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Reworking Snow iBook G3 GPU's


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A recent thread on here got me interested in the snow iBook G3's again, more specifically their main long term reliability issue: Their GPU's

I have had many iBooks over the years and a good number of them have had the GPU issue, over the years I have tried many methods of "fixing" them (Shims, Heatguns and blowtorches to name but a few!) with no long term success

The snow iBooks are somewhat unusual as laptop GPU issues go in that the issue is usually cracked solder joints under the chip rather than the chip its self being bad so, in theory at least, reflowing the GPU should be a long term fix

 

Today I got the (Painfully expensive!) replacement element for my hakko hot air station so it was time to give it a go!

 

The setup I am using a is as follows:

Puhui T-8280 IR Bottom Heater

Hakko FR-810B Hot air top heater

Aoyue 3636 Hot air Nozzle

Chepo eBay thermocouple (Taped next to the GPU chip)

Insat "Super Flux"

 

IMG_1376.thumb.jpg.fbcbce210af6bad7ef4d5e222cbd6a96.jpg

(Excuse the very messy desk, It rarely gets any tidier than that...)

 

The reflow went uneventfully, the only oddity being the solder under the chip melted at under 210C which is colder than you would expect for lead free solder, but hotter than you would expect for leaded (I'm assuming the iBook's use lead free solder)

 

With the board reflowed and allowed to cool, it was very loosely reinstalled in the iBook and....

IMG_1378.thumb.jpg.ed8ae382fa9bbabe765612e7370112d9.jpg

We have video!

 I'll be cleaning and reassembling the iBook tomorrow and loading it up with some games for testing :)

 

Hopefully this will prove to be a permanent fix, this particular iBook is one of the faster models (800Mhz) which I have never had a good working example of and is also on very good condition (it even has all the rubber feet!)

 

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I had the same model back in the day and it was the Mac I liked most of all I owned. I reflowed it twice using a hot air gun. First time it worked again for a few months, second time it remained dead. I also reflowed my sisters 900 Mhz G3 model using the same method. It also only worked briefly afterwards.

 

Nice to see that there are still some around and repaired. Mine has long gone to recycling. Today I would most likely also try something like you did. But more than 15 years ago, my electronic skills were just not up to that.

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  • 68kMLA Supporter

Any particular reason you went for reflowing and not reballing? I personally would just not trust the solder used beneath the GPU chip, if it already cracked. Some good leaded solder balls would probably be a real permanent fix.

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20 hours ago, Daniël Oosterhuis said:

Any particular reason you went for reflowing and not reballing? I personally would just not trust the solder used beneath the GPU chip, if it already cracked. Some good leaded solder balls would probably be a real permanent fix.

Mainly because I hate reballing big chips :) Also it might be a little hard to find the correct stencils for these older chips

I do have a batch of the Radeon 7500 chips coming form UTSource (they are used chips but I'm wiling to pay the ~$5 each they where asking for someone else to have done the reballing) so I might end up just replacing the chips on the other couple of iBooks I have left to fix

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Posted (edited)

We have chips!

IMG_1381.thumb.jpg.a25202ca18cc7da10c012e02e221be53.jpg

I'll replace the GPU on at least one of the other two iBooks I have left to experiment with and see how the reliability of the two compares long term. Just waiting on UTSource to confirm if these have been reballed with leaded or lead free balls before I get to soldering them

Edited by max1zzz
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Very awesome stuff!

 

just for being able to take one apart! LOL

 

but the reflow work is awesome too :) 

 

I have a small gaggle of 750GX/GL chips here I always wondered if one would work in a 750FX iBook G3, seeing as your taking a couple to bits anyways 

 

I should check how many I have exactly and see if I can give you one or 2 to play around with :) 

 

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Haha, yeah these are not fun to take apart, but hey, I got it back together and only have 4 screws left over!

 

It might be interesting to try, especially f the chips you have are the 1Ghz versions, I knida like the idea of a 1Ghz iBook G3 :)

 

As a side note, i just found one of me test iBooks actually works fine, I hate it when I buy broken stuff in good faith and find it actually works fine! :) Guess it's back to eBay to find another dead one...

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It's well out of the remit of these forums but someone should start doing work like this with all those poor dead 17' MacBook Pros. I got through three of those suckers before I just sold the thing and went back to my PowerBook. Such beautiful and capable machines completely let down by one fatal flaw.

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20 hours ago, PowerMac_G4 said:

It's well out of the remit of these forums but someone should start doing work like this with all those poor dead 17' MacBook Pros. I got through three of those suckers before I just sold the thing and went back to my PowerBook. Such beautiful and capable machines completely let down by one fatal flaw.

Unfortunately with the NVIDIA chips in the non-ub MBP's (Or AMD in the case of the 2011 UB ones) actually go bad, and the chips haven't been made in years you can only get junk pulled chips that likely have exactly the same issue your original chip had. My experience with the 2011's is replacing the chip might get you another year but it'll die again in the end and I would expect the older Non-UB ones would be the same.

 

With he 2011's you can at lest disable the GPU and they are still quite useable on the intel graphics, its also worth noting the late 2008 - 2010 ones have one cap that goes bad (C7771 / C9650 IIRC) that causes graphics issues, Also I think the Late 08 / 09's sometimes suffer from cracked solder joints under the GPU MUX IC

 

Unfortunately for the non UB's I'm not aware of any real fix unless someone finds the unicorn stash of NOS GPU's. I'm quite fond of the 15" Non-UB's personally (Being my first Intel Mac) and have several I saved form the junk pile at work that I would love to fix but can't due tot he lack of good GPU's

 

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Posted (edited)

Today was frustrating to say the least!

I intended to replace the GPU a 900Mhz 14" iBook to give a side by side comparison of if reballing chip gives any read advantage over reflowing with the type of use these iBooks are likely to get these days, Simple enough, I have done this kind of rework plenty of times before with little bother.

So I heated the chip up the the point I expected the solder to melt at, and it wouldn't budge. I heated it some more, still nothing. Eventually I got the board so hot it popcorned, with the chip still seeming to not wanting to budge, at this point I just grabbed the chip and yanked it off (As the board was already ruined I had nothing to loose) and the chip came off cleanly with not a single lifted pad so clearly the solder was molten (and probable had been for some time). There wasn't anything like liquid residue under the chip so I have no idea why the chip didn't seem to want to move once the solder was molten.

 

One notable thing about the board is that I'm pretty sure it had been reworked by apple in the past as the GPU had a much newer date code than most of the other chips on the board (mid 05 whereas everything else was early/mid 03) and had a different part number to most of the GPU's I have seen (M7-CSP32 whereas most boards seem to have M7-32CL's), there was almost no evidence of the iBook having been opened so I don't suspect this was done by a third party.

 

I dug through my pile of scrap boards and found a rather scrappy looking 800Mhz board, it's GPU was missing (one pad was also ripped off, but it didn't seem to be connected to anything) and a mosfet had been pilfered in the past (neither being my doing) but it looked complete otherwise. After replacing the mosfet and cleaning the GPU pads it seemed to power on but the onboard ram was bad (three beeps with no ram stick present) with a ram stick installed it seemed to boot from HDD. I figured it was worth installing a GPU and seeing what happened.

 

I ended up trying three chips on it.

 

The first chip I overheated while soldering, causing the solder form under the two underfilled RAM IC's on the GPU to burst out

The second chip I soldered perfectly.... Rotated 90 degrees from where it should have been (A least I noticed this before powering it on, so if I can be arsed to reball the chip it should still be useable)

The third chip was soldered in the correct orientation without destroying the board or chip, and...

IMG_1388.thumb.jpg.9b7ce2095685c59cf50c60f756fd7db7.jpg

Works perfectly!

 

I need to sort out the onboard RAM, but once that is done this iBook should be a good comparison with the reflowed one :)

Edited by max1zzz
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