Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to dismount MSI PR201

Today I'm starting a new serie of posts regarding laptop modding. The first step of every laptop modding is of course the notebook dismount. The tools required are very common: a small screw driver, better if magnetic, a pair of tweezers, a plastic blade (maybe a plastic knife or plettrum) and the most important of course patience and care.
Be sure you know what you want to do. If you need just to plug in or out some component you don't need to fully dismount the laptop. Just turn it upside down, and remove the main shell by removing the four screws (two near the hinges and other two on it) and you'll gain access to the main components. If you want to change the optical drive things are even easier: just remove the screw in the middle of the chassis to let it slide out. Of course you'll need to move the connection plate from the old drive to the new.

Talking about the real PR201 dismount procedure, as all the laptops, has some critical steps so be very careful. The most important thing in our case is to keep the laptop open. Move the screen as far as it can go and leave it like that for all the steps.

Starting from the beginning the first thing is to remove the keyboard. To do that you need to remove four small metal covers near speakers and multifunctional keys, they are just near to Esc, Del and between F5 and F6, F10 and F11. Under them you'll find four plastic locks, just push them delicately to release the keyboard. To completely remove it you'll need to free the flat cable, sliding the lock bar.

Under the keyboard you'll find a screw (wow) and two other flat cables. Be very delicate and release both, then remove the screw too. On this side we're done, so turn it around, letting the screen lean out from the board, maybe let it lay on your lap.

On the back there are several screws, we first need to remove the main shell as already described. Take out the hard drive unscrewing its carry and making it slide to the border till it releases. The next step is to remove the screen: keep it on your lap and remove the remaining two screws. Now the screen is released, but not free as there are several cables, follow them carefully and remove their connectors: they should be
  • an antenna cable
  • a couple near the hard drive for camera and backlight
  • the LCD cable near the fan
  • the microphone cable that runs through the mainboard to its connector placed near the ram slots.
Wifi card, cmos battery and LCD cable connector.

To full dismount the lid too you must remove the rubber bolts at the corner of the screen to reveal the hidden screws. Once you take them apart gently slide the plastic blade along the border, releasing the locks and letting the LCD panel out. Be careful not to damage the cables and the panel itself as they are crucial.

Start from here, releasing the block visible on the right.

Now let's go back to the main chassis. Take care of all those screws you can see in the chassis, remove optical drive, pcie cards, the fan and the three screws surrounding the cpu. Remove express card and card reader covers. Now comes the hard part: starting from the battery slot insert the plastic blade between the top and the bottom part and open the main chassis. Be very careful as it is quite complicated, don't force it as you might have forgotten a hidden screw. The mainboard is not going to remain connected to the palmrest shell but to the bottom part. Pay attention to the audio out and mic in, they must remain with the mainboard as they're soldered. Once it's released unplug the other connector left and pull it out.

Pay attention to these, they must remain with the bottom (matte) not with the top (glossy)
Now we are really close to the full dismount. If you need to free the mainboard too there is just a couple of screws left, one on the top face, under the multifunctional keys, the other holds the heatpipe: release them, but be sure not to mess up with the thermal pad and the thermal compound if you don't have the right stuff to replace them. Now focus on the VGA connector: you have to pull it up while forcing the chassis a bit so it comes out of its hole with the whole board.

Yeah, we are finally done. To reassemble everything it's quite easy, no strange steps:

  • Insert the mainboard in the bottom chassis, screw it in the second hole, the one between the vent hole of the main board and the big Intel IC.
  • Mount the main chassis and re-plug the connector.
  • Screw everything except the hinges, and the two holes that are going to be filled by the main shell screws.
  • Make the hinges fit in their spaces, then carefully screw the hinges in the holes closer to the edge. Now make the cables run in their places, making sure that they are relaxed enough so they won't stretch when you close the lid: you should find a white sign on them, just let it stand at the chassis border, just before cable guides. These two cable guides are made by very fragile plastic tips, so be delicate and don't break them.
  • Plug everything in and be sure you're not forgetting anything. Take care of the heatpipe position and the thermal compound must to be replaced. Be sure to connect the fan alim unless you'll burn your cpu!
  • Place the main shell and let it slide till it's locked, then screw it.
  • Turn the laptop to put the keyboard back in. Remember to screw the last left hole and be gentle with flat cables and keyboard locks.

Before giving power back double check there is nothing left!

Power on!

Coming soon: mainboard map and my modding works,

Stay tuned

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