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!

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

  1. Sancho says:

    Well, another success story. . .
    My iBook shut off two night ago. I was soooo pissed, dismayed, and hopeless until I happened to stumble upon this site when I google-searched “iBook g4 broken won’t start screen.”
    So, after reading through all of the posts I decided to give it a try. . . .
    First, I tested it to make sure that when I clamped just left of the touchpad it started up-which it did.
    I’m in Bangkok, so it’s hard for me to mail it to the US-based companies that fixed it. But fortunately, I found a friendly Thai computer expert who happened to have a soldering iron.
    I took the computer apart (which was not as easy or quick as I expected) and then showed him the chip location (which I found from the website) and his soldered it back in place.
    It’s worked all last night and this morning and I’m hopeful that it’ll keep on pluggin away.
    Thank you so much to whoever figured this out and posted it on the web. Can’t imagine how much money and hassle you saved all of us!!!

  2. Gordon says:

    Rob, like others have fixed their iBook by soldering the chip and wondered why it fails again. This chip runs too hot around the top end. It’s the chip expansion that breaks the solder at pins1 & 28. The only answer to that is a heatsink. I soldered the pins and check it works without having to press on the chip. I cut a square of heat resistant plastic with a hole cut out for the top of the chip. I then cut a 1mm thick aluminum strip to sit over the chip, running in the direction of the cable. You can work out the dimension by the measuring the space up to the larger components. I used heatsink paste on top of the chip and a strip of rubber on top of the cable so that the case keeps pressure on the heatsink. The plastic protects the components below from shorting out on the heatsink.

  3. jason keedy says:

    WOW! I was about get a new computer (after potentially spending $500 for a new motherboard). Thanks so much for the insight….I clamped down to the left of the mouse pad and voila!

    thank you thank you thank you!

  4. iBookist says:

    First, sorry about my english.

    I have two iBooks and I bought both as broken. One is 14′ 1.42 Ghz (2005) model and the second is 12′ 1.33GHz (2005 as well).

    I have managed to fix 1.42Ghz model by applying some layers of paper between the airport card and the metal clip that holds it in place. After that is has worked like charm.

    However, the 1.33Ghz model has probably more serious problems. I think it has fault on a chip on the board. It starts up normally but it is highly unstable, I have even managed to resintall OS X 10.4 on the machine and surf on the internet via Airport, but the machine suddenly give kernel panics and messes the whole disk system. Reinstallation does not always work, installer can hang on various steps. I also noticed, like another poster did, that the fan is not running even though the processor runs hot, when I reset PMU the fans spins at full speed like it’s supposed to, but it does not spin at all in normal use.

    I tried to run Ubuntu 9.04 PowerPC -edition as live-cd, but the OS hang and last message was complain something about GPU, radeonfb: invalid ROM contents or something.

    I guess the problem is in RAM, either the GPU’s or system, or the chip which control supply voltage for one or both RAM-types.

  5. Glyn says:

    INCREDIBLE!!!!!!
    My ibook G4 went down 2 months ago, with theses exact symptoms! I was using the computer when I had a strip of graphics running horizontally through the middle of the screen suddenly begin to fade and pixelate, followed by the black screen! I had to take the battery out to switch it off! I restarted it and it worked fine for about another 5 minutes when the whole of the screen began to pixelate and fade followed by a black screen! After removing the battery and restarting all I got was the fan switching on and each time had to remove the battery to switch off! I asked 3 independent comp technicians who each said it sounded like the logic board was stuffed! All apple retailers wanted $50 to do a diagnostic and I was reluctant to waste the money if indeed it was stuffed! I consequently bought a brand new apple a few weeks ago and last week decided to bite the bullet and pay for the diagnostic, so as not to throw away a possibly repairable laptop. The diagnostic came back as expected…a stuffed logic board and a cost to replace of $750. One good thing was that the technician told me of an option that he had tried of taking out the logic board and holding a heat gun over a specific chip as this chip was prone to having its solder joints cracking. (Apparently the heat gun must reform the solder joints but can bugger other electroncs up if not careful) He also told me to check online for ibook fixit sites! After reviewing this site and some of the messages left, I decided to try putting pressure on the computer either side of the trackpad, whilst switching it on!…..VOILA…. it worked!!!! As soon as I took the pressure off it suffered the same problem of graphics fade within a minute! I tried it again without pressure and sure enough just got the fan revving away ….. with the pressure it switches on no problem!! I will now look into the possible fixes mentioned on here and will most likely try to solder the suspect joints! But what I am angry about is that this seems to be a known problem, and if its known by the users, then its certainly known by apple, yet their answer was to offer me the choice of a $750 repair or their best advice of buying a new computer (which unfortunately I’d already suckered for).
    I’ll let you know how the fix goes!

  6. Col says:

    I tried the pressure pad thing first but it didnt work. I didnt want to over flex the motherboard so with a sharp tipped soldering iron and a magnifying glass I re-heated the pins on the chip…..seems to have done the trick as I am now posting this on my ibook G4 2004 model.

  7. john says:

    Well, my soldered-on AP extreme (iBookG4, last 12″ 1.33GHz model made)
    needs a press to operate – anyone know how to ID the APx chip (card?) or where it is? It’s definitely not under the kybd near the RAM. Thanks much…

  8. Andre says:

    Seems like I to have the issue with black screen. I did take my iBook G4 apart but at the time did not know about the crack on the mother board. I am going to try this fix. If it works I can only say thank U so much for the information.

  9. Phillip says:

    I have a iBook G4, I think it’s 10-12″ and I think the video card went out and the battery is drained. How much do you think it will cost to fix the video card and get a charger???

  10. Matthew says:

    My symptoms showed up when I swapped in a larger hard drive.
    After identifying the chip, I pulled out an old soldering iron and sharpened the tip needle sharp. I then heated each pin twice to reflow the solder.
    I’m a little shocked – haven’t done any soldering on electronics in years – but it was the problem and it was fixed by the resoldering.
    Thanks for the valuable information.

  11. Phil says:

    Hi,

    My brother gave me an old iBook G4, saying it had motherboard problems, but I am able to start it up in firewire target mode. Just now, I found your web site, and pressed down on the left side, and it started up! when I let go, it froze, and since then I am not able to do it again, on start up, I see the Apple, and the spinning disk, but then it freezes … I am going to read more and then see what I can do.

    thanks,

    Phil in Costa Rica

  12. robert says:

    My iBook G4 1.42Ghz running OS X 10.4.11 Tiger purchased new in August 2005 was fine up until May 2009, started experiencing problems with screen going black, battery not charging and frequent crashes. I replaced the Battery with a new one from Apple at a cost of $129 and got another 4 months out of the laptop before problems again resumed, frequent crashing and erratic battery charging. When system prefs was opened and looking at power management the sliders were moving back and forth as the screen would flutter and dim until finally crashing. Now after being pluged in to charger for over a week still no charge on the brand new battery, my iBook occasionally will start to boot up when pressing power but soon crash usually before the desktop screen becomes visible, guessing it’s starting up on just enough battery left but crashing because no actual charge on battery. I have read much about the logic board being the problem but I have a thought that it may be a problem with a battery management script enclosed within updates to the OS from Apple. I have seen aftermarket “external” battery chargers on eBay for the iBook battery and am confident that if I purchase one of these I could charge the battery so the laptop would at least turn on and be useable but still no idea why it wount charge past 50% before going dead and not recharging with original charger. Is Apple sneakily trying to “kill” off it’s older hardware in hopes of selling new? I really don’t know just that the way the iBook acts seems very odd and I’m trying to use some human logic in an attempt to diagnose and hopefully repair for continued use.

  13. Ger says:

    Brilliant, fixed my wife’s iBook G4 by re-soldering pins 1 and 28. I has used the shim solution for a while but it didn’t last. Fingers crossed for now.

    I have a second iBook G4 that freezes after 10 mins or so from cold. When I reboot a few times it doesn’t make it past the ‘blue screen’ freeze. Do you think the solution I tried on the other iBook would work on this or is it a differnt chip problem altogether.

    Thanks in advance for your response and thanks loads for taking the time to post this info which has helped so many, including me. :-)

  14. Frank says:

    Another successful rescue of an iBook G4. I had tried the spacer solution, but it worked erratically. After reading the stories above, I decided that all of the messing around with electronics I’d done as a teenager was enough soldering experience to give this fix a shot. I filed down a soldering tip to a narrow point, coated it with some solder, touched it to the #1 pin for no more than 2 seconds, and presto, a working iBook once again. Thanks to everyone here for sharing their experience.

  15. My trusty iBook G4 is under my fingers as I type this message. It serves me very well as my one and only traveling computer, which these days means it serves me over 95% of the time. It’s a terrific laptop. If…

    All of the following is just my personal opinion: I admire Apple, and own a bunch of Apple stock. But it is not a perfect company. And they demonstrated that with their remarkably crass and destruction decision to kill the installed base of iBook G4s, with conscious intent. A decision they continue to support. It was and is nothing less than a criminal act, I’m very sorry to say, and they’re rather lucky they haven’t had to pay too badly for it.

    iBook G4s die because Apple elected to kill them rather than allow their fans to make noise. They knew all the iBook G4s would succumb quite early in their lives due to very high internal temperatures. And those temperatures were quite literally trivially easy to manage properly. But they faced a problem: The fan is noisy. They didn’t want waves of fan noise complaints, or to be known as a company that made a laptop with a noisy fan. Maybe they wanted a longer battery life specification too, who knows.

    So they elected to set the internal temperatures so high that the fan would almost never run, even though they were well aware that all the iBook G4s would die early in their service lives because of that decision. And that’s what they did. It was a conscious decision. It cost many people the price of their iBook G4s. Any in many cases their data too, if they didn’t back up regularly. And they continue to support that decision today – the latest Mac OS still sets the iBook G4 internal temperature so high that the fan will almost never engage, so the laptop literally cooks itself to death.

    Sooooo. You can fix your iBook G4. But you must also purchase and install G4FanControl, by Andrea Fabrizi, at http://www.AndreaFabrizi.it. It’s about $8 last I looked. It’s trivial to install, and to use. Set your three internal temperatures to 40, 39, and 42 °C respectively. In my opinion. You can set them anywhere you want. You could even set them rather high to minimize your fan noise, as Apple did, in which case your repaired iBook G4 will die quickly again. I strongly recommend that you set them to 40, 39, and 42 °C respectively. As Apple should have (and still could, and absolutely should, with an absolutely trivial Mac OS 10 correction).

    You must also repair whatever internal hardware died due to the blast furnace temperatures Apple set for the iBook G4. Any of a number of things could have failed. But the power converter IC’s solder joints seem to generally succumb first, followed by ball grid array solder joints and the hard drive.

    If the hard drive is dead, it’s a goner, so replace it. Here’s a page which illustrates how to disassemble the iBook G4 so you can perform internal repairs. It focuses on hard drive replacement, but access to the hard drive will of course also provide access to circuit board components such as the especially vulnerable power converter IC: http://www.FAQintosh.com/risorse/en/guides/hw/ibook/g4hd/

    Even if the solder joints on the power converter IC aren’t dead yet, they are almost certainly compromised. So resolder them.

    I use the wonderful 331 type organic flux based solder for the re-soldering job, plus lots of extra organic flux brushed into the work. Then I thoroughly wash the circuit board when all my work is complete. The Kester 331 type organic flux is highly conductive and corrosive, and must be completely washed away. Fortunately, it’s also fully water soluble. And it’s the only flux that makes true precision soldering work possible.

    I scrap away all the solder mask from all the copper associated with pins 1, 2, 19, and 20, then add a lot of solder – as much as I can flow onto all the available copper – to create heat escape paths and heat dissipation surfaces. I also dress the overlying flat cable away from the IC, so it no longer thermally insulates it. And I add a strip of heavy copper foil to the top of the IC which overhangs substantially to the side opposite the battery, to provide another heat dissipation path.

    It takes surgical skill and devotion to do a thoroughly good job. (And that’s just not possible without organic flux, no matter how skilled and precise you are.) But the reward is a genuinely reliable repair.

    In my case, both of my two iBook G4’s needed the power converter resoldering job, the first, which is under my fingers now, because the joints had failed outright, and the second because they were in the process of failing. The first also required a hard drive replacement – it now sports a 160 GB drive from Applied Times (http://Times.Applied-net.jp/), a local consumer electronics store here in Miyazaki, Nihon.

    But the second iBook G4 has a more sinister problem, possibly a ball grid array solder joint failure under one of the large ICs. Possibly the G4 processor, or the big IC next to it (maybe the GPU, I don’t recall now). That iBook G4 remains disassembled, awaiting further attention back home in Oregon. Maybe I’ll ship the motherboard to Superior Reball and Rework which Simon described in his 6 March 2009 post above – that looks like a very good way to resolve the problem.

    But the first one, under my fingers now, running at 40, 39, and 42 °C respectively, has been rock solid – it runs like a champ, and I have full confidence in its reliability. The fan is noisy. But that doesn’t seem to bother me – I’ve just grown accustomed to it.

    When the iBook G4’s fan is run rationally, it’s a terrific system (but unusually difficult to open for service). But when its fan is run as the Mac OS instructs, it’s a very short lived toaster oven. Which is extremely wasteful. And stupid. And sad…

    If for whatever reason any of you prefer to sell your iBook G4 rather than repair it, I might be interested. Maybe… If so, please flag me at Bruce at my domain AirplaneHome.com.

    Regards, Bruce

  16. peter says:

    Quick way to do this job. I made a mess re-soldering the pins and started to mop it up using solder wick. After the mop up all pins were shiny and neatly resoldered on one side, so I flooded the pins on the other side and mopped that up as well. This method gives a good heating to all the pins to get rid of cracked solder joints and also provides a fresh thin layer of solder on top. Quick and works well, brought it back to life. Also you dont need a tiny tip, you can use a normal tip.

  17. Bill says:

    It works! Great fix. Saved a machine. If you aren’t equipped for and experienced in micro soldering, don’t try. As noted above, Instead use the shim method described in the ‘iBook G4 logic board fix at http://www.coryarnold.org/ibook

  18. James says:

    I had a 12″ iBook G4 from 2005, and I got the kernel panic because of the faulty airport/bluetooth module. I removed it, and now the machine is running fine (except for no airport). However, D-Link has drivers for their WUA-1340 USB Wireless adapter, so I have set up that machine to work with wireless internet again.

    I now am using a 14″ iBook G4 from 2004, and last night I got the OTHER problem! I’m going to try to solder the joints tonight, but I solemnly vow that I will NEVER purchase an apple computer again. For this kind of unreliability and poor engineering, I’d rather pay half for a cheap-o PC!

    • admin says:

      Keep in mind James that (a) your computer is now six years old and (b) it is an iBook which was the bottom of the range cheap computer designed to compete with cheaper model PCs!

      So if you want a long-term reliable Mac you really need to go for a PowerBook, (MacBook Pro). For an iBook ( or MacBook) six years is actually a pretty good run.

  19. hexdiy says:

    Really great tip! A friend of mine had a machine with the black screen syndrome described here, and he suspected a faulty LCD cable. Seemed odd to me, because I expect that to mean a white or distorted screen. And the backlighting was obviously working as well. Only beta testing right now, but all indications are the 12″ iBook on my table right now is in perfect working order after resoldering pins 1 and 28! I should have googled before spending hours testing and prying through the magnifying glass. Thumbs up and recycle the planet!
    Hexdiy, Belgium.

  20. Herbert Gramsch says:

    I just resoldered the chip on my ibook G4 800 MHz the second time, the last time i repaired it in the same manner half a year ago. Next time I’ll try the trick with the heat sink like shown above…

    Much cheaper than a new computer…

    Herbert Gramsch
    Dogern, Germany

  21. coucke says:

    What’s the solution for A G3 iBoook (700mhz/128MB/20GB/Combo – Ethernet/2002 Apple with the same problem? – – – – – D24 chip found but no result.

    • cat says:

      That’s the one I have. I don’t know if it had exactly the same problem as these, but they were part of the recall/extended warranty for the failure of the logic board a few years back. When mine went, it sounded just like here — graphics going nutty across the center of the screen, then blank. Apple fixed it for free, since it was part of the recall, but for all I know this might have been the problem. I had to have them fix it twice, btw (second time they replaced the video cable as well, though I’m not sure it was necessary).

      Oh, and the fan never ran. Fried my hard drive after one year. Luckily Apple still honored the logic board warranty even though I replaced the hard drive myself. Kind of shocking, that. Also weird that once I put it back together, the fan did run. I had NEVER heard it before then.

      Worked okay for about three years after that, despite being repaired by an Apple-trained monkey the second time (rerouted my wires wrong through the hinge, which made the display unreliable and killed the built-in mic). Then the hard drive failed — again. Replaced with another. (Worked dandy after that, until I managed to kill it by mistake while fixing the wire routing problem. Still working up the nerve to try to solder it.)

      I have several other macs that have all worked brilliantly. But that one is a big fat lemon. You probably need to replace the logic board; you might be able to find one online. Good luck, anyway. You’ll need it.

  22. Elbistan says:

    I have had this problem with my G4 for quite some time. The soldering worked perfect. Thank you very much.

  23. Susan Crowell says:

    I like my ibook G4 a lot, also some of the data on it, but it exhibited the symptoms described regarding the fan issue. Not starting at first. I could only hear a whir, then it would start up and everything was fine. This was intermittent. It started about two months ago. Two days ago it completely died. I press the power button and nothing. I can’t afford the repair rates nor am I in a place that even services apple products without an hour and a half drive. I don’t want to give up if there is any hope of fixing it. I have no experience with soldering if this ends up being a solution. If I could find someone who was willing to give it a try and if I could translate some of the suggestions here, what level of experience with soldering would this person need? Thanks, quinne.

  24. Foxy says:

    I did the solder fix on by iBook 1.2GHz just over a year ago and it’s still running fine :) I actually bought it from a friend after it had failed (and she had been informed that logic board was finished) but I have saved it :) Just added the G4fancontrol software after reading about it above. Seems like a bit of insurance! I don’t use the iBook much now – about once a week – but would rather it kept going for a few more years.

    It has started to run slower of late though – even after fitting brand new 1Gb ram. I am thinking the HDD may be starting to die – was replaced only 2 years ago I think (by last owner) so not that old, but having read how heat issues may shorten the HDD life too I am thinking may be time to do again. Was considering one of the new Solid State ones (SSD)- as I don’t need to store much data anyway and would appreciate speed and silence (albeit with more fan noise now…) over storage space.

    Anyone put a SSD in an iBook?

  25. Kat says:

    HUGE massive THANKS to you all for this!!!

    Just revived my beloved g4 ibook following these very thorough instructions. One note: my chip is oriented differently on the motherboard, but was able to figure out which chip it is by matching the numbers surrounding it w/ the numbers in the pictures you provided.

    All I did was press on the chip and BOOM!! RESTART!! No solder necessary…will see if this stays, if not, will open it up again and solder.

    Before the final crash, I was reviving the computer by squeezing the battery, and baffled why that made a difference. Now I understand I was squeezing the motherboard through the case.

    Thanks again!

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