This DIY laptop costs as much as a MacBook Air — How is it selling so well?

(Image credit: MNT Research GmbH)

For PC fans that claim to be all in on the concept of open source, the MNT Reform has arrived to give them a chance to put their money where their mouth is. 

The only laptop to fully comply with the Open Source Hardware Association standards, the MNT Reform launched on Crowd Supply on May 7 and easily surpassed its original funding goal of $115,000 (via TechRadar).

The entire goal with the MNT Reform was to create a "DIY laptop for hacking, customization, and privacy."

The laptop has been in development for a couple of years and it specifically avoids any potential surveillance technologies like cameras or microphones and you won't find Intel inside either, the MNT Reform runs on a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU with 4GB of DDR 4 RAM. The laptop does come with wi-fi, but it is via an easily removable PCIe card. 

Even the batteries are easily swappable by the user, relying on eight of the common 18650 battery cells to power it.

(Image credit: MNT Research GmbH)

Storage can either be via an SSD in the M.2 socket or there is an SD slot as well. The company views the latter as a nice option for those with particularly sensitive data that could run a separate OS or leave their sensitive work on that SD card to be easily removed when traveling. 

The MNT Reform features a full HD 12.5-inch IPS display and while it lacks any USB-C ports, it has an abundance of USB Type-A with three external USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports inside. It also includes HDMI, a 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, and a power input jack.

The keyboard is a point of pride for the MNT Reform team, this laptop isn't shooting for any thin and light awards which leaves plenty of room for the mechanical keyboard with Hailh Choc Brown switches and a dimmable backlight. It should make for a pretty untouchable laptop typing experience.

(Image credit: MNT Research GmbH)

The MNT Reform is 11.4 x 8.2 x 1.58-inches and weighs 4.2 pounds. That's closer in weight to many 15-16-inch laptops. The exterior is CNC-milled aluminum, like many of its high-end competitors. 

All versions come with a bootable SD card with Debian GNU/Lunux 11 installer and all the sources and schematics. 

The company envisions users doing their own repairs or customization if they would like, making the simplicity of the basic system part of the selling point. 

If this has piqued your interest the crowdfunding campaign is running for another 28 days and you can have the full laptop for as low as $999 if you want to build it yourself or you can opt for the maxed-out assembled version for $1,500. 

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.