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. 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!

  2. 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…!

  3. 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?

  4. Al says:

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

  5. 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 :]

  6. 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!

  7. 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).

  8. 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.


  9. 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.

  10. 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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