How Laptops Work


Many people build custom PCs for themselves or customers. These home-made computers, called whiteboxes, represent a significant portion of the computer market. Some people also modify their computers for cosmetics or performance. This is called modding. But what about building or modding a laptop?­

A­ modded or homemade laptop is called a whitebook. Whitebooks represent about 5 percent of the notebook market right now, and this number is slowly rising. The industry has done a pretty good job of keeping end users out of laptops. They've made it difficult to open, modify and get parts for a laptop. In addition, opening the laptop chassis voids the manufacturer's warranty in most cases.

It is still difficult to find parts to build a laptop from the ground up, but vendors like ASUS and ECS allow some customers to order blank laptop shells. They are especially open to resellers who build whitebooks and sell them to customers. In addition, people can mod or upgrade what came with the shell. Companies like TechStyle have made a business of it.

A laptop shell consists of:

This means that anyone wanting to build a whitebook must find:

At this point, there are no real standards for the form factor (shape and design) of laptop parts. Processors designed for laptops are available for sale, but finding a motherboard for those chips is a different story. Hard drives are pretty standard, and SODIMM system memory is easy to come by, but other parts may take some digging.

Next, we'll look at the history of laptop computers.