How to build a laptop? | A Step by Step Guide.

There are millions of laptops in the market with different features, specializations, and usages. I understand how difficult it is to pick the right one for your needs. Even if you manage to find a suitable one, you need to consider whether it is affordable for you or not. You may find that your preferable laptop is out of your reach. And sometimes, you may not find the specifications that you need in a laptop. To overcome this situation, are you wondering if you can build your own laptop?

You can certainly build your own laptop. Many individuals nowadays design and build their laptops to match their own needs. If you are guided properly, you too can do this. 

In the article, you will get to know everything about how to build a laptop, what computer components you should choose and why. If you do not have any technical knowledge regarding this, don’t be worried. All you need to learn from scratch will be covered here. At the end of this, we will have your own laptop ready at your hand.

Important Steps to Follow:

  • Determine what you want to do with your laptop.
  • Make a list of the necessary components (Considering availability and prices)
  • Gather all the components and tools.
  • Mount and assemble all the parts.
  • Install the operating system as well as required drivers.
  • Get your self-built laptop started.

As you are trying to build a laptop of your own, I guess you already know about the essential components of a laptop computer. But if you are a newbie, we also got you covered. At the end of the article, we have a section covering the different components of laptops and their basic functions. You can either click on the table of contents or scroll down the post to read that section.

Now let’s get into the business directly.

How to Build a Laptop from Scratch!

Step 1: Determine what you want to do with your laptop.

Different people use a laptop for various purposes. Some individuals purchase laptops for just office works, some for academic jobs, some for rendering or designing and some for playing games. It is crucial to determine the purpose because the selection of laptop components mostly depends on it. Every laptop users use a processor, RAM, graphics card, etc. When you select the specific model, you will have to consider the purpose. 

Step 2: Make a list of laptop components according to your needs and prices.

Barebone Laptop:

A barebone laptop comes without Windows and merely has a laptop case, motherboard, and display. Some manufacturers produce this type of laptop.

Note: Always opt for a larger screen size with less weight. Considering keyboard layout is also an essential factor here.

Choosing Processor:

The next step is to select your laptop processor. Choose your processor according to your requirements. Please make sure that your chosen processor goes with the barebones laptop. You should take account of speed, heat dissipation, and power consumption while choosing a processor for your custom laptop. There are mainly two CPU manufacturers dominating the market currently; AMD and Intel. Intel processors are a bit more expensive than AMD processors, but Intel is the winner when it comes to drivers and software. In terms of gaming performance, AMD is now doing well comparatively. Always remember that you need mobile processors for building your own laptop, not desktop processors.

Choosing A Graphics Card: 

It’s important to remember that a higher clock frequency generates more heat and is highly dependent on temperature conditions. It also requires more power consumption. So, if you’re going to overclock your GPU, be sure it has enough cooling. 

The resolution is the most crucial factor to consider about VRAM in 2021. But VRAM alone isn’t a good indicator of what kind of performance you may expect.

Essential factors to consider: 

  • Resolution
  • FSR
  • Video Memory
  • Cooling
  • Price 

For regular laptop users, a CPU with integrated graphics is enough. They don’t need a dedicated graphics card at all. If you are a graphic designer, gamer or use your laptop computer for video editing, you may need dedicated graphics cards as they are meant for heavier tasks. You can buy either AMD Radeon RX 560 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 for these sort of tasks.

RAM (Which Type of Ram Do You Need?):

The bigger the number of generations, the better the total performance. If you want the best performance, go for DDR4.

Size: You won’t need a lot of RAM if all you need is a laptop to take notes during class, compose and save documents. You need to buy SO-DIMM memory that is compatible with your motherboard. You should have at least 8GB of laptop RAM if you want your PC to perform more tasks simultaneously, such as gaming, graphic design, and programming. 

If you think 8GB is not sufficient, you can think of buying 16GB RAM. 

Price: 

4GB DDR4 costs from $19 to $40(Samsung)

8GB DDR4 costs from $32 to $74(Samsung)

16GB DDR4 costs from $74 to $109(Samsung)

Hard Drive:

If your budget is very low but you want good storage, go for HDDs. 

For more speed and more durability, you should pick an SSD for your laptop. This is going to cost you a bit. If you’re on a tight budget, 512GB is a fair compromise between price and capacity.

If your budget is not limited, then buy an NVMe. This will provide you with a large amount of storage. It is suggested for laptops with high-end specifications. They are used for heavier tasks like machine learning, gaming, etc

Optical Drive:

Using an optical drive on your own laptop is optional and depends on your personal choice. Nowadays, most laptops do not have an optical. It has become backdated since memory cards and external USBs have replaced it. Still, if you want to buy an optical drive, check that whether it fits in your laptop shell or not.

Cooling Fan:

There are various sizes, shapes and colors of a cooling fan. Most people use fan sizes ranging from 70 mm to 144mm in their laptops. While buying a cooling fan, consider airflow (high) and noise level (low). Nowadays, the popularity of 230mm fan sizes is increasing rapidly. 

Operating System:

You can select between Microsoft Windows and a Linux distribution for a self-made custom laptop. 

Basic system requirements for Windows 10 system:

  • 1 GHz or faster processor 
  • 16 GB Hard disk space for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • 1 GB RAM for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit

Basic system requirements for MX Linux:

  • Either modern i486 or AMD processor Intel.
  • 5 GB hard drive space
  • 512 MB RAM

Screwdriver:

To build your own laptop, you will need a magnetic screwdriver.

Recommended screwdrivers are:

  • Phillips Screwdrivers(p1, p0) 
  • Torx Screwdrivers(T3, T4,T5, T6and T8)

Whia and Xcelite are the most popular screwdriver brand. Xcelite screwdrivers are cheaper than Whia screwdrivers.

Step 3: Gather components.

You must’ve already made a list of all the essential tools and components. Now, purchase them from your preferable online retailer or a shop. 

Step 4: Mount and assemble all the parts.

Touch Metal or Use Anti-Static Band: 

Before starting to assemble the parts of your own laptop, you need to make yourself grounded. Otherwise, the electrostatic discharge may damage the parts of your computer. To make yourself grounded, you can touch something metal or put on an anti-static wrist band. 

Installing RAM:

  • Remove the motherboard’s protective panel.
  • After removing all the screws, you may need to pull them apart. Since laptop screws are tiny, you should keep them safe, so they don’t get lost.
  • Install the RAM on your laptop.
  • You’ll be able to see the motherboard and memory slots after the panel is opened. Insert the SO-DIMM memory chips, then press them down to secure them.
  • Do not try to force the memory sticks into place; they can only be put in one orientation.

Mounting Hard Drive:

  • Remove the drive bay’s lid panel. This panel protects the 2.5″ bay where your hard drive will be installed. 
  • The location of the bay varies according to the laptop shells. However, it is usually near the front of the laptop.
  • Ensure the hard drive panel covering is attached to the bracket with sufficient screws. Here screws are used to hold the drive. 
  • In the drive bay, slide the bracketed hard drive in.

Warning: Do not touch the drive’s connectors to protect your brand new HDD or SSD. Do not attempt to open the SSD. Your warranty might be invalidated if you do so.

Installing The CPU:

  • Observe the locked CPU socket.
  • Set it to the unlock position by using a slotted flat blade screwdriver. 
  • Now slope the CPU up and observe the position of the pins.
  • Matching the slot’s notch insert the CPU in the slot. 
  • After you have installed the CPU, lock the socket as it was before. 

Installing Graphics Card:

  • Place the GPU into the PCI-Express slot.
  • Apply pressure to the top until it is securely attached to the backplate.
  • When the GPU is properly inserted, the clip on your motherboard will automatically click into place.
  • Secure your card with screws. 

Note: Graphics cards are sometimes built into the CPU or chipset or linked to the motherboard. When buying a barebones laptop, check to see if the GPU is soldered. If it’s soldered, double-check that there’s another GPU socket available.

Cooling Fan:

  • Hold the fan up to the mounting location, making that the screw holes match up with the holes in the case. 
  • With one hand holding the fan in position, use the other to fix it in place with four screws.

Inserting Batteries:

  • You may need to slide the lock switch to keep the laptop battery in place. 
  • On some laptops, you will need to use a screwdriver to install them. 
  • The majority of laptop batteries will click into place automatically. 
  • All of the panels should be closed. Cover the apertures with the panels and secure them with screws when you’ve completed installing all of the components.

Installing Optical Drive:

  • Any drive slot that isn’t in use has a cover to keep the dust out of the computer.
  • In the computer, plug in the CD/DVD drive. Depending on the casing, there are many ways to install the drive.
  • A drive can be installed in two ways: through drive rails or directly into the drive cage. Using an IDE cable, connect the CD/DVD drive to the computer.
  • In the absence of an optical drive, a bootable USB drive can do the job too. All you need is to make a bootable USB drive from your operating system files.

Step 5: Install the operating system as well as required drivers.

How to Install Windows Operating System:

  • Before installing the OS and drives, recheck whether the battery is inserted or not.
  • Charge the battery until the charge rises up to 100%.
  • Now, it is time to check the memory. For doing that, you need to download a free memory testing software (Memtes86+ is recommended) from the internet. 
  • Take the installation DVD or flash drive and slide it in.
  • When you turn on your computer, it should run the Windows installer immediately. If you ever get the option to “Press any key to boot from CD,” make sure you press a key on your keyboard to proceed.
  • Then select the “Install Now” button.
  • Accept the terms of service, and pick “Custom (advanced)” when prompted. 
  • Locate your primary hard disk, select the “Unallocated Space” partition, and go to the next step. Windows should now begin to install.
  • Leave your computer alone to do its thing. It’ll copy all the necessary files to your disk and reboot several times in the process. 
  • Once your custom laptop is done with installing windows, it is time for the drivers to be installed.
  • If your Wi-Fi connection works, Windows may automatically find most or all of your drivers.
  • The drivers for most components will be on a disc. If your system can’t find the right drivers, use the disc.

Here you get some basic ideas about how to install Windows Operating System:

How to Install Linux Operating System:

In the case of the Linux OS, you’ll need to download it to your laptop in order to prepare the files for installation. A Linux distribution usually downloads in ISO format. 

  • Downloading is as easy as going to the Linux distro’s webpage and selecting the option that best fits the PC you want to install Linux on.
  • To install Linux, you must tell your laptop to boot from the installation media instead of the hard disk drive.
  • Connect the installation media to your laptop computer while it is turned off, and boot it up. 
  • You’ll be able to begin the installation procedure after the media has been detected). This is a step-by-step procedure. The exact methods will vary depending on the Linux distribution.

Here you get some basic ideas about how to install Linux Operating System:

Step 6: Get your self-built laptop started.

Congratulations! Your brand new self-built custom laptop is ready. You must’ve been tensed thinking about building a laptop and now see how you have one.

To protect your self-built custom laptop from all kinds of malware such as viruses, Trojan viruses, adware, you can install antivirus on your laptop. If you are using Windows 10 or Linux, then it is enough to protect your laptop.

Now, here is the section as we promised earlier in the post.

Different Components of Laptop:

Processor

A processor is an integrated electrical circuit that performs the calculations that allow a computer to function. This is also called CPU (Central Processing Unit). The CPU is responsible for performing basic logic, arithmetic, controlling, and input or output activities as described by the program’s instructions. In simple words, it is like the brain of laptops. To build a laptop computer, don’t buy desktop processors because what you need is mobile processors.

Brands: Popular brands of CPUs are Intel, AMD, Apple, Acer Inc, IBM, Motorola, Nvidia, etc. Most laptop manufacturers use Intel processors and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) processors.

Core: This is an individual processing unit in CPUs. The core can be considered as a smaller CPU, and it works independently. Depending on the number of cores, there are many kinds of CPUs.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM provides a temporary memory and access location for applications. It saves the information that your computer is now consuming so that it can be instantly available. Your system’s speed and performance are directly proportional to the amount of RAM you have installed. It can be slow and sluggish if your PC has insufficient memory. On the other hand, faster memories can help you win. But they might shorten your battery life in the process!

Basically, Ram is two types: Static Ram and dynamic ram. DDR1, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 are the most common types of RAM.

Graphics Card

A graphics card is a PC expansion card that is in charge of rendering visuals on the screen. Nowadays, it can become an essential part of laptops. 

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit): It is a processor that is customized to speed up the rendering of visuals. Two rival brands in the market make GPU, and they are AMD and NVIDIA. These two almost use the same technologies but different names.

  • NVIDIA: ‘CUDA Cores’ is the name of NVIDIA’s GPU. For multi GPU setup is uses SLI.
  • AMD: Here, the GPU’s is called ‘Stream processor’, and multi GPU setup is ‘Crossfire.’ 

Clock Speed: This clock speed is measured in MHz and reflects the number of computations performed by the cores per second.

  • Base Frequency: The base frequency is the processing core’s least stable clock speed.
  • Boost frequency: The boost frequency is the processing core’s high-frequency limit while under high strain.

Memory: The memory of it is called VRAM. Some very common VRAMs are GDDR6 and GDDR5. The higher versions of GDDR give more satisfactory performance than the lower versions. The memory size of VRAM is measured in GB, such as 4GB, 8GB, etc. If you want to know about a graphics card’s VRAM’s overall efficiency, consider the memory bandwidth.

TPD (Thermal Design Power): TPD is measured in watts. It’s a great method to determine how much power a GPU uses and how hot it gets.

Output Ports: Which output port you are going to use depends on your monitor type. Some widely used output ports are:

  • HDMI
  • DVI 
  • USB Type-C
  • VGA

Storage

Hard drive is required for installing the operating system of the laptop. It is necessary for installing any applications or other items you want to retain on your computer. People tend to use HDD, SSD, or NVMe storage devices for this purpose. 

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

This is a non-volatile device. It means that even when the computer is switched off, it keeps data. If you observe that your documents take more time to open, you need to buy a hard drive as a secondary backup drive.

Faster memory will give better performance but may lead to shorter battery life.

SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment): It functions like HDD. SATA is a rewritable rotary hard drive with rotating disks and moving needles. People who want a large capacity of storage with minimum cost use this.

SSD ( Solid State Drive)

SSDs are way faster and lighter than HDDs. Since SDDs have no moving parts, it consumes less power and better for battery life of laptops. Being non-mechanical, they also do not make a bad sound. As of 2021, The most commonly used storage capacities for SSDs are 2TB, 1TB, 256 GB, 128 GB. 

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express): NVMe is the fastest disk drive. This is ten times faster than SSD. The interface is built for maximum scalability, and it allows next-generation technologies to deliver 4KB I/O in less than 10 seconds.

Optical Drive

An optical drive is a disk drive that reads and writes data using laser beam technology. The inserted disc is rotated at a steady pace, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). These discs are usually game discs, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays.

Operating System (OS)

An operating system (OS) is a software program that connects a computer user to its hardware. Windows and Linux are the most used systems.

Linux is a free operating system that is backed by a volunteer developer community. Although Windows is more expensive, it provides a wider selection of apps and hardware support. It is advised that you install the most recent version of Windows. 

The most popular Linux distributions of 2021’s are MX Linux, Manjaro, Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian(Order: Ascending).

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Building Your Own Laptop

Advantages:

  • We get to choose laptop components that meet your needs and desires
  • You get control over upgradability.
  • When you face any issues, you can fix that all by yourself as you know how it is built.
  • Cost-effective (Especially for low-end laptops)

Disadvantages:

  • Building a laptop all by yourself takes a lot of time. 
  • Lack of warranty is considered the biggest disadvantage. Buying a laptop provides the warranty of the entire laptop, but when you buy parts to parts, you don’t get the entire laptop’s warranty. 
  • Lots of patience, effort and skills are needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to build your own laptop?

You already know the answers. Yes, it is possible. But it takes a lot of time and effort.

How Long Does It Take to Make A Laptop On Your Own?

You won’t need much time (Approximately 6 hours) when you have all the components ready in your hand. It takes time to choose your perfect components and tools. And also, after ordering components, you need to wait for the shipments. So overall, it may take 12 to 28 days.

How to Build a Gaming Laptop:

For having the richest gaming experience, you need to buy 16 GB RAM. If it is too expensive for you, then go for 8 GB. Before buying the components, decide which game you play most, then check out the system requirements. For example, Grand Theft Auto V requires at least RAM of 8 GB, processor Intel Core i5 3470 @ 3.2GHZ (4 CPUs) or AMD X8, Video card NVIDIA AMD HD7870 2GB or GTX 660 2GB and 64-bit system. 

How Much Would It Cost to Build Your Own Laptop?

Cost of High-end laptop: Around $1000 to $3000

Cost of Mid-range laptop: Around $650 to $1000

Cost of Laptop for doing academics or office work: Around $300 to $500

Can I Use My Old Laptop Parts To Build A New One?

If the old laptop’s processor, hard drive, RAM is functioning properly, then you can definitely use the old laptop’s part to build your new laptop. It is going to save a lot of money of yours as well.

Is It Bad To Leave Your Laptop Plugged In All Day?

It’s not a big deal if you have modern laptops. They come with lithium polymer or lithium-ion batteries, and they don’t take more charge than they need. Just make sure your batteries don’t overheat. 

But this becomes a problem when you are using a laptop with nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries. These batteries should not be kept plugged in all the time. 

Is It Possible To Build Your Own Mac?

You can definitely build a Mac laptop on your own. It is going to be called “Hackintosh”. The YouTuber Jesse Guardiani, from the create this YouTube channel, has proven this by building one.

Is building a laptop worth it?

It actually depends on your purpose in building a laptop. If you need a laptop that requires some particular specifications which are not currently available in the market, making a laptop is definitely an option. But you need to consider whether it is cost-effective or not.

What parts do you need to build a laptop?

The essential components needed are a laptop case, processor, motherboard, RAM, HDD / SDD, optical drive, GPU, and power supply.

Is it better to build a laptop or buy one?

There is no yes and no answer. It depends on your purpose. If you think that the specifications that come up with the readily available laptops in the market will not serve your goal, then there is nothing wrong with building one of your own!

Final Thoughts

Custom-built laptops are becoming more and more popular as buying laptops are costly, and you may not get all the desirable features or exact specifications you want. So it is safe to say that the use of custom laptops will increase in the coming days.