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A Basic Guide to Identifying the Main Parts of a Laptop

Summary: The following article provides a visual guide to each of the major components that you find in most laptops.

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Instructions

Note: Color and configuration may change depending on your Laptop Type. This guide is only meant to provide a basic knowledge of what each part is and does in your laptop.

Visual Guides to the Various Laptop Parts

What it looks like and what it does?

HDD and SSD

The hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) is the part of your laptop which holds your software and data.

Hard Drive Slide

The hard drive in a laptop is 2.5" wide and is Silver on top, with a circuit board on the base.

The SSD in a Laptop is 2.5" wide, usually Black on top, with a circuit board with chips on the base. (New models of SSD in the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and M.2 formats are narrow cards that fit directly to the motherboard.)

M.2 SSD card

The hard drive or SSD has no cables which connect to them. The drives plug straight to a connector on your Motherboard.

There are some laptop types that use a Ribbon cable to connect the hard drive or SSD to the Motherboard. However, these are laptop types where the hard drive or SSD is not considered to be a Customer Replaceable Part (CRU).

The hard drive or SSD is secured in place, either in a Cage or with Phillips head screws, depending on your laptop type.

Hard drives are older technology with spinning platters that can store a lot of data. SSDs are newer technology which ups the drive access speeds by using flash memory instead of platters. SSDs are a common upgrade part to improve the speed of most laptops. However, the storage sizes are still short of what a hard drive can handle. Combinations of both were used for fast boot and seek speeds, while still holding space for saved data. However, SSD storage capacities continue to increase in size and may reach comparable sizes. 

What it looks like and what it does?

Memory

The Memory is the part of your laptop which lets it transfer data between your software programs. The more you have, the more it speeds up using the programs.

Memory Slots

The Memory in a Laptop is not compatible with that fitted in Desktops. The Memory Small Outline Dual Inline memory module (SODIMM) is only 2" long and 1" tall, with a golden fringe along the bottom. The golden fringe has a notch cut out as a key for installation purposes.

To release the Memory, you pull apart the clips at either side of the Memory. It rises at a 45-degree angle which is far enough up that you can pull it out of the slot.

To reseat the Memory, you push the Memory into the slot and then push straight down. Ensure that it is the correct way round and that the clip on either side of the slot locks the Memory in place. This secures the Memory in place. If the clips do not lock the Memory in place, you must reseat it. If you see any of the gold fringes along the bottom of the Memory outside of the slot, then it is not seated properly.

The Memory card has a notch cut in the bottom which matches a bar in the Memory slot. It only allows you to fit the Memory the correct way round. The position of the notch denotes which type of memory and memory slot that you have. This is different on everything from Dual Data Rate (DDR) to DDR5.

What it looks like and what it does?

Optical Drive

The CD, DVD, or ODD is the part of the laptop which reads CD or DVD media. Some types of drive allow you to create media as well.

Optical Drive Catch

The ODD is a smaller, more slimline version of the drive fitted in a Desktop. It is thin, rectangular, with a white, or black facing plate, where the media is inserted. Newer laptops have dropped the drive to make the laptop smaller and thinner, and rely on USB or Online storage for media transfer.

The drive has no cables that connect to it. The drive plugs straight to a connector on the Motherboard.

There is an eject, a locking catch, or a Phillips head screw, which locks the drive in place.

What it looks like and what it does?

Battery

The Battery supplies power to your laptop when you are mobile and cannot use Mains Power.

Battery Catches

The Battery is usually a rectangular shape and fits the base of the laptop. It usually matches the same color as the chassis.

To remove the Battery, you must release it from the bay on the laptop. There are locking slides around the Battery that you must move to an open position before the Battery comes loose.

To reseat the Battery, you must locate the Battery into the correct position. Push down into the bay until it firmly seats in place and the locking slides click into the locked position.

Some batteries are not accessible from outside the laptop. Removing the access panel on the bottom of the laptop may be required to access a Battery which is held in place with screws.

What it looks like and what it does?

system fan

The System Fan is used to pull air out of your laptop to cool the laptop down. This stops it from overheating and makes it work more efficiently.

A black shroud often surrounds the System Fan which is black.

The fan has a cable which plugs to the Motherboard.

The fan is secured to the chassis using Phillips head screws.

What it looks like and what it does?

AC Adapter

The AC Adapter and Power Cable are the part of your laptop which powers the device and all its components using Mains Power.

Power Cable

This is a peripheral device and is composed of two separate parts. The AC adapter plugs to your DC In connector. (In newer laptops the AC adapter connects using a USB type-C connector.) Adapter's are mostly rectangular in shape and the Power Cord plugs from your Mains Power socket to the AC adapter. (The picture that is shown here is of a plug from the United Kingdom (UK) with three prongs. Your power cable should end in your region plug style.)

These cables connect by pushing them in place or pulling them out.

The AC Adapters have a Light Emitting Diode (LED) which lights up when it is plugged to Mains Power. (Some AC adapters now have a light ring around the cable connector where it plugs to the laptop.)

What it looks like and what it does?

Heat sink and Fan

The Heat sink is the part of your laptop which directs heat away from your Processor which is the brain of your laptop. Sometimes it comes as an assembly with a fan to pull heat through the heat sink.

The Heatsink in a Laptop usually takes the form of a twisting heat pipe in copper with a fan-in a shroud at one end.

To remove it, take out the screws and disconnect the fan cable and remove the Assembly from the laptop.

To reseat it, reconnect the fan cable and having put the Heatsink back in place, put the screws back in.

The Heatsink and fan are secured to the Chassis with Phillips head screws.

What it looks like and what it does?

MotherBoard

The Motherboard is the primary part of your laptop, and every other part connects to and it controls how those parts are used.

MotherBoard Screws

Only experienced technicians would be asked to remove this part.

Access to the motherboard on most laptops is through the base of the device.

Check your Owner's manual or the CRU removal guide for your laptop type, to get the best steps for gaining access to the Motherboard.

The Motherboard has your Processor fitted to it and is secured to your chassis with Philips head screws.

What it looks like and what it does?

WLAN Card

The WLAN Card is the part of your laptop which allows you to connect to Wi-Fi networks.

WLAN Card Slot

The WLAN Card is usually a 1" by 1" square with a golden fringe along the bottom.

To remove, disconnect the aerial cables and take out the screw securing the card. The card opens at a 45-degree angle, you can then pull it fully out of the slot.

To reseat, push it back into the slot at an angle and then when fully seated push down and secure with the screw. Reconnect the aerial cables and check it is fully seated.

The WLAN Card is secured to a Mini Peripheral Component Interface (PCI) slot on the Motherboard with a Phillips head screw.

What it looks like and what it does?

WWAN Card

The WWAN Card is the part of your laptop which allows you to connect to Cellular Wireless networks.

WWAN Card Slot

The WWAN Card is usually 1.5" long by 1" wide, with a golden fringe along the bottom of the card.

To remove, disconnect the aerial cables and take out the screw securing the card. The card opens at a 45-degree angle, you can then pull it fully out of the slot.

To reseat it, push it back into the slot at an angle and then when fully seated push down and secure with the screw. Reconnect the aerial cables and check it is fully seated.

The WWAN Card is secured to a Mini PCI slot on the Motherboard with a Phillips head screw.

SIM Card

(Figure.19 Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card)

A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card is required for full functionality. This is identical to a SIM Card from your Phone. Where it plugs into the device depends on the laptop type. Consult your Owner's manual or go to the CRU removal guide for your laptop type.

What it looks like and what it does?

BlueTooth Card

The Bluetooth Card is the part of your laptop which allows you to connect to the Bluetooth Wireless networks.

BlueTooth Card Slot

The Bluetooth Card can be seen in one of two formats. Most commonly it is a small rectangular card with a cable connection slot at one end and a screw-hole at the other. Sometimes it is included as an added feature on certain WLAN Cards. These cards are often called Combi Cards.

To remove, disconnect the Bluetooth cable and take out the screw securing the card. You can then pull it fully out of the slot.

To reseat it, push it back into the slot and secure with the screw. Reconnect the Bluetooth cable and check it is fully seated.

The card is secured to a slot on the chassis with a Phillips head screw.

What it looks like and what it does?

Keyboard and Cable

The Keyboard is the part of your laptop which lets you input data and commands to the laptop. It is used with the Touchpad to control the device.

Keyboard above the Touchpad

The Keyboard looks like a flat or compact version of a regular Keyboard.

To remove or reseat, I would recommend using your Owner's manual. Alternatively, you can check out the CRU removal guide for your laptop type, to get the correct steps. The steps change from Laptop to Laptop.

The Keyboard is integral to the laptop and secured to the chassis with Phillips head screws. It uses either a Ribbon cable or an Option Card connector to connect to the motherboard.

What it looks like and what it does?

LCD Assembly

The LCD is the integral screen that is built into the laptop which lets you see and interact with your device.

The LCD is integral to the laptop and only experienced technicians are asked to remove or reseat this part.

You can be asked to reconnect the LCD cable where it connects to the Motherboard.

The Owner's manual is your best guide for your particular laptop type.

The LCD consists of the LCD panel, the LCD bezel, and the LCD back cover.

It connects to your laptop by the LCD cable, and the Hinges which attach to the LCD back cover.

Additional Information

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Article Properties


Affected Product

Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

21 Jun 2024

Version

6

Article Type

How To