Laptop Motherboard Revival




About: I am currently working as a computer and network tech, where I fix and build networks and computers. I love learning and figuring out how things work. I've also done work in construction, elecrical work, plu...

NOTE: This Instructable is entered in the "Fix It & Repair" contest, if you like it, please vote using the button in the upper right-hand corner. Thanks!

I had recently received a "fried" Dell Inspiron N5010 laptop in the mail from a family member who needed all of the information off of the hard drive. In return, they told me to just keep it for parts or try to get it working and put it to use... Challenge accepted!

Upon receiving the computer, all I knew was that it didn't turn on. I checked it over and quickly noticed that the power cord was supposed to have three prongs but was missing the ground. Trying to plug the laptop in anyway resulted in the green charging light on the adapter kicking off, showing that something indeed was fried.

Plugging the adapter into the wall by itself... Looks ok...

Plugging the adapter into the computer... Yup! That's it!

I had to tear into the computer anyway to get the hard drive out, so why not check things out?

After getting the hard drive out, I pulled the mother board and power board, too. Plugging them both in together made the adapter light turn off again, so i tried the power board by itself hoping it'd be a $10 fix. Long story short, the light stayed on, meaning it was the motherboard which was right around $150 on Fleabay.

I got the info off the hard drive and tossed the computer in the scrap pile for later.

About a week later I got bored and started looking over the motherboard and found a surface mount capacitor that had practically exploded... What?! That had to be it!

Step 1: Removing the Old Part

Sorry, no real pictures for this part. If you're like me, you don't think of pictures until you're part way done or realized you are done and it worked.

Basically, I had nothing to lose, so after fighting the blown capacitor with my soldering iron, I went at it with a torch and some tweezers. A little flux probably would have helped.

I then cleaned up the pads with some solder wick and tinned them with a bit of new solder.

Step 2: Salvaging a New Part

I never keep many surface mount components, so salvaging was my best option at the time.

After searching my scrap bin for an hour, I found a burned out blueray player with tons of surface mount parts. I took the torch to the capacitor with the closest size and removed it just like on the laptop.

Not having much for testing equipment kinda forces the experimentation... Again, nothing to lose!

Step 3: Replacing That Which Was Removed

Forget the soldering iron! I used the torch and some tweezers to quickly solder the capacitor back into place on the motherboard.

Note: You have to be quick when soldering or desoldering with a torch or heat gun if you want to save everything around (and on the opposite side of the board) the piece you are working on. Otherwise, you may have to do a lot more repair and possibly guess work.

Step 4: Test Your New Computer

I then remounted the motherboard onto the power board and, stepping back, plugged in the adapter... The light stayed on!!!

I quickly put the computer back together, hard drive and all and tested it once again to make sure it worked. This time everything came on. I was the proud new owner of a Dell Inspiron N5010 with a Core i5 and 6GB of RAM. Not bad at all! Of course, I had zeroed the hard drive. I just so happened to have an unused copy of Windows 7 Pro x64 on hand with a freshly downloaded Kali VM.

The laptop has been running strong for a month now. In fact, I wrote this Instructable on it!

(Don't worry, I have a new cord with a ground, so this *shouldn't* happen again.)



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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago on Step 4

    What about a failed BIOS update? I have a Dell Studio 1909 All-In-One just gathering dust for years... when it was working, there was this Dell Assistant program, where it would download updates for drivers, and well it downloaded and tried to install the update, and bricked the motherboard. Any tips on getting it back to work? Buying a new motherboard is probably not an option for me since I don't live in the US anymore. Was always thinking of it as using it as a secondary monitor for my laptop, or maybe a monitor for another computer if I happen to get one, but no luck yet.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    just one question how can you tell if any of the parts on the motherboard are fried or soon to fry


    4 years ago on Step 4

    That is great. I love this and do similar things sometimes and sometimes they even work!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    It's always awesome to me that computers get reused. Great job!


    4 years ago on Step 4

    Awesome. Thats pretty cool

    TFS Jake

    4 years ago

    I'm 99% sure I have the exact same problem.