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I have a laptop (Sony VAIO VPCF132FXB) that has a dead motherboard. Long story short, there was some water damage. The hard drive is good, I believe the BluRay drive is still good. The power and battery are both still good from my testing. I believe the RAM is still good also and the processor (Intel i7) should be fine also.

I have already replaced the laptop, so I don't have much use for the actual laptop itself. What I don't want to do is waste all the components though. Can I somehow buy another generic motherboard, put all the components on it, stuff it in a box and use it as a HTPC?

Any advice would be welcome. Don't want to spend $300 on another motherboard built just for this laptop if I have other options.

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These guys will sell you a bare-bones laptop without any memory/processor/GPU if you want, just send them an email. I have not dealt with them, although there are many other places which do the same thing. Just make sure the CPU sockets are the same, the RAM types are the same, and you should be good to go. You'll also need a custom heatsink, since the one from the Viao probably won't work with the different case (they might be able to provide you with one as well). – Breakthrough Sep 6 '11 at 18:38
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You can find a custom/bare-bones laptop manufacturer, and see if they will sell you a laptop with just the motherboard. Usually, these custom laptop manufacturers allow you to specify the RAM, CPU, GPU, and drives you want in the system. You will need to use the new laptop chassis, as it is highly unlikely that the new motherboard will fit in your old laptop.

Unless the Sony had a "special" form factor for the Blu-ray drive, it should swap right in. The memory should be compatible with any i7-based laptop (just make sure it supports DDR3).

You should also be able to swap in the CPU, but you might have some trouble because of the cooling situation. Each laptop has a custom heatsink made for the particular laptop chassis, so that it can direct the flow of heat properly. If you do go through this route, make sure the manufacturer supplies you with a heatsink for the CPU.

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As you say any advice is welcome and you don't ask a specific question, I'm going to give you an answer to what is most likely your question.

You have three options:

  1. Get a technician to try and repair the motherboard.
  2. Buy another original mainboard,
  3. Sell what you have "for parts" saying as you do here, that you believe it is all working except the motherboard.
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I won't pretend to be 100% sure, more like 99.9% sure, but from my experience, there is no "generic" motherboard that you can buy to replace the board in a modern laptop, much less a SONY model. – Keith Sep 6 '11 at 18:22
That's what I figured. I talked to a technician who said that desktop motherboards that use laptop processors are "uncommon". – gamerzfuse Sep 6 '11 at 18:26
Just to add that I didn't read right before answering. I read 'box' as laptop case for some reason. There is not much to add to the rest of the answers and comments. However, I would suggest you research demand for parts on that sony. I have a few laptops that are almost impossible to sell for parts because the (faulty) boards in this particular model are now dying by the thousands. Everyone wants the board, no-one wants the rest. In your case, somebody might be very happy to have the screen, and that plus the ram might fetch you enough for a nice little media player. – Keith Sep 9 '11 at 3:01

There's pretty much no way to do what you want the way you want it. If the processor isn't soldered to the motherboard, you could get a replacement motherboard for this particular computer and then use it as a HTP. Otherwise, there's nothing you can do.

Laptops use custom connectors for some types of optical drives, so if yours is custom, you can try to find a converter somewhere, but it's a long shot. On the other hand, it could be just regular SATA, so try to post a picture.

The processor itself, if it's in a socket, won't be of much use for desktops. There were converters which allowed specific laptop processors to be used with some specific motherboards, but I'm unaware that anyone is making them for any of the currently used sockets, so that is bed news.

As far as RAM is concerned, it's the same story. Laptops use small outline memory modules which aren't used in desktop computers. You may be able to find a use for them is some specific devices such as FPGA boards and so on, but I guess that if you have one of such devices, you'd already know that. Another option would be to save the modules and hope that some printer or similar appliance will make use of it in 5 to 10 years (they usually use that old memory modules right now).

So the best option if you know how to disassemble components would be to sell the laptop for parts. Check prices of similar components on say eBay and see how much they cost.

Laptop processors, if socketed, are usually very expensive and you could recover some money by selling it, if you think it works.

The optical drive could be used in a desktop computer if it's using regular SATA (note that the power and data connectors could be right next to each-other and may be one part, but the cables should still be able to fit fine). Otherwise, you could try selling it too.

The HDD is most likely just standard SATA HDD and there's no reason why not to use it in a computer, so it can stay.

The RAM, as I said, could be used in another laptop using the same type of RAM, in some sort of special device or you could sell it too, but it isn't as expensive as the rest of the devices and the sale may be a bit more difficult since it's (unlike processors) commonly available as upgrade part.

Also try to sell the screen if you can, as it can also be an expensive part!

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