- What’s the right laptop for the situation?
- How do I know which parts of a laptop can be replaced or upgraded?
Laptops are one of the most common mobile devices and they have many options to make them suitable for different users and uses. Laptops can be just as powerful as desktops and accomplish the same outcomes and create the same products using similar peripherals, but their portability comes with a price. Simply because it’s easy to pick up and transport a laptop, it’s also easy to drop, crush, or otherwise damage a laptop. Some of the parts of a laptop are easy to replace and some are not.
As a member of the student Help Desk you need to know how to configure a new laptop for a given user or use. You also need to know which parts you are able to replace and which require escalation to a different technician or may even make the laptop no longer usable.
Connection to Student Lives
The boom in online and blended learning means that most students across the country, and in many parts of the globe, now have access to a laptop that they routinely access for schoolwork. You probably have one, whether you can take it home or not.
Given different user/use scenarios (e.g., students, faculty, staff, gamers, etc.) configure a laptop. Be able to replace any internal parts that are authorized for replacement.
Students will disassemble and reassemble a laptop (hopefully different types of laptops) following appropriate safety guidelines and using the appropriate tools. They should explicitly document their work with photographs and descriptions and add the information to the Knowledge Base.
- NCCTE.2020.II21.03.01 - Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
- NCCTE.2020.II21.03.09 - Install and configure common devices.
- NCCTE.2020.II21.01.03 - Use appropriate laptop features.
- NCCTE.2020.II21.01.01 - Install and configure laptop hardware and components.
- NCCTE.2020.II21.01.02 - Install components within the display of a laptop.
TOPIC 15A: Use Laptop Features
TOPIC 15B: Install and Configure Laptop Hardware
- Different laptop form factors
- How to use touchpad features, including configuring a touchpad in Windows® using the Mouse applet in Control Panel
- Similarities and differences between desktop and laptop keyboards
- How port replicators and docking stations are used with laptops
- How to physically lock a laptop
- Whether a laptop CPU is upgradeable or not
- Whether a laptop’s video card is replaceable or upgradeable
- How to identify which of the three types of displays are on given laptops
- What a digitizer is and when it is necessary
- When plugging in a fixed-input adapter can cause damage to a laptop, and when it won’t
- Safety tips for appropriately charging laptop batteries
- Which items in a laptop are most easily replaced
- Configure a touchpad in Windows® using the mouse Mouse applet in Control Panel
- Use the Function (Fn) keys on a laptop keyboard
- Configure a keyboard in Windows® using the Keyboard applet in Control Panel or Windows Settings
- Configure and calibrate a touchscreen in Windows® using the Tablet PC Settings and Pen and Touch applets
- Optional: connect a Laptop to a Port Replicator or Docking Station
- Use the appropriate size tools designed for use with laptops
- Disassemble and reassemble a laptop following appropriate safety guidelines
- Optional: replace an optical drive with a second hard drive
- Identify, but perhaps not necessarily replace, different types of laptop displays
- Replace a laptop keyboard following appropriate safety guidelines
- Replace a laptop touchpad following appropriate safety guidelines
- Replace a webcam and microphone following appropriate safety guidelines
- Identify and use the appropriate AC adapter for a given laptop
- Optional: replace a DC jack (requires soldering)
- Replace a removable battery on a laptop following appropriate safety guidelines
- Entry Level/Budget
- Desktop Replacement
- Media Center
- Gaming Laptop
USB Expansion Options for Laptops (USB to RJ-45, USB to Wi-Fi/Bluetooh, USB Optical Drive)
Small Outline DIMM (SODIMM) (also Mini-DIMM and Micro-DIMM)
Laptop Display Types
- LCD (TFT) with fluorescent backlight
- LCD with LED backlight
Digitizer for touchscreen display
Introduction to problem: Disassemble and reassemble a laptop
Team meetings to develop project plan and goals; Teams must document their work and add it to the Help Desk Knowledge Base
Review content resources with whole group: TOPIC 15A Use Laptop Features
Small group and independent exploration of resources
Activity 15-1: Discussing Laptop Features
Hands-on exploration: Disassembling a laptop
Review content resources with whole group: TOPIC 15B: Laptop Disassembly Processes
Begin Activity 15-3: Installing and Configuring Laptop Hardware. Teams disassemble a laptop (or Chromebook) and document the internal parts
Hands-on exploration: Reassembling a laptop
Review content resources with whole group: TOPIC 15B: Install and Configure Laptop Hardware
Complete Activity 15-3: Installing and Configuring Laptop Hardware. Teams reassemble a laptop (or Chromebook) documenting the decisions they made during the process
Complete Activity 15-3, if necessary: Installing and Configuring Laptop Hardware.
Teams share and discuss their documentation, justifying any decisions, if necessary
Activity 15-2: Discussing Laptop Hardware Installation and Configuration
The students’ primary objective is to disassemble and reassemble a laptop (or Chromebook). They should do this using appropriate tools and following safety procedures. They should document their work (e.g., text, audio, video, photos) and clearly identify all internal parts, which are replaceable or upgradeable, and which should not be.
If they have options to actually replace parts, they should document that process, as well. All documentation should be added to the Help Desk Knowledge Base for use later when actually addressing laptop (or Chromebook) repairs.
The Official CompTIA A+ Core 1 & Core 2 Instructor Guide for Exams 220-1001 and 220-1002
- Topic 15A: Use Laptop Features (818 – 824)
- Activity 15-1: Discussing Laptop Features (825)
- Topic 15B: Install and Configure Laptop Hardware (826 – 834)
- Activity 15-3: Installing and Configuring Laptop Hardware (837 – 838)
- Activity 15-2: Discussing Laptop Hardware Installation and Configuration (835 – 836)
CompTIA also offers videos for purchase through their website or on ITPro.TV.
Professor Messer at ProfessorMesser.com and YouTube offers numerous free videos of various lengths for many of the topics for the CompTIA 220-1001 A+ Exam. They are easy to understand, narrated videos with visuals. If you are teaching a CompTIA course, the site notes “You’re welcome to use them as much as you’d like, provided you embed the videos with the associated YouTube link or link directly to my site. Please click the “Contact Us” link at the top of our web page and let me know how you’re using them.”
- Professor Messer’s 220-1001 Core 1 CompTIA A+ Training Course videos on ProfessorMesser.com. Search or scroll to find the topics you’re interested in.
- Professor Messer’s CompTIA 220-1001 A+ Training Course playlist on YouTube
Entry Level I.T. Training from Technology Gee
- Laptop Features (Article | Video – 9:26)
- 1.1 Laptop Hardware & Components (Article | Video – 30:32)
- 1.2 Components of Laptop Displays (Article | Video – 11:38)
Articles and other resources
Computer Specs Explained – What to Look for in a Laptop by Jack Turner for tech.co
Laptop Buying Guide: What to Look For. In this article from 2018, Ben Jones details some of the options for features of a laptop.
What are the Characteristics of a Laptop? By Trevor Talley for Techwalla. Includes Pros & Cons of a Desktop Computer by Anne Hirsh and The Positive & Negative Effects of Laptops by the Techwalla Team
What is a laptop computer? General overview of laptop components and comparison with a desktop computer from a free course hosted by GCFGlobal. Includes a short (2:20) video.