View Full Version : iBook repair or purchase refurbished macbook?

Dec 15, 2009, 09:44 AM
My younger brother's iBook is broken, and for Christmas my Dad wants to either have it repaired or buy him a new one. I believe that the broken computer is a mid-2005 1.33 G4. It has been broken for a few years, and when he brought it to the Apple store they told him that it needs a new motherboard. My brother thinks that they were wrong and that the problem is the power supply. Either way, I think that we're probably going to end up buying a new computer.

My Dad knows next to nothing about computers, but he called me this morning and asked for advice on the situation. One of his tenants advised him to buy a netbook for about $250, and also found a refurbished macbook for about $500, but I don't know what model or from where. I looked on Craigslist and found a black 2.16 Core 2 duo macbook for $600, but that might be over-budget.

Can someone please advise me on whether: repairing the power supply or motherboard on an iBook is something that would be worth our time; and if we can expect to find a decent macbook for around $500, and what we should look for. I really don't want to see him get a netbook or a junky windows laptop for Christmas, but that would probably be better than buying him a mac that turns out to be a lemon.

Dec 15, 2009, 09:48 AM
For a 2005 model it is not worth the repair cost. I would not get a netbook unless your brother gets one he can hack, wants one that is hacked (to run OS X) or really doesn't care and just wants something portable. I would go refurb MacBook, make sure it's something from within the last year.

Dec 15, 2009, 10:29 AM
I would agree that it's not worth repairing the iBook G4. I would actually recommend selling the parts on Craigslist if you don't need them, they should get you around $100-125, considering the hard drive, LCD, power supply, battery, optical drive, Airport card etc. should still work.

$600 for a black Core 2 Duo Macbook is a fair price, quite good actually. However, be wary: my personal experience is that, on Craigslist everything has a "catch". I have come to expect that everything you buy has at least one thing wrong with it that you can't immediately see and the seller doesn't tell you about. Unfortunately the anonymity provided by Craigslist attracts the shady type of sellers so be careful. However, there are good purchases to be found there. If you do buy this Macbook, make sure you check it out very thoroughly. Make sure:

1) it comes with the original grey install DVDs. The original owner should still have these. If time permits, pop in the first DVD and hold down "Alt/Option" while the computer boots, and then choose to run the Apple Hardware Test; make sure all the components pass.

2) Test the power thoroughly. Does the battery hold a charge? Does the battery charge as it should when plugged in? Does the computer run on both AC and battery power? Does the magsafe power adapter switch from green to orange when charging, as it should?

3) Boot the computer and go to :apple: -> About this Mac -> More Info -> Power. Check and see how many cycles the battery has. Anything under 100 is great. Anything 200 or over is getting pretty old, and 300 is near death.

4) Does the Airport card turn on and find nearby wireless networks?

5) Check and make sure the CD drive works, pop in a CD or DVD and make sure it appears on the desktop. Also in "About this Mac" the Disc Burning section will tell you if the drive is Apple Shipped and Supported. Under "Serial ATA" you can see the hard drive specs and the CD/DVD drive specs as well.

The battery and the power supply are the things to really keep your eye on though, since Macbooks, particular the early ones, had a lot of problems in that area.

Dec 15, 2009, 11:05 AM
With a busted power supply, you can't tell if it's the logic board as well unless you tested out the PS first. Apple wouldn't have that part handy, and would charge you for that part regardless of the fix. If it didn't work, then you just wasted almost $200 (they charge ~$150 for labor) on a repair.

If you are interested in trying to repair the machine yourself, then you could try and buy a PS (dc-in board) for it. Those shouldn't be more than $50 depending on the model of G4, and aren't all that difficult of a repair (you can find guides online). welovemacs (http://www.welovemacs.com/) and ifixit (http://www.ifixit.com/) are good places to start.

Hey, if you spend $100 and can fix that machine to get another year out of it, then it would be worth it. However, you say that the machine ahs been broken already for about a year, in which case the battery is most likely completely dead which would cost $100 right there. So, on second thought maybe not.

Dec 15, 2009, 01:27 PM
Thanks for the advice!

I talked to my Dad about the used mac, but he said that $600 is way too much. My parents already bought him a nice jacket, and they only wanted to add on the laptop because he's going back to school.

There is a repair shop in town that works on macs, and they only charge $60 an hour, so my Dad is going to bring it over there and see whether it's worth saving. I hadn't even thought about the battery, but even if it ends up being $200 it might be worth it for us. Also, he would be able to recover everything that's on the Hard Drive.

I'm pretty sure that he would be unhappy with a netbook or windows laptop, so maybe instead of getting him a laptop we could just help him out to buy a computer himself.

Dec 15, 2009, 01:46 PM
If you end up taking it in, check out those websites I posted above for an estimation of the price you'll pay for the part. If they are an authorized store then you shouldn't be paying more than ~$20 than, say, www.welovemacs.com sells 'em for. I know for a fact that the DC-IN board can be as cheap as $15 directly from Apple for certain iBooks.

I want to say that we charged two hours of labor for one particular PowerBook G4 model, but it may have been a 12" iBook model we did as well.

Beyond that, some of those sites sell cheap logic boards, whereas Apple would still charge the $600 or whatever the original price was when the machine was first released.

EDIT! Apple used to offer a flat rate repair service for laptops (up to a year and a half ago I know for sure). However, even if that service still exists, it may only include MacBook and MBP's at this point. Maybe it's worth asking the Genius bar at Apple once more. The service pretty much included a flat rate repair fee of ~$250-350 (depending on model) to fix whatever is wrong with the machine (aside from batteries I believe) as long as it does not have physical/spill damage. Would be worth it assuming they still offer it for that machine and the logic board needs to be replaced.

Dec 15, 2009, 02:44 PM
Do you live near Phoenix? I could check the iBook out for you. I've got plenty of parts on hand to do any type of repairs, cheap. And I would be happy to sell you a good 12" iBook G4 battery for $30. :)

Dec 15, 2009, 03:03 PM
Actually, now that I think about it a little more I could mail you a nice, like-new working iBook G4 12" for around $200 if you send me the broken one with all the parts. We could do the whole deal through Ebay where I have a ton of references. I'll PM you. :)