A plus 220-1001 – Exam Objective 1.1
A+ 220-1001 – Exam Objective 1.1
A+ Exam Objective 1.1 – “Given a scenario, install and configure laptop hardware and components.”
Welcome to ExamNotes by CertBlaster! This installment looks at the installation and configuration of laptop hardware for A+ Exam 220-1001. Enjoy!
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With laptops (aka notebooks) and most portable devices,
there is a repair vs. replace cost and a convenience balance that always needs
to be considered. How much is a replacement? How much better, faster, and
cooler is the new device? How much will a repair cost? What would keep you from
having to reinstall all of your programs? How recent is your backup?
Please think about this before you go to bed tonight as you
ultimately will be called upon to replace individual components regardless of
the soundness of the decision. When working on any devices to replace any
components, please consider the following guidelines:
1) Make absolutely sure there is no power supplied to the
unit. This includes the AC adapter and the battery. Remove both.
2) Review the owner’s manual and/or technical documentation
for the device. Download and print the documentation from the manufacturer’s
3) The repair/replace process will be different for every
manufacturer and even different models from the same manufacturer. Consult the
documentation before picking up a screwdriver.
4) Keep the removed screws on a stable surface and separate
them by size. You can use a labeled piece of paper or a small case with
multiple compartments to organize the screws by the locations they go back to.
The keyboard can be one of the easier components to replace. However,
you may need to remove components to get access to the screws. In this example,
we will assume the screws are immediately accessible from the top once we
remove the plastic faceplate.
Faceplate – To pry the plastic faceplate and frame components apart
without scratching or gouging them, use a spudger if available, or cover the
tip of a butter knife or small flathead screwdriver with a bit of soft, thin
The objective is to keep the metal edges of your tool from
direct contacting with the easily damaged plastic of the faceplate. Slip your
tool into the crevice between the faceplate and pry upwards gently. Remember,
these pieces are only held in place by small plastic tabs. They should separate
with slight force. If you have to pry hard, stop and reapply using a slight
force. Once pried off, move to a different position and repeat. Consult the
documentation to be sure there are no screws holding the faceplate down. Once
you have begun to separate the pieces, work around the edge of the faceplate
until you can lift it up. Before moving the faceplate too far, check to see if
there are ribbon cables or other connectors connected to it. If so, do not
twist or disconnect the connections. Simply move the faceplate out of your way in
order to expose the two to four screws that secure the keyboard. Remove the
screws and lift the keyboard up gently until you can see the ribbon cable that
connects it to the motherboard.
Observe the orientation of the cable as one side of the ribbon
will be striped. The connectors are ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) type and are
released by lifting the tabs at both ends of the connector. If the replacement keyboard
came with a ribbon cable attached, remove the original keyboard and cable. If
not, release the original keyboard from the cable leaving the ribbon intact on
the motherboard. Get the replacement keyboard and insert the ribbon cable in
the connector, making sure there are no unintended twists in the ribbon. An
intentional twist in the cable will be preexisting, flat, and at a 90o angle. The
ribbon cable connector should slip right into the socket. If it does not, check
that both end tabs on the connector are fully raised. Insert the cable until
you feel it stop and push down on the connector ends to secure it. Secure the
keyboard and move the face plate so that it is in position but not snapped in.
Power up your laptop and test the keyboard. If the keyboard works, power down
the machine and replace the face plate.
Before obtaining your replacement part, start by checking the
manufacturer’s website for the exact replacement. Since this would be the
perfect time to upgrade, look at your options in terms of drive speed and
capacity. This could be the perfect time to upgrade to an SSD (Solid
State Drive) or a Hybrid (SSD
and HDD). If you choose the SSD, you will be rewarded with faster speed and
longer battery life. Be aware of the physical size differences in available
drives. If you get a 1.8” drive a 1.8” to 2.5″adapter
will ship with the drive. There is quite a noticeable size difference as you
1.8” and 2.5” drives
OK, say you have your replacement drive and are ready to proceed
to the next step.
The hard drive is usually accessed by removing a service panel
on the bottom of the laptop. You can identify the panel because in most cases,
a barrel symbol, indicating the hard drive, will be present on the panel. The
panel may also cover the memory and the wireless card. There may be a panel
covering only the hard drive. In either case, look for the barrel symbol.
Once you locate the panel, remove the panel by loosening the
screws that secure it and pry it up. The screws should stay on the panel by
design. When you remove the panel, you will see the hard drive.
Service panel removed
The drive will be in a mounting assembly held in by two or four
screws. In our example, the drive is secured with two screws and a Mylar sheet
with lifting tabs on it. Remove the drive assembly carefully and
disconnect the SATA connector.
2.5″ HDD in assembly
We see a 2.5” standard magnetic drive. There will be four screws
holding the drive in the assembly. Remove the screws and place your replacement
drive in the assembly. If the new drive is an SSD, the drive will be 2mm
thinner than the 9mm drive you are replacing, requiring a 2mm spacer that will
be shipped with the new drive. This spacer ensures the footprint will be the
same as both drives are 2.5”. Here is the new SSD drive with a black/yellow 2mm
spacer installed in the assembly.
2.5” 7mm SSD in Assembly with Spacer
Mount the new drive in the assembly, reconnect the SATA
connector, and replace the drive assembly in the laptop by screwing it back in.
Replace the service panel. If you want to check that the drive is being seen, power
up the laptop, access the UEFI/BIOS, and look for the disk. Your new drive will
not be available to the operating system until it is initialized.
When you are replacing memory, an upgrade is certainly viable. When
replacing or upgrading your memory, you must check with the manufacturer for the
memory types and capacities your system will accept. It possible that a 4GB
DDR3 SO-DIMM from different manufacturers will have the insertion notches in
different positions at the edge of the module. Know exactly what you need and
get as much as the system will take. Laptop memory is typically installed in
pairs so make sure you get 2 modules of the same memory from the same
The installation process requires removal of the same service
panel as that of the hard drive. The pair of SO-DIMMS are held in place by
metal clips on both sides of each module. Move the clips outward simultaneously
and the module will pop up slightly, enough for you to grasp and remove it. Do
this for both modules. Remove your new memory from its packaging and carefully
install it by sliding it into the memory slot and pushing down to seat the
module and engage the retaining clips. Here is what it should look like
installed. Note the silver retaining clips and the notch in the memory module are
perfectly aligned in the socket. Also note that the palm rest and touchpad were
removed to access the memory. Bonus
points if you can tell what the difference is between the image and the guidelines
provided in the instructions. (Answer: Different memory manufacturers.)
Smart card reader
Before you diagnose a Card reader as faulty, try the card in a different machine. Make sure you have good media before tearing your laptop down. If you have diagnosed your Card reader as faulty, consider a USB replacement as discussed in Part 1 of this objective. Check the documentation. These results will inform you during the replacement decision process. Smart Card readers provide access to the content through slots. These slots can be in either a double door flap type opening, for Compact Flash, or a single, open slot of a specific size depending on which SD card type you are using. In either case, the reader will be pretty deep in the laptop unit. Usually, the best way to access the reader is through the top by removing the keyboard and the bezel. Some Card readers can be accessed through a bottom panel while others could be soldered to the motherboard. Check the ribbon cable for damage and use the one that came with replacement if supplied. Reverse the disassembly process to close up the case. Make sure all of the screws are back in the right places.
An Optical drive used to be pretty tough to access. Fortunately, later
laptop models hold the drive in with a single screw to an assembly that has
SATA connectors fitted into it. Otherwise, you may be able to get to the drive from
the bottom service panel or you’ll have to have to disassemble from the top.
Follow your instructions carefully. Generally speaking, the Optical drives that
use a slide-out tray are easier to remove than the slot insertion type.
Wireless card / Mini-PCIe
When replacing a wireless card, there is always the USB option. In
this discussion, we will discuss internal expansion options with the addition
of a Mini PCI slot followed by a Mini-PCIe slot. Here is how they compare.
Mini-PCI to Mini-PCIe Comparison
Mini-PCI allows manufacturers to adjust the laptop features to
user needs without designing a new laptop. This slot works the same way as in
desktops, only on a much smaller scale. Always accessible through a service
panel, the Mini-PCIe slot is USB 2.0 compliant and can be used to increase
storage capacity, add Bluetooth, or add/upgrade wireless capabilities. This was
a common issue as a user with a decent laptop and a 802.11 b wireless card
would need to swap out for a 802.11g or 802.11n card. While the card was easy
to swap out, the wireless upgrade required patience because the internal
antennae on the card have tiny F type connectors that take time and care to
connect. Here is a Mini-PCIe wireless card ready to be installed. Note the
black slot and gold antenna connectors. Once connected, the card will also be
Mini-PCIe Wireless Card
The laptop lid is the most distinguishable component. The laptop
lid contains the backlight, the inverter that converts the DC power in the
laptop back to AC power, and the LCD screen. The LCD is secured to the lid with
screws. The inverter is easily accessible once you have removed the bezel. The
lid will be secured to the laptop body with two hinges that are typically
accessed by gently removing a faceplate with curved extensions which protect
the hinge and any cabling.
Laptop Faceplate with Hinge Covers
Once the faceplate is off, you’ll see the power and monitor
cable. This should detach easily. If it doesn’t, stop and double check your
instructions. Once the lid is free, you can now work on it. First, remove the
bezel. It will be secured by four screws that are hidden under rubber plugs at
the corners. Next, pry the bezel loose, working slowly and gently. Once the
bezel is off you will see the components. If you are not working on the screen,
be careful. If you are replacing the screen, be careful with the new one. The
screen will be secured by screws around the outer edges (four to six). Remove the
screws but don’t move the screen more than a ½ inch or so as the ribbon
cable for the screen is delicate and deliberately short. You may also find a
wireless antenna disconnect too. Follow your instructions carefully and if
replacing the screen, use the new LCD ribbon if possible. After reconnecting
everything and securing the screen, check your work quickly by powering and
booting the machine. Don’t handle the machine here. Just observe for any
problems and power down. Reassemble it all carefully, reversing the process.
Please be absolutely sure that the DC jack, or charging port,
has failed before you replace the jack. Make sure the AC adapter isn’t the
issue too. Check the DC jack using a voltmeter by moving the testing wire
around to ensure roughly +12V DC is showing consistently. DC jack replacement
could involve a significant laptop body tear down to access and remove the jack
through de-soldering. In this case, you will need solder, a good soldering
iron, and a de-soldering wick to absorb excess solder. Depending on your
laptop’s design, you may find the jack on a small circuit board connected to
the motherboard by a ribbon cable. This is the ideal scenario if jack
replacement is necessary. We recommend that you take pictures or precise notes.
Keep track of your screws, components, and their orientation for reassembly.
Don’t heat the jack connections for a long period of time as you don’t want to
damage the board. Be sure your soldering iron is hot and you have the
de-soldering wick ready. Remove the broken jack and replace it. Reassemble the
Batteries are the easiest replacement of all. Obtain the exact
battery you need, preferably from the manufacturer. Use genuine parts if
available. Release and remove the old battery and replace with the new one. The
new battery should fit exactly using the original latch as the old battery. If
possible, it is advisable to do this at a time when you won’t be using the
laptop for several hours as it’s important that the battery is completely
charged before the first use.
If your touchpad has failed, you can consider an external USB
mouse or trackball. Otherwise, this is another component that can be installed
several ways. The touchpad will be integrated with the palm rest. After reading
the instructions, locate and remove the screws that hold the touchpad and
possibly the keyboard. Disconnect the touchpad connector from the motherboard
by pulling the connector. Do not pull the wires or ribbon. Reverse the process
to install the new touchpad. Some models may have the touchpad screwed and
glued onto the palm rest. For these, you may need to replace the palm rest
entirely. Otherwise, you’ll have to carefully pry the old touchpad off of the
palm rest after removing any screws. Be careful not to damage the palm rest.
Work around the edges of the old touchpad. Carefully remove all of the old
adhesive from the palm rest. There should be adhesive with your replacement
part, or a recommendation. Make sure the new touchpad is as flush as possible
so that there is no space between the touchpad and palm rest. The reattachment
process should be documented by the manufacturer. Use only genuine parts.
Speaker replacement is a relatively simple repair. Correctly
diagnose the problem and be sure you have the right drivers in the operating
system. If the issue is no sound, the problem could be as simple as a loose
wire. The speakers are usually installed under the faceplate. Typically the
speakers will be above the keyboard with an assortment of controls, like the
power button in particular.
Speaker Above the Button Control Board
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The speakers could also be below the keyboard with the touchpad.
In any case, be careful not to break any connections. When buying replacement
parts, get a pair of speakers since if one has failed, the other could be near
the end of its life. Matched speakers will provide a better experience. Locate
the speaker connection which could be on the motherboard or on a separate sound
board. There will be a pair of wires on the connector. Remove the connector
from the board using the connector and not by pulling the wires. Be careful of
other connections involved. Very often, the buttons on the top faceplate simply
line up with the actual buttons soldered to the control board.
Replacing the System Board is the type of situation that really
challenges the repair vs. replace decision. The replacement requires a complete
teardown of the unit. The system board or motherboard is under all of the
peripherals and system components. It will have components on both sides: CPU
on top, memory and expansion on the bottom. This will be your ultimate test of
documentation and procedure. If you remove the screws from something and it
doesn’t move, flip the case over and see if there is another screw or two still
holding it. The organization and documentation of the screws in particular is
critical. There’s nothing worse than your last screw being the wrong size. Take
pictures and use nonconductive labels to help reassemble the unit. You will be
taking everything apart except the LCD screen so give yourself at least an hour
or two of uninterrupted time. Here’s a nice comparison of a notebook and a
standard ATX motherboard:
ATX and Laptop System Boards Comparison. Photo
curtesy of Kyle Wiens [ifixit.com] and Max Tomchenko.
This is a test! You’re looking at probably four screw sizes and
lots of little connections. Take the laptop apart slowly and deliberately. Take
notes, use your cell/smart phone camera, and give yourself every aid possible.
A small compartmented storage container will work. Even an empty egg carton
would be ideal here.
The CPU replacement
is not as tough as it would seem. It is also an opportunity to look at possible
upgrade options using manufacturer recommendations. Select the best match
considering cost and performance. The heat sink should be visible after
removing the keyboard and bezel assembly. Because the height is not available
as it would be in a conventional PC, you’ll find that the heat exchange
assembly occupies up to one fourth of the surface area of the system board,
using copper piping to get the processor heat to the fan in a single long flat
package. Once the heat exchange assembly is removed, the processor will be
visible. Here we see both the processor and the heat exchanger. Note the old
thermal paste still stuck to the processor and the bottom of the heat
exchanger. Be sure to clean the old thermal paste off both surfaces.
Motherboard Processor and Heat Exchanger
Remove the old processor and replace. Make sure you have thermal
compound or a thermal pad between the new processor and heat sink for even heat
Well, that’s all for the first sub-objective 1.1. Good luck on
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