Build your own laptop

Picture of Build your own laptop
Why would someone go out and buy a computer from a manufacturer like Dell or Gateway, when they could build a more powerful computer for less money? The answer, they do not know how to build it.

This may sound like a complicated process, but in all actuality, it is very simple.

This guide will help you build your very own laptop computer.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any damage done to hardware during installation.

I also do not want to be contacted about computer problems. Go to your local repair shop (NOT GEEK SQUAD) and get it fixed. If the computer that is having problems was the one that you built (or tried to) then I will help. I just don't want a bunch of people who are asking how to fix unrelated issues.

I hope you enjoy building your computer. I did. In fact I'm using the computer pictured right now.

If you want to build a desktop computer, check out my Instructable on that
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Step 1: Buy parts

Picture of Buy parts
The first thing you will need is the barebones notebook, or a barebook as some call it. These can easily be found by using the Google Product Search. The barebones notebook should be the base, screen, keyboard, and touchpad of the laptop. Many sellers will offer almost every part to go with the laptop. I suggest that the only thing you buy with the laptop is the CD/DVD drive. These are different for every laptop so go ahead and buy it with the laptop.

I used an Alienware base for my computer.

As for the other parts, you should be able to find them separate. Here are the parts you will need besides the CD drive:
-Processor (check the barebones notebook for socket type, new ones should have socket M or P for Intel and socket S1 or FS1 for AMD)
-RAM or Memory (check the barebones notebook for memory type, new ones should have DDR2 style)
-Graphics card (some may have it already built into the motherboard, check to make sure it's not before buying one)
-Hard Drive (check the notebook for hard drive type, new ones should be SATA)
-Wireless card (check the notebook for wireless card type, new ones should be Mini PCI-E)

You should be able to find most of these parts at, or eBay.
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I am thinking of upgrading my dell inspiron m5040. I think the big problem that I will have though is CPU Fan and heatsink will be too big to fit into thin case. Any suggestions??

ErikPH6 months ago
This made it so much easier for me to build my laptop,thanks for posting ~Erik
stormyxia8 months ago
I was wondering if anyone has tried to crack the case of a Toshiba Qosmio?
the laptop is an 18.4" and I'm needing to upgrade it. I am having trouble finding a motherboard that would fit this laptop motherboard is going out. Specific specs are:
Qosmio X500Q930X with Serial#: 3B174363W and Mfg part #: PQX34U-01F01U.
Would anyone like to take the challenge and please help me figure out if they make a motherboard that is better than the one it came with and one that would fit this huge case. please email me at or respond to post. Thanks all!!
Bscool9 months ago
What is the list of what parts you bought and from where exactly did you buy them.
mikkel2501 year ago
Thanks for posting! I'm sure I could have figured this out on my own, just like I did with building a desktop, but it's really great to have a way to approach this task with as much info as possible to avoid (costly, annoying, easily avoidable) mistakes. This guide is great.
amitra11 year ago
I don't know really it is possible or not, i read in this post it can. Let try, and come back post again ! I found it as in social bookmarking site telling also it would be by ppl continuous try. Social media news and web tips also telling the same. !!
ya you can totally see the license key. I don't wanna say how, but you seriously needa get rid of that.
XxsonicxX1 year ago
Can you list all the parts that are needed for the computer? Also can you list optional parts. Don't forget to add the price to the list
How much did this cost you????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Briguy94 years ago
"Why would someone go out and buy a computer from a manufacturer like Dell or Gateway?" The answer: because building a laptop is usually harder, more time consuming, and usually more expensive. That's why someone would go have a laptop customized for them and have it built.
This is definitely a good option to learn about laptops and computers while doing so. But presently with lots of low cost laptops available in the market, and specially with they being more reliable . Buying a laptop is a better option I fell. However this is only my opinion and the content is really good and helpful for many geeks like me.
it maybe harder and time consuming...but it sounds fun.

As always it's all relative, and there are pros, cons both ways. I'm capable of assembling a computer. Every time it's time for me to upgrade, when I put the pencil to to paper, purchasing as assemble computer give me more for my money. By the time upgrade, it's time to upgrade Windows, and the monitor is getting dim. The average computer buyer will be happy with the packages Dell markets, and so far their sales reps do give me the computer I want, less expensive than I can assemble one for, with Windows and new monitor. Yes proprietary cases, and mother boards are the pits, when it come to getting the most milage out af a computer, but I
Why buy what you can make? Anyone can cough up some cash for a laptop, but not everyone knows exactly what's in it, and how it works.
EXACTLY! For some reason people are surprised and sometimes shocked when they find out that my computer is scratch built. Its just way more fun to build!
Then either you are horrible at building computers, lazy, don't know what you're talking about, simply don't know how to balance performance with price, or most likely all four. People like you are why any potential computerist gets discouraged from the start and wastes an opportunity to learn more about computers, have fun being able to say they made one, and possibly get a career out of the whole deal.

And if you think the whole deal is a waste of time, you might disagree with that guy who built a computer system in his garage, what was his name? Oh yeah...

Steve Wozniak.

I have built 12 computers and taken apart/fixed countless more. Briguy9 DOES know what he is talking about, and sounds a lot smarter than you. Building your own computer from scratch is usually ALWAYS more expensive. It goes without saying that it is more time consuming. Briguy9 makes an exceptionally well-put and thoroughly true statement on this matter, without making himself look like a snobby jerk (ala yeturbumi). People like yeturbumi are the reason potential computerists get discouraged from the start when they take his advice and try to make their own computer and it ends up costing twice what a premade would cost and has driver issues up the wazoo or refuses to start altogether. If it's your first time building a computer, you should try to build one from old scrap computer parts, so you don't risk wasting money and feeling burned in the end. Bottom line: I'm someone who has built a boatload of computers, and I personally would buy a premade for stability and peace of mind. I would not discourage anyone from attempting to build there own. I would, however, tell them that you should know building your own computer is not a cost saving measure, as it is almost always more expensive. The reason people build their own computers is because of the endless customization and personalization it affords them.
ngeil gatorgrip3 years ago
How could building your own computer possibly be more expensive? If you do comparison shopping and buy certain items in a group there's no way it should cost more. You don't have to pay for the labor, shipping costs, and addition cost companies charge to make a profit on a computer. Building a computer is not hard at all. As long as you know all of the components to get, it's as simple as following the user manuals to plug everything in. I built my own computer with no prior knowledge or experience and had no issues whatsoever.
Actually, the cost of my desktop-in-the-making adds up to $600-800, whereas the Alienware Area-51 is $1600 minimum. They don't have the exact same specs, but they're pretty close.
hey i wanted to know how much hdd and ram you used to make the laptop and can i use a nvidia card instead of intel graphic card does the both cards have same arrangement pins pls reply ASAP
hey i wanted to know how much hdd and ram you used to make the laptop and can i use a nvidia card instead of intel graphic card does the both cards have same arrangement pins pls reply ASAP
actionjksn2 years ago
Although it would be fun to build a barebones laptop it is certainly not cheaper and you would get more bang for your buck with a store bought model. With desktops it is cheaper to build a high end computer but not a low end model. If I was getting just a tower and spending at least 500 dollars I would come out pretty well. But that's the cutoff point, if you're spending any less you might as well buy something already built. Even at 500 bucks it probably wouldn't be spec'ed any better it would just allow you to use a better motherboard and power supply.

As far as your quote of "I suggest that the only thing you buy with the laptop is the CD/DVD drive. These are different for every laptop so go ahead and buy it with the laptop"
This is completely untrue. The bezel can be changed out to whatever drive you install in it. Anything new will be a SATA interface and will fit. I installed a DVD burner from an HP laptop into my wife's Lenovo and it went right in there. The only exception I have seen is my newer Lenovo T 410 Thinkpad uses an extra thin drive but it is not a very common form factor... yet. By the way it's called an Ultra bay.

I do regularly do RAM, Hard Drive and even processor upgrades on my and other peoples laptops. The Processor upgrades become affordable after the laptop has been out a few years. I upgraded my wife's 4 yo Lenovo laptops single core Celeron to a T7300 Core 2 Duo for only $40.00. That made a huge difference.
TheGreatS2 years ago
When your done, you can add a laptop handle.
casino_dave5 years ago
Or Linux ;) I say this only because I'd say someone who would build a laptop would certainly be a fan of Linux.
Mint is my favourite
Mint is your favorite because it is the best :)

I am a mint guy too!
My favorite is Puppy. Weird, I know, but I just like it :).
I like SuSE. I don't know why... I just do.
I like Ubuntu, but Damn Small Linux(DSL) must be good
I also would install Linux, Ubuntu to be precise.
spawnos37172 years ago
If one knows where to look (with an insane amount of luck), it's possible to get some parts for low cost or even free (legally). Fortune favors the bold, and as such, will reap benefits far beyond the dogmatic limitations of retail corporations. I'm not dismissing the hard work of manufacturers, but if they can build low cost machines, why can't we?
Hegamonia2 years ago
Hey, I was wondering if I could gut my HP Tablet PC TC1100 that I got off of Ebay and replace everything with a different motherboard that is far more powerful so I can run games like Supreme Commander 2 and X3-Terran Conflict on it.

link to a picture of the model, copy/paste if it does not highlight:
agrossi22 years ago
I built my laptop but my computer will not acknowledge my wireless card I used a Mini PCIe card but it is asking for an Ethernet cable not wireless connection any help. I could use it.
agrossi22 years ago
Hi great guide. but Im purchasing a mini pci card and I am not sure does the model need to be specific to the laptop or can I get any PCI card. if this question seems dumb its because its my first lapotop and im learning on the fly
mparanjpe2 years ago
Can you run an apple operating software on this instead of windows?
You could make it a Hackintosh, which means running Mac OS X on non apple hardware. Not all hardware is compatible though, and it isn't quite legal.
Pr.TOSHIBA2 years ago
Could anyone tell me if it is possible for me to build my own laptop out an existing laptop. Specifically a 1996 Sharp PC-3040. It has a 100 mghz Pentium processor and 54 mb of RAM. I would probably need to put in a new motherboard. Is that possible? I think that it would be funny to have that old laptop with an i5 or i7 processor and 8 gb of RAM.
grundisimo2 years ago
The laptop i'm using right now only cost me a box of pepsi cans. The seller lost about two hundred dollars in doing this.
epicnoobpwn3 years ago
Once you total up the price of all the components, its cheaper to just get one from a manufactuer with the same or better specs. I calculated the price of a barebone laptop plus all the parts and it was like $400 (I think it was an ocz) more. My asus (republic of gamers series) laptop is allows me to upgrade my cpu (socket p) and hdd (2 drive bays), though not the ram (maximum amount already inserted.
braxtonb1103 years ago
i've been searching around for a while where did you get the barebones alien ware case?
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