The cost of repairing a damaged laptop can often come as an unwelcome surprise. According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, the average cost for laptop repairs in the United States is $359 (source). With the high price of new laptops and rapid advancement in technology, many consumers face the difficult decision of whether to pay for repairs or invest in a new device.
When evaluating the costs, it’s important to understand which laptop components are the most expensive to fix. While repairs like replacing a keyboard or battery are relatively inexpensive, other issues like a cracked screen, motherboard failure, or data recovery can ramp up the price quickly. As we explore the most costly laptop repairs below, the price tags may surprise you.
The display assembly is often one of the most expensive components to repair or replace in a laptop. The display assembly consists of the LCD panel, backlight, bezels, webcam, antennas, etc. The LCD panel is made up of two main components – the actual LCD display, which contains the liquid crystals that form the image, and the backlight, which provides the illumination so the image is visible.
High resolution and touch screen displays often cost more to replace due to being more complex and containing more parts. According to Laptop Repair World, LCD screen repair costs can range from $150 to $600 depending on the make, model, size and availability of the specific display (Source).
The motherboard is a critical component in a laptop that interfaces all of the other components and allows them to communicate with each other. Replacing a motherboard can be one of the most expensive laptop repairs. Many brands solder the CPU and GPU directly onto the motherboard, so if either of those components fail, the entire motherboard may need to be replaced. According to one forum post, replacing a laptop motherboard can cost $300-600 depending on the make and model.
The high cost of motherboard repair is largely due to the intricate labor involved. A repair technician must completely disassemble the laptop to access the motherboard and then reassemble the entire device after installing a new one. Motherboard issues can also be difficult to diagnose, adding to the cost.
While desktop PC motherboards can be relatively inexpensive, laptop motherboards must be custom designed for each model. This limits scale and increases prices. Overall, if the motherboard fails in an out-of-warranty laptop, it is often more cost effective to replace the entire device rather than attempt a motherboard repair.
The processor, commonly referred to as the CPU (Central Processing Unit), is considered the “brain” of a laptop that runs the operating system and software applications. Upgrading or replacing a damaged processor on a laptop can be one of the most expensive repairs.
According to experts, the cost to upgrade or replace a laptop’s CPU can range from $50 for a basic model up to over $1000 for high-end processors . Factors affecting the processor upgrade cost include the type of processor, socket compatibility, availability of the specific model, and labor charges. For example, upgrading from an Intel Core i5 to i7 on a compatible laptop may cost between $200-$300 just for the i7 chip itself.
A complete processor replacement often requires disassembling the laptop, uninstalling the old CPU, updating BIOS settings, installing the new processor, applying thermal paste, and reassembling the device. Given the complexity involved, the total upgrade cost with labor at a repair shop could be $300-$500 depending on the laptop model and parts required .
While replacing only the processor may seem straightforward, it’s important to confirm full compatibility to avoid issues. Consulting a qualified repair technician is advisable. With high-end laptops like gaming models, a CPU upgrade may provide a significant boost in performance.
The graphics card is an optional but expensive component that can significantly increase the cost of a laptop repair. High-end gaming laptops and mobile workstations often come equipped with dedicated GPUs (graphics processing units) from companies like NVIDIA and AMD.
These discrete graphics cards can easily cost $200 to $1000 just for the part. Not only are they expensive to purchase, but the repair work itself tends to be more complicated and time consuming than other laptop components. The graphics card is usually soldered or otherwise firmly integrated into the motherboard, so replacing it often necessitates replacing the entire motherboard.
There are also many models and variations of graphics cards for laptops, making finding an exact replacement part tricky. The specific GPU model needs to be matched precisely for full compatibility.
For these reasons, a failed graphics card is one of the most troublesome and costly potential repairs for a laptop. Gamers and creative professionals seeking top-tier performance are most likely to purchase laptops with dedicated graphics, making their repairs a much pricier endeavor compared to regular laptops if something goes wrong.
The amount of RAM in a laptop affects its multitasking ability and speed. More RAM allows the laptop to run more programs and browser tabs simultaneously without slowing down. Upgrading the RAM is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve an older laptop’s performance.
According to a Reddit thread, the cost to upgrade RAM in a laptop ranges from $40-$100 depending on the amount and type of RAM (source). Factors like whether the RAM is DDR3 or DDR4 impact the price. Overall, 8GB of RAM is sufficient for most users, while 16GB provides an extra boost for multitasking and gaming.
While the RAM itself may be reasonably priced, labor costs at a repair shop could make the upgrade expensive. However, the RAM upgrade process is straightforward for those comfortable working inside their laptop.
The most expensive storage component to repair or replace in a laptop is typically the primary storage drive, which stores the operating system, programs, and personal files. This is usually a solid state drive (SSD) or a traditional hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs tend to be more expensive than HDDs for comparable capacities.
According to Quora, replacing an internal hard drive can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 or more for parts and labor . Xoverture estimates a cost of around $200 to install a new hard drive, including the drive itself for $60-100 . On Reddit, Geek Squad quotes $40 for adding a secondary drive, but more for replacing the primary drive due to the OS reinstall .
Factors affecting the cost include the drive type (HDD vs SSD), laptop model and complexity of replacement, any data migration services, and whether an operating system reinstallation is required.
The keyboard is one of the most hands-on components of a laptop and also one of the most common parts to need repair or replacement. Over time, the keys can wear out or break with repeated use. Liquids spilled on the keyboard can also damage it or cause keys to stick or stop working properly. According to Devicetests, the average cost to replace a laptop keyboard ranges from $100 to $250 depending on the make and model (source). More affordable laptop brands like HP and Dell tend to be on the lower end, while premium brands like Apple and Lenovo tend to cost more. The keyboard itself as a part is usually not too expensive, but the labor involved in replacing it can add to the overall cost. In some cases it may be possible to just replace individual keys that are damaged rather than the whole keyboard. Overall, while not the single most expensive component, the keyboard is a very common failure point and replacement can get costly over the lifetime of a laptop.
The laptop battery is an expensive component to repair or replace. Most laptop batteries cost between $50 to $200 to replace (source). Lithium-ion batteries, which are used in most modern laptops, can vary greatly in cost depending on the size, capacity, chemistry, and brand. Manufacturers such as Apple typically charge a high premium for official replacement batteries. Third party and non-OEM batteries can be purchased for less.
The battery is the crucial power source that enables the portability of a laptop. Without a properly functioning battery, the laptop must stay plugged into AC power in order to operate. If the battery loses capacity over time or fails completely, mobile use of the laptop becomes impossible. Factors that can decrease battery life and capacity include age, number of charge cycles, and heat exposure.
Replacing the battery requires opening up the laptop casing and unplugging and removing the old battery before installing the new one. The procedure varies across laptop models but is typically moderately difficult. There is some risk of damage if improperly done. Having a professional replace the battery is advisable, especially for those uncomfortable working inside laptops.
When it comes to repairing a laptop, some components tend to be more expensive to replace than others. Based on typical costs, the most expensive laptop components to repair or replace are usually the display, motherboard, processor, and graphics card.
The display is often one of the priciest components, as laptop screens can be costly, especially higher resolution touchscreen displays. Motherboards are also very expensive, as they control many functions and cannot be easily swapped between different models. Processors are another high cost item, as faster and newer CPUs have high price tags. Finally, dedicated graphics cards are another component that can be pricey to replace, as gaming-oriented GPUs are quite expensive.
While the keyboard, battery, storage, and RAM may need repairs, they tend to cost far less than the core components of the display, motherboard, processor, and graphics card. These essential modules form the foundation of a laptop’s performance and capabilities, so their high replacement costs make sense. When budgeting for potential laptop repairs, keep in mind that the most expensive fixes usually relate to the display, motherboard, CPU or GPU.