When it comes time to repair your laptop—whether you’re simply tossing in a new battery or replacing the entire keyboard—it’s very important you know exactly what model you have, so you can buy the right parts.
After all, this year’s Dell XPS 13 is a little different than last year’s Dell XPS 13, which is really different from the Dell XPS 15, which really, really shouldn’t be confused with the Dell Inspiron 13. If you try to put a component from one of these laptops into the other, you’re going to have a bad time. So you need to look up exactly which device you own.
Check the Bottom of Your Laptop
You might feel a little silly reading this, but there’s a good chance your laptop’s model number is sitting in your lap already—literally, written on the bottom of your laptop. Go ahead, flip it over and check. We’ll wait.
Sometimes this is etched directly on the chassis itself, while other times it may be on a sticker of some sort. Given that stickers wear out and peel off, it’s a good idea to snap a picture or write it down, then search for parts with that model number. Ideally, it’ll be a longer model number than the laptop is colloquially known by, i.e. Lenovo Yoga 920-13IKB rather than just “Lenovo Yoga.” That “920-13IKB” denotes which specific model from which specific year you have, and is important for determining part compatibility.
Run a Product Checker
If you aren’t able to find the model number on the laptop itself (or if it’s been scratched off from years of use), your manufacturer may offer a downloadable tool that will check your hardware and spit out a model number for you. Head to the manufacturer’s website—e.g. Dell, Lenovo, or HP—and click on the Support tab. Somewhere on that page, you should find an option to detect your hardware. Download the program, run it, and you’ll be off to the races.
If you’re on a Mac, you don’t need to download anything—just click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen, choose “About This Mac,” and you’ll see the name and year right there (e.g. “MacBook Pro Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015”) which is more than suitable for most situations. On rare occasions, you may need the model identifier from the System Information app (e.g. MacBookPro11,4) or the part number from the bottom of your device (e.g. MJLQ2LL/A).
Check Your Specs While You’re At It
While you’re looking up info about your laptop, it may help to know what configuration you have, too. For example, you and I could both own the HP EliteBook 840 G6, but one of us could have an i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, while the other has an i7 processor with 8GB of RAM. You won’t always need to know this for a repair, but it can be helpful for certain tasks. If you’re upgrading your RAM, for example, you’ll want to know how much you currently have so you know how much to buy.
You can see your computer’s basic specs by opening the Start menu and searching for “About Your PC.” Under Device Specifications on that page, you’ll see the processor and RAM you have installed, and you can see your hard drive’s capacity in Windows Explorer under This PC. Mac users can view this info at the “About This Mac” window described above.
If you need more detailed specs, a free app called Speccy can list a whole lot of stuff in one place, including you operating system, CPU, RAM, motherboard, graphics card, hard drives, disc drives, audio chipset, and a lot more. If Windows isn’t giving you what you need, Speccy almost certainly will.