Framework Is Selling Mainboards Separately for Crazy Maker Projects

Framework Laptop DIY Edition
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Framework, which launched its modular, upgradeable laptop last year, is now selling its most important part separately on its marketplace: the mainboard. And while this could allow you to upgrade a Framework Laptop, the company is also open-sourcing a bunch of 3D printing and electrical information so that you could make your own projects out of it.

In a blog post on Framework's site earlier this week, founder Nirav Patel showed off a 3D-printed case (in an eye-popping orange color) that it would be providing instructions for to make the mainboard a single-board computer (something akin to a Raspberry Pi).

The mainboards are shipping today in the United States and Canada and are soon coming to the UK and other countries across Europe "soon." However, the processors are still limited to the three 11th Gen Intel mobile chips. The cheapest board with a Core i5-1135G7 costs $399, while a Core i7-1165G7 runs $549, and a Core i7-1185G7 is $799. And that's all before the rest of the parts you'll need!

Like the DIY version of the laptop, you'll need to add memory and storage for the project. You can use a USB Type-C charger or buy a battery from the marketplace. Hopefully, Framework will soon update the mainboard to 12th Gen Intel processors, and perhaps even some AMD Ryzen or Arm options.

Orange 3D printed case for Framework mainboard

(Image credit: Framework)

Everything you need to make a weird little computer of your own is in a Github repository. It includes 2D images of the mainboard for designing your own accessories and a CAD file for printing that sample case (though I suppose you could choose a more boring color.) There's also a bunch of electrical documentation.

This move could potentially lead to some far-out computer projects. Of course, some hobbyists didn't wait for Framework's open-sourcing to get started. Back in November, a YouTuber made a 60% mechanical keyboard with a Framework mainboard inside, including four modular ports.

Since the Framework's Laptop launch, the company has been slowly adding parts to its marketplace for repair, upgrades and straight-up hacking the PC to make it what you want it to be. They include displays, bottom cases, speaker kits, new keyboards, touchpads and more. 

Me? I'm hoping someone finds a way to turn this into a NUC-like PC and hook it up to a graphics card. A guy can dream. 

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon