HP Compaq nc2400 Complete Disassembly

I always found Compaq were a good reliable brand. Throughout the Eighties and Nineties various 286/386/486 and early Pentium's did the business for me and I've got old Compaq machines that are still rock solid today. HP also had a good reputation, however when they acquired Compaq in 2002 the reliability of the Compaq machines seemingly started to drop. I was on a rollout contract at the time and the Compaq machines we had been installing across Thames Valley for the Police switched part way through the rollout to 'HP Compaq' branded machines with new casings, components.... and reliability problems.

Fast forward to 2006 and my workplace were replacing reliable but aging Toshiba Portege P2010 machines for the HP Compaq nc2400. We bought 130 of them and found very quickly that HP had pulled our pants down with this product. We paid a premium price for the portability and for what we all believed was still a strong reliable brand. The first thing to fail were the three-cell batteries. HP were claiming a three hour battery life however the majority of ours were failing after twenty minutes. We had a lot of arguments with HP via our supplier on this and in the end they sent a product director to site to see the problem. They reluctantly agreed to change out any affected batteries and we finally took delivery of about 70 six-cell batteries. More of the three cell batteries went on to fail however HP never replaced them all.

The second problem was with the hard drives. We didn't keep records of these, but between us, me and Sanjay the stingy contractor reckon we've changed out thirty or forty failures. In the end our supplier sent spares to keep on site so we wouldn't have to wait around for parts when failure occurred.

Our supplier eventually did the same for the third problem, the touch sensitive strip. The power button, WiFi and volume control/mute are located on this strip which is manufactured by Synaptic, the touchpad people. Again, Sanjay and I have probably replaced about twenty of these as users complained their volume control was malfunctioning causing the volume on-screen-display to appear randomly which took focus away from the keyboard and interrupted their typing.

The fourth reoccurring fault was failure of the power supply units which for some reason would just pop.  I'd say about thirty of them have now been replaced under HP warranty.

We also found the integral mouse problematic. Although not a fault requiring repair, the mouse was a nuisance as the rubber cap would come off during use and some units would be subject to an annoying cursor wander.

The final problem was performance and for a dual core machine, this thing would grind, especially at startup and shutdown. Equivalent Toshiba products left them standing and even custom XP image builds put together to optimise performance wouldn't do much to give the thing a kick up the pants.

It's a shame as other aspects of the machine were quite nice. It sports a DVD-RW drive, the screen is competent, the weight was good (for a 2006 subnotebook) and the keyboard is great (I'm typing this from the one in the pictures below after repair and reassembly).

While it could just be chalked up to one bad product line, negative experiences with the nc9440 (overheating) and t440 (power supply blowing) also left bad tastes in our mouths. Added to that, Nigel and Sukhjeet both bought other HP models out of their own pockets.... and both failed. For Nigel it was a motherboard fault, for Sukhjeet it was the hard drive. It all sealed the fate for HP in our workplace and these days it's Toshiba all the way.

As Sanjay and I have become dab-hands at pulling these things apart, I figured I'd take some snaps for the website. This page documents complete disassembly of the nc2400 however you only need to follow certain steps for the common problems...

Touch strip replacement, follow steps 1 to 7
Hard drive replacement follow steps 1, 9 and 10
If your nc2400 is overheating, chances are the fan is full of fluff. You'll need to follow all steps to get access to it as it is located under the motherboard.

Review all steps before you begin. You'll need a small flat blade screwdriver and a Torx (star shaped) screwdriver. You follow this guide at your own risk (etc.) A separate guide on replacing an LCD panel in the nc2400 can be found here.

1. Remove the battery.

Step 1

2. Remove the six keyboard screws.

Step 2

3. Flip the laptop over and lay it out open and flat.

Step 3

4. Use a small flat blade screwdriver to prise up the touch sensitive strip starting at the hinges.

Step 4

5. Carefully lift the touch sensitive strip out but be wary of the ribbon cable which is still connected. The keyboard will have to be removed before the strip can be disconnected.

Step 5

6. Starting at the top, prise out the keyboard. Be careful of the two ribbon connectors which connect the keyboard to the motherboard.

Step 6

7. With the keyboard lifted out of the way, the ribbon cable of the touch sensitive strip (arrowed) can now be disconnected and the strip removed.

Step 7

8. To completely remove the keyboard, disconnect the two ribbon cables.

Step 8

9. Remove the screws that hold in place the panels for the hard drive, memory, WiFi and Bluetooth bays. Place the removed covers to one side. The Bluetooth module is attached to its panel and will need to be unplugged in order for it to be removed.

Step 9

10. To remove the hard drive, undo the four screws. Remove the retaining clip and unplug the connector, then the hard drive can be lifted out.

Step 10

11. Unplug the connector in the hard drive bay (red), unplug the two WiFi antennas (green) and remove the four case screws (yellow).

Step 11

12. Slide out the optical drive.

Step 12

13. Remove the two case screws from the rear.

Step 13

14. Draw out the WiFi antenna cables.

Step 14

15. Undo the hinge screws (red) and unplug the video and lid switch connectors (green).

Step 15

16. Unweave the video and WiFi wiring from their retaining clips and lift the screen clear.

Step 16

17. Undo the two screws.

Step 17

18. Undo the case screw in the optical bay (red). Use a small flat blade screwdriver to prise out the four rubber pads from the leading edge of the laptop, then remove the screws behind each pad (green).

Step 18

19. The upper casing can now be prised off. The fingerprint sensor remains connected to the motherboard via a ribbon so lift carefully and disconnect before moving the upper casing clear.

Step 19

20. The motherboard is now exposed. To remove it from the lower casing and gain access to the fan and CPU, undo the five screws (red) and disconnect the LED and speaker connectors (green).

Step 20

21. The motherboard can now be lifted out.

Step 21

To stick the thing back together, reverse the procedure.