March 8, 2016 · Hardware Laptop Repair Keyboard Portege Toshiba Z830

Keyboard repair of a Toshiba Portegé Z830

For years I've been using my reliable Toshiba Portegé Z830. In fact we have been companions for so long, it is difficult for me to find an adequate replacement. (See my posts about the Surface Book, if you'd like to know more)

Over the years this notebook has seen some stuff and experienced the odd bump, scratch and crack. But it never failed on me, apart from that one day when the motherboard died. But I still had guarantee on it, so everything was cool.

Deteriorating keys

Over the last few months, writing became more and more difficult on its keyboard. Keystrokes weren't recognized all the time and the keys themselves lost their bounciness. I knew the notebook is reaching the end of its lifespan slowly but surely.

Lost key on the Toshiba Portegé Z830

Last week it finally happened and I lot a key. In fact, the "R"-key. Who would have thought, this is going to be the first key to fail on me? I've always trusted you "R"!

At first I was able to clip it back in, but it start coming off more and more regular. I knew what I had to do.

Finding a replacement

To find the right replacement part is not that easy. Replacement keyboards don't grow on trees and you will always have to keep the layout in mind. In Germany it is quite rare to have a US-Layout keyboard, so they are not that simple to find.

Eventually I found mine at ime mobile solutions. Unfortunately for you, it was the last unit they had on the shelves. But at least the link will give you the correct vendor code for this replacement part, which you will still be able to get on ebay.

So let's have a look at the replacement process...

Step 1: Current state of the laptop

The keyboard is already falling apart Honestly, the case of my laptop is in a terrible state. The keyboard's coming off, the screen bezel has a crack, usb port housings are split, screws are missing, and don't get me started about scratches. It even has some craters in left part next to the touchpad, because something fell on it.
But you know what? I don't care. It's the inner values that count.

Step 2: Housing disassembly

First of all, we need to remove the bottom lid of the laptop. To do so, we need a small philips screw driver to unscrew all the screws but the middle one.
For this one you will need a Torx 7 head.
The screw is screwed The screw has got a little extra pole in it's center. So make sure you have one of those torx that cater for those with a little hole at their head.
When I opened my portege for the first time years ago, I didn't have this kind of screwdriver. So I took a drill and removed the center pole very carefully.

Once we removed the lid, we should be presented by this view:

As you can see, this is a machine that caters for maintainability. RAM, SSD and battery can be replaced by just removing the screws. Show me an Apple which can do that. Besides: This notebook is 1,1kg light. It is still one of the lightest in the marked. So don't believe all this nonsense about how they need to glue stuff in, to make their devices lighter.

Step 3: Getting access to the keyboard

Let's remove the battery next. You will see it screwed into place together with the loudspeakers that sit right at the bottom of the battery. You won't need to remove the loudspeakers, but you need to remove the screws, so you can lift the battery out.

The battery is of course connected to the mainboard. Take a flat screwdriver and wobble the plug carefully out of the socket.

Let's face it... when you keyboard has died, chances are high, you'll need a new battery as well

Actually why don't you consider replacing your battery at this point? It is probably near the end of it's lifespan as well. Just as food for thought.

Anyway, after removal we should be like:

The circle marks the spot

The red circle shows the two connectors that lead to the keyboard. The smaller one is for the background light, while the large black one is responsible for controlling the keyboard.

You will need to remove them carefully with a screw driver.

Disconnect the keyboard

Step 4: Remove the keyboard unit

Ok let's get dirty. Once you've disconnected the two cables, we're ready to remove the broken keyboard.
The keyboard consists of several layers and they are glued onto each other and the laptop case itself.
So take out a screwdriver, pocket knife or plastic bar and follow the gap between keyboard and case. Try to find a spot where you'll be able to unhinge it.
Kill it, carefully

Don't have any hopes in that old keyboard. It will quite surely break in the process of removal. But it won't matter. What did you have in mind to do with that old tacky beast?

Removing layer one

Probably the keys are the first thing that will come off, while the background light, will stay put. Still, it is essential to replace them as well. At this point enjoy how much dirt has collected between your keys, that gave you a wonderful crunchy noise day in, day out.

Removing layer two

Once we're done, the notebook will appear quite naked and look like this:
I feel so naked, when I'm not covered in dust

It's time to prepare for the replacement part

Step 5: Cleaning up

Removing remaining residue with a screwdriver

Now, we must get rid of the remaining residue that put the keyboard in place. Take a flat screwdriver for the big strips and then take alcohol or whatever you can find to clean the bezel thoroughly. We want it to be clean, free of grease and residue, because we want to apply new glue or adhesive strips.

Cleaning with alcohol

Step 6: Install new keyboard

Unfortunately, I don't have as many pictures from step as I would like. But I had to work quite quickly and so will you, once you applied the glue. So please take your time and see how the keyboard will fit, before you put glue on it.

My new keyboard didn't come with any kind of glue or adhesive strip. So I decided to use superglue. Apply a fine line onto the frame and put the keyboard carefully on top. Press it down for a a minute or so and voila, your new keyboard is installed... nearly.

The new keyboard in place

Turn the keyboard around and reconnect the black and brown plugs. The following picture shows where the brown cable is supposed to pop out.

Voilá! We're finished. It's time for a test drive.

Step 7: Have you tried turning it off and on again?

So, once the glue is dry we will give the old friend some power and turn it back on. As you can see in my picture I was welcomed by the bios and a keyboard with a working backlight.

Keystrokes were accepted... and girl, does this new keyboard feel good? I wasn't aware how different the notebook files like now. It feels like a new one. Incredible!

But before we will hit the crap out of those keys again. Let's put the laptop back together.

We turn it off, unplug and turn in around. Basically we just put it together the same way we disassembled it. Just in reverse. Attack the battery connector to the mainboard. Put the screws back and and close the lid.

It's easiest to close the lid, if you make sure the two audio jacks have found their place first. Otherwise it takes much more time to put it back on without squishing other sockets.
Make sure to connect the housing at the audio plugs first

Verdict

So yeah, replacing the keyboard is actually quite simple. And it brings all the change in the world. In fact I wasn't prepared how much the user experience improved after that fix. Now, the laptop feels like any other new device. So much, that I've delayed all plans of buying a new one. I saved 2900 € with a 70 € part. Smart deal, friend.

The old friend with new glory

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