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Removing the Screen on a Dell Laptop
After you've disconnected all the wiring from base to screen, it's time to unscrew the screen hinges and take it off. This is actually quite simple with all Dell Laptop models. The screen is held in place by 2-6 screws.
These screws can vary in location - sometimes they are in the back, sometimes the bottom, and sometimes only on top. In our example, the Inspiron 1501, there are four screws - two on top, and two in back.
First, remove any screw covers hiding the back screws and undo them. Keep the screen screws separate, and remember which ones were on the bottom and which were on the back. After that, undo the top screws and separate them too.
Editor's Note: We received this tip from a reader:
In the section on removing the LCD screen it says there are two screens in the back and two screens on top (in the hinges) and then the screen should lift straight up.
My screen would not "lift straight up" or come off at all. However, after I removed all of the screws from the bottom and picked up the laptop the screen came off. It turns out that the screws at the back corners go into posts that are on the bottom of the hinges. So there are the two screws on the top of the hinges and these two screws in the bottom.
I thought you might want to revise your instructions so others don't try to force the screen off as I was trying to do."
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Removing the Palm Rest
The next part of the laptop that we need to remove is the palm rest. The palm houses the touch pad and buttons, and is the last gateway to the motherboard. Before we can remove it though, there are a lot of screws we need to deal with.
Flip that laptop base over. Every screw in the bottom needs to come out before we can remove the palm rest and replace the motherboard, so get to work! In our example there are 13 identical screws in the bottom of the laptop. Other models have more, others less. Regardless, they've all got to go. Typically these are all the same length but if you find ones that are fatter, longer, shorter etc. than the others, make a note of where they go and separate them.
Once all the bottom screws are out, flip the laptop back over. You now need to remove the top "P" screws. In the Inspiron 1501 from our example there is only one "P" screw, but some models have many. P stands for Palm, and all the P screws need to be removed before the palm can come off.
Note: Some Dell laptop models have a hidden screw inside the CD-ROM drive bay. If you think you've removed every P screw and the palm won't come off, check there.
Once fully unscrewed, it shouldn't be too difficult to remove the palm. In our example, the palm is not clipped to anything and lifts off easily once unscrewed. Some models have the palm clipped to the base plastics, so you'll sometimes have to carefully pry it up. Starting at the back works well.
One last thing you have to do before the palm will come off, however, is disconnect the touchpad/button cable. This is a thin, push-connected ribbon cable. Simply grab the blue tab and pull up to remove it. The type of connector used for this can vary greatly across models. See the previous article in this series for other ribbon cable connector examples and how to deal with them.
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Preparing the Motherboard to be Removed
Once the palm rest is off you'll finally be able to see the heart of the machine - the Motherboard. We're almost to the point of being able to lift it out of the chassis but there are a few things left to do first.
First, finish removing the wireless card (if you are using a model like the Inspiron 1501 that has it installed on the motherboard). Push the metal bracket prongs "back", which will cause the card to rotate upwards to where you can simply lift it out.
There will also very likely be a couple more things plugged into the motherboard, such as the CPU fan and the speakers. On the Inspiron 1501 example model neither the fan or the speakers have to be removed before the motherboard can be. However, in very many models they do.
The speakers will be located towards the "front" of the laptop, where the screen latch is. If they don't appear to be situated over the motherboard, then chances are they don't have to be removed. If they do need to be removed, there will be only a couple of standard screws holding them in and you can simply lift them out and set them aside. As for the CPU fan, in many cases this needs to be removed but again, not all. There will only be 1-2 screws typically holding the fan in, and it is as easy to remove as the speakers. If you're using a model such as the Inspiron 1501, all you have to worry about is unplugging the fan and speakers from the motherboard, as pictured on the left.
Dell Laptop Motherboard Installation - LCD Screen and Palm Rest Removal
In this series of articles we use a Dell Inspiron 1501 as an example model on how to replace the motherboard in a Dell Laptop. With extensive pictures and detailed directions, along with notes on common design variations, we make it possible for anyone to replace the motherboard in their Dell Laptop