Can You Build a Custom Laptop? Learn How

We all know how many people love playing games or working using their desktop computers because of how they can custom-build their own PCs based on their budget and personal preferences. However, because laptops are also just as popular because of how portable they are, some gamers or heavy users might be wondering if they could do the same with a laptop. Can you actually build your own custom laptop based on your own personal preferences?

It is possible for you to build a custom laptop that comes with your own preferences in terms of its specs and features. In this case, you have a choice of choosing laptop customization services from different brands or building your own laptop using parts and materials you purchased from computer stores.

Just like how you can build your own PC, building your own laptop is also just as possible. However, the catch here is that the two are quite different in terms of overall difficulty as many people agree that building your own laptop is not as simple as it is when you custom-build your own PC. That said, we are here to talk more about how you can actually build a custom laptop in the best way we can teach it.

Red HP laptop

Is it possible to build a custom laptop?

One of the things that make the PC or the personal computer or the desktop computer so popular is that it is actually customizable. People who love their desktop computers actually hardly purchase pre-made computers from stores and would rather just purchase the parts that they need to build their own custom PCs. That’s because doing so is actually relatively easy and unique. Moreover, they can build a PC that fits their preferences and can easily be upgradable later on when they need newer and more advanced parts and components.

That said, many people build their own custom desktop computers because they use them for gaming or for other power-intensive purposes such as video editing. And while the PC may be the king of customization, the laptop is also just as popular or even more popular because of how handy and convenient it is. But what usually turns some people off when it comes to the laptop is that they believe that you can’t customize your laptop.

So, is it really true that you cannot custom-build a laptop? Or is it even possible for you to actually build your own custom laptop in the same way that you can build a customized desktop computer with all of the different parts, specs, and features that you want?

The good news is that you can actually custom-build your own laptop depending on the features and specs that you want to see in a laptop. It might be surprising to hear this but it actually is possible for you to build a laptop that is customized according to your own preferences. And what is surprising about this is that this is something that you actually usually see or hear in relation to desktop computers but not for laptop computers.

Of course, the reason why you don’t often hear about custom-built laptops is that laptops are usually sold pre-built and having specific names and specs. And it is understandable why laptops are often pre-built and sold as such considering that it is a bit more difficult to have customers custom-build their own laptops. Nevertheless, it is still possible for you to build your own custom laptop instead of buying laptops that are already pre-made or pre-built and are being sold as such.

Msi gaming laptop

What are the perks of building a custom laptop?

So, if you are wondering why you would even think of building a custom laptop instead of actually going to a store to buy a pre-built laptop that comes with some of the specs that you want, here are the perks of custom-building your own laptop:

●       You get to choose the specs

So, just like when you custom-build your own desktop computer, custom-building your own laptop means that you have a free hand when it comes to choosing the specs and features you want to see in your laptop. This includes important specs such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage space, operating system, and other specs and features that are important for a laptop to have. While there may be pre-built laptops with neat specs, some of them might not have the exact specs that you are looking for in a laptop.

●       It is cheaper than buying a pre-built laptop

Again, just like when you buy a desktop computer that is already pre-made or pre-built, there are hidden costs that you don’t know about such as labor costs that go into actually building a custom laptop. That’s why it is going to be more expensive for you to buy a pre-built laptop as opposed to building one yourself because there are no hidden costs involved when you just buy the parts and then build the laptop.

●       It’s like a custom-built desktop PC but portable

At the end of the day, what makes a custom-built laptop special is that it is similar to a custom-built PC in almost all aspects but it is made to be portable. Think of it as bringing along a gaming PC wherever you go but it is much smaller and lighter than an actual desktop computer.

This is a gaming pc that I built.

●       You get to learn the different things that go into a laptop

Building a custom laptop can be educational because it allows you to see what goes into the laptop while you are building it. It allows you to learn more about the different parts that go into the laptop and how the laptop works when all of those components work together to give you the performance that you want from your laptop.

Are there disadvantages to building a custom laptop?

We’ve talked about the advantages of building a custom laptop. However, are there actually disadvantages that you need to know before you decide to build your own laptop? Unfortunately, there are, and we will be talking more about them.

●       Time-consuming

Let’s face it the fact that shopping for a pre-built laptop is a lot easier and faster than actually spending time looking for different parts, waiting for them to arrive, and assembling the entire laptop by yourself. Meanwhile, when you buy a pre-built laptop, all you need to do is to go to the physical store or the online store, pay for it, and receive the item. That’s it.

●       Mistakes

You are not an expert in this field, and mistakes are going to much more common when you try to build your own custom laptop. This is something that you want to minimize because the simplest mistakes can end up damaging some of the parts that you worked hard to buy.

●       Lack of extra features

Some pre-built laptops come with features that are unique to these laptops. For example, there are laptops that come with fingerprint sensors that allow you to log in and out with a simple fingerprint scan. This, and some other features, are not present in custom-built laptops.

How to build a custom laptop

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let’s now talk about how to build a custom laptop.

Choosing laptop components

Before anything else, choosing laptop components should be a priority for you because of how these components make up the laptop. As such, you should learn more about these components so that you will know what to put into your laptop.

  1. Barebones laptop

From the term “barebones”, a barebones laptop is a laptop that is already assembled a bit as it comes with a laptop shell, the power supply, a motherboard, a keyboard, the cooling system, and the camera. So, basically, it has some of the components that are not really customizable but still very much important for the laptop to function well. Buying a barebones laptop allows you to skip some of the steps that those who build custom desktop computers have to go through. And it’s understandable because it takes a lot of technical knowledge to know how to assemble these components.

Some brands come with their own barebones laptops. Try going to some websites of known computer brands to see if they have barebones laptops. And choosing a barebones laptop requires that you should know whether or not the CPU and the graphics card are replaceable because these components are usually the ones that some users tend to replace when they get obsolete. A barebones laptop that will allow you to replace the CPU and the GPU will make your custom laptop last longer in terms of its specs.

  1. CPU

The CPU or the central processing unit is the semiconductor integrated chip that the computer uses to process data. Think of it as the brain of the computer as this is what allows it to process different types of information.

Choosing a CPU usually boils down to two brands: Intel and AMD. Intel is known for CPUs such as Core while AMD is known for Ryzen and Athlon. Most of the time, AMD chips are weaker than Intel chips but they are more affordable.

Meanwhile, it is also important for you to know how many cores there are in the CPU that you choose. The more cores there are, the more processing units will be able to read, interpret, and execute program instructions. That’s why computers with multi-core CPUs tend to have faster processing speeds. Clock rate should also be important for you if you are a gamer or a person who does 3D modeling because of how a higher clock rate refers to a faster processing speed on the part of your CPU.

  1. RAM

The random access memory or the RAM is the memory unit of your computer. Different processes and applications that make use of the CPU will also take up memory. So, the higher the memory your computer has, the more likely it will be able to handle more processes at the same time. Go for at least 8GB of RAM if you want to be able to perform different functions and tasks smoothly.

  1. Storage drive

The storage drive is where your computer will store all of the files saved on it. This is important because this is where the operating system will be saved. Of course, you also need storage for all of your important personal files and games as well.

When choosing a drive, you have a choice between a hard drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD). The hard drive is older and cheaper, which is why you can get hard drives with higher storage spaces at relatively lower prices. Hard drives also take up more physical space in your laptop. Meanwhile, the SSD is smaller, does not rely on moving parts, but is more expensive, which explains why laptops that come with SSDs are more expensive than those with HDDs.

  1. GPU

The graphics processing unit or the GPU or simply the graphics card is the processing unit that processes graphics and other similar visuals in your laptop. Some CPUs have GPUs integrated into them but you would have to buy a separate graphics card if you want to make sure that your laptop is powerful enough to handle advanced graphics from games. That’s because separate GPUs come with their own memory and are able to process graphics without stressing the CPU too much.

Some of the best GPUs come from Nvidia and AMD, which are the two giants in this industry. Nvidia cards are usually better in game fluency while AMD cards are better at rendering pictures and graphics. The higher the specs in your GPU, the better it will be when handling some of the graphics-intensive games and tasks involving your laptop.

GPU up close

Assembling the Laptop

Now that you know more about the different components that go into a custom laptop, it is now time to build one. Of course, you should first get those components before you actually start assembling your own laptop.

  1. Turn the laptop shell over so that the bottom is facing up. This is how you will be working the entire time as a laptop is usually opened from the bottom instead of from the top. There will be screws that you need to remove so that you can open your laptop.
  2. You will be able to see the CPU section, which should be covered by a baffle. You need to pull the lever in the CPU socket so that you will be able to install the CPU. Make sure that the CPU is made for laptops or else it won’t fit the shell at all.
  3. After that, it is time for you to install the RAM and the wireless network card. The first thing you need to do is to align them in the slots that are reserved for these parts. Slowly push them into the slots in the gentlest way possible because these components are quite fragile.
  4. If you purchased a separate GPU for your laptop, you can install it in the same way by looking for the slot that is reserved for your GPU.
  5. Installing the laptop’s drive actually involves knowing how to install your OS first. If you are using Windows, you need to do the following to install the OS:
    1. After assembling the computer, create a Windows installation media so that you can install your OS through it.
    1. When installing the OS, you have a choice of cloning the disk, which is when you already had a computer before and you want to clone the apps and the files that came from that computer. But this step can be time-consuming. Still, it’s great for those who want to transfer all of their old files to the new laptop.
    1. If you opt to use the Windows installation media, you are essentially starting with a fresh Windows computer.
    1. You would need to follow this tutorial step-by-step to install the drive properly together with the OS.


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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