MNT Reform: Building my own laptop

The whole process took about 1.5 hours and it was a ton of fun.

The MNT Reform is a very different laptop. It’s designed with open source software and hardware. Components are modular, upgradable, hackable, repairable, and can be repurposed.

Unlike MacBooks, opening up the Reform and tinkering with it is encouraged. But before you can do that, you have to assemble it. So I did.

Each component is individually wrapped.


These are all the little packages that came with my reviewers kit. That silver thing is a metallic cover case!

Removing all of the tissue paper reveals... bubble-wrapped parts.

Here’s the largest piece: the display and chassis with batteries pre-installed.

The chassis is made of aluminum.

These are lithium iron phosphate batteries. They’re larger than lithium-ion batteries and have less energy density, but they’re more environmentally friendly.

A standard power adapter is included... no USB-C charging on the Reform.

Yep, it’s really a trackball.

If you ever want to replace it with a trackpad, you can repurpose it as an external peripheral.

The mechanical keyboard is pretty sweet. It uses Kailh Choc Brown switches and the space bar is split. It’s really nice to type on.

The backside of the mechanical keyboard module looks like this...

Just like the trackpad, you can turn it into an external keyboard later on.

Prefer a trackpad instead of a trackball? There’s an option for that.

You can see the PCB on the backside is mounted to a 3D-printed plate.

This is the tiny OLED display. It’s tricky to connect.

And here’s the motherboard with the heatsink mounted over the CPU.

Three USB-A ports and an HDMI port on one side...

On the other side

There’s an SD card slot, headphone jack, Ethernet, and power.

This is the keyboard frame. The instructions say to bend it if it’s warped... okay.

Can you even see this? It’s the acrylic bottom plate.

MNT reform review: acrylic bottom plate for bottom of laptop

The rest of the stuff that came in my kit.

Follow these instructions...

...with these diagrams.

1.5 hours later and...

You should have yourself an assembled MNT Reform laptop.

Yeah, it’s chonky — by design.

But just look at that beauty!

For an in-depth review and chat with the Reform’s creator, Lukas Hartmann, and the industrial designer, Ana Dantas... read on.

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