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Framework gives its modular laptops 13th-gen Intel CPUs and (finally) an AMD option



For the second year in a row, Framework has announced new upgrades for its modular, repairable Framework Laptop that can be installed directly in older versions of the Framework Laptop. There are two motherboards: one with a predictable upgrade from 12th-generation Intel Core CPUs to 13th-generation chips and one that brings AMD’s Ryzen laptop processors to the Framework Laptop for the first time.

Framework has also formally renamed its first laptop design; the 13-inch model picks up the “Framework Laptop 13” retronym to distinguish it from the new Framework 16 gaming laptop.

We know a little more about the Intel version of the laptop. There are versions with 12-core (4 P-cores, 8 E-cores) Core i5-1340P and Core i7-1360P, and a high-end version with a 14-core (6 P-cores, 8 E-cores) Core i7-1370P. These P-series processors were partly responsible for the most recent Framework Laptop’s mediocre battery life, but the company says the 13th-generation CPUs are more battery-efficient and that it has made further “firmware optimizations” to improve runtime. All Intel models continue to use DDR4-3200 memory, so if you upgrade your motherboard, the RAM can be swapped along with the SSD you’re using.

The AMD version of the laptop is a little more mysterious, which is partly AMD’s fault—Framework is using Ryzen 7040-series processors, and AMD recently delayed those chips by a month. But we do know, thanks to AMD’s complex-but-specific new laptop CPU naming scheme, that these chips will combine a Zen 4 CPU core and integrated graphics based on AMD’s latest-generation RDNA3 architecture, which should give the Framework Laptop 13 its first-ever major graphics performance boost. That GPU should actually make the AMD version a passable low-end gaming laptop, especially in games that support AMD’s FSR upscaling tech.

Both the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 motherboards use DDR5-5600 rather than DDR4, since Zen 4 CPUs have dropped DDR4 support. Framework also says it plans to offer official support for certain Linux distributions on the AMD systems in addition to Windows 11, just as it currently provides for its Intel laptops.

The new laptops (and, for upgraders, the new motherboards) are available for preorder now with a refundable $100 deposit. Framework says shipments of Intel models should begin in May. The AMD versions should begin shipping in “Q3.”

Other upgrades and sustainability

The Framework Laptop 13.

Per usual, the new motherboards are designed to fit into all existing Framework 13 laptops without modification—you could upgrade directly from the original 11th-generation Intel motherboard to the new AMD motherboard without replacing the battery, ports, keyboard, screen, or any other parts if you wanted to. But Framework is also debuting a handful of design upgrades that can be purchased with a new Framework 13 or added to an older model.

First, the company is introducing a 61 Wh replacement battery, which can fit into the same space as the previous 55 Wh battery because of “advancements in lithium-ion chemistry.” This is a relatively minor 11 percent improvement in capacity, but the last Framework Laptop’s battery life was its Achilles heel, so every bit helps. Combined with the other optimizations in the 13th-generation Intel version of the laptop, Framework says its battery life should be 20 to 30 percent better than the previous-generation model.

For the display and lid, Framework is releasing both a matte version of its screen and a new hinge kit that’s designed to hold the screen more securely while still being openable with one hand. The display uses the same 13.5-inch 2256×1504 display as before—no contrast, color gamut, resolution, or refresh rate upgrades here—it just has a glare-resistant matte coating instead of a glossy one.

Cooler Master is making a $39 case to change old Framework Laptop motherboards into mini PCs.

Finally, for upgraders, Framework and Cooler Master are introducing an official $39 enclosure that can be used to convert old Framework motherboards into small desktop PCs. Framework introduced open source, 3D-printable case designs last year to facilitate this kind of thing (and then had to change them following legal threats from Lenovo), but the Cooler Master case is a pre-built option for people who don’t have access to a 3D printer. It includes a stand and a VESA mount option so you can attach it to the back of a monitor, and it will be available in the spring.

“We want to ensure that as we release all of these great updates, that we’re not encouraging the generation of e-waste through upgrade behavior,” the company’s press release says. “We’ve also launched open source documentation around the display and battery modules to encourage and enable development of products that re-use those.”


Source: Ars Technica

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