Move over, Raspberry Pi—Framework has begun shipping its standalone Mainboard for enthusiasts to design their own single-board computers based on powerful Intel Core processors.
Framework’s excellent modular laptops were originally designed to allow customers to mix and match components, something that’s relatively rare in a laptop. Framework’s Mainboards certainly live up to that ideal, as they can be used to replace and upgrade an existing Framework laptop.
But don’t think for a minute that Framework intended to stop there. On Friday, Framework released a pair of 3D-printable reference designs, including a VESA mount holder that allows you to attach the Mainboard to a monitor or a TV, as well as a small-form-factor (SFF) case. Framework also posted a complementary GitHub repository of CAD and electrical documentation. They’re all open source, a tacit encouragement for you to remix and modify the designs as you see fit.
Each of the three Mainboards include a soldered-on CPU (a Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7, or a Core i7-1185G7) and range in price from $449 to $799, though the Mainboards are currently discounted by up to $250 on the Framework store for U.S. customers. You’ll need to supply your own memory and a USB-C power adapter. You can also buy additional storage and other options via the Framework store, too.
And there’s more to come. “All of this is a starting point for a broader set of open source Mainboard documentation to enable creation of fully compatible third-party Mainboards in the future,” Framework said in a blog post.
This should all sound fairly familiar to the DIY community: Raspberry Pi sells its own single-board computers, and leads a supporting community to help teach coding and related projects. Framework said Friday that it has established a Linux compatibility page to help customers find an appropriate Linux distro for use with the Framework boards. It’s also giving away 100 free Core i5-1135G7 Mainboards to those who apply and submit a potential project idea for the Mainboard itself.
The only catch so far is that the new Mainboards are only available in the U.S. and Canada, with the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Austria coming soon.
Naturally, the Raspberry Pi community is richer and much more well established. Its foundation, however, relies on a relatively low-performance ARM processor. The Framework Mainboards have the potential to be a, err, framework for a much more powerful Intel-based SFF PC, and offer an intriguing option for the DIY community.