You can hot-swap a DisplayPort, ethernet, even an extra 3.5mm audio jack into your modular Framework laptop — and today, the company is finally beginning work on a full-size SD Expansion Card to go with them.
But seriously, it’s just beginning that work: the company says it’s breaking tradition by “pre-announcing” a module that may never ship. “We’ve set a target for what we want it to be, but as we proceed and learn, there’s a chance it could change or even be canceled,” Framework writes. Don’t worry: it’s not trying to cash in ahead of time; the idea is by doing it this way, Framework can take you behind the scenes.
The full-size SD card is still going strong thanks to photographers and videographers, of course, and in an official 2021 poll, the Framework community said it was the second-most requested port after a Gigabit ethernet jack. (Framework started selling that one late last year.)
So why the SD delay? In a project kickoff video, Framework content creator Hyelim Choi says the company actually wanted to build one in 2020 but decided its then-four-person engineering team should probably focus on launching its first laptop instead. In the meanwhile, full-size SD has become “consistently the most requested Expansion Card by the community,” and at least a few people have tried to DIY their own.
Each of Framework’s Expansion Card modules has standard male USB-C ports on the other end — each plugs into a recessed female USB-C port on the motherboard. That means they can be plugged into other USB-C computers as well or swapped between Framework machines... including DIY mini desktops like the one you can build with the $39 Cooler Master / Framework Mainboard Case. That one lets you build a computer by dropping in a new Framework Mainboard or swapping in one from your old laptop when you upgrade it.
Speaking of mainboards, Framework says it discovered it’s got extra 11th Gen Intel Core mainboards lying around and is now offering them at a sizeable discount: $199 for a Core i5 1135G7, $299 for a Core i7-1165G7, and $399 for a Core i7-1185G7.
If you’ve ever wanted to build your own unofficial Intel NUC, this looks like a pretty intriguing option. There are plenty of other cool things to build with a potent single-board computer, of course.