Not longer after talking about my laptop's dodgy power connection on Tuesday I got the old screwdrivers out and took it to pieces. This is a lot less daunting than you might think. Dell have step-by-step instructions for dismantling the Inspiron 4100, which are reasonably easy to follow.
Once in pieces I was hoping to see some way of repairing an obviously loose connection. However, the "motherboard" is a sealed unit and so I had no choice to buy a new one off eBay - cost £150. It arrived this morning and is in the pink bag in the shot below:
Being a good geek I have an earthing wristband, which I wore throughout. Assembling the laptop is as simple as following the instructions in reverse (Unless you're cleverer than me and can remember where all the screws go).
I have to admit I'm surprised it worked. Especially after having to bend a leg back in to position on the processor, which I prized out with a screwdriver. There's just so much that could have gone wrong. Luckily it didn't and it's now as-new.
And my point is? That you can do this. I'd always thought taking laptops apart was best left to the professionals. This of course is prohibitively expensive with an old laptop (mine is 4 years old). It also means having to send it off for repair and wait weeks for its return. The best thing is buy the part and DIY. As you can see there aren't that many parts to them.
The one thing I did notice is that dust and crumbs get absolutely everywhere inside.