Monday, April 20, 2009

DIY - How to replace a Macbook Pro screen/display

I had a user drop her 15" Macbook Pro last week, which pretty much shattered the screen. The laptop is still under Applecare, but things like this aren't covered. I talked to Apple and they gave me a quick quote of $1,200 to replace the screen. At that rate, a person is almost better off buying a new Macbook. After laughing at that, I decided to see just how cheaply I could replace the display on my own. Turns out I was able to do it for $214, and it took about an hour. Here's the story:

First, I turned to Google shopping and Ebay to see what the prices on a replacement screen were going to be. They varied, but I was able to find one for $200 (+ s/h of ~$14) from a user named macrecycling. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me since I didn't expect it to require $1,000 in labor costs to put the new screen in. I ordered the new screen and it arrived in a few days.

Next, I needed to find directions as to how you can remove the screen from the laptop. Normally this isn't too bad, but with all Apple products, they like to make it a little more difficult to just take it apart without instructions or training. A quick Google search brought me to, where they have a step-by-step guide to removing the display. It was very helpful, but it stopped at a crucial point of the process. It didn't show how to actually remove the screen from the case. Another quick Google search led me to to their Macbook display removal guide. Luckily they skipped over most of the instructions given at and picked up where the other left off. Using the two sites, I was able to get the screen pulled out, and the new one installed in approximately an hour. That sure beat spending $1,200 to have someone else do it.

One thing to keep in mind when looking for your replacement screen is to make sure you're ordering the correct one. Apple made a change in their Macbook screen in 2007, so newer ones are LED backlit and older ones aren't. If you're not sure which one you'd need, you can either try Apple's Tech Specs page (requires the serial number of your Macbook), or try contacting the seller to see if they'll help you determine the correct replacement.

Another thing to remember is to take your time and be careful. Anytime you try replacing parts on your own, you run the risk of damaging the computer. Also, replacing hardware on your own can sometimes void the warranty, so you may want to check into that and take it into consideration before proceeding with any replacements.

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