My New Home Linux Box - Envy Half-Top

Check out my new Linux Box! Thanks to some great advice from Dalton Durst, I took a couple hours last night and removed the 17" display from the HP ENVY m7-u109dx.

Back Story:
I had gotten the HP from a relative who dropped it, but did not crack any of the plastic casing in the lid or base (a little damage to accent pieces). The left steel hing bracket broke and came out of the lid. I had hoped to find a way to epoxy the bracket back into place or find a used hinge, but when I attempted to pull the lid apart I got a spider web crack in the touch screen surface, LCD was fine. I installed Linux on it, but it was a bother because the screen didn’t sit level, and false touches were often detected until I removed the kernel module connected with touch screen support. Also looking through the cracked screen bothered me, so it rarely got used at our home even though it was the most powerful box in the house. In looking for parts it looked like I would spend at least $150-$200 in parts if I could find everything. I really have no use for a mobile 17" laptop, and I would rather put $150-$200 into a nicer external monitor that I could use with other computers when this one dies since my current crop of monitors are 2006 or older.

Steps to create the Envy Half-Top

  1. I ordered an HDMI to VGA adapter from Amazon that came Prime Shipping in one day. $8.50
  2. There is nothing on the internet that tells you what size Torx head is used in the bottom case screws. I found a replacement battery kit that had a T6 torx head screwdriver for the m7-u109dx. So I went to my home supply store and found a cheap multi-head screwdriver with a T6 head which fell apart 30 seconds after I opened the package. $4.99.
  3. Thankfully some model glue fixed the multi-head screwdriver because its bit size didn’t fit any of the other drivers that I had at home. But when I tried the T6 is was just a hair to big. Oh, no! But there was a T4 (no T5) and that one worked. I still don’t know for sure if the heads are T5 or T4, but I got the screws removed and reinstalled so that is all that matters. From a YouTube video I discovered that there were 3 additional Phillips head screws under the rubber bumper along the back side of the base cover.
  4. After you get the base cover off the ENVY, all the rest of the screws are small Philips head. I removed two port protecting metal guards that sit above the hing brackets, then removed the hinges, disconnected the wireless antenna leads and the webcam and LCD graphics cables.
  5. After removing the LCD from the base, I separated the LCD panel and touch glass from the plastic lid so that I could remove the wireless antenna. After completing that without further damage to the touch glass, I snapped the LCD to the lid again, attached the antenna wires back onto the wireless card, put back the metal port guards and reattached the base cover.

The ENVY Half-Top is the most powerful computer my son and I have. See specs below.

I’m hoping to find a way to get the Nvidia graphics card working, although there may be issues getting this to work without the attached 17" LCD and only using the external HDMI port that seems to be wired to the Intel Graphics because that is what Gnome shows as running. Also I’m not sure that I have all of the multi gesture functions of the track pad working, but I have an external mouse too. Anyway, I’m happy to have my half-top up and working without any issues that I have noticed will running on Intel graphics. The wireless works great with the antenna attached to the back of the external monitor. Also a nice feature is that I have a desktop with battery back up now :slight_smile:

Product name = HP ENVY Notebook m7-u109dx
Microprocessor = Intel® Core™ i7-7500U (2.7 GHz, up to 3.5 GHz, 4 MB cache, 2 cores)
Memory, standard = 16 GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM (2 x 8 GB)
Video graphics = NVIDIA® GeForce® 940MX (2 GB DDR3L dedicated)
Hard drive = 1 TB 7200 rpm SATA
Optical drive = SuperMulti DVD burner
Keyboard = Full-size island-style backlit keyboard with numeric keypad
Pointing device = HP Imagepad with multi-touch gesture support
Wireless connectivity = 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth® 4.0 combo
Network interface = Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Expansion slots = 1 multi-format SD media card reader
External ports = 1 HDMI; 1 headphone/microphone combo; 1 RJ-45; 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Data transfer only); 3 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Data transfer only)
Power supply type = 65 W AC power adapter
Battery type = 3-cell, 41 Wh Li-ion
Audio features = Bang & Olufsen with 2 speakers

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Sounds good to me, the only thing you may want to consider is swapping out the 1TB spinning rust HDD and putting in a 250/500Gb SSD and putting the 1TB into a USB 3 caddy for storage, you will definitely see a performance improvement over the HDD.

But the video card is better than any of my current PC’s if you can get it working. Good job :grin:

Yes, I am considering that. The only thing I dread is taking off the base cover with those T4 screws again. :slight_smile:

I have a laptop that I’ve put off upgrading to an SSD because of the screws, not T4 ones, just 12 of them, 4 or 6 of which are hidden under the rubber pads on the base, and I know won’t stich back on if I peel them back to get at the screws… sigh, I hate HP at times. When I do summon up the courage I will probably upgrade to 8GB of RAM (from 4) but it’s DDR4 and I’m not sure if it’ll be worth it on an AMD A9 dual core processor machine.

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This is so awesome! Gave me a little chuckle when the entire concept sunk into my brain. It feels like this should be an entire segment of devices. Much like ye olde Commodore 64s where it was a computer built with a keyboard housing and all it needed was a display.
I can imagine people coming over to visit and marveling at your genius when they see it.

Although I’m excited about my HP Half-Top, I am a little frustrated that HP has made their laptops less easy to upgrade. I worked on a Thinkpad Edge recently and it had a panel to remove that gave you access to hard drive and memory, your main upgrade or repair issues. Also it used Phillips head screws. I don’t get hiding the screws under the rubber bumper foot. It stuck back on this time, but if I remove it again to replace the hard drive I could see it not sticking anymore so I will have to use some kind of glue but not too sticky of a glue if I need to open it up later. Also the hard drive cady is interesting, not as solid as I have seen in all the other laptops I have opened up.

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that was the classic Thinkpad advantage, accessability and modularity that allowed the user (or their tech guy) to maintain, replace or upgrade the machine easily, minimising down time.

Old time thinkpads may be a big ugly (but in an atractice kind of ugly way) but they were practical and usable and robust. I’ve always like them.

Yes I’ve noticed that with HP’s before some of the HDD cady’s are no more than thick Aluminum foil

They are probably only there, and of aluminium foil, for the shielding, if they could, they’d do without, all that foil adds to the cost

The HDD cady in this ENVY was a rubber bumper that fit into the screw holes, and then sat in an aluminum channel by friction. The HDD SATA cable (typical paper thin flat laptop cable connector) is exposed after you take the base cover off, and clipped into a port on the motherboard. When I opened the base cover, the HDD was not sitting in the aluminum channel but was laying loose on top of the motherboard. I figured this happened while I was separating the clips of the base cover from the base top. But I thought, how easy it would be for either the HDD to damage the motherboard or for the SATA cable to be damaged simply because the rubber HDD bumper cage did not have enough friction to hold the HDD in place during disassembling.

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With my 2 left hands I could never do what you did. Good luck with it:sunglasses: