Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Unopenable laptop

  1. Nov 4, 2018 #1

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'd like to share my bit of frustration with a HP laptop. It has a slow 5400 rpm hard disk coupled with a Celeron N2830. While it does any job I ever asked it, the experience of using it was tinted due to its slowness of responsiveness. Booting takes more than 2 minutes, opening Firefox many seconds and browsing the web is sluggish.

    This is why I wanted to buy a cheap Kingston SSD to replace the hard disk, which is the main bottleneck (even more so than the processor!). But before spending 40 euros on the SSD, I wanted to be sure the hard disk had a 2.5 inches form factor, because the documentation for that laptop model is non existent (yeah, a true HP laptop, made in Brazil, without official doc).

    So I tried to open it, and after about 2 hours I gave up. It's as if the electronic board was soldered to the plastic cover. I followed several youtube videos, including one of a very similar model, but my laptop was different and would definitely not behave as anything I've seen on youtube.
    So, its lifetime will be the one of the hard disk I suppose. When it fails, I'll retry to open it but I may end up splitting it in half by using excessive force.

    Enjoy.
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2018 #2

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    Please don't send us to imgur to see the photo. Use the UPLOAD button to put it directly in a post.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2018 #3

    verty

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Browsing the web should usually not be sluggish. Is it just the scrolling that is slow? If so, do the following:

    1. In Firefox, go to Tools/Options, scroll down to the Browsing section and disable smooth scrolling.
     
  5. Nov 4, 2018 #4

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I already have the smooth scrolling disabled. Switching tab is sluggish, watching HD video on youtube is sluggish, google drive is very slow, waiting for the thumbnails to show up of the most visited websites page takes seconds.

    On the other side it can emulate n64 pretty well. Much better than the rpi 3 and the like boards, but this is expected of course. It's a perfectly smooth experience there.
     
  6. Nov 4, 2018 #5

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Your web experience should not be affected by a slow HD.

    Have you done a check on your throughput? There are sites that will test your connection speed.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2018 #6

    Tom.G

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you search online for the make and MODEL NUMBER of the laptop and add the word Manual, Teardown, Disassembly, Replace Hard Drive, or Replace Screen, to the search, you may find more info.

    ANd they are free. A commonly used one is: http://www.dslreports.com/
     
  8. Nov 4, 2018 #7

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    While I guess I feel your pain, my work laptop with a Core i5 takes a solid 10 minutes to boot! I use sleep a lot with it...

    My Surface (i5) and desktop (i7), both with SSDs and Windows 10 both boot in about 30 seconds. Some of that is Windows 10, but I'm a big fan of the SSD.

    Anyway, I've never seen a laptop that you had to crack open like a clam to get to the hard drive. Usually they have a compartment underneath to access it. The photos you posted were shockingly unhelpful... What is your exact make and model #?
     
  9. Nov 4, 2018 #8

    rbelli1

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A very rough guess is that there is some type of fastener under the red bar directly under the display. If you can pop that off you may be able to fully open the laptop.

    BoB
     
  10. Nov 5, 2018 #9

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Sorry, I do not know how to multiquote.
    My Internet speed is not the issue, it is pretty fast (optical fiber but I do use wifi which limits it below what I get with ethernet), I tested it with speedtest several times, no problem there.
    The laptop model is HP Pavilion 11-n030ar x360 Notebook (http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c04439109). I found a very similar looking laptop tearing youtube video, but the guy goes off from camera near minute 4 in the crucial moment, and it is obvious his laptop does not behave like mine for dismantling.

    I think you might be on the right track rbelli1, because I could spot a sort of metallic arm on the side I could barely open, but I do not know how to move it, and I couldn't spot any other near the totally stuck part, but then again I had a very limited view. Maybe neodymium magnets would be helpful to move those mechanical arms, but I don't have such materials. Plus I've never read about a laptop that would require such special treatment to be opened.
    My friend has a core i7 6700 with a 7200 rpm hard drive while I have the slightly faster i7 7700 with a fast SSD. The difference in boot time and time to open programs is abismal, showing a clear bottleneck due to the mechanical hard disk. I can boot in about 4 seconds (after the bios message gets off).
     
  11. Nov 5, 2018 #10
  12. Nov 5, 2018 #11
    Hi Fluidistic,

    I've been an IT guy for 30 years and besides tablets and systems that are glued together, all laptops can be disassembled. The usual design usually had a little door on the bottom that allowed for easy hard drive and memory replacement. These days, the common trend is to put everything inside the case with no easy access, forcing you to remove the bottom of the laptop as one piece.

    If you are doing this for the first time, the process can be nerve racking. Usually, hard drives and memory are removed from the underside of the unit. From your pictures, it looks like you are trying to get in from the keyboard side. Take another round of looks on YouTube for your model and search for 'disassembly' or 'hard drive replacement' or 'adding memory'.

    While taking apart a new model for the first time, I get a blank piece of paper and draw on the paper where the screw holes are. Or, if the paper is big enough, you can use a pen and poke holes in the paper while it is on top of the laptop. The reason I do this is many manufacturers use different length screws. If you replace a screw with a long one that should be a short one, chances are you could do irreversible damage to your computer. Some laptops use captive screws (Lenovo T-series), so you can't mix them up or lose them.

    Once the bottom panel is removed, you will see what kind of hard drive is installed. More than likely it will be a standard 2.5" laptop hard drive. Most SSDs will fit. Make sure that you move any mounting brackets or shock resistant rubber parts to the replacement drive. SSDs don't need the shock resistant rubber mounts, but they help in keeping the replacement drive in place. Do check the physical size of the drive you are getting - there are new solid state technologies (such as PCIE)that have different connectors and sizes. Make sure you know what you are getting. I prefer the Samsung EVO line. I've replaced dozens of disk based hard drives with them. There is a tool you can use to migrate data, but chances are (since you are having performance issues), a clean operating system install will work wonders. I do this to most of my personal hardware every 2-3 years and it breathes life into what most people would relegate to a junior employee or their kids (after buying a new one). If you do re-install, make sure you to a complete backup of your data.

    Good luck - if you still can't do this, see if you can find a friend that has done this before.
     
  13. Nov 5, 2018 #12

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thanks a lot guys... I can't believe I missed those 2 hidden screws behind the rubber parts. I think they are the culprit that made it so difficult for me to open/have a look inside it...
    I'll give it another try later tonight. And yeah this was the first time I tried to open a laptop, and I spent like 2 hours forcing here and there.
     
  14. Nov 6, 2018 #13

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I finally could open the laptop, but the battery screws were very tightened and although my screwdriver fits, it doesn't fit perfectly so that I have to apply a lot of force. It turns out the last screw, which tightnen the battery over the hard drive, is too tightened and I started to get a stripped screw, so I gave up momentarily. I might use a rubber band to help to unscrew that screw. And yes it's a 2.5 inches form factor hard drive which I'll replace for a cheap Kingston ssd. I have already backed up the important data and I plan to do a fresh linux install.
     
  15. Nov 6, 2018 #14

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I had never heard this life hack before.
     
  16. Nov 6, 2018 #15
    A related trick is a small spot of 'superglue'.

    I've opened jam-jars and a small, glass dessicator (*) with the aid of rubber bands, never had to use one to increase the grip on a screw or bolt...

    *) Colleague was cooling a red hot silica crucible, but the lid shifted, closed the 'breathing' gap. A partial vacuum developed. The crucible contents could be replaced, but not the crucible nor the dessicator. So, I put an elastic band around dessicator's meeting plane, popped assembly into our big vac oven and warily pumped it down. Bong !! Lid jumped, taut rubber band shifted into gap preventing a fresh seal forming. Job done !!
    ;-))
     
  17. Nov 7, 2018 #16

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It's the most coriaceous screw I've dealt with in my life. It's now stripped, I've used a rubber band applying an insane torque and using my upper body weight on it, but it didn't move an iota. My right arm is still shaking, partially numb.

    Edit: OK I just made it...! Wow.
    1)Place the laptop on the solid ground.
    2) Place a rubber band (in my case a several times folded balloon with nanoparticles so it's very tough) over either the screw or screwdriver.
    3)Use whole upper body weight on the screwdriver (I had to use tissues because it was too sharp and tiny, though I still got a bit hurt).
    4) Do not turn the screw with your hand/fist. Instead, rotate yourself around the laptop making sure you're applying all your upper body weight at all times. The turn is so slow that it will actually have a much higher chance to make the screw move.

    That's what worked for me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  18. Nov 7, 2018 #17

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    (wow is the OP ever gonna be steamed when he realizes his motherboard now looks like this)
    :woot:

    motherboardii.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  19. Nov 7, 2018 #18

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    As long as it still fits inside the case, it's ok with me! :smile:
    I've ordered the SSD, I should receive it in a few days.
     
  20. Nov 7, 2018 #19

    Tom.G

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Pray Tell; Where Oh Where can such a thing be obtained???
     
  21. Nov 11, 2018 #20

    fluidistic

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Everything worked fine, except for one screw of the hard disk. If I place it back it would crush the sata cable, there is very few space so I'll live without it. The laptop is more responsive than I thought. Much, much more responsive. Boots in 8.1 seconds, plus 1.9 seconds to load the graphical screen after I enter my password. Firefox takes 2 to 3 s to launch and is not sluggish at all. Installing heavy programs is very fast, not much slower than on my desktop with a core i7 7700.
    It's day and night compared to what I had. Or black and white. And no, my system was very far from bloated on the slow mechnical hard drive. The upgrade was worth it.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted