Cairn Mesa - A project of a modular laptop

Hi everyone,

I’m a newcommer on this forum and I would talk about an important project in the computer industry.
It is a project of a modular laptop called Cairn Mesa. They want to developp and build in Europe (particulary in France) their own laptop.
They are currently in the crowdfunding step and they encounter difficulties to fulfill the funding of their keyboard, the first step of their project. Because it is modular, you can use the keyboard without the laptop.
I give you the link to see more precisely what it is about :
I precise I have no part in this project (and that I do not even know anybody taking part in it) ; I already sent a message to the Fairphone corp for a few days to spread the word.
I hope this project, if made, will help, as Fairphone already does, the industry of electronics to become fairer. I hope some of you can contribute to it.

Thank you all for taking a look at it.


EDIT : Here is the english version of the website (thank you Hirnsushi :slight_smile:)

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Hi and welcome to the forum.
The idea seems fine, a modular laptop built in Europe.

My first thought was where’s the English translation of the website, so i could read it easily, I know ua English speakers ??

Looking at the project it seems it for a fully fledged keyboard, so maybe it could accompany a tablet type computer so there is choice to use or not use a keyboard.

You may, or may not, have noticed the modular laptop. Neither the screen or keyboard are seperable.

Manufacturing: This would be a unique selling point if it was genuinly made in the EU. For example the Framework is manufactured in Taiwan, which I support, yet many of the parts and components are made in China, much to my chagrin.

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Here’s the link to the :uk: version:

You just have to swap out fr with en in the URL. There is a language selector on that site as well, but it’s “conveniently” placed at the bottom of the page :man_facepalming:


Can’t find a language selector, but then I have all cookies blocked to all sites unless I white list a domain :slight_smile:

I didn’t check the url path for language so thanks for the link.

It’s right there on the bottom left…


…but it’s perfectly hidden behind the cookie banner, I had to click “Continuer sans accepter” first, yes :roll_eyes:

To get back to topic, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on this modular laptop. From the pictures it looks like they are planning to use a phone as the trackpad, so maybe it’s meant more as a shell to provide screen, keyboard, power and some additional I/O? :thinking:

In any case, I’m not sure I would want to carry it around. The keyboard looks awesome, but designing something to be usable standalone isn’t the same as designing it as a module. That laptop might get heavy pretty fast if they actually plan to directly use that keyboard in there…

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Using a phone as a trackpad would be an interresting idea. I’ve never seen such a thing before (unlike using the phone as an autonomous or game pad). But it is true that their intensions are not clear on this point.

Concerning the heaviness of the whole laptop, modular parts (as the fairphone itself) would certainly burden it. But it seems that they prevented this effect by the way they designed the keyboard (small, thin, new kind of mechanical switches, etc.).

Well clearly you haven’t seen the Framework 13.5" at 1.3KG :slight_smile:


Rating Date Model Weight Height Size Resolution Best Price
85.4 % 07/2021 Framework Laptop 13.5
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs 1.3 kg 15.85 mm 13.50" 2256x1504 from EUR
89.5 % 05/2021 HP Spectre x360 14-ea0378ng
i7-1165G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs 1.3 kg 16.9 mm 13.50" 3000x2000 Alternative specs GBP 960.39
84.7 % 05/2021 Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13 i7
i7-1185G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs 1.3 kg 14.5 mm 13.50" 2256x1504 Alternative specs GBP 1 406.16
87.3 % 04/2021 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga G1 20QA001RGE
i7-1160G7, Iris Xe G7 96EUs 1.2 kg 11.5 mm 13.50" 2256x1504 GBP 3 056.00
85.7 % 08/2021 HP ProBook x360 435 G8 R7-5800U
R7 5800U, Vega 8 R5000 1.5 kg 18 mm 13.30" 1920x1080 Alternative specs GBP 804.79
84.7 % 07/2021 Lenovo Yoga 6 13 82ND0009US
R5 5500U, Vega 7 1.3 kg 18.2 mm 13.30" 1920x1080 Alternative specs GBP 802.70

I don’t think it’s impossible to design a modular and light laptop as framework has proven, I just think those two fields should be served by two separate products.

If you want the keyboard to be sturdy on it’s own, you have to build it out of reasonably strong materials with a sturdy backplate, so it doesn’t flex when typed on.
If you design a keyboard that’s only meant for a modular laptop, you can get a lot of the rigidity from your laptop chassis and save a lot weight that way.

Reusability is a great goal to have, I’m just not convinced the result would be actually usable. If it’s to heavy to carry around, a USB-C hub and a monitor would be a more modular option…

I’ve seen a similar concept before, but can’t, for the life of me, remember where :thinking:
I mean something like Samsung’s Dex can do that and you can achieve the same thing with KDE Connect and countless other apps, but I can’t seem to find a nice shell with a screen and keyboard to put a phone in, you are right.

Razer - Project Linda. But unfortunately, nothing really came out of that.

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Hi Michel,

Thank you for sharing !

Indeed our project’s goal is to allow a lesser ecological impact and to reduce the planned obsolescence thanks to our mods and blocs system. Moreover, we want each of our users to be able to modify his/her device or fix it in case of breakdown.

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

From the info I gather you are in the process of making a keyboard available. I didn’t see much on the laptop front.

I wonder if you have also considered Fairphone’s move towards working conditions for the miners and factory workers ~ that would be the selling point for me and I imagine many other on this forum.

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Hi amoun,

Here’s the English version of our crowdfunidng page : The Cairn Mesa | Key : a mechanical keyboard by Cairn Devices — KissKissBankBank

Our keyboard is made in France. More precisely, the stainless steel plates, the plastic casing and the circuit board are made in Alsace and the switches are the new CHERRY MX ultra low profile switches. Then we assemble all of these components in our workshop in Strasbourg (Alsace as well).

Unfortunately, for the modular laptop, we have to buy our motherboards in Asia, but we have no choice since it is the only place where motherboards are manufactured.


Hi hirnsushi,

The Cairn Mesa has a trackpad and it’s not replaceable with a phone :slight_smile: the whole project works with a system of blocs and mods, so the user can select pieces that he needs.

We chose to sell the keyboard apart because it is as modular as the laptop.

Indeed, the Cairn Mesa is pretty heavy, but we do our best to reduce its weight. For example, the Cairn Mesa | Key is ultra thin (8 mm only) and is designed with new CHERRY MX ULP switches to not add more weight to the laptop.

Also, since all of the drawings are Open Source, each user can create his own module as he wishes.


It would indeed be an interesting idea, but as we told to hirnsushi, the Cairn Mesa has a trackpad which is not replaceable with a phone.
And you’re totally right, we are aware of the weight of our laptop, so we try our best to reduce it by designing thin blocs and mods.


Asia I don’t mind as long as it’s not China (PRC) :slight_smile:

I also notice, from your EN crowdfunding page if there is an attempt to ‘purchase’ there is no UK delivery option :slight_smile:

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Hi amoun,

Indeed, we have just released the first module of the modular laptop, the keyboard. Which can also be used on all types of machines (Linux, Windows, smartphone, tablet) in addition to our modular laptop.

For the modular laptop, we still have some R&D to do and the sale of the keyboard allows us to finance part of this R&D.
You can see the prototype here : Nextcloud
And here : Nextcloud

As for the working conditions for the manufacture of the components of our products. We manufacture in France, for example for the keyboard, the sheet metal is made in France, the plastic parts are made in our workshop, the switches are made in Germany and the PCB is made in France, so the issue is not present at this level. But of course the components on the PCB or the raw materials are not collected/manufactured in France. For the moment we are not at all at the level of Fairphone, we have low resources and we focus first on making eco-designed and quality products. Once the company is more capable of doing this we aim to do some work on this.


Waiting to see the specs you intend for the laptop. Some mention the weight, so what projected specs are available?

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We use Ryzen 3, 5, 7 with a graphic chip for the CPU, then there are 2 bays for SSD 2280 and a network card 2230. Concerning the weight, the laptop weighs less than 2 kg.
And we use ASRock A320TM-ITX as motherboard.


Since this is a desktop motherboard and probably desktop CPUs (:thinking:) how is the projected battery life going to look like?
Are there plans to produce a desktop only version for people who already have a screen standing around and don’t necessarily need a laptop? I myself could really use a nice repairable small form factor mini-pc preferably with a VESA mount to supply friends and family with.

In any case, looks like an interesting project :+1:
If I hadn’t just bought a very expensive keyboard I might have joined in on that crowdfunding, those low-profile Cherry switches look amazing!

I’m missing some info here. I had thought it may be just a lightweight laptop computer with external power and external screen as I didn’t see a battery or screen.

And yes one keyboard for my Raspberry Pi is enough, but a pity as you said.

I’ve always used laptops and never had a keyboard since 1995