If you are a hands on, do it yourself type of person you will eventually be faced with the challenge of taking apart your laptop. While it can appear to be a difficult task most of the time taking apart your laptop is not that hard. With the right tools, a little patience, and some Google research it is a very achievable goal.
Before you start taking apart your laptop you will need a Philips 0-point screwdriver. I recommend the excellent Stanley Precision Screwdriver set. These screwdrivers are extremely popular in computer repair circles. They are cheap, high quality, and the rubber grips make it easy to loosen tight screws.
A WORD ON MAC LAPTOPS
As usual, taking apart your laptop is a little bit different if you own a Mac. Apple is very firm about having their laptops repaired by Apple certified technicians using genuine Apple parts. In particular, taking apart your laptop can void your warranty.
If you have a Mac that is out of warranty, however, taking apart your laptop is really easy. For several years now Apple has primarily used the aluminum unibody design. Flip over your Mac. On the bottom you will see 10 screws around the edge of the case. When you remove the screws be careful to remember which holes they came from. The long screws are obvious but there are also a couple different variations of smaller screws that can be hard to tell apart.
With the bottom case removed the entire internals of a Macbook are revealed. You can easily swap RAM, hard drive, optical drive, fan, or other components. One difference between Macs and PCs is that the keyboard is built in to the top case. To replace the keyboard you will need a whole new top case. Generally only an Apple Authorized Service Provider will have the parts and skills to do this repair.
If you have another version of the Macbook such as the white plastic Macbook taking apart your laptop is more complicated. Check out Google and Youtube videos for tips on taking apart your laptop if you fall into that category.
HARD DRIVE AND RAM
If you are taking apart your laptop to replace your hard drive or RAM most PCs make that pretty simple. There is usually a panel held on by one or two screws that can be removed to expose the hard drive and RAM chips. Once you have that removed you can replace those components with no further disassembly.
OPENING UP THE CASE
At this point taking apart your laptop becomes more complicated if you own a PC. Every laptop is different but most PCs follow the same general pattern when taking apart your laptop. The following are some general guidelines. If your laptop is different search for your laptop model and “disassembly” on Youtube. There are many videos showing step by step what to do when taking apart your laptop.
The first step is to flip your laptop over and remove all the screws from the bottom. There will be roughly a dozen long screws securing the bottom case. If your laptop has a panel covering the hard drive and RAM there may be additional screws located under that panel. There will usually be one screw securing the DVD drive. There are often a couple of very short screws located under the battery.
As a general rule of thumb when taking apart your laptop always be looking for more screws. If at any point you encounter resistance in removing a piece check to see if you missed a screw. Keep all the screws carefully sorted and separated. If you are planning on taking apart your laptop more than once a magnetic mat is very handy for sorting your screws.
Now you can remove the keyboard. Keyboards are generally held in place by a couple of snaps or small screws. After you free those you can lift your keyboard out. Make sure to disconnect the ribbon cable connecting it to the mother board.
The next step in taking apart your laptop is to separate the two halves of the case. There are usually some more screws located under the keyboard. Once you have every screw in sight removed you will need to start popping apart the snaps holding the case together. This can be done with a knife or thin flat object such as a credit card. Find the seam in the case, slide your chosen tool in, and pop it open. You will need to continue to do this all the way around the case.
Now you can separate the two halves of the case. There may be a couple of small ribbon cables connecting things like the power button or speakers. Be careful to disconnect those so you don’t damage anything while you are taking apart your laptop. At this point you should have access to the fan, heatsink, wireless card, and any other component you might need to work on.
If you need to replace your screen you almost always have to go through all the steps listed above in taking apart your laptop. Even though it is a separate half of the laptop the screen is usually connected to the motherboard by cables that run all the way through the case. To get access to those you still need to take apart the case.
The good news is by now you’ve done most of the hard work. At this point taking apart your laptop to access the screen is usually just a matter of popping off the cover that runs around the edges of your screen and removing a few screws.
REASSEMBLY OF YOUR LAPTOP
After taking apart your laptop comes the fun part, reassembling it. For the most part reassembling your computer is just the reverse of taking apart your laptop. Carefully working your way back through your piles of screws is a good way to make sure you don’t skip a step. Make sure that you reattach all the ribbon cables to the motherboard as you go. If your power button, speakers, or keyboard suddenly don’t work after taking apart your laptop a disconnected ribbon cable is often the culprit.
Taking apart your laptop is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. With the right tools and some helpful Youtube videos it is actually surprising easy. It is way cheaper than paying someone else to do it and you will learn a lot in the process. And it’s fun! If you are having problems with a component in your laptop think about taking apart your laptop yourself.