PC Hardware

Disassembling a computer

Disassembling a computer is a straightforward task. In most cases, you will need to remove little more than the outer cover or shroud of the case to gain access to the memory, expansions slots/cards, and the CPU. Because there are many manufacturers, each seeking to establish its own unique marketing identity, each brand has some custom components or layout. The best strategy for efficient disassembly is to locate and use the manual that came with the computer.

Often, manuals don't provide a lot of technical information, but they usually tell you how to remove the cover. The extent to which you will have to disassemble a computer depends on the specific problem or repair. Following the following procedure will help you establish a routine for completely and efficiently disassembling most computers:

  1. Make a complete backup of necessary operating-system and working files.

  2. Document the system (hardware and software).

  3. Create a clean work area with plenty of room and light.

  4. Gather all the necessary tools for the job.

  5. Implement safety procedures. (See Tutorial 13, "The Basics of Electrical Energy," and Tutorial 19, "Maintaining Computer Hardware," for details.)

  6. Turn off the computer.

  7. Disconnect the power cables.

  8. Wear an antistatic wrist strap.

  9. Locate the screws for the cover-check the manual to discover the location of the screws (sides or back).

  10. Remove the screws. It's a good idea to store them in a box or plastic tube to keep them from getting lost.

  11. Remove the cover from the computer.

  12. Document the location of expansion cards and drives.

  13. Remove all the cards and place them in antistatic bags.

  14. Document the location and connections for each drive (pay special attention to the red wire on the data cables-this identifies the location of pin 1 on the device and driver).

  15. Remove the data and power supply cables.

  16. Remove the drives from their appropriate bays-look on their sides for the screws (check the manuals).

  17. Remove the motherboard.