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how to dispose of laptopLaptops are a treasure trove of parts that can live more than one life. Whether they continue a life as spare part or become the subject of a DIY tech project, you can get a lot of extra value out of your old hardware. And at the very least you can give a broken laptop to a recycling facility that will recover valuable materials like gold, copper, aluminum, and many more. Curious to see which parts you can easily extract yourself and re-use in one way or the other?

Laptops consist of a standard set of parts, which every manufacturer composes in a unique way. Hence it is almost impossible to give general advice on how to remove specific parts. And it’s often pointless to stock up on old parts for future use, as they won’t fit into newer laptop models. The video below demonstrates the partial dis-assembly of a HP Compaq nw8440 and gives you an idea of the valuables hidden inside a laptop and how to access them.

Since you most likely have a different laptop, please have a look into its manual, online at the manufacturer’s website, or search Google for instructions.

Battery Pack

Most laptop batteries are unique to one model and can be expensive to replace. So if your old battery pack has some battery life left, even if it’s just an hour, someone else with the same model might actually spend a few bucks on it. Give it a try, although it’s probably best to recycle it.

how to dispose of laptop

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If you cannot sell your old laptop battery or if it’s broken, please dispose of it responsibly; batteries don’t belong into the trash.

By the way, there are many ways 20 Ways To Increase Laptop's Battery Life 20 Ways To Increase Laptop's Battery Life Read More you can increase your laptop’s battery life How To Increase The Lifetime Of Your Laptop Battery How To Increase The Lifetime Of Your Laptop Battery A laptop with a short battery life is a nuisance, especially when you're on the road and nowhere close to a power socket. To make each individual charge of your battery last longer, learn about... Read More , although it’s an ongoing discussion whether or not it’s a good idea to remove your laptop battery to increase its life Should I Remove My Laptop Battery To Increase its Life? [Geeks Weigh In] Should I Remove My Laptop Battery To Increase its Life? [Geeks Weigh In] Does running your laptop on AC power damage the battery? Should you remove the battery to increase its lifetime? If you own a laptop, these questions have probably crossed your mind before. The short answer... Read More .

Power Supply

What’s true for the battery also applies to the power supply. Since the connector changes with almost every model, you won’t likely need an old power supply again once that laptop is broken. Moreover, replacing a power supply is expensive. Those are ideal conditions for the second hand market, so try and sell this part.

If the power supply is broken or doesn’t sell, do consider keeping the the power cable (left). It might fit into another power supply or device of yours.

how to dispose of laptop safely

Are you wondering whether you can re-use the power supply of an old desktop computer? Yes, maybe Can I Reuse My Old PC’s Power Supply In A New Computer? Can I Reuse My Old PC’s Power Supply In A New Computer? One of the best ways to reduce the cost of upgrading your PC is to simply re-use the components which don’t need to be upgraded. Yea, you’ll have to replace the graphics card or processor.... Read More .

RAM

Memory sticks usually are easy to remove as shown in the video above. Note that there are many different types RAM. Not only do they differ in storage capacity (measured in GB) and clock speed (measured in MHz), but also in shape, which is reflected in the name (e.g. DDR2 vs. DDR3).

how to dispose of laptop safely

Since memory technology doesn’t change that frequently, you might have other devices that can use the old laptop’s RAM. For example I doubled my netbook’s RAM from 1GB to 2GB with the old 2GB memory stick from my laptop, when I upgraded my laptop with a new 8GB RAM kit. If you no longer have any productive use for those old memory sticks, either try to sell them or build your own RAM disk What Is A RAM Disk, And How You Can Set One Up What Is A RAM Disk, And How You Can Set One Up Solid state hard drives aren’t the first non-mechanical storage to appear in consumer PCs. RAM has been used for decades, but primarily as a short-term storage solution. The fast access times of RAM makes it... Read More .

HDD/SSD

An old hard drive won’t make you a lot of money. Besides, getting your data off it How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive How To Completely & Securely Erase Your Hard Drive Read More before sending it to someone else 5 Things You Must Check Before Disposing of Old Computers 5 Things You Must Check Before Disposing of Old Computers Read More is a hassle. While an old hard drive shouldn’t be used to store any important data, it can be used to store non-essential data, for example movies or music.

Fortunately, HDDs or SSD Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] If you've kept up with some of the latest news about new computer parts, you may have heard about SSDs, or solid state drives. They are designed to replace your clunky, slow hard drive and... Read More s are easy to remove and re-use. Whether you find an IDE or SATA What Are The Different Computer Cable Types You Should Know As A User? What Are The Different Computer Cable Types You Should Know As A User? Take a look at any piece of equipment related to computer harder and you’ll soon find yourself in a swirling maelstrom of acronyms and foreign jargon. What does it matter if you use IDE or... Read More HDD or a SSD in your laptop, you can mount it into a 2.5″ USB case and thus turn it into an external drive. A 2.5″ laptop drive in a USB enclosure is exactly what you buy as external hard, only that you already have the drive and the USB adapter is cheap.

how to dispose of laptop safely

CMOS Battery

The CMOS battery Why Does My Motherboard Have A Battery? Why Does My Motherboard Have A Battery? Whether you’re using a desktop computer or a laptop, your computer’s motherboard contains an integrated battery. Unlike a standard laptop battery, the motherboard’s battery doesn’t power your computer while you're using it. Quite the opposite,... Read More is a coin cell that sits on the motherboard and powers low-level system functions while the laptop is turned off. This little bugger is to blame when your system no longer remembers the time or when the BIOS keeps losing its settings. Those batteries are used on all computer motherboards and in many other devices and are thus worth keeping. You will not be able to sell them for much, but it’s good to have one around for emergencies. Store it in a dark, cool, and dry place.

how to dispose of laptop battery

Optical Drive

Much like an old hard drive, you can re-use your computer’s optical drive with an external USB enclosure. To get the right case, you need to identify the type of connector the CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive uses to connect to your laptop’s motherboard (IDE vs. SATA What Are The Different Computer Cable Types You Should Know As A User? What Are The Different Computer Cable Types You Should Know As A User? Take a look at any piece of equipment related to computer harder and you’ll soon find yourself in a swirling maelstrom of acronyms and foreign jargon. What does it matter if you use IDE or... Read More ).

Display

The display potentially is the most valuable part, given it’s still in a good condition. But it’s also one of the parts that can be tough to remove. Be extra careful when removing and subsequently shipping it, LCDs are extremely fragile.

CPU

In terms of value, your laptop’s CPU is head to head with the display. This is definitely a part you should try and sell, given it isn’t permanently smoldered onto the motherboard. If you are lucky, you will find that your  laptop’s CPU is mounted into a socket that sits on the motherboard. But first you probably have to remove the passive cooling system that sits on top of it. Be careful when disassembling the cooling system and removing the CPU. Try not to touch the CPU’s pins, but instead hold the unit around the edges.

how to dispose of laptop

Other Parts

There are many more parts that you might be able to extract and play with, including the keyboard, touchpad, webcam, card reader, or fingerprint reader. Many of those are cheap to buy new or simply don’t break, and thus won’t sell for much. Also keeping them doesn’t make much sense, unless you have a cool project in mind. However, if there are any parts that break easily on the specific laptop model you own, for example a hinge or fan, you might actually discover a niche market for that particular part.

Leftovers

There will be parts that you cannot re-use or sell, for example parts that are broken or parts that no one needs. This may include the battery, power supply, display, the motherboard, or the plastic casing of the entire laptop. Please don’t simply trash your partially plundered laptop. Whatever is left of it still contains valuable resources that can be recovered in a recycling process.

Worldwide, many companies and stores take back old electronics 5 Great Ways To Donate Your Old Computer 5 Great Ways To Donate Your Old Computer Read More and make sure they get recycled. If you’re from the US, please visit the EPA website for information on what you can do with old electronics. Cities in most European countries offer recycling stations for electronic devices. In some places you might even have a local collection bin for household electronics.

Conclusion

Even broken laptops contain a lot of valuable parts. Some are worth keeping as a backup and others can make you a little money, which you can then invest into a new device. If you’re lucky, you might make more money selling the parts of your laptop, than selling the whole functional unit.

Note that a working unit can potentially be upgraded with new parts How To Upgrade Your Laptop In a Flash: Add a New Hard Drive & Increase RAM How To Upgrade Your Laptop In a Flash: Add a New Hard Drive & Increase RAM Laptops are not as easy to upgrade as desktops. Many components are simply soldered on to the motherboard and others, though technically replaceable, are restricted by technical skill and cost. There are, however, two upgrades... Read More and is good for many cool uses Top 10 Cool Uses For Old Computers And Laptops Top 10 Cool Uses For Old Computers And Laptops Read More . More RAM and replacing an HDD with a SSD 5 Things to Consider When You Install a SATA Hard Drive 5 Things to Consider When You Install a SATA Hard Drive Before you install a SATA hard drive, here are a few things to consider so you don't mess anything up. Read More can do wonders 5 Ways To Give An Old Laptop A New Life 5 Ways To Give An Old Laptop A New Life Computers seem to become slower as they age. Operating systems tend to become more resource-hungry over time, hardware ages, and the exuberance felt during the first months of laptop ownership fades. This is why some... Read More . So unless you are eager to try out this article, try to upgrade your old hardware 4 Things You Absolutely Must Check Before Upgrading Your Desktop PC 4 Things You Absolutely Must Check Before Upgrading Your Desktop PC Upgrading your desktop computer is an excellent idea. You can extend the lifespan of a PC indefinitely by changing out components over time. Absolutely everything can be replaced. Computers are complex, however, and this can... Read More and meanwhile be sure not to destroy your laptop 5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely 5 Ways To Utterly Destroy Your Laptop, Slowly But Surely A laptop is one of the most fragile consumer electronics devices you will buy. It’s a complex system packed with fast hardware, yet it also finds itself in constant use, which often mean constant danger.... Read More ahead of its time. Finally, a computer that no longer turns on, isn’t necessarily broken beyond repair Should You Upgrade Or Repair Your Computer? Should You Upgrade Or Repair Your Computer? Computers age rapidly. In one year they mature, in three years they become elderly and after five they are ready for retirement. Both geeks and casual users have become accustomed to – or annoyed by... Read More . Before you go ahead and pick it apart, try to troubleshoot where the fault lies How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On Last week I showed you some of the simplest DIY repairs and upgrades that you can do yourself, but one reader asked how to diagnose which component was the problem. Today I’d like to walk... Read More and you might be able to fix it.

What are the best things you could extract from an old laptop and did you use any of the low value parts for a cool project?

Image credits: Trashed Laptop via Shutterstock, CPU via Shutterstock

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