Today's lab will involve both the disassembly and the reassembly of a working computer. The computer is functional at the start of class. For full credit it should be functional at the end of class.

Electrical safety is paramount. DO NOT reach into an open, energized computer!
Don't force pieces in/out of the computer/motherboard!
Keep meticulous track of all screws! Don't strip the screws!

The physical computer is comprised of numerous components that each have a specific function. Among the more important are the ones you will see and touch today:

1. CPU      4. Motherboard
2. RAM (memory)      5. ODD (optical disk drive)
3. HDD (hard disk drive)      6. Power supply

While the computer is made up of these (and other) components, a computer user also needs to be able to identify the physical ports on the computer. For instance, you need to know what a USB port looks like so you don't try to plug something wrong into that port! Here are some physical ports you should be able to identify on any computer:

1. VGA (analog video)
2. USB
3. RJ45 (Ethernet)
4. Audio
5. DVI (digital video)
 All of these pictures are clickable. Use them!


  1. Preparation. (read this entirely, before you perform any actions)

    1. Clear off four adjacent desks and move them together (this will be your work area).

    2. Obtain these items: 1 computer, 1 monitor, 1 video cable, 2 power cords, 1 screwdriver.

    3. Place the computer on one of your tables.

  2. Verifying that the computer works.

    DO NOT do this yet, but you will be listening/looking for the following:

    NOW you may do these steps:

    1. Place the monitor on the other table.
    2. Connect the monitor to the computer's VGA connector next to the DVI connector (see diagram above) using the video cable (you do not need to screw in either end).
    3. DO NOT yet plug power cords to receptacles.
      DO connect the power cords to the monitor and computer.
    4. Flip the power rocker switch on the computer to the OFF ( 0 ) position.
    5. Plug the computer and monitor power cords into a power receptacle.
    6. NOW flip the power rocker switch on the computer to the ON ( 1 ) position.
    7. If the computer does not start: press the ON/OFF button on the front - you should hear the fan start and the HDD spin up, and after a few moments the BIOS start screen and then the Windows start screen should appear.
      If the BIOS or Windows start screen does not appear, press the power switch on the monitor.
    8. STOP HERE and contact your instructor if the computer does not power on or if the Windows start screen does not eventually appear. Otherwise, proceed.

  3. Powering down.

    1. Press AND HOLD the ON/OFF button on the front of the computer until it turns OFF.
    2. Flip the power rocker switch on the computer to the OFF ( 0 ) position.

    3. Unplug both ends of both power cords and the video cable, and set them and the monitor aside.

  4. Opening the case. Keep meticulous track of all screws!

    • Remove both side panels. For each side panel, remove 1 or 2 screws, then slide the panel toward the rear of the case and remove it.

  5. Removing the front panel.

    1. Slide the front of the computer just off the edge of the desk.
    2. Behind the left side of the front cover, locate the three tabs that hold the front cover to the main case.
    3. Release these three tabs, pivot the front cover off, then set it aside.
    4. Lay the computer back onto the desk on its side, so the motherboard and components are visible.

  6. Locating components PRIOR to removal.

    At this time, every team member should locate (but not remove) every one of the items listed below.
    You will LATER (not now) be removing or disconnecting the ones listed in green.

    1. Motherboard
    2. CPU cooling fan
    3. Clock backup battery
    4. Peripheral connectors
    5. Case cooling fan
    6. Power connectors
    7. Graphics card.
    8. Hard disk drive.
    9. Optical disk drive (CD/DVD).
    10. Memory (RAM).
    11. Case power supply

  7. Removing the graphics card. Keep meticulous track of all screws!

    Locate these items associated with the graphics card:

    1. Remove the ONE screw fastening the graphics card to the case.
    2. Grasp the graphics card by its heat sink and gently lift it out, rotating away from the back of the case. If there is a plastic locking tab at the heel of the graphics card, release the tab before lifting out the card.
    3. Remove the card and set it aside.

  8. Disconnecting the motherboard main power

  9. Removing the HDD (hard disk drive). Keep meticulous track of all screws!

    1. Disconnect the power and data cables from the HDD. The data cable is red; this connector type is called "SATA".
    2. Remove the screws fastening the HDD to the case. There may be screws on both sides, so lift up the case, if necessary.
    3. Remove the HDD by sliding it towards the center of the case. It will probably be necessary to angle it out to avoid the CPU cooling fan.
    4. Set the HDD gently aside.

  10. Removing the ODD (optical disk drive). Keep meticulous track of all screws!

    1. Disconnect the power and data cables from the ODD.
    2. Remove the screws fastening the ODD to the case.
    3. Remove the ODD by sliding it out the front of the case.

  11. Removing the RAM.

    1. To free a RAM module, carefully press down on the two white side tabs for that RAM slot. The module will pop up.
    2. Remove the RAM module and set it aside.
    3. Repeat for any additional RAM modules.

  12. Inspection.

    1. Have your instructor inspect your work.


Note: Reassembly order is the reverse of disassembly

  1. Reinstall the RAM
    RAM is installed in pairs, refer to the model system as needed
  2. Reinstall and reconnect the optical disk drive (ODD)
  3. Reinstall and reconnect the hard disk drive (HDD)
  4. Reconnect the motherboard main power supply
  5. Reinstall the graphics card
  6. Reattach the front cover, ensuring the three tabs lock. Replace the front cover screw(s)
  7. Replace and the side covers (access panels) and refasten their screws
  8. Perform Disassembly step 2 again to power up the computer
  9. Have your instructor verify that the computer has booted properly
  10. Perform Disassembly step 3 again to power down the computer


  1. Police your area for loose screws (not including your classmates or instructor)
  2. Disconnect all power cords and peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc.)
  3. Return the CPU case, monitor, power cords, video cable, peripherals, and screwdriver to the back of the room