.

Another reason to replace your computer is if it becomes too slow. Sometimes a complete wipe and reinstall can resolve the issue. Other times, your computer is really old and slow. Framework's answer is a replaceable CPU motherboard, in this case the new Core Ultra chip. The motherboard contains the chips, fans, and other components of your computer's motherboard, so you're not just replacing the chip, but it's still much better than giving up your entire computer just because it's slowed down.

Framework also adds a full-size SD card reader to its optional port module (there's currently a microSD option). But there are still some reasons to shop elsewhere. For example, there's no frame touch screen option (although the Mac seems to manage just fine without this option), nor the wide range of options you can get from the Dells and HPs of the world.

On the other hand, the options are often confusing and designed to trick you into climbing the feature ladder when making your purchasing choice. This is another advantage of the modular option. If your needs change in the future, your computer will change too. Plus, for most people, mid-to-high-end laptops are enough for all needs. Again, the easy way works for Apple, so why not for Framework?

Update June 4, 2024 : Corrected company information in paragraph 1.