How to Repair and Upgrade HP Pavilion Computers

by Contributor

HP Pavilion desktop computers have many built-in conveniences that make them simple to use. However, HP Pavilion parts break and become obsolete just as much as the parts of other computers. It's important to understand the idiosyncracies of the HP Pavilion when repairing or upgrading these components. In some cases, the parts may be proprietary, which means that they can only be replaced with an HP part. In other cases, you may be able to use any computer part to repair or upgrade your HP Pavilion desktop computer.

Find the user manual for your model of HP Pavilion desktop computer or download it from the HP website. Also find your computer's specifications. Detach the power cable from the back of your computer. Turn off the computer and all peripheral devices. Remove the cables from the back. Take the computer to a clean work surface over an uncarpeted floor.

Unscrew the thumb screws in the back of the computer. Depending on which HP Pavilion model you have, these may be either on the left or right. Unscrew the screws on the other side of the computer using a screwdriver. Remove both side panels from the computer.

Look inside the computer or user manual for specific instructions on how to remove the front panel of your HP Pavilion desktop computer. In most cases, there will be tabs which you must push to detach the panel. Remove the front panel completely from the computer and set it aside.

Check the computer to see how many expansion slots and bays it has. Common types of expansion slots include Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) and Advanced Graphics Port (AGP.) PCI is used for many different upgrade cards, but AGP is for graphics cards only. A newer HP Pavilion may have a PCI-Express port. You cannot put a PCI upgrade card in a PCI-Express slot or vice versa.

Remove the old drives and cards you intend to replace or upgrade by unscrewing them from the drive cage. In most cases, your best option is to remove the drive through the front of the HP Pavilion desktop computer. However, you may have to remove some drives through the back of the drive cage. Place the drives and cards on a non-conducting surface or store them in an anti-static bag.

Check the system requirements for the desired computer upgrades against your system specifications before making your purchase. HP Pavilion desktops can take most standard upgrade cards and hard drives. However, upgrading and replacing CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives often poses a problem due to the drive opening mechanism on the front panel. Make sure that the buttons of the drives you intend to install line up with this mechanism properly. You must either purchase the new CD or DVD drive directly from HP or cannibalize a drive from another HP Pavilion computer.

Install CD and DVD drives and front-facing mechanisms in the 5 1/4 inch bays. Install hard drives and floppy drives in a 3 1/2 inch bay. Attach a power cable and an IDE cable to the back of each IDE drive. You may need special equipment to install other types of drives, such as SATA. Remove the screws and the plates from the expansion slots you intend to use. Install your upgrade cards in the available slots and replace the screws.

Upgrade RAM according to HP's specific recommendations for your model of HP Pavilion. Make sure you get the exact type of RAM, with the exact number of pins and speed that your model requires. Some HP Pavilion desktops require that you install the RAM module in a specific slot or slots if you will not be using all the slots. Look at your user manual to find out which ones to use.


  • check Don't bother trying to repair broken components. Always repair your HP Pavilion computer by replacing the broken component entirely. If necessary, you can save money by purchasing a used part or by cannibalizing a part from another computer.
  • check Make sure your power supply can handle all the upgrades you're installing. If it can't, replace it. You may need to order the power supply directly from HP.


  • close Always touch an unpainted part of the internal computer chassis before working on your computer.
  • close Never attempt to open or repair a computer power supply.

Items you will need