One of the biggest weaknesses of the Dell Inspiron series notebooks is that the cooling fan cannot be accessed from the outside, so you have to take it apart in order to clean it. If you want to add memory, change video cards, clean the cooling fan or replace the keyboard of your Dell Inspiron laptop computer, you will need to disassemble various components of the unit. The Dell Inspiron can be disassembled with some basic tools in about 1 to 2 hours.
Turn off the laptop. Make sure the laptop has been shutdown completely and that the computer is no longer plugged into a wall outlet. Remove the battery. If you have recently been using the computer, wait at least 3 to 4 hours before disassembling it to reduce the amount of static discharge.
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Open the screen. Open the screen up completely so that the laptop lays completely flat. Make sure it is securely positioned on a flat, hard surface.
Remove the keyboard panel. Pry off the strip of plastic located directly above the keyboard. This piece is covering several screws attached to the motherboard, and removing this first is the easiest way to get to the motherboard components and the cooling fan.
Remove keyboard screws. Use the Phillips head screwdriver to remove the four screws holding the keyboard down. Set the screws aside in a safe place.
Remove the keyboard. Gently tug on the keyboard and lift it up to reveal the ventilation fan and the tab holding the keyboard to the motherboard. You can now clean the ventilation fan if you need to.
Begin disassembling the motherboard. Use the Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the large screw located in the center of the motherboard. This screw is holding two large metal plates covering the motherboard together.
Remove the motherboard cover plates. Gently lift the detached plates off the laptop and set aside in a safe place.
Remove the cooling fan. Use the Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the cooling fan panel; you will need to unscrew three screws located around the fan, then lift the cooling fan out of its holder. You can now clean out the cooling fan if necessary.
Close the laptop. Place a clean, thin dishcloth over the motherboard and gently close the screen. Turn the entire laptop over so that the base is now facing up and the battery is facing away from you.
Unscrew hard drive and memory components. The hard drive is located in the bottom right hand corner; the memory unit is located in the center of the laptop. Unscrew both of these by removing the small screws at the bottom of each unit and remove the covers on each.
Remove Wi-Fi cover. The Wi-Fi unit is located at the top left of the laptop; remove the two screws from this unit and lift the Wi-Fi cover off the laptop. Set it aside.
Remove the wireless card. You will see two antenna cables attached to the wireless card inside the Wi-Fi unit. Remove the wireless card by detaching these wires and lifting it out of the unit.
Remove the RAM memory. Gently pull the RAM module out of the slot by disengaging the spread latches on either side of the memory unit.
Remove the hard drive. Remove the three screws on the right hand side of the hard drive unit and lift the hard drive out.
Pull out the CD/DVD drive. Remove the screw securing the CD/DVD drive into the laptop base, then pop the drive open with a paper clip. Carefully pull the CD/DVD drive out of the computer and set it aside.