Buying a prebuilt laptop can be quite frustrating because you will hardly see all the features that you want, and the price can be very expensive. Not to mention all the unnecessary default programs that are packed in it. You can bypass all that if you are curious enough, building your own laptop from scratch is not easy, but it is possible and rewarding. Follow this guide to know how to build a laptop.
How to Build Own Laptop
Step 1: Finding the Parts
The first thing you need to do is to decide the primary purpose of the laptop. Building a laptop for simple tasks like checking emails and writing papers will have different specifications than a laptop for playing high-end games.
Another critical factor that you need to put into consideration is the battery life; if you love traveling or you like moving around with your laptop unplugged, you will need to build a laptop that doesn’t consume much power.
Step 2: Pick a Processor
You will need a processor that will be perfect for your computer’s needs. The shell that you will use for your laptop will be dependent on the processor that you choose.
Do thorough research on processors and look for the best one that combines speed, cooling, and power consumption. A lot of online sellers will allow you to compare processors side-by-side. And ensure that you are buying a laptop processor and not a desktop one.
Most popular processors are manufactured by two companies: Intel and AMD. These two companies have their strengths and weaknesses, but generally, AMD processors are always cheaper.
Ensure that you do as much research on the processor that you want to buy to be certain it is worth the money.
There are a lot of arguments for and against each brand, but AMD will generally be less expensive. Do as much research as possible on the processor models you are interested in to be certain it is worth the money.
Step 3: Choose your Notebook Shell
The notebook shell will dictate the hardware parts that you will use for the rest of your laptop. The shell will come with the motherboard fixed on it; this will determine the type of memory that you can use.
And do not forget about the screen size and keyboard design. Since you cannot modify the keyboard, you will not be able to change the screen and the keyboard that you choose. If you are planning to go for a large screen, consider the overall weight because it will be more challenging to carry around.
Finding the right shell can be quite stressful. You can type in “barebones notebook” or “whitebook shell” into your search engine to have a list of shell retailers. Some laptop companies will allow you to pick only the shell. While other companies like MSI and Eluktronics will provide you with barebone laptops.
Step 4: Buy Memory
Your laptop can’t work without memory and let me also point out that the memory format of a laptop is not the same with a desktop. Search for SO-DIMM memory that will be compatible with the motherboard in your shell.
If you go for fast memory, it will greatly enhance your laptop’s performance, but your battery will suffer. You can go for an 8 or 16 GB of memory for decent overall performance.
Step 5: Choose Your Hard Drive
Most laptops sport 2.5” drives, while desktops are typically 3.5”. You can also select between a standard 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM drive, alternatively, you can go for an SSD drive with no moving parts.
The SSD drives are faster, but they can be quite stressful to use over long periods; they also come in an NVMe format. NVMe drives can be more than 7x faster than a SATA drive, and they are smaller. So if you want to build a laptop that you can carry around with you, a solid-state drive (SSD) would be the best to go for.
You need to look for a hard drive with enough space to handle your computing needs. Most laptops shells come with space for just one drive, so upgrading later can be quite difficult. Do not forget that the OS will consume around 20GB, so you need to consider it before picking the hard drive. 500GB-1.5TB of hard drive should be able to handle your laptop needs.
Step 6: Graphics Card
You need to decide if you want a dedicated graphics card, this is optional because the CPU’s integrated graphics unit will handle the graphics. Besides, some shells will not allow you to fix another graphics card.
A dedicated graphics card is basically for high-end laptop users. If you are a pro gamer or a graphic designer, you might need to look for a shell that will accommodate a dedicated graphics card.
Step 7: Look for an Optical Drive
Although not necessary, an optical drive is becoming obsolete because nowadays, you can easily install operating systems from USB drives and download programs online. You will hardly see a new laptop now with an optical drive because disc memory has been replaced with memory cards and drives.
However, if you use disc memory often, then you can go for a shell that has an optical drive. Alternatively, you can invest in a USB external optical drive instead of an inbuilt optical drive.
Step 8: Select a Battery
The first important thing to consider when choosing a battery is the shape and the connector. You need to make sure that the battery will fit into the shell. Also, the battery must have the same connector. Laptop batteries come with multiple pins that you will connect to the shell of the laptop.
The battery has ICs that notifies the computer of its general condition. It sends signals to the computer if it is not working well when it is fully charged when it is empty and the battery percentage. If you travel a lot, look for a battery with a long life.
Putting it together
Now, you need to look for the tools. You need magnetic screwdrivers to make it easier and faster. This is because laptop screws are quite small and difficult to work with than desktop screws. Look for a pair of needle-nose pliers; you will need it to pick screws that fall into cracks.
Put all your screws in small plastic bags until you need them; this will keep them from rolling away or missing.
Step 2: Ground yourself
Electrostatic discharge can easily ruin the hardware on your motherboard, so ensure that you grounded before starting. You can use an antistatic wristband will be perfect. They are effective, cheap, and readily available.
Turn the Shell
Most of the work will be done on the motherboard from multiple removable plates placed in the back of the unit, so you will need to turn over the shell with the bottom facing up. The next thing is to remove the panel that covers the drive bay.
This location of the panel varies from one shell to another. The work of the panel is to cover the area that will hold your hard drive. You should be able to locate the bay around the front part of the laptop.
Mount the Hard Drive and Optical Drive
You will need to mount your hard drive to a bracket that fits around the drive. Make sure that the hard drive fits perfectly with the bracket. Use four screws to fit in the hard drive into the screw holes that are placed in the bracket.
The next thing is to move the hard drive (that has been fitted into the bracket) into the bay. Use the grip tape to apply enough pressure to seat the drive. Most brackets will line up with two screw holes once the drive is in place. Insert screws to secure the drive.
Then you can install your optical drive if you have one. The method of installing the optical drive depends on the design of your shell. But most shells are typically inserted with the optical drive from the front of the bay opening and then pushed into the connectors.
Unscrew the panel that is protecting the motherboard; this will likely be difficult to remove even after removing the screws; you may need to pry it open.
Install Your Memory
Once you’ve opened the panel, you will be able to see the motherboard and the memory slots. Insert your memory chips into their slots and push it down to lock it into place. Don’t push too hard, if it’s not locking, it means you are not installing it in the right direction.
Install your Processor
Some shells come with a processor lock that is placed around the processor socket. Use a flathead screwdriver to unlock it. Turn your processor over, you should see a corner with no pins, that corner will go straight to notch on the CPU socket.
The processor will only fit install in one way. If it does not lock, do not force it. Try another direction; make sure that the corner missing pins faces the flat surface on the socket. If you force the CPU, you may bend the pins, and the processor will be ruined.
Once the processor is correctly placed, move the processor lock back into the “locked” position.
Install the Fan
Most laptops are equipped with centrifugal cooling fans. Some laptops come with cooling fans that only work for the processor, while some come with fans that work for the processor and other parts.
Most cooling fans come with thermal paste that has been placed on the bottom of the fan; you just need to install it directly. However, if your cooling fan does not come with a thermal paste, you need to apply some before installing it.
Make sure that the exhaust is in the correct position with the vents. Don’t force the heat sink and the fan assembly in; you will need to place it carefully. You will probably see some mounting bolts to place.
If your shell has a space to place a fan dust filter, set it to prevent dust from accumulating on the heat sink. Once you have installed the fan, plug in the fan’s power cable to the motherboard.
Close the Panels
Once you have done that, you can now return the panels over the openings and screw them up. Your laptop is complete!
Starting it up
Ensure that you have inserted the battery; you can easily forget to put it when assembling the components. So be sure that it has been inserted and is working correctly before you switch on the laptop.
Check your Memory.
This is an important aspect; you need to be sure that the memory is working perfectly before installing an operating system. You can easily do this by running a test known as Memtest86+. You can easily get the program online or boot it from a CD or USB drive.
Alternatively, you can use the BIOS to be sure that the memory is identified and working perfectly. Locate the Hardware or Monitor section to see if the memory comes up.
Install an operating system.
You have two options; you can pick Microsoft Windows or a Linux distribution. Windows is expensive, but it comes with a lot of features, programs, and works with a lot of hardware.
Linux is free, secure and it’s basically for developers. It also comes with several versions that you can choose from, including Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian.
If you like to go for Windows, I will advise that you install the latest version, and if you do not have an optical drive, you will need to set up a bootable USB with your operating system files.
Install your drivers.
After installing the operating system, the next important step is to install drivers. Most recent OS programs will automatically install most drivers, but you may need to install some extra ones by yourself.
Most hardware manufacturers will provide you with a disc of the drivers. You can use this disc to install the drivers if your operating system is unable to locate the correct ones.