A laptop's video capability is influenced by an expansion card that generates and displays images on the LCD screen. Known as the video card (or graphics accelerator or display adapter), this expansion card is an internal component. Replacing or upgrading the card may involve disassembling the entire unit. A laptop may not support just any video card; if the laptop supports upgrades, the manufacturer will usually list compatible devices.
Download the laptop's user manual from the manufacturer's website. Refer to the guide and verify you have an appropriate video card for the particular model, before you begin the disassembly process. Note any manufacturer-specific instructions.
Turn off the laptop, unplug it from the power source and remove the battery. Wear an antistatic wrist band to prevent damaging internal components through electrostatic discharge. Remove the plastic shell casing of the laptop. Depending on the manufacturer, the plastic casing is attached to the laptop's framework using clamps or hinges. Gently maneuver the the plastic in the attached regions so that it can be undone easily; do not apply excessive force because the holding mechanism could break.
Remove internal components to reach the video card. Take apart the keyboard by undoing hooks or screws holding it in place. Gently lift the unit from the laptop and disconnect its cable. Next, remove the display screen from the laptop; unscrew from the back of the unit and take off the cables connecting it to the main body of the laptop.
Take apart CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives by undoing a latch and sliding out the entire unit. In most laptop models, these optical drives are the last internal components that will have to be removed to access the video card. If your computer has other components blocking access, take them off by undoing latches or screws.
Remove the old video card and attach the new one, in the same orientation. Screw the device tightly before putting back the components that you removed, including the optical drive, keyboard and display assembly. When done, you should have no leftover screws or cables.
Turn on the laptop and install the driver for the new video card. When properly installed, your laptop will have improved video capabilities.
- Some newer laptops have removable plastic covers on the back for easy access to the video card. Refer to the manual before you begin the process to check whether your laptop's video card can be removed like this. During disassembly, keep internal components organized with their respective cables and screws--this will make it easier to put them back on.
- Carefully handle sensitive devices, such as the display assembly and optical drive. Also, be aware that even if you disassemble the laptop within its warranty period, the warranty will be void when you take it apart.
- Laptop image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com