Since all laptop components are custom-designed from the ground up to fit into an equally proprietary case design, this tutorial is only intended to be a sample template that applies roughly to any laptop. The procedure to disassemble and custom-mount any laptop will be quite different from the next, and so this is not a step-by-step article meant to be followed exactly. Be creative, you are exploring untouched territory and your brain is your best friend!
The laptop disassembled is the Toshiba A70. Its motherboard is great because it is essentially rectangular, and has screw mounting holes in each corner.
Remove all visible screws underneath the laptop and battery, some of which also hold the keyboard in place. Gradually remove all panels, the battery, optical drive and hard drive once they become loose. Keep gently prying the top and bottom until you find every last screw.
Once all of these components and visible screws are taken out, unplug and remove the keyboard as well, and usually a few screws and touchpad wire remain underneath the keyboard before the entire wrist assembly can come off. Once this panel comes off, the motherboard is exposed.
Now would also be a good time to take apart the delicate display assembly. Rubber pads usually cover the screws holding the front bezel; remove these and unscrew them. The bezel is held in by clips; give it some tension and they will come undone.
The LCD panel and WIFI antennas are plugged into the motherboard; unplug these and unscrew the hinges so the display assembly comes loose. Unplug the inverter cable (found below the screen) and remove it. The display is attached to metal reinforcing beams; unscrew these and set the display free.
Unscrew the motherboard so that it can be removed. Dislodging the ports may require flexing the board somewhat. Unplug any remaining cables as you go, and ensure that all components have enough clearance to come out. You may need to remove the heatsink as well.
Ripping it apart was the easy part; next my goal was to firmly mount the motherboard behind the LCD so that it would be hidden from view. Seeing that the 15” screen from the Toshiba was too small to do so, I extracted the 17” panel from the fried HP and it fit the bill perfectly. This was a terrible idea in retrospect, only after discovering that LCDs are only compatible with their respective motherboards. This screen ended up having to downscale to a skewed aspect ratio of good old 1024 x 768. Oh well. Both the WiFi and video data cables must be routed to the back of the LCD, where the video cable connects and WiFi antennas are taped.
This is the point where you will have to be creative. Take note of all screw holes, and examine the motherboard to see which orientation would give the thinnest package (try to keep protruding components between the LCD and PCB). Also consider wire length, and where they will be routed relative to both the board and screen. The goal is for the motherboard to be entirely hidden behind the panel, and also be securely installed with sufficient room for cooling.
Having worked with nothing else in my life but wood, I also decided to jigsaw and chisel 2 beams of wood, which would fit to the left and right between the LCD and motherboard. Not only would this serve to mount the board, it would also allow for great airflow to cool the notoriously hot Pentium 4 chip. I used modified screen brackets from the display assembly to mount the wood behind the screen, and wood screws through the motherboard holes to mount the board to the wood. Makeshift solution, but it worked beautifully! While doing so, I also duct-taped the display wires behind the LCD so that they would stay plugged in an be out of the way.
Finally I strung a wire between the 2 topmost screws, so that one could hang this frame on a nail in the wall. It needs to be firmly secured to hold the frame’s weight and also be given some slack so that it can be hung easily.
The finished product! All ports are still accessible from underneath the frame, the CPU heatsink vent blows air down on the bottom, and the antennas are mounted on top so that their signal is not blocked.
I upgraded the system to Windows 7 so that I could set a desktop background slideshow. This is the basis for the “picture frame” utility, and also allows for changing the time interval for changing image.