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Hear me out: The modular Framework Chromebook is worth the $1,000

The modular Framework Chromebook is worth the $1,000, believe me.

Framework’s modular gadgets stand out in a world where the majority of computers are completely sealed, with no practical means to modify the hardware. Before taking into account the fact that you could change ports, simply add extra storage or Memory, or even upgrade the processor in the future, the company’s first Windows laptop was a good device considering the price.

Since the initial release of the Framework laptops, which was a little over a year ago, the firm has introduced a new model called the Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition (hence referred to as the Framework Chromebook). It provides the same advantages as its Windows sister, including strong industrial design and specifications along with the promise of customization and future expandability. But, starting at $999, it is also one of the more costly Chromebooks on the market. It is a significant investment for a Chromebook, but if you can use it for at least five years, it might be worthwhile.


The Framework Chromebook doesn’t stand out much visually. While having a silver aluminum chassis that is similar to so many other gadgets out there is not necessarily a bad thing, it is quite utilitarian. It weighs under three pounds and is only a little over two thirds of an inch thick, so it is still a fairly small device. Only a stylish reflecting Framework logo on the lid sets it apart from laptops made by Acer, ASUS, and other companies.

Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition review

A few days later, I learned that the Framework Chromebook does have one unique feature: the magnetically attached black bezel that surrounds the screen. Actually, Framework gave me a cheerful orange alternative, which I selected. Orange is a personal favorite, though you may also buy a silver bezel if you like. I’m hoping the business will eventually introduce a few more hues.

A 1080p webcam is located inside that bezel and works perfectly for video calls. The hardware switches for turning off the camera and microphones are also interesting. The switches really shut the power to those modules, so this isn’t just a software trick, making it a somewhat secure alternative (though a physical cover over the camera would be pretty impenetrable, too).

Although Framework devices can be upgraded, some components, such as the display and keyboard, are more durable. (If either breaks, you can replace them both; however, there aren’t any more recent models that you can use to upgrade your laptop at the moment. Of course, that might alter. Thankfully, both are top-notch, as you would expect from a laptop at this price. The high resolution of 2,256 x 1,504 on the 13.5-inch display results in a higher 3:2 aspect ratio, which I wish was more typical.

The main drawback is that it lacks a touchscreen, which is a feature found on the majority of Chromebooks. Despite the fact that the most of the apps I use right now (Lightroom, Taoist, Spotify, and video apps like Netflix) function just as well with a keyboard and mouse, this makes installing touch-driven Android apps less enticing. The screen is fantastic despite that slight letdown. Unless direct sunlight is shining directly on the panel, the 400-nit maximum brightness is more than enough and results in vivid text and graphics.

Foundation replaced the Windows keyboard layout with a recognizable one for Chromebook users, replacing the caps lock button with the “everything” button on the left and placing the function row shortcuts for back, refresh, and screenshot where I anticipated them to be. There isn’t a Google Assistant key, but if you want to, you can quickly reach the Assistant in the Chrome OS search bar. The keyboard itself is superb; the 1.5mm-travel illuminated keys are sturdy and accurate. Although the key caps are a little small, I quickly got used to them. However, I do wish Framework had a fingerprint reader like the one on its Windows notebook. I’m shocked that it doesn’t enable fingerprint unlocking considering how many other Chromebooks do.

Although the Framework Chromebook costs $999, the firm didn’t skimp on the processor. On the base model, it has a Core i5-1240P processor from Intel’s 12th generation, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Framework’s laptop isn’t overly pricey, but as always, the question is whether paying so much money on a Chrome OS device is even a smart idea. Most Chromebooks with equivalent specs are priced similarly.

Swappable ports and expansion

Let’s discuss what distinguishes the Framework Chromebook. Instead of having a set of fixed ports, there are four places where Expansion Cards can be installed. USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and microSD connections are available on the framework. Also, you may utilize those connectors to connect Framework’s 250GB and 1TB storage modules, which are simply swappable. There are only four recessed USB-C apertures on the laptop itself; all expansion cards are USB-C based. This implies that you could transfer files effortlessly between computers by using the storage cards.

I chose HDMI, USB-A, and two USB-C ports (one on each side). Framework thoughtfully added LED lights on the laptop’s sides so you can see when it is charging and when the battery is full. Everything worked as I would have anticipated it to: my old USB-A flash drive showed up without any problems, and the HDMI port worked flawlessly with my external monitor. Although it is larger than the other cards and stands out from the side of the system, the Ethernet Extension Card was plug-and-play easy to use.

When it comes to these modules, I’m on the fence. On the one hand, it’s quite nice to be able to select the ports that are accessible on your computer. I’d love to be able to swap in microSD or Ethernet cards, for example, or, if I had a lot of USB-C compliant devices, just load up on USB-C connections. Nevertheless, there are also many Chromebooks that come equipped with USB-A, HDMI, and microSD slots, so I find the Framework’s modular slots to be less enticing.

The fact that my needs are small, however, does not alter the likelihood that many other people desire more flexibility in their laptop. It is unquestionably helpful to be able to plug in an Ethernet port for when you’re doing a lot of downloading and then swap it out for USB-A if you’re connecting older equipment. Also, it significantly future-proofs this laptop. Simply add another UBC-C port or more storage if, for example, you get rid of all your USB-A devices. There are several opportunities here that are simply not available with a typical laptop.

The Framework Chromebook has a variety of flexible features in addition to these swappable connectors. I was able to remove the keyboard deck completely by first removing the five screws that were fastened to the bottom of the laptop using the Tort T5 screwdriver that was provided. Everything is labelled and clearly laid up, and there are QR codes you can scan to access upgrade tutorials right away. I didn’t make many changes inside the computer, but Framework gave me an extra 8GB memory chip that I installed in approximately five minutes. I don’t know when I last had the option to add more RAM to my laptop, and with two slots available, I could add up to 64GB of memory. That is noteworthy.

And that doesn’t even mention replacing the processor. There is currently no need to replace the Intel Core processor within the Framework Chromebook. However, Framework has already begun providing fresh “mainboards” for its Windows laptop, which was initially delivered with an Intel CPU from the 11th generation. When Intel releases newer chips in a few years, it’s possible that Framework will let you to swap them in and offer your old laptop a welcome performance boost.

Another nice feature of the mainboard that can be swapped out is the ability to switch to Windows if you decide Chrome OS isn’t for you and carry on with your life using that operating system. You can’t just wipe the Chromebook and install Windows, according to Framework, because it has some Chrome OS-specific hardware and firmware. But another illustration of the customizability at the core of Framework is the ability to swap out the motherboard and keyboard for Windows-compatible models.

In use

Using the Framework Chromebook was essentially the same as using any other Chromebook with these specifications, as you might expect. It is a quick, responsive laptop that is capable of handling just about anything you may want to do in Chrome OS, including the aforementioned Android apps as well as web apps and a lot of Chrome tabs.

The biggest drawback in this case is battery life. My typical workday only lasted a little over six hours when I was unplugged, and the battery only lasted for around eight hours and fifteen minutes when I was looping a local HD film. Foundation did point out that using the laptop with either the HDMI or DisplayPort expansion cards inserted results in a battery-draining problem; this should be rectified in a subsequent software release. put those cards in.


After using this Chromebook, I can now say that Framework is doing a great job. In comparison to the majority of other Chrome OS devices, the laptop makes only a few concessions, most notably in terms of battery life and appearance. But, don’t misinterpret the absence of flash as poor design. The Framework Chromebook has a very tiny and light frame and is highly repairable by regular people. Together with its strong, upgradeable internals, it also boasts a fantastic screen and keyboard.

It’s one of the priciest Chromebooks available at $999, and you could acquire a similar model like the Asus Chromebook Spin 714 for the comparably inexpensive price of $729. The Framework Chromebook can be readily repaired by the majority of buyers, and owners can also add more storage, RAM, and hopefully even replace the processor down the road to keep it alive for far longer than your ordinary laptop. Nevertheless, that gadget is not repairable or upgradeable at all. For some people, especially those who believe that technology shouldn’t be something we discard after a few years, the Framework Chromebook is worth the extra cost.