For the most part, unboxing a new Chromebook is a pretty standard thing. You usually get a Chromebook in some sort of paper-like sleeve, a charger, and a big cardboard box. While I fully support recyclable packaging for Chromebooks, I also appreciate when companies like Acer – with their Chromebook Vero 514 – take the time to still make that environmentally friendly box a bit more interesting than normal.
With the Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition (Framework Chromebook from here on), this is all taken to the next level because not only is the packaging unique for this particular Chromebook, so is the Chromebook and all the other goodies inside it. Never before have we seen a device running ChromeOS capable of what the Framework Chromebook is, so you know this unboxing is a pretty special one.
Standard Chromebook stuff
Before we get into the wild stuff that this Chromebook is capable of, it is worth noting that the Framework Chromebook is a very solid, very capable Chromebook without the novelty modularity it brings to the table. Inside this box with all its interchangeable ports and unique packaging lies a Chromebook that is impressive on a spec sheet from top to bottom.
From a great screen to an all-aluminum chassis to very fast internals, this Chromebook would be impressive even without its unique ability to be easily repaired or upgraded. In fact, as I type this post on the Framework Chromebook right now, I’d say it is one of the nicer overall Chromebooks I’ve ever used. Take a look at this spec sheet:
Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition Key Specs
- 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1240P (4+8 cores)
- Intel Iris Xe GPU
- 8GB RAM (can be upgraded to 64GB)
- 256GB NVMe SSD storage (can be upgraded to 1TB)
- 2256×1504 3:2 13.5-inch display @ 400+ nits
- 15.85mm thick
- 1.5mm travel keyboard
- Milled aluminum housing
- Quick-swap expansion cards to choose your own ports
- Options for USB-C, USB-A, MicroSD, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, more storage and more
Without getting into any of the upgrade/repair/modular stuff, I can confidently tell you that using this Chromebook feels pretty stellar. The key frame is solid, the glass trackpad is lovely, the speakers are full for a device this size, the screen is an absolute delight to look at, and the speed leaves nothing to be desired. Even the built-in (and replaceable) 1080p webcam is extremely solid.
Modular Chromebook stuff
That being said, we of course have to talk about the specialized tricks this Chromebook comes with; and the first is the modularity of the expansion cards you get to play around with. These cards (which you get 4 of with your standard $999 order) allow you the ability to swap your ports on the go with great ease. Depending on the ports you choose at the time of purchase, you can reconfigure them as you see fit, as needed.
Simply push the button on the bottom near the expansion cards, pull the card out you want to swap, and drop in the replacement. Our review unit came with a few different options, and when I first set mine up, I went with 2 USB Type C ports, a USB Type A and an HDMI. At the desk, I liked that selection, but I flipped things over and swapped their positions to make plugging in my display and charger a bit cleaner, and the immediate benefit of this part of the Framework experience became very clear.
Repairable/Replaceable Chromebook stuff
But those expansion cards are only part of the modular story. On the inside of this Chromebook, you can swap any part of the device out with great ease. While it is technically true for many Chromebooks that you can swap out hardware pieces inside the chassis, we’ve never witnessed a Chromebook with this level of simple, user-equipped repairability.
The layout of the inside of this device is 100% built to be worked on. From reinforced ribbon cables to QR codes on each component that get you to replacement instructions on the web, the Framework Chromebook is built from the ground up to be tinkered with, upgraded, and reparied.
And this modularity somehow comes without making the device feel cheap or unstable. Instead, the whole thing feels well built, solid and even comes with a one-finger lift for the screen portion of the laptop. I can’t express how impressed I am with the overall feel and build quality of a device that is primarily made to be easily taken apart. While I would’ve given Framework a pass in the build quality category, it turns out they don’t really need it. Apart from the expansion cards giving it away, if I handed you this Chromebook and asked what you think of it, I guarantee you’d compliment the build quality all around without considering it’s modular qualities.
And with that sort of outward aesthetic and inward flexibility, this Chromebook is special. Even if the Chromebook I’m typing on right now was simply a solid clamshell device, I’d still love it. I love typing on it so far, I love the clean look and feel, and I love the screen. It isn’t touch-capable, but I’ve learned with a few other Chromebooks this year that touch limitations just don’t bother me that much on a daily basis.
Once you take that and add in the fact that this device has the outer and inner modularity that it does, the incredible nature of this Chromebook begins taking shape. A review period is warranted 100%, but I’m already a big fan of this device. Working from it is a joy and knowing that every single piece of this device can easily be swapped at home by yours truly only makes it that much more compelling. I’m in the process of reviewing a few Chromebooks right now, so bear with me. A full review is coming, but I don’t need that longer evaluation to tell you this device is worth your money if a beautiful, capable, and fast laptop with replaceable parts is your cup of tea.