MNT Reform Version 2 Modular Laptop Project Launches on Crowd Supply

Already approaching its funding goal at the time of writing, the open source computer is proving popular.

The MNT Reform v2 modular, as-open-as-possible laptop is now available to order. (📷: MNT Research)

MNT's Reform crowdfunding campaign, raising for production of its second-generation hacker-friendly module laptop, has officially launched — and is off to a flying start with nearly three-quarters of the required funding secured.

The original MNT Reform design, from Lukas F. Hartmann, was unveiled two years ago. Featuring an NXP Semiconductor i.MX6QP system-on-chip (SoC) and a 3D-printed case made of eight separate pieces, the laptop was built to be as modular as possible — but there was room for improvement.

That improvement came earlier this year with the announcement of the MNT Reform 2, which upgrades the SoC to an NXP i.MX8M, offers a larger 1080p embedded DisplayPort (eDP) screen, an improved keyboard, and a simplified case design. The latter, combined with changes to the design's architecture, is key to a major improvement in its manufacturability: Where the original MNT Reform took at least a working day to assemble each unit, the revised model takes just half an hour.

Now, the crowdfunding campaign to produce the MNT Reform 2 is live — and pricing starts at $999, which gets interested parties a self-assembly kit with populated circuit boards and all required components bar a Wi-Fi module or solid-state drive.

Those looking for a simpler out-of-the-box experience have the option of a $1,300 fully-assembled unit which includes a 256GB NVMe solid-state drive for storage though still no Wi-Fi module, which is available at an additional $50. Finally, the MNT Reform Max, at $1,500, upgrades the SSD to a 1TB model and bundles the Wi-Fi card alongside a custom-made Greta Melnik vegan leather sleeve. Both models include a printed user guide, copy of Debian Linux on an SD Card, and an international power supply.

There are a few options for customisation in the mix, too: The stock five-button optical trackball, an unusual sight in a modern laptop since the invention and all-but complete dominance of the trackpad, can be replaced at no-cost with a multi-touch trackpad - or, for $50, both can be included. Multiple keyboard layouts are also available: QWERTY US-EN, QWERTY UK, QWERTZ, AZERTY, the programmer-centric Neo2 layout, and the option of entirely blank keycaps.

The core specifications of the laptops remain unchanged from the original announcement: The mainboard includes the i.MX8M system-on-chip, boasting a quad-core 1.5GHz Arm Cortex-A53 processor, linked to 4GB of LPDDR memory. For those looking to target the MNT Reform for software development, but who don't need a complete unit, a $550 reward tier includes just the motherboard and power supply without the display, keyboard, pointing device, case, and batteries.

More information is available on the official campaign page, which has over a month to go at the time of writing.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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