Jacen's Framework 16 Review

A few years ago when I first heard of Framework and their 13” laptop, there were a couple notable dealbreakers for me. First, I had fairly recently purchased a laptop, and it was still running well enough that I wasn't in the market for a replacement. Second, it was missing two features that I really need in my laptops: a dedicated GPU and a number pad.

Fast-forward about two years later, when Framework announced the Framework 16, a laptop that checked basically every box I could imagine. The only question is, did it actually live up to my hype?

For reference, my daily driver laptop for the past four years has been the 2019 HP Omen 15, so that's the laptop I'll be most directly comparing the Framework to. Also, to get an idea of what I was getting myself into, I watched the LTT, Just Josh, and Hardware Canucks reviews on the Framework 16, as well as the iFixit teardown. I also watched the Level1Techs review, which came out after I received and set up my Framework.

I purchased the DIY edition for increased customization as well as to save a few bucks. I went with the Ryzen 7840HS with 32GB of RAM and the GPU module. I also populated both of the M.2 slots, one with a Western Digital 2230 SSD from Framework's shop, and one with a Crucial 2280 SSD I purchased elsewhere.

Build Experience

I didn't have the motivation to look up the official guide when I was putting together the Framework 16, so I went in with my only point of reference being the iFixit teardown. In spite of that, putting it together was extremely easy, taking less than 10 minutes to complete. The included screwdriver is a pretty nice touch, although for future upgrades and maintenance I'll probably just stick with my iFixit toolkit.

The modular I/O slots in and out very easily, although the slot compatibility matrix makes choosing your loadout a bit of a puzzle. While I appreciate that there's a technical reason for it being the way it is, it does raise the barrier to entry for less technical users.

When fully assembled, the Framework is a little heavy, but it's honestly not that much heavier than the Omen was. It is also a little bit large, and it's a bit of a tight fit to throw into my backpack. I imagine it would fit a lot more comfortably if I had gone with the expansion bay shell module instead of the GPU.


One of the complaints I saw from a few people was about the lid flex. Handling the Framework with a reasonable amount of force, I didn't notice any issues with the screen flexing to any extreme degree no matter where I handled it. I have to assume that the reviewers that complained of this issue were using an amount of force that is beyond what I would consider to be a reasonable amount.

The screen on the Framework 16 is, of course, bigger than the screen of the Omen 15. That said, the size difference feels a lot bigger than it probably actually is, almost certainly owed to the higher resolution and the 16:10 aspect ratio.

I don't do any work that requires my screen to be super color accurate, nor do I really have an eye for those kinds of details, but the screen on the Framework looks a lot more vibrant than the Omen that I'm used to, so at the very least you can be sure things will look fine right out of the box.


Another common complaint of the Framework 16 was the keyboard flex. Framework did modify the design to add some extra supports to the midplate to combat this, although I am not 100% sure if mine came with this modification already installed. Regardless, the keyboard felt more than sufficient for me personally. While the keyboard does flex visibly when I press down on it, it doesn't affect the typing experience in any noticeable way for me.

If I were to nitpick, it would be nice if the number pad module backlight was able to sync with the keyboard backlight rather than needing to be adjusted separately. Another even more nitpickier complaint is the lack of a numberlock indicator. That was a common point of frustration for me with the Omen that I imagine I'll continue to run into with the Framework.


The touchpad is larger than anything I've personally used on a laptop. The feel is quite nice, and the Windows Precision driver always elevates any touchpad experience. The modular nature also means you can experiment with different positions and choose the one that works best for you, which is also really cool.

I thought I would miss having discrete buttons on the touchpad, but it turned out to quickly be a non-issue. If anything, it turned out to be a positive; I had an issue on the Omen where I would occasionally drift too far to the right and accidentally use the right-click when I didn't mean to, which is much more difficult to do with the Framework touchpad design.

A downside of the modularity is the gaps caused by the touchpad spacers, which have caught my skin a few times in the short time I've used it. It isn't enough to hurt, or even be annoying, but it is enough to occasionally remind you that they're there. Additionally, the transition between the keyboard and the top of the touchpad module is a sharp edge, rather than a rounded one, which, again, may occasionally catch the skin of your fingers.

Other Notes

If you want proper performance benchmarks, there are plenty of reviews that can give you objective numbers, so I'll leave that to them. For whatever it's worth, the Framework 16 is plenty responsive and performant for what I need it to do on a daily basis.

I was a little concerned about acoustics, but I spend most of the time with my laptop wearing noise-cancelling headphones, so I probably shouldn't have worried. For the times when I'm not, the fans can get pretty loud, but they're also less shrill than the fans I'm used to hearing with the Omen, so the noise is a bit more tolerable.


First-gen products tend to have early adopter issues, and I was kind of expecting to find some of those based on the early reviews. However, even though there are a few issues that could be smoothed out, the Framework 16 is an extremely solid laptop for real-world day-to-day use. It is still early days, and there's time for teething issues to pop up, but I can at least feel confident that any issues, be them hardware or software, can be fixed, and that's not something you can say about just any laptop.

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