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Framework's new upgradeable 16-inch notebook features a new take on modular graphics

By Kenny Yeo - on 24 Mar 2023, 11:26am

Framework's new upgradeable 16-inch notebook features a new take on modular graphics

The new Framework 16 (Image source: Framework)

Never heard of Framework? It's a new company whose speciality is upgradeable notebooks. Before you dismiss that as some sort of a pipe dream, the company already has an upgradeable 13-inch notebook in the market – that's unimaginatively called the Framework Laptop 13.

The new notebook is called the Framework Laptop 16 and apart from having a larger display, it is also designed to be more powerful but just as upgradeable.

The thing that most users want to upgrade in a gaming notebook is its graphics and the Framework Laptop 16 accomplishes that with something called the Expansion Bay. Essentially, the rear of the notebook features a module that can be swapped.

According to Framework, the possibilities are numerous. Apart from the obvious graphics modules, you can also expand storage with a dual M.2 SSD card that adds a whopping 16TB.

(Image source: Framework)

To enable this, Framework has developed its own high-power bi-directional PCIe interface that's based on PCIe x8. The company would make this interface open source so that third-party developers may create modules for it such as card readers, video capture devices, AI accelerators, and more.

And while all of this customisability sounds exciting, Framework didn't say if NVIDIA and AMD are on board. Notebooks with upgradable graphics aren't new, we've had MXM GPU modules for years. But poor support, high costs, and a general lack of availability combined to doom the platform. It'll be interesting to see Framework will be able to change this.

Anyway, moving on, the ports you have are also customisable and upgradeable using the notebook's Expansion Card system. There are three expansion card slots on each side which gives users the flexibility not only to choose what kind of ports they want but even their placement.

 The Framework Laptop 16's Input Module system in action. (Image source: Framework)

The keyboard and trackpad are customisable too thanks to its Input Module system. Don't like number pads? Sure, don't have one. And if you are left-handed, you can even align the trackpad to the left. You can even add secondary displays too.

Again, the design of the Input Module system is open source, so third-party developers can create their own modules like jog wheels, haptics sliders, and more.


Availability and pricing

The Framework Laptop 16 will start shipping later this year. Pre-orders will open soon but pricing has yet to be determined.

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