Lenovo S10-3 Disassembly Guide

December 2010

So, there was basically no good disassembly guide for the Lenovo S10-3, and while I was taking mine apart to to see if I could fix a bulge in the screen bezel and swap the WWAN coax cables for the WLAN coax cables to the antenna, I decided to make one.
I took these pictures in reverse order (while reassembling the laptop), and so if something seems odd, that is probably why.
All you really need is a small (#0 or #00) philips-head screwdriver and a decent set of fingernails, or if you don't have any, a thin plastic card or spatula to pry apart some clips.

First of all, remove the battery:
Lenovo S10-3 with battery and back cover removed

You will notice there are three screws under the battery (circled in red). These three screws hold the keyboard in. If all you are doing is replacing the keyboard, skip to removing it, otherwise, read on.
If you remove four screws holding the back cover on (not seen here), you will expose the RAM, PCIe slots, and HDD. These screws are captive, don't worry about losing them.
Underneath you will see that two screws (circled in blue) hold the HDD in. If you want to remove it (you need to for complete disassembly), just remove the two screws, angle the hard drive out, and unplug the SATA connector. It is one-piece in these machines, which is nice.
You don't need to remove the PCIe cards to remove the mainboard, but you should unplug the u.fl radio connectors. Be careful with these, as they are rated for only a small number of reinsertions.
The six screws marked in yellow hold the palmrest on, if you want to go further than keyboard removal you need to remove these. Might as well go ahead and do it so you don't have to keep flipping the netbook back over.

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As an aside, you can see that in the half-length mini-PCIe slot that I have a Broadcom BCM970015 Crystal HD video decoder card (available here). This card works beautifully in Windows 7, decoding 1080p video (and Flash videos!) with very little CPU usage and power draw.
The reason it is in the half-length slot is that the full-length slot is USB-only, and the Crystal HD card needs an actual PCIe lane to operate. Fortunately, this new model of the card is already half-length, so no case modification is required to fit it. I did, however, have to find a mini-PCIe wifi card that only used the USB section of the slot. This was a Ralink RT2571WF-based card, available on eBay for around $6-10 or so. Sparklan also make/sell a number of these cards, look for something like "Mini USB PCIe card".
This was also the source of another of my problems, namely, the WLAN antenna connectors don't reach down to the card, so I had to use the WWAN antenna, which doesn't perform very well at 2.4 GHz. It works well enough for now, though.
Incidentally, now the Lenovo Energy Manager software (and rfkill in linux) think that the system has a 3G card as well as a WIFI card. Enabling/disabling the WIFI switch does not affect anything (the broadcom card ignores the signal to turn its radio on and off, since it does not have one), but flipping the 3G switch in software enables or disables WIFI.
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Once you have removed the keyboard screws, you can flip the laptop over and remove the keyboard by prying the top edge of the keyboard (nearest the function keys) down toward the rest of the keyboard.
Be careful, as there is a flat flexible cable (FFC) connector connecting the keyboard to the mainboard, and the cable is short.

Keyboard angled up, showing FFC connector

You can unplug the cable from this connector by levering up the retention clamp on the connector:


Keyboard FFC connector opened

Note that when the connector is locked, the edge of the retention clamp lines up with the line on the cable, showing correct insertion depth.

After unplugging the cable (it should slide out with near-zero force, since this is a "zero insertion force"-style connector), lift the keyboard out (there are some large tabs at the bottom of the keyboard but they simply slide out of their holders).
Now you can see the whole palmrest.

Bare laptop palmrest

You can see the touchpad's FFC connector through a little window. Unplug it in the same way as the keyboard.
Remove the three screws labeled "M2" that were hidden by the keyboard.
If you have removed the six screws around the edge of the underside of the laptop, you are ready to remove the palmrest.
Carefully lever around the seam around the edge of the laptop between the palmrest and bottom of the laptop.
It is probably easier to start near one of the hinges. Don't yank the palmrest out yet - there is one more cable underneath to disconnect!

bluetooth module connector underneath palmrest

This connector connects the bluetooth module in the palmrest to the mainboard. Disconnect it by levering the tabs on the sides of the plug alternating between left and right until it is easy to unplug. Don't pull the cable itself!
Note: This module is USB, so if you are looking for somewhere to hack in an internal GPS module or the like, this might be it.
With this unplugged, we can remove the palmrest.

Underside of palmrest

Be careful, as without it the laptop's screen is now heavier than the mainboard portion, and it becomes top-heavy, which is why I have my finger on it in this image:

S10-3 with palmrest removed

On the left you can see the mainboard, which is amazingly small, and on the right is the I/O board with the Ethernet, two USB, and audio connectors.
At the front edge are two speakers, plugged in with a single connector to the mainboard.
At this point the CMOS battery (grey button cell with a plugin connector on the mainboard) is cleary visible, if you need to replace it or disconnect it to reset the CMOS settings.
At the upper left is the display panel/camera/microphone/button connector:

Display connector

This connector unplugs straight up from the board and has a handy handle to help unplug it, shown above in the upright position.

After disconnecting the speakers, display connector, and the FFC connectors bridging the I/O board and the mainboard, you should be seeing this:

Mainboard and I/O board disconnected

There is one screw in the corner holding the I/O board in place near the ethernet connector. Remove it and the board lifts right out.
There are no screws holding the mainboard in, but I found it was a little difficult to remove, as some of the foam around the CPU fan had bonded with the grate under the fan and the angle required to lever the VGA connector out of its cutout is extreme.

Here is the bottom of the mainboard:

Bottom of mainboard

Here is the top of the mainboard:

Top of mainboard

The small size of the board makes even the SD card slot look huge by comparison!
(It is kind of large, as far as SD card slots go.. I guess Lenovo picked a large part since there was extra room inside the laptop, no need to pay extra for a small one).

With any luck, you should now be looking at this:

Laptop with mainboard and IO board removed

Note the routing of the wireless antenna cables. It was a pain to get these back in place near the hinge as they have to be routed through the channels for them otherwise they hit the I/O board.
There are two screws on each hinge holding the bottom of the case to the hinges. Remove these and you can seperate the screen and the rest of the laptop:

Screen and case disconnected

Now, remove the four corner pads on the bezel, circled here in red (sorry for the awful contrast on this one, my camera didn't like taking pictures of the screen):

Bezel with pad locations circled

Remove the four screws hidden by these pads.
Now you can remove the bezel. Lever at the seams carefully, disconnecting the clips holding the bezel on.
I found it was easiest to start at the corners, as it was more difficult to remove the bezel near the top and bottom middle since the clips there seem to hold better.
With the bezel removed, this is the view:

Screen with bezel removed

Starting at the bottom left, going clockwise, are:
The power button PCB, the left antenna (WLAN at the bottom, WWAN at the top), the microphone/camera PCB, the right antenna, and the quickstart button PCB.
This is as far as I disassembled my laptop. Everything else should be fairly simple, and the laptop overall wasn't very difficult to take apart completely, as I did it with a screwdriver in a hotel room. Don't do what I did and knock your tray of screws into the screw-colored carpet, though.
Reassembly, as they say in automotive repair manuals, is the reverse of disassembly.
Be careful with the FFC connectors, make sure that the retention clamp is open fully before inserting the cable. It should take no force whatsoever to insert.
Also be careful with routing the antenna cables, as crushing the coax with the I/O board will cause the cable to underperform and might severely impact wireless reception.
As far as solving the problems I had went, I found the source of the bulge in the bezel:

screw poking up

After screwing this screw in all the way, the bezel laid flat.
Wasn't IBM known for their superb build quality at one point? Thanks, Lenovo.
Although, I have to say, their support is still decent. I had to send this laptop in for service (the BIOS updater scrambled the BIOS.. good job, Phoenix) and turnaround time was one day. One point for, one against, I guess.
As for the WWAN/WLAN antenna swap I wanted to do, I couldn't, as the antenna ends of the cables are soldered to the boards. Maybe a job for another day..

(c) 2010 n17ikh

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