7.24.2011

Acer 3830TG-6431 Teardown

I was recently informed that the Acer 3830TG-6431 may have some thermal issues and that replacing the thermal paste with a higher grade paste may alleviate the issue.  I did not think I was having any problems, but I decided to see what was involved in replacing the thermal paste.  Hint: It isn’t very easy…
Here is my step-by-step tear down guide for the Acer 3830TG-6431.
Disclaimer:  Opening your laptop in this way will likely void your warranty.  It is very easy to damage one of the small cables/connectors and make your laptop inoperable.   I am providing this information as-is and I am not responsible for any damage/mayhem you may cause if you try to follow along at home.  I have done most of the documentation from memory- so I may have missed a screw/plug/etc.  If you are experienced in working on laptops, use your common sense when you are following this.  If you have never opened up a laptop before, I would advise that you do not start on this one as there are several awkward cable placements- and several easy to damage plugs.
With this in mind, it is time to get into the gutty-works of the laptop:
1. Remove the single screw in the center and remove the bottom plate of the laptop
2. Remove the following from inside the laptop
     a. Hard Drive
     b. SATA board connector for Hard Drive
     c. Mini-PCIe Wireless Card.  The two wires are mini-coax and should snap on/off without much effort.
3. Disconnect the battery switch connector cable from the motherboard
3830TG-6431_Teardown_001_Connectors
4. Remove the eleven (11) 2.5mm x 7 screws from the bottom of the laptop
3830TG-6431_Teardown_001_Screws
5. Use a plastic pry tool (see recommended tools at the end of this post) to carefully release the snaps around the edges.  This will free the top cover containing the keyboard
6. Slowly separate the top of the laptop from the bottom; there will be 5 cables to disconnect before the two parts can be separated:
     a. Power Switch connector
     b. Trackpad connector
     c. Keyboard connector
     d. Bluetooth connector
     e. I/O board connector
All but the Bluetooth are ribbon cables and can be pulled out (or clip retention released).  The Bluetooth connector is a keyed connector and it should be carefully removed so the wires are not pulled from their socket.
3830TG-6431_Teardown_003_Connectors
3830TG-6431_Teardown_002_Connectors
7. Disconnect the left and right speaker connectors from the motherboard.  These are keyed sockets and very small and easy to break.
8. Disconnect the display connector.  Pull the connector straight up- do not attempt to pry this from the side as this can damage the connector.
9. Remove the one screw from the motherboard and the four screws holding in the battery bracket.  (The motherboard is beneath the battery bracket)
3830TG-6431_Teardown_002_Screws
10.  Lift the front edge of the motherboard up to expose the connectors at the rear of the board (close to batteries).
11. Remote the three connectors:
     a. Power connector
     b. Battery connector
     c. Daughter board connector
Note: The battery connector is also accessible from the bottom of the system.
3830TG-6431_Teardown_004_Connectors
12. Remove the motherboard from the chassis
13. Disconnect the CPU fan connector
14. Remove the two (2) screws in the NVidia GPU heat sink area and the four (4) screws over the CPU area.
Note: The four numbers on the heat sink are the tightening order sequence for re-installing the CPU heat sink.  The numbers are opposite corners so to prevent over stressing one side and damaging the CPU core.  I would also suggest doing a gradual tightening in rotation to further ensure the CPU is not damaged.  For example:
   Just barley start screws in sequence #1-4
   Go back and tighten 1-4 in sequence to about half way
   Go back again and snug screws 1-4 in sequence
   Finally go back and fully tighten screws 1-4 (yep- in sequence).
3830TG-6431_Teardown_005
This is a picture of the factory applied thermal compound.  It doesn't look like they used the good stuff:

15.  VERY IMPORTANT: clean off all of the old CPU compound before applying new thermal compound- from both the CPU and the heatsink!
PCB flux cleaner is great to get off troublesome thermal paste (found at Fry’s)
16. Make sure the tacky pads contacting the Chipset Processor, the GPU RAM and the chokes around the CPU don’t have any dirt/junk in them.  This could affect the heat transfer from these systems to the heat sink could cause damage/failure over time.
 
17. Once your new thermal paste is applied, do everything in reverse to put the system back together.
18. Fini
Here is a reference picture of the bottom of the system board:

This is the laptop bottom chassis with the system board removed; daughter board is still in-place:

This is a detail shot of the battery power switch and the Mini-PCIe WiFi card:

You will probably notice that the wire and connector from the battery power switch is missing.  I did not find this connector until I was into removing the system board- and the connector didn’t come out correctly.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and that is why step #3 is included above.
The system board power connector is pretty small- and almost impossible to deconstruct as Asus has added glue to the back of the connector (I am assuming this is to prevent possible terminal end pull-out from the housing?).  It took me about an hour to get the cables stripped, tinned and the terminal ends out of the housing.  It took another 30 minutes to get the damned little thing back together and soldered.

After all was done, one of the solder points broke from the switch board after the system was put back together.  I was not going to take the laptop apart again to fix. I ended up stripping a length of wire and shorting the connection on the board inside the connector (and covering with electrical tape); this connector is so small that even the micro-sized hard drive jumpers are too large to fit inside the connector!
In review, I do think the laptop is running cooler.  I did not take an accurate measurement before, but the system seems fees not as warm during normal use. I have even had the cooling fan switch off for 15-20 min at a time- and event that never occurred prior to replacing the thermal paste!  :)
Recommended tools:
You will need a small screw driver and some plastic pry tools, such as these:
Opening Pry Repair Tool For Cellphone / iPod / iPhone
A plastic spudger tool is also invaluable for this kind of work:

23 comments:

  1. Thank you for providing this guideline. I'll definitely be using it as a reference for when I reapply the thermal paste on mine.

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  2. Thank you I'm receiving this laptop monday and may have to mod it, I'm hoping i don't have to, but yes taking apart this is a serious, but patient task. Thanks again.

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  3. thanks for posting this, If heat ever becomes a problem i will be coming back to this post for simple tear down instructions.

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  4. Just changed the thermal paste as instructed here. I might add that if you can't get the laptop to turn on after putting it back together, toggle the switch at the bottom center of the laptop before putting the lid back on. It actually has an on/off label too. Here's a pic of what I got, mine was grey paste but maybe we both have grey paste as your pic might be washed out..
    http://pudgypaw.blogspot.com/2011/08/new-laptop.html

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  5. Could I get more details about that battery power connector thing?

    So in step 3 you disconnect it, but I can't clearly see exactly what to disconnect in the picture you gave O_O

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  6. Can you please reupload the high res pics (or fix the links). When you click on the pics it says page not found.

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  7. LinuxUser: Ooops- looks like I blocked them when I setup mu Picasa pics in Google+; change that back to public so should be good now.

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  8. RichieSioson: I actually didn't discover that wire until too late- I had pulled it out of the connector when taking apart the base. I now have a wire shunt in that connector with some electric tape over it.

    If you look about 1" to the diagonal of the on/off switch on the bottom of the case you will see a beige connector with two very small dark gray wires going into it; that is the switch connector.

    None of my pictures will show this wire as it was destroyed during my tear-down. If I find a place to get a replacement I will install and update the pics. :)

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  9. Hi

    Do you have to remove the 5 cables to just change the hard drive?

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  10. Hi, I stumbled upon this page not looking to change the thermal paste but to see what this computer looks like internally. I'm hoping to upgrade the HDD to a SSD. How easy is it to access the HDD and remove it?

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  11. Thanks so much for this post! I replaced my battery with much ease thanks to you. Almost ruined my bluetooth (one of the port's pins crooked when I tried to reassemble the connector, which is of low quality and has very small and tilted holes for the pins. Don't use force when replugging!) but made it right in the end.

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  12. Just to let you know the small board that you are referring to is the service switch. As the the battery cannot be taken out before teardown. You put this switch to off so that you don't accidentally power on the system or short out any components while taking it apart. You have the connector labeled B something or other |I can't quite make it out. Anyway it's an important thing and yes it is very very very hard to disconnect without pulling out the wires from the mini-molex it's connected to.

    And for anyone that also pulls out the wires and can't remember (because you didn't think you were going to have to, lol. The live wires on this boards connectors (or pin 1's)have a small white triangle pointing to them. Also there is only one screw that holds the motherboard in place once all the others are removed you can mark it with a sharpie to remember which it is. So that you don't have to take the cover off again after noticing a screw already in a hole (for those of you going hmmm.... I wondered why the case didn't sit flush).

    Back to the wiring, I am not sure if all Acer's are the same, they probably are, regarding pin 1 and or live. I would also suggest removing the power cable as soon as you flip the service switch to off before taking anything else out. I hope this helps and very well put together how-to and tear-down. I got to this page because I bought one from someone and it has random 1hr or more at a time power-off/oh s**t it died oh no there it goes phew. Ironically since the system sprang back into life (I also cleaned out the gunk in the fan and from everywhere else) it has been running way cooler far more than I would have expected considering that amount of temperature difference usually only occurs from removing build up before the heatsink that resembles a shag carpet.

    Anyway I gotta go and call the guy about getting my money back. Which is a pity because I was liking the thing so far the only bad I had other than squinting till i changed text sizes was that I hit the slash 70% of the time when I want to hit enter. Anywho bye for now.

    The f****r I hope he gives me my money back.

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    1. Just some further FYI on my rant about the 38330tg I bought used. I am 90%-95% sure I have figured out the problem I ran in to. And have to retract my flaming of the guy who sold the computer to me. I noticed that when I tried to install the Nvidia drivers while booted to my Ubuntu part of my dual boot system that after I had done so and I booted back into Windows the 3D wasn't working properly anymore. Most noticably regarding the Aero window animations like the windows fading transitions. They were extremely laggy to the point where it took 3-4 seconds to complete the sequence it looked as though in slowmotion and you could actually see each of the individual frames execute in a stutter.

      The Linux install didn't seem to workout 100% either and gave error messages about certain parts of the installation that did not take, I also was still unable to change the screen resolution but it was higher than the normal 1024x768 that the generic Linux drivers give. Back to Windows, when I changed the setting in the BIOS from switchable to integrated graphics AERO worked again. And after reinstalling the Windows driver again and changing back to switchable in th BIOS it was fine again.

      I noticed the apparent correlation a few days later when I took the time to try and figure out the Linux driver setup once again, and failed to get it working properly on that attempt too. Then upon rebooting to Windows once more Aero was showing the same symptoms. Which is when I realized that there was something that was bleeding into Windows from Linux. Personally I haven't eother heard of or thought it possible for someting like that to happen. My only idea as to why it actually is happening though is due to the switchable graphics card and that the drivers are maybe affecting a variable(s) in the BIOS.

      That or (and more likely I would think due to where the drivers are installed, C:\NVIDIA) coupled with the way that Linux configures them. I know that on other systems I have had where 3rd party graphics are concerned the 3D gaming aspect is awful and even the most simple 3d games even written for Linux let alone Windows games installed using wine are completely unplayable. 4-10 frames per minute is beyond laggy.

      Anyway, I am sorry for the amount of information I have written on one hand but thought it neccessary to both accurately explain my systems setup, symptoms, thoughts, likely causes, and the work around. Which is to not bother installing the NVIDIA drivers for one of the OS's using dual(or more) boot systems as it seems that one will in turn affect the other's ability to function properly.

      In closing, should anyone be experiencing the same problems and sees this post I hope it helps you to solve the issue and for anyone that has better pinpointed the exact cause and/or found a better solution than mine or finds it to be erroneous in part or whole please let me know so I can benefit from your insight.

      If I gain any further knowledge on this issue I will add another reply detailing it. Have a great day.

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    2. well it's a year or more later now and I still have the timeline. I just had one of the plastic spring arms break on the left touchpad button so I disassembled the laptop and used epoxy to repair it now I am having a dreadful time reassembling the thing as it's extremely tight maneuvering to connect the keyboard connector then the headphone jack flex cable without dislodging the keyboard twice now I have reassembled it to find that part of the keyboard doesn't work and because it has been two different areas each time I know the cable isn't seated properly. It is a nightmare so beware to anyone attempting the teardown it is not like most laptops where you remove the keyboard entirely so reassmbly is easy you have to be extremely dexterous when putting things back together. I'm using an external keyboard to tap this out I was looking for an easier way to put it back together and came accross this post I did a while ago. BTW besides the reassembly nightmare I have to say I like this computer a lot. I even got Call of Duty Ghosts to play on it at decent settings and have upgraded the RAM to 8GB since I last wrote. Oh and the mousepad fix worked fine

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  13. Hello everyone,

    thanks for your detailed description! Its really amazing, I followed the steps and could improve my laptop. Around 82° even after long stress.

    After I took my laptop apart, I notized a fuzzy very quiet noise (sounds a little llike electric squeaking) in the area shown in the picture (just hover with your
    ear over it, I can even hear it ca. 1cm above over the keyboard).

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30205331/acer3830tg/acer3830tg_withcover.jpg

    The noise is also there when the laptop is powered off and plugged off. If I open the back lid and trigger the power switch the noise is gone of course. When I power the laptop up it gets a little louder. I think it comes from
    the part marked below

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30205331/acer3830tg/acer3830tg_open.JPG

    but Im not sure. My question now is, do you experience a similar noise? I am not sure if the noise was also there before I opened the laptop. Is it something I should worry? Do you know what is the part doing I marked in the picture above?

    Thanks for any advice,
    Stefan from Germany

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  14. I just recently did a teardown of my system and it runs considerably cooler. however the ONE issue i'm having after rebuilding it is sound.. i have NONE... i;ve disconnected 4 times to reconnect the speaker connections and see if it worked but to no avail... i've put headphones in and no sound from those either... no issue with headphones seems like the whole onboard sound is not functional.. any ideas? any tips on what i can try to get it working, i've been building desktops for 16+ years now and never dealt with laptops internal issues at all, so im lost.

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    1. I canrey mch garanee ha i , Lol I forgot to use my external keyboard, I am having trouble keeping the keyboard flex cable connected properly while I insert the headphone jack flex cable. I found that if I remove the screw that holds the board in place (I couldn't reinsert the screw now matter how deftley I tried so I left it out and once reassembled I haven't seen any give on the board when inserting headphones etc.... Any way what I was trying to type was " I can pretty much guarantee that the flex cable has disconnected (and if you have USB devices working on that side then it is likely only partly dislodged. It could also be because the flex cable has been inserted under rather than over the brown push lock, I have done that before. The other scenario is that you didn't discharge your static properly and have damaged the board in some way. If you don't have access to an anti static mat but do have access to a desktop computer you can go the cheat route and turn off but leave plugged into the wall your desktop then touch the metal casing as it is grounded when plugged in you will discharge the static in your body. I am unsure if it works properly when powered on because I was working on the desktop in question when I learned that trick and never thought to ask as it was a mute point. hopefully it is just a bad connection and not the latter

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  15. Yeah, my sound stopped working too. It didnt work after teardown, i had to reconnect the cable inside. My rightside usb weren't working too. Then it worked for months and suddenly stopped :(( "No speakers or headphoes are connected" message.

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  19. Hi, I know quite long ago you wrote this, however still very helpful and I am glad I found it. If I may ask a question: Had an issue with the nvidia driver, only onboard was recognized. I tried to install but did not work. So I went into the BIOS and activated switchable (from integrated). Now the 3830TG does not start any more and I want to reset BIOS but I do not find the cmos battery. Could you please hellp me? Thanks in advance, tom

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  20. Hi! My laptop's power button doesn't seem to be working anymore. Any idea where I can get a replacement part for the power switch connector? Thanks!

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