How to Build a Laptop (Step-by-step Guide)

How to Build a Laptop

You will surely find yourself frustrated by buying a preassembled laptop in a store. The features you want are not available and the price may be exorbitant. We are not even talking about all the software preinstalled on the computer. You can save yourself all of that if you’re willing to put your hands in the dust. It may not be easy to build your own laptop, but you will find great satisfaction in it. Follow the guide below to learn how to build a laptop.

Find the parts

1. Think about how you will use your laptop

A laptop for word processing and checking your emails will have totally different characteristics from a laptop for playing the latest video games. You also have to worry about the battery life. If you want to go around with your laptop, you will need a configuration that does not drain the battery too much.

2. Choose a processor that suits your needs

The shell you buy will also depend on the processor you want to use, so choose that first. Compare processor models to find the one that offers a good ratio of speed, cooling, and power consumption. Most online stores will allow you to compare processors with each other.

  • Be sure to buy a laptop processor, not a desktop one.
  • There are two leading manufacturers of processors: Intel and AMD. You will find many pros and cons for each of these two brands. Do as much research as possible on the processor models you’re interested in to ensure you’re getting what you pay for.

3. Choose the laptop case

The shell will determine which parts you can use for your laptop. The case will be sold with the motherboard attached. This will dictate the type of memory you can use.

  • Don’t forget to check the screen size and keyboard layout. Since you won’t be able to adapt the shell to your needs, you’ll be stuck with whatever screen and keyboard you choose. You’ll have a harder time carrying a larger laptop, and it’ll be a bit heavier too.
  • It can be difficult to find cases for sale. Type “laptop covers” or “empty laptop” on Google to find sellers who might have them in stock. MSI is one of the few manufacturers that still sell laptop cases.

4. Buy RAM

Your laptop computer needs RAM to function, and the format of this memory is different from that used on a desktop computer. Look for SO-DIMM RAMs that will work on your case’s motherboard. You’ll achieve higher performance with fast RAM, but it could also decrease your battery life.

  • Try to put between 2 and 4 Gb of RAM in your laptop to perform everyday tasks.

5. Choose a hard drive

Laptops typically use 2.5″ hard drives as opposed to the 3.5″ you’ll find in desktop computers. You can choose between a standard hard drive of 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM or choose a solid hard drive whose parts do not come off. The non-removable hard drive will perform faster but may be more challenging to use for long periods of time. You can also get an SSD drive. They are becoming more and more common.

  • Get a hard drive that has enough space for what you want to do with it. Most cases don’t have enough space to install a second hard drive. You’ll have a hard time adding memory later. Also, ensure you have enough space left on the hard drive after installing the operating system.

6. Decide on the need for a dedicated graphics card

You won’t be able to fit a dedicated laptop graphics card into all styles of cases. Instead, the graphics rendering will be taken care of by the motherboard present in the shell. If you have the option of installing a dedicated card, ask yourself if you really need one. This will be especially necessary for gamers and people using image or video processing software.

7. Find a CD player

However, this part is becoming increasingly obsolete as laptops evolve since you can install the operating system from a USB key and download most of the software you need.

  • Some hulls will be sold with a CD player. You won’t be able to fit just any type of CD player into your case, so make sure that the CD player you choose fits in the case you have.
  • Whether or not you should buy one depends on whether you use CDs or DVDs often. You can use an external drive in the same way as an internal drive.

8. Get a battery

You must find one with the correct shape and connection (laptop batteries have multiple pins). The battery contains integrated circuits that tell the computer the temperature, the level of charge, and whether it needs to be recharged or if it is not working. If you plan to use the battery often, get one that is long-lasting. Give yourself the time to compare the models before you decide.

  • Read user reviews and get a battery with good reviews.

Mount the laptop

1. Get the necessary tools

You should have a set of small screwdrivers, preferably magnetized. Screws on laptops are much smaller and harder to remove than screws on desktops. Buy a pair of long-nose pliers to reach hard-to-reach screws.

  • Keep your screws in small plastic bags until you need them. This will prevent you from rolling them and losing them.

2. Discharge your static electricity

Static electricity discharges can damage your computer’s components, so ensure you’ve discharged your static electricity before mounting your laptop. Wear an anti-static bracelet to avoid static electricity. You will find cheap ones.

3. Flip the case over so that the back is facing you

You will gain access to the motherboard by removing several plates from the back of the laptop.

4. Remove the plate covering the hard drive bay

This plate covers the 2.5” bay where you will put the hard drive. Its location will differ depending on the cover you purchased, but generally, it will be towards the front of the computer.

5. Install the hard drive into the bracket

On most laptops, you will need to install the hard drive in a dedicated carrier that surrounds the hard drive. Secure the hard drive in the bracket with four screws. The arrangement of the holes for the screws will ensure that you have installed the hard drive in the correct position.

6. Slide the hard drive with its carrier into the bay

Use the non-slip tape to provide enough pressure to install the hard drive correctly. Most brackets will line up with two screw holes once you install them. Now insert the screws to secure the hard drive in place.

7. Install the CD player

The installation method will depend on your case, but typically you’ll need to insert it into the front part of the bay opening and then plug it into SATA connectors.

8. Remove the plate covering the motherboard

You will find it more difficult to remove this plate than to remove the hard drive plate. You may need to crack it open before you can remove all the screws.

9. Install the memory modules

Once you open the plate, you can access the motherboard and its memory slots. Insert the SO-DIMMs into the slots at a slight angle, then push them down into place. Memory sticks can only be inserted from one direction, so don’t force them if they don’t fit.

10. Install the processor

There may be a processor lock around the socket where you will install the processor. You may need a flathead screwdriver to unlock it.

  • Flip your processor over to see the legs. You should observe a corner where there are no legs. This corner will line up with the corner marked on the socket.
  • The processor will only fit into the socket one way. If you can’t fit the processor into the socket, don’t force it, you could damage the tabs and the processor.
  • Once you have installed the processor, return the processor lock to its “locked” position.

11. Install the fan

You should have found a fan in the processor box. Most fans will come with thermal paste spread over the part in contact with the CPU. If you don’t see any paste, you’ll have to add some before installing the fan.

  • Once you have spread some paste, you can install the fan. The fan outlet should line up with the vent holes in your case. You might have a little trouble at this stage to line up the holes. Please do not force the fan or heatsink, but gently wiggle it to align.
  • Hold a small angle to the heatsink until you find the correct position. This will prevent you from getting thermal paste all over your components.
  • Connect the fan socket to the motherboard once you have finished installing it. If you don’t plug in the fan, the laptop will heat up and shut down after a few minutes.

12. Close the plates

Once you have installed all the components, you can close the plates over the hull openings and secure them with the screws. You’ve finished your laptop!

Start the laptop

1. Make sure you have installed the battery correctly

It’s easy to forget to put the battery in while you’re building your computer, so make sure you have it in place and charged properly before turning the computer on.

2. Check memory

Before installing the operating system, run Memtest86+ to make sure that the RAM is working correctly and your laptop is working well in general. You can download Memtest86+ for free online, or you can boot it from CD or USB.

  • You can also verify that the memory you have installed is recognized by the computer through the BIOS. Refer to the Hardware section to see if your memory appears there.

3. Install the operating system

You can choose between Microsoft Windows or a Linux distribution since you built your computer yourself. Windows is relatively expensive but gives you a wide range of software and compatibility with other computer hardware. Linux is free and is continuously updated by a community of volunteer developers.

  • There are Linux distributions to choose from, but Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian are some of the most popular.
  • We recommend installing the latest version of Windows, as older versions are no longer compatible with software as time goes by.
  • If you don’t have a CD drive, you will need to create a bootable image of your operating system that you will put on a USB key.

4. Install the drivers

Once you have installed the operating system, you will need to install the drivers for the various components. Most modern operating systems will do this automatically, but you may need to install one or two manually.

  • Most components come with a CD on which the drivers are located. Use this disc if your operating system cannot find the correct drivers.

About Odutolu Timothy

Passionate about technology and communication, Timothy Odutolu has more than 5 years of experience writing for various niches in these fields. He's more comfortable writing about the key trends in the business-to-business software-as-a-service (B2B SaaS) niche. He is also a generalist with interests in journalism, DIY and outdoor, and other writing services. He's reachable via Twitter, LinkedIn, and email through or

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