Framework Laptop 16 review: A modular marvel, but a mediocre gaming laptop

I quickly realized that I didn’t like typing for very long on the left-aligned keyboard, so I removed everything and aligned the keyboard and trackpad to the center instead. Instead of bare metal spacers around the keyboard, I installed some customizable LED modules that exist mainly to look cool. It only took me two minutes. The keyboard, by the way, is nice to type on, with 1.5mm of key travel and a soft landing that eases my heavy typing. The trackpad is also smooth to the touch and has a responsive click. It’s so cool that I have to wonder how some Windows laptops still come with annoying touchpads — I’m looking at you, ZenBook 14 OLED.

There’s so much to love about the Framework Laptop 16 that I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a fairly average gaming machine, at least for its high price. Among numerous games and benchmarks, it matched NVIDIA’s RTX 4060 GPU with laptops, a card typically found in systems starting at around $1,000 (and sometimes less). Razer is still selling the Blade 16 for $2,500 (down from $2,699), though the frame isn’t completely out of the question. Remember, you’re not just paying for raw performance, you’re paying for the magic of customization.

Our review unit includes a Radeon GPU module, a Ryzen 7 chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, all of which will cost at least $2,144 to configure. (This doesn’t include the cost of expansion cards or additional input modules.) For that amount, I’d really like to see an average of more than 61fps while gaming. Halo Infinite At 1440p with ultra graphics settings. In Cyberpunk, I averaged 53 fps with max graphics and mid-range ray tracing settings. Both games performed better at 1080p – 85fps Hello and 76 fps Cyberpunk with the same settings – but again, these are usually only numbers I can tolerate on a budget gaming laptop.

As for the benchmarks, the Framework Laptop 16 scored 200 points less than the Razer Blade 18 with RTX 4060 in 3DMark’s TimeSpy Extreme. As always, the AMD GPU still lags in the Port Royal ray tracing demo. However, the Laptop 16 fared well in the broader PCMark 10 benchmark, which tests not only gaming but also productivity apps. The frame machine scored 8,129 points, among the fastest machines we saw last year (even beating the Blade 18, powered by a powerful Intel i9-13950HX CPU).

I’d like to see higher numbers across the board, though the Framework Laptop 16’s 16-inch display was a joy to behold, at least during testing. It’s a standard LED panel with a 165Hz refresh rate, a respectable 500 nits of brightness and 100 percent DCI-P3 color gamut coverage. The screen made his world drenched in neon Cyberpunk While it doesn’t have the extra brightness of miniLED screens or the eye-popping contrast of OLED panels, it’s more pop than ever. At the risk of repeating myself, the beauty of this screen is that you can remove it from the laptop in minutes and replace it if your child damages it or if the Framework releases new modules. (Again, big if there.)

Frame notebook 16
Frame left speaker.

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Personally, I’d also gladly swap out the Laptop 16’s 3-watt speakers, the instant Framework offers improvements. They’re serviceable, but given what Apple and Dell have to offer these days, they almost feel insulting. The music sounds too cheesy and they don’t even deliver the fake drama of a typical movie trailer. I’m sure most people use headphones when gaming, but if you’re someone who relies on your laptop’s speakers for music, I urge you to consider other options.

I would also recommend some sort of noise canceling solution that can override the Laptop 16’s fans. When I was gaming and comparing the system, I could have sworn it took off like my DJI drone. The fans are louder than any gaming laptop I’ve come across in the last few years, but at least they did their job. CPU temps hovered around 80 degrees Celsius under load, while GPU temps typically stayed below 70C.

Since this is a huge gaming laptop, I didn’t expect much from the Framework Laptop 16, and I was right: it lasted four hours and five minutes on the PCMark 10 “Modern Office” battery benchmark. I saw similar results while writing this review, and as you’d expect, playing a demanding game lasted about two hours. Halo Infinite.

Frame notebook 16

Photo: Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Like the original Frame laptop, the Laptop 16 is aimed at a niche group of PC users who prefer customization and refinement at all costs. If you’re a gamer looking to get the most frames for your dollar, this really isn’t the machine for you (Check out these budget gaming PCsor wait to see how we feel about the Zephyrus G14 in our review). But if you want a notebook that can last you for the next decade, and you don’t care that much about gaming performance, the Laptop 16 could be the notebook of your dreams.

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