Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
Been working on installing a 5,2 (2009) logic board into a black MacBook (2008) I bought with a busted LCD, since it appeared to be a direct replacement.

First, I replaced the LCD and verified the entire MacBook to be working pre-modification. I then installed the 2009 board into the 2008 MacBook, everything fit and connected fine...but now I get a blank screen with no video. To clarify, the laptop powers on, chimes, and the backlight comes on. It seems to load into 10.7.5 as I can hear the volume change noises if I press the volume keys after a few moments. But the screen is black aside from the backlighting.

Should I consider this a GPU/logic board issue? I did buy the 5,2 board by itself for $11, but it was listed as tested and working. I'm so close to getting this fun little unique project done - would love to end up with a black MacBook that can run a newer macOS (unofficially, of course).
 
Last edited:

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
You could hook up an external monitor/TV to check if the problem is isolated to the internal LCD. You need a miniDVI-to-DVI (or miniDVI-to-VGA) adapter for that.

Good tip - I have one on the way now set to arrive tomorrow. I sure hope it's not the LCD, I had just tested it before swapping boards and it worked completely fine with the 2008 board.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amethyst1

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
Reconnect all the cables. Odds are something isn't seated properly.

Tried this as well. For funsies I also connected the cracked LCD LVDS cable to the board, but left the backlight connected to the new one as I did not want to disassemble the display assembly again to access it. Took a flashlight to the cracked screen and didn't see any attempt of it displaying anything. Oddly enough, this also caused the new internal LCD to light up bright gray (like the boot screen, but no Apple logo) rather than solid black.
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
687
922
My first thought is that the LVDS connection is too loose - likely it's the cable. The clips that secure the cable connector to its corresponding socket on the motherboard require a surprising amount of force to attach/remove, and it's entirely possible for the misapplication of force to inadvertently damage the connector or the socket it connects to.

To put this in context, my daily driver MacBook 5,2 has this issue too; I took it apart for a whole suite of upgrades and cleaning, and when I put it back together it booted to a grey or black screen -- it was only after a few seemingly random screen display flashes that I discovered that placing pressure on the keyboard/topcase over the area of the LVDS connection on the motherboard made the screen function normally; I later discovered that due to excessive wear (the Mac was in pretty rough shape when I got it, both inside and out), the cable's connector itself had a very loose fit on its socket on the motherboard.

Lucky, I didn't have to do any thing beyond apply some pressure to the cable on the motherboard for a few seconds to make sure that the cable was secured. But if that's not the case, one option is to either (a) try putting something on top of the LVDS connector to act as a shim between it and the topcase, or (b) disassemble both of your LCD assemblies and swap the suspect LVDS cable for the LVDS cable from the old broken display (be aware though that LVDS cables can vary depending on the manufacturer of the LCD panel). Otherwise you may need to get a new LVDS cable.
 

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
My first thought is that the LVDS connection is too loose - likely it's the cable. The clips that secure the cable connector to its corresponding socket on the motherboard require a surprising amount of force to attach/remove, and it's entirely possible for the misapplication of force to inadvertently damage the connector or the socket it connects to.

To put this in context, my daily driver MacBook 5,2 has this issue too; I took it apart for a whole suite of upgrades and cleaning, and when I put it back together it booted to a grey or black screen -- it was only after a few seemingly random screen display flashes that I discovered that placing pressure on the keyboard/topcase over the area of the LVDS connection on the motherboard made the screen function normally; I later discovered that due to excessive wear (the Mac was in pretty rough shape when I got it, both inside and out), the cable's connector itself had a very loose fit on its socket on the motherboard.

Lucky, I didn't have to do any thing beyond apply some pressure to the cable on the motherboard for a few seconds to make sure that the cable was secured. But if that's not the case, one option is to either (a) try putting something on top of the LVDS connector to act as a shim between it and the topcase, or (b) disassemble both of your LCD assemblies and swap the suspect LVDS cable for the LVDS cable from the old broken display (be aware though that LVDS cables can vary depending on the manufacturer of the LCD panel). Otherwise you may need to get a new LVDS cable.

Unfortunately that didn't seem to be my case, though I want to leave replacing the LVDS for dead last, because the display bezel clips are super flimsy, and I'm about to run out of extras between my two MacBooks.

The miniDVI-HDMI adapter came today and my external monitor showed no signs of connectivity from the MacBook. :rolleyes:
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,440
11,610
The miniDVI-HDMI adapter came today and my external monitor showed no signs of connectivity from the MacBook. :rolleyes:
Even after OS X has seemingly booted up? In that case, I’d try to screen share into the “blind” MacBook from another system to see if the GPU and monitors are recognised properly.
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
687
922
Unfortunately that didn't seem to be my case, though I want to leave replacing the LVDS for dead last, because the display bezel clips are super flimsy, and I'm about to run out of extras between my two MacBooks.

The miniDVI-HDMI adapter came today and my external monitor showed no signs of connectivity from the MacBook. :rolleyes:

Hmm. What I would do is test the display assembly with the cracked LCD with the old motherboard just to ensure that that backlight/LVDS cables work, and do the same for the display assembly with the non-cracked LCD. At least that way you could better isolate the potential cause of the issue.

I'd also suggest testing the miniDVI-HDMI adapter itself with another MacBook, as I've found a lot of third-party HDMI adapters to be really flaky and unreliable.
 

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
Even after OS X has seemingly booted up? In that case, I’d try to screen share into the “blind” MacBook from another system to see if the GPU and monitors are recognised properly.

Interesting - is there an easy way to do this without having to enable anything on the MacBook? I do know it loads into OS X.

Hmm. What I would do is test the display assembly with the cracked LCD with the old motherboard just to ensure that that backlight/LVDS cables work, and do the same for the display assembly with the non-cracked LCD. At least that way you could better isolate the potential cause of the issue.

I'd also suggest testing the miniDVI-HDMI adapter itself with another MacBook, as I've found a lot of third-party HDMI adapters to be really flaky and unreliable.

I haven't yet tested the broken LCD with the 2008 motherboard, but I did test the working LCD on the 2008 board and it worked fine, it was only after installing the 2009 board in that I started getting a black screen. I could test the 2008 board again, but I hate to mess with the heatsink + fan again. When installing the 2009 board, I had to carefully remove the thermal sensor from my 2008 heatsink and glue it to the 2009 one, as the 2009 came to me without it. I found this was easier than returning it and waiting for a different one.

No other Macs on me right now to test the adapter on, but I did put an offer in on a working 2009 MacBook that is pretty cheap. Needs a battery and two key caps. That would give me another Mac to test that with, and a donor board in case it really is the GPU.

So far, because these MacBooks can usually be had for what a logic board could cost, I think my plan is to wait until I can score a working 2009 for dirt cheap. That way I'd have another full set of donor parts to work with other than the white casing. I'm in no rush. But it is exciting to me how close I am to having a fun little custom MacBook. I think I'll end up giving it to my nephew, I gave him a 12" PBG4 with an SSD so he'd enjoy an upgrade.
 

Amethyst1

macrumors G3
Oct 28, 2015
9,440
11,610
Interesting - is there an easy way to do this without having to enable anything on the MacBook? I do know it loads into OS X.
You need to have either Remote Login (ssh: command line access only) or Screen Sharing (VNC: full GUI access) enabled in System Preferences > Sharing to access the MacBook's install from another system over the network. These are disabled by default for security reasons. You can try firing up Terminal using Spotlight and enabling Screen Sharing via the command line - while you can't see anything on the screen...
 
Last edited:

SecretSquirrel

macrumors regular
Jan 21, 2013
127
195
U.K.
I did buy the 5,2 board by itself for $11, but it was listed as tested and working.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but having read your tale, I think your board was crap. I’ve been there too many times (see trash or treasure thread) and bought too many boards which were listed as “working” but just weren’t. Your plan of buying a working machine is sound - go for it!
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
687
922
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but having read your tale, I think your board was crap. I’ve been there too many times (see trash or treasure thread) and bought too many boards which were listed as “working” but just weren’t. Your plan of buying a working machine is sound - go for it!
I'll second this - it's why I'm very hesitant to buy parts or used Macs from eBay outside of sellers I trust. It's a lot easier/more reliable for me to go with local sellers on Facebook Marketplace/Craigslist, or Kijiji (a Canadian Craigslist competitor).

That being said, hopefully you can message the seller for an exchange or a refund. I had one eBay seller ship me a busted A1211 topcase once, and they were able to give me a new one for free -- they even told me to keep the old one for parts if I wanted to.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheShortTimer

zackkmac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 7, 2008
880
129
Denver
Thanks everyone. :) I have contacted the seller about the board - this actually is a seller I've bought from before and I just noticed that! We'll see what can be done there, but in the meantime, I will look for the new donor 5,2. However, if this doesn't work out for some reason, it'll have to be my last attempt because I don't want to keep spending money on such an old MacBook.

I wasn't expecting to have to buy 3 total laptops to finish the project, but I will surely have 2 working units by the end of this - a white 2008 and a black 2009 once the boards are swapped.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheShortTimer
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.