How to Open a Computer
Your computer's case houses all of your computer's components, protects them from damage, and manages airflow to keep everything cool. Opening your case will allow you to clean out excess dust and replace or install new components. You can access much more in a desktop computer than a laptop, which typically only allows access to the RAM and hard drive.
Opening a Desktop
Gather your tools.Most cases will just one screwdriver to access. Some cases use thumbscrews, but a screwdriver can still help loosen an overly-tight screw.
- The most common screw is a 6-32, which you can use a standard#2 Phillips screwdriverto remove. This is the larger of the two most common sizes.
- The second most common screw is the M3. This is slightly smaller than the 6-32, but can still be removed with a #2 Phillips screwdriver.
- If you want to clean the inside of your case, you'll likely need somecompressed airand asmall vacuum.
- Anelectrostatic wriststrapcan be helpful for grounding yourself while working inside the computer, but you can ground yourself without one.
Shut down the computer.Use your operating system's Shutdown function turn the computer off.
Unplug all of the cables from the back of the computer.If you're afraid you won't be able to remember where everything goes when you need to plug it back in, take a picture or draw a diagram first.
Identify the motherboard I/O (Input/Output) panel.This is located on the back of the computer, and contains a variety of different connectors, including Ethernet, speakers, USB, display, and more. Knowing where this is will help you orient your case on the table.
Lay the case on your work surface with the I/O panel laying closest to the surface.This will ensure that you remove the correct panel on the computer and can access the components inside.
- Avoid laying your case on the carpet when working on the inside.
Find the screws along the back of the case.You should see two or three screws along the top edge of the back of the case that hold the side panel in place. Removing these screws will allow you to remove the side panel.
- Lots of enthusiast cases and some cases from major manufacturers will use different case panel mechanisms. Some use thumbscrews that you can remove by hand, while others have a simple latch and no screws at all. If you're having difficulty figuring out how to remove or open the side panel on your case, look up your computer or case model online.
Ground yourself before touching any components.Electrostatic discharge can cause significant damage to your components without you even realizing it. Ensure that you are properly grounded by attaching your electrostatic wristband to the bare metal of the computer case, or by touching a metal water tap.
Clean your computer while it's open.Computer's build up dust surprisingly quick, and dust can lead to overheating, poor performance, and hardware failure. Any time you open your computer, you should take a few moments to ensure that dust isn't becoming a problem.
Identifying Desktop Components
Opening a Laptop
Gather your materials.Laptops use much smaller screws than desktop computers, and as such you'll need smaller Phillips screwdrivers. The most common screwdriver required for laptops is a#0 Phillips.
- If you want to clean the inside of your laptop, you'll want a can ofcompressed air.
Shut down the laptop.Use your operating system's Shutdown function turn the computer off.
Unplug any attached cables.This includes your power adapter, and any USB devices, headphones, or other peripherals.
Flip the laptop over on your work surface.You will likely see one or more panels that can be removed. Laptops offer much less access to your components than desktop computers. This is because the majority of a laptop's hardware cannot be replaced without extensive soldering knowledge.
Remove the battery.This will help prevent the laptop from accidentally turning on while you're working on it.
Remove the screws for the panels you want to open.You may have one or more panels that allow you to access your replaceable components. Most laptops allow you to access the hard drive bay and the RAM.
- Click here for detailed instructions on installing new laptop RAM.
- Click here for detailed instructions on installing a new laptop hard drive.
How can I find hidden things using a computer?
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