I recently had trouble with my laptop. The machine became almost unusable while Windows 10 was downloading updates. So, I decided to add more RAM and a faster SSD hard-drive. I'm pleased to say that the machine is operating faster.

This was also a golden opportunity to take a peek at how the laptop was designed. I'm planning to build a DIY Mini-ITX laptop, so seeing how an actual laptop is built could help with the design. Watch the video to see what it looks like.


Here's what I found:

  • The battery has started gassing, and has swollen. Thin laptops and cellphones use batteries that are basically a "battery in a plastic bag." This helps make it thin, but has the downside that they swell up if/when they start gassing. I'll need to replace it...
  • To the left of the battery is the 2.5" SATA drive (which I replaced)
  • Directly above the SATA drive is a free M.2 slot, which I could have used instead for an even faster SSD. However, those are very expensive, and I decided it wasn't worth it for this machine (the SSD SATA drive is already a big step up from the slow original drive)
  • The motherboard is dominated by two big radial fans
  • Copper heat pipes connect the GPU and CPU to heat sinks. The fans blow air out through the heat sinks
  • Below the CPU is a single RAM slot. This laptop has 8GB soldered to the motherboard. I added 16GB, so now have 24GB
  • The wifi card is in the upper left corner. Its antenna cables run into the LCD panel assembly through a gap next to the friction hinges (as do the cables that drive the LCD panel)
  • The Friction hinges keep the laptop screen where you put it. Otherwise, it would flop down...
  • There's a small Printed-Circuit-Board (PCB) at the front of the laptop for the indicator LEDs, and possibly a sensor to detect when the laptop is closed (I couldn't actually find that part, but think it could be round there)
  • All of the screw-holes that connect the two parts of the laptop shell have metal tabs. This is to electrically connect all parts for electronic shielding
  • Components are laid out very compactly. The main PCB wraps around the fans, using all the available space

All in all, the laptop has been designed to cleverly use space, while still keeping all that electroincs cool. Space and clever layout will also be needed for the DIY Mini-ITX Laptop project. Okay, it wouldn't matter if I didn't care how big and bulky it became, but I do care. It will be a bulky laptop due to the Mini-ITX form-factor, but I would like to make it as compact as possible.

I have not yet restarted the laptop project (which has been on hold). That will hopefully happen later this year. In the meantime, opening up my current laptop gave me a chance to see how laptop design is done.