How to fix a broken G4 iBook logic board problem

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!

Comments

159 responses to “How to fix a broken G4 iBook logic board problem”

  1. I fixed mine by bending the pins on the chip to the motherboard with a spudger. It’ been a month and still going strong.

  2. Dan D

    Well my ibook worked great for the last 5 months then the hard drive died. I ripped it a part put in a new 7200 rpm drive. That sped it up nicely. I forgot to attach the speaker cable. Pulled her apart and attached ran great for two weeks. My wife is using it the other day starts tap tapping on the palm rest. Up pops the old chip issue again. I just pulled her apart again and put some pressure on the chip. Up she went. So I am going to try and tin the leads again. Ill let u know how I make out. I don’t need the Ifixit manual anymore because now I know it off the back of my hand. You think attempting the solder job is a pain…. Try replacing the hard drive in one of these sobs. Both the upper and lower chassis and metal shield have to come off! It took 5 times the time as fixing the video chip ( or whatever IC that is)….

  3. Adam

    You say that when you apply pressure you rcomputer works again. I have fixed my computer with rubber pieces and it worked! However after awhile the screen goes blank or if I move the computer around too much it goes blank. I try applying pressure to the problem spot to no avail. My only option at this point is to reboot the computer. Any tips?

  4. Mark

    Check out Hammerhead Technologies (www.hammerheadtech.com)—they did the required re-soldering for $75, shipping extra.

  5. John

    I was experiencing the same video/freezing problem with my iBook, a late-2004 model (1.2GHz). I followed you guide and applied the clean tip of a 30-watt pencil-styled soldering gun to the top 2 pins of the chip (I didn’t add any additional solder). The iBook seems to work fine now. Thanks!

  6. Civenx

    I just put a peace of tinfoil over the chip and heated it up with a lighter, then I used a soldering iron and heated the pins up with no additional solder a now it seems to work fine thanks for the help!

  7. hj

    Almost 2 years ago I had the same experience with my iBook 12” bought in 2005. I fixed it. It has been working perfectly so far.

    What u need to do :
    1 – open the mac and identify the chip.
    2 – keep a finger pressed on the chip and switch on the mac.
    3 – if it works – then send the motherboard (in an antistatic plastic envelope) to a soldering place where they do this kind of work ( I found one in u.s. – look on ebay – quite cheap )
    4 – when the motherboard is back reassemble and enjoy.

  8. Rob

    Having fixed my ibook by re-soldering and then having it fail again almost immediately, I started to do a bit of proper investigation and research. Close examination of the photos in the Danish investigation report showed that pins 1 and 28 were lifting off the board, rather than shearing. Why should that be when the others stay fixed? The report also stated that the cause of failure was power-cycling (lots of heating up and cooling down) That got me thinking about what happens when a logic board heats up and cools down – I think I’ve finally worked it out. When the ibook powers up and is running at operating temperature, the board (being copper-clad fibre-board) expands. When the ibook is off, it cools down and contracts. Not a problem – as long as the board has room to expand. Close examination of my ibook revealed that the screws which mount the board to the ally frame were secured tightly – preventing any expansion of the board. The board would still expand, but instead of expanding outwards, it would be forced to bow. Therefore, lots of power cycling would be the same as taking a logic board and waggling it about – no wonder pins are breaking contact with the pads! So I re-soldered pins 1 and 28 again and this time loosened the board mounting screws so that they were firm but not tight. Several power cycles later – still good. If this really was the root cause of the faults, how many thousands of boards were replaced, only to fail again because the techies tightened the mounting screws down again – just like before!
    While you’re in there – it’s always worth a try!

  9. wayne

    Good work Rob!

  10. Rosli

    Hi guys, I have the same problem with my 14″ G4. I tried resoldering it, but I messed it up. I need to order the ISL6225 but I can’t get it here in Singapore. Could anyone help me buy it from there ? I will arrange for payment. Any kind soul to help ? This is my email roslih@singnet.com.sg

    Thanks…..

  11. Simon

    Hi
    There is a company that specifically deals with the pin 28/1 issue, as well as 3 other G4 iBook logic board faults.. They wouldn’t reveal the other 3.. I’m guessing one of them is the video chip under the heat sink..

    Anyways the company is superior reball and rework.. shoot them an email
    the guy there is named Dale.. the price for repairing either the G3 or G4 video Issues is $50USD.. you remove the logic board and mail it in.. the repair, test and mail it back.. the whole process takes about 3 weeks when you take mailing into account.. the cool thing is if your board is completely kapaut.. there is no charge to you, and they mail you back your broken board as proof..

    I send in about 4 at a time.. only one has come back unusable

    There is another company in Arazona.. the name escapes me.. but they only reflow the soldier.. the company above reballs the connection which makes it ‘as new’

    Also if you try to soldier the pin 28 and 1 issue.. and it isn’t fixed.. chances are it’s something else and you should stop and mail the board to the guys above

    Good luck
    Simon

  12. hola. hi, i have a same problem, i will try repair. thanks for your information.

    regards
    LUIS FERNANDO.

  13. Sammie

    My trusty G4 iBook 1.2 just keeled over (black screen with fan buzzing) after all these years.

    When I spoke with one Apple Certified tech, he denied that there was ever a graphic chip/logic board problem. When I explained that the same thing happened to my G3 iBook (within the recall period) and Apple replaced its logic board for free, he still denied the problem! All he wanted me to do was purchase a new MacBook, pay to have my hard drive removed, and then toss my G4 into the garbage heap.

    I thnk I’ll try the solder or shim trick. What do I have to lose? Thanks guys for the tips!!

  14. Jacek

    Hi everyone!

    First: Thanks a lot for the information, also everone for posting their experience and additional info. My iBook (1.2GHz) died on me yesterday, with the symptoms described above (black screen, fan noise, no chime sound). I applied the fix today afternoon and got it to boot again. I also loosend the screws holding the logic board as suggested by Rob. Looks good so far.

    Cheers,
    Jacek

  15. Yigit Z. Helvaci

    First of all thanks for all the info mentioned abowe. I have the same problem with my ibook g4. It freezes half was in the middle, sometimes when the osx is working and sometimes the ibook doesn’t even start -i just have a blue screen.
    The service told me that it’s the logic board and needs replacement. Tonight i checked the website and wanted to try, but the idiot in the Apple service forgot to put in my hard drive in the computer after checking it in the service.
    So, thinking that apple doesn’t acknowledge the problem and the authorized services can’t even remember putting back the parts on the computer, it’s worth a try.
    will post the news here..

  16. Jacek

    Hi again!

    Too bad, the symptoms appear again. It runs most of the time but it can crash anytime. I looked up the ISL6225 Datasheet on google and – as far as my understanding goes – is supplying the power to the DDR-Memory which could be the reason why 3rd-party RAM and removing the additional RAM may affect the symptoms. (Link: http://www.intersil.com/data/fn/FN9049.pdf)
    Another thing i thought was interessting is the fact that Intersil is not anymore selling/producing the ISL6225 but the newer yet compatible ISL6227 or ISL6229. I wonder if it would by possible to replace the 6225 with one of the newer chips.

    Greetings from Hamburg,
    Jacek

  17. Beverly Hilliard

    I just lost use of my ibook 800. My symptoms are a bit different, and being new to actually trying to fix or solder
    I wonder if someone recognizes the following symptoms.
    I noticed for several months that the underside of my
    ibook was heating up quite a bit, and sometimes quite quickly, so the pattern was not always the same. Then
    I noticed that if I turned it off, there were problems getting it to boot up, and I had to hit a few of the major keys to wake it up, so for a while I just let it sleep. Yesterday, I was running Itunes and it simply stopped
    running and the screen went dark. Unable to get any response from the on off key and any alt/cont/del wasn’t helping either. The charging light was on, and
    the battery and charger seem ok. There were several off the cuff guesses here in california, but I wonder if anyone could give me advice or some idea as to what has failed. Was it the MB, logic board, HD, or???
    Bev

  18. I have a g4 ibook 1ghz 256mb had it checked out and they said motherboard and lcd bad… at power on the fan would run high fan, and motherboard wouldnt come on at all no screen, tried clamping down with fingers left side of track pad and to my surprise it started and ran a whole day

    had a soldering tip that hit like 2 of the chips like inst.. did like 10 sec on top 3 on ea side, then did it maybe once again on ea for 5 sec.. on 30 watt setting, 15watt would have worked but tried hotter and just heated till chip felt semi hot… it has worked flawlessly since

    adrian

  19. CJ

    Hey, I’ve had my iBook G4 since 2004 for uni 2 years ago it started having the symptons everyone is speaking about. Took it to the Apple store in London twice and both times I got told its the logic board it would cost around £600 to repair and I should buy a new one. Being a broke graduate I resided myself to using a cheap and dodgy PC until I could afford a replacement.

    Fast foward to 2009 started a cool job and was given a MacBook by my boss (happy days) just out of curiosity I decided to do a target disk mode to try and salvage a few old files at first it didnt work but once i dug around on a few forums low and behold i stumble on this. Squeezed the left side and my G4 springs into life. I’m no solder wizard so i’m takin this link to a mac repair shop round the corner from me to see if they can fix it! It looks like a 15 min job and it’ll prob cost me £30 but well worth it if it means getting my old files back!

    Thanks Everyone!!

  20. Ishe

    Guys,help pliz.I have a g4 ibook.the computer is running but the lcd is dark.Could it be the same chip problem?

  21. Sancho

    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!!!

  22. Gordon

    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.

  23. jason keedy

    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!

  24. iBookist

    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.

  25. Glyn

    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!

  26. Col

    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.

  27. john

    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…

  28. 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.

  29. Phillip

    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???

  30. Matthew

    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.

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