Can You Upgrade a Laptop Motherboard?

Generally the answer is a NO, unfortunately. Laptop motherboards cannot be upgraded. The simple reason being that the laptop motherboards are not uniform. They differ drastically in size and power requirements.

Unlike with desktop motherboards, the laptop motherboards do not have a standard size. While laptops from a single brand and from a similar series and generation may have the same motherboard, the subsequent or the newer series often feature a completely different motherboard.

In this article, I will look in detail into the question “can you upgrade a laptop motherboard?”

So Can You Upgrade a Laptop Motherboard?

The general answer is no. Due to the following facts

  • They are NOT uniform in dimensions and have different shapes and designs across generations, series and brands
  • There is a huge issue with availability, it is more viable to upgrade your entire laptop then to look for a motherboard upgrade.
  • All the core components are soldered, you have to think about upgrading those as well – which would end up costing as much as about a new laptop.

Let us explore these points in detail:

Laptop vs Desktop Motherboards

There is a glaring fundamental difference between desktop and laptop motherboards.

Desktop motherboards tend to follow a standard in terms of size and power requirement. There are two standards that desktop motherboard normally follow i.e ATX and ITX.

These standards are further subdivided into several sizes a detailed in the table below:

Form FactorDimensionsPurposeRemarksNo. PCIe Slots
ATX
(aka Full-ATX
Standard ATX)
12 x 9.6 inches
305 x 244 mm
Commercial- For Gamers and Professional
- Fairly common
- Best expansion capability for commercial purpose
2-3 x16
2-3 x1
Micro ATX
(aka mATX)
9.6 x 9.6 inches
244 x 244 mm
Commercial- Feature affordable motherboards
- Moderate expansion capacity
1-2 x16
1-2 x1
Mini ITX6.7 x 6.7 inches
170 x 170 mm
Commercial- Smallest motherboards or PC
- Minimal expansion capacity
- Expensive due to their compact design
1 x16
Extended ATX
(aka E-ATX)
12 x 13 inches
305 x 330 mm
Workstation- Intended for workstation builds
- Expensive and compatible only with specialized workstation CPUs.
4-7 x16

Also Read: Are All Desktop Motherboards the Same Size?

Laptop motherboards, however, follow no set standard

Since the physical body of a laptop tends to be vastly different from one generation to other, it is not possible to have standard motherboard design for laptops.

The struggle to keep the laptop size as small as possible adds to the issue of standardizing a laptop’s motherboard. 

Take for instance the following motherboards. They all belong to HP Omen gaming laptops. You can see that their size and form factor is fairly different from each other.

Pay close attention to the cutouts, screw positions and notches.

HP omen 15 dc0000
HP Omen 15 dc0000 – 2018 series. Image source: HP Support
HP Omen 15 ek0000 motherboard
HP Omen 15 ek0000 motherboard. 2020 series. Image Source: HP Support
HP omen 16
HP Omen 16 Motherboard – 2021 series. Image Source: HP Support

You can see that laptops even from the same brand tend be quite different.

In fact, two laptops from the same series can have different motherboard form factor as well. Take for instance the motherboards for the HP Omen 15 dc0000, HP Omen 15 ek0000, and HP Omen 16 motherboards above.

They both belong to the same series, released in different years,  yet they have a drastically different design.

Also Read: Where is the Motherboard Located in a Computer?

As the Laptop’s Design Changes, So Does the Motherboard

HP omen 15 dc0000 laptop
HP Omen 15 dc0000 Laptop
HP omen 15 ek0000 laptop
HP Omen 15 ek0000 Laptop

You can see that the two laptops, Omen DC0000 and EK0000 released in 2018 and 2020 respectively have vastly different shape and size.

As such, their motherboards are also vastly different.

In addition to that, it is not just about the motherboards looking somewhat similar to each other. The screw locations have to match as well.

Therefore, two laptop motherboards may look similar to each other, but have different screw locations and notches thus not be compatible with the laptop’s chassis.

And I haven’t even touched the cross-series and cross-brand motherboard compatibility. Cross-series and cross-brand laptop motherboard upgrade or replacement is next to impossible.

For instance, HP Omen motherboards are not compatible with HP Pavilion or HP Envy series and vice versa. Similarly, HP Omen motherboards are not compatible with ASUS laptops and vice versa.

Laptops Have Most of the Components Built-in

It is worth noting here also that unlike with desktop motherboards that have a modular design where components can be plugged in an out, with laptop motherboards that is not the case.

On laptops, the core components are soldered onto the motherboard itself.

The two critical and expensive components that add to the majority of the cost i.e CPU and GPU are soldered on to the motherboard and CANNOT be removed or replaced.

Also Read: Can Upgrade Laptop CPU from i5 to i7?

GPU soldered onto the motherboard 2
Shows both CPU and GPU soldered onto the motherboard. Source: Wikipedia

GPU and CPU are two components, other than the motherboard, that add the highest to overall cost of a laptop.

Therefore, when we talk about upgrading a laptop’s motherboard, we have to take into consideration that you have to pay for the upgrade cost of the GPU and the CPU as well.

In some cases, even the RAM is soldered to the motherboard.

So this begs a simple question. even if you CAN upgrade your laptop’s motherboard, should you?

In my opinion it is NOT worth the hassle and money.

Can You Replace Your Motherboard Within the Same Series

Yes and No. 

There is a chance that you CAN upgrade a laptop’s motherboard from the same series IF it belong to the same year (quarter of the year specifically) of production as your laptop.

So for instance if you have a laptop with an Intel Core i5, you should be able to upgrade to the motherboard that features an Intel Core i7 ONLY IF they both belong to the same series, generation and year.

Of course, before performing any kind of upgrade, it is crucial that you check the part number of your motherboard and match it with that of the newer motherboard.

To check the part number of your motherboard, I highly recommend using CPU-Z.

CPU-Z is a third party software, that can tell you great insights about your CPU and your PC hardware in general.

Download CPU-Z, install and fire it up. Once you have accessed it, head over to the “Mainboard” tab and look for the fields marked as Manufacturer and Model

motherboard cpu-z

I have an HP Omen 15 ax2000 laptop. The motherboard part number for this laptop is HP 8259.

Read in Detail: How to Check What Motherboard You Have?

Availability is a Huge Issue

Even if you CAN upgrade the motherboard on your laptop. Availability is a huge issue.

Since, laptop motherboards are not standardized, they are not mass produced to be interchangeable or replaceable off-the shelf.

You have to spend countless hours researching and looking for the right motherboard to replace it with. Often you will find the upgrade on second-hand or discarded old laptops.

So unless you have a lot of spare time to look up an upgrade online or at your local repair shops, in the end, it is not highly worth it to consider upgrading your laptop’s motherboard.

Laptops Motherboard Upgrade or Replacement is Expensive

A motherboard upgrade or a replacement can cost as much as the laptop itself.

Take for instance my laptop, the HP Omen AX200. Listing for a motherboard for this laptop range from $390 – $468. This is highly expensive for an old laptop released back in 2017 and thus not worth the time, effort and money.

can you upgrade a laptop motherboard
HP Omen 15 ax200 motherboard. Image Source: Ebay.com

Summary of Points

So can you upgrade a laptop motherboard? In certain rare scenarios you can, but here is why it is a difficult and an expensive process:

  • Laptop motherboard’s do not follow a uniform form factor.
  • Laptop motherboards cannot be bought off the shelf. Therefore, availability is a huge issue
  • All the core components are soldered, therefore along with the motherboard, you have to pay for the newer CPU and GPU as well.
  • Finding the right motherboard is a highly time consuming process.

Also Read:

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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