07
Feb
14

Medion Laptop Repair

I used to work as a computer hardware technician in my days working in IT support for a local company. One of the things I frequently did was repair/service laptops of various types, I got quite practiced at it. Recently I put my skills to use as my partners old Medion laptop needed a new hard disk, upon inspecting it I found it was in bad need of servicing as the machine overheated badly.

Tools

Tools

When disassembling a laptop it’s important to have the right tools, otherwise you’ll damage electronic components, plastic parts, or simply be unable to complete the job. Screw drivers are important and I have a couple of good sets of screw drivers, including torx. I have a kit that uses hex shaped bits with many shapes of each type of bit, this is helpful when your fixed screw driver can’t quite fit the screw head properly. I don’t have an anti-static mat at the moment, but it is advisable to have one, if you don’t you can touch something earthed, but it’s not ideal.

The Laptop

The Laptop

You can sometimes use a flat head screw driver for separating some parts of the chassis, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you can get a plastic spudger (or even a metal one). Using one for prying the case open when required usually results in less cosmetic damage and fewer broken clips. Finally you should be prepared for replacing the thermal paste for the CPU/GPU, many designs make it impossible to clean dust out of the heat sink without removing it entirely. What I have here is pretty standard for replacing thermal paste, some isopropyl wipes and thermal paste (not pictured). The wipes are much better at cleaning up the old paste than anything else I’ve used, even if it’s hardened. Always clean the old paste off before putting new stuff on.

Starting the job

Starting the job

The first thing you should do before picking up a screw driver and going nuts is to inspect the machine. You’ll need to get a rough idea how the machine is put together. Generally speaking you’ll need to remove the battery, keyboard, hard disk, CD-ROM and any other parts that may be hiding screws first. Here I’ve removed the battery, back cover and hard disk.

Hinge and connectors

Hinge and connectors

After removing the keyboard and upper covers, I checked the hinges to see if I needed to remove the LCD in order to get to the main board. In this case I did, this meant I had to disconnect the power, data and wireless antennae from the LCD unit. Be careful to note where the connectors for each antenna go, fortunately they are usually colour coded. It’s fairly common to have to remove the LCD unit before being able to completely remove the upper half of the chassis.

Main board

Main board

After removing the LCD it was easy to remove the upper section of the chassis with a bit of wiggling, prying and finding a few more screws. Here we can see the main board nestled in the lower chassis. Removing a few screws and connectors freed the main board, as you can see I had to remove it to get a good look at the heat sink.

Main board flipped

Main board flipped

Here is the main board removed and flipped over. Normally I’d try to clean the dust out without removing the heat sink, but in this case it wasn’t possible to remove the fan if I didn’t. Sometimes you can remove the fan assembly separately, making cleaning easier.

Heat sink disassembled

Heat sink disassembled

I removed the heat sink and then the fan from it. You can see the crusty old thermal paste and a thermal pad. It’s usually best to leave the pads alone unless you happen to be able to replace them, but replacing them is rarely necessary. I used isopropyl wipes to clean up the paste and an air duster to remove the carpet of dust in the heat sink. Time to start reassembling the machine.

The first thing to do is place some new thermal paste on the CPU. Only a small amount is required, it’s only meant to fill the tiny gaps between CPU and heat sink. Putting too much in is just messy and can cause issues if the paste is conductive. Replacing the heat sink is simple, just reattach it with the spring-loaded screws, tightening them like you would the nuts on a car wheel. After that, the rest is straightforward, simply doing everything so far in reverse.

Testing

Testing

A few tips that will make everything easier: It’s a good idea to have containers for the screws so you don’t lose them, having multiple compartments for them and laying out the screws in the same pattern they came out will help you remember where they all go when reassembling. You should be careful when removing flex cables from connectors as it is easy to break a socket. In general you shouldn’t put much force into anything without checking for more screws. Here I am testing the machine after finishing, I like to run speedfan for monitoring and prime95 to stress the CPU. If there’s a problem you’ll want to know so you can fix it before giving it back! Start to finish it took about 2 hours.

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