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!

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

  1. John H says:

    Thanks for this excellent guide. A friend gave me a broken G4 and using this tutorial I was able to fix it. Thanks again.

  2. bala says:

    Thanks for this guide! The G4 is working again!

  3. Thanks! I actually managed to fix my G4 it with this guide! Brilliant post! :-)

  4. Howard W. says:

    Got a G4 out of a free box at a sale cause it didnt work. This was the fix. Thanks for the free laptop man..GREAT JOB

  5. Alguien says:

    Hi,
    Do you know how to fix my problem? i ll explain you:

    i bought a ibook g3 384ram 700mhz and it had the thing of the display problem, i solved this problem and the ibook was “ok” in like 2 weeks, so i was copyng some songs from my usb to the computer, and then it just stays stuck copyng, and i fored it turned off.

    Then just stays on the mac logo and 1 week later just dont turn on, nothing, not fan sound, nothing, do you have any solution of this? i appretiate this, i just need to repair it to give to my little cousin for a gift…

    thank you for your atention :)

  6. jbl says:

    This chip repair went much quicker and more easily than I expected and gave my daughter’s G4 laptop a new life. Total investment was about $8 for a fine tipped soldering iron at Radio Shack. Thanks for the great documentation and advice.

  7. David W says:

    Do you know which chip it is that i need to solder for the iBook G4 14″ 1.42 Ghz logic board?? or how do i go about working it out?

  8. BHW says:

    I think I killed it… It was a freebie but still a shame. Now: the startup sound plays, the Apple screen displays but remains on the mini-spinning spoke-wheel anim as if it can’t find…something. The hard drive? Any clues?
    Cheers.

  9. BHW says:

    And… we’re back live…
    I inserted the system restore/os cd and then it started working again. On removal of the CD it now turns on (and off) and boots-up as normal. Good news. What just happened??
    Cheers.

  10. Bill says:

    Nothing to it, the hardest part was taking the case apart but it’s not bad if you’ve ever messed around with this stuff before.. patience, patience, oh, and I used a jewelers loop eyepiece to see with.

  11. Rob says:

    Thank you!!! My old iBook G4 has been on a side of my desk for 8 months. This morning I decided to fix it up and I found this guide. Now, by pressing the back in the middle, it starts up again!
    I need some tools and all it’ll be fine … I guess.

  12. Hexdiy says:

    Great research, superb tutorial, Wayne, thank you so much! Should have written so when I did a repair thanks to it, but I let this slip…
    Similar syndrome came up on a local Apple forum ( Intermactivity.be), So I looked the bookmark over before posting a link. Pity you do not write in Dutch as well!
    As to the fix: with my machine the issue came back, so I have to perform the same trick. I only resoldered 2 pins at the time & with ROHs compliant solder, so either I performed poorly or the stresspoint on those pins is a very severe one. Moreover I do not dare to apply better fluxing PbSn solder to what seems to be a ROHs compliant motherboard, although I hear & read opposing comments on this.
    Once broadcasted on the forum, I”ll keep you posted if more of these cases are (still) being overhauled thanks to your instructions!
    I think I already have at least 3 cases tracked down already.

  13. Als says:

    Have a MacBook A1211 with a similar problem. Runs fine when just closed and reopened for use. But reboot is another issue. The case needs to be twisted/flexed to allow the PS to work properly, or I get full fan, no displ.
    Must flex during initial boot call of pwr sw or within 1sec to work. Getting harder to accomplish. Looking into the cold solder joint of the chip. Lest you have another experience.

  14. Phillip Minor says:

    My 2004 ibook screen freezes but does not go blank. It does this after about 5 minutes. Would this be the same chip? I have tried several times with a soldiering iron. Still happens…

  15. Ewan says:

    I took my laptop apart today to attempt this. With the bottom plate off, but not the heat shield, I attempted to start the computer to see if the repair had worked. I saw a spark shoot from the aluminum frame to the heat shield. Now the AC adapter no longer glows and the computer isn’t responding. What have I done and can it be fixed?

    Thanks to all in advance.

  16. Dharma says:

    I dismatle my whole g4 for no reason while is was apart it was still able to power up, I press on the chip restart it it came right on….thanks a mill bud you rock

  17. Kevin says:

    I had an professional look at the repair and solder the pins that needed doing, It worked for around 40minutes, So it must still either be shorting out or the chip is no good, I am thinking about getting the whole chip replaced, Can you inform me where I could get the chip from! Thank You!

  18. marc says:

    here’s a tutorial to overcome the hardest part. opening the lower case

    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-iBook-G4-14-Inch-933-MHz-1-33-GHz-DC-In-Board/182/1#s639

    now that I have it opened I can’t SEE any fault on the chip, so I’ll just get a small soldering iron and heat things up. and hoping I’m guessing right it’s the chip under the DC cable.

  19. marc says:

    I guessed right :) ibook is running again! as for the solder: bought a 15 watts solder with the smallest tip available (had to buy a replacement tip because the solder came with the next bigger one). be sure to also get some solder grease! and in case you never soldered sth, try it out with some cables and stuff ;) good luck!

  20. Francesco says:

    Hello this is a fine tute,
    My ibook began to stop charging a few weeks back, at first I thought it was the battery, so brought a new one, this was fully charged when recieved and the ibook came to life, worked fine, but upon discharge I couldn’t charge it back up.
    Tested with the power cord alone, didn’t switch on, which it should as I have done so in the past, brought a new charger, still nothing, didn’t charge the new battery. The light of the charger comes on as green when the battery is in and orange when battery is out.

    Changed DC inboard, same issue, charger green when battery is in orange when out and not switching on.
    Could it be the battery connector? I don’t think its logic board as the computer functioned with the fully charged battery or am I wrong?
    If it is the logic board, which components control the power management?

    Any pointers would be helpful

  21. cheryl says:

    I am not an experienced solderer and I am now working on the ibook I fixed! very good instructions-the hard part is seeing what you are doing-you just have to be as accurate as possible and have faith!

  22. Tom P says:

    Amazing!

    I chose the soldering route. One thing I did was to sharpen up my soldering iron tip to get a very fine point, let it get super hot add the smallest bit of solder then a steady hand, plenty light and magnifying glass. It was a tense moment when switching it on again but it worked!

    I can’t thank you enough

  23. Tim says:

    Well, it proved the fault, but didn’t boot next time I tried, so I did the solder with a normal soldering iron lightly tinned on one corner, holding the solder there as the iron got hot and puling it off as soon as any got on the iron. held it to the legs for about 5 secs, then cleaned off any residual on the chiplegs with a fine needle and magnifying glass to ensure no short between those first two pins. Perfect, works fine..8)

  24. Henry says:

    For this kind of soldering you don’t need to add tin, but rather use a small amount of soldering flux (liquid, gel, or no-clean flux), since the main problem when re-soldering an SMD component is the oxidizing of the non-leaded tin due to the high temperature of the solder tip. The soldering flux prevents such oxidization, thus avoiding the need for adding new tin (also avoiding the risk of short circuits between the ic legs).

  25. Troy says:

    I only have a high heat soldering iron so decided not to risk it. Rather, i rolled some pieces of electrical tape, made a sticky little pad that creates pressure inside the case and taped it to the chip. i then shut the case and it worked. been working for some time without any problems.

  26. Eric says:

    Awesome!

    Thank you for sharing on how to fix broken G4 iBook logic board.. really helpful..

  27. Ember says:

    on test for a few hours now and all working! YAY!

  28. Onno says:

    Brilliant!!!

  29. bill says:

    I used the electrical tape trick and it is now working after setting under the bed for two years, now I have a great
    garage computer. thanks guys

  30. javier says:

    god bless people like you tankyou so much

  31. soullinker says:

    thanks for the guide :D
    really helped me a lot
    nice post dude :)

  32. Thanks!!!! it’s really usefull for me!

  33. jimmy jimz says:

    Thank you for sharing. This is very helpful :D

  34. this was great
    this help me so much
    big thanks

  35. bill says:

    i used a piece of plastic that broke off of the case and taped it to the chip, screwed the case down tight and it worked for a while, i think i will try the soldering next. How hot should i get the iron, it has adjustable controls.

    thanks

  36. julien says:

    thanks a lot ! i’ve just repaired an old 14″ powerbook thanks to
    you :) <3

  37. Trudi Gothe says:

    This may not be the best place to ask but, I have been looking for a place to bring my Mac for servicing. Has anyone ever heard of this mac repair service? They’re right in West Los Angeles, which is not too far from my home. It’s called – Mac Repair Los Angeles, 11322 Santa Monica Blvd, Ste B Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 966-9099.

  38. Emeo says:

    Yes, I just performed the soldering minutes ago and it WORKED on my iBook G4 11″ 1.3 ghz. A week ago I had black & white stripes all over the screen BUT now is fixed. : )

    However it is already my 2nd attempt. My 1st attempt was 2 years ago on my iBook G4 14″ 900mhz. I did tried to put extra solder on the pin and like people mentioned above, I messed up the pins.

    So my advice would be to first put flux on those pins that you are going to solder. Then NO NEED to put extra solder. Just press the solder tip onto the pins and let it melt the existing solder on the pins. If done successfully, the solder on the pins will become shinier.

    My equipment: Aoyou digital solder
    Temperature: 450 Degree

    Good luck!

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