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Learning how to build a laptop can feel like a monumental task, especially for someone with no experience. However, it’s something that anyone can learn to do. As much as it may seem incredibly complicated, learning how to build a laptop comes down to following instructions.
Whether you’re learning how to build a laptop for gaming, work, or school will affect what your priorities are in building your PC. However, regardless of what type of laptop you want, you will follow the same process.
To start building your computer, you need to know what exactly you need to start building.
What Do I Need to Build a Laptop?
To build a laptop, you will need the components of the computer, such as the processor and hard drive. However, you will also need several tools to help assemble all the different pieces. Five tools are 100 percent required to build a laptop: a screwdriver, anti-static equipment, light source, zip or twist ties, and pliers.
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The most crucial tool when building a laptop is the screwdriver. Computers are held together by screws, and luckily nearly all types of screws in computers are held together by Phillips screws. As a result, you will need a Phillips screwdriver.
You’ll want to buy one that has a long shaft to help keep your hand out of the way in tight spaces. When you build a laptop, you’ll be working in very tight spaces. As a result, a short screwdriver will cause spatial problems.
A flat screwdriver could come in handy if you need extra leverage for prying things apart. However, you should only pry something apart if there’s no better way to reach the area you’re working in.
If you ever need to disassemble your laptop, a flat screwdriver may be necessary to separate the plastic housing.
You should use anti-static equipment for any serious computer construction. Touching a grounded case or another metal object will occasionally eliminate most the risk of electrostatic discharge, but better safe than sorry.
Electrostatic discharge is essentially a build-up of electricity. Too much electrostatic discharge and it can cause severe damage to your computer.
Not protecting against the build-up of electrostatic discharge could lead to frying your computer.
The best anti-static equipment is an anti-static mat. You should place the anti-static mat on the floor of your workspace. Using a mat will give you unrestricted movement. Anti-static mats can be rather expensive, so if you don’t want to make that sort of investment, an electrostatic discharge wrist strap can work as well.
It may seem obvious that you need light to build a laptop, but it can be easy to underestimate just how difficult it will be to see some things when putting your computer together.
Computer cases are full of shadows, and dropping a single screw may be hard to find after it rolls into a dark corner. As a result, having an overhead light source is a must when assembling a laptop.
Zip or twist ties
Cable management is an often forgotten aspect of computer building. Keeping your cables consolidated helps prevent the build-up of dust. Additionally, it helps keep airflow high, which helps keep your laptop from overheating.
Zip ties are more reliable and sturdier than twist ties, but they’re only suitable for one use. If you need to remove a zip tie, you will need to replace it, which isn’t the case with twist ties.
Unfortunately, a big problem when working with screws arises when the heads of the screws get stripped. That means some of the metal on the screw has been stripped away so you can’t turn it appropriately anymore.
When this happens, your only option is to use a pair of pliers to tighten the screw.
There are also a few optional tools that could come in handy during the building process. Extra screws are always a good thing to have for emergencies. Spare parts are also useful for testing how the real parts should fit into your case.
Additionally, a thermal paste can be useful. Swabbing off the thermal paste that comes applied to the components and implementing your own can ensure that the adhesive is soft and that you use the correct amount.
Finally, rubbing alcohol can be helpful for cleaning off old thermal paste or just cleaning grime where you find it.
Can I Build a Laptop Without Any Experience in Computer Science?
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Yes, you can. Building a laptop or any computer mostly comes down to following instructions. All you’re doing is putting pieces together like making something out of Legos.
Most of the pieces will be labeled, so it will be easy to tell where each piece goes. However, if you’re building a gaming laptop and a lot of your friends are gamers, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Chances are if your friend group is into computer games, at least one of them will have built a computer before and can help you.
If that isn’t the case, you can still build a laptop on your own. It may take a little longer, but it’s certainly manageable — even for someone with no experience.
Is It More Cost-Efficient to Build a Laptop than to Purchase One?
It’s a widespread belief that it’s always more cost-efficient to build a laptop or computer than to buy a pre-built one. However, that isn’t always the case. For lower-end computers, it’s usually more cost-efficient to buy a laptop from the store.
Unfortunately, PC manufacturers can buy parts in bulk. As a result, they get a lower price on each component and can sell computers for cheaper than you could build one.
However, that’s only the case for very low-end computers where you only need it for internet browsing, Microsoft Office, and some other low powered tasks.
When getting into higher-end laptops and computers, it becomes better to build your own. High-end gaming laptops and computers are actually very overpriced. With that in mind, you can build a laptop for much less.
The more specific the needs you have, the more money you’ll be saving.
When building your own laptop, you have the power to compare different components and choose them based on their strength and price. You can go cheaper on some parts, like fans, and put more money into your processor.
Will a Laptop I Build Last Longer than a Laptop I Buy from the Store?
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A homemade laptop will have a longer shelf life than the one you buy at the store. However, this comes with a couple of asterisks. You need to put everything together correctly, and you need to be able to troubleshoot issues as they come along.
When you build a laptop, you won’t have a warranty on it, and you will need to troubleshoot any problems you have on your own. Taking a homemade laptop in to get fixed will be more expensive than a pre-built one.
However, if you are on top of any issues you may have, and you assemble it correctly, your homemade laptop should last longer.
Additionally, since you built it yourself and something starts to go wrong with a single component, you can replace it without replacing the whole computer.
What Are the Benefits of Building a Laptop Instead of Buying One?
Choosing to build a laptop instead of buying one gives you the freedom of customization. You can choose which components you value the most and want to put the most money into.
Additionally, you can choose from all the different computer parts on the market.
When you build a laptop, you aren’t limited to custom builds by PC manufacturers. Many of those builds have add-ons that aren’t necessary, but manufacturers still sell them at a premium price. That won’t be a problem when you build a laptop yourself.
Additionally, building a laptop allows you to have power over aesthetics. Although it may not be the most important factor, choosing the color scheme of your computer can be nice.
Finally, as we discussed in the previous section, if you’re building a gaming laptop, it’s cheaper to build a laptop than to buy one from the store.
Should I Build a Laptop?
The choice of whether to build a laptop or not is up to you. You need to weigh the pros and cons of each option yourself.
Building a laptop will be time-consuming and can be frustrating. You need to decide whether you want to invest the time into the project. There are several benefits of building a custom laptop, but if you don’t think it’s worth your time, then buying a pre-built laptop may be right for you.
How to Build a Laptop
Here we will go over all the steps you will need when you build a laptop. Make sure to follow the instructions closely and take your time with each step. Making a mistake early on could cause problems later.
Purchase all the components
When you build a laptop, the first thing you need to decide is what the laptop’s primary purpose will be. A laptop that you use for work will require many different specifications than a gaming laptop.
A work laptop that you’re moving around a lot will need a more abundant power supply. Conversely, a gaming laptop will require more processing power. Once you know the purpose of your computer, you can start to look for components with those specifications in mind.
Components you’ll need no matter what, are a processor, notebook shell, memory, hard drive, and battery.
Additionally, depending on your personal needs and preferences, you may want to purchase a dedicated graphics card and an optical drive.
Putting together your laptop
Once you have all your components purchased, you need to put everything together. Here we’ll go through everything step by step. When we go through each step, we’ll explain what each component does as well.
Prepare your tools and ground yourself
Before you begin the process of building your laptop, you’ll want to collect all your tools. The last thing you’ll want is to be halfway through the process and realize you’re missing an essential tool.
Additionally, make sure to keep your screws in plastic baggies, so you don’t lose them.
Next, you need to ground yourself. Grounding yourself is the process of preventing electrostatic discharge being transferred from your body to the laptop and ruining computer parts.
An anti-static wristband will keep you grounded, or you can get an anti-static mat to place your computer on.
Finally, turn over the shell of the computer so that it is facing up. You will be accessing the motherboard through several removable plates on the bottom of the shell.
Mount the hard drive
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The hard drive will be your primary storage device. It will hold all your programs, files, and data that you need on your laptop.
With your shell upside down, remove the panel covering the drive bay. This panel covers the 2.5-inch bay that will hold your hard drive. The exact location of the bay can vary based on the shell, but it’s generally located close to the front of the laptop.
Now it’s time to mount the hard drive in the bracket. Most laptops require the hard drive to be attached to a bracket that fits around the hard drive.
You will use four screws to secure the hard drive to the bracket. Once you have screwed all the screws, make sure the hard drive is firmly attached.
Once you’ve made sure that you’ve firmly attached the hard drive to the bracket, slide the bracketed hard drive back into the bay. Most brackets fit the screw holes perfectly once you place it back in the bay.
Put the screws back in to secure the hard drive.
Install the optical drive
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An optical drive is the same thing as a disc drive. It’s the place on the side of your laptop where you would insert CDs. They have become less frequent over the past few years as downloading content has become more prominent.
Nonetheless, if you want an optical drive, this is where you install it. The method can be different depending on the shell you have. However, they’re typically inserted from the front of the bay opening and slide into SATA connectors.
Install the memory
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Memory is the computer hardware integrated circuits which store information for immediate use in a computer.
First, you need to remove the panel covering the motherboard. Removing the motherboard panel will be more complicated than removing the hard drive panel. You may need to pry it open after removing the screws.
Once you’ve opened the panel, you will have access to the memory slots. Insert the memory chips into their slots at an angle. Then push them down until you feel them click into place.
Like putting together a puzzle, memory sticks can only fit in one direction. If they aren’t going in, don’t try to force them, this likely means you’re trying to put them in backward.
Install the CPU
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The CPU, or central processing unit, is the main processor for your laptop. It’s the most critical component for determining how fast your computer can complete tasks.
Some laptops have a CPU lock around the socket where the CPU is installed. If that’s the case for your laptop, you will need to use a flat head screwdriver to turn it to the unlocked position.
You need to turn over your CPU so that you can see the pins. There will be one corner that is missing pins. This notch should lineup perfectly with the notch on the socket.
Once you’ve it lined up, the CPU should fit into the socket correctly. If the CPU doesn’t fit, don’t force it, it can only fit one way. If you force it, you could bend the pins and ruin the processor.
Once you’ve installed the CPU, turn the CPU lock back into the locked position. Once it’s locked into position, you should be good to go.
Install the cooling fan
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This fan will either cool just the CPU, or it will cool the CPU and other parts. Your CPU will have come with a cooling fan.
Most fans will come with thermal paste applied. However, if it doesn’t, you will need to apply thermal paste yourself before you install the fan.
Once the paste is applied, you can install the fan. The exhaust must lineup with the vents on your shell. As we’ve iterated earlier, never try to force the fan, try to wiggle it in.
If your case includes a bay to place a dust filter, insert your dust filter now. The dust filter will help keep your laptop from getting clogged with dust.
Next, attach the fan’s power cable to the motherboard once the fan is attached. If you don’t install a fan, the laptop will overheat within minutes of turning on.
Finally, close all open panels, and your laptop is ready to be turned on!
Launch Your Laptop
When you build a laptop, there’s a chance that when you first power it up, it will have errors. Errors happen when you install certain components incorrectly. You’ll need to troubleshoot these problems yourself as it’s impossible to know the cause of the problem without seeing the laptop.
Install your drivers
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Once you’ve finished troubleshooting the problems and have successfully launched your laptop, you need to install drivers. Drivers such as audio and display drivers are essential for your computer to run well. Drivers can be found for downloading online.
Many companies have versions of each driver type, make sure you do your research when deciding which drivers to install.
What Are the Biggest Reasons to Build a Laptop?
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When you decide to build a laptop, you are taking on a considerable task, but a manageable one. You should build a laptop if you want to customize your computer. Additionally, you should only do it if you feel comfortable putting it together in the first place.
Build a laptop if you want to; it can be a fun thing to do. Plus, it’s an easy way to impress your friends or relatives. It also doesn’t hurt that it will more likely than not be cheaper than buying a pre-built one.
Learning how to build a laptop can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Are you going to build a laptop after learning that it’s possible? Let us know in the comments!