Trashed laptops: When bad things happen to (mostly) good PCs

We scoured the Web to find true tales of splintered, shattered, and smashed laptops.

  • Calling Al Capone

    "This was a dying laptop owned by my coworker, and he had a friend with a [[xref:|Vickers machine gun|Vickers machine gun]]. The next step was obvious," writes [[xref:|C. A. Bridges|C. A. Bridges] of Orange City, Florida. To witness the rat-a-tat carnage, check out this [[xref:|YouTube clip|hp laptop vs. vickers machine gun]]. Is machine gunfire covered under warranty?
  • Keyboard Optional

    [[xref:|Josh Hallett|Josh Hallett]] of Winter Haven, Florida, snapped a shot of this damaged HP demo unit at a nearby Wal-Mart. "That laptop with all the keys ripped off was quite a sight. There were actually a few of them with keys missing," Hallett writes. Maybe that's why HP is [[xref:|bullish on touchscreens|HP Puts Touchscreen PC in Play]].
  • Slate Smackdown

    [[xref:|Stephen Hackett|Stephen Hackett]] of Memphis, Tennessee, used to repair computers at an Apple service provider, and in that job he saw his fair share of damaged hardware. This shell-shocked laptop fell off a table and had a meet-and-greet with a slate floor. Ouch!
  • Abstract Art

    No, that's not a screen saver. "With a school full of kids and laptops, accidents are bound to happen," writes [[xref:|Arvind S. Grover|Arvind S. Grover]], director of technology at The Hewitt School in New York City. "This particular laptop was in a student’s bag and got crushed while left in a hallway. To the student’s horror, this is what she saw the next time she powered up the machine!"
  • Singed Silicon

    Portable by design, a laptop computer is a delicate, intricate machine that responds poorly to flames, freefalls, and blunt-force trauma (accidental or otherwise). And unlike a smartphone, which fits snugly in a pocket or pouch, a laptop is bulky and relatively awkward to carry. In short, it's a disaster waiting to happen.

    Warning: If you're offended by graphic images of singed silicon and eviscerated electronics, click away now! Brave souls, continue.

    And if you like seeing tech hardware put through changes, you might enjoy these other features from the archives of PCWorld.


    "[[xref:|Battered, Bashed and Beaten: Broken iPhones A-Go-Go|Battered, Bashed and Beaten: Broken iPhones A-Go-Go]]" [slideshow]

    "[[xref:|iPhone 3G Torture Tests|iPhone 3G Torture Tests]]" [video]

    "[[xref:|Digital Demolition: Hard Drive vs. Flame Thrower!|Digital Demolition: Hard Drive vs. Flame Thrower!]]" [video]


    "[[xref:|Steampunk Tech Mods: A 19th-Century Take on 21st-Century PCs and Gadgets|Steampunk Tech Mods: A 19th-Century Take on 21st-Century PCs and Gadgets]]" [slideshow]

    "[[xref:|10 Insane PC Case Mods|10 Insane PC Case Mods]]" [slideshow]

    "[[xref:|10 Seriously Ridiculous Hacks|10 Seriously Ridiculous Hacks]]" [slideshow]
  • Executive Privilege

    This Dell Latitude D500 didn't kowtow to the boss--and paid the ultimate price. The demolition job "was the work of an executive at our company who was angry that the computer was so slow. He angrily swept it off his desk and into the wall," writes [[xref:|Patrick Maloney|Patrick Maloney]] of Ventura, California. Two words: anger management.
  • Mystery Damage

    [[xref:|Vicky Sawyer|Vicky Sawyer]] of Blacksburg, Virginia, participates in a local computer literacy program, and she isn't quite sure how this Dell laptop cracked up. But she has weighed three possible scenarios: (1) a baby toy fell on it; (2) it was in a book bag that was thrown against a wall; (3) two kids were fighting over it, and it fell. "I don't believe #1 at all. I think #3 is most plausible," she writes.
  • Spontaneous Combustion

    Laptop [[xref:|battery pyrotechnics|Fire Hazard Prompts Gigantic Dell Laptop Battery Recall]] have always posed a hazard to the unfortunate few. [[xref:|Gino Zahnd|Gino Zahndl]] snapped this shot of a charred Dell laptop, which reportedly burst into flames in a Yahoo office building in Santa Clara, California. "It emptied the building, complete with fire alarm and all," Zahnd writes on his [[xref:|Flickr page|Gino Zahnd]].
  • That's What Friends Are For

    Okay, what happened here? "The story behind its destruction is my friend threw an N64 controller at me," writes [[xref:|Liam Higgins|Liam Higgins]] of Comox, British Columbia. The controller "flew right into the screen, cracking it. It was a fairly old laptop at the time with no data that I cared about, so I took the opportunity to smash it more and remove the keys for a photo shoot."
  • Special Delivery

    [[xref:|Andrew Tegala|Andrew Tegala]] of London, England, was working in technical support when this pulverized portable arrived. "I headed over to the reception area and saw a laptop back with a delivery address taped to the side," he writes. "I realised then that the laptop had been sent in just the bag, no packaging. As I picked up the case, I heard the rattle inside of small fragments (the LCD display was smashed)."
  • Beware the Bag

    When [[xref:|Marcus Sanford|Marcus Sanford]] of Austin, Texas, placed his HP laptop in a protective carrying bag on a bike rack, he assumed the PC was safe. Guess again. As Sanford chronicles in this [[xref:|blog post|Axiom Transition Computer Pannier – Laptop Damage Photos]], the laptop suffered significant damage when the bag "flew off the rack and hit the road." The screen cracks are certainly stylish, though.
  • Office Revenge

    "The laptop in question met its demise during a routine cull of office equipment," writes [[xref:|Henry Cooke|Henry Cooke]] of London, England. "This particular little beast had been the bane of our collective existence, however, so when its time came we used slightly more than the necessary amount of force in propelling it to the skip [or dumpster, for anyone not fluent in British English] four floors down." Tony Soprano would be proud.
  • Try the Dental Records

    This [[xref:|charred notebook|charred notebook]] couldn't be saved, although its owner miraculously managed to recover data from the hard drive, according to Tim Gee, a healthcare consultant in Portland, Oregon.
  • Some Assembly Required

    Notebook repairs aren't for the faint of heart. [[xref:|Joanne Owens|Joanne Owens]] reports that her husband bravely dismantled this laptop, which had stopped working after filling with dust during a home renovation project. "He took it apart in an attempt to fix it," Joanne writes. "Surprisingly, it did work afterwards!"
  • A Truly Green Laptop

    In nature, rebirth often follows destruction. [[xref:|Arvids Baranovs|Arvids Baranovs]] of Riga, Latvia, chose to repurpose his dying Windows notebook as a planter. "This was my first laptop I bought back in 2003, and it served me well through my university years," he writes. "As it reached its end of life, I switched to an Apple portable and decided to build a 'memorial' for the old one." It's hard to see, but Baranovs used the Windows key as a gravestone in the middle of his keyboard garden.
  • Oops! My Bad

    Technology drives us all a little batty. Just ask Philippines resident [[xref:|Arjay Arceo|Arjay Arceo]], who one day gave his Dell laptop screen a knuckle sandwich. "I got really mad, then punched it," Arceo writes. "I did spend a lot of money to replace it." Perhaps a stress ball next time?
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