How to Build a Laptop? I really advise you to purchase a damaged notebook computer and take it apart, in order to understand what exactly is all inside.
You won’t get cables or anything from a manufacturer when you buy replacement parts – they assume you have them already, and they don’t allow you to buy the cables from them. They’re too small to be numbered and stocked individually (speaking from experience, here).
That being said, I think cables are your biggest issue. You’re almost going to end up buying a finished computer and making your own case for it, then transporting the parts.
To answer all of your “how does this connect to that” questions – proprietary cables. Some of them are ribbon, some not. But all of them are different from component to component, model to model. Probably the only standard ports on the inside of the notebook you’ll use are the mini-PCIe port (for your wireless card) and the SATA port (which you’ll use for your hard disk). The rest are all proprietary connectors with proprietary cables. Sucks, doesn’t it?
As far as GPUs go, you need to get a motherboard that comes with a discrete GPU. Trying to add one in is too difficult, because (you can probably guess… ) the port isn’t standard!
Here are the parts we chose to build our demonstration unit with: OCZ’s DIY 15″ Gaming Notebook, a 250 GB OCZ Apex SSD, and a 4 GB RAM kit (2x2GB) of OCZ PC2-6400 SO-DIMM memory. We used a Core 2 Extreme X9100 mobile processor.
While we went with wall-to-wall OCZ parts here, you don’t need to. That’s the whole point of DIY. OCZ does offer a list of validated components for its shell, but any shell should work with any format-compatible parts. For example, if you get a shell that takes SATA drives, any 2.5″ SATA hard drive or SSD will be fine. You’re still stuck with the shell manufacturer’s short list of optical drive options, but the list will get longer over time. To start your shell quest, try searching for “barebones notebook” or “whitebook shell” online.
Most modern notebooks provide access to internal components through two or three panels attached to the shell’s bottom. Older models may have you working through bottom panels as well as removing the keyboard, which is considerably more difficult. Double-check this before you buy. We like that the OCZ unit only has two bottom panels, which makes access to where you add the components simple and easy.
See that reddish smudge in the lower-left corner of our image? We left that visible to remind you to keep track of the thermal adhesive on the bottom of the CPU heatsink fan (HSF). OCZ ships its HSF with protective tape over the adhesive for the CPU, but there was no tape shielding the adhesive on our unit. When we set the HSF down, the thermal adhesive stuck to the table. Not only is this unsightly, but it could affect the bond between heatsink and underlying chip. So, be careful.