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Prime Computer Launches PrimeBook Circular Modular Laptop

PrimeBook Circular modular laptop
(Image credit: Prime Computer)

Prime Computer of Switzerland has launched a new laptop called the PrimeBook Circular, heralding the new laptop as being modular and "100% climate neutral." The PrimeBook appears to have some quality build choices; its chassis, screen, input devices, and so on appear to be premium in nature. This is important as these aren't upgradeable parts. However, the processor (Intel Tiger Lake), RAM, and Wi-Fi solution all live in an easily replaceable module that's about the size of a 2.5 inch SSD.

(Image credit: Prime Computer)

You may feel there is something familiar about the PrimeBook Circular, and that is because it appears to be a Prime Computer-branded version of the Intel NUC P14E whitebook design. The specs of the host laptop match, as does the replaceable modularity. Though it isn't mentioned in the press release or official product pages, the video below includes a short section that confirms the PrimeBook relies on Intel NUC 11 Compute Element modules. Moreover, the three PrimeBook SKUs align with three of the available NUC 11 Compute Element modules you can see in the Intel Ark.

Prime Computer brings some of its green and sustainable ethos to this laptop design, making it more than just a rebrand. For example, Prime Computer will offset the average 408kg of CO2 used when manufacturing this device to make the product "carbon neutral." It is also setting up a program to repurchase and repurpose the modules which you no longer want/need, as and when you upgrade.

Before going on to look at the module specs you can choose, let us have a look at the rest of the Prime specs which, if you buy in, you will have to live with for multiple processor generations.

Starting from the outside, the laptop body is made of CNCed anodized aluminum. Inside this sturdy frame are a 13.9 inch IPS touch screen with 3000 x 2000 pixels with 100% sRGB coverage and a max brightness of 400 nits. There's an HD webcam in the bezel that supports IR for Windows Hello.

On the other side of the clamshell, you will find a backlit keyboard (various layouts are available for your language/region) underlined by a large glass surface touchpad, and there's a fingerprint reader too.

A decent set of ports is available on this thin (34 x 23 x 1.6cm) and light (1.5kg) design. It has HDMI 2.0b, Mini DisplayPort 1.4a, Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 via Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5mm stereo jack. There are built-in speakers and a mic too, naturally. Users will be able to fast charge the laptop, or rather its 77Whr battery, via a 65W USB-C power supply.

PrimeBook Circular Compute Element Specs

CPU

Core i7-1165G7

Core i5-1135G7

Celeron 6305

Properties

4C/8T 11th gen processor runs at up to 4.7 GHz. Has Intel Xe iGPU. Accompanied by 16GB RAM and Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 & BT 5.2

4C/8T 11th gen processor runs at up to 4.2 GHz. Has Intel Xe iGPU. Accompanied by 8GB RAM and Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 & BT 5.2

2C/2T 11th gen processor runs at up to 1.8 GHz. Has Intel UHD graphics. Accompanied by 4GB RAM and Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 & BT 5.2

The above RAM amounts specified above are fixed, as the module has soldered RAM and no spare slot. Prime Computer's configurator also lets you choose the keyboard, storage (single M.2 slot) of none, 250GB, 500GB, or 1TB, as well as OS of none, Ubuntu, Windows 10 or 11. Going through the configurator and submitting your choices will precipitate an email, presumably with availability and pricing info. We don't have that information right now.

(Image credit: Prime Computer)

On the surface, the modules don't seem entirely green or sustainable, especially as they have non-upgradable RAM. However, Prime Computer's buy-back and resell idea helps gloss over that concern. Hopefully, the supporting structure/components will last long enough to stay serviceable long enough to last multiple Compute Element generations, and Intel will keep up with the production of these standard-sized compute blocks. Unfortunately, laptop components seem to age at different rates, though this sounds like a decent platform to settle with for a few years.

(Image credit: Intel)

The PrimeBook Circular provided some echoes of the Framework laptop project. However, Framework attacks the customization and e-waste reduction initiative from a different angle with its easy reparability and custom (USB-C) slot-in I/O modules. Our laptops editor reviewed the Framework design last summer, if you want to read more about this rival offering. More recently, we reported on the Marketplace for upgrades it launched and started up its Expansion Card Developers Program.

Mark Tyson
Mark Tyson

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • practicalbatman
    Admin said:
    Prime Computer promises that its new laptops can be upgraded with better current-gen and next-gen modules. The modules pack one of three Intel Tiger Lake CPUs, RAM, and Wi-Fi. Storage is easily upgraded by the user, separately.

    Prime Computer Launches PrimeBook Circular Modular Laptop : Read more

    TBH I opened this to see a round laptop and was disappointed.
    Reply