Framework makes modular, repairable, and upgradable laptop computers. Of course they wouldn’t be much use without modular parts, so the company also has a Famework Marketplace where you can buy spare parts and upgrades. And about a year ago Framework even began selling its mainboards to folks who wanted to replace or upgrade one in their laptops or use the mainboard as a standalone computer.

At the time, the company also released designs and documentation for folks that wanted to 3D print their own cases. But soon Framework will begin selling a $39 case for those who may not have the resources to 3D print their own.

The upcoming Cooler Master Mainboard Case is a slim case with a transparent top. It measures 297 x 133 x 15mm (11.7″ x 5.2″ x 0.6″). It can be mounted to the back of a display with fasteners included in the box or propped up with a stand that also comes with the case. Or you can lay it down flat.

Cooler Master worked with Framework to ensure that the case supports the Framework Expansion card system, allowing you to equip the Framework Mainboard with up to four cards including oversized cards like Frameworks Ethernet card (which sticks out from the body case the same way it would extend outward past the Framework Laptop’s body).

The case is designed to let you hot swap Expansion cards without opening the case.

There’s also a WiFi module bracket and room inside the case for a standard SMA antenna, but neither the Framework Mainboards nor the Cooler Master case come with a WiFi module or antenna, so you’ll need to buy those separately from the Framework Marketplace (or elsewhere) if you want to add wireless functionality.

While the case is a pretty simple way to turn a brand new Framework Mainboard into a mini PC, it’s also an inexpensive way to repurpose an old Framework Mainboard if you decide to upgrade the hardware in your existing laptop.

For example customers who purchased a first-gen Framework Laptop got a model with an 11th-gen Intel Core processor, but now you can upgrade the mainboard to a newer 12th-gen Intel chip or pre-order a mainboard with a 13th-gen Intel processor or an AMD Ryzen 7040 series chip. And if you do that, you can continue to use your old mainboard as a media center, network appliance, or general purpose desktop computer by throwing it in a case and hooking it up to a display.

Of course, you don’t need to buy the Cooler Master case to do that. Not only can you still 3D print your own, but we’ve also seen DIY projects that have turned Framework Mainboards into cyberdecks, tablets, or terminals, among other things.

Cooler Master’s case isn’t available for purchase yet, but you can sign up to receive an email when it goes on sale.

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11 replies on “Cooler Master case turns the Framework Mainboard into a desktop PC for $39”

  1. There are only 4 connectors/cards. One is used for power delivery and one for a monitor. Assuming Wifi for network and Bluetooth for KB and mouse. There are only 2 ports available. Adding a UBB-C hub is adding more costs.
    I would like to see more USB ports exposed as USB-A (webcam, keyboard and touchpad) since they are already in the board.

  2. I like the idea of the laptop, but what happens when they start making a new chassis that doesn’t fit the board, or vice versa? Or change the expansion cards? “Oh, you need version x, not version y, and we don’t make x anymore.” In the long run it sounds messy and more expensive.

    1. Well, they are on gen 3 and still using the same chassis/motherboard combination. So that’s 2 more gens than 99.9% of every other laptop model out there. Sounds like they’re doing a good job so far.

    2. it is a way to sell you outdated tech surplus like amazon sells junk parts but maybe better? materials degrade over time then nobody supports the hardware anymore. very hard pass

      1. How do you figure that? Did you even read the article? The purpose of the Cooler Master case (and indeed the 3D printable one) is for you to be able to fit and still use your few-generations-old Framework laptop mainboard, after you’ve upgraded the Framework laptop to the latest generation mainboard…

    3. Weird that you have enough motivation to post all these what ifs but not enough motivation to do any research, whatsoever.

      Troll elsewhere. Please and thank you.

  3. I’ll start off saying I’m not an Apple guy, in fact I refuse to buy their products because I hate their walled-garden. I like the Framework concept, but how it different from the TB3 only iMacs? The modules are much cleaner than dongles, but still just seems like an iteration of that concept.

    I know their design philosophy extends beyond the I/O ports; e.g. good luck upgrading the RAM or replacing the screen on an Apple. I’m glad they’re trying something new in the space to work towards reducing ewaste. I’m just a bit jaded towards spending money towards future promises. Looking at you Alienware 51m, still waiting for a graphics card upgrade.

    1. I’m already sold on my next laptop being Framework. I’ll be waiting on the 16 inch model though. If they can get the price on that under $2K I’ll definitely order one as soon as it’s available.

      1. If the new 13″ Ryzen model has good battery life, it will be an instabuy for me. I have decent hopes because the 11th and 12th gen Intel CPUs have been a step back in terms of battery life which is funny considering they moved to the whole “efficiency”/performance core setup. Yet, virtually every model line I have seen that moved from 10 to 11 and 12 gen setups went back in battery longevity. Woops.

  4. Love their efforts in tackling ewaste. Hope they release something that turns the battery into a large battery bank too as I’m looking at that 61 kwh battery for my original Framework.

    1. During the launch event for the latest Framework laptops & modules, they said they were working on that too… although it’s unclear if it’ll be an accessory that you can purchase outright at launch or if they’ll just release design files for folks to build their own.

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