Review: Framework 16 laptop - after four weeks

After four weeks with my Framework 16, how am I finding it?

Cropped photo showing part of a laptop screen and part of its keyboard.  The laptop is on.

This post will be long, because I'm going to cover a lot of areas.  I've tried to organise the post into logical sections, so if there's a particular item of interest that should be easy enough to find.


Installing Ubuntu

After copying the Ubuntu installer to a USB stick (USB 3), I connected the stick to one of my USB A ports (good job I included some!) and ran the installer.  Installation was smooth, detecting my wireless card, storage and other hardware without any problems.  As far as I can tell, everything is working correctly and all the drivers are present.  My Framework 16 is running Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, which is an officially supported distribution on this hardware.

Battery life & power

In one test I'd been running on battery for just over two hours, writing blog posts and working in my email.  I then switched to playing Terraria, and must have been playing that on the dedicated GPU for at least 40 minutes before I was prompted to connect my charger as the battery had reached 20%.  While Terraria isn't the most taxing of games graphically, it was still using the power hungry dedicated GPU (graphics processing unit) so I'd say that was impressive.

After seeing reports online that the battery drained while plugged in if you were performing processor or graphics intensive tasks I wanted to see how that impacted me.  I put my laptop in performance mode and started playing Satisfactory with a full battery.  By the end of roughly two hours my battery was down to 32% despite being plugged in.  The workaround for this is to run the laptop in balanced mode, which would have been fine for me in terms of game and graphics performance.

At one point while writing this blog post (light system usage, balanced power mode) I'd had my Framework 16 powered on for just over 2.25 hours, starting from almost a full battery.  After that time my battery is at 53% and Ubuntu estimates I have 3 hours 10 minutes remaining.  By comparison, my work Dell Latitude 5520 has just over two hours of battery life in comparable use.

I have noticed that the charger, which has a removable USB-C to USB-C cable can be temperamental if I use the straight end to connect with the charger "brick".  I need to follow that up with support.  As a workaround I've been plugging the right angled connector into the "brick" instead, but at over £2,600 for this kit I'd expect the charger to be robust and correctly functioning.


What can I say?  It works!  I've connected my Soundcore A3i earbuds, Soundcore Q30 headphones, and Keychron K8 Pro keyboard without any issues.  For my audio devices the Bluetooth range seems to be good and on par with my other devices.

Firmware updates

From the factory I had firmware version 3.02 (which shows in the Ubuntu firmware updater as  Version 3.03 was available, and I was going to get round to installing it from a memory stick, but Ubuntu helpfully popped up a notification telling me new firmware was available.  I instructed firmware updater to perform the update, rebooted when prompted, and following the update I was running 3.03 ( without problems.  That was much smoother than I expected 🙂.

Screenshot showing a window titled "Firmware Updater".  There is a list of hardware down the left with "system firmware" selected.  On the right are details of the system firmware version, with a green button saying "update to latest".

Fingerprint reader

I've had a mixed experience with finger print readers on laptops, and my HP ProBook 450 G6 regularly doesn't detect my finger properly.  For the Framework 16 (and 13), the fingerprint reader is in the power button.  Ubuntu detected the fingerprint reader correctly (firmware updater looks like it'll be able to update the firmware too) without any intervention from me, and I was able to add fingerprints.

I don't particularly like the Ubuntu / Gnome interface for adding finger prints, as there's not much feedback to tell you that the print was registered until it suddenly says complete.  Other implementations, e.g. Android, tell you to press again so different positions of your finger are detected.  No such detail on Ubuntu.  That's not Framework's fault of course!

Logging in to the laptop by fingerprint will present the desktop but prompt the user to enter their password to unlock their keychain (saved passwords etc.).  Unlocking a locked screen by fingerprint works fine.  In both cases, reading the fingerprint seems to be quick.

Gaming performance

While sadly my primary computing use isn't gaming, the ability to game is important to me - I'm a social gamer.  Previously I've always had (at least) two computers - a gaming PC and a laptop - to ensure I get good gaming performance.  My goal with the Framework 16 was to be able to game on the go and remove the need for two devices, consolidating onto just the Framework 16 [1].  I have a lot of games in my Steam library, so I'm going to focus on the two I play most at the moment.


On my previous gaming PC, despite its upgrades over the years, was only getting 21 frames per second (FPS) which playing Satisfactory.  I hadn't realised at first, and just thought the shaky nature of the game was due to it being early access and the fact I was gaming on Linux.

I think "wow" describes my first experience of playing on my Framework 16.  Running Satisfactory on the dedicated GPU I was getting in excess of 80 FPS with the laptop in performance mode.  My graphics settings were on ultra automatically, and it's amazing what a difference that makes.  I could see extra detail in my buildings and the terrain, plus there were extras like an increase in the number of leaves blowing around.  Despite playing with someone else ("hi Tom!") I must have spent a good five or ten minutes just wandering around and testing out my new hardware.

In the screenshot below I'm looking into a hypertube.  On my previous setup I was able to do the same, but the level of detail around the entrance was much smaller, and looking through the sides looked more like a waxy plastic.  Now I can see a sort of lensing effect through the sides, and it's more like looking through glass.

The view down a hypertube.  It looks like many circles stacked and getting smaller into the distance.  There are gaps between the circles that get smaller the further away they get.

This was also the first time I'd ever been conscious of the fact my character was wearing a space suit and helmet just based on what I could see while walking around (obviously I knew about the space suit because sometimes you can see yourself).  In the right lighting conditions I can now see scratches on the visor of my helmet, and, as shown below, I can see "sun spots" as light refracts off dust on the visor.

Screenshot from the game showing a sun in the sky.  The around the sun there appear to be dots of varying size caused by light refracting off dust.

If I enabled the new lumen settings, which aim to make light act more naturally, I get a drop in frame rate but light certainly seems more natural.  This isn't a setting I'm massively worried about at the moment, and as it's still experimental in Satisfactory I'll keep it off for now.

I tested switching to the integrated GPU (i.e. I removed the dedicated graphics module and installed the expansion bay shell) and was still getting 50+ frames per second.


This is an important game as it's one my 12 year old and I play quite regularly, so it was really important that I'd got that working very early on.  Terraria is less graphically intensive, and seemed to work just fine.  I did have to change the user interface scaling though, as everything was reeeaaalllly small!

Hardware durability & changes

While a bit early to make a lot of judgements on the hardware durability itself, it makes sense to comment after a brief period so as to reassure anyone considering a purchase.  So far I've not had any hardware issues, and you wouldn't expect to.

I have noticed that I get annoyed by my metal watch strap rubbing on the trackpad wrist rest.  Both being metal it makes a noise I don't like, and there's a risk I'll mark one or the other.  To help prevent damage I tend to remove my watch if using my Framework 16 keyboard for more than a few minutes.  There were a few marks at one point, but they seemed to wipe off easy enough.

When I installed the expansion bay shell, more to check it definitely fitted after some feedback I'd seen online, I noticed that it was much harder to install than the dedicated graphics module.  Keeping the expansion bay shell level seems to be key, along with making sure nothing gets caught (table cloth...).  Don't force the shell into place - if it won't go in then you need to start again.

I've changed the input deck layout a few times, mainly because I can and I'm sure that gammick will wear off eventually.  So far no issues with taking it apart / putting it back together.  Latches for both the input deck and the expansion slots still click reassuringly and stop the unit from falling apart.

On the expansion slots, there is a bit of left to right wiggle on the cards.  This does not appear to influence the connectivity (good), so is likely just manufacturing tolerance.  As I mentioned in my initial post about my Framework 16, I don't tend to wiggle laptop components day-to-day so this really isn't a problem.

Heat & fans

With my Framework 16 in performance mode, and while playing Satisfactory on ultra graphics settings, it's fair to say the laptop gets pretty warm!  In this configuration the fans are quite loud (not a huge problem for me, I game with headphones 🙂).  That said. given the problems with the battery being drained will the laptop is under high load and plugged in, I'm gaming with the laptop set to balanced mode.  According to the thermometer I sat next to the laptop I'm reaching 42° C while gaming.  The keyboard and trackpad "input deck" also gets warm.  Not painfully so, but it is noticeable.

In balanced mode for general usage I don't hear the fans that often.  I can tell the input deck is warmer than room temperature, but it's still comfortable to use.


I'm still getting used to the keyboard, specifically the non-present navigation cluster - I keep reaching to the right to use home or end.  Eventually I'll train my muscle memory to use Fn + right and Fn + left I'm sure.

While I still prefer a mechanical keyboard, the Framework 16's keyboard is quite pleasant to use.  I'd prefer the Fn key to be on the right rather than left, and it would be really helpful if the number pad had a num lock light so you could tell its state, but those are relatively minor gripes.

Key travel is enough that I can tell I've pressed a key (much nicer than a MacBook Pro's key travel!!) while not being too much that it feels like an effort to type.  My mechanical keyboards (brown switches) feel easier to type on, but the Framework 16's keyboard is at least as good as other laptops I've used, if not slightly better.

I haven't customised the keyboard (it runs the QMK firmware) yet and that's something I'd like to do to add my macros if possible.  I spent a few sessions with no number pad and a centred keyboard and trackpad.  There's quite a noticeable height gap between the spacers and the top grille - the spacer heights are aligned to the keyboard and not the rest of the laptop.  Hopefully you can see what I mean in the photo below.  Not a huge problem, but it does look a bit odd.  This "step up" is present when the keyboard and number pad are installed too (the gap runs all along the top), but it's less noticeable when the full-width board is installed.

Photo showing the left edge of a laptop keyboard.  To the left of the keyboard is a smooth black spacer, which has a pronounced step up above it.
With a spacer next to the keyboard, there is quite a step down from the rear grille to the spacer itself.

There's a keyboard backlight with three brightness stages, which is nice and wouldn't have been something I'd thought I appreciated years ago.  Unfortunately, due to the keyboard and the number pad being completely different keyboards, their backlights are not in sync.  Hopefully that's clear from the photo below (ignore the dust!), which shows the keyboard backlight on but the number pad backlight off.

Photo showing the keyboard backlight on, which a lit white outline around the keys, while the number pad is not lit.

Palm rejection & the trackpad

"Palm rejection" (in this case) is when the computer ignores instructions from the trackpad when the user is typing, stopping undesired mouse movements.  Palm rejection seems to work very well, something I particularly noticed when dropping into a game and then not being able to look around while moving forwards (I move using the keyboard and look around with the mouse, and rejection meant looking around was disabled).

Some people have complained about the trackpad, but personally I think it's fine.  Sometimes it doesn't stop scrolling when I take my fingers off the pad, but I haven't yet worked out if that's a setting in Ubuntu or the hardware itself.  I will need to look into that though, because it's quite annoying!  I keep managing to trigger the "pinch to zoom" mechanism at the moment too, so might have to turn that off.  Again, I don't know if that's a Framework issue or an Ubuntu one.

Processing power & RAM usage

With the exception of when I was trying to run Satisfactory with the renderer set to "DirectX 12" (use Vulkan) [2], I've not had any problems with processing power yet.  Most of the time I run using the balanced mode profile, which gets me a very good performance without additional impact on the battery.

The system monitor shows I have sixteen processor cores, and the graph looks amazing when the system is busy.  While just generally browsing (and writing this blog post), processor usage is very low

Line graph with sixteen lines of different colours.  There is a lot of variance (up and down) on each line, which shows processor usage over the last minute.  Beneath the graph are 16 coloured boxes labelled "CPU1" up to "CPU16" with their percentage utilisation.

I installed 64 GB of RAM (an amount of RAM I used to install in powerful servers back when I worked with infrastructure), and as yet I've not maxed that out.  My PC had 18 GB RAM which I thought was enough before, but as soon as I work with virtual machines and power up my whole lab, or run multiple Android emulators, I reach the limit.  Not expecting that problem here!


As I alluded to in my Framework 16 introduction post, the screen is amazing.  A few people have commented to me that the colours are really rich and well defined.  The 16:10 aspect ratio is something I'm not used to, but I quite like it.  I'm getting used to the resolution of 2560 x 1600 and am using the default scaling (100%).  Sometimes icons and text are a bit small, so I may have to increase the scaling, maybe even enabling "fractional scaling", although a quick test with 125% feels chunky and the picture isn't as sharp.

Adaptive brightness for the screen seems to be enabled by default and I'm still getting used to that.  Sometimes it can be a bit aggressive and change the brightness levels several times in a minute.

Photograph of the laptop with a photo of a multi-coloured lightbulb full screen.


As many others have commented, the speakers are OK but not great.  In fairness, that meets my expectations as I never expect thin speakers (laptops, phones) to be that great.  If I want to hear something in high fidelity I'll use headphones (like my Soundcore Q30).


Overall I remain very impressed with the Framework 16.  I know it's not perfect, and while I'd love a laptop at this price point to be perfect I didn't expect it to be.  I'll be keeping the laptop and have copied my data over to it so I can make it my main machine for the foreseeable future 🙂.

Banner image: Cropped photo of my powered on Framework 16.

[1] I still have a lot of computers though.  Ignoring "service devices" like the Raspberry Pi that runs HomeAssistant, I've got at least two other laptop form factor devices in regular use, plus my old PC to decommission.

[2] Running in DirectX 12 mode the whole laptop slowed right down, like moving through thick mud, and then the operating system logged me out!

Disclaimer: I bought this laptop with my own funds.  This review is not endorsed or sponsored by Framework in any way - they didn't know I was writing it.