How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Fix My Laptop

By Craig Pearson on February 18th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

There are five stages of grief you go through when your laptop screen breaks. There’s ‘No!’, ‘God no!’, ‘Come on!’, ‘What? You were fine an hour ago!’, and ‘Muuuuuuum!’. Laptops aren’t like desktops. They’re not easy to pop open and fiddle with. When my laptop broke, I experienced all those stages all at once, and it came out like a sneeze with tears. My gaming laptop. Dead. No warranty. No insurance. Just a terrifying block of expensive plastic with a fuzzy screen. My bank account giggled and pointed when I checked it to see if a replacement was feasible, because that’s what you do when a laptop dies. You don’t fix it. They’re too slidey and shiny. Then I got to thinking. At first it was mostly about Cuddy from House, but after I got my breath back I wanted to know if the screen was replaceable? After all, phone screen replacement is all the rage nowadays. And what’s a laptop if not a bigger, less phoney phone?

I first checked that it was in fact the screen. After plugging in a monitor and seeing my desktop, it was confirmed. I Googled “replace Acer Aspire 5750g screen” and the top hit was a video of someone doing just that. It was feasible, sure, but was it practical and affordable? The video convinced me it could be done, and that I could do it. Some more Googling garnered a price. £46.80! I had that. Screw you, bank account! I was doing it. I was going to replace a laptop screen.

This is not a guide. There are too many variables involved in laptops. I just want you to know how easy it is. If you’re ever in the same situation, I want you to remember that if the man who once put a sofabed together so it opened up backwards can do it, then so can you. This is what I was working with. I bought the screen and tiny screwdrivers.

As you all know, you should ‘ground’ yourself before opening up any electronics by touching a radiator. I’ve no idea why, but I think it has something to do with technology repair angering the god Thor. Taking no chances, I stripped naked, covered myself in conductive jelly, and pretty much humped my living room’s radiator for a full half-hour.

The Acer Aspire 5750g looks like it’s been extruded from an alien pod. There’s nothing on the case to jab a screwdriver into. That’s because on the bezel, at the bottom corners, there are two caps covering the screws that hold the front on. In the video I linked to, they pop off like a champagne cork; in real-life this was the gougey, terrifying part that I knew would happen at some point. Looking back, it was the toughest thing I had to do, and I only managed to pry them off by mangling them. That doesn’t bother me, but it did leave my lovely laptop with a few extra go-faster stripes. By now there was a layer of helpful sweat on my back, and I wanted to be elsewhere. I fought off the sudden onset existential despair and carried on. To part the bezel from the laptop, I stuck plectrum into the seam and ran it along. A terrifying crack told me it was off. Behold.

I had to take this pic three times because of the shakes. This is not fun! There’s not much in the top-half, just the screen and the housing. Next up are the holding screws. There are four at each corner, holding the housing to the laptop’s case, which pop off easily enough, and six more at the side of the screen holding the screen place. There is nothing difficult about this bit. It is the calm before the storm. With the screen off, all that was left to do was separate the wire that connects it to the laptop’s motherboard. It was stuck down.

If you ever need to do this, take a deep breath and work slowly and carefully. By now I was flush with adrenalin. I kind of yanked at it, reasoning that any damage would be to a broken screen. Pfft, who am I kidding? I wasn’t reasoning. I was in the mad panic of an idiot attempting to repair a laptop on a sofa. The tape was so sticky that yanking didn’t work. I calmed slightly and pulled a bit more gently, eventually freeing the connector. At this point my soul exited my body, looking for a host capable of performing rather easy technical tasks without palpatating. Pfft. Who needs a soul?

With that out, the screen was free. I set it down gently in some long grass and it scampered off. Just one look back was all it took for me to lose it. I’ve never seen her again. *sniff*

So now I just need do all that in reverse and I’m sorted. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I’d like you to consider for a moment if you find the act of lemon squeezing a particularly easy act. Feel free to go to the shops and grab one to test it out, but I’m in the camp that thinks that this lemon propaganda has gotten out of hand. I laid the screen down and discovered a problem. In order to keep the connector connected, I’d saved the tape. Sliding a very flat, slim connector into the screen’s little slot, which is flush, is tough when it’s all sticky. Very tough. The hardest part of the entire enterprise, actually. A little planning, where I could have had some appropriate tape around so I could just remove the already attached sticky stuff altogether, would have saved me about ten minutes of swearing and lining up the connector. It failed so many times that I got into the mindset that it would never, ever happen. And yet I’d never give up. My life would be reduced down to this one act repeated over and over and over. All that would be left would be me and the skeleton of my laptop, locked together for – *click* – at fucking last!

From there it really was just a case of reversing the actions. I did run into one snag, where the new screen had fewer screw holes on the side than the old one, but I reasoned the fewer holes the better. That’s engineering. The rest wasn’t a problem. I left the mangled screw caps off, because they now look like a dog’s chew toy.

And did it work? Did I succeed? Am I best?

Adriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannn!

And now I need to go for a walk and take some deep breaths. It was terrifying, but if you’re patient and can follow the simplest of instructions, don’t fear fixing your laptop. You can do it, champ!

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113 Comments »

  1. Sakkura says:

    Here’s how I replaced the screen on my desktop:
    I shut it down, unplugged the old screen, plugged in the new one, and turned it back on. Done.

    And they tell me I’m behind the times because I use a desktop computer…

    • Rich says:

      A desktop is the true gaming set up, certainly, but you can get used to having a capable games machine that you can carry around. Play Crysis 2 on the train… well, probably not. Play a bit of Endless Space in a hotel room, while away on work. Yes, certainly.

      …shame I’ll be losing my laptop when I change jobs. Sniff.

    • hernismall says:

      That why I hate gaming laptops…

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Can you use your desktop to play some CSS LAN during classes? Thought so…
      Or stay all day playing adventure games in bed.

      • Llewyn says:

        This is a generational divide. When some of us still had classes the only form of portable digital entertainment consisted of keying 5318008 into one’s electronic calculator.

      • pancakes says:

        You hardly need a gaming laptop to play CSS

        • drewski says:

          No, but you need something a lot more portable than a desktop, which is what the first commenter was smugly extolling the virtues of.

          • AchronTimeless says:

            Yeah, 3 monitors aren’t exactly portable but.. why the hell would I want to go back to just 1?

      • solidsquid says:

        Technically yes, but your lecturer might object to the large extension cord you have running across the room from a power outlet and the extra seat you’re taking up with the box

    • Dorothy_Wildman says:

      what Victoria responded I’m blown away that a mother can make $6834 in 4 weeks on the computer. did you look at this web page… http://www.ace60.com

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      My friend’s solution when his laptop screen broke was to plug it into his TV instead. Problem solved!

    • Zeewolf says:

      Stephany, that is so true. The uncle of my coworker’s sister makes $3.50 an hour just by sitting in front of his computer and spamming websites with advertisements. What a wonderful life! We are all impressed. By the way, did you look at this website? http://www.dammitthislinkdoesntevenworkwhattheeffinghell.com

      • Baines says:

        Be careful. I don’t know how many people automatically hit the “Block” button when they see something that looks like spam. I almost hit it myself, before I noticed the fake address and then paid attention to the joke text.

    • Axelius says:

      I agree that desktops are better for gaming and easier to replace the screen on.

      But I study in one country and live in another. Around six times a year I take a flight that takes me from the UK to Sweden or vice versa, each time for at least three weeks. These three weeks or more aren’t vacation, but me living in the country. Personally, I’d like to be able to play games on my computer in both these countries, since I spend about half the year in each, and since I don’t have enough money to buy two desktops it is easier just to game on a laptop.

    • timespike says:

      And that was possibly more steps than you needed to take. Some display connectors are hot-swappable.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Sounds similar to how i upgraded my RAM, CPU/motherboard, GPU and added more storage to my desktop as well, not to mention a new chassis, and a power supply.

      My desktop’s iFixit score would probably be a 10/10.

      • roryok says:

        Having an iFixit score of 10/10 is all very well, but I find the how-often-I-need-to-Fixit index is more telling. The side panel is permanently off my desktop because something goes wrong regularly. (this is what happens when I self build)

        • SuicideKing says:

          lol nothing usually goes wrong with mine. True, an RMA once in a while (actually only twice till now, once a failing HDD which was SMART enough to forewarn me, and a RAM stick, which annoyed the hell out of me for months with random BSODs) but the only time i have to open my desktop is usually to clean dust filters and to add/remove components.

    • Guzzleguts says:

      So OP saw an article about fixing laptops and just had to tear themselves away from the awesome games on their awesome rig to spend five minutes making the same tired jibe that comes up all the damn time.

      Can we officially rule this as trolling now, because it is getting seriously, seriously OLD!

      If you don’t have a laptop then why are you reading this article? There are plenty of others.

  2. Rich says:

    That particular laptop doesn’t look to tricky to tinker with. I keep meaning to do a few upgrades on an old HP one I’ve got lying around, but I’m a bit intimidated by the need to completely take it apart to do anything at all to it.
    The wife’s machine, on the other hand, was a doddle. Changed the CPU without having to take anything other than the fan and a few covering plates out.

    • phelix says:

      Swapping a CPU does get tricky when you’re upgrading to one that requires a different socket.

      • Rich says:

        I meant, in order to get the heat sink of this old machine, I’m going to have to remove the screen mount, disk drives and actually lift the motherboard out. I repeat, that’s just to get the heat sink off in order to swap the CPU.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      Absolutely. On my old Dell I had to pop out some front panels and then the keyboard (along with the cable connected underneath it) just to get to the final screws that let me separate the two halves. Then I had to take the wires off the network card and screen as well. As laptop fans are particularly quick to get clogged with dust, this was a royal pain in the ass.

      I also tried to take apart my friend’s Asus once, but I had to give up as all the plastic screw sockets had broken off and were rotating freely.

      On my new Sager though, I can just unscrew five screws and have instant access to the CPU, fans and heatsink. The memory slots have their own panel with only two screws.

  3. hernismall says:

    lol

  4. jezcentral says:

    I wanted to change the video card in my laptop, but grawled one of the screws. I had to drill it out with a power drill.

    Having seen it withstand that kind of abuse, I realised my fears about the ever-so-fragile innards if my PCs were unfounded. A month later, I’d built my first PC from scratch. I never looked back.

    • Rich says:

      Building a desktop from scratch is fine. My fear with laptops is that I’ll lose all the bloody screws.

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Get yourself a tin of Altoids-brand curiously strong mints. It makes for an absolutely superb screw container. As a bonus, it comes filled with delicious mints! It’s a win-win situation, unless you’re horribly allergic to mint. In which case, find a friend who is not horribly allergic to mint and share the minty goodness.

        Mmm, mint.

      • Sakkura says:

        You could always grab some clean screws and apply the blood to them yourself. >:D

      • Llewyn says:

        In my experience this is never a problem with laptops. Invariably when you put it back together there will be several screws left over that don’t appear to have come from anywhere. In the event of losing some simply dismantle and re-assemble the laptop several times, garnering surplus screws each time which will soon cover for your earlier losses.

        I’m pretty sure this is how screws are mass-produced, but obviously by people who can assemble laptops quicker than Craig.

        • rapchee says:

          lol i get a few extra screws out of mine too every time i take it apart XD

        • HothMonster says:

          I’ve found it helpful to lay them out on a piece of paper in the shape of the laptop so I know at a glance where it goes. If you’re artsy you can even sketch out the laptop. One sheet for the case and one sheet for the innards. Tape them down if you won’t do all the work in one sitting.

          My buddy does the same but lays them out in the order he removes them so he just puts them back in backwards. When I try this way though I forget where it is suppose to go so I like the layout style.

        • po says:

          With the size of screws used in a laptop, a piece of double sided sticky tape is handy to stop them getting knocked around and lost, while keeping them in the groups and order you removed them.

          • Noumenon says:

            You can make your own double-sided sticky tape by making a loop of regular tape with the sticky side out.

      • tehfish says:

        Tip for dealing with laptop screws:

        Buy some A4/A5 labels, peel them off and tape them sticky side up to your desk.

        when disassembling the laptop, stick the screws to the label, lay out the screws on the label in a similar layout to where they came from on the laptop.

        Makes putting it back together a breeze, no worrying about which size screw goes where :)

    • caddyB says:

      They are surprisingly robust, I’ve been building my PCs since I was 10 since my father knows a lot about these things. They are also fragile in unexpected ways:

      A few weeks back while oiling the fans in my case I broke one of the stupid things because I got frustrated and applied too much force. Various types of glue didn’t seem to do the trick so I had to use my mother’s hot glue gun thing. Then I had to solder the cables of my GPU fan as well because they got pulled out when my cat tried to help.

      It all seems to have worked out since I overclocked my stuff and they are running colder than they used to .

    • PoulWrist says:

      I build so many PCs for work and friends and such, that whenever someone who isn’t used to seeing this kind of thing done by someone who’s done it hundreds of times, they are completely shocked at the treatment this stuff gets :p

    • SuicideKing says:

      I know, it’s a great feeling the first time you tinker/build and it’s successful.

      Though it’s trouble for everyone you know, because then you keep wanting to take apart their PCs and look inside. :3

  5. Sakkura says:

    Hmm, at first glance I thought you were playing ukulele or something in the last picture. Now I’m all disappointed. Think what a man who played the ukulele AND fixed laptop screens could accomplish!

  6. notenome says:

    “Taking no chances, I stripped naked, covered myself in conductive jelly, and pretty much humped my living room’s radiator for a full half-hour.”

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

    Also: Isn’t this Cara territory? Or is there not enough computer BDSM to warrant a manifestation?

  7. Low Life says:

    Now let’s just hope that the rest of laptop manufacturers don’t follow Apple’s lead.

  8. Pete says:

    Note to people planning on doing this: find the instructions and/or check ifixit.com before buying a replacement screen. Some laptops are much harder than others.

  9. TechnicalBen says:

    Did this for a friends Netbook. Was easy to take apart and swap the screen. Except the bit where the Wifi card screw, that’s attached to the case/board/things I need to get to, threads it’s self and I spend an hour and 3 drill bits drilling it out.

    I’m still up for doing more repairs though. It’s a learning experience I find quite fun.

  10. Doomsayer says:

    I can’t upgrade the graphics card on my laptop because half of it is part of the motherboard. The other half stopped working a year ago, but the laptop mostly works as long as I don’t fiddle with the power settings. I’m afraid that if I so much as touch the thing it might explode, and anything more demanding than the Source engine runs at the speed of a turtle.

  11. pepper says:

    Cant say I ever fixed a laptop, but I did fix multiple screens of the LG1919S 19″ 5:4 displays. They have been infested with the cap plague from mid zero’s. So, after realizing my delicious screen failed I openend it up, and the sweet smell(it isnt) of a popped capacitor drifted towards me. Nothing a quick browse to the local electronics supplier couldnt fix. Although the screens now run with overrated caps, just to be safe. The good news is that only one out of the bank of four caps failed, everytime the same one also. For me the most important thing is a good soldering Iron, it makes it so much easier.

  12. SquidgyB says:

    It seems strange to me that people are apprehensive about this kind of thing, but I suppose growing up as a modeler/tinkerer/general taker aparter and putter back togetherer and working in IT has made me somewhat blase about it.

    It’s a lot like looking at my friends who are into cars – they’ll listen to an engine and tell you what’s wrong, pop the bonnet and do some clanking and make the car purr…

    I’ll boot up a sickly PC and 8/10 times I’ll know what’s wrong with it or have a general idea of where to start by the time windows boots up (or not, as the case may be) and the taskbar icons have loaded…

  13. JFS says:

    Now if only someone can tell me how to open my Dell laptop to get to the fan, which I suspect is sticky with dust or something, as my machine keeps overheating.

    On the other hand, I still have guarantee left. Maybe I should just send it in, but I don’t fancy the thought of strangers taking apart my only computer. They’ll probably just format C: and be done with it, anyway…

    • SquidgyB says:

      Depending on how bad the muck is, you could try blasting some canned air through the grill. If you hear a whizzing noise and a puff of dust, you’ll probably have fixed it. However, if the muck is so ingrained that the fan has stopped moving for a long time, it’ll be dead – carry on with what you were doing (or like you said take it back first – the warranty will probably be void if you open it up).

      Oh, and google your model number and “teardown”, you’ll likely find some youtube video or a blog showing you how to do just that.

    • db1331 says:

      Most Dells have their fan either under a door on the bottom, or under the keyboard. For the keyboard, you normally have to take off the keyboard bezel (plastic bit above keyboard with lights/buttons) and then you will see the two screws holding in your keyboard. You could also just look up the manual for your model on support.dell.com.

  14. PopeRatzo says:

    You think I could do the same thing with my wife’s old Macbook Pro? It really should be replaced, but she doesn’t want to part with it because it cost thousands when we bought it back in the 1950s.

    All of a sudden, the bottom half of the screen is just a bunch of colored lines, so I assume it’s the screen. I ran to shop for a new one online, but my wife hid the credit cards. She’s a frugal gal and wants HER laptop fixed, not a new one and looks at me like I’m supposed to be able to do it.

    Can this marriage be saved?

    • rapchee says:

      totes. although afaik some macs have some special screws.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Possibly… I replaced the jack on my iPod video, which I bought around 1960, you might be lucky enough that it’s old enough to be tamperable with.

    • Sampy says:

      It’s worth looking into. Apple stuff is definitely user serviceable, they just don’t want people to know that.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Though they’ve made some moves to solder components directly onto the boards, it’s not quite 100% applied to every model.

    • Low Life says:

      Could always secretly buy a replacement laptop and move all the files over. She’ll never know!

      • drewski says:

        PopeRatzo’s wife is complaining about the display on her laptop not working, so we’ve replaced her Macbook with a bobcat on acid.

        Let’s see if she notices.

    • HothMonster says:

      I’ve replaced a few macbook screens they are generally pretty easy. I would google a guide for your model before you buy anything though.

      • po says:

        There’s a possibility it’s not the screen though.

        Mac laptops have pretty poor cooling, because they’re supposed to be nice and quiet, they also in the past have had far too much thermal compound applied between the chips and the heatsinks, resulting in the heat being conducted back into the area surrounding the chip. Those things combined with the requirement since ~2006 for lead free solder – which doesn’t have the same structural stength as lead/tin solder, and is more likely to crack after enough heat expansion/contraction – tends to result in some of the connections to the chips coming loose from the motherboard with age. If it’s the graphics chip, you can get lines on the screen.

        I’ve personally had this happen with 3 apple laptop motherboards. My G3 iBook, which has a permanent red line on the screen, and my macbook pro, which had it’s first motherboard replaced under warranty, and the second board I managed to repair myself, by using the method outlined here

        ifixit.com has the best mac dissasembly guides by far.

    • grundus says:

      iFixit has some pretty good guides when it comes to Macs, go have a look at that.

      Right now I’m in the middle of a ‘project’ to swap the logic board of a 2002 PowerBook Titanium with a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, I bought an LVDS board (basically an LCD controller to turn a laptop screen into a standalone monitor) and to plug it in I have to crack the lid open on the laptop just like Craig did… However, when the lid is nothing more than two sub-1mm thick slices of titanium epoxied together all the way around, things get tricky. I have no idea how I’m going to open it without completely fucking the whole thing, this makes me very sad. Some guides on the internet say you pretty much HAVE to bend the lid to open it, but I want it to be pretty rather than hacky.

  15. rapchee says:

    well i wrote about this earlier, but this is now the appropriate article, and i still didn’t really get over it, so i’ll tell it again :)
    i was kind of worried of meddling with laptops too, the most experience i had was cleaning the fans and replacing memory, so when my gaming laptop’s video card died, i thought too that it’s over for it. at the time i could get a replacement card for about £80, or a different card for £60, but that too was kinda a lot for a dualcore, ddr2 system. fortunately however, somehow i found an article that detailed “how to bake your video card back to life”. 0_0. yep. well, i figured it’s screwed anyway, might as well try.
    i don’t know if it’s this laptop or they’re like this in general, but this one is like there are these interlocked layers of components, that can only be dismantled in one specific way – if i didn’t have a service manual, i’m fairly sure i couldn’t have done it in a reasonable amount of time. the video card is on the innermost layer, so my room was covered in parts when i got there. one important thing with baking is to remove the combustible parts like stickers and foils, as the article mentioned, although right after that the guy said that he forgot to remove some foil, so it shrunk on the gpu, but it was no big deal.
    as terrifying as it sounded, i put the card on a baking tray on top of four aluminium balls and a sheet underneath it, baked it for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven on mark 5, then just let it cool down for about 30 minutes (just to be super sure, probably 15-20 would be well enough), put it all back together, put the extra screws away to a matchbox (i have no idea where those came from), and turned it on – and it worked perfectly, and i was blow away.
    still am. although, that’s partly because it keeps happening – the card dies, and i bake it back again to life. done it 3 times so far. i really should replace it, but it’s hard to convince myself to spend money when i don’t have to. yet, at least.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Nah… For real?

      So now I’m gonna end up needing a new laptop AND a new oven? Should I throw the cat in there too?

    • XisLoose says:

      I actually had to do the same thing with my desktop computer.
      My 8800GTS just stopped working one day, and as I was about to give up on it I decided to look for other solutions online , and stumbled onto the whole baking thing.

      My g/f thought I was mad (“In the over? what if it explodes?!?!”),
      but it worked , as if magically.
      Only as opposed to your case, my card’s been working flawlessly ever since (been almost a year).
      Took some pics along the way

  16. dsch says:

    My old laptop had the infamous nVidia chip that overheated and cracked the solder in the ball grid. Had to take the whole thing apart and use a heat lamp to do a DIY reflow every two weeks or so, until it failed again.

  17. Brun says:

    And what’s a laptop if not a bigger, less phoney phone?

    A phablet?

  18. Morlock says:

    The important question is: Did the Batman t-shirt help?

  19. db1331 says:

    This is basically what I do for a living. I work in the IT dept. for a fairly large university. Part of my job is hardware/accidental damage repairs on student/faculty laptops. LCDs are pretty much the easiest part of a laptop to replace (apart from HDD and memory obviously). The look on a kid’s face when he hands me his laptop with a shattered LCD and I hand it back to him good as new in under 10 minutes never gets old. I don’t know about Acer, but it seems like every other replacement LCD I get from Dell is defective. They either have a line through them or a dead back light. Nothing like replacing an LCD to turn it on and find out you have to replace it again.

    Anyhow, don’t be afraid to do this on your own. I’ve worked on lots of models, and they are almost all 6-10 screws, and removing a bit of plastic. Very idiot-proof.

  20. Potunka says:

    A little off, but a bit on, topic: What I hate about laptops: Bloatware: Let’s obliterate it.

    But first, a question: What laptop companies are good about their bloatware, i.e., it doesn’t exist?

    I was doing a clean Win7 install on my mother’s laptop (BECAUSE I AM A GOOD SON), and had a few unidentified devices. I know, everyone says go to the laptop manufacturer’s site and download ALL the drivers. Well, that doesn’t exactly float my boat. After a few hours of scouring for resources, I found a guide and a website!

    http://aps2.toshiba-tro.de/kb0/HTD0302U00000R01.htm
    http://www.pcidatabase.com/

    This allowed me to identify the couple of missing devices with minimal installs. I like it. Laptop can run a clean Windows install just like a desktop :)

  21. Hauskamies says:

    My laptop has been working as my outer harddrive and as a peripheral to my TV for quite some while. Never felt any grief as I use my desktop 99% time anyway :)

  22. wodin says:

    Putting fans on CPU’S I used to hate…might be easier these days than a few years ago though
    Also I had to change a laptop keyboard..that was a terrifying things aswell that I wouldn’t want to do again.

    • stiffkittin says:

      Christ, when they make you pry several keys off their fragile plastic springs to access the clips/screws! That is super scary the first time you do it. CPU fans are definitely easier but still an annoying time sink.

      • wodin says:

        thats right..nightmare…also trying to get it to hook up..had to use a knife or screwdriver with loads of force..hoping to god I didn’t slip and put the knife into the motherboard.

  23. stiffkittin says:

    8 years ago the HD on my powerbook kicked the bucket (literally, I thought it had emphysema the racket it was making). Mac repair is hideously expensive and I spent 6 months booting the machine from an external drive.

    Finally I plucked up the nerve, sourced the part and found a helpful pdf. Unfortunately, with the old G4s you had to literally dismantle the entire machine to access the disk. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I reached a stage of nervosity where I came within a hair of tossing it out an open 4th story window. It’s amazing how unpredictably the tension of working on these things can affect you. Of course this was the first remotely technical thing I’d ever done. I only had the vaguest notions of how all the bits in the guts of the machine worked in arcane congress.

    In comparison the new unibody macs are a piece of piss. Remove one panel and you have access to practically every part. Although imagining the screen, within that impenetrable aluminium shell, crapping out one day is enough to give me cold sweats.

    • grundus says:

      Oh hell yeah, I once swapped the hard drive out of an iBook G4 (which had a dead GPU) and into a 12″ PowerBook G4 (Aluminium, which was fine except for the dead hard drive). Talk about completely, absolutely, mindfuckingly harrowing… I think after I’d pried up the lower half’s top tray with a debit card I was a little more relaxed, but still.

      • trjp says:

        SIM cars make brilliant prizing tools – they’re a bit thinner than credit cards and a bit more maneuverable too.

        I also keep one of those dentists ‘picks’ for trickier bits…

  24. LTK says:

    Whaddayaknow! I think you’re using the same laptop as my sister does. This is good to know in case hers ever breaks.

  25. trjp says:

    Replacing laptop screens has always been easy but there are pitfalls you should be aware of.

    1 – when sourcing the screen, ensure you’re getting a new and Grade A item and not a used or Grade B one (the latter could have dead pixels or pressure marks or worse)

    2 – when prizing the bezel you stand a fair chance of breaking it – this is esp. true on some Dell models where the bezel is made of paper I think. They aren’t cheap to replace either so BE CAREFUL

    3 – be ultra careful mounting and tightening the screen, it’s easy to twist and crack it

    4 – be careful when putting cables back into the bezel/around the hinges and with the ribbon cables because – if one snags/kinks and breaks you’re in a world of pain

    Lastly, check local repairers for price – I know a guy who whos this so cheaply that I just knock all my repairs to him. He charges <£10 to fit a screen and gets wholesale prices on them lower than I can get too!

  26. maninahat says:

    Gah, I’ve been longing to tighten up the screws holding my laptop hinges, but the process requires unscrewing practically every piece of covering to get at them. It’s more than I’m willing to risk, and yet I don’t even think there is one. Laptops put the fear of god in me.

    • trjp says:

      It’s really unusual that you have to strip a laptop to get at the hinge screws – worst case is usually pulling-off the facia/loosening the keyboard!?

      I repaired a Dell E6400 recently where you didn’t have to do a damn thing to access the screws, they’re under plastic clip on/off covers and I think some are actually visible even with those in place!

      That said the same Dell had a 2 screw (captive – nice!) base – but corporate laptops are designed for ease of maintenance wheras cheap consumer laptops are more and more about NOT being accessible (including some which require major surgery to get to the HDD and have soldered-in memory!!)

      • maninahat says:

        I’ve finally done it, and it’s made a marginal difference. I removed the bezel, but to get at the screws, I had to mess around removing the speaker covers too. Even after tightening everything up, there is still a lot of flex in the hinges, and due to a couple of the plastic tags apparently snapping a while back, there is a lot of give elsewhere.

        • trjp says:

          Yeah, that happens with some laptops. You could replace the hinges but that’s a BIT more of a job.

          To anyone else thinking of tightening-up the hinge screws – do it carefully, over tightening them won’t help and might, just, snap something and you’ll really hate yourself then!

  27. Rian Snuff says:

    I LOVE LAPTOPS WITH BROKEN SCREENS. And let me tell you why!

    I repair and build a lot of computers for people, or simply walk them through the steps how to do it themselves. A lot of the time I have someone ask me to help them buy a new laptop because the screen is broken. I tell them it’s an can be repaired, I show them the price. But HALF the time they simply decide to buy a new laptop or go with a micro budget gaming build (300-450, depending on what they already have around the house). So whenever they do this I simply say.. As payment let me take your busted up laptop. So now I have about five laptops with broken screens. I have NO shortage of 23′ monitors in my home… So what do I do? I entirely remove the laptop monitor, I make a bracket which I glue to the back of the laptop and I simply MOUNT the laptop to the monitors brackets on the back. I then plug in a wireless keyboard/mouse and BAM. Every single person in my house now have their own “all in one” computer. The rest of the laptops I own will eventually have the same done to them and I will sell them for dirt cheap to anyone who needs a computer. Pretty much for slightly more than the cost of the monitor/keyboard/mouse really.

    Why? Because I love computers and love helping people out, modding and genuinely just being a bad ass.

    So guys, the next time you have a broken laptop but don’t care to follow the awesome guide in this post just remember this! It’s also great as simply having a backup system behind your gaming PC’s monitor really. Perhaps installed Android-x86 on it like I did with my gramps. HE LOVES IT and it looks beautiful on his little desk. : )

    Peace!

    • trjp says:

      You realise to a lot of people any problem with their laptop is just an excuse to get a new one!?

      I figured this ages ago when people seemed unimpressed at my ability to make their laptop run faster/fix things like HDD problems etc. They’d strongly hint it “wasn’t worth the time perhaps” or that it would “Only go wrong again soon”

      So I too have (had – I cleared a load out recently) a lot of unwanted but cheap-to-repair laptops! :)

  28. Radiant says:

    I once replaced a screen on a tablet laptop that had a swiveling screen that turned it into a slate.

    I now have a very expensive all in one keyboard permanently plugged into a dock attached to a monitor; like a life support machine that allows you to look into the soul of it’s user.

  29. FullMetalMonkey says:

    ‘When my laptop broke, I experienced all those stages all at once, and it came out like a sneeze with tears.’

    I may be a little off my tits but the above just made me crack up.

  30. sonofcaine says:

    lol made my evening after a pretty crappy day

  31. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    I went through most of this (except the ordering) with my laptop’s broken display only to realize that the inverter is irrevocably connected to the lcd, and so now I just have a slow, portable pc. :[

  32. laggyluk says:

    I have same crappy laptop model and it gives me blue screens unless I down clock the gpu!
    no more acers :(

  33. El_Emmental says:

    In my dreams, laptop manufacturer sell spare power supply units (the part connected to the motherboard).

    All the laptops I had to let go (after years of good service, and repairs) were because of faulty PSU, and sadly the only way to fix it is buying the whole motherboard (components like the CPU and GPU included, most of the time), which is bloody expensive and pointless when for +20% of that price you get a new brand new laptop with similar specs.

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