I first saw the issue on the Inspiron N4110. Then on The N5010, and now on the N7110.
Hard drives and memory are two of the top 4 items that fail in laptops.
Having to completely disassemble a laptop (including removing the motherboard) to replace a hard drive is not only silly, it's almost criminal. I will make the following prediction: any Dell customer with one of these badly designed laptops and a hard drive that fails and then finds out how difficult (and expensive) it is to replace it will never buy another Dell Laptop.
Most older Dell laptops have doors to access the hard drive. There are one or two screws to remove this door. This is the proper way to design a Laptop.
I for one will never buy another laptop that I cannot easily replace the hard drive.
ps: Fan replacement should also be able to be done with a minimum of disassembly (e.g. without removing the motherboard). Please reply if you agree.
The systems are designed so as to be throwaways in case of a component failure - very common with low-end systems from most vendors these days (and just about all systems from Apple).
Yes, it's a poorly engineered design - but it's common these days.
These are not cheap PC's. Core i3, Core i5 and core i7's The cheap ones would be Celeron, Pentium and Sempron. I haven't seen any other PC's other than Dell that require you to remove the motherboard to change a hard drive. Netbooks usually require the removal of the outer bottom half of the clamshell.
I sympathize with your concerns. I too want easy accessibility to certain components. When looking for a new laptop earlier this year, I was checking out the Precision M6800 and was impressed how easy it was to get to the components. Two hard drives, optical drive, eSATA SSD card, memory, fans, WiFi card, WWAN card, coin battery... I always check out the service manual before purchasing a computer.
However, in this day and age, with smaller laptops and tablets, where some components are glued and batteries and storage devices are inaccessible or non-removable, one needs to know what one is buying.
Even though sometimes access is inconvenient, I am glad that Dell provides service manuals for their computers.
BTW, according to the N7110 service manual, you don't need to remove the system board.
Good luck to you.
Though it's no longer selling PCs in the US, Sony also made quite a few models where the hard drive was affixed to the bottom of the mainboard.
And Apple is now soldering many of their solid state drives directly to the mainboard, making them very non-upgradeable (in addition to using pentalobe screws and adhesives to mount the battery to the system).
I'm not defending the Dell design of the Wistron-built Inspiron N series, but at least they didn't go that far.