Framework Laptop 16: a modular gaming laptop that allows GPU upgrades and more

Framework, a company that has been selling modular laptops that can be upgraded over time in terms of hardware or connectivity ports, much like a desktop PC, has announced its first gaming laptop model. It’s called the Framework Laptop 16 and will allow users to upgrade their laptop over time with processor modules, GPUs, keyboards or connectivity ports.

Framework Laptop 16 promises to solve the problem of today’s gaming laptops: the ability to upgrade over time

Framework Laptop 16 is significantly different from the Framework 13 of the past. It comes with a 16″ screen, but can otherwise be customised to your liking. There will be modules of various sizes, allowing attachment and detachment from the basic “skeleton” like Lego pieces. For example, you’ll be able to customise your laptop to accommodate a keyboard with or without a numpad, or you can add new modules in the empty spaces to provide extra functionality or act as decoration.

Since Framework will provide the plans and source code to partners, the company will sell only a few of its own modules, with partners developing other attachments for the laptop. The company will, however, ship the keyboard and numpad as separate modules, with white or RGB lighting.

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Modularity also allows to change the trackpad position, from center to left or right, just by moving the spacers on the sides. Of course, it will be possible to buy other modules that change that area or replace the trackpad completely. On each side of the laptop there are three interchangeable modules that represent the computer’s connectivity. So you can put just USB-A plugs, or just USB-C plugs, a headphone jack, card readers, HDMI or any other port and arrange them according to your preference in the order or position you want. Unlike the Framework 13, the Framework 16 has 6 such modules instead of 4, but it doesn’t integrate an internal headphone jack, it has to be added as a module.

Modules will be developed by Framework partners

The most interesting is the possibility to change the graphics chip. There will be smaller or larger modules, depending on the performance of the chosen chip, and when a new generation comes out, you’ll be able to make the switch without changing the whole laptop. Already Framework laptops have shown that upgrading is possible for ultraportable models by upgrading to a motherboard with a newer processor, and now Framework 16 will do that for the GPU side as well. But being a PCI-Express interface, it will also be possible to make modules with M.2 slots for storage, for example, being able to forgo the GPU in favour of storage.

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However, no specs for such modules have been confirmed at this time, so we don’t know if there will be AMD or NVIDIA chips on these modules. Only recently, Framework has added AMD-chipped motherboards to its upgrade and configuration offerings for ultraportable models, so we can expect to see such processor options on the Model 16 as well.

The gaming laptop will be available for order in the next few weeks, before the summer begins. Thus, we have no information on pricing or hardware specifications. However, a Framework animation suggests that this laptop will be highly modular, and independent developers will be able to develop any number of modules for it to replace the keyboard, or other items such as DJ consoles, MIDI controllers for music production, secondary touchscreens, wireless phone chargers, and anything else. The software sources will be available on GitHub, and the modules are based on Raspberry Pi microcontroller-e.

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