Framework, which makes the ultra-customizable Framework Laptop with a completely replaceable mainboard and expansion modules for different ports, is moving to a new type of laptop: the Chromebook.
Starting today, Framework is accepting pre-orders for the Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition, which still starts at $999 and will ship in early December.
In a release, Framework said that the laptop will run on a 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1240P with 30 watts of sustained performance. The prebuilt version comes with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage and can be upgraded to up to 64GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. The company hasn't said what kinds of upgrades may be available in the future, but a representative said that all of the current expansion cards are cross-compatible between the Framework Laptop and the Chromebook Edition.
Most of the Framework Laptop we already know isn't going to change in the Chromebook Edition, including the 3:2 display, Intel 12th Gen P series processors, magnetic bezels, and hardware switches to cut access to the microphone and camera. It remains easy to upgrade and replace parts, including socketed RAM and storage, as well as QR codes that link to repair guides.
There are a few differences. The biggest is actually that the keyboard layout on Chromebooks differs from what you find on a typical Windows laptop. For instance, there are longer Control and Alt keys, which means there are longer cutouts. It's unclear what kinds of options Framework will offer to customize that layout.
Additionally, Framework says that battery optimizations from Google and Intel should provide for even longer battery life. That's good, because we found that the Windows version had middling battery life.
The Chromebook will also use Google's Titan C security chip, and the company claims the laptop will get automatic updates for "up to eight years."
I see this laptop as a great possibility for schools. Changing out mainboards every few years for more ChromeOS updates will likely save school districts from buying new fleets of laptops. That being said, those same school districts may have bulk deals with companies like HP, Dell or Microsoft. While Framework has proven itself by making more than one generation of its flagship product, it's not exactly a well-known entity, especially outside of the enthusiast tech space.
We haven't tested it, but having seen the latest Windows version, we have high hopes. Will as many DIYers want Chrome? Possibly, especially for those who want simplicity or are handing a device to a kid. But there’s no arguing that $999 (to start) is a lot of money for a Chromebook when there are plenty of (admittedly far less repairable or powerful) options available less than a fifth of that price.