The Evolution of the Framework Laptop DIY Edition

Jun 03 2021
by Nirav Patel
Framework Laptop with parts and packaging around

Like a Jedi assembles their own lightsaber, a PC enthusiast at some point needs the opportunity to build their own PC. Historically that has been limited to desktops. We knew with the modularity of the Framework Laptop that we could bring that experience to notebooks. We decided to create a gaming PC-like experience with the Framework Laptop DIY Edition where you can choose from a broader array of modules and operating systems and assemble them together yourself. If any of this sounds daunting, we have pre-built Framework Laptop options that are ready to use out of the box, like any other consumer notebook.

When we initially developed the DIY Edition, the plan was to deliver the product to your doorstep packaged as individual modules. It quickly became apparent that there were two major flaws with this plan. The first is that it takes way more packaging material and physical space to safely ship a kit of parts individually packed than the same set of modules pre-assembled into the shape of a notebook. The second is that, incredibly enough, notebooks can ship from China to the US with no added tariffs, but almost all of the modules individually would be stuck with huge import duties. As a result of both of these, we’re shipping the DIY Edition packaged as a partially-assembled laptop. The memory, storage, WiFi, and Expansion Cards are the parts that will be individually packaged during shipment.

There is still a super easy way to get the original DIY Edition experience if you want it though. As soon as you unbox your Framework Laptop DIY Edition, you can use the Framework Screwdriver included in the box to quickly pull the system apart into the major modules and then assemble it back together. To do this you can follow the steps below, which we’ll be publishing a teardown guide around with photos too:

1 — Open up the Framework Laptop

Unscrew the five fasteners on the bottom of the system (These are captive, meaning they actually stay attached to the cover when loosened, rather than falling out. Convenient!)

unscrewing the bottom of the laptop and opening up the laptop from the top

2 — Remove the Input Cover

a. With the system right-side up, open the lid to around 120 degrees. You can then lift up the Input Cover from the front right corner gently, as the Touchpad Cable is connected to the Mainboard.

b. As you look under the cover, you can see the pull tab (highlighted with an orange sticker) to disconnect the Touchpad Cable from the mainboard. Gently pull up the pull tab to disconnect the cable.

removing the top input cover and pulling the tab off that's inside the laptop

3 — Take out the Mainboard

a. First, unplug the cables that are plugged into the Mainboard: the display cable, camera cable, audio board cable, and battery cable.

b. Remove the five fasteners that hold the Mainboard in. Gently lift the Mainboard out of the system, using the spudger on the backside of the screwdriver if needed.

unplugging cables and uscrewing screws that's holding the mainboard down in the laptop

Someone removing the mainboard from the laptop.

4 — Take off the Bezel

a. Lift up one of the top corners of the magnetically attached Bezel and pull it away from the lid assembly gently. Note that there are small strips of reusable adhesive along the bottom edge, so be especially careful when lifting that area away.

removing a black bezel from the laptop

That’s what we originally planned for DIY, but you can keep taking it apart further if you want! Now you can follow the assembly instructions to reassemble, add your memory, storage, and WiFi, install your OS, and get going with your Framework Laptop. That’s the full DIY Edition experience. Enjoy!

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