Common Causes of Motherboard Failure

A laptop motherboard is the life line of a laptop. It controls virtually every component and handles the input and output of data to and from each part. When a motherboard begins to fail it can be a serious problem that can be expensive to fix and severely affect the usability of the machine. Here, we will look at some common causes of laptop motherboard failure.

The number one culprit for almost any failing component in a laptop is heat. Excessive heat is usually caused by poor ventilation, which could be blocked vents on the laptop or even a fan which is failing to cool the laptop correctly. Excessive heat can cause the motherboard to warp, which can make components on the board fail. It can also loosen solder points on the board, causing components to lose contact or short, causing mainboard failure. In nearly all of these cases, a replacement of the mainboard is the required fix.

Another common cause of laptop motherboard failure is an electrical problem such as a short or a static discharge. Computer components are very sensitive to over-voltage or under-voltage problems. They are also very sensitive to static electricity. Either of these issues can cause an electrical problem with the motherboard that may lead to failure.

In many cases, a mainboard failure is actually the result of some type of physical damage. For example, the laptop DC-in jack being damaged from stress being put on the connection, this is sometimes repairable by simply replacing the jack, but can also damage a board beyond repair. Other components or connections on the motherboard can be damaged from improper disassembly/reassembly during repairs. Some integrated components are not supplied as spare parts from the manufacturer and may leave motherboard replacement as the only option.

When a laptop mainboard failure occurs, it is a very labor-intensive task to replace or repair it. One should also weigh the cost of replacement/repair against the cost of a new laptop, as replacing a motherboard is often one of the most costly repairs you can make.

Laptop Parts and Symptoms

One of the most common issues with laptop batteries is overheating. Not that the batteries are designed poorly or improperly but due to, in most cases, user wear and tear. While the laptop is using the AC adapter for power the battery acts as a backup in case of a loss of power or accidental unplugging. During this AC power use the battery becomes hotter than it would if being used independently. To lessen the chances of this overheating, which leads to a shorter life expectancy of the battery, keep the AC power adapter plugged in only if you need to charge the battery while using the device.

If the battery is consistently hot to the touch, remove it and allow it to cool down making sure it is close to room temperature before reinserting it. Should the battery continue to overheat or get too hot it will probably need to be replaced. Always replace a defective battery as soon as possible as it could cause irreparable damage to the laptop in question. In addition to overheating, failure to charge or hold a charge is another very common issue with laptop batteries.

First check to see if the AC adapter is securely plugged into the device; the tightness of the connection will vary from laptop to laptop but it should be held in place well. To check for a good connection look for the battery charging LED if one is present on your laptop.

If it is not on wiggle the cord to see if the connection makes and breaks contact. If you notice a flickering LED light then the solution is a new adapter which is far better than needed to purchase a new battery or a new DC power jack which can be repaired by a common user with a little instruction and help.

Common Issues That Can Lead to a Dead Laptop

When it comes to laptop repair, few things are worse than a dead laptop. Once a laptop does not turn on or respond in any way, it is difficult to even diagnose any kind of problem. Here, we will explore some common issues that can lead to a dead laptop if not addressed ahead of time, in the hopes that you can avoid a costly repair or replacement in the future.

The most common cause of a “dead” laptop is the laptop systemboard or motherboard. Because the systemboard controls input and output of data to and from each component, and also controls the power to each component, a problem with the systemboard often means a laptop will not respond when turned on. Many problems are caused by overheating, which can often be avoided by periodically cleaning dust from all fans and vents, and keeping good ventilation to the laptop at all times.

Many dead laptops are caused by a bad battery or a faulty AC adapter. If the laptop is not receiving power, or is receiving the wrong voltage, for example, it may not even turn on or respond. Check the AC adapter periodically for damage to cables or the transformer, and test your battery with battery monitoring software to avoid these problems in the future.

Less frequently, a dead laptop can be cause by a failing laptop CPU. This can also be caused by overheating, as the CPU creates a high amount of heat inside the laptop. Most often, however, a CPU problem manifests as a laptop that crashes or gives errors, rather than one that is dead. If you suspect that you may have a CPU issue, its best to take the machine into a repair center for diagnosis, as they will have the tools and parts to address the problem you are having with minimal investment on your part.

Defective laptop memory is not often directly a cause of a dead laptop, but memory that fails or is inserted incorrectly can sometimes result in damage to the systemboard, which can cause the laptop to cease functioning properly. Always be sure you are inserting memory correctly by lining up the notch and pins, and ensure that the memory is compatible with your specific model.

By keeping these common problems in mind and keeping an eye out for them, you can often avoid a major problem before it begins, saving yourself the time and money of a costly repair. Spending just a few minutes on prevention can help your laptop to have a much longer and more stable life.

Laptop Fan Failure

The laptop fan is an integral part of any laptop. Laptops create an enormous amount of heat and excessive heat can cause components to fail. Combine that with the fact that laptops are getting smaller and more compact, and there is even less room for air to circulate. All of these factors make the laptop fan or fans an even more important component. Since the laptop fan is such an important part of a laptop, it is wise to know the signs of a failing laptop fan.

  1. Overheating

Almost every laptop will heat up somewhat under heavy use. In most cases, you will hear the fan begin to spin faster and make more noise when this occurs. If your laptop begins to get excessively hot and the fan does not appear to be spinning faster, it may be failing.

  1. Strange noises

If you hear strange whining or grinding noises, the source could be a failing laptop fan. In some case, the bearings of a fan wear out or lose their lubrication, and the result is a noisy or grinding fan. You should replace it immediately.

  1. Laptop locking up

If your laptop freezes or locks up, especially when performing a processor-intensive task, it could mean a laptop fan failure. Excessive heat is one of the primary causes for computer freezes. If this problem persists, try replacing the laptop fan.

  1. Fan keeps running

In some cases, the laptop fan may continue to run and run at full speed, even when the laptop is not hot enough to warrant it. This can also be a sign of a failing fan, as it is not responding to the laptop’s signal to lower the fan speed.

Replacing a laptop fan can be a simple job or a very complex one depending on your laptop model. Some fans are easy to access, while some require a lengthy disassembly process. You can check around in search engines for replacement instructions specific to your model to take some of the mystery out of replacing your laptop fan.

How to replace your HP laptop’s memory

Upgrading your HP laptop’s memory is one of the best ways to get better performance, and it is also one of the easiest upgrades to make. The procedure may be different for each model, but the same basic instructions apply.

  1. It is not a bad idea to back up important data in case something goes wrong. Shut down the HP laptop and remove the battery. Also, unplug the laptop from the wall to ensure no power is going to the machine.
  2. With the screen closed, flip the laptop over and find the RAM access door. In most cases, it will be marked with a picture of a RAM stick. If you cannot find the access door, check the user manual for your HP laptop.
  3. Unscrew the access door and remove it from the laptop.
  4. The memory has clips holding it in. In some models these clips need to be opened to the sides. In other models you must press on the memory and it will swing out toward you to be removed. Remove the memory by gently but firmly pulling it toward you.
  5. Replace the new memory in the same slot as the old memory. Make sure the notch at the bottom of the memory stick matches the notch in the slot and gently but firmly slide it into the slot.
  6. Replace the securing clips if necessary for your model of laptop. Swing the memory back into place if necessary for your model.
  7. Replace the access door and any screws.
  8. Replace the battery, power up the HP laptop, and verify that the correct capacity of memory is being recognized.

Replacing memory is a very simple process that can be safely performed by most users, but it is always a good idea to consult your user manual for the location of the access door and specific information on how to replace the memory for your model of laptop. It is also a good idea to consult a computer parts retailer that can ensure you get the correct memory for your computer, and can also advise you on the maximum amount your laptop will support.

Toshiba Laptop Memory Replacement

When looking at upgrade options for a Toshiba laptop, you will find that upgrading the laptop memory is likely to have the greatest impact on the overall performance. Programs store their data in RAM when they are running. If multiple programs are open at once and the laptop runs out of free memory, it must begin using the hard drive to store and retrieve the extra data. Since hard drives are much slower than RAM, this results in slower performance. Upgrading memory allows users to run more programs with fewer slowdowns and speed up operating system load time.

Replacing your Toshiba laptop memory is one of the simplest upgrades to make. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Disconnect the AC adapter and remove the battery to ensure no power is going to the laptop. This reduces any risk of electric shock when disassembling the machine. The battery is most often removed by sliding the battery slider and removing the battery.
  2. Locate the memory access panel on the bottom of the machine. It is usually marked with an icon that resembles a memory stick. In some cases it may be located behind the battery. If you have trouble locating this panel, consult your manual or a service manual for the exact location.
  3. Remove any screws securing the memory access panel in place and remove it.
  4. Gently release the two fingers holding the memory stick on each side and it should swing upwards. Carefully pull it out of the slot. Repeat for the second stick if there is one.
  5. Place the new memory stick in the lower slot and snap it down into place. Repeat for the upper memory stick if there is one.
  6. Replace the memory access panel and screws.
  7. Replace the battery and reconnect the AC adapter. Boot up the computer and test that the full amount of memory is recognized by the computer.

At this point, if the memory is recognized and the laptop is working properly, you are finished. If you are having trouble you may want to check that you selected the proper memory module for your machine, or the possibility that the memory is not seated completely in the slot.

Issues with third-party batteries and Sony laptops

Sony laptops are arguably some of the best Windows laptops available, but there are a few issues that many users won’t appreciate. One of these issues is a type of protection that Sony includes to prevent users from using third-party batteries with their Sony laptop.

Sony would prefer that users use only Sony laptop batteries, partly because it means they must be purchased directly from the manufacturer, but also to ensure quality. Users who have found a trusted third-party manufacturer for their laptop batteries, however, are likely to be frustrated by this limitation. Fortunately, there is a workaround to let you use third-party batteries with your Sony laptop, as the battery check is a software program rather than something included in the Sony system board. Follow these steps to disable the software check.

  1. Power down the laptop, remove the battery, connect the AC adapter, and power the laptop back up.
  2. Click the Start button and type “msconfig.exe”. You may need to enter your password to continue.
  3. Click the “Startup” tab and look for a listing for “ISBMgr.exe”. Uncheck the box.
  4. Click “OK” to save the changes, and choose to restart the laptop. There may be a popup once you restart; alerting you that certain programs have been disabled. Simply dismiss this dialog box.

Now you can install your third-party battery, and you should find that it works without problems. Visit our Sony laptop parts page to view other parts and upgrades that are compatible with your laptop.

Diagnosing a Laptop AC Adapter Problem

Laptop AC adapters can sometimes take a lot of abuse. As an external part of a laptop, they are designed to be rugged, but problems can still crop up from time to time. If you suspect that yours may be having an issue, here are some steps for diagnosing a laptop AC adapter problem.

  1. Try another power outlet. This may sound silly, but if you are not getting power to your laptop through the AC adapter, try another power socket to ensure that is not the cause of the problem.
  2. If possible, try another AC adapter. This may be more difficult, but if you have a friend or a repair shop that has a compatible AC adapter, try one that is known to be working. If the problems still persist, you know the AC adapter is not to blame.
  3. Try running the laptop without the battery. Sometimes problems with the battery can cause symptoms unrelated to the AC adapter. If the laptop runs fine when running only from the AC adapter, it is likely caused by a faulty battery or some other component.
  4. Look for signs of wear and tear on the AC adapter. Large cracks on the “brick” or transformer could be signs of problems, as can frayed wires or bulging. If any of these conditions look serious, replace your AC adapter.
  5. Listen for strange noises. AC adapters that are failing often make whining noises or other strange sounds. Replace the AC adapter if necessary.

If you have tried the steps above and are still uncertain whether your laptop AC adapter is faulty, it may still be a good idea to order a replacement. As one of the least expensive parts of a laptop to replace, it may be worth the peace of mind knowing that your AC adapter is working correctly.

How AC Adapters Work

Laptops are useless without AC adapters. They are what run your laptop when your battery dies. They are what charge that battery when you want to use it on the go. With that in mind, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how they do what they do, especially if it comes time to replace them.

A laptop AC adapter will consist of essentially three main parts: the cord that carries unusable AC to the box, the box that converts the AC to DC, and the cord that carries the usable DC to the laptop. Your house is powered with AC, or alternating current, because it travels well without losing energy, but alternating current is not usable by laptops. They require direct current, or DC, power.

The box of your adapter technically does more than simply converting current, or rather there is more to the process. As alternating current enters the box from the cord connected to your wall, it is run through a transformer. This drops the current from about 110 volts to around 19 volts, which is what most Sony laptops can work with. Other brands of laptop often use 15 Volts, but most other variations are plus or minus a volt in either direction. The current then runs through a rectifier which essentially forces the current out in one direction only, thus making direct current. Finally, the current runs through a regulator, ensuring a steady stream of voltage despite any changes in power consumption. After running through all these components, the current continues through the second cord, and into your laptop.

Knowing the basics of AC adapters will allow you to make some more educated decisions on replacement or upgrade adapters. First, check your cords. Match your main power, or AC, cord to whatever plug you’ll be using. For example, plugs in Europe are different than in the US, and plugs in your car or on a plane are different than the ones in your home. Also, invest in a surge protector to help ensure the longevity of your AC adapter, essentially protecting it from being overloaded.

Your laptop will also require specific voltage from your adapter, and a minimum wattage as well, typically listed on the underside of your machine, or available from the manufacturer. When it comes to wattage, you can get higher than what is listed on your machine’s specifications, but going lower can cause the box to overheat, and shortening the life of the laptop AC adapter.

As for the DC cord, the main thing to look for is the connector. If it doesn’t fit the DC jack on your machine, it won’t do you any good at all. If you’re not sure, check with your spare parts retailer, chances are they will be able to assist you in finding an adapter that will fit your machine. Also, when looking at replacing an adapter, be sure to confirm that the problem isn’t with the physical DC jack on your machine, as it can become loose or unsoldered. A loose DC jack can cause problems that may simulate issues with your AC adapter and may require the DC jack to be repaired.

Review of types on connectors found on AC adapters

When it comes to laptop AC adapters, there are a wide variety of connectors that connect the adapter to the laptop’s power supply. Manufacturers specifically try to make their adapter unique for each model, and even compared to other manufacturers, to avoid a user plugging an adapter into the wrong machine, which could cause damage. Here we will look at a few of the most common types of connectors.

Barrel Connectors

Most modern laptop AC adapters use a “barrel” type of connector. It consists of a cylindrical shaft that is hollow inside. When the barrel is connected, a pin (tip) goes inside the barrel, and the outer portion of the barrel makes contact with a different part of the power supply. The tip usually carries the positive pole while the barrel carries the negative pole. Barrel connectors come in a wide variety of sizes to avoid confusion between different manufacturers and models. For example, HP laptop parts often use a different pin and barrel size than another manufacturer such as Acer.

3-Pin and 4-Pin Connectors

Some laptops and AC adapters use a 3-pin or 4-pin type of connector, also referred to as a “Snap and Lock” type. These connectors use a large cylindrical connector with 3 or 4 pins inside. Snap and lock connectors are particularly useful in laptops that are designed for durability, as they are very stable and secure, and not prone to breakage.

Oval Connectors

Oval connectors are similar to barrel connectors, but utilize and oval shape to prevent connecting them to standard barrel connections, since connecting an adapter to the wrong laptop could cause damage to the system board or other components, requiring a costly laptop repair. They are not used frequently.

Octagon Connectors

Octagon connectors are similar to snap and lock connectors, but they utilize 8 pins that give even more stability and a more solid connection.