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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Fix My Laptop

Screening Process

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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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Craig Pearson

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