Being full of confidence after having spent that last couple of weeks tinkering/disassembling/reassembling 3 other laptops with a degree of success, today I tackled the HP Pavilion DV4-4141 US Entertainment laptop. It's turning out not to be very entertaining after all.
It's the 2nd HP Pavilion in the series of doorstops littering my house that's apparently not repairable.
The first was a DV6-6500 that was purchased before the 4141. I took it apart last week, to discover a dust clog the size of Nebraska in the cooling fan area. It powers up (somewhat) now, with just single blink of the lights (indicating a CPU failure) and a single screeching noise from the fan which tells me I did something right by cleaning out the dust. I don't know if I'm motivated to buy another CPU and give it another shot -- it was really just practice before tackling the one I really want to work.
But so far I've got two laptops working better than new, unfortunately neither of them are HP products. Which does not bode well for my success rate with fixing HP laptops. I'm batting zero with HP.
Today I cracked the case on the 4141 after getting no hits on youtube showing disassembly, and nothing on the HP site in regards to support for DIY repairs. DailyMotion might have a video but I didn't think to check -- and Google doesn't always return hits for the competition. Anyway, the 4141 has been overheating since it was purchased and I've never used it much as a result. It has "coolsense" built in but that does nothing to inspire me to believe that it won't catch on fire because it gets really really hot if it runs for over an hour. Here's what happened when I took the screws out of the back:
With no visual guide, I was relatively certain all of the screws were out so that there would be nothing impeding prying the bezel off the keyboard. Turns out the bezel isn't really a bezel at all. The keyboard, and the top layer, are all one piece. There is lots of plastic soldering underneath and no way to replace the keyboard if that were the issue. Thankfully it's not. When I was trying to figure out how to get the keyboard layer off, I could sort of see that there were ribbons clipped to the motherboard and the top layer, but couldn't lift the top high enough to see about getting the ribbon cables unclipped before the whole shebang self-extracted the clips. I wasn't using a lot of force, just trying to lift the layer up to get to the clips. So there it was in all its glory. The motherboard exposed with just a couple of little screws holding it down into the bottom section of the case.
I took the screws out and the board popped out pretty easily compared to the other boards I've had to wrestle with. Another confidence builder! I could see there was a giant dust clod in this fan as well, which seems odd because it's not gotten anywhere near the use of any of the other laptops I've had. Maybe it's a dust magnet instead of a cooling fan.
After removing the fan I took off the sink and CPU and there was barely any thermal grease on the CPU at all. That might be why it was overheating from day one. Is HP trying to save money by skimping on thermal grease? The last HP, I forgot to mention, had thermal "CEMENT" on it. So hard I had to chip it off the sink side. I was afraid to do that with the CPU and it doesn't matter because it's probably toast anyway. Anyway I wiped off the smidgen of grease from both components of the 4141, gave the fan a good cleaning, put a decent amount of grease on it and put it all back together. So far so good.
Since I hadn't seen how the ribbons came unclipped, I had to do a little bit of study to figure out how to put them back together. And after spending 6 hours trying to clip on the last two ribbons, I GIVE UP.
My fingers are kind of pudgy, but come on. A two year old couldn't fit these pieces together, even if they could be coached as to how to do it. The ribbons do NOT REACH from the top layer to the motherboard unless the two parts are already snapped together. And after they're snapped together, even a two year old couldn't fit their fingers between the two layers to snap the ribbons. I've tried by going through the access hole under the bottom where the hard drive goes, and there's "space" but it's not enough space for the connecters to remain in the "receiving" position if the layers are snapped together. Even my little dental pick tool can't fit in that space. I need four hands to guide the little misshapen ribbons into position anyway. But there aren't even four millimeters of space in which to do it. And the ribbons are too short to reach. Seriously ... is HP skimping on ribbon, too? Just another centimeter would probably be enough. But that times x a number of laptops would bankrupt HP?
Before I started, it was a fully functioning unit although it smelled like a burning hunk of plastic when running. Now, I can't make it do anything because I can't get two stupid cables to clip to the motherboard.
Now I'm googling non-video sites for "HP DV4-4141" (just as it's described on the bottom of the case) and get NOTHING. Did I buy the only one? I know, I know... "measure twice, cut once." I should have looked for model information BEFORE starting in. But I was full of false confidence after having torn 3 other laptops apart.
Have I unwittingly built a permanent door stop? Does anyone have experience with the ribbons on this HP model? If so, I'm dying to know how you got them back on, if you did!