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Elfen

Fixed my Powerbook G4 After Death

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Today my everyday use machine, a 12in screen Powerbook G4 1.5GHz, died horribly. Apps slowed to a crawl, noisey fan, palm rest on the case by HD side heats up, crunching noises (it was from the fan), and system freezes for the past 2 weeks. Today after a reboot from a system freeze it gave Chimes of Death. Though this is a Powerbook I literally found in the trash 5 years ago with several others, it had its time. But I'm not finished with it yet!

 

Opened it up. The fan at the rear was caked with dust and dirt. Though I have opened this machine up in the past, I have not in about 2 years. The heat tape on the processor heat sink literally fell off and what was left was not worth saving. Remove fan, clean out the dirt with WD40, then acetone, alcohol and then respray with WD 40.

 

Took some acetone to remove what was left of the heat transfer tape. Then used some thermo compound and used a small dab of it. Since the heatsink will press against the CPU and other chips, the thermo compound will spread. Best to have it spread enough out to cover the CPU and not overflow as I seen on some PCs.

 

Tighten up a few screws and reassemble it. At first it would not turn on. This has happened before, so remove the battery and then turn it on. Chimes of Death. Check the memory SIMM (always had a problem with that), turn on again. It booted.

 

Tests - 6 hours (still on it now, typing this). Unit does not heat up, the fan turns on so quiet I can not hear it, but there is air flowing in the back of the case. The area of the palm rest (left side) where the hard drive is at is no longer hot. It's warmer than the rest of the machine but not by much. So far, no OS freezes or app slow downs.

 

Took me 4 hours to do. It was a close call.

Anything to improve on this? Thermo compound is the regular white stuff and not the silver stuff on PCs so that needs to be upgraded in the near future. Anything else?

Edited by Elfen

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Well, about the thermal compound, I personally have a preference for IC Diamond. Even more so when it is going to be in use for a long time since it resists pump-out. However ICD is likely overkill for a PB. For anything like old notebooks that I care less about or something I am likely to take apart frequently I am still working on a massive tube of AC MX-2 that I got on sale some years ago. It is only my highest-use and fastest computers that I demand better. and TBH "better" might be as low as 1C until that lesser compound pumps out and/or dries up needing replacement. But then I am not even close to a typical usage case scenario either. *shrug*

 

Worth noting that your typical cheap compounds tend to dry up and/or pump out over time, even though initially they might perform within anywhere from 1C-5C of higher quality compounds. That is why I like IC Diamond even though I am not sure where to get it in Canada anymore. :-/

I have anecdotal evidence that Antec Formula 7(also a diamond based TIM) is not quite as effective as a 5yr old application of ICD, but still decent and gets used on things like my overclocked i7 4770k for the time being. After running the 4770k for a year I do not have personal results for how it stands up over time though. Aside from a single year being pretty short, I popped the waterblock off to remove the CPU's IHS and run lidless halfway through.

If it is not obvious, I am a crazy PC guy so you could probably take what I say sometimes with a grain of salt. For the most part unless you are dealing with insane CPUs or something else, an average thermal compound should be fine for a CPU like a G4.

 

 

The only way up from diamond is fancy liquid metal stuff(Arctic Silver 5 is not a fancy one btw), and then you are talking real money. Best saved for overclocked high-end CPUs. An example would be http://www.coollaboratory.com/en/products/

I am too cheap for it myself. :p

 

 

 

On the topic of the PB, I am a little saddened that you ran it for two weeks through kernel panics and excessive heat. Good that it is working again.

I personally might consider looking at hitting the fan with some lubricant at some point in time since it is ten years old.(WD40 is not a lubricant!)

Once the bearings go, they are gone.

Edited by MacJunky

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AC-MX2 is good stuff, sure I wouldn't use it on an overclocked PC but I do use it for any mac I resurrect and have been pleased with it. OP should go with that since it's reasonably priced ($4 on eBay) and performs much better than the silicon based paste from the factory.

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Day 3- So far so good. Thus far there are no problems despite me working the unit 6 - 10 hours a day like I normally do...

 

On the topic of the PB, I am a little saddened that you ran it for two weeks through kernel panics and excessive heat. Good that it is working again.
I personally might consider looking at hitting the fan with some lubricant at some point in time since it is ten years old.(WD40 is not a lubricant!)
Once the bearings go, they are gone.

 

I used the WD-40 to remove the caked in dirt and dust in the fan and vents; ruining a good pair of pants at the same time. It did an excellent job of stripping much of the gunk out. Alcohol and acetone was used to get it down to the shiny metal (alcohol on the fan's plastic). And though I should have used a lube, I did not, just gave it another shot of WD-40 and then put it together. I'll probably add some lube after the holidays.

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Do the G4s really have chimes of death? according to Mactracker they don't list an option to play the death chime... I also looked up on the internet and nothing was said about the chimes of death on the G4

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... 12in screen Powerbook G4 1.5GHz.... The heat tape on the processor heat sink literally fell off and what was left was not worth saving. ... thermo compound ... to cover the CPU....

 

Tests - 6 hours (still on it now, typing this). Unit does not heat up, the fan turns on so quiet I can not hear it, but there is air flowing in the back of the case. The area of the palm rest (left side) where the hard drive is at is no longer hot. It's warmer than the rest of the machine but not by much. So far, no OS freezes or app slow downs....

 

I have the same machine, and it remains after 10 years one of my absolute favourites. But mine gets hot, so this is interesting.

 

Do you have yours running with processor set on Automatic or Highest in the Energy Control Panel? If so, then this result is pretty remarkable. These machines came from the factory running hot, so maybe the secret is in a better heatsink compound.

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I don't use mine all that much (except I did for a brief time when my MacBook's display was having fits; it still is, but it seems to have calmed down for now, and thus is mostly usable again), and it doesn't seem to get super hot (the MacBook or MacBook Pro get MUCH hotter).

 

I did rebuild it, though, and I used some fairly good heatsink compound when I did (it was Arctic Silver MX-2, I think?).

 

It's a 1.33 GHz model, though, if that makes any difference.

 

c

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Have you tested the hard drive to see if it is still in good condition, being over temp like that isn't good for it either, I have some older PATA laptop drives at my work if you end up needing one.

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My 867MHz model has the fan running full blast if you do more than 20 seconds worth of CPU intensive work on it. It's real tiny though, and Apple hadn't learned cooling as well as they have now (the rMBP is a tour de force).

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Do you have yours running with processor set on Automatic or Highest in the Energy Control Panel? If so, then this result is pretty remarkable. These machines came from the factory running hot, so maybe the secret is in a better heatsink compound.

Its on Automatic, with options not to shut down the HD and to sleep if on longer than 3 hours with no input from me.

 

Have you tested the hard drive to see if it is still in good condition, being over temp like that isn't good for it either, I have some older PATA laptop drives at my work if you end up needing one.

The drives can run hot, as in a "discussion" with a former tech supervisor I had where he stated "5400 RPM Drives are supposed to run hot because they are going so fast and a 7200 runs hotter..." to which I told him "A Cheetah SCSI runs at 100000 RPMs and they they do not get hot at all." (Mind you, this discussion was back in 2002...)

 

In tightening up the heat sink and drive connections and cleaning out the vents, I may have improved or fixed a cooling issue that was not there before. If I did not state it, I also put a (tiny) dab of heat sink compound onto the GPU and onto two other chips the heat sink rested on. And I wiped down the heat sink with acetone after scraping off all the thermo tape until the metal was shiny. It is bolted down to Hand Tight without over exerting it until it wont turn no more. I've broken a heat sink anchor bolt on another G4 by over doing it, so now I just turn it until it stops.

 

I will admit, that in reassembling the G4 together, I ended up with 1 "spare parts" screw to which I do not know where it goes to. I've partially taken apart the G4 twice already to put in the screw but there is no place where it fits. It's a short screw with a large flat head. Right now its resting in one of the vent holes under the keyboard under the number row keys, around the 7 & 8 keys area.

Edited by Elfen

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That's helpful, thanks. I was going to ask about the GPU and the overall question of contact with the heatsink. Since that tape tends to be pretty thick, I thought there might be potential issues. However, what you are saying here is that the heatsink can be screwed down to make contact and that all is well.

 

I am going to try this. It will probably take a couple of weeks to get around to it, but I'll report on my findings in due course -- and on whether or not I can advise you in return on a proper destination for that errant screw.

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When you remove the heat sink, there are 3 screws. 2 which are spring loaded nuts on the CPU side near the back of the machine, and there is hold down screw towards the front (might be 2 on some systems). This is where the GPU and the RAM for it is at an the heat sink does make contact with these chips. When you apply the heat sink compound, use a tiny dab. When you screw down the heat sink, it will spread out. Too much and it will ooze out onto the pins. Then putting the compound onto the CPU, a small bead will do on top of the chip, for the same reasons.

 

When you screw down the heat sink, turn it a bit then go to the next screw and turn that a bit and then go to the next and so on until all three can no longer turn by hand without exerting your strength. This way the heat sink goes down evenly.

 

I've seen cases where people used a whole tube of heat sink compound (2 tubes in at least 2 cases I know) and then they ask me why is the system dead. The goo leaked out onto the pins and shorted everything out. Just a bead will do you good.

Edited by Bunsen

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Finally did mine today. Couple of comments: 

 

The GPU is hard to do, as there isn't even much in the way of a plate to connect on the heatsink (it literally does not even cover the CPU chip!). I made up an aluminium shim to make better contact.

 

On the CPU, I just replaced the stock pad with heatsink compound and screwed everything down again snugly but not over-tight.

 

Temperatures are 5-7ºC cooler on the CPU and just 3-4ºC cooler on the GPU. However, this is enough to allow the machine to run without a fan for the most part, for the first time in years. We'll see how it settles down as the compound "cooks."

 

Elfen — the loose screw is most likely either one of those 14 (count 'em) that are under the keyboard, most of which are short with a flat head. The fan area would also be relatively easy to make a mistake around; I'd take a peek to see if anything is missing there also.

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That's great, BeachyCove.

 

Its going on 4 months since the repair and my Powerbook G4 is still going strong, with the only thing that gets hot is the hard drive. My fan occasionally turns on , mind you, I use this machine almost 8 hours straight without rest every day.

 

I did get a new-used keyboard, as this one is falling apart- literally. So when I have time, it will be replaced.

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