The Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition (we’ll go with Framework or Framework Chromebook for the rest of this review) is a device that is largely without peer. In the Chromebook space, there’s absolutely nothing like it and at $999, it is a very interesting Chromebook that gets much of the high-end equation right; even if some of the things that make it so unique might be a turn-off for those looking for the best, most premium Chromebook you can get.
From the get-go, there are really two things you need to know about the Framework Chromebook: it’s got a lot of the mojo of a premium laptop and it does that with an unflinching commitment to being modular, upgradeable, and repairable. All by itself, that’s quite the feat if you think about it, and without saying much more about this Chromebook I think it’s easy to say that if you value both of those things – premium feel and modularity – you will have a pretty enjoyable ownership experience if you choose to buy one.
We’ll get into a few of the little quirks and flaws this Chromebook has, but overall, it pulls off the premium Chromebook experience quite convincingly. Most times, I totally forgot the fact that I was using a laptop that could come apart with ease and simply got lost in all the standard stuff this Chromebook does so well. From the display to the keyboard to the trackpad to the speed inside, the Framework Chromebook makes for a great user experience across the board.
The Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition gets a lot right
Let’s get to the good stuff first. There’s a lot of it, thankfully, and it starts with the build quality. Even though this laptop is built to be taken apart, it really doesn’t give that away. The all-aluminum chassis is firm and confidence-inspiring, giving off older Macbook vibes with it’s subtle, powdered silver color. It resists fingerprints very well and the simple aesthetic and Framework logo on the lid look fantastic. The only place this Chromebook really shows its modularity is on the bottom where you have the big fan ports and the four expansion ports. We’ll get into those a bit more shortly.
Overall, things are reasonably light and thin, coming in at 2.9 pounds and only 16mm thick. It isn’t the thinnest or lightest Chromebook ever made, but not once did the size feel too large or too heavy for use out and about, on the desk, or on the couch. And the size of the chassis allows for a screen that is one of the better panels you’ll see on a Chromebook. The 3:2 13.5-inch QHD screen looks amazing at a peak brightness of 400 nits and only misses one big feature: touch input. Those looking for that sort of input method will have to look elsewhere. On the whole, however, the size, resolution, and aspect ratio of this screen is one of my favorites in a Chromebook, and it makes using the Framework incredibly pleasing.
And that vibe just continues down to the keyboard and trackpad. The backlit keys have great travel, a pleasing click, and make typing for hours on end a complete joy. This is one of my favorite keyboards in a Chromebook for sure. Paired with the smooth, clicky glass trackpad, you have an input combo that rivals any of the best laptops out there. Not once have I had an issue with either, and using this Chromebook as my daily writing device has only solidified the excellence Framework achieved with these input methods.
Even the speakers are better than most, giving off a solid, full sound that is, frankly, a bit surprising with the bottom-firing speaker placement. While not the absolute best speakers I’ve heard on a Chromebook, these are definitely up there and make content consumption very enjoyable.
Finally, to round out the good, standard Chromebook stuff, I’d point to the four swappable expansion cards that you can use to change out your four connection points to your liking. For me, I’ve gone with a single USB Type A, two USB Type C, and one full-sized HDMI port. The other options include a DisplayPort, Ethernet, MicroSD or expanded memory inserts. These can be swapped as needed, too, so your configuration can change on the fly whenever you need it. Again, not something we’ve ever seen in a Chromebook prior to this one and it is a really interesting feature.
And that’s where the modular build of this Chromebook starts to come into play. Not only can you swap out the ports as needed, it is dead-simple to take apart, upgrade and repair every single part of this Chromebook. We did a quick video about how easy it is to slap in some extra RAM and with the guided videos available for working on all the other parts inside, swapping out the display, changing the storage, fans, speakers and even the camera on this device would be something general users could tackle with relative ease. Well, as compared with a standard laptop, anyway.
All this upside also comes with pretty sweet internals, too, giving you a 12th-gen Core i5-1240P, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of NVMe storage, integrated Iris Xe GPU, Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. That Core i5 variant is the same processor we see in the gaming-focused Acer Chromebook 516 GE that is a bit more powerful than the more-standard U-series i5. With these specs, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but this one flies. There’s really nothing holding you back, and whether it’s a heavy workload, video edits in LumaFusion, or some gaming down the road when Steam games finally arrive, this setup has you covered. And in only a couple minutes, you can install up to 64GB of RAM if you wanted to, making this a bit of a beast with the right upgrades.
All that power comes with a decent battery life, too, as long as you keep the screen brightness under control. With things around 50-60%, you can expect 8 hours of use and push it closer to 10 hours with a bit lower brightness. It’s not a battery champ, but it’ll get you comfortably through the day without any real issues.
There are a few misses, here, too
And though all those things sound amazing – they are – there are some clear misses with this Chromebook, too. And at $999, we have to be picky. Modularity comes at a bit of a price on some parts of this experience, and the ups and downs of what Framework has built here have to be taken in stride if this device is going to be for you.
For instance, sometimes when I unplug the HDMI cable to leave my desk, the entire expansion card comes right out. It obviously shouldn’t do that, but it happens pretty often. To me, that’s just part of having a modular Chromebook; but to some of you, little things like that happening on a $1000 Chromebook will really irk you.
Then there’s the missing fingerprint scanner. Framework makes one that replaces the power button for the Windows version, but for some reason, it isn’t availble for the Chromebook. It’s an upgrade I’d expect to be included for the price, but for some reason they just chose not to put it on this model. That’s a head-scratcher for sure.
And then there’s the camera. It’s 1080p and has a toggle for both the microphone and camera up top, but the quality is a letdown. There’s a grain to the video that just looks odd and the dynamic range leaves a lot to be desired. It works, sure, but the camera on a $999 Chromebook should be better than this. Maybe a better version will arrive down the road and will be an optional upgrade. That’s the benefit of owning one of these Framework laptops, for sure. For now, however, the camera is not great.
How to decide if the Framework is right for you
And I guess that’s just what this all comes down to, really. $999 for a Chromebook is expensive, but with the Framework, you’re getting a whole lot for your investment. With top-notch speed, you’re also getting a great build quality, a stellar display, an A+ keyboard/trackpad, a swappable input selection, and solid battery life. But for that modularity and ease of repair, you’re losing a few things along the way. The lacking fingerprint scanner, non-touch display, mediocre camera, and finicky expansion ports may turn some of you off.
In the end, you just have to decide what’s right for you. If you value the ability to repair and upgrade with ease, then the few deficits this Chromebook ships with probably won’t be that big of a deal. But if you are spending $999 with the expectation of the best, most-polished Chromebook experience, the small issues I’ve run into might be enough to make you wait for something else to come along. It really comes down to the individual on this one.
But regardless of where you stand on the importance of modularity, the Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition is a stellar device on the whole. I’ve loved my time with it for sure, and I think for many of you out there ready to go a bit more premium with your ChromeOS experience, it could be a solid fit that you’ll really enjoy. And with OS updates scheduled until June of 2030 and ability to easily upgrade and repair it, the Framework Chromebook can hang around for the long haul.