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How to Safely Remove the Front Panel of a Tower PC

written by: •edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 8/22/2010

Having trouble getting the faceplate off your computer? This article will describe how to safely remove the front panel without breaking anything.

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    PC Tower Front Panel Removal

    If you want to know how to safely remove the front panel of a tower PC, you've come to the right place. Your reasons for removing the front panel, which is often called the faceplate, will vary depending on what you are doing. If you want to add a new DVD or Blu-ray drive to your system, then you will most likely need to remove the panel to slide the drive into the bay. Some computer cases make you take off the faceplate to add a hard drive depending on how the drive bays are oriented. It could be that you are having trouble with the buttons in front of the machine and need to check the wiring, or maybe you want to remove the faceplate to clean out all the dust underneath. Regardless of your reason for removing it, you must be careful so as not to break the plastic tabs in the process.

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    Before You Get Started

    You should always unplug the power cable before opening your computer, otherwise you risk electric shock as well as damaging the components inside. In the case of front panel removal, be sure nothing like speaker cables or USB drives are plugged into the front of the PC because they will obstruct the removal process.

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    Open the Case First

    HP Case Opening In nearly every different computer case I've seen, with the exception of some really older models, you must first remove the outer case side or top panels before you can remove the faceplate. Do not try to yank the front panel off your computer because it will come off if you pull hard enough, but you will break the plastic tabs holding it in place and not be able to put it back on.

    Opening your comptuer case depends greatly upon the manufacturer's design, but the basic idea usually involves first taking off a side panel. Look for anything that seems like a handle or lever because most desktop PC cases are made to open without any tools required. Look for big screws with plastic grips, called thumbscrews for easy turning, as some models do hold the panel in place with them.

    Be careful not to start removing random screws from the back of the PC because they are more likely to be holding components like the power supply or fans in place, and removing them could cause those parts to fall down inside the computer and possibly cause damage.

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    Removing the Front Panel

    HP Front Panel Once you've got the case opened, your PC tower front panel removal should be pretty easy. With most HP brand comptuers, for example, they have three clearly marked tabs that you need to press in order to pop out one side of the faceplate, but that's only part of it. From there, you will have to gently pull back on the plate to undo the snap-in parts at the top or other side of the case. My best recommendation is to gently rock the faceplate back and forth until it works loose from the snap-in openings. Do not pull straight out or you may break off a tab.

    If you are having trouble getting the front panel off, make sure you pressed all the tabs and then try to pull it back enough to see where it is catching. It could be that a screw is holding it in place, or maybe you have not opened the case all the way to get it out. Most front panels are designed to come off and on without any special tools, but designs vary between manufacturers. If you can't get the faceplate off without seeming like you're going to damage something, consult the manufacturer's website for schematics of some kind and you may be able to find what needs to be done to complete the front panel removal.

    For more information on tower PC cases, check out this article on how to open a computer case.

    (Image credits: HP.com)