written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 7/17/2009
A broken laptop power cord or power unit can lead to confusion. Where does one find a replacement? Does it have to be from the original manufacturer? There are actually third party replacement laptop power cords available, but choosing between them and original parts requires some consideration.
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Breaking the Cord
Seeing that a laptop power cord has snapped or otherwise broken can be a disheartening sight. It is not immediately obvious when replacement power cords can be purchased, and it is of course the case that a laptop will only be usable for a few hours until the replacement cord is required. This can be a big problem for those who rely on a laptop as their primary computer. Luckily, replacement laptop power cords actually do exist and are likely in stock at a location near you.
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Manufacturer Replacement Laptop Power Cords
Manufacturer replacements are readily available online and may even be covered under warranty if your laptop is still within the warranty period. Replacement power cords from a manufacturer can be purchased either from the company directly or from a third party retailer. Buying a replacement power cord directly from the company which originally made the laptop is the best way to ensure that the replacement cord will fit perfectly and will match your laptop. However, this replacement power cord may not be as high in quality as a third party solution in terms of durability, and they are only available online. Which means that it could take over a week to receive the replacement.
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Third-Party Laptop Replacement Power Cords
Buying a third party solution means that a replacement can be purchased immediately. Retailers like Radio Shack, Best Buy, and even Wal-Mart frequently carry third party laptop power cords. This will likely be a solution from a company which specializes in mobile computer products such as iGo. These power adapters usually work by providing a basic power adapter, which comes with a large number of "tips" which are used to mate with a particular laptop. This is necessary because laptops unfortunately do not use the same size plugs among their various power adapters. These kind of third-party products rarely match a particular laptop and sometimes can feel a little loose, but they get the job done and can be bought locally.
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Third-Party vs. OEM - Head to Head
Buying a third party unit is the only way to ensure that a replacement can be had immediately. There are many variations in the kinds of power adapters available, but a third party power solution from a well known company such as iGo will make things simple by providing a list of laptops which are supported. Third party adapters which provide less wattage are generally less expensive. Replacing an individual cord which detaches from a power adapter isn't usually possible with a third party solution, and this can make it a much more expensive option than waiting for a cord to come from the manufacturer.
Manufacturer power cords are provided directly from the company that sold the laptop and so they are guaranteed to work. They also are guaranteed to work well. Some third-party solutions can feel loose in comparison to power cords from a manufacturer because the adapters are made to fit many kinds of laptops instead of just one particular model. On the other hand, the manufacturer replacement may be of the same quality as the one which is broken - requiring a search for a new one.
Ultimately, choosing a replacement power cord will likely come down to when it is needed? If it is not needed soon, then a manufacturer power cord is usually cheaper and provides a better match to the laptop. If the replacement is needed now, then a third party solution is the way to go.