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iMac G5 Repair

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I was recently had the opportunity to fix a broken Apple iMac G5. It belonged to a coworker who brought it into the Apple Store when it wouldn't turn on. They took a look and found most of the capacitors on the mainboard bulging or leaking. Apparently this is a common problem with that machine. I'm very familiar with this type of problem and deal with it on a weekly basis with the Dells at work. The Optiplex GX270, GX280 and SX280 all have similar problems with capacitors blowing. Maybe other models have the problem too, but these are the only ones we own at Harley.

So instead of paying Apple some ridiculous amount of money to fix her 6 year old computer, I told her I could do it without issue if she buys one of those $20 capacitor kits online made just for this problem. She bought the kit and I tore into it.

imac g5 capacitors imac g5 capacitors

Once I figured out how to get the mainboard out and tried removing the first capacitor I ran into a rather puzzling issue: I couldn't get the solder to melt to remove the bad parts. When working on Dells I just use a standard 30 watt Radioshack soldering iron and it works like a charm. I'm not an engineer by trade, but I've been soldering my entire life so I'm not entirely clueless. I tried a bigger 40 watt iron but that didn't touch it either. I finally pulled out my 100/140 watt Weller iron (that I paid $0.50 for at a garage sale!!) and that did work but was still difficult. I was absolutely astounded at how difficult it was to replace those capacitors.

I did a little research and it seems that Apple doesn't use lead-based solder to be more "green" using either silver or some other alloy that melts at a much higher temperature. I also found out these mainboards are actually layered so it dissipates heat much faster making this job more of a pain in the ass.

3 soldering irons, 2 new tips, 29 capacitors and a never-ending stream of profanity later I put it all back together and hit the power button. All I got was a beep, a flashing light and a black screen. After more profanity and resigning to the idea that I had just wasted all that time it dawned on me that I never put the memory back in. With the ram back in place it fired up with no problems!

imac g5 working again

Tags: diy repair

Comments (2) Subscribe

Dell GX280
#1 - May 5, 2011 at 10:03 PM
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#2 - Aug 6, 2011 at 2:55 AM
Indeed a very good read! Very informative post with pretty good insight on all aspects of the topic! Will keep visiting in future too!

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