Mar 27

G4 ibook motherboard fault.

There is a problem with the logic board in the Macintosh G4 ibooks. It can appear after a year or more in some machines and the symptom is that after being on for a few minutes, the screen goes black (it looks blank, but the light has gone off) , the fan turns on, and the computer freezes. You might think it is a problem with the display but it’s actually a problem with one of the chips on the main motherboard. This article describes the problem and how to repair it.


What models are affected?

I conducted a survey (thanks to over 300 readers who participated!) to see which model g4 ibook had the problem.  The results are here and it appears that every  iBook model can develop the blank display problem.

Thankfully the Aluminium power books don’t have the problem. In fact the powerbooks from this era are a great design, the 15 inch Aluminium G4 powerbook is one of my all time favourite macs – I still have one.

The original 2003 ibook G4’s (800/933/1Ghz) have the fault.

The “Early 2004” (1Ghz) models up until Oct 2004 have the same motherboard.

The 60G (1.2Ghz) “Early 2004” model and all the “Late 2004” model ibooks (1.2Ghz/1.33Ghz) and Mid 2005 (1.33 and 1.42Ghz) have  different logic board (built in airport extreme)-  but they still have the fault – even models with the new logic boards are affected!

What is the fault?

One of the chips heats up and cools down each time the computer is turned on and off, so that eventually a small stress crack appears on one of the pins. When the computer heats up and parts expand, the crack opens up and the power does not get through. This means the display goes blank and the computer freezes. If you press the plastic case of the ibook in just the right place, it can put enough pressure on the chip so that the pin makes contact and the computer will power up again. In fact, here’s a crude DIY repair method involving a shim where you open the laptop and put a piece of rubber on top of the chip to press it down:  http://coreyarnold.org/ibook/?p=20

 

 

Here is another DIY solution is that involves clamping a g-clamp onto your iBook – I would not recommend this one it will place all sorts of physical stresses on the iBook internals!

http://johnbakersblog.co.uk/design-fault-in-apples-ibook-g4/

 

 

Here is a photo of the fault developing. (from here: ENGF959-orig). You can see the thin black line running below the lead which is a crack in the solder.

Picture 1.jpg
I rang Apple and they don’t acknowledge that the problem exists. They have officially ‘never heard of it’.

The repair!

You need a fine tipped soldering iron to heat up the top few pins of the chip one by one and resolder them to the logic board. Press the chip down while you apply a very clean and fine soldering iron tip to each pin.

Don’t attempt this one unless you have had some soldering experience – or you are ready to say goodbye to your G4 ibook if something goes wrong!
Here are some pictures:

Computer with bottom case off

The G4 ibook with the bottom case off. The offending chip is circled.

ibook with bottom case off

Closeup of chip

Here is a closeup of where I have soldered the legs of the chip. You can see the base of the top pins are shinier and a little fatter from the new soldering. I soldered the top 3 or 4 pins on each side, but it’s only the top 2 pins that the fault occurs with as they are the main power pins. I applied a little more solder to the joint as well, that’s why it looks a bit lumpy.

TYou don’t need to apply any new solder to the chip. Just apple some solder to your soldering iron to clean it. Then wipe the iron clean on a rag. Then gently touch the iron to the legs of the chip for about 3 seconds each leg to melt the solder down onto the joints again.

Here is a close-up of the chip you are soldering.  Solder the end with the little circle on it. Solder the top 2 legs on each side.

 

 

STOPPING THE FAULT FRM OCCURRING

As pointed out in the discussions below, once your ibook is fixed,  or if your G4 iBook has not yet developed the fault, you might want to take out $10 worth of insurance by buying this little app.

It turns your fans on earlier and lowers the internal temp of you ibook. You can set the temperature lower so that your fan turns on a little sooner to keep the iBook cooler.

If you repair your iBook be sure go make a post below. So far there have been lots of successes and no failures at all!

153 Responses to “How to fix a broken G4 iBook logic board problem”

  1. paul says:

    My ibook is the late 2004 model… no apparent problems.

    Am I safe?

  2. Wayne says:

    Looks like no-one is safe!

  3. gonzalo says:

    hi ,. my ibook has the same problem but i think the model of the motherboard is not the same like hte picture you put .

    i have the ibook g4 1.33 with combo drive ,…. i not have the airport on the same place of memory slots.

    can you help me telling me the airport chip model name ?

    thanks ,.

  4. Manuela Tschuemperlin says:

    Hey!
    I have an iBook G4 1.42Ghz (2005). I have to say I have exactly that problem. I pushed down the left side besides the trackpad with my hand and it turned on. Before I couldnt, and I always had the grey screen with the Kernel Panic message on it.. So I guess not only early iBooks have that problem.. so nobody who has an iBook is safe.. sorry to say that guys but it just happened to me…

  5. Will says:

    I got my 14″ G4 ibook 1.07 ghz on ebay. Quite soon after I got it the ibook started to freeze with coloured horizonal lines slowly taking over the screen. This began to happen sooner and sooner after starting up the ibook. If I clamped it to the left of the trackpad it ran ok.
    This article gave me courage so I removed the bottom case and heat shield (following the brilliant ifixit.com instructions) and found a couple of rubber pads on the graphic chip (clearly, it had had the easy repair already).
    I have unsteady hands but fools rush in so they say, so I bought a 25w Antex soldering iron and a 2.5mm tip. I primed the tip with a spot of solder to get some flux on it and held the tip against the legs of the chip for 2 and a bit secs, attacking only the top3 on each side. The soldering iron did about 2 at a time as they are tiny.
    The ibook has run perfectly all day, playing movies etc. I’ll keep you posted.
    Thanks for everything.

  6. wayne says:

    You’re a legend Will, good on you! Yes, be sure to keep us updated on how it goes. Mine is still alive and kicking 2 months on.
    Wayne

  7. Dan D says:

    I have one from work apple diagnosed with “Faulty board” Same deal. Push to the Left of the track pad she fires up. Its a 1.33 ghz w airport card and combo drive i think. Not sure of the year. I am going to pull the case off tonight and see if I can see a bad solder joint at the places you mentioned on that IC. If I see some I will hit it with a soldering iron and I will let you know how it goes.

  8. wayne says:

    If you are soldering it, you don’t really need to apply solder to the joint. Like Will said, you just put some solder on the iron to clean it, but even then, make sure you blow or shake off the excess. The worst thing is if you actually apply some solder to the chip, and the two leads short out. This happened to me and it was quite hard to get it out again.

  9. claudio says:

    I have had a iBOOK G4 for 4 years and for the last couple of days it has been freezing 5 mins into starting up,i dont get a black screen but i cant move the mouse and if i am playing music that will also freeze on the same point,what do you thing the problem is? my iBOOK will always start up but sometimes i can see the apple symbol but will then not load my desktop,if i leave it over night the problem seems to go away,but again 5-10 minutes in and it stops working,is the problem related to the chip spoken off already,i need some help.Thanx

  10. DanD says:

    I meant to get back to you guys but forgot the url. Bookmarked now. I let my iron get uber hot and just lightly tinned the tip and applied to iron for about 10 seconds if that long to the two pins you identified. I am happy to say its running nicely daily since and I just put osx10.5 on it. Apple wanted 800 for a new logic board installed. Thanks much for your help the only thing I would suggest is linking to the ifixit chassis removal page for removing the chassis. http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac/iBook-G4-14-Inch/Lower-Case/84/5/

    I gotta say it was a great help too i think its awesome they put manauls accesable like that.

    PS apple are a bunch of nasty names and they should pay for these motherboard replacements for their crap engineering or bad QA on the solder joints.

  11. art says:

    to those who have a 1.33ghz or 1.42ghz ibook g4:

    Your problems may not be related to the graphics card. A number of users seem to be having problems related to the AirPort Extreme module that will either boot the laptop into Open Firmware and stop it from booting into osx with the blinking system folder error, or will kernel panic.

    Take it apart and try removing the AirPort Extreme module (it’s a small grey coloured thing held in by 3 screws and has two wires going to it. just left of where the Radeon chip is, at the bottom end of the heatsink) and see if it starts.

  12. HUMAYU says:

    THIS PERSONS A GENIUS, YES THE PROBLEM EXISTED AND IS NOW RESOLVED. LOCAL APPLE DEALER WANTED 100 POUNDS TO DIAGNOSE PROBLEM, AND POSSIBLY MORE FOR A HARDWARE REPAIR. AT LEAST THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE IN THIS WOLD WHO ARE GENUINE! CANT THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR THIS WEBSITE!!!!

  13. Many thanks for this fix. Despite the precedent set in Denmark http://mediamac.comon.dk/index.php/news/show/id=17805, Apple Customer Relations will not admit to this basic design fault and offer no support other than the fully unacceptable cost of a logic board replacement as an out of warranty repair. Had it not been for this forum I would probably have had to buy what is now, for me, another suspect Apple laptop product. As it is the machine now works perfectly – indeed the wake up from sleep function now works which it had not done since the warrantied logic board replacement 2 years ago.
    Thanks again.

  14. I have a M9165LL/A which behaves somewhat similarly. From a cool state, it boots and operates normally, but freezes very roughly 10 minutes later (except as described below). Then the only option is to hold the power button to turn it off. But there’s no display malfunction – although static, the display appears normal. I notice that the fan runs very briefly when a boot is initiated, but otherwise it doesn’t seem to run, even though it’s hot in my lab, and the processor heat sink and heat pipe get hot. That seems odd to me – if the fan’s functional as indicated by a power up exercise, it seems to me like it should operate later. For all I know it’s directed to turn on, and something about that event causes the system to freeze. Or perhaps some malfunction prevents it from operating (even though the fan is clearly good), and the system freezes because the processor exceeds an internal temperature limit. But I’m just speculating…

    The IC described on this page doesn’t seem to be at fault in my case. I gently pried each of the four legs on the right side (toward the optical drive) with a sewing needle, which in my experience illustrates whether a surface mount IC solder bond is secure (the leg will rise a little if the bond is faulty), and they all seemed sound. However, I resoldered the two right side legs on both sides of the IC anyway to be sure (and forestall a future problem). But the system’s symptoms remain as before.

    That particular IC seems distant from the display, but I take your word that it’s related to display functionality. But I don’t observe any display anomalies, so the combined evidence seems to indicate that in my case some other presumably temperature related intermittent flaw is involved. But it’s sure not clear to me what it could be.

    When I initially started troubleshooting, I had no idea that there was a pervasive iBook problem, so I did the usual things to try to narrow the search down, including running memtest in single user mode. Under that test, the system never froze – it ran for about fours, glitch free, at which point I concluded that the ram was good and shut the system down in the normal manner. I also tried reinstalling OS 10.5 many times, normally with line power of course, but the system froze about 10 minutes into each installation – except when I did so with the power line disconnected, running from just the battery, and allowed the screen to go dark for energy conservation. But when I moved the mouse to activate the screen to check progress, the system immediately froze. As before, I don’t think the fan ever ran (though I’m not certain whether it did in either case, and especially during the memtest run – I wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the fan then).

    I suppose all this may point to temperature rise related events – maybe memtest doesn’t exercise the processor or display drivers except trivially, and battery only operation energy conservation functions reduce the temperature rise too – I don’t know.

    Sorry to babble. Bottom line (so far): Does anyone know of any other component bonds (or components themselves) that commonly fail, or have any other clues to suggest? And does Apple still provide any relief for this problem – is a board swap or some other free or low cost repair available from Apple at this time?

    Thanks tons for this page and the fault description – even though I’m still fighting the battle, this page has helped enormously!

    Regards, Bruce
    PostiBkR@AirplaneHome.com

  15. Steve says:

    Hi Folks…

    I have an 1,33 12″ iBook G4 (Mid 2005) which was produced in April 2006…

    So do you guys think my iBook could be affected?

    Greetings from Switzerland, Steve

  16. wayne says:

    Well Steve, if it’s working it’s not, at the moment! If it’s not working then it probably is! So keep using it and hope for the best!

    Wayne

  17. sam says:

    I have a 2004 Ibook 1.33 which had a new motherboard under warrantee. A year later, after Applecare expired, the book would not start and has sat around on a shelf for the last year. I just followed Corey Arnold’s advice above. I used a sandwich of adhesive putty and fine cut cable ties to compress the chip. I am staggered that it works and it was so easy to fix. I have had 24 hours trouble free use now !! Shame on Apple for denying they have a problem ! I’m back into PC’s now because of it !

  18. mike says:

    hi …
    i have a 2004 ibook g4 (800mhz)..it wont boot….i get a black screen after the chime just when i press the power button…. and NO fan sound
    sometimes it starts when i press de touchpad …….

    my symptoms are diffrent than the ones described on the article but it sounds like the same problem for me!
    im i right?? will this fix work for me???

  19. admin says:

    Well you could take it to an Apple Centre and see what they say. Or you could take the back of, and press down the chips with your fingers and see if it works. Does the machine work if you clamp it together just to the left of the trackpad?

  20. mike says:

    at the apple centre they told me the ibook is dead and is out of warranty….

    it works if i press it near the touch pad…buy it freezes if i stop pressing the ibook

    but im getting a start chime and no fan sound at all..and a black screen….
    the symptoms described on the article are black srcreen and a fan sound

    for me is the same problem than the article one but i just want to make shure it is…..

  21. admin says:

    >it works if i press it near the touch pad…buy it freezes if i stop pressing the ibook

    That sounds like it to me! Your options are to stick something in there to hold the chip down, or try to solder it. But be warned – it may make things worse if you mess up!

  22. MONICA says:

    Hi, it all makes sense now – I have an I-MAC G5 that I bought 3years ago and it has the same problems, freezes, kernel message appears, black screen and sleep button didn’t work for ages…
    Apple shop will charge me £400 for replacing the motherboard!
    My advise is, try to get it fixed elsewhere… shame I didn’t know about the forum before…!

  23. ALBERTO says:

    My Ibook G4 has the same problem. Tried to solder like you mention over here,started it up and some light came up of the screen.
    But nothing else.
    So I started all over again , but now nothing happends anymore.

    If I place my finger on the chip it feels VERY HOT.
    So I shut it down before anything got damage. (or am I to late?)

    Can you tell meif he chip becoming hot as to do whit the fact that the soldering is not good, or does it mean that I did fried it up?

  24. Al says:

    Agreed, this man is twice the genius than any schmuck you’ll find at an Apple bar.

  25. alvaro says:

    Hi there, thanks to your post I think i’ve saved 700 bucks. My sister’s ibook went flashing a week ago. I decided to send it to Apple Autorized Service but they told me it was the Logic Board ! I read this article and dowloaded a pdf from ifixit and insert two layers of 3M doble sided tape. I discovered also that the aluminium cast internal frame was broken near the battery compartment.
    Here you can see the chip.
    And the broken frame.
    Now the ibook is working fine, hope it will last :]
    Thanks.

  26. JayLovesiBook says:

    Had identical problems with my iBook G4 1.07 Ghz. After lots of despair and many many late nights of troubleshooting/online searching, I found people with a problem like mine.

    Tried pressing and padding, they didn’t work on my machine. Tried an impatient solder job…and I messed it up. I shorted the chip out and wrecked it.

    Luckily, it is a standard chip. I ordered a new one from some company online, plus this time I got the proper soldering equipment. Cost me about 30 bucks altogether.

    Soldered the new chip on. She’s been working fine for a year now.

    Took a video of it, but its pretty crappy so I’ll spare you.

    But just remember: IT CAN BE DONE!

  27. JayLovesiBook says:

    ADD TO ABOVE POST: My aluminum frame was also cracked near the battery compartment. (In its lifetime it had taken several drops onto the concrete).

  28. Michael says:

    Hi there, with your HowTo, i was able to repair my beloved iBook. The complete repair (including the “surgery”) took about 90 minutes, i was VERY carefull and i think you can manage to repair the book within 30 minutes as well.
    anyway. my baby is running perfect since, and i’m a happy man.

    THANK YOU GUYS !!!! SO MUCH !!!

  29. HagenFL says:

    Hi everyone. I did it four times (four different iBooks) right now – but it helped only once… Poor thing!
    But I got a question to “JayLovesiBook”: where did you bought this “standard chip”? I tried google over and over to find someone who sells ati bga/ic or whatever you like to name it. Found nothing. So could you please post the name of the reseller or just the search-string for google. I even don’t know what to look for. I made a short-circuit to my chip.
    Thanks…

  30. JonS says:

    I’ve had my Ibook G4 (late 2004 1.2Ghz) repaired three times by apple with this problem. This last time they refused to fix it because the laptop was out of warranty and the prior repair was four days beyond its 90-day warranty. The store person told me Apple was repairing them with defective motherboards and that the fix would not last. I will try this one. Thanks!!

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