Home > Computing > Revive a dead laptop; IT in the kitchen

Revive a dead laptop; IT in the kitchen


Over the last few weeks the HP/Compaq F700 laptop in the kitchen has been having some failures.  It got a lot of use during Sunday football season keeping track of games while I was making football party food.  I just attributed it to overheating because the fan was at full speed.  Well last Saturday it died completely.  When attempting to power up the laptop it wouldn’t even get to the bios screen before shutting down and trying to power itself up again.  The only way to stop it was to pull power and the battery.  I tried removing the hard drive and memory to see if I could get it to the bios screen but it didn’t work.  But I did find a solution!

Sunday morning I started searching the Internet for a solution and came across some interesting articles.  Apparently the repeated heating and cooling cycles tend to cause fractures in the solder joints on the motherboard.  From what I could find this is more prevalent on HP laptops but I can’t say for sure.  The solution is to reflow the solder, and I found a great article for doing it in the oven.  http://www.computerrepairtips.net/how-to-reflow-a-laptop-motherboard/  Yep, it was time to bake my laptop.  First thing was to find the service manual and take the motherboard out.  This meant a full teardown of the laptop making sure to keep track of where all the little screws go.  After that I had to remove the heat sink and fan assembly.  Then I took pictures of each side of the motherboard so I knew where to put all the plastic coverings when it came time to put it back together.  Remember you have to remove all the plastic and paper from the motherboard and don’t forget to remove the CMOS battery too.  Here are the pictures of each side of the motherboard before removing the coverings.

I put the motherboard on a cookie sheet and raised it up with balls of foil on each corner.  Preheated the oven to 385 and put it in for 8 minutes.  As the article says, make sure the kitchen is well ventilated because there will be fumes.  After it cooled I referred to the pictures above so I could put back all the plastic and that wire in the bottom picture.  I put the laptop back together, pressed the power button and it fired right up!  My wife was so amazed that she insisted on getting a picture.

So that was the high point of Sunday because the Steelers lost to the Broncos.  Oh well, you can’t have everything.

Disclaimer:  Do this at your own risk and only as a last resort.  I am not responsible for any damage that may happen to your laptop, oven, house or yourself.  I’m also pretty confident this will void any warranty.

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Categories: Computing Tags: , , , , ,
  1. January 25, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    I appreciate your post, it is interesting and compelling. I stumbled upon my way here through Google, I’ll come back another time 🙂

  2. annie
    April 26, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    does this work for a while….or just for a day?

  3. April 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    annie :

    does this work for a while….or just for a day?

    Great question. I only expected it to last a couple days at most, but it went for about 8 months. I cooked it again and it finally died last month. I think it was worth it.

  4. November 18, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Buy a heatgun next time, there are parts on the motherboard that are NOT supposed to be heated like that. With a heatgun you can target the chipset specifically and prevent decreasing the lifetime of the other parts.

  5. November 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Also, if you had used some noclean liquid flux under the BGA chipset you would have gotten a complete reflow and deoxidized the solder pads.

    If the fan is running full speed it means you need to unclog the heatpipe radiator, use a copper shim instead of a thermal pad for GPU/Chipset and silver thermal paste.

  6. edwin ortiz
    October 20, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    i did that with a video card and it worked for a few months to 6 months more. great temporary fix.

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