So you have an old laptop lying around that you just can’t bear to part with. It’s too underpowered for you to do anything remotely useful with it, plus its battery is already busted.
What can you do with this thing to make it useful again?
Turn Your Old Laptop Screen into a Working Monitor
If you’re a gamer or a productivity-freak who likes to keep tabs on everything at all times, then you probably find the idea of a multi-monitor set-up very enticing. The problem is, an extra monitor can cost you a pretty penny.
Thankfully, your old laptop’s LCD can still be salvaged and repurposed into a sweet secondary monitor that you can hook up into your primary computer.
There are two ways with which you can do this project.
Method #1: The Software Option
This relatively easier method requires that your laptop is still fully operational (i.e. you can still boot it up and install stuff on it) for it to work. All you need to do is install a software that allows you to use your laptop as a secondary monitor on both of your machines (your laptop and your main computer). An example of this kind of software is called MaxiVista.
Method #2: The “Monitor From Scratch” Option
For those whose laptops are totally dead and useless (and who are interested in building a monitor from scratch), they can check out this method. This might be harder than the software option mentioned above, but don’t worry, as long as you know how to follow instructions and use a screwdriver, you’re golden. This method requires you to fully dismantle your laptop and take out the LCD (while the laptop’s other salvageable parts like the hard drive and motherboard can be stored away for future projects). Now, the laptop LCD is useless by itself, so you need to purchase a compatible LCD controller board for it before you can use it as a monitor.
An Instructables article provides detailed step-by-step instructions for this project, but we’ll give you a general overview of the steps plus some notes for each.
1. Dismantle the laptop.
All laptops follow a general build, so the instructions provided by the Instructables article on dismantling a laptop can be sufficient enough for the technologically-inclined. But if you want more in-depth dismantling instructions that is specific to your laptop’s brand and model, you can search for “(your laptop’s brand and model) + disassembly” on YouTube (chances are, there’s someone who already did a video on it) . You can also consult your laptop’s general manual for disassembly/dismantling instructions.
2. Remove the LCD screen.
The LCD screen is connected to your machine with a cable (LVDS cable). In order to fully remove it, you have to take apart your whole laptop, unscrew the LCD panel from its case, and unplug the inverter and cables.
3. Buy the LCD controller.
Flip your LCD panel and look for its model number. Now, go on Google or eBay and search for “(LCD model number) + controller board.” A particularly useful website for this step is www.njytouch.com, which is a computer parts company. You can email them your LCD’s model number and they’ll find one in stock which is compatible with your LCD. The controller board can cost you anywhere from $30 to $45 (still cheaper than a brand new monitor though).
4. Connect all the cables.
The controller board should come with all the cables necessary for you to connect it to your main computer and to a power source. Just follow the insructions in the Instructables article and you’re basically done.
So now you have a working secondary monitor up and running. But there are cables everywhere! Thankfully, you can read the secondary half of this tutorial (http://blog.siddv.net/2014/09/turning-laptop-screen-into-external.html) for ideas on how to organize the cables and parts of your new LCD monitor, as well as make a new stand and case for it. All you need is a screw driver, some screws, and a little bit of creativity.
If you want to turn it up a notch, you can also check out this Instructables article on how to protect your LCD monitor with a Plexiglass case.