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Complete strip down/ disassembly of a laptop guide!
This guide is for the advanced computer DIY enthusiast. Anyone attempting to do a complete strip down should proceed with extreme caution. This is only meant as a general guide and we cannot be held responsible for any problems, side effects or breakages or accidents caused by people using this guide.
In order to disassemble a laptop and completely strip it down you will need to get yourself well organised. You will need a range of tools and other items to make sure you do this properly. You will also need to be in a dust free environment where you won’t be disturbed i.e. get knocked while working etc.
1.      Suitable screwdriver for unscrewing the laptop screws (usually a small sized phillips or cross head screwdriver) but please make sure that you use only approved and correct tools like torque screw drivers etc.
2.      Small flat head regular screwdriver.
3.      Small or medium set of plyers.
4.      A fine edged knife not necessarily a stanley blade or scalpel just as long as it is sharp.
5.      Pot with sections like a 7 day pill pot so you can put the first set of screws into Mondays partition and the second set into Tuesday’s partition etc.
6.      Rubber gloves for handling motherboard, ram / memory boards, or CPU, this should stop any static damage.
7.      A large/ medium cardboard box to store the laptops parts in.
You will have different sized screws from different origins of the laptop. To keep the screws organised using a daily pill case or similar style partitioned case is always handy. You need a case with many segments or partitions; I usually find 7 – 10 separate partitions is enough. If you have never done this job before and this is your first time then you may find it handy to have a drawing pad and pen or pencil to hand. You will use this to indicate with simple drawings where the different screws go and where each cable plug, daughter board etc. The drawings will assist you when you come to building the laptop backup.
One of the most IMPORTANT reasons for this guide is to illustrate the order in which laptops have to be disassembled in order to do a complete strip down. We have seen so many people destroy their laptop by trying to fix it themselves as they didn’t realise the order in which it was to be stripped and they have forced it open. Once they have tried forcing it open it snaps clips, lugs, bends metal frames and other critical and structural parts. If in any doubt at all then give this job to an engineer with plenty of experience, thank you!
You will have to take out all of the screws from the underneath the base and take off any panels that are in place. Once you remove the panels there are usually some remaining screws, these are usually for securing the keyboard and optical DVD / CD drive.
You will also need to remove the Wi-Fi board and unplug the antenna leads. Please make sure that you are using your multiple partitioned container to hold your screws and try your best to make sure you know which screws go where, use drawings and write down screw sizes (e.g. small, medium, large) if needed. I find it easy to start with the Monday section of a daily pill container, fill that part with all the screws from the underneath of the laptop and eventually work my around to Sunday.
Remove the hard drive.
Remove the optical disc drive (CD or DVD drive) by taking the relevant screw out first. If it doesn’t come out easily then you may need to press some kind of clip like in some HP models or it may still be screwed in. The screw for the optical drive can be marked with an icon of an optical drive or sometimes the letters OD but may be secured, screwed under the keyboard. Once the optical disc drive has been removed you usually find some more screws that need to be removed at the edge. Make sure you have definitely removed all the screws from the underneath including any inside the battery bay and any that have been uncovered when removing the panels.
Once all the screws are removed from the base, hard drive removed, usually the optical drive removed and the Wi-Fi board removed you can turn the laptop over so it is sat up normally.
Open the case so the screen is in an upright position and we will attempt to remove the keyboard. Sometimes in order to remove the keyboard you will need to remove a piece of plastic trim above the keyboard, usually has the power button integrated into it.
If you need to remove this plastic trim then you will find there are 2 ways to do this, if you don’t need to remove the plastic trim then your keyboard will be held in by a different method, go straight to remove keyboard. With a lot of laptops this plastic trim covers part of the screen hinges too and with some there will be screw in the backs of the hinges that will need to be removed. It’s easy to get a screwdriver in the side of the screen hinge cover, the part that is attached to the plastic trim and the pull it upwards towards you, this should start to peel the plastic trim off. You may need to do this on both sides. if the plastic trim is separate to the screen hinge covers then you may be able to get it started with the small flat head screwdriver at the side of it. Once you get it starting to lift off then slowly with a bit of strength pull it upwards until the trim is removed. This should make some clicking noises but never snapping noises. Never pull if it feels like it’s going to snap something.
The keyboard may be held in by either 2 or 3 screws just under where the plastic trim was, this depends on the model of laptop.
If you didn’t have a plastic trim to remove then your keyboard may be held in with small clips. There are 2 types of clips, there are clips that are fixed to the main plastic trim at the top of the keyboard and there are clips that are fixed on to the keyboard. These are quite straight forward; the ones fixed to the plastic trim at the top of the keyboard can be pushed back flush with the trim using a small fine blade. Then you simply get the edge of blade and pull up the edge of the keyboard in the same place where you have just released the clip. Make sure you only pull the keyboard up a fraction, just enough to get it past the clip and repeat this until the keyboard is clear of the clips at the top. There may be some clips at the side of the keyboard and you may only need to do one side in order to release the keyboard. The keyboard should now release slowly but easily from the laptop (Be careful not to pull or snap the ribbon cable connecting the keyboard to the laptop) all though sometimes there can be some adhesive or double sided sticky tape also holding it in place. It should never be too difficult to do and if it feels like something is going to break by pulling it out then you may need to check to make sure there are no screws on the underside of the laptop still holding the keyboard in.
Once the keyboard is loose then turn it onto keys facing down and forward so it is resting the keys on the palm rest now the ribbon cable will need releasing. There are 2 types of clip that hold in the ribbon cable to your laptop. You will notice a clip on the laptop where your keyboard was that is holding in your ribbon cable. Some clips pull up to release and some clips need to be pushed upwards on both sides to be released. ILLUSTRATIONS WILL BE ADDED SOON!
Now the keyboard is free put it in a safe place a box is a good idea for the main trim and parts of the laptop and the screws in the partitioned container. Now proceed to removing the screws from where the keyboard was sat and put them all into your screw pot. Sometimes the optical disc drive screw will be here and once removed you should remove the optical disc drive (DVD / CD drive), this should just slide out, just pull the bezel on the front of the drive. If you have just removed the optical drive at this stage then you may need to llok at where the drive has come out and at the edge to see if there are any more screws that need removing. Once all the screws are removed then you will need to unplug any cables that may be held in with clips, IMPORTANT MAKE SURE ALL CABLES ARE UNCLIPPED!
With a lot of models you will need to remove the screen to proceed in removing the palm rest. The screen should be unplugged from the motherboard first and then the Wi-Fi antenna cables should cautiously pulled through and out of the clips holding them in place until they are completely free. Now you can unscrew the screen hinges where they are held on to the main frame of the laptop, at the back of the palm rest. Once the screws have been removed make a mental note or write down where the screws go back in and any plastic clips that may have been released with the screws (screen hinge screws can sometimes be different sizes). The screen should easily release but please take caution when storing as the screen is very easy to scratch or break, if using a box then place the screen facing the cardboard of the box.
Your palm rest will also be held on by a series of small clips which should be very easy to undo. Firstly make sure all screws are removed, check place like the battery compartment, the edge where your optical drive (DVD / CD drive) was, and anywhere else giving a close inspection to make sure. I like to start separating the palm rest from the underside of the chassis starting at the slot where the optical disc drive was. Once you have started to unclip it from here follow the split between the palm rest and underside of the chassis round the front of the chassis using either a thumb nail or flat head screwdriver. Once it is unclipped simply remove the palm rest to expose the motherboard and store it carefully.
The motherboard will be held into the bottom part of the chassis with a few screws, these are usually marked off on the motherboard using white arrows. Make sure you remove the screws and then check to make sure all cables, power connectors or daughter boards have been disconnected properly. At this stage the motherboard may come out easily, DO NOT FORCE THE MOTHERBOARD OUT! If the motherboard will not come out easily then it may be held in by the VGA monitor socket (usually a blue 15 pin socket on the side of your laptop). You will need a set of plyers and undo the fixing bolts on either side of the socket. Once these have been removed then the check to see if the fan from the heatsink fan unit is held on to the chassis by any screws and remove them. The motherboard should come out quite easily by lifting it with caution at the opposite edge to the VGA socket and then slide out. MOTHERBOARDS ARE PRONE TO STATIC SHOCK FROM YOUR HANDS SO HANDLE WITH GREAT CARE OR USE RUBBER GLOVES AND MAKE SURE YOU STORE SAFELY. IF YOU NEED TO STORE FOR A PERIOD OF TIME THEN STORE IN ANTI STATIC BAG AND PACKED SAFELY IN A BOX!