Saturday, November 28, 2009

Laptop Repair - DC Power Jack Design, and What I Think

As many other IT folk can agree with me, when one goes home for the holidays or has family close by, they always get called upon to fix a PC or other IT related issue. I do regularly and don't mind it at all. I was called to reload a desktop OS for one of my brother-in-laws and repair a laptop for a brother of one of my other brother-in-law (following that?). All over Thanksgiving weekend.

One thing I have seemed to fix quite a few times this year relates to DC power jacks. These are what you plug your laptops charger into to replenish the battery. These little interfaces are prone to breaking and can be very difficult and expensive to fix (not really if you know where to find the parts!) In the few years I have been repairing computers, nothing is more annoying to fix than the soldered on type of DC power jack that is found on many laptops. I have run across these mostly on Dell laptops recently. I have seen in my opinion, a far superior design. That design is a cabled DC adapter that plugs into the motherboard. These are far easier to replace than the soldered counterparts.

These types of repairs take time to complete. My average time is about 2 hours. At a lot of computer repair shops, you will be told that these cannot be repaired or that it will cost hundreds of dollars to repair. I have seen this happen a lot and people end up buying a new laptop.

Just to prove a point about the true costs of a DC power jack for a Dell Vostro 1000 laptop, the jack cost less than $5.00 USD and was less than $15.00 USD with shipping. The last DC power jack I replaced on a Toshiba (cabled DC jack) cost about $25.00 USD. So you see the parts are normally inexpensive. What does cost the most is the technicians time. Some price reasonably, some price it based on how much they do not want to do it. Keep that in mind when shopping for repair shops and don't be afraid to price out the parts prior to having a laptop repaired. Here's a favorite website of mine to find laptop parts (no Dell parts currently):

For Dell parts, I usually Google search the part or visit

You will need to know your model and serial number, which normally is located on the bottom of your laptop.