Framework’s Laptops are designed to be repairable, upgradable, and modular – the mainboard features a series of USB-C connectors that allow you to connect expansion modules depending on whether you want HDMI, DisplayPort, USB, Ethernet, audio, or storage in each slot.
The upshot is that you get to decide exactly which ports you want, and where to place them. But Framework discovered that placing some of those ports in certain places could drain a laptop’s battery more quickly than expected. Now Framework has introduced a set of updated modules that don’t have this problem. Customers ordering new laptops will get these updated modules… but folks who already have an older expansion module may also be able to upgrade them to help reduce unnecessary power drain.
In a nutshell, Framework found that if you plugged either an HDMI or DisplayPort Expansion Card into the same side of a laptop as any other module except a USB-C module, some subsystems would stay powered on even when a display wasn’t connected.
One solution is to rearrange your ports. But another is to replace your first-gen module with a new one… or upgrade the firmware. The latest firmware basically makes the card pretend it’s not a display output when there’s no monitor plugged in.
If you have a first-gen Framework DisplayPort Expansion Card, upgrading the firmware is as downloading and running a Windows executable on a Framework laptop while that module is plugged in to flash new firmware.
Things are a little trickier if you want to flash a firmware upgrade to the Famework HDMI Expansion Card, as you need to open up the case, and solder a jumper wire to connect two pins: it’s possible that you could brick the expansion card by doing this incorrectly and Framework notes that doing so will void your warranty. But the company provides instructions for folks who want to do it anyway.
Framework says all customers who have pre-ordered Framework Laptops with 13th-gen Intel Core processors or AMD Ryzen 7040 chips and have requested a DisplayPort Expansion Card will get the new modules, and the company is launching a beta test for 2nd-gen HDMI modules with customers who pre-ordered laptops with that option.
Both modules will also be available in the Framework Marketplace soon for customers who want to buy them for use with new or existing Framework Laptops.
The Expansion Card updates are just one of the steps Framework has taken to improve battery life (which was one of the few weak points for the Framework Laptop with a 12th-gen Intel Core processor that I reviewed last summer). Other changes include BIOS updates for models with 11th and 12th-gen Intel Core processors and a 61 Wh battery option for some models of the laptops, rather than the 55 Wh battery which had been standard previously.