Framework has announced the 2023 edition of its modular 13-inch laptop. The big news is that not only is there a 13th-Gen Intel configuration for sale, but there’s also an AMD Ryzen 7040 option available. That’s right. Finally, an AMD option.
One of the difficulties I had in reviewing last year’s Framework Laptop was that the Intel processor didn’t quite measure up to everything else that was great about the device. I’m obsessed with the Framework as a concept — what’s not to love about a repairable, fully upgradable notebook? — but as a daily driver, it was a bit unremarkable, and battery life was particularly disappointing.
We’ve seen great battery life from the Ryzen 7000 series so far this year, and that could be just what this product needs to be a slam-dunk recommendation. Framework hasn’t shared battery life estimates for the AMD model (for the Intel option, it estimates “20-30 percent battery life improvement across a range of real-world use cases in both Windows and Linux”) and declined to provide one for AMD when we asked, so it’s reasonable to wait for reviews before deciding between the two models.
The entry-level model will come with the Ryzen 5 7640U, which has six Zen 4 cores with base frequencies of 3.5GHz and max turbo of 4.9GHz. It is paired with AMD’s integrated Radeon 760M graphics with eight compute units.
The higher-spec AMD model offers the Ryzen 7 7840U, an eight-core, sixteen-thread chip with a base clock of 3.3GHz and max turbo of 5.1GHz. Its integrated Radeon 780M graphics come equipped with 12 compute units. Framework says that it designed the cooling system in the laptop to handle a continuous load at 28W on these chips.
The company also says that the rear two the USB-C expansion ports on the AMD models support USB 4, complete with support for external GPUs. (The other two USB-C ports support USB 3.2 and the front left one has DisplayPort Alt Mode for connecting an external display.)
Logistically, the AMD laptop will use the same chassis as the Intel version. You can, if you already have a Framework system, buy the AMD mainboard on its own and upgrade your device (though you’d also need to upgrade to DDR5 RAM, and Framework recommends that you install an AMD-compatible Wi-Fi card). This is key since I imagine that at least some folks who bought Intel systems when they were the only option might be keen to swap to AMD. The new Intel and AMD mainboards are both available for preorder with a refundable $100 deposit.
Elsewhere, Framework says it has brought a number of “refinements to the day-to-day user experience,” which we always like to hear. The company has released a higher capacity battery (61Wh — 55Wh was previously available) that’s also compatible with existing Framework laptops. That’s notable — in general, you wouldn’t expect to be able to easily replace a laptop’s battery with a higher-capacity version.
A bunch of new kits are rolling out as well. A new Display Kit with a matte top layer and a more stable Hinge Kit are now available (with waitlists) in the Framework Marketplace, and come standard on the new laptop. The screen is the same, other than its matte coating. The company’s 80dB Speaker Kit is integrated into the Intel model, delivering what Framework calls “increased loudness”. Regarding AMD systems, Framework says it is “tuning the audio circuitry to achieve both loudness and fidelity with the original Speaker Kit”. This is also a welcome upgrade since I found the 2022 Framework’s audio to be particularly weak.
Both the Intel and AMD models are currently available for preorder, with the first Intel shipments coming in May, and AMD coming in Q3. Prices start at $849 for DIY kits and $1,049 for prebuilts, with a refundable $100 deposit due at the time of preorder. The company will also expand shipments of its products to Spain, Belgium, Italy and Taiwan this summer.
Update, 9:55AM, May 3rd, 2023: Added information about the specific AMD chips available in the Framework Laptop this year.