How to Take Apart a Laptop in an Emergency

Have you ever been in a situation where your computer is experiencing some kind of hardware issue? Perhaps this has happened while you were on your own, and you didn’t have access to any kind of IT support or IT Services in London, and you didn’t have the means to take it to a PC repair shop? These types of situations can often make you feel helpless, which is why it is a useful skill to be able to take apart a laptop safely, without damaging it.

There are many situations where you may need to do this. For instance, if you spill something on your laptop, you’ll want to be able to take it apart, assess the potential damage, and dry the hardware off. You may be able to contact an IT professional, but they can’t get to you, so they have to instruct you – in that situation, having experience with taking apart a laptop will make the process easier.

So, what is the process of taking apart your laptop? Below are 8 basic steps to help guide you through that process.

Before you start…

Perform all of this on a sturdy, flat surface like a clear table. Make sure you have a space to place every component, ensuring nothing is wet, dusty, etc. While there are many tools designed specifically for this, you should be able to take apart a laptop just using screwdrivers. The screws are usually small, so a precision set will be the most suitable.

1. Take off the backplate

The first step is to gain access to the inner components. The bottom of the laptop will have a removable plate, held on by screws. These screws will be very small, and will therefore require precision screwdrivers – and they will usually either be Phillips screws, or Torx screw; so having precision screwdrivers for both those types of screws is useful.

2. Remove the Power Supply

Once you have opened up the laptop, the first thing you need to be is disconnect and remove the power supply. For a laptop, this will mean the battery. Some laptops have a battery that can be removed without having to open up the laptop – they just have some switches you need to hold simultaneously to remove the battery.

Higher end laptops usually have the battery built into it. If this is the case, start by unscrewing all the screws holding it in place (keep those screws safe). Next, disconnect the cable connecting the battery to the motherboard, and then you can remove it.

3. Remove RAM

The random-access memory (RAM) modules are probably the easiest component to remove. They are not held in by any kind of screws, instead they usually slot into a port and then clip into place so that they lie flat. To remove, simply press the clips, and the RAM modules will pop up, and you can pull them out easily.

4. Remove Hard Drive

You will either have a mechanical hard disc drive (HDD) which will be larger and square, or you will have a digital Solid State Drive (SSD) which usually look like a small, rectangular chip.

If you have a HDD, it will usually have 4 screws and a cable connecting it – simply unscrew and disconnect the cable. If you have an SSD, it may just slot into the motherboard, and be held in place with one screw – in which case simply unscrew and pull it out of the slot.

5. Detach Wireless Card

Take very good care of this component, or else you’ll have a laptop that can’t connect to the internet. The wireless is small – about the size of a standard mobile SIM card – and has 2 aerial cables connected to it. Simply pull those cables out and unscrew the card.

6. Remove the Fans

The fans are usually screwed to a component called the heatsink – which is usually cemented to the motherboard, so do not try to remove the heatsink unless it appears easy to lift it (but if you are not confident, simply leave it be). The fans are screwed down and have a cable that you will need to detach.

7. Unplug any Cables from the Motherboard

There will be a number of cables that are connected to the motherboard, which feed into other parts of the laptop – including the screen/monitor connection, the DC jack cable, and the speaker cable, to name a few. Most cables are easy to detach. You needn’t worry about being too delicate, but don’t use brute force if any cables show resistance, instead find another way to prise it form its connection.

8. Unscrew & Remove Motherboard

The motherboard is the foundation of all of your laptop’s different components, everything connects into it, so it is a very important piece of the machine. Once you have disconnected all of the cables, find all the screws holding the motherboard down, and remove them. After that, the motherboard should simply lift out of the laptop.