A Gloriously Fixable Laptop, Pt. 2

Anyone with a screwdriver can upgrade a Framework laptop — tossing in a faster processor

Clive Thompson
5 min readOct 22


A Framework laptop, with its lid off and its interiors exposed, sitting on a teal-blue table, while a hand holds a motherboard part in preparation for installing it on the machine
via Framework

Two years ago, I published a blog post entitled “A Gloriously Fixable Laptop”. It was in praise of the recently-released laptops by the new tech firm Framework.

They were delightfully easy to repair and upgrade. Each machine had been engineered so that nearly anyone could pop it open and replace a busted component: Parts were labeled crisply, sockets gave way with a mere tug.

I loved it! As I wrote …

The laptop … ships with its own screwdriver (!), straightforwardly encouraging you to open it up. Remove the back casing, and le voilà: You behold all the laptop’s components cleanly arranged and easy to pop out. Framework even labels each part (and its slot) with the component’s name and a QR code. This makes it almost unsettlingly easy to fix your laptop — or, better yet, to upgrade it. Three years from now, if you want a faster processor, better screen, better camera? Pop the old part out and slide a new one in.

For years, I’d been hoping that laptop-makers would move in this direction. Alas, they’d done the opposite: Made laptops ever-skinnier, cramming components in hard-to-repair configurations, including sometimes attaching them with glue (so you risked destroying the component when you tried to fix it).

Basically, laptop-makers didn’t want you fixing your device. They wanted the sweet, sweet profits that flow from planned obsolescence: At the first sign of trouble, you junk your existing machine and buy a new one. I’m struggling with this problem now! My 2017 Mac Powerbook has a 1 Terabyte hard drive that’s almost full — and I can’t put upgrade to a bigger internal one because the SSD is soldered to the motherboard. Thanks, Apple!

It probably needs no saying, but this un-repairability causes tons and tons of e-waste — machines being hurled in the trash when something trivial breaks.

So this is why I was so thrilled to see Framework. They planted a flag in the ground: A laptop could be skinny, powerful, relatively affordable for those specs, and easy to repair and upgrade. Everything contrary we’d been told by laptop-makers was BS.



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”. @clive@saturation.social clive@clivethompson.net