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Last post Author Topic: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?  (Read 26526 times)

Armando

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Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« on: April 23, 2011, 11:10:50 AM »
I've owned only 3 laptop, and they all made it pretty hard to get to the CPU. However, I found that being able to easily get to the CPU (and its fan/heat sink) is very convenient for good cleanup. For my next laptop, this is going to be one the buying factors : extremely easy to take apart and get to the CPU.

Any knowledgeable people on the subject here ? Thanks.  :)

Renegade

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2011, 11:28:04 AM »
Well, a friend of mine had a macbook, and after so many frustrations found it very easy to take apart with a hammer... But somehow I think that's not what you're looking for. :)
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Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2011, 11:38:02 AM »
 ;D Good to know.
Yeah, preferably, I'd like to also be able to put it back together afterward.

techidave

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2011, 01:40:56 PM »
I have taken apart a few Dell, Acer, HP, Gateway, Lenovo's.  It seems like the Gateway and Lenovo was just under the keyboard with no covers in the way.  But it has been a while.

Macbooks are hard in my opinion.  Acers have very few manuals online to help you figure it out.

40hz

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2011, 03:14:49 PM »
I've disassembled and reassembled all the major brands. I never found any I thought were particularly easy to take apart. Worst were Toshibas and HPs. Best were Macbooks and Thinkpads - but that was probably more because we were "manufacturer authorized" to work on them, so we had full service docs. Having detailed and accurate 'take-apart' instructions makes a huge difference when you need to.

Since I'm into swapping drives when I want to repurpose or re-task a laptop, all I look for is easy access to the HD.

My favorites are those that let you install the drive into side of the case as opposed to from the underside. "Side-mount drive" laptops usually only have a plastic access panel that's held on by a single screw. With those it takes less than a minute to swap out drives once you've had some practice.

Luck with your search. :Thmbsup:

JavaJones

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2011, 03:22:51 PM »
I wonder if the more "generic" laptops like Sager are any easier...

- Oshyan

Edvard

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2011, 04:56:32 PM »
Which begs another question:
Is there such thing as a "generic" laptop that you can build into like a standard desktop case?
I've never seen anything like it, but if it's possible... hmm...

[EDIT] Looks like it is possible:
http://www.instructa...ild-your-own-laptop/
http://www.tomshardw...m-notebook,1026.html
http://www.laptopmag...ur-own-notebook.aspx

As far as taking them apart, I'd take 40Hz's advice.
I've NEVER been able to successfully take down any laptop (not that I've owned that many), so hats off to those who have.
I have the opportunity to acquire a laptop or two in hopes of curing the Capacitor Plaguew, so I'll also be watching this thread.
40Hz, have you any experience with that on Dell laptops?

40hz

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2011, 05:04:37 PM »
I have the opportunity to acquire a laptop or two in hopes of curing the Capacitor Plaguew, so I'll also be watching this thread.
40Hz, have you any experience with that on Dell laptops?

@Edvard - I've heard about it and I'm aware of it. But (knock-wood) I have yet to run into rotting capacitors with any of my clients. So far, nada - either in fact, or as a "heard of somebody who."

Finally, something "interesting" came up that I was fortunate enough not to be involved with. Yay! ;D

Have you seen much of it from where you're sitting?

« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 05:07:59 PM by 40hz »

JavaJones

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2011, 05:19:36 PM »
Build-your-own laptops are of questionable necessity as far as I'm concerned. I'd like it if they were easier to take apart and maintain from a hardware perspective, but just about anything you make end-user upgradeable is going to add bulk and potential positioning limitations which affect overall design. I'd rather have a well-designed laptop than an easily upgraded one, personally.

I've not heard of the capacitor issue affecting laptops but then why shouldn't it I guess. I did run into one or two desktop boards that had it.

- Oshyan

Edvard

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2011, 06:09:14 PM »
Well, I am a Linux user, which my co-worker says explains my insatiable desire to tinker.
If I can build my own kernel, why not my own laptop?  :P

Actually, now that I think of it from that perspective, it's probably the only way I can absolutely guarantee that said laptop will be 100% compatible with my OS; which would indeed be a necessity in many cases.

Though I do appreciate good design as much as anybody else...   8)

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2011, 06:30:43 PM »
Thanks for the contributions to this discussion.

I presently own a Dell Vostro 1500 (3 y old I believe ?). I also had an Inspiron 6400 which I gave tp my girlfrend.

Both are terrible in terms of CPU/fan accessibility (not as bad as my 8 years old ECS iBuddie... but still). I mean... having to remove the LCD, keyboard, hard Drive, DVD player, etc. to access the CPU is ridiculous. It's around 40min of work to disassemble it when you're not a pro, and then the same amount of time to do whatever needs to be done and put everything back (if you're not unlucky). Not to mention the research that needs to e done beforehand + all these plastic parts that get more and more fragile as they are popped in & out every single time you take your machine apart.

The problem is that the CPU cooling system in the Vostro gathers so much dust that it's almost unavoidable to not take it apart at least once a year (once every 6 months is preferable...)

========

This morning I've seen a few pictures of incredibly easy to disassemble older Acer. A few screws and you can replace most parts all at once.

Anyway, here are a few other interesting links I found this morning :

The upgradable, recyclable Bloom laptop concept -- Yes, Interesting.... But that's about it. :)

More interresting maybe, as it compares different "styles" of laptops (business, gamer, consumer...) : Taking Apart Your Laptop... From this article, it seems like gaming laptops are the easiest and most user-friendly notebooks to upgrade/disassemble.

Finally... HP seems to get into that game...
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 06:32:48 PM by Armando »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2011, 07:35:18 PM »
Strikes me the question is "which laptops have the best access to service manuals?" and only then "which models are easiest to disassemble?"

At least with a manual you get some clues how to get into things without breakages and lots of frustration!

In my experience Toshiba and Dell seem to have the best access to service manuals - almost all other makes seem reluctant to release their manuals.

The other big frustration is that whenever you search for an engineers manual you get totally blitzed by spam sites trying get you to buy something that should be free (and usually is if you persevere).

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2011, 07:47:22 PM »
You make a good point -- about the quality of the manuals.

Granted, Dell manuals are pretty good. However, they aren't very detailed  when it comes to access parts like the CPU. I don't know about Toshiba.

Here's what's relatively easy to access :

Screenshot - 2011-04-23 , 20_46_03.png

40hz

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2011, 08:39:53 PM »
Strikes me the question is "which laptops have the best access to service manuals?" and only then "which models are easiest to disassemble?"

Bingo! Once again Carol gets right to the heart of it ! :Thmbsup:

Quote
At least with a manual you get some clues how to get into things without breakages and lots of frustration!

If you're fortunate enough to get access to a real service manual (for techs), as opposed to the customer 'service' manual, you get a lot more than clues. The genuine service docs are a treasure trove of detailed information on every aspect of the machine they're written for. Some even go right down to the schematic level.

Unfortunately, these manuals are hard to come by unless you work for an authorized service center or know who to contact to get one. Many times they're flagged "company proprietary" and you can't get a copy for love or money unless you have some status with the manufacturer. All Apple service docs used to be like that. Not an Apple authorized service technician? Then no Apple service docs! Period.

(Note: Don't know if Apple is still doing that since my company no longer performs Apple service.)

Quote
In my experience Toshiba and Dell seem to have the best access to service manuals - almost all other makes seem reluctant to release their manuals.

Agree

Quote
The other big frustration is that whenever you search for an engineers manual you get totally blitzed by spam sites trying get you to buy something that should be free (and usually is if you persevere).

Also an excellent point!  :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

If any of these 'aggregators' have a manual to sell you, you can be sure it's also available from somewhere else if you look hard enough. That's where they got it from  And usually it's free to download when you do find it  

Sometimes it takes a phone call or email with a politely worded request before you'll be given the weblink to the manual you need. But it's definitely preferable to paying some 3rd party $15-$50 for the PDF of a manual set when you didn't need to.
 8)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 08:50:55 PM by 40hz »

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2011, 10:05:23 PM »
Well, while I somewhat agree with carol too, good instructions doesn't necessarily equal "easier to disassemble". It just means that you have a good plan. However, like I said earlier, I own(ed) 2 Dells, and neither of them made it easy to access the CPU. And in one case I manage to break some plastic, even while being extremely careful.

(If I had only 4 screws holding a cover to remove, than I wouldn't event need a manual in the first place, most probably.  :))

40hz

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2011, 04:56:52 AM »
Well, while I somewhat agree with carol too, good instructions doesn't necessarily equal "easier to disassemble". It just means that you have a good plan. However, like I said earlier, I own(ed) 2 Dells, and neither of them made it easy to access the CPU. And in one case I manage to break some plastic, even while being extremely careful.

(If I had only 4 screws holding a cover to remove, than I wouldn't event need a manual in the first place, most probably.  :))

Which is why having the manufacturer's  "take apart" instructions is so important. Most laptop disassembly involves knowing some 'tricks' to take it apart safely. You'll see things like:

Partially lift bezel and reach beneath to locate ribbon cable holding trackpad assembly to case. (You will need to do this by feel.) Gently rock cable to loosen, then carefully pull ribbon cable UP AND TO THE RIGHT to release. Notice: Cable is delicate and easily damaged. Do not use excessive force AND DO NOT PULL CABLE TO THE LEFT at any time in order to avoid possible damage.

Up and to the right? Check! And never move it to the left? Yeah...that makes perfect sense. So obvious. Shouldn't everybody know that?

One manufacturer (who will remain nameless although you can probably guess who it is) even had a note on the instructions for separating the two halves of the plastic bezel holding the screen. The note said that said it would make "a loud snapping noise" when it finally came apart. (Nice of them to let us know. Probably got too many complaints about service techs having a heart attack when they heard it!) It also went on to say that having one (or more) of the plastic retaining tabs snap off during this disassembly procedure was "normal" and "shouldn't adversely affect" reassembly. (Love that weasle-word: shouldn't.)

I guess flying bits of sharp plastic went along with that god-awful *cracking* noise it made.

It went on to say if too many tabs snapped off "for proper reassembly," they could be reattached with a UV-setting epoxy. It then very helpfully provided the service part numbers for the epoxy and the UV gun so you could order them (at your own expense: epoxy $26/UV gun $89) if more than the "normal" number of tabs got broken and the case wouldn't go back together "properly."

The alternative was buying the customer a new plastic bezel set which cost about $130.

Ever wonder why I HATE working on laptops?  ;D
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 05:21:57 AM by 40hz »

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2011, 12:17:31 PM »
Thanks for the tasty anecdotes.  :)

Partially lift bezel and reach beneath to locate ribbon cable holding trackpad assembly to case. (You will need to do this by feel.) Gently rock cable to loosen, then carefully pull ribbon cable UP AND TO THE RIGHT to release. Notice: Cable is delicate and easily damaged. Do not use excessive force AND DO NOT PULL CABLE TO THE LEFT at any time in order to avoid possible damage.

Up and to the right? Check! And never move it to the left? Yeah...that makes perfect sense. So obvious. Shouldn't everybody know that?

 :)

This is exactly why I'm looking for brands with a better design / better access to these parts which are more susceptible to be either replaced, upgraded or cleaned... Especially if I'm going to have to "Gently rock cable to loosen, then carefully pull ribbon cable UP AND TO THE RIGHT to release", etc. IMHO, usually there are only a few parts which are handy for the (geekier?) user to be able to access easily and regularly (CPU area being one of them).

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2011, 08:56:29 PM »

jgpaiva

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2011, 06:29:14 AM »
My Acer (which is like 5-6 years old) is very similar to that. Once you take off the covers, you have access to pretty much all the components. But it's a pretty bad laptop, and don't get me talking about the incompetent support.

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2011, 11:17:30 AM »
Thanks jgpaiva. You're not the first one I hear who's not satisfied with Acer's support... But I've also heard other comments of very satisfied people. Without any comprehensive study, it's hard to really see the broader picture.

A while ago I clipped that article I found interesting -- but it's already getting a tad old (November 18, 2009) :

Mac laptops are less reliable than PCs : Research reveales 17% of Apple laptop fail within three years

Quote
Research by the after-sale warranty company revealed that Apple took the Number 4 spot, behind ASUS, Toshiba and Sony, which held Number one through to Number three, respectively.

Over a two-year period, slightly more than 10 percent of Apple laptops - the company sells two lines, MacBook and MacBook Pro - failed in some fashion, said SquareTrade. The projected failure rate of Apple's laptops within three years, added SquareTrade, was 17.4 percent.

ASUS, Toshiba and Sony, on the other hand, sported projected three-year malfunction rates of 15.6 percent, 15.7 percent and 16.8 percent.

There are not enough of these articles.

[EDIT : I forgot the link to the original study : http://www.squaretra...reliability_1109.pdf ]
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 11:34:02 AM by Armando »

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2011, 11:27:59 AM »
There are other "studies"/surveys like this one : http://www.techrepub...ell-and-hp-lose/6991. However, who can trust this ? t's about people's opinion, not about facts.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2011, 11:31:57 AM »
Mac laptops are less reliable than PCs
Research reveales 17% of Apple laptop fail within three years

Those are both the same link  :huh:

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2011, 11:33:00 AM »
Mac laptops are less reliable than PCs
Research reveales 17% of Apple laptop fail within three years

Those are both the same link  :huh:

Yes, it's the same title spread on 2 different lines. I'll change that. [Also added a link to the original study-pdf]

Armando

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2011, 11:42:21 AM »
The Best Laptop Brands: A Comprehensive Review cites several sources. Maybe the most balanced article I read till now.

jgpaiva

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Re: Easiest laptop (brand) to take apart ?
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2011, 11:57:32 AM »
Thanks jgpaiva. You're not the first one I hear who's not satisfied with Acer's support... But I've also heard other comments of very satisfied people. Without any comprehensive study, it's hard to really see the broader picture.
My experience was simple: The hdd died. I asked for a replacement and the replacement died the next day it arrived. I then sent it back and asked them to look into it better since it probably was not an hdd problem. They replaced the hdd and sent it back. This time it didn't even work out of the box. I sent it back again, and reported the previous experiences. They ignored my comments, replaced the hdd and sent it back to me. It died the next day, I bought a new computer and swore never to buy an acer again.
Other than this and overheating a bit, the laptop was actually nice.

Regarding apple: At work we use apple. The older computers (4years +) have no trouble. However, about 50% of the new computers (laptops and desktops, a total of around 15 machines) failed within 1 to 2 years. My own desktop went to be repaired for screen problems, but the laptop has no problems. The warranty was pretty good, however (but since this is Portugal and the support it not given by Apple themselves, YMMV). We now buy all machines with warranty extension, since some failed within 3 years (standard warranty covers up to 2 years).