Stupid Laptop Designs

Laptop Repairs
Laptop Repairs

Updated November 20th 2011

Some laptops are designed to be relatively easy to open and repair but others are the absolute pits.

Because we do see a lot of different brands and models it’s not easy to remember which are the ones that are going to need some extra time and expertise to disassemble and repair.

We thought the best thing is to make a note of them here where we can refer to them later and also possibly help other people who are looking for confirmation for: “Yes, you really do need to disassemble the WHOLE laptop to get to the bit you want” sort of thing.

Here I’m going to start on a list of laptops and netbooks that need to be put in the ‘Ridiculously difficult to open and repair for no good reason’ category.
We shall be adding to the list as we come across more stupidly designed models.

  • Advent Roma 1001 – Why? Why? Why do I have to disassemble the WHOLE laptop just to replace a screen? This ridiculous design means the front bezel cannot be removed without pretty much disassembling the main body. Add to that the really poor build quality and the fact that you have to remove the keyboard to find the other RAM module (are we still making them like that?) and you have a serious contender for the Stupid Design Award.
  • Advent Modena M100 – Errr… Apparently you have to open the base unit even to get to the Hard Disk Drive or RAM!!!
  • Advent 5431 – Pray you never have to remove the motherboard in this laptop. It appears that the metal sub chassis is bent up around the motherboard after it is installed. Good luck getting it out! Another cheap and nasty laptop that wasn’t really designed for any major repairs.
  • HP G62 – As above but worse. You even have to remove the MOTHERBOARD to remove the display and hinges. Once you have done this you can access the two bottom front-bezel screws. Is this deliberate so that the average person at home who’s handy with a screwdriver can’t repair a broken screen himself?
  • Advent 6441 – Hmm, there’s that name again! Advent – crap laptops with a crap design. No wonder they are usually in the ‘budget’ line. This one requires degrees in Engineering and Chinese Puzzle Design to get the motherboard out. End result – about an hour of extra time to the repair for disassembly and re-assembly. Extra service charge for this model!
  • Sony Vaio VGN-CS215J – This 14.1″ laptop with Windows Vista installed is one of several models (including VGN-CS220J & VGN-CJ86) made by Sony that seems easy to work on at first because the entire bottom of the unit is easily removed, exposing the motherboard and fan assembly. This is where the simplicity stops. Although the power socket is not soldered to Power Socket Harness Assythe motherboard, if you need to change the socket, expect to have to remove a daughter-board, hinges, fan, heatsink assembly and motherboard just to get the socket and harness out.
    These units also have a common issue where the wires break off the solder connectors on the rear of the power socket (the power jack where you plug the charger into the laptop). Because the wires are so short, replacement of the whole power jack harness is usually the only option. We have resoldered the old wires back on before and had the unit come back in after a few weeks where the wires had broken off again. Because the plastic socket has some degree of movement in the frame, metal fatigue causes the break after a while.
    Look out for pinched cables and for cables touching hot surfaces when you reassemble as the cabling to the various components runs all over the place and it has to all be replaced properly under clips and through channels, under circuit boards etc. Might be a good idea to take a photo of the cabling before you pull it all apart so you have something to refer to later when it is time to re-assemble.
  • Acer Aspire 7535G – This work of art has the power socket inside the hinge! Yes… the cable breaks after opening and closing the laptop too many times; you know, like you’d do a couple of times a day for a few months? Suspiciously, the available service manual for the Aspire 7535G does not include a section for the socket area of the laptop.

Look out for even more stupidly designed laptops! (I did have a Sony Vaio in some time ago which required complete disassembly JUST TO REMOVE THE HARD DRIVE!!! Unfortunately I did not make a note of the model number.)

 

7 Replies to “Stupid Laptop Designs”

  1. This is a great idea, I am finding more and more stupid laptop designs, expecially notebooks. The Toshiba Portege and ASUS Aspire One both require some dissasembly just to remove the HDD! I thought hard drives were always the easiest part to remove. Out of interest, what is your preferred method for ensuring the right screws go back int he right holes?

  2. Thanks for commenting Tom!

    I’ve found all of the Netbooks we’ve worked on have to have the casing disassembled to get at the hard drive. I can kind of understand why on those tiny units but not when a full sized Sony has to be completely disassembled to get to the hard drive… that’s just insane.

    We normally use a sheet of paper and tape the screws to it in the same positions they came out of the base or palm rest. Some models use all the same length screws for the base or mark the screw sizes next to the holes (HP & Compaq etc) so don’t really need mapping out. We use parts assortment boxes with compartments and label them Base, Palm Rest, Switch Board, Keyboard, Motherboard etc so we have all the screws and small parts in order.

    I had a look at your site and wondered if you would be interested in a link exchange? Either here or on our main site: http://www.justinspired.co.uk if you like.

    Thanks again,
    Julian

  3. Advent 6441. A nightmare to remove and replace dc socket. I think it’s about time all makers reviewed this area, and mounted sockets on a small angle bracket!

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  5. ANY Advent laptop – all of them are horrendous, requiring pretty much every single case screw to be removed to do any mainboard work – that includes stripping the screen down – not just removing it.
    Hats off to Dell for moving their DC Jacks to a daughter-board, more expensive parts but less labour time so actually all in all it probably saves a few quid for the end user and makes the techs job so much easier!

  6. Laptops becoming harder to fix should not come as any surprise. Let’s not forget that it is one of the jobs of hardware manufacturers to make it as difficult as possible to repair a laptop. A repaired laptop = one less they could have sold. they want you to either have to pay them to repair it, or to damage it trying to repair it, so that someone has to buy a new one. It’s all part of the sales process. They want to squeeze every last penny they can from as many people they can. All companies do this. Some just do it more subtly than others.

  7. I agree with you completely about the Aspire 7535g. I have never seen such an annoying laptop to dismantle. Even some of the ribbon cables are threaded through different sections.

    Not only is the DC jack in the hinge, but the wire passes along the CPU heatsink.

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