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:



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!



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.




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. Hunter says:

    I use g4fancontrol. It is free and works great after finding the right code in terminal to use. “” is the site.

  2. Lorraine says:

    a good few years ago I purchased an ibook g4, 14″ (I think. It was the larger). It was a great laptop. Then one day some water from a spilled glass fell near the power inlet. A slight fizzle occurred. I turned it on it’s side and attended to the damage. Needless to say the power cord (and two other power cords) does not boot the machine. However, the laptop was still perfect and ran on the battery (charged by a secondary laptop). It has sat idle for a few years. I am wondering if it is possible to repair the machine where it can use the power cord again? Opened the machine and there doesn’t appear to be any damage. No burn marks. Could it be a simple fix?

    • jim says:

      there is no simple fixes on an ibook…..but if you have the time and the patience, you can fix it. you will likely need to buy an new input plug and the wire that goes from it to the motherboard …. or i saw a video of a guy that just solders on a new plug onto the existing mini circuit board and wire and that worked, too. or does one of your chargers have the tip missing off the headphone style plug in the middle? They come off a lot and it happens when you are unplugging your power charger and the tip stays stuck inside the power input (female) receiver. it stays stuck in your laptop and does not allow your computer to charge. Many iBook/Powerbook owners have lost their minds and their ability to charge their mac’s after viciously digging out that little tip, lol. The smart owners sent their computers back to apple to fix this ….. but there is great trick to remove it yourself . You gotta get a magnifying gl;as, a flashlight or some kind of lightsource and a pin or some kind of pokey stick and get that tip aligned inside so it is sitting the way it would be if had not come free from the charger and was still attached. the small pin that fits into the rest of the headphone plug should be facing outward. then you will need the inside of a Bic Pen ( the ink tube) and Super Glue ( don’t stick your fingers together ). the tip will fit perfectly snug into the end of the ink tube …. just put a drop of Krazy Glue on the end of the ink tube and press it firmly into your laptop and onto the stranded charger tip. Leave for 5 or 10 minutes to dry and then firmly yank that nasty little pain in the butt out of your Mac.

      It will now charge once again, if you have another charger that has not lost it’s tip.

      Best of Luck!

  3. This problem or similar does manifest on the uni body power books. …

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