A year ago, we were cautious about Framework’s promises. Today, we were able to upgrade our laptop, which we had never done (except changes to SSD, Wi-Fi or RAM). Step by step, we make you experience the upgrade of our Laptop Framework.
After unpacking and assembling the Laptop Framework, then testing the machine, here is a third chapter: we have upgraded our laptop by changing its motherboard. As a reminder, this PC made a lot of noise when it was released. And for good reason, this system is meant to be both upgradeable and durable at the same time, allowing you to buy and replace almost any individual component if one stops working properly, or if you want to upgrade some. rooms.
The Framework Laptop is surprisingly easy to assemble and fun to customize. We also saw that, despite its youth, it wasn’t a bad laptop. Although there were a few gripes in our test, we were won over by its performance, its screen and above all its ingenious design. From now on, we pass a second stage with the leveling of the machine. So we received a kit, a new motherboard with an Intel Core i5-1240P processor, which can be bought for just over 400 euros.
Of course, that’s not what ordinary people will do. Indeed, we don’t change processors every year… But here, it’s an exercise in projection. What happens if a few years after buying my laptop, I want to upgrade it.
Armed with a detailed step-by-step online guide, we set out to remove the motherboard that came with our original Framework Laptop and replace it with the upgrade kit. Our original laptop came with an 11th generation chip, so it’s a generational upgrade.
This upgrade kit was lent to us by Framework, along with the laptop that served as the patient here
We change the motherboard and the processor
If a single part breaks, even the screen or keyboard, the chassis is designed to be opened or disassembled so you can remove and replace just that part. Each component includes a QR code so one can scan, to find information or purchase a charging part. That’s not all, these changes are much easier than on your traditional laptop.
Plus, even the connectors come in the form of modules that plug into slots in the chassis, allowing you to change which ports you have and where.
In short, here everything is simpler, we equipped ourselves with a T5 torx screwdriver, and that’s it. You don’t need anything else. It is a screwdriver that is provided when buying the machine, but it can be found everywhere on the web, from 5 to 15 euros on Amazon.
If you want to upgrade a laptop’s processor, it’s tied to the motherboard, and in almost all laptops it’s impossible. In the case of the Framework Laptop, you need the 12th generation upgrade kit which is a motherboard with the processor already installed (and hidden under the heat pipes). This motherboard is about half the size of the chassis, the other part being occupied by the battery.
We were sent the kit with the Intel Core i5-1240P. The latter contains 12 cores in total (four performance cores and eight power-efficiency cores) with support for up to 16 concurrent processing threads. The P-core and E-core format is intrinsic to the 12th generation “Alder Lake” architecture.
Upgrade kits also come with a new top case, it makes it feel like a new laptop. We haven’t installed it yet, it’s obviously optional here.
Changing the motherboard in a desktop computer is already impressive when you are not used to it. For a laptop, it’s even more intimidating, because everything is more compact and small. First of all, the Framework guide is very complete, with photos and videos associated with each step. They estimate between 10 and 20 minutes the time of the operation, which is largely feasible for a connoisseur, rather count 30 minutes the first time.
Thus, you have to unscrew the five screws under the case, turn the computer over and remove the upper part with the keyboard and touchpad. After disconnecting a small tablecloth, we have direct access to the motherboard and the battery. Then you will have to remove all the connection cables: webcam, battery, screen, speakers and so on. It’s relatively easy, everything is planned to make it simple.
The audio cable (in blue in the photo above) was the most finicky to unplug due to its shape, a small ribbon cable that goes into an equally small slot, with an ultra-thin flip tab that locks it in place in place.
The next step is to remove the Wi-Fi card, RAM and M.2 SSD storage. We recover all these components to reuse them on the new motherboard. If you want to take advantage of it to increase storage or the amount of RAM, now is the time. Finally, remember to back up your SSD data before changing it… Otherwise, you will struggle to access it.
The motherboard is held to the chassis by five screws, always torx T5, which are unscrewed. We take care of the tablecloths then we gently lift the motherboard. Everything is done simply, once again. Then, we take the new motherboard and we redo each step in reverse. Thus, we screw the motherboard to the chassis, we reconnect the battery, the tablecloths, the components… All this finished, we were able to screw back the last five screws fixing the upper part with the keyboard.
Make sure that the Wi-Fi module cables have been put back in place properly before screwing the bracket back on. These are the white and black cables on the right side of the motherboard (pictured below).
The Framework Laptop booted and loaded Windows 11 easily, booting just took longer than usual. We had to enter a security key because we had configured our Windows session to protect our data in the event of a major component change.
The PC immediately recognized the 12th generation processor. Framework also provided a new set of Windows 11 drivers, we had downloaded these drivers beforehand.
A key performance upgrade?
As explained above, going from the 11th generation to the 12th generation is not exactly what you have in mind when you buy a Framework Laptop. We will rather wait a few generations for economic and ecological reasons.
But, it is clear that the 12ᵉ generation of Intel is a significant performance leap. It remains a laptop processor, which we will compare to the Apple M2 chip in the MacBook Air.
|Framework Laptop with Intel Core i5-1240P (12e)||Framework Laptop with Intel Core i5-1135G7|
|GeekBench 5 Single-Core||1414 dots||1237 dots|
|GeekBench 5 Multi-Core||7541 dots||4136 dots|
|Cinebench R23 Single-Core||1479 dots||1325 dots|
|Cinebench R23 Multi-Core||8530 dots||5866 dots|
The performance cores are further supported by the more power efficient cores. The difference in synthetic benchmarks is noticeable, as you can see above. In practice, for office automation, this performance difference will probably not be felt.
Since the motherboards have the same design, we end up with the same weak points as those of our Laptop Framework test. Active cooling becomes too noisy and inefficient. It’s the exact opposite of the MacBook Air M2. Overall, it’s a laptop that has no major flaws and that we recommend. As you’ll see, it doesn’t have the best price-performance ratio, but unfortunately that’s the price to pay for scalability.
You would agree that the Laptop Framework will come into its own if and when you can upgrade from 11th Gen to, say, a future 13th or 14th Gen motherboard. Thus, we continue to believe that the laptop and its scalability are a success, hoping that the Framework business will also be successful and endure over time.
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