Motherboard for Lunch
We had an extraordinary experience last week, probably one of the best in recent times – we tried to resurrect a dead laptop by baking its motherboard in the oven at 200°C.
The extensive everyday usage of laptops tempts us to play with unconventional maintenance methods sometimes. From sloppy water pouring to hairdryer drying, from overheating to deep freezer cooling, from sticky keyboard spilled with Coca-Cola to complete bathtub washing. In fact, every described incident has happened to one single laptop – the protagonist. However, the most recent one occurred last week when we baked its motherboard in the oven at 200°C. And yes, the oven is those same one where we make pizza.
Pain in the Neck
After 4 years of usage, our protagonist stopped working as a result of the graphical chip failure. The symptoms manifested some strange vertical red lines across the screen with distorted graphics during boot-time, preventing the OS to start. After we had contacted manufacturer support, we were advised to return the laptop back to factory because of a well-known problem. However, we didn’t have much time to send it back due to complicated shipping procedures, so we put another two options on plate:
- to buy a new laptop,
- to try fix the old one by our own
We gave priority to the second option because DIY excitement was much bigger than the risk. The laptop was almost dead, so we didn’t mind experimenting a bit.
The graphical chip have dozens of solder connection points to the motherboard, all it takes is one hairline crack to cause malfunction of the chip. Many times in newer laptops, the heat generated causes the solder to get close to its melting point causing these hairline cracks, also known as micro fractures in the solder joints. With a little knowledge in physics and a short research, we found very interesting method to fix these sensitive micro fragments. The method is called "reflow" where the chip on the motherboard is heated under Highly Regulated circumstances for a pre-determined amount of time at a critical temperature. The objective is to "reflow" the solder from the chip to the board via BGA (Ball Grid Array) points on the chip. The question is how to heat the joints to that temperature?
Actually, there are few methods, some of them are sophisticated, some of them are plain, however the simplest and most fun is the "motherboard for lunch" method (as we call it), that requires literally baking the motherboard in the oven. Are we kidding? – NO!
Below are given the exact steps of how we cooked the motherboard. We took a few shots as a memo though.
- Carefully disassembled all laptop components, connectors, cables
- Removed the motherboard
- Removed all parts from it: CPU, Bluetooth modules, CMOS battery, plastic parts and caps
- Cleaned up the CPU and GPU from the thermal paste residues
- Turned on the oven to pre-heat at 200°C (392°F)
- Made 4 improvised aluminum ball legs to hold the motherboard lifted
- Foiled up the baking tray, with aluminium cooking foil
- Put the motherboard in the tray
It’s cooking time!
- The baking took exactly 7 minutes and 45 seconds. After the 6th minute, we felt heavy smell of solder. It was a good sign, something was melting
- Left the motherboard to cool down slowly for approximate 30min
- Reapplied new thermal paste
- Reassembled all other components
- Pushed the power button
It smelled like Sheldon’s Bazinga, but actually was Eureka!
The laptop was fully functional with no sign of the issue at all. We are smiling while writing this blog post on that same machine and probably going to smile again and again every time we retell this story. Almost forgot – this was the second successful baking, after one which happened 12 months ago! How long it will last I don’t know, but it seems this laptop wants to be cooked. After all it doesn’t cost a thing, only 8 minutes in the oven, right?
Sorry but I could not believe this, it’s too much for me
I believe it’s true cause I found a bunch of people succeeded reviving their laptops by this method
had the same problem with my laptop, unfortunately it ended on parts
Let’s make laptopizza
Chris I wouldn’t try this even it’s 100% true
Linda – We don’t expect you to believe because we didn’t believe it too. However, this machine works as smooth as before.
Chris – True, there’re hundreds of how to videos and all get similar results.
Reen32 – Ended for parts because you didn’t try to bake it, or because you did?
$tev3 – Why not?
Awesome post. You guys, rock!
For non believers http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=motherboard+in+the+oven&aq=f
Yes Chris, that’s exactly what we’re talking about.
Haven’t tried with baking. The service guy told me that the card has failed and there’s no way to fix it
Haha good job
omg lol, i’ve been laughing for over 15 min nonstop. this is the best post i’ve read in months. i have HP pavilion dv9000 series laptop so if the gpu ever fails (which is very likely for those hp series) i will do this. i have nothing to lose with trying
Reen32 – You should definitely try this sometimes, it doesn’t cost a thing + you’ll get lots of fun for free.
seo services london – Thanks
sumo_master – Don’t worry, maybe you won’t need to cook it
I had the same problem with my graphic card nvidia 8500gt and I baked it and now it started to work normal again, so it works for PCs as well :))
So glad you solved the problem
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