What can you salvage from a damaged laptop?

Since its debut in the 1980s, the form factor of laptops has dominated the PC industry, with an estimated 277 million laptops shipped around the world in 2021 alone. While laptops are popular, they are also quite fragile, which means that many of the world’s laptops are thrown in the trash after just a few years of use.

It doesn’t have to be like this. There are many ways to turn your laptop into something new, but how do you do it? Let’s take a look at some of the different parts you can salvage from your laptop when it finally dies.

1. Turn the laptop’s HDD and SSD into an external/internal drive


When you have a broken laptop, the first component to consider is its storage. Both hard drives and SSDs can outstrip the rest of the laptop, depending on the type of problem the laptop experiences. Some laptops even have multiple storage drives inside, making it an important starting point for your laptop rescue operations.

Older laptops will usually use SATA-interfaced storage drives, while newer machines tend to have M.2s connected inside. This is an important difference because it changes the way you use the drive once you take it out of your broken laptop.

Some laptops have specialized panels on the base that provide access to storage drives, making them easy to reach and remove. Others hide the memory in the depths of other parts, but you can find disassembly videos of almost all such laptops. Either way, before you can proceed with this project, you’ll need to remove the storage drive of your broken laptop.

How to Use the Drive

Once your hard drive is removed, you can determine the type of connection it uses and choose how you want to use it. With the help of adapters and some time, you can make your own external drive. Alternatively, if another machine has a suitable connection, you can also put the storage drive on another machine.

It is worth noting that both HDDs and SSDs have a limited lifespan, and affected by this, it is best to avoid storing important files on such a drive.

2. Turn the laptop speaker into a wireless Bluetooth speaker


Unless your laptop has a lot of damage, the speakers inside it are most likely working just fine. Using your DIY technology to turn your laptop’s speakers into wireless Bluetooth speakers is easier than you think. All you need is a Bluetooth module that works with your speaker and some batteries to power the finished product (you can usually do this with your laptop’s battery).

3. Reuse the broken laptop screen


As with monitors and televisions, the screens of broken laptops have many uses. You can turn it into a lampstand for painting and handwork, build some DIY photographic lights, or even make a projector for yourself. Unfortunately, using your old laptop screen as a standalone display is very difficult, and often impossible. However, you should not let this discourage you. There are plenty of guides on the web that can help you make the most of your laptop’s screen when other parts of the machine aren’t working properly.

4. Turn a worn-out laptop into a PC/all-in-one PC


The next idea is for those with laptops with damaged displays. Repairing your laptop’s display can be an expensive job, especially if your laptop has a touchscreen or other advanced features. Thankfully, the vast majority of laptops support additional displays with interfaces such as VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort.

When your laptop’s screen is broken, you can connect it to a regular monitor and continue using it. This is very effective for those who use their laptop at their desk and don’t need to move it very often. However, with the proliferation of portable USB display options on the market, you can also go out and use them if you don’t mind carrying some extra weight.

The way you approach this issue can vary depending on your DIY skill level. Leaving an old screen on the notebook won’t get in the way of its performance, but you can also consider carefully removing it to make the notebook easier to move.

5. Make a Battery Bank Out of Laptop Batteries


Laptop batteries are one of the first parts on many machines to break down, and their longevity is affected by how they are used. This means that many broken old laptops have relatively new batteries inside. As long as you have the right battery type, turning your old laptop battery into a power library is easier than you think.

Lithium-ion laptop batteries come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they almost always use standard 18650 batteries (or something similar). You can buy DIY battery pack kits for such batteries on sites like eBay and Amazon, and there are countless guides online that can help you. Of course, it goes without saying that batteries are dangerous and you have to be very careful when using them.

6. Repair one broken notebook with another


Donated equipment is very popular in the field of DIY electronic repair. If you have two broken laptops of the same make and model, you can use parts from one to repair the other and finally give you a machine that works. You have to have a little bit of luck because the donor’s parts have to work.

Auction sites, local computer shops, and even dumpsters can be a huge source of broken computer hardware, including laptops. Schools and businesses tend to have machines of the same make and model, and they will be upgraded at the same time. If you know who to talk to, this provides a great opportunity to find a donation machine.

Salvage parts from a broken laptop

As you can see, there are many ways to get something out of your broken laptop. You don’t have to throw these machines in the trash and can even save yourself some money by using everything on the old machine instead of buying new gadgets. It’s good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet, and it’s good for the skills you’ve gained along the way.