To Repair or Replace a Broken Laptop. That is the Question.
We’ve all been there.
One minute, you're happily typing away, getting work done… and the next? Your laptop decides to take a mini vacation.
Let’s be honest. A faulty or broken laptop causes a whole lot of stress - especially when we rely so heavily on them every day for work, study, entertainment, meeting deadlines, storing memories and staying connected.
But when your laptop does malfunction, the big question is : is it cheaper to repair or replace a laptop?
A common dilemma faced by laptop owners and businesses alike, here we delve into the 7 most common laptop faults : what causes them, how we assess them, and, most importantly, how we fix them.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of typical laptop repairs, the importance of servicing your laptop or notebook and, at the end of the day, whether it’s more economical to repair or replace your broken or faulty laptop.
So let’s jump straight in with the most common laptop issues.
- Your keyboard, or individual keys are not working
Fault : The laptop keyboard is unresponsive or certain keys do not work.
How we assess it : First, we’ll run a series of tests to narrow down the culprit. Is it just individual keys or the entire keyboard?
Most common causes : The most common keyboard issues are caused by three things : dirt, dust or liquid spills. Less commonly, if the keyboard stops working all of a sudden, it could potentially be a problem with the motherboard itself.
How we’ll fix it : The first point of call is giving the keyboard a thorough, professional clean and having one of our expert technicians give the machine a once-over to see if there’s a simple fix.
If this doesn’t work, unfortunately, a whole keyboard replacement is usually required. That’s because you generally can’t replace one or two keys on a laptop.
And if it turns out to be a motherboard issue? Once ruling out any faults with the keyboard, a replacement of the motherboard itself is on the cards.
- Laptop touchpad problems
Fault : Laptop touchpad is not responding, is overly sensitive or there’s irregular cursor movement
How we assess it : First up, we’ll check if an external mouse works. If it does, we can confirm it is indeed a touchpad problem. We’ll then use different methods to assess if the touchpad’s responsiveness is consistently poor or fluctuates, which can help identify if it’s a hardware or software issue.
Most common causes : The usual suspects are incorrect settings, outdated or corrupt drivers or physical damage.
Sometimes, the touchpad may accidentally be disabled or the sensitivity settings may be wrongly configured. Physical damage, like spills or impact, can also lead to the touchpad malfunctioning.
How we’ll fix it : We’ll always start by checking the touchpad settings and ensuring it is enabled and configured correctly. Next, we will update the touchpad drivers to the latest version available.
If the issue persists, it could be due to physical damage, and we’ll inspect it for any obvious signs.
If physical damage is found to be the root cause, it usually involves replacing the entire touchpad as repairing individual components is often not possible.
If the problem still exists after replacing the touchpad? We’ll delve deeper to check if it’s a motherboard issue, or if defective internal components are at fault, to try and minimise repair escalation costs.
- Screen Display Problems
Fault : The display of the laptop is causing problems - it could be flickering, displaying distorted images and incorrect colours, lines or your screen might have gone completely black.
How we assess it : Generally, we’ll begin by determining if the issue is with the screen itself or if it’s a software-related problem. We’ll also check if an external display works correctly, as this can help narrow down the issue.
Most common causes : Display issues can arise from a variety of factors, including faulty graphics drivers, a malfunctioning or cracked screen, or, in rare cases, a problematic motherboard.
How we’ll fix it : Initially, we will update the graphics drivers and perform a thorough check of the software. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, we’ll then inspect the screen and the connecting cables.
The best-case scenario simply involves tightening any loose cables, or purchasing some new ones to reconnect your machine.
If the screen itself is found to be at fault, or has been damaged, it will typically need to be replaced entirely. Unfortunately, repairing individual components of a screen is usually not feasible.
And if the problem persists? It could indicate a more serious issue with the motherboard, which may also need to be replaced.
- Unusual Fan Noises
Fault : Your laptop fan seems to be making unusual sounds.
How we assess it : In the first instance, we’ll determine the type and intensity of the noise. Is it a constant humming or more of an intermittent whirring or grinding sound?
We’ll also take note of when the noise occurs - does it start from the moment you boot up your machine, or only when you’re running intensive tasks?
Most common causes : Most often, irregular noises coming from the fan indicate an obstruction. In this case, the accumulation of dust and debris is usually the culprit. There could also be issues with the fan's alignment, a failing fan motor, software problems or even an obstruction in the cooling system.
How we’ll fix it : We’ll always start with a giving your laptop’s fan a professional clean to remove any dust or debris, and check to make sure all your software settings are up to date, which could fix the problem quickly and cheaply.
If the noise continues, we’ll adjust the fan's alignment or look into replacing the fan altogether.
In rare cases, if there's an obstruction or issue with the cooling system itself, a more in-depth repair or replacement might be required.
- Laptop Not Charging or the Battery is Draining Quickly
Fault : You've plugged in the charger, but the battery doesn’t seem to be charging, or perhaps it's losing charge faster than it should.
How we assess it : The most obvious place to start is with charger cable and adapter itself, to make sure they’re not damaged and functioning as they should. So we’ll do a check to see what’s going on there.
We’ll then turn our attention to the charging port, or the battery itself, and run some tests to make sure those areas are in tip top shape.
Most common causes : Usually, a faulty charging cable is at fault. We’ll test that, then move on to the charging port and the battery itself.
Finally, it could be software issue - heavy tasks running in the background can cause rapid battery drain.
How we’ll fix it : The good news? If it’s the charging cable, that’s an easy fix. We’ll simply recommend replacing it.
If the charging port or battery is causing the problem, it might need a little open case surgery, but all’s not lost with your laptop. These parts are also readily available, usually quite inexpensive and easy to replace.
And if it’s software-related? We can go through all your settings, make the required updates, get rid of heavy loads and make sure your machine is running optimally.
- Laptop Shutting Down or Screen Freezing
Fault : Possibly the scariest fault out there, your laptop either turns off without warning or the screen simply stops responding.
How we assess it : Initially, we'll note the specific scenarios when these issues occur. Is it during intense software operations, or does it seem entirely random? We’ll also check if there's any pattern or trigger to these unexpected behaviours, and monitor the laptop’s temperature.
Most common causes : Both of these issues can be caused by the same kind of things - overheating due to blocked vents or a failing fan, software glitches, outdated drivers, or even hardware problems like a faulty RAM or hard drive.
How we’ll fix it : If it's an overheating issue, thoroughly cleaning out the vents and making sure the fan is functional might resolve it quickly and easily.
For software or driver-related problems, we'll update or reinstall the necessary software.
And in cases where we think the issue lies in the hardware? A component replacement might be in order.
But no matter what, we’ll aim to keep your data safe and costs as minimal as possible.
- Laptop Overheating
Fault : Your laptop is hot, hot, hot! It seems to be running much hotter than usual, even during basic tasks.
How we assess it : We'll start by gauging the temperature at different usage levels: idle, moderate and heavy tasks. Paying attention to the laptop's heat distribution will also help clue us into specific problem areas.
Most common causes : Laptop overheating is often due to simple things like excessive dust buildup, blocked air vents, a malfunctioning cooling system or old thermal paste that's lost its effectiveness.
Software running heavy tasks in the background can also send temperatures soaring.
How we’ll fix it : A good professional clean often does wonders. We’ll clear out dust from all the vents and internal components. If the cooling system is at fault, we'll look into repairing or replacing it. Fresh thermal paste can also see your laptop running like new.
And if it's software causing the spike, we'll help optimise your settings to ensure your laptop stays cool and efficient.
So, in a nutshell, is it cheaper to repair or replace your broken or faulty laptop?
The answer is challenging, and depends on the cause, but there are a few questions you can ask to make the decision a little easier.
- How old is your laptop? If your device is relatively new and the repair cost is less than half its original price, repairing is often the best choice. However, for older laptops, especially where the repair cost exceeds half its current value, a replacement might be more prudent.
- After professional assessment, what is the underlying problem? Minor issues like a faulty battery or software problems are generally worth repairing, while significant faults like a malfunctioning motherboard may call for a replacement.
- What is the cost of a new laptop, keeping in mind your requirements? It's essential to compare the repair cost (including potential additional costs) with the cost of a new device, considering the benefits of better performance, updated features and a manufacturer's warranty that come with a brand new laptop.
- Are there any other considerations? Yes! For instance, if you have critical data on your laptop that’s not backed up, or that may be difficult or impossible to retrieve if you buy a new device, it may be better to opt for a repair no matter the cost.
- And there’s also the environmental factor - the impact of disposing of your old laptop and buying a new one if it’s not really necessary. If your laptop is still in good working condition, apart from the specific issue you are facing, repairing it may be the more environmentally friendly option.
So the decision to repair or replace your laptop depends on many things.
But the best way to avoid it altogether? Have your laptop serviced regularly!
While not always top of mind, regular laptop servicing helps prevent many of the most common notebook and laptop faults, prolongs the life of your machine and avoids those stomach-churning moments where your laptop crashes unexpectedly at a critical moment.
If you’re experiencing any of the above issues or need computer servicing for your home or business laptop, notebook or desktop computer, get in touch with IT Warehouse today for all your computer servicing and repair needs.
Our team of local computer experts are here to help with all your computer repair needs, covering everything from laptop screen repair to desktop servicing and more - plus, we have all the solutions to keep your portable machine running smoothly.
Remember, a well-maintained computer is a happy computer!
Why buy your next laptop, notebook, PC or desktop computer at IT Warehouse?
Our comprehensive warranties offer complete peace-of-mind.
Plus, all computers are serviced at our local Adelaide store. No interstate wait times!
Offering a range of computer sales, servicing, repairs and network set up and data recovery services, IT Warehouse provides homes, businesses and serious gamers with high quality tech products, exceptional service and expert advice.
Setting the benchmark for computer sales in Adelaide, we specialise in laptops and desktops for both gaming and home office use, as well as custom-built, extreme gaming PCs.
We also provide fully-customised small business IT support and networking solutions - which means you can count on our team of highly qualified IT experts to solve all your computer or tech issues.
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