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Getting over my fear of taking apart the iBook G4.

3lectr1cPPC

Member
So, I've had a 1.42GHz 14 inch iBook G4 since November last year, and when I bought it it was totally stock. A couple of months ago, I added an upgrade to the maximum 1.5GB of RAM, but I still didn't touch the original slow old hard drive. Still, seeing that the only thing the extra RAM really did was improve speed in web browsing, I knew what I had to do. It was time to install an SSD!

You all probably know how hard it is to take one of these snow iBooks apart. I sure did! People say the iBook Clamshells are had to open, but I had long conquered that laptop. You see, I got my blueberry clamshell in a big haul of parts back in 2018 along with a working tangerine. The parts were enough to get it running, but it took probably 10 times of taking it apart before it was presentable. While a pain, the benefit of that is that I can now gut one of those things in about 15 minutes. Despite this, I was still dreading doing the SSD upgrade on my G4. I persisted anyway, and while it was a pain, the outcome is really good.

I must apologize for not taking many pictures during the upgrade, I only got a couple during the reassembly and that's it. Here they are though:
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As I love dragging these old obsolete laptops kicking and screaming into the modern world, I knew I had to go with the most overkill SSD I could get. I went with a 120GB mSATA SSD, along with a cheap adapter to convert it down to the slow IDE. I get that the fast SSD is severely bottlenecked by the IDE bus, but I wanted the best performance I could possibly get out of this old iBook, and that's what I got!

I now have what is pretty much the ultimate iBook G4. It's the fastest model, it's got maximum memory, it's got pretty much the fastest possible storage, and even a working aftermarket battery. (The battery I must add is a cheap one of unknown manufacture date, and after a staggering 30 cycles it is already down below 70% capacity. Still, it's better than a dead one.) The only thing I didn't do was replace the thermal paste. I probably should have, but I honestly was pretty exhausted after getting the darn thing torn down this far, so I just decided to quit while I was ahead. Maybe another day.

My biggest feat during all of this in my opinion was getting all the screws installed back in, only forgetting one during the reassembly. Forgetting where screws go is probably my biggest struggle while repairing computers. I even know where the lone screw I forgot goes, so if I take it apart again I can reinstall it.

As for OS, I've gone with OS X Leopard for software support, as well as a seperate 40GB partition for Tiger, for speed and the classic environment. Leopard still chugs a bit on the G4's slow GPU with all those fancy effects. What's funny is that even though this iBook shipped with OS X 10.4.2, 10.4.0 installed fine off of my DVD, with the caveat that I had to connect an external pointing device as the trackpad didn't work. Also, closing the display didn't put it to sleep. As expected, the combo update fixed this.
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So, that's it! I've got a PowerBook G4 Titanium on the way, so look out for that on Friday on my conquests thread.
 

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valejacobo

Member
Nice one! I'm still waiting for the mall to deliver my 15' PowerBook I bought last week, since I needed a laptop to carry to my girlfriend's house so I won't use her PC. How is the web-browsing capabilities on these puppies?
 

3lectr1cPPC

Member
Not very good. RAM is probably the most important factor for speed, but the modern web just really isn't built for PPC systems like these. My G5 tower is really the only semi-usable one I have. My iBook does alright, it can connect to modern WiFi and basic sites and forums load fine, but intensive stuff like YouTube, social media, etc. are pretty much unusable. They're even slow compared to PCs of the same age. They still manage to be useful for basic tasks though, I managed to post a reply here using a PowerBook G4 Titanium. :)
 

MOS8_030

Well-known member
I had to replace a screen on a G4 iBook.
Replacing the screen required disassembling the entire laptop.
Ridiculously difficult.
Apple used an absolutely stupid number of different sized screws.
And I had one screw left over as well. I spent a lot of time trying to find its home and finally just gave up.
 

davidg5678

Well-known member
A few months ago, I did a complete teardown and reassembly of a 12" PowerBook G4 from 2003. There were tons and tons of screws to keep track of, but their quantity was far from the worst part. The spring screws that held the heatsink to the motherboard were connected to some flimsy nuts on the bottom of the logic board, so even though I was initially able to loosen the heatsink screws, the nuts sheared clean off of the motherboard, and so they just kept spinning, without actually unscrewing. Because the screws were still inside the unanchored nuts, they spun, but wouldn't unscrew, and so I had an extremely tricky time pulling the logic board out of the computer's chassis. Eventually (using an unreasonable amount of brute force), I got the motherboard out, and prior to reassembly, I was able to solder the nuts directly onto the motherboard, so that it wouldn't spin freely. I wish that the nuts were just soldered to the logic board in the first place because their presence can make working on these computers a real hassle.

While I complain about the difficult time I had fixing this laptop, I'm just glad that this era's iBook/PowerBook models can actually be serviced --there is next to nothing that I could replace/upgrade on an M1 laptop without using some sort of advanced BGA micro soldering system. (With some courage, maybe the headphone jack can be swapped out? :) ). I think Apple did a good job simplifying the servicing procedure by the time they reached the Unibody MacBook Pro computer era --they are way easier to take apart than 12" i/Powerbooks.

Enjoy your iBook G4 and (upcoming) PowerBook!
 
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