Getting a dropped laptop working again

by on October 31, 2007

Q: I dropped my laptop from about 3 feet in the air. The computer seems to boot up and there is power to the screen but it is blank. The computer is a HP nc6400 with Windows XP professional.

A: I’m sorry to learn of the accident that occurred to your laptop. As I explain in greater detail below, you will almost certainly have to send your laptop in for repairs. You should Contact HP if you purchased your laptop directly from them. Talk with the IT department at your work if your laptop is owned by your employer. Otherwise, take the laptop to the store where you purchased it, and their repair department will make the necessary arrangements with HP. Don’t forget to use your extended warranty (also called service agreement or protection plan) if you purchased one. Some extended warranties will cover damage caused to your laptop in a fall — that is your repair could be free. Otherwise such repairs are very expensive! Please read the details below:

  1. There is hardware inside your laptop known as a display adapter. It is very likely that your display adapter was damaged when your laptop hit the ground. Display adapters basically fit into one of two categories — dedicated or integrated. In laptops, both of these types are soldered onto the motherboard (the main circuit board in your computer). This helps manufactures to make thinner and less expensive laptops. The downside of display adapters in laptops is that when one breaks, a new motherboard must be installed in your computer and/or a new display adapter soldered onto the motherboard. Both of these can require a lot of labor by a skilled technician. Thus, repairing a broken display adapter can be highly expensive. To discover if your display adapter is actually damaged, try connecting your laptop to a desktop computer screen or a projector. If you see the HP logo and/or some text, your display adapter is probably operating normally. However, this is not a foolproof test because some computers require that you log into Windows before you can connect to an external screen or projector. Consult your owner’s manual or with HP Technical Support for more information.
  2. The motherboard itself could have sustained damage during the fall. If so, it will need to be replaced. Again, this can be very costly if not covered under a warranty.
  3. The RAM inside your laptop could have been damaged and/or separated from the motherboard. Replacing laptop RAM is something that you may be able to do yourself for a reasonably low cost. Read your owner’s manual to learn the procedure for your particular laptop.
  4. Another possibility is that the cable connecting the display adapter to your screen was cut during impact with the ground. While still requiring the work of a laptop repair specialist, replacing the display cable should be relativity inexpensive.
  5. Yet another possibility is that the screen itself has been damaged. Again, unless you or someone you know is comfortable with laptop repair, you will need to send your laptop to HP for a new screen. My guess is that replacing the screen will be less expensive than a new motherboard, but more expensive than a new cable. Connecting to an external screen or projector is a good test here too.
  6. The final possibility that I can think of is that your hard drive was damaged in the fall. This is likely only if your laptop was turned on when it was dropped. You can determine if the hard drive is broken by looking at the screen while your laptop is booting. If you see an HP Logo and/or text, then your hard drive is probably damaged. If the screen remains blank, the problem is probably one of those described above.

I hope that you have found all of this information to be helpful.