Framework Laptop prices go as low as $639 thanks to refurbs and “factory seconds” – Ars Technica

Enlarge / The Framework Laptop 13, with Framework’s gear logo on the lid.

Andrew Cunningham

Part of Framework’s sales pitch is that the company’s modular laptops are a (somewhat) more sustainable, responsible alternative to buying a hermetically sealed and non-upgradeable model from one of the big PC makers. The company has attempted to encourage reuse and recycling by offering refurbished models and 3D-printable cases for repurposing laptop motherboards as tiny desktop computers.

Earlier this month, the company took another step in that direction, opening up a Framework Outlet section in its online marketplace to sell refurbished products and things that have been returned by their original buyers. The company is also expanding its “factory seconds” offerings—it previously offered some 11th-gen Core i5 Framework Laptop motherboards this way, but that’s now expanded to Core i7 motherboards and some complete Framework Laptop models built with bodies and screens that have minor manufacturing defects.

“With the excess displays we received from the factory, we found a subtle cosmetic defect on some of them,” wrote Framework CEO Nirav Patel. “There is a wavy pattern and backlight non-uniformity that is visible from certain angles. Because of this, we’re calling these systems “B-Stock” and pricing them even lower than our 11th Gen refurbs. As always, you can upgrade any part of the system including the display using parts from the Framework Marketplace whenever you need to.”

The Core i7-1165G7 version of these laptops starts at $639, $40 less than the regular refurbished edition of the same system and $40 more than the refurbished edition of the Core i5-1135G7 laptop. A factory second version of the Core i7-1185G7 laptop is $759, $140 less than the refurbished version.

These are all DIY Edition laptops, meaning you’ll need your own RAM, SSD, expansion cards, and Wi-Fi card, and you’ll need to be comfortable following Framework’s assembly instructions. They also include the standard 55 WHr battery and not the larger 61 WHr version that Framework introduced earlier this year. All laptops have a standard one-year warranty, though the warranty doesn’t cover the cosmetic defects that caused these to be classified as “factory seconds” in the first place.

According to Patel, offering its discounts mainly by pointing buyers toward refurbished and B-stock products is an alternative to offering limited-time deals like the ones you’d see on (the now-unending, November-spanning) Black Friday, Prime Day, or other real or invented shopping holidays.

Intel’s 11th-generation processors have been thoroughly surpassed by newer models from Intel and AMD at this point, but it’s still more than good enough for everyday browsing, office work, light photo editing, and other general-purpose laptop-y things. And the modular nature of Framework’s laptops means that in a couple of years, when your needs start to eclipse the CPU’s capabilities, you’ll have some upgrade options waiting for you that don’t require you to throw out the entire laptop and start again.

We’ve reviewed both current-generation versions of the Framework Laptop 13: the 13th-generation Intel Core version and the still-new AMD Ryzen version. Both offer a substantial step up in CPU performance compared to the old 11th-gen Core version, but only the Ryzen edition has upgraded integrated graphics performance. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to go for a new model, or to save some money by buying something older.


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