How to Take Apart a Computer

By Contributing Writer

Disassembling a desktop PC is relatively simple, depending upon what degree of disassembly you intend to do. Most of the basic components are modular and easily removed. However it is important that you be organized about it. This will help to keep you from losing parts, and also in making the reassembly easier. You should plan to do this in a clean, uncluttered, uncarpeted room. Make sure you have plenty of anti-static bags for storing cards and other sensitive electronic parts.

Things You'll Need

  • A set of screwdrivers (both Philip's and flat heads)
  • A small plastic box suitable for holding scews
  • Anti-static bags (get these from your local computer/electronics store)
  • A digital camera
  • A laptop with an Internet connection

Step 1

Shut down the computer and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Just to be on the safe side, let the computer sit unplugged for at least an hour before you begin the disassembly. This will ensure that the electricity in the power supply has fully dissipated. Also unplug any peripherals from the computer, including USB devices and any connected by serial or parallel ports.

Step 2

Remove your shoes and ground yourself electrically. There is a separate EHow article explaining how to do this.

Step 3

Open the case. This works differently on different computers. Some have a latch that opens, allowing the side panel of the case to simply be slid away. On other cases, you must unscrew several screws. The primary goal is to remove the side panel opposite the motherboard. The motherboards is the large rectangular circuit board into which most of the other components are connected.

Step 4

Take several digital photos of the inside of the computer. These will serve as reference for reassembly.

Step 5

Remove any peripheral cards that are attached in to PCI, PCI Express or AGP slots. This would include video cards, sound cards, Wireless network cards, LAN cards and other similar peripherals. These cards are physically plugged into slots and are attached perpendicularly to the motherboard. In some cases a small screw must be removed before you can pull out the card. In other cases, there may be a single latch that holds all of the cards in place. Place each card in an anti-static bag.

Step 6

Remove the RAM memory sticks from the DIMM slots. These slots typically have a plastic latch on each side that must be snapped open before the memory sticks can be pulled out. It usually works better to pull the memory sticks out one side at a time. Place each memory stick in an anti-static bag.

Step 7

Take another photo of the inside of the computer. Make sure that your pictures clearly show how each hard drive and DVD /CD-ROM drive is connected to the motherboard.

Step 8

Disconnect the cables from the hard drive(s) and from the DVD drive. Each drive will have two cables. Note carefully, or photograph exactly how they are connected.

Step 9

Locate the place where each drive is screwed into the chassis of the computer case. Take photos, if you need to, in order to remember where the screws are positioned. Remove the screws and slide out the drives. Be careful not to let the drives fall onto the motherboard, as they are heavy and could damage the circuitry. Put each drive in an anti-static bag.

Step 10

Very carefully remove the heat sync over the central processor. It is usually held on by a pair of clips. Consult the website of the manufacturer of the heat sync if necessary. Put the heat sync in an anti-static bag.

Step 11

Remove the CPU carefully and pack it in bubble wrap and an anti static bag.

Step 12

Disconnect the power supply cable from the motherboard. Support the power supply with one hand while carefully unscrewing it from the chassis. Once all the screws are removed, gently lift the power supply away. Do not attempt to disassemble the power supply.

Step 13

Disconnect the power lines between the case fans and the motherboard. Make sure that there are no other wires or cables connecting the motherboard to any other objects. Unscrew the motherboard from the chassis and lift it away. Pack it in bubble wrap and then in a large anti-static bag. Congratulations. You computer is now completely disassembled.