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!

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

  1. Rebecca says:

    OMG this totally WORKED!!!!!

    I am the second owner of my ibook (1.2ghz 14”, late 2003). Last week it died, and I was quoted a $500 repair after paying for the $45 diagnosis. Thank goodness for this website, I took it to a tv repair shop after I disassembled it to show the logic board, and sure enough the guy saw both pin 1 and 28 broken. He soldered it, and 30 minutes and $15 later, it works like a charm!! I’ve downloaded the fan app, yes my computer is noisier, but it works!!! Thank you so much for this website, bless all of you for contributing!!!! I love my ibook and can’t stand the keyboards on all the new macs..

    Thank you so much for saving me the price of a new computer!!!!!!

  2. JRVille says:

    I have a G4 ibook A1133 which has a different logic board than that described in this article. Initially, I had kernel panics which I traced to the airport/bluetooth by looking at the (Library/logs/) directory. I removed and re-installed the airport package (you have to remove the keyoboard and top metal shield to do this) and it ran without further kernel panics (which were occurring about 4-10 minutes after turning on the iBook). So I decided to really stress my ibook by running hd decoding with Videolan. After doing this for about 20 minutes the screen turned white with vetical colored bars running through it. Since I had my keyboard and shields removed I could tell the heatsink was very warm, but the fan was not running. (Makes no sense, I know). I turned off the machine and started it again. That was the last time it “worked” Now all it does is turn on with the fan running at full blast. I notice before the fan turns on the HD heads move from parked position (click) and the DVD drive makes a plaintive effort to start. Then the fan kicks in and it’s all over. The voltage regulator described in this article is not on my system. Can someone perhaps suggest a remedy, other than scrapping the book for parts ?

  3. Lizelle says:

    I have a G4 graphite mac (not an ibook) and have developed this curious problem of the machine not starting up again once it has been plugged out. It can be shut down and restarted without any problems as long as the machine is not actually plugged out of the socket. Once it’s been plugged out, the only way to restart it is to heat it up in direct sunlight – then magically it restarts again, once plugged in. The moment it cools down, no go! Does anybody know what the problem may be?

  4. mona says:

    Wow I’m glad I found this blog post! I was just about ready to throw away my G4 ibook and get a new one, but this will save me a lot of money! I’m not too tech savy, but I’ll have to give your instructions a try…

  5. You just saved my old G-4. Many thanks!

  6. john says:

    hello,
    i have apple ibook G4, i’m wondering why the ibook screen seem black when i try to start it, the fan also not running????

  7. claudio says:

    Sorry for my bad English
    I have a MacBook Pro 15 “model A1226. With the external monitor is ok. With its display sometimes the pattern is green, it raises the luminance of the green channel, with showers that appear reddish. Then both hot and cold computer returns to normal or stay green for hours. It will be defined here too cold a weld, but where? Thanks if you can give me an answer.
    Claudio Gi from Italy

  8. Ginetto says:

    Solved: I just laied on solder on pin 1 and 28.

    Thanks :)

  9. scotty says:

    I highly recommend this guide and the solder method if you have an ibook that doesn’t seem to turn on. I originally attempted putting a shim in-between the faulty ic and the ibook case and it would work for a couple days then back to the original problem. After tearing my ibook g4 apart several times, I finally went to a hardware store and spent 10 dollars on a soldering iron and soldered the first 3 legs of the faulty ic. Currently my ibook has been running for a month plus with no signs of trouble. So don’t throw away your old ibook G4s until you try this!

  10. Ryan says:

    Well, there has to be someone that screws things up…I skimmed the blog about a month or so ago. I was so excited to try to fix this thing that I missed the part about not needing to add more solder. I ended up getting solder all over the pins on the chip and essentially connecting about 3 or 4 of them. I tired to melt it off and ended up mangling the poor little legs on one of the sides. I was able to learn from my mistake and do a good job on the other side (pin 24). unfortunately it was too late as the other side was a mess.

    The good news is I bought a new logic board on e bay for 40 bucks. it was over stock from when these computers first came out. Since the computer is now a dinosaur it was affordable. i had a good time with the project anyways.

    the moral: be very careful with the solder and soldering gun. those pins are TINY!

  11. 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.

  12. bala says:

    Thanks for this guide! The G4 is working again!

  13. Speed My Laptop Up says:

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

  14. 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

  15. 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 :)

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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…

  25. 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.

  26. 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

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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

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