Various questions about mnt reform

Hi everyone,

I have been really interested in buying the mnt reform since years now, and I sitll have not been able to make this decision. I have been looking at a lot of reviews that are online, and the device is great. Therefore, I have compiled a set of questions that might help me better to understand this device:

  1. Is there will be a possibility in the future for the RK3588 ? I have seen a couple of posts about it so if yes ? when we can expect this ?

  2. If the above is considered would there be a possibility to have 16 to 32 GB or RAM, since RAM is the most important element when working on software development ?

  3. Is there any possible way to add an integrated web camera in the mnt reform? or providing another screen cover that supports camera for the users with internal usb ports? What about microphone ? I suppose the integrated sound card considered input and output as well ?

I am aware about the Reform camera, but it seems to me as an over kill to have an additional device these days. However, if this is the only solution available then we will have to go with it.

  1. I prefer 5G to WiFi these days, since it is extremely afordable in many European countries. Is there a list somewhere of tested PCI express 5G / 4G cards ? I have seen a post about 4G but it did not show any meaningful results it is here: Install WWAN 4g LTE Modem? and Sim card - #16 by kairos

  2. I found one youtube video that claims that the mnt reform is suffering
    from an issue regarding the battery managment. Here is the video :
    Does this video make sense ? or it is just the guy has no idea what he is taking about ?

  3. I remember a couple of months ago, Lukas posted on twitter an interesting skeleton to what might be the next mnt reform. Is this still considered ? if Yes ? when we can envisage this device ? in a year ? two years ?

Many thanks

Hopefully I can answer some of the questions.

1 & 2. I can’t speak for the team but I think the best bet for RK3588 support would be through a cm4 compatible board. The MNT adapter is shipping out now. I don’t think there is a cm4 board yet that uses the rk3588 but RADXA cm5 is in the works with 16GB and hopefully will have compatibility with the reform. Rock5/CM - Radxa Wiki

  1. You might be able to squeeze an up nose one in the bottom bezel but I think it would be up to you to hack it in. To me that is part of the fun of the Reform. I rarely use a webcam so I’m happy its external.

  2. Can’t help there. I have no need of that.

  3. The original battery board had drain issues if left powered off for a few weeks/month without charging. The cells would have to be recovered in an external charger. I did notice drain but never enough to kill a cell to the point it couldn’t be charged internally. I believe all new reforms are shipping with upgraded battery boards that don’t have that issue.

  4. Saw that, haven’t seen any updates.

Hope that helps and maybe someone can provide more info.

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I can add a little more context to some of this stuff for you:

1 RK3588 is in the works, but there are still many details to be figured out. It will probably be many months from now and is partly dependent on the progress of mainline Linux support. If you need the most power available in Reform today, order one with the A311D processor.

2 It is possible to have 16GB RAM with the LS1028A module that’s starting to ship. It’s an extra 600 euro charge for this module with a new Reform but it’s the only way to get more RAM right now.

5 It’s worth noting that this person posted the video because they were (past-tense) having an issue with battery discharge, and that they’re installing the solution. New Reforms ship with the protected battery boards, which keep the cells from discharging to anywhere near 0v.

6 MNT Reform “Next” is the thinner variant of Reform and it has some funding from an NLnet grant. I’d expect this is a ways off still, as shipping Pocket Reform and other finished products are the priority. Hardware is hard!

I’d say that if you need or want 5G, or webcam and microphone integrated – it’s open hardware! Talk to people in the community, read the handbook and try out your own hacks and mods! Reform depends on contributions from the whole community, not just from the MNT team.


Questions and discussions like these are incredibly important for us, because we always want to learn about what people actually need, so I welcome your post!

Most of the Qs have already been answered here. I have been working on and off on a RK3588 adapter, but it will take a while because after shipping various MNT Reform upgrades and refreshes, we’re focusing on shipping Pocket Reform right now and will work on RK3588 and Reform Next in any spare time, while also monitoring the SoC/SoM market for alternatives, always. MNT Reform is very much about choice.

What I would like to know from OP: what are the most important differences for you about MNT Reform that makes you consider it vs. other alternatives?


First of all, I would like to thank everyone for answering my questions.

I have been following the project since it started 4 years ago, and I have been comparing it with a lot of alternative, these questions are coming from years of thinking and following the project as well.

  1. Keyboard and keyboard and keyboard is the most important element for me. That’s why I would choose mnt reform over all other competitors, having a mechanical keyboard is way better than anything else. To give you an idea I take this to the extreme, on my desktop I have an IBM model m keyboard, so you can see to what level this is important to me.

  2. Open source, giving that there are alternatives, this is the only one that is designed in Europe, there is no other alternative exist today.

  3. Modularity, when I buy a laptop I used for 10 to 15 years at least, that’s the reason I expect the mnt reform to have a life time of 10 years and 10 years of support of new hardware, chips, motherboard, screen, you name it, which is an industry standard. This not the duration of what an average person uses their laptop. The last time I installed Arch Linux on my HP folio elite book was in 2013, and since then I didn’t change my configs (vim, DWM, etc…)

  4. RAM: the web is bloated, and I don’t like it, but all of you agree with me that we have to cope with it, therefore we need 16 GB of ram for Firefox only, and sometimes to compile C++ programs, especially that this device is an arm device, which mean I can compile software and move it to any other arm soc and it will work, no need to cross compile.

  5. I travel a lot for work, France ↔ Germany, and the idea of 5G on the device is really good when it costs me 10 euros per months to have 150GB in France and 35 GB in Germany, I will not need to use WiFi anymore.

  6. Finally also and I should say it, you guys know what are you doing. For example, choosing ath9k is a perfect choice for WiFi, because a lot of people do not know that, it is the only open source chipset that exist today, even if it is dates 10 years ago. I worked with this chipset and I can say it is one of the most powerful because it allows you to do what ever you want. I know that ath10k is open source but it is nothing compared to what ath9k is. We can assume that atheros was doing the right job at some point. Also I believe you deserve some credit, because a laptop is an infrastructure and when it comes to infrastructure like telecoms, people would only complain when it does not work and would never says great job, because we assume that it should be working all the time.

Finally, I understand the arguments related to " if I don’t need power, get the NXP device", it has enough ram, but it is way overpriced for what it can do, I know it is designed in Europe, but unfortunately we already lost the SoC silicon game, not the microcontroller yet. So we will have to get broadcome or rockchip to get decent performance. Maybe this will change in 10 Yrs with RISC V but I still don’t see the development in Europe.

I am a software person and still contributing to a lot of open source software, I never designed any hardware, and unfortunately I passed the time where I can learn, I am busy with so many stuff these days. I also understand the argument of open source, but keep in mind that open source software is free, and very few people have the ability to build hardware themselves.

PS, I know you guys are not on Twitter any more, but I don’t get your news from the mailing list or anywhere else and I am not going to create another account on mastodon. I know it is subjective decision, but I am Not here to argue about it.

PSS: @Lukas, I could have attended the event in Paris, but the time slot was too early for me, and if you were staying only 30 min it would have been hard to discuss all of these.

Let me know if this is make sense, and I know hardware is hard, that’s the reason there is the word hard in it.

Hi, I’m a happy reform user and also wanted to give my 2c here. :slight_smile:

We certainly browse different websites but for me, the 4GB of RAM were never a limitation for me in connection with javascript heavy websites. What is a limitation is the CPU speed (just opening a video on youtube takes about 20 seconds sometimes) but I hear that is much improved with the bananapi, for example. For me, the 16 GB of RAM will be important because I maintain a software which (without a tmpfs) writes several dozen GB of temporary data to my nvme. So having all this in tmpfs will probably improve things a lot and that’s why I bought the ls1028a. I will post benchmarks.

I don’t travel much but sometimes. If you can recommend a pcie card, then I’d like to try it out in the reform and can give you feedback on how it works.

Does RSS work for you? Mastodon exposes RSS feeds:

I agree with your initial points that integrated camera and microphone would be really nice. Maybe that will be something for future MNT products or maybe somebody comes up with a clever DIY hack. For me personally, the other advantages of the reform (and that very much includes its keyboard) far outweigh the trouble of carrying a logitec usb webcam around with me but of course everybody has different priorities.

I’m also very much looking forward to an RK3588 option for the reform but knowing how slow platform support gets added into vanilla linux kernel I’m not expecting anything before within a year or so. The Reform is my only laptop and for my workload it does everything i need. Shoot me a message if you’d like to get some feedback on how task XY performs on the platform. :smiley:

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@josch Thank you for your reply, I agree on most points discussed here. I will be interested a lot in the benchmark of the LS1028A. However, at this price point, the board is way to expensive for me to afford it.

Regarding 5G mini pci express cards, I know that Quectel are active in this domain. However I have no idea, if there are any availability for their cards

In worst case scenario you can try their 4G cards, they are affordable and available you can have a look at their website.

Yes the RSS feed works. Thanks for the link, I did not think about it, I have added it to Thunderbird.

@josch I will contact you in the near future to get more in details about specific tasks. In the meanwhile since we have a good feedback from the maintainers that the RK3588 support is coming soon, I will postponed my purchase until it is fully supported, especially that I can see 32 GB RAM module available online