Come get on the Framework bus with me and bag yourself an 11th Gen 13-incher for just $499

Framework Laptop 12th Gen upgrade
(Image credit: Future)

I may be sat in front of my RTX 4090-toting desktop gaming PC, but I felt I had to whip out my Framework 13 laptop to tap out this story about the fact you can now buy one of these outstanding lappies for just $499. That's a great price for one of the best small form factor laptops around right now. There are obvious caveats to that significant discount, but it all plays into the ethos of Framework, and why I'm more than happy to support what it's doing.

There are many reasons why I'm a big fan of what Framework does as a laptop manufacturer, and this latest update is just another. For one, it allows you to carry out complete repairs and upgrades on your own notebook with just a single supplied Torx screwdriver, and for another, it doesn't just bury its last-gen hardware in the likes of Amazon's faintly dodgy, overpriced backroom stores.

One of the benefits of the upgradeability of the Framework 13 system is that it can still sell off its older components, sometimes in bundles like this, for a significant discount and you can be safe in the knowledge that if you want to upgrade down the line the full Framework marketplace is open to you.

The $499 Framework 13 on offer is a "Factory Seconds" laptop using the original Intel-based Core i7-1165G7 mainboards. That's an 11th Gen Tiger Lake chip, with four cores and eight threads, with a 96 EU Iris Xe iGPU inside it. Framework describes what it means by that laptop classification: "Factory Seconds laptops are new systems that use excess parts. Rather than scrapping this material, we combine it with new parts, run it through our normal factory tests, and make the resulting laptops available at greatly reduced prices."

This cheapest option is classed as a B-stock device, which means the system has an original display (presumably my preferred glossy 2256x1504 panel) but it will have slight cosmetic issues. That could include "fine lines on the surface that are noticeable from a certain angle and/or backlight non-uniformity visible from an angle on a white screen."

If you wanted the same version but rated as an A-stock (one that contains the newer matte display with no cosmetic issues) that would set you back $679 instead. Framework has also announced refurbished versions of its latest 13th Gen models, with a Core i5 1340P DIY Framework 13 costing just $779.

Framework 13 Intel 13th Gen mainboard upgrade

(Image credit: Future)

The other thing to note here about that pricing is the $499 tag doesn't include the USB Type-C power adapter, or RAM, storage, OS, or expansion cards for the various I/O options. But those are all available from Framework's own Marketplace store, though you could probably find cheaper DDR4 and SSD options via Amazon.

This is one of the great things about the Framework 13, you can easily upgrade it thanks to a handful of captive screws and some smartly placed magnets. And that Framework 13 design is supported all the way up through Intel 12th and 13th Gen mainboards as well as now AMD Ryzen 7 7040-series boards. The one I'm typing on right now started life as an 11th Gen machine and I've upgraded it through the years via Intel and into its current Ryzen 7 7840U state.

And I love it for that.

Your next machine

Gaming PC group shot

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming PC: The top pre-built machines.
Best gaming laptop: Great devices for mobile gaming.

I would recommend the Framework 13 laptop to anyone after a quality little machine and the only thing that I'm not loving some years down the line, and now with the AMD iGPU power to game on it, is the screen's response time. While the 16:10 panel—especially in its glossy trim—is bright, colourful, and vibrant, it's only a 60 Hz display and it does come with some heavy ghosting issues in games. I'm really hoping for a high refresh rate, and speedy response time display as one of Framework's next upgrade offerings.

Another feather in the Framework cap is that it's also all about empowering people to develop toys for their Framework machines, too. As well as uploading docs about the Framework 16's internals on GitHub, it has also listed details about the expansion bay and input modules on there, so smarter people than I can play about with them. In that spirit, it has also listed job lots of 20 DisplayPort expansion card shells in packs so developers can pull them apart and make their own expansion cards for the Framework machines.

They're broken DP cards that, rather than leave to rot in a warehouse, the company is offering out for folk to play with. For a price, obvs. but I'm still into the whole waste not, want not vibe.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.