Taking apart Lenovo ThinkPad L480

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Taking apart Lenovo ThinkPad L480 business laptop (type 20LS, 20LT).

In this guide I will be taking apart a Lenovo ThinkPad L480 (type 20LS, 20LT) business laptop. The disassembly process is pretty much straightforward except for the keyboard removal.

Here are some pros and cons of Lenovo ThinkPad L480 design I found during the disassembly process:
– All screws on the base cover are captive screws which is very convenient for in-field repairs.
– All major components are easily accessible after the base cover is removed.
– It supports a regular 2.5″ hard drive and PCIe NVMe M.2 solid state drive.
– You need a special tool to remove the keyboard (there is a workaround).

For this disassembly you will need the following repair tools: Phillips screwdriver #1 and #0, case opening tool, tweezers (optional) and plastic spudger tool.

Base cover and battery removal

STEP 1.
Loosen nine screws securing the base cover.

Loosen nine screws securing the base cover.

STEP 2.
Insert a case opener tool between the palmrest and the base cover. Pry up the palmrest and separate it from the base cover. Move the case opener along the side and continue separating two parts from each other.

Pry up the palmrest and separate it from the base cover.

STEP 3.
Turn the laptop upside down and continue removing the base cover with your hands.

Turn the laptop upside down and continue removing the base cover with your hands.

STEP 4.
Remove three screws from the battery and disconnect the battery cable from the motherboard.

Remove three screws from the battery and disconnect the battery cable from the motherboard.

STEP 5.
Remove the battery.
Lenovo ThinkPad L480 battery model name: L17M3P54. Lenovo FRU P/N: 01AV465.

Remove the battery.

RAM and SSD removal

The laptop has two memory slots and supports up to 32GB DDR4 RAM (2x16GB RAM modules). This particular laptop cam with only one RAM module installed.

STEP 6.
Spread the latches on both sides of the memory slot until the RAM module pops up at a 30 degree angle. Pull the RAM module out.

Remove the RAM memory module.

STEP 7.
Disconnect the hard drive cable from the motherboard.

Disconnect the hard drive cable from the motherboard.

Lift up the metal bracket securing the connection (red arrow). Pull the cable out.

How to disconnect the hard drive cable.

STEP 8.
Pull the hard drive bracket up by the black tab attached to the left side. Remove the hard drive from the laptop.

Remove the hard drive from the laptop.

In this particular Lenovo ThinkPad L480 I had a 256GB PCIe Gen3 NVMe M.2 SSD installed. It’s mounted in a 2.5″ hard drive bracket.

STEP 9.
Remove two screws from the SSD cover/heatsink. Remove the cover.

Remove two screws from the SSD cover/heatsink. Remove the cover.

The SSD cover has a thermal pad which helps to transfer heat away from the SSD.
With the cover/heatsink removed, you can access the SSD and disconnect it from the M.2 adapter.

If you have a regular 2.5″ hard drive installed I would recommend upgrading it to a PCIe NVMe solid state drive (which is much faster). You will need a M.2 SSD tray for this upgrade (part number: 4XF0N82414).

Access the SSD and disconnect it from the M.2 adapter.

Heatsink and fan removal

The cooling fan is a part of the heatsink. If the fan fails, you will have to replace the heatsink.

STEP 10.
Loosen four captive screws attaching the heatsink to the motherboard. Disconnect the fan cable from the motherboard.

Loosen the heatsink screws and disconnect the fan cable.

STEP 11.
Lift up the fan assembly and separate it from the processor.

Lift up the fan assembly and separate it from the processor.

Lenovo ThinkPad L480 fan assembly part number: 01LW144.

Lenovo ThinkPad L480 fan assembly part number: 01LW144.

Touchpad and keyboard removal

It is possible to remove and replace the keyboard without even removing the base cover but you need a special keyboard removal tool for that.

Note: If the keyboard must be removed, you need the keyboard removal tool (product part number: 01LX856).

Quote from ThinkPad L480 Hardware Maintenance Manual (download link posted at the end of this guide).

I don’t have the removal tool so I have to work around. In order to remove the keyboard it’s necessary to remove the touchpad first.

STEP 12.
Remove four screw securing the touchpad and disconnect the touchpad cable from the motherboard.

Remove four screw securing the touchpad and disconnect the touchpad cable from the motherboard.

Here’s how to disconnect the cable. Lift up the locking tab to unlock the connector and pull the cable out.

Here's how to disconnect the touchpad cable.

STEP 13.
Place the laptop on on its side. Using a toothpick push the touchpad out through one of the screw holes.

Push the touchpad out through one of the screw holes.

STEP 14.
Continue removing the touchpad and pull the cable through the opening in the top case.

Remove the touchpad with the cable.

In order to access the keyboard screws it’s necessary to remove the touchpad keys first.

STEP 15.
Insert a plastic spudger tool under one of the touchpad keys.

Insert a plastic spudger tool under one of the touchpad keys.

STEP 16.
Carefully pry up the key to un-snap it from the bracket.

NOTE: to install the key back in place, simply position the further side of the key as it shown on the picture and push on the key to snap it back in place.

Carefully pry up the key to un-snap it from the bracket.

STEP 17.
Remove the left touchpad key. Do the same with the right key.

Remove the left touchpad key. Do the same with the right key.

STEP 18.
Loosen two captive screws securing the keyboard to the top case.

Loosen two captive screws securing the keyboard to the top case.

In order to remove the keyboard we have to slide it towards the display but there is a T-shaped knob (shown inside the yellow square) securing the keyboard.
There are two knobs on the left and right side. I show just one of them.

There is a T-shaped knob (shown inside the yellow square) securing the keyboard.

STEP 19.
Insert the spudger under the keyboard frame to elevate the frame above the T-shaped knob.

Insert the spudger under the keyboard frame to elevate the frame above the T-shaped knob.

Insert the spudger in the middle so both sides of the frame are elevated evenly.

Insert the spudger in the middle so both sides of the frame are elevated evenly.

STEP 20.
Now you can slide the keyboard towards the display. The top side of the keyboard will move under the bezel. The top row keys will touch the bezel. Also, you will see a gap between the lower side of the keyboard and the palmrest.

Slide the keyboard towards the display.

STEP 21.
Lift up the lower side of the keyboard and move it towards the touchpad.

Lift up the lower side of the keyboard and move it towards the touchpad.

STEP 22.
Turn the keyboard upside down and place it on the palmrest. Now you can access and disconnect the keyboard cables.

Now you can access and disconnect the keyboard cables.

Unlock both connectors and pull the cables out.

Unlock both connectors and pull the cables out.

The keyboard has been removed and now you can replace it with a new one if necessary.
Lenovo ThinkPad L480 keyboard FRU P/N (US model): 01YP400.

Lenovo ThinkPad L480 keyboard FRU P/N (US model): 01YP400.

UPDATE: I just published a guide for a Lenovo ThinkPad E490 E495 laptop. It looks similar and I was able to remove the keyboard without removing the trackpad.

Power button removal

The power button is located on a separate board which is mounted under the display hinge.

STEP 23.
Remove two screws attaching the display hinge. Remove one screw from the power button board. Disconnect the power button cable from the motherboard.

Remove three screws and disconnect the power button board cable.

STEP 24.
Lift up the display hinge as it shown on the following picture. Remove the power button board.

Remove the power button board.

If you need more detailed disassembly instructions, you can find them in Lenovo ThinkPad L480 (type 20LS, 20LT) Hardware Maintenance Manual available here.

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